Choice is a good thing and Jadlam have added four new slot car brands to their store…

Although Scalextric rightly remains the best-selling brand in the UK, it’s certainly not the only manufacturer of 1:32 scale slot cars. Over the summer, I wrote a series of blog posts looking at three performance brands – NSR, Policar and – and last year I reviewed a fabulous Plymouth Road Runner (see here), which was one of many Carrera models Jadlam have stocked over the years. So what are the extra new brands and where do they fit in to those five already available at Jadlams?

Don’t forget, you can find all the slot cars currently available at Jadlams here: Use the side menu to choose the brands you want to look at. And here are a few of my Fly, Slotwings and Sideways cars to whet your appetite…

Fly Car Model & Slotwings

Fly are celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2021. Back in 1996, the Spanish company completely revolutionised the production of slot cars, ushering in an age of highly-detailed moulding that equaled the best diecast models. The performance of Fly cars was also impressive, using better components, innovative chassis design – and strong neodymium traction magnets. On top of that, Fly chose some iconic cars to release – the Porsche 917k and Ferrari 512 endurance racers from Steve McQueen’s 1971 film Le Mans were probably my highlight, but there were also the latest modern saloon, GT cars and prototypes, alongside plenty of classics.

Like many toy and hobby manufacturers, Fly have had their ups and downs. The company went bust, various spin-offs were created – and now most of the production is back under the Fly Car Model brand, with Slotwings remaining separate and holding on to their own share of the Fly tooling. So, although they are independent companies, Fly Car Model and Slotwings can be considered together in terms of what you get and how the cars perform. The good news is that the new business model is far more sustainable and the future looks bright. Here are three models from the past couple of years – a Fly Porsche 911, Fly’s James Hunt Hesketh 308 and the Slotwings BMW M3 Tour de Corse rally winner…

The Range: The old Fly catalogue was vast and thousands of examples of each model were produced. Nowadays, there’s a streamlined range and each release sells out quickly. If you see something you like, don’t hang around. Fly and Slotwings’ current strengths are classic 60s sports cars, 70s Formula One, 70s & 80s rally and classic saloon cars. Don’t expect the latest modern cars – but if you like classics, you’ll be delighted.

Find the Fly Car Model and Slotwings ranges here:

The Price: Expect to pay around £50 for a Fly / Slotwings car. This makes them great value, sitting just between Scalextric and / Policar.

Quality of Moulding and Finish: My personal opinion is that the Fly and Slotwings cars are still right up there with the best when it comes to the quality of the design, moulding and finish – certainly when you consider the price point. Every Fly and Slotwings car I have is a thing of beauty – almost too good to race. These three most recent cars in my collection have the top quality finish I’ve come to expect over the past 25 years. My only quibble is that the tyres can sometimes look a bit ragged where they meet the wheel hub. This is remedied by removing the tyres, running your finger over the inner edge and replacing. Expect highly-detailed interiors and exactly the correct livery and wheels for the car – the attention to detail is exceptional.

What’s under the Hood: Fly cars are excellent ‘pre-performance-era’ cars. The underpans are uncomplicated flat chassis, fitted with an 18k rpm Mabuchi S-Can motor (with a slim-can in the F1 cars). The performance is in a similar ballpark to Scalextric cars. Some older Fly cars were fitted with a brass pinion and brass axle bearings, but the current Fly and Slotwings models have plastic gears and bearings. What makes these cars a little quirky is the tendency to fit the motor where the engine would be in the real car. You can see the BMW has its motor in the front and the Porsche’s motor is behind the rear axle. This makes the cars full of character on the track. Some of the rally cars – such as the Audi Quattro – have all-wheel-drive and a ‘drop arm’ to get over rough terrain. Fly and Slotwings cars are fitted with traction magnets, but do not have working lights.

Natural Habitat: You are most likely to find a Fly or Slotwings car on display. They are extremely photogenic, so ideal subjects for some on-track photography. However, they are also great fun to drive on any home track – and learning to race those quirky front-engined models is brilliant. They perform too – you can still find Fly classic sports and F1 cars at clubs around the world. Although they’ve been superseded by NSR, Policar, and Sideways, the Fly cars can compete with some tuning and a replacement part or two. There are also loads of 3D Printed chassis available if you wanted to go the full or NSR performance upgrade route. The same is true for the classic F1s – 3D chassis are available to convert the Fly cars to the Policar motor pod and transmission.

