The new Scalextric Batmobile will be released next month…
The car has shot to the top of the pre-order charts, so I was very excited to have an exclusive look at a pre-production sample and to have a chat with Scalextric designer Caitlin Williams.
The Scalextric C4175 Batmobile can be pre-ordered here: www.jadlamracingmodels.com/scalextric-slot-car-c4175-batmobile-1966-tv-series/
It has taken 55 years for Scalextric to produce the 1966 Batmobile, but I’m pretty sure the late Adam West and his side-kick Burt Ward would be delighted with the result. After all, they did enjoy some slot car racing in “The Duo Defy” – episode 94 of the TV series…
I loved watching re-runs of the series when I was a kid and a Corgi diecast model had pride of place in my bedroom. Fabulous as the series was, it does remain a camp 1960s pop-culture outlier in the darker Batman universe. Adam West himself characterised the series as “farce” and a send-up of the Batman themes. When I look at the Scalextric Batmobile – Batman sat alone, backed with modern graphics and the Gotham City skyline – my mind wanders to wider, more complex elements of the eighty-year-old Batman story. The 1966 Batmobile sits perfectly: somber, brooding and an iconic symbol of the Dark Knight’s fight against injustice.
The pictures here are of what’s called a ‘pre-production signed sample’. That means it’s the final sample sent from the factory in China to the Scalextric team in Margate. There will be some small improvements to the decoration on the car and the Batman figure, but this is pretty much what the cars will look like when they arrive in March.
The car is huge. At 162mm, it’s nearly too long for a Scalextric box! There’s a dazzling array of tiny details – I was particularly thrilled to see the Batphone next to Batman’s right hand. Because the real car is so well known, the mechanical elements of the slot car had to be fitted without any compromise to the long and low lines of the model. This means the smaller slim-can F1 motor has been used and the guide assembly has been hidden away under the nose.
For the designer, being handed the Batmobile brief was hugely exciting. Caitlin told me “I love designing cars from TV and film, but this really is the pinnacle. I also felt a small amount of nervousness – such an iconic car has to be spot on!”
Caitlin used a high-quality licensed 1:18 scale diecast model to get the dimensions and general shape of the Batmobile into CAD (computer-aided design) software. She then scoured the internet for photographs and video of the TV car to create the detail, especially the interior. I have a feeling the entire Scalextric team are big Batman fans. Caitlin certainly admits to watching plenty of episodes of the TV show for both work and pleasure.
Like many people, my first reaction to seeing the car in the Scalextric catalogue was ‘where’s Robin?’. Caitlin explained, “Robin was omitted because to sculpt a character is very, very costly. To add Robin would add an extra 20% or more to the tool cost and, as a result, the retail price would have to be increased. It was therefore a cost decision to ensure the final product was still affordable.”
If money was no object, I asked Caitlin which of the original gadgets would she have liked to see on the Scalextric Batmobile, “There are so many amazing gadgets to choose from! I think it would be fun to have working parachutes and a guide blade that would allow you to make quick 180-degree bat turns, especially if the lever inside the cockpit moved when they were activated!”
That would have been amazing fun, but I had to make-do with a standard no-gadget slot car to test drive on my Jadlam SL6 layout…
As you can see, the Scalextric Batmobile looks awesome cruising round the track – especially with the glow of the headlights at the front. I’d sort of hoped the rocket thruster at the rear would also light up, but no… that’ll be a fun modification when I have my own car to play with. The orange LEDs are waiting…
I can tell you, no villains are going to escape justice with the Scalextric Batmobile around – it is really quick! The powerful F1 motor is tempered by a strong traction magnet (55.7g on my DIY downforce gauge) positioned under the rear axle. The combination of the slim-can F1 motor and the strong magnet does mean the Batmobile benefits from a smooth driving technique, otherwise it can be overly-twitchy and difficult to control.
I thought the length of the car (96mm from guide pivot to rear axle) might make a tight Radius 1 hairpin somewhat tricky, but it was absolutely fine through the ninety-degree radius 1 corner on my SL6 layout. The ridged tyres grip very nicely straight from the box, giving plenty of traction in the corners. If anything, there was too much grip, making it difficult to get the back out how I like it – although I did manage some nice slides as the tyres picked up a bit of dust.
Setting up a two-minute run on the ARC app, I managed 20 laps and a best lap time of 5.34 seconds. Pretty good considering I hadn’t done any of my normal performance tweaks and I was taking it reasonably gently; I really didn’t fancy explaining to Caitlin and her colleagues how I’d smashed up their new car! That performance compares with 24 laps and 4.65 seconds for the benchmark Porsche 911 RSR and 22 laps laps and 4.92 seconds for the rapid ‘classic’ Ford Capri Mk3 – both of them tweaked and both timed at the same test session as the Batmobile.
All-in-all I think the Scalextric team have knocked it out of the park with their Batmobile. With its cool packaging, the model is going to look great on display – and will prove great fun on the track. The amazing detail might be vulnerable if it’s driven really hard, but that’s a perfect reason to order yourselves two…
The Scalextric C4175 Batmobile is on schedule to be delivered to retailers in March 2021 and can be pre-ordered here: www.jadlamracingmodels.com/scalextric-slot-car-c4175-batmobile-1966-tv-series/
A very big thank you to Caitlin and the rest of the Scalextric team for sending me the pre-production sample and for answering my questions.