Scalextric Sports Digital
That’s the opening statement on the press release for the latest Scalextric set to come out of the factory. Set out before us as we write this review, we have to say the action is fast and furious.
The excitement comes not from racing cars around a track hour after hour - after all we can do that on our old set - but that you can change lanes on the corners in the track. What this means is that there is a chance that you can overtake your opponent in the dying seconds and cross the finish line first.
As a quick aside I am sure I’ve seen this before from Scalextric when I was a child. The idea wasn’t as electronic as it is now, but the idea was to change lanes and ram the car in front. Ramming the bumper of said car caused a rod to pop out from under it and jackknife it off the track. Scalextric says I’ve gone mad but our memory is so vivid about this set as a child surely it can’t be wrong. [update: Steve Westby has emailed in informing us that the set was real and made by a company called VIP, not as I had thought by Scalextric. The objective was to ram the car in front, when a spring loaded lever would flip the car over. It is now very rare]
Either way the idea is genius, but to make it work to its full potential you really do need to have more than two players playing it, as that’s when the overtaking really comes into its own.
To allow the overtaking there are new cars, new track segments and new hand controllers. Additionally the hand controllers also allows you to apply a break if need be and everything including a range of gaming modes and individual car setting is controlled via a central console-come-lap counter on the side of the track. The console is handy as it offers electronic lap counting, timing and other such wonders you didn’t think you would need such as Against The Clock and Pursuit modes.
Track changes are made in a similar way to a train track -no surprise there as the creators of Scalextric also make Hornby rail sets - and pressing the button on the back of the controller as you travel over certain bits of the track simply switches the lane to which the car travels down.
In the Ready-to-race box set we tested you get two Porsche Boxsters and a decent amount of track to have a good race. The cars are very fast - fast enough to turn into a blur anyway - and the speed is achieved not only by the motors on board the car, but also the large magnet at the back end that keeps in on the track so you can go faster without flying off at every corner.
If you’re panicking that this all sounds like your old set has to go to the charity shop then don’t. Scalextric realising this might be the case have opted to sell conversion kits for the cars and track. For the track you’ll need to buy track converters as the track connectors are different. Likewise with cars you’ll need to adapt them so they can send signals back to the base unit to change the lane.
VerdictThe multiple gaming modes, the digital lap counter, the lane changing and super fast cars makes this Scalextric set one to want.
Scalextric has really done well to bring itself to a point where it can challenge modern day pastimes, greatly helped by nostalgic adults. With plans for an internet-enabled track next year that will allow you to race other players with identical tracks over the internet it seems this is just the start of an exciting new journey.
If you're new to Scalextric then we would recommend you opt for a Ready-to-race box set like the one reviewed here. However if you are an old hand, you can get the individual elements separately to adapt your set.
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