Andy’s verdict: Fly were a major influence in me falling back in love with slot cars twenty years ago. Although they’re not my #1 brand these days, I do buy a few new and old models each year. I am excited that Jadlam now have Fly and Slotwings cars available – and I reckon they’ll be a firm favourite with customers. Keep your eyes peeled for some stunning limited-edition cars in 2022 and grab them while you can.

Racer Sideways

Racer Sideways – or ‘Sideways by Racer’ or just ‘Sideways’ – produce excellent models that sit squarely in the performance slot car fold. Launched ten years ago by the Italian ‘artisan’ resin slot car maker Racer, this range of plastic-bodied racing cars are now French-owned and extremely popular with collectors and racers. The first Sideways cars were models of 1970s Group 5 racers and used components – like the resin Racer cars. These were a sensation in club racing, with many clubs establishing a one-make ‘Sideways Group 5’ class. The new owners have developed the Sideways range, adding more Group 5 cars, some modern GT models and a range of in-house Sideways components and upgrade parts.

The Range: As with all the performance brands, the number of different Sideways models is modest, but there are plenty of liveries and a white kit available for each. The Group 5 ‘silhouette’ racing cars of the late 70s and early 80s were the early focus for Sideways – and it’s a brilliantly conceived and executed range. A Nissan Skyline and Toyota Celica LB Turbo are recent additions, plus a Zakspeed Escort is due soon. The modern GT range started with the sensational Lamborghini Huracán, which has been joined by a BMW M6 GT3 and Ford GT GTE. A new McLaren 720S GT3 has just arrived in a white kit form – with decorated liveries expected in 2022.

Find the Racer Sideways range here:

The Price: Expect to pay £65-£75, with the GT cars at the upper end of that range. The Sideways cars are definitely in NSR price terrority.

Quality of Moulding and Finish: The Sideways combine diecast-quality looks with awesome track performance. The bodies are lightweight, but the detail is there – including a fully-detailed interior. Like the Fly cars, the decoration is spot-on and the wheels look fabulous.

What’s under the Hood: The rear wheels are aluminium, as you’d expect for a premium performance brand. The chassis, adjustable front axle height and general layout are familar from our look at NSR and cars – and most components are interchangeable with parts. The high-torque long-can motors are fitted in an anglewinder motor pod. The motor in the Group 5 cars is the Flat 6, rated at 20.5k rpm. The GT cars have their own Sideways ‘Baby Raptor’ motor, which is a 17.5k long-can version, ideally suited for racing on home and club tracks. The Group 5 cars are fitted with a traction magnet, the GT cars are not. There are no working lights.

Natural Habitat: The Sideways cars do fill gaps in Group 5 and GT3 collections – and rightly sit alongside the best scale models on display. However, both the Group 5 and GT cars come into their own on the track. The Group 5 cars are a feature at most slot car clubs – and you’re likely to find a wide range of models on the grid. They also make great home racing cars, with or without magnets. The GT cars are superb to drive at home with their 17.5k ‘Baby Raptor’ motors. The GTs are sometimes raced in one-make competition at clubs, but the standard motor is under-powered compared to those in the NSR GT3 cars. However, the Sideways Lamborghini Huracán, BMW M6 and Ford GT GTE are becoming a popular choice for club racers, with a simple motor upgrade making them competitive. Lightweight interiors, flexible rear wings and replacement chassis and body parts are available for most models, making the Sideways car an excellent racing option.

Andy’s verdict: I mentioned in the final part of my performance racing series that I’d love to see Jadlams stock some Sideways cars – so I am delighted! I really enjoy Sideways Group 5 racing when I venture to a club – and it’s brilliant to be able to race performance models of two of my favourite cars (the Martini 935/78 and the Zakspeed Capri) from when I was a kid. The era of silhouette Group 5 racing was sensational – and these high-detailed and high-performance cars definitely do it justice. I’ve yet to buy one of the Sideways GT cars, but I did race in a single-make Sideways Huracán 24 hour endurance event a couple of years ago – and I loved the feel of the car. I definitely have the new Sideways McLaren 720S GT3 on my wish list, when the decorated cars start to arrive. If you like your performance cars – or want to fill a gaping hole in your collection – you’ll be saving your pennies for some of these Sideways models.

