Monday, 31 December 2007

NEWS: McLaren FINA McLaren F1 GTR FINA Review

Be sure to log onto ManicSlots on January 3rd - 12:01am, (Midnight) for the first published review of's new FINA liveried McLaren F1 GTR - This ones sure to be a cracker!

Happy New Year all!


Sunday, 30 December 2007

REVIEW: Fly BMW M1 Jager

Kurt Konig, DRT 1982

Fly worked out early on that certain liveries are very popular and sell very well. Fly loves to release Gulf, Jägermeister, Martini, Rothmans and Sunoco liveried cars whenever they can and my nose would be growing if I claimed I didn't desire them all. They are like rare jewels just waiting to be discovered and plundered. There is something extra special about these liveries that brings a wide smile to my face watching them do battle on the track.

The Jägermeister BMW M1 fits right into the category of slot cars that don't even need to move around the track to make you fall in love with them; this is one stunning slot car!


The number 1 Jägermeister DRT BMW M1 was raced by Kurt Konig in 1982. Yep, that's it! I would have liked to have found out more history about this car but was unable. If any readers have some information about this car please feel free to comment.


The Jägermeister BMW M1 comes in Fly's standard crystal presentation box with the usual Fly blue card reminding us that this slot is not suitable for children under 14 years old. Something I have enjoyed showing my wife from time to time. :)

The paint finish of this car is excellent and the orange paint looks deep and glossy. There is no sign of any paint runs and the decals are very crisp and clean. Unfortunately Fly continue to apply decals post their clear coat process, fortunately their decals can take a fair amount of bash and crash. If you look at the 'Jägermeister' lettering it looks more like 'Jägermeifter'. This is because the font type is an old german style where 's' look a little like 'f'. (Thanks to Volker for this info).


Probably the most striking aspect to this release, (except for the Jägermeister livery) would be the gold wheels. The wheels really complement the Jägermeister orange very well. I had trouble validating Fly's wheel choice on this slot as original photos of the car are hard to find. I have several Fly BMW M1s and these wheels are by far the most impressive, particularly the deep silver rimmed rears.

The front of the M1 is pretty basic but accurately reflects the 1:1 race car. There is a black plastic grill, tow hook and clear lights. Side indicators, door handles, locks and bonnet clasps are hand painted which is a nice detail touch. The side rear vision mirrors are made of plastic and although they have a little play look like they would not survive a hard impact.

One thing I did notice with the front of the car is that there is no Jägermeister decal on the passenger side front bumper, (you can see it's clearly missing from the photo 2 up). The 1:1 historic photo in this review shows white text on the bumper in this location so I'd say Fly missed this one.

The rear of the M1 looks great, huge rear wheels, rear window cover and rear wing give the car an aggressive appearance. The rear lights, gear box and exhaust detail complete the scene. The rear tail is glued in place but does have a small degree of movement and looks like it would stand up to countless hard knocks. There is limited under side chassis detail although I'm of the opinion that some detail under the chassis does add to the model even if you can't see it when the slot is running.

As you can see in the above photo, the M1 comes with huge rear rubber that is quite soft and grip well especially by Fly standards. I'm not aware if MJK or any other after market tire manufacture makes rubber for the BMW M1. Even if they do, I don't think this car would greatly benefit as it handles corners very well and little acceleration is lost due to lack of grip.

As you can see from the above and below photos, the M1 chassis is a tried and tested formula; a side-winder motor mount with a large bar magnet. The chassis reminds me of the Scalextric DTM chassis that are so good on plastic track. Similar to Scalextric cars, there is a location for a button magnet towards the front of the chassis. I'm happy to say that this car doesn't need anymore magnetic down-force. If you wanted to, you could add a little weight up front although my car had no deslotting issues during testing. This hole can also be used if wish to convert this car to digital.

