Choosing a Slot Car Race Set for Kids
Kids of all ages really have a blast racing Slot Cars! At Hotslots132, we specialize in helping our customers choose the track set that's right for you, and your family and friends. First I will mention one thing. One of the questions we ask our shoppers is:" Who will be racing? Is it just kids or will some adults be racing with them as well?" The reason we ask this is that kids will have fun with any of these scales; but adults prefer 1/32 scale. The cars are bigger than 1/43 or 1/64 (ho), go fast enough to have a lot of fun; but not so fast that our eyes can't keep up! So, if you do have an adult racing; read the 1/32 info carefully! So with that said, this article is going to focus on choosing the best slot car set for children to race.
Ok, let's talk about 5 years and up. There are lots of choices here, including different scales of slot cars.
Pictures above shows the different sizes from the smallest being 1/64th scale which is known as HO scale, then the 1/43rd, followed by the 1/32nd, and then the 1/24th scale. speed wise, 1/64 scale is the fastest (in real world terms about 700 miles an hour!) 1/43rd is next, in real world terms around 500 miles an hour, 1/32 comes in around 200-250 miles an hour (not including hop up motors of course), and then 1/24 would be under 200 miles an hour.
Lets start with the largest tracks: 1/32 and 1/24 scale track sets.
Currently we carry 3 different brands of analog sets, Ninco, Scalextric, and Carrera. (We carried SCX, but their new US distributor does not have SCX track sets yet.). You may notice that we have a lot 'Combos' on our track set pages. Here at Hotslots132, we design custom track layouts for our customers. Our goal is to make your shopping super easy; so we combine (hence the word 'combo') everything you need to have these cool layouts. All you need to do is click the Buy button and you will get everything listed in the "More Info" area of that track set. Now, let's talk about the different brands of sets.
Ninco Analog Track Sets
has three kid friendly features that we like:
1. Ninco track sets have rails that are more magnetized; this helps slot cars stay on the track better. Plus Ninco track is a little rougher; this helps the cars stay on the track a little better. (Scalextric and Carrera track is very smooth by comparison.)
2. Almost all of their new sets come with Wireless (WICO) controllers. Kids (of all ages!) tend to get excited when their car comes off the track. Their first instinct is to rush over and put the car back on; so they don't get behind. This can be a little hard on wired controllers! So, we think this is a great kid friendly feature to have on a track set. At this time Ninco is the only brand of track set that has wireless controllers in the track set you purchase.
3. You can adjust the power on these WICO (wireless controller) sets. You can race at 100% power, or 80% power. This can be a big help to beginner racers. Plus, Ninco1 cars that come in their track sets; are geared towards the inexperienced and young racer. The motors are only 16,000 rpms, the slowest motors in any 1/32 track set. However, these cars still can come off the track! if you have very young children, we came up with a 'filler' for the controller that you can insert, that keeps the handle from being squeezed all the way. This slows the cars down so much that your youngster can hold the trigger as far down as it will go, and the car can still make it all the way around the track. (This is for tracks with R2 turns, R1 turns are tighter and you may need to let off the trigger to make the curve.)
4. One last thing about Ninco track. It is super flexible, easier to take apart and put back together (by adults though, or older children); and it gets our vote for the most durable track set. So, if you plan on changing the layout frequently; or boxing up the track after a weekend, this is the easiest track to handle in this important regard!
Carrera Analog Track Sets
are the widest track set we carry. If you have the space, this is great; if you are tight on space then you should pass on Carrera analog sets. Carrera has 1/32 analog track sets and 1/24 and 1/32 digital
track sets, however they all come with 1/24 width track
. The difference is the 1/32 sets have 1/32 cars, a 1/32 transformer, and less powerful controllers made for 1/32 cars. However the basic straight track, curves etc is the same for both sizes of Carrera digital 1/32 and 1/24 and Carrera 1/32 analog sets... It is track wide enough for 1/24 cars. Carrera does offer wireless controllers as an add on for their 1/32 track sets. However all their sets come with wired controllers. Neither their wired or their wireless analog controllers have a power adjustment option.