Le Mans Miniatures

This small artisan business, based in rural France, celebrated its 30th birthday in 2021. Benoît Moro’s Le Mans Miniatures has become the reference point for high-quality models and figures in various scales – including a range of 1:32 scale slot cars. Working from home – 20 minutes drive from the Circuit de la Sarthe – Benoît focuses on cars that have raced at the Le Mans 24 hours. These are designed using CAD technology, but each car is individually moulded in resin and finished by hand. They are works of art. I don’t have any Le Mans Miniatures cars (yet), so I have focused on a recent release – one of the 1976 Rondeau-built Inaltera cars – to illustrate the brand…

The Range: Le Mans Miniatures offer some amazing and unusual cars – from the legendary Bugatti 57 ‘Tank’ and Ferrari 250 Testarossa, through to the Renault-Alpine A442, Rondeaus, Inaltera and Pescarolos, to name a few.  Almost all the slot cars, static models and figures produced by Benoît are from Le Mans – and many have a French theme. Some liveries are from test days as well as the race, spanning the decades from the 1930s through to the 2010s. For collectors of Le Mans racing cars and accessories, this range is an absolute gold mine. There have also been a few obscure French road and rally cars, plus the superb Bugatti 59 pre-war Grand Prix racer, but these are rare deviations from the Le Mans 24-hour theme. Because of the low-volume production methods, every model is a limited edition – and some sell out almost immediately.

Find the Le Mans Miniatures range here:

The Price: Expect to pay £110, with some models slightly more expensive. Compared to other hand-made slot cars, that’s very good value.

Quality of Moulding and Finish: The bodies are moulded and finished by hand. So expect something very special. The detailing often includes metal and photo-etched parts. I’ve seen a fair few Le Mans Miniatures cars up-close and the finish is comparable to what you’d except on premium hand-finished diecast cars. These are artisan slot cars at their best.

What’s under the Hood: The Le Mans Miniatures chassis are now injection moulded from ABS plastic and are fitted with components, including aluminium rear wheels. This creates a ideal running platform for the magnificent bodies and detailed interiors. Motor orientation is usually sidewinder, although some of the thinner classic cars have an inline motor. The two Bugatti models have slim-can motors. The layout of the Inaltera is typical for models of post-1965 Le Mans racing cars…

Natural Habitat: I would imagine most Le Mans Miniatures cars spend their lives on display, taking pride of place in a collection. However, with those components, I’d want to get them on track – at least for some careful exhibition laps. And then there’s photography – the Le Mans Miniatures 1:32 scale figures and static models are perfect companion pieces to create Le Mans-themed scenes. The only place I’d not expect to see a Le Mans Miniatures model is being driven in anger at a slot car club – but I am sure it has been done.

Andy’s Verdict: I have drooled over Le Mans Miniatures cars whenever I’ve seen them – they look even better in the flesh than they do online. To buy one would mean spending more than I ever have on a slot car – so it needs to be pretty special. There are a couple of Le Mans-winning cars that I would definitely buy – and I have been sorely tempted by the Bugatti 59s. If a Bugatti driven by Robert Benoist – one of my heroes – is produced, I’ll find the money! For collectors with a passion for Le Mans, these beautifully crafted models are a must. Each car costs the equivalent of just over two Scalextric cars – or one and half NSRs – so they are remarkably good value for what they are.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the four new slot car brands on the Jadlam website. Fly, Slotwings, Racer Sideways and Le Mans Miniatures certainly add something different to the Scalextric, Carrera, Policar, and NSR ranges that have been available for a while. That means more great slot cars to choose from – either for a special treat or for your Christmas wish list. And don’t forget Jadlam Rewards and the Jadlam Price Match promise. If you’re ready to browse, check out the full slot car range here:

Thanks to Racer Sideways for the Lamborghini Huracán photos and to Le Miniatures for the images of their Inaltera.

By Andy Player

Andy has been a big Scalextric fan from a very early age. He now runs the Worthing HO Racing club, is on the editorial team of SlotRacer Online and is a regular contributor to Slot Car Magazine.

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