In 1952 a small toy company called Minimodels Limited introduced a range of metal bodied model racing cars which contained a unique type of clockwork motor. The inventor of these cars was Mr B Francis and the trade mark known as SCALEX.
By 1956 the novelty of such cars was flagging and so Francis began to seek new ways to update the product. Whilst witnessing a demonstration of electrically operated cars running on a track Francis instantly recognised the potential for his own products and modified his cars to take an electric motor. He also devisied a rubber based track system with two parallel grooves in which metal rails carried electric current thus guiding the cars by means of a "gimbal" wheel suspended beneath them.
Minimodels Limited was sold to the Tri-ang Group in November 1958 who set about a wide range of improvements and additions and in 1963 four new cars were launched, complete with Tri-ang's RX motor and accurately moulded plastic bodies. The variable speed hand throttle replaced the original 'dapper' type controller and the construction of new track sections and buildings enabled authentic reproductions of actual race tracks to be launched.
Significant change in 1963 from rubber to polyethylene track, allowing it to be moulded in the factory rather than buying it from a contract rubber supplier and reducing production costs considerably. By this time there were 18 different cars, two motorcycle combinations, and a new purpose built factory designed to accommodate the rapid developments taking place.
Rovex was familiar with the type of production necessary for Scalextric and after studying the product carefully introduced three new models: the Ferrari, and JPS Lotus and the March. The cars were met with popular approval and Scalextric was swiftly back on the road to recovery.
Progress continued steadily and deliberately throughout the 1970's until the instant appeal of the home computer in the early 1980's began to undermine sales. This phase soon passed however and by the time Scalextric reached its 30th birthday in 1987 the variety and quality of the models was surpassed.
What's your 'Minimodels' worth? Here are some recently sold items (UK):
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