Scalextric Analog Track Sets
are the most narrow analog sets. This is great for families without a lot of space. Scalextric (or Scaley for short) track is flexible enough that if you need to take it apart and store it frequently, it should do fine. Scalextric doesn't make wireless controllers at this time.
Scalextric does have some great
Analog Track Sets for Kids.
All their new track sets for 2015 come with beginner controllers that are adjustable. Scalextric is not producing analog sets geared for adults now; they have decided to focus on analog sets that have the smaller, adjustable kid size controllers. Of course you can race any brand of analog 1/32 slot cars on any of the analog track sets.
Scaley's Continental set (c1319T) is also great value around $124. It comes with adjustable beginner controllers, two cars that kids get to decal themselves, plus the set has 4 different layouts. We made an expansion pack for this track set that let's you build 8 different layouts in all. (you can find the expansion pack for this set in the related products for the set.. Just click on the 'More Info' button and scroll down to the bottom of that page.)
These cars are a lot of fun for beginners, but you might want to purchase another set of Super Resistant cars
as backups. Cars can only take so many wrecks!
New from Scalextric for Christmas 2014 was their AppRace Control Track Set.
This has been a great set for kids who love tech (are their kids out their that don't love tech?). This track set is designed to go with Iphones, Ipads, and Android systems. (Check out picture 5 on our track set on our site for exact listing of compatible phones, etc...).
You use the screen to set up and run your race. Choose the race, start the count down, it has fuel modes, stats... Ok, it's cool! See the video in the Scalextric App Control Track Set Info.
We know kids love to be able to do different layouts with their sets; so we came up an 'expansion pack'. You will find this in the Related Products of this track set. Purchase this expansion pack and you can make 6 additional layouts!
Lets discuss 1/43 scale track sets.
Carrera is the main brand in this category. 1/43 scale track is much more narrow than 1/32 (the larger the number on the bottom of the fraction, the smaller everything is). The cars are approximately 4 inches long. So, the good news is that you can fit a lot more track into less space. These slot cars are also much faster than the 1/32 scale (the larger the number on the bottom, the faster cars go). Carrera Go sets do have a plastic spacer that fits between the controller plunger and the base, so that the plunger cannot go all the way down. This will slow the cars down; however if your set has a loop in it, you will need full power to get the cars through the loop.
One other thing about Go track; it's not the easiest track to take apart and put back together... It fits together well, but it's pretty hard to pull back apart. From our experience, Ninco's track is the easiest to take apart and put back together; so if you plan on doing this a lot, this is good to know.
Dads, and other adults tells us they much prefer to race 1/32 scale with kids. However, if it is just kids who will be racing, then 1/43 scale is a lot of fun. You will also find that the slot car selection for 1/43 is much more oriented to kids. You will find cars from popular children movies along with the cars that you find in real life.
We have a nice selection of Carrera Go Cars. Generally you can race any 1/43 car on either set (but beware of loops, overpasses, as some of the taller cars just aren't made to do this). Of course these cars are less expensive, around $15 a car, but they can really take a beating! However as you will see, you have a much smaller selection to choose from than 1/32 scale cars.
Carrera's 1/43 line up of slot cars consists of an analog option called "Carrera Go" And a digital option called Carrera Digital143. We will go over each of them, but the one thing to remember is that both track sets utilize analog track. Carrera GO is all analog track. Carrera Digital143 uses special sections of digital track so you can change lanes. But these digital sections connect to analog straights, curves, etc... (This is the same idea Carrera uses for their Digital132 and the 1/32 analog track; they both use analog track.)
We have one Carrera catalog page that has both the analog and digital cars listed. 1/43 Carrera track is broken down into categories showing straights, curves etc plus
"Analog Only" or "Digital Only" These areas would be for things like transformers, controllers, lap counters, and terminal track. You need to remember that you cannot "mix" the cars. Unlike the larger 1/32 scale, you cannot "chip" an analog Go Car and race it on your Digital143 set. You have to stay in either the analog only or digital only page for these items. Just follow the heading for what you want and you should be fine!