The body comes easily away from the chassis via 4 screws, you will need to slip it out forwards due to the exhaust. The front axle is solid metal which is a relief as so many Fly cars come with stub plastic axles. There is however a fair degree of vertical travel in the front wheels and I can see how this may cause rubbing of the front guards. If your front wheels are rubbing on the body work of the car, this can cause a breaking effect that impedes the performance of the slot. My track has a high degree of vertical variation but I didn't experience any issues with the front wheels.

There is a massive amount of lateral movement in the rear axle, probably 2-3mm. This is a very common issue with Fly slot cars and the number one reason for their general 'from-the-box' average performance. Fortunately there is an easy fix and you won't need a doctorate in slot car medicine to administer it. What you need to do is eliminate the lateral movement in the rear axle. By installing a small shim (or washer) on the rear axle you will be able to eliminate this problem and transform your M1 into a beast.

Remove the chassis from the body and then remove one of the rear wheels, (typically the non-gear side wheel is easier) and insert the shim on the axle, then replace the wheel, (make sure the wheel is tight). Reassemble the slot and check the clearance to the rear guards, you don't want wheel rubbing on the body. I used two thin shims as the 'play' in the rear axle was large and I wanted to keep the body offset of each rear wheel the same for appearances. Be careful not to over shim as this can cause the rear wheels to rub on the rear guards.

Interior detail is good with roll cage, separate 5 point driver's harness, dash and steering wheel detail, rear view mirror and driver decals.


As previously discussed, you will need to modify the rear axle a little to get this slot really flying, pun intended. Once the rear end has been shimmed you will need to true the rear rubber. The rear rubber is not badly out of true but one of my rear tires had a mold lip on the outer edge. This would prevent the tire from rolling a little through the corners and also prevent 100 percent contact with the track. Once I had trued my tires the M1 really started to sing.

I previously compared the M1's chassis with that of a Scalextric DTM side-winder chassis. This is in chassis configuration only, the M1 is a very different car to drive than a Scalextric DTM. For one it's not stuck to the road and if pushed will slide coming out of corners. Although the M1 is only powered by an 18K standard Fly motor acceleration and braking is very good. Fly have chosen a 36 tooth spur and 11 tooth pinion gear which is the same configuration for all BMW M1s. It's a good gear ratio and accounts for the crisp acceleration and good breaking.

The M1 shows great potential as a racer, I've spoken to other M1 owners who run their M1s on wooden tracks and they also have good things to say about this great car. You could always upgrade the motor to a 21-25K, upgrade the rear tires and glide and add a little weight up the front and I'm thinking the results would be impressive!

Flys release of the BMW M1 was a master stroke as it is a very popular 1:1 race car. Releasing the BMW M1 in the popular Jägermeister livery was a stroke of genius. This car comes with a few small issues which I like to think of as 'Fly character'. Once these small issues are addressed, this car becomes a great looking, driver's slot car and you can't ask for more than that. Whether you race or shelf this car, you won't be disappointed for one second.

The Fly Jägermeister BMW M1 goes straight into 'Manic's collectible slotcars' list.

Manic Score Breakdown

  • Sex Appeal: 6th Gear
  • Collectibility: 6th Gear
  • Build Quality: 5th Gear
  • Attention to Detail: 6th Gear
  • 'RTR' Performance: 4th Gear

Overall Manic Score: 5.4 Gears

For more information of the BMW M1, head over to the unofficial BMW M1 Website;

Top Gear review of the BMW M1, (disastrous history)

BMW M1s in action at the Jim Clark Revival, 2007;


Saturday, 29 December 2007



For those of you new to the concept of slot car proxy racing, it's basically entering a car into a series of races on various different tracks typically in different cities and sometimes even in different countries. This means that slot car enthusiasts from all over the world can compete in common events even though they may have never met. If you haven't entered a proxy before, I can honestly tell you it's a lot of fun and a great way to find out more about our hobby and meet like minded people.

Your entry must be built to a specified set of regulations that govern aspects such as type of car, body, chassis and running gear, (motor, gears, tires, wheels, etc). Cars are then raced by round hosts, (typically the track owner and a few friends) and points awarded accordingly to overall round finishing position. Points are carried throughout the entire series, (usually 6-12 rounds) and the final standings determined at the end of the series. Round results and photos are posted on the web after each round so you can follow your entries progress.

The 2008 Down Under Proxy Race, (DUPR) will be organised by members of the Auslot Forums. Last year's DUPR was held over 10 rounds between April and September in Australia. This years proxy will be a similar format but a different category of motor car. The photo below shows last year's impressive line-up of Classic Sports Racing Cars 1960 to 1971. This year the proxy category will be Sports Sedans manufactured prior to 1990. You can find out more about this category of motor car here;

There is an entry fee of $AU12.00 for Australian entries and $AU17 for overseas entries, (all fees include the cost of return postage). To find out more, head over to Auslot Forums where you can read about the proxy and become a member if you like. The best thing about Auslot Forums is it's free and run by guys who love slot cars!

Everything you need to know about the DUPR 2008 can be found on the Auslot Forums here;

You can find the Rules and Regulations for the 2008 DUPR here;

List of 'ready-to-run' slot cars that are eligible for the event can be found here;


Friday, 28 December 2007

HOW-TO: Slot Car Scenery

How-To: Creating Professional Slot Car Scenery

So you're lucky enough to have the space for a permanent slot car track setup but it's missing something, somehow it doesn't look right. Well that something is most likely realistic looking scenery for your track layout. This 'how-to' is an introduction to the products and techniques you can use to create your own version of Bathurst, Le Mans or Monaco right in your own home.

Firstly a word of warning, this is not a task for the faint hearted and you wont finish in one afternoon. My track is 10 square meters in size and I'm estimating it will take 6 to 9 months and cost $1500 to complete. If that doesn't scare you off, then continue reading and you'll soon be on your way to a professionally landscaped track layout in no time.

There are many elements to the slot car hobby and track scenery is just another one.

If you've ever driven a slot car around a professionally landscaped slot car track you will know how good scenery adds to the enjoyment of our great hobby. One look at the above photo will confirm just how important scenery is. I designed my track layout over several weeks and then played around with the relief of the track for several more.

I needed to have a fair understanding of how the topology was going to look by this stage. Once I was happy, I then spent several weeks constructing 'I' sections from wood to adequately support my design. The unfortunate part of this was that while the track was great to drive, (there is nothing like vertical variation in a slot car track) it looked like a super highway minus the grey paint - horrible! What I desperately needed was to construct some good scenery.

Step 1 - Track Scenery Theme

The first thing you need to do can be one of the hardest steps or the easiest - you need to decide on a theme for your track. Summer, autumn, winter, spring, European Black Forest, Sahara arid desert, open-planned F1 style circuit, alpine snow covered or tropical lush green...maybe you can find inspiration from your favourite real-world track? When it comes to landscape the choices are endless and only limited to your imagination. I always bounce scenery concept of slot buddies, they will quickly tell you if your idea is on the nose!

The next thing you need to decide is what major scenery items will you incorporate into your design. Will you have a bridge, tunnel, grandstand, pedestrian over passes, river, lake, pit lane buildings, helicopter landing pad, race team area, forest, cliffs, hills or mountains.

You will also have to incorporate any equipment such as timing bridges, monitors, controllers, etc. It's a good idea to 'live' with your design for a while if you can. For example, I wanted to incorporate the above grandstand into my layout, so I set it where I thought it would look good for height, orientation and location. I then left it in position for a few weeks to see if I liked it or if there was a better position?
It's very important to get things mapped out 95% right during step 1, draw some rough layout plans of your design on paper and make sure it works. Plan, plan and then replan, getting it right at the start can save some major pain and cost down the road!

You can always use one of the many free track planning software tools to help you plan your layout. For helping with the design of my track I used Ultimate Racer 3.0 as it supports Carrera track (amongst others).

Above is an image generated from UR3 to give you an idea of what you're able to achieve, (text added using Photoshop although UR3 supports text). You can find a link to the software from our 'Links' page by clicking the below button.

Display ManicSlot's Slot Car Links

Step 2 - Creating The Elevation

This step is what I term 'filling in the gaps'. I wish there was a quick way to do this stage but if your layout is large and track elevated, then its going to take you some significant time. You need to build your scenery up to approximately the height of your track, unless your creating cliffs each side of your track. There are numerous ways to do this and it doesn't really matter which way you do it as long as you have a stable platform for your scenery.

One of the quickest ways can be to use MDF, (or similar material) to build up your track - like creating a false floor. This can be particular useful if you have highly elevated sections and want to be able to store items between the completed scenery level and the top of the track table. I created several storage holes, (right-hand side of the below photo) in my highly elevated areas that are assessable from holes in the sides of my table. I use these areas for storing slot toolboxes, bits and pieces and slots I actually don't own! ;)

Another quick method is use aluminum fly screen. Cut fly screen to the approximately size of the area you need to fill. Then using a staple gun, staple the fly screen to the edges of your track. You can see in the below photo what the fly screen looks like in position.

You don't need to cover 100 percent of the area just the majority of it, (note the gaps next to the track in the left of the below photo). Depending on the size of the area you are covering you may need to support it from underneath. My span was too large so I supported the fly screen with some foam blocks which could be removed after plastering or left to provide support.

Next, cover the area using plaster cloth, cut the cloth into small sections no greater that a foot long as it gets hard to manage. Be sure to overlap each piece of cloth as this gives the surface strength. At first I used a plaster cloth product by Woodland Scenics and although this product is excellent it is expensive if you have to cover large areas. If you are doing a small area then you can find this product at your local hobby store or online.

As an alternative you can buy plaster of paris in powder form, (Uni-Pro produce it, available in most hardwares) and using chux cloths you can achieve the same outcome. This method is MUCH cheaper although it will be a messier and you will have to work quickly or do small batches of plaster.

The fly screen method is used primarily to create a surface between your various track sections. One problem with the fly screen method is that you won't achieve much detailed shape from your landscape features. To add extra detail, for example small hills, ridges or rocks I use newspaper rolled into small balls and taped into position.

I have shaped polystyrene foam in the past for small projects and had a lot of success with it. However, for a larger job it is too time consuming so I use the newspaper/plaster cloth method. If you do decide to try some polystyrene foam, glue the roughly cut pieces into place using a PVA glue and them use a flame, (BBQ lighter is perfect) to melt the foam creating texture. Please do this in a well ventilated area, preferably outdoors.

In the below photo you can see how I've used newspaper to create small mounds along the side of the track. Once you are happy with your shape you can cover the newspaper with plaster cloth creating instant hills. The cloth dries in around 1 hour but has full strength after 24 hours. If you get any excess plaster on your track just use a damp cloth to wash it off.

In the below photo you can see how I've created a small hill onto of the aluminium fly screen and then finished with plaster cloth. You will also notice in the below photo that there is a darker, (beige colour) large section on the side of the small plaster cloth hill.

I decided to make this section of the hill a rock face and have covered it in putty. You could paint the plaster cloth but as the texture is quite smooth the result will not be very realistic. I use a coarse putty, (something for outdoor hardwoods is fine) and apply it roughly, you don't want a smooth surface here. Get a pair of disposable gloves and use a finger to lightly tap the wet putty creating raised featured.

Here is another example of a larger hill mostly covered with putty to add texture. This hill is just mounded newspaper covered in plaster cloth and covered with putty.

Step 3 - Painting

Once you have completed a section of your terrain it's time to apply some paint as a base layer. I use water colours which you can buy for a few dollars a tube from any hardware or craft store. You can water them down to make them easier to spread but don't water the colours down too much or you'll have to apply additional coats.

As my track theme was ever green, my base coat was a dark green coat. I then followed this with some mid brown and finally some white to add texture and highlight. If you haven't painted before don't worry, this is 1st grade painting so have some fun. Highlight some areas with more brown that would be naturally less grassy, ie step areas, muddy areas or areas you might place some small rocks later.

Areas that you have covered in putty