Carrera has definitely invested in their 1/43 line. You will find a great selection of
Specialty Go track
, with many interesting options such as flyovers, (like a super high bank turn), loops, jumps, crossovers, chicanes and more. This line of slot cars sets is truly the "toy" line for Carrera. As you can imagine the special track features can be very challenging at first for kids, but most of them master it before the adults can! This track comes with clips on the side to hold it together, and it can take some time to get it apart, so we would advise that you have a space set aside for a Carrera Go Layout, ... not the dining room table. With Carrera Go you can buy extra guide keels and brushes for their slot cars, which is a great idea as kids tend to enjoy the crashing, but it takes a toll on these parts.
One more 1/43 scale, we need to mention here, is
With these sets, you can race 3 cars in a two lane track. Carrera Digital143 uses the same
as their Go line, but you add special sections of track where you can change lanes by pressing on a button on the controller. This lane change feature lets you get in front of a car and get into his lane. Lots of fun, but for us, the drawback is fewer cars to choose from (you can ONLY race Carrera Digital143
cars, no analog cars), but if you have 3 kids who will want to race at one time, this could be your answer.
(With the family/adult digital brands, you can race up to 6 or even 8 cars at a time, and you have a larger assortment of cars to choose from. (We have written another article on these types of digital track sets for you. You can find the link at the bottom of this page.)
The last scale is 1/64 or HO
as you will often hear it called. (Only available in analog.) HO stands for half the size of 'O' trains. (We aren't train people, so this doesn't mean much to us, but a bit of trivia to pass along.) These cars are like Matchbox cars, about 3 inches long. They are the fastest cars around. This track is of course, the smallest, so you can get a lot of track in a small space. However, we are amazed at how much these cars are costing nowadays; very close to the beginning price point of 1/32 scale cars, and quite a few new models are more expensive than our opening price point for 1/32 cars. These 1/64 slot cars are getting more detailed nowadays (ie more realistic looking). However, it seems like kids are less impressed with the look of a car; they just want to go racing.
AFX track sets
are in our opinion the best overall track for this scale. All of the sets we carry have 'Tri-Power' transformers. These AFX transformers have three power settings on them: Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert setting. This can be a big help with younger or beginner racers. However, even the 'Beginner' setting is fast!
You still have to slow down in the curves, (and be able to react quickly as even in slow mode they zoom!) or the cars will deslot. AFX also has a lot of extra track you can add to expand your track set. Plus, they do make a 4 lane analog track set. This set comes with two Tri-Power transformers, so for example, you could have lanes 1 and 2 set at Beginner speed, and lanes 3 and 4 set at a faster speed. Like other scales of cars, you can race any brand of 1/64 analog car on AFX track.
are two other brands we carry.
Overall, for customers looking to spend around a hundred dollars; we tend to recommend
the 1/43 sets. They are great for kids only, but they are faster than the 1/32 line, so you may want to purchase a set that lets you remove the loop until the kids get the handle of driving the track. (Many of our sets have loops, but we have figured out what track you need to let you set up the track set without loops to start with. See the "More Info" in the set for details.) The 1/64 scale track sets are great for people with very little space, they don't come with the specialty track like the Go sets do; which can be a lot of fun. But they are a great option for up to 4 kids, where you would like to have more control with the speed of the cars
Again for family racing (with adults) Scalextric Sport, Ninco, or Carrera 1/32 scale track sets are something to consider. Ninco has the most kid friendly features, but all 3 of these track sets are good quality and should last for a long time.
We have just covered what we consider the "track sets for kids". If you are thinking of purchasing a "family track set", where you have a larger budget, maybe you are thinking of a permanent layout, we would recommend one of our 1/32 analog sets or our 1/32 digital sets.
Larger track set layouts are lots of fun of course, analog is generally our recommendation if you only have two people who want to race at a time. However if you have 3, to 6 people, you should read up on digital racing. In a nutshell, you can race up to 6 people on a two lane digital track set at one time, these cars switch lanes, and with some brands, they will run out of gas. Check out our articles below on analog and digital track sets to learn more about these great sets. Plus,check out our slot car videos for analog racing
or digital racing
, you can see the different brands in action! We hope you find this info helpful, we are glad to help you if you are still confused, just give us a call during
Hotslots132.com business hours.
We will be happy to help you choose a great slot car set!
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Which is Best Analog or Digital Track Sets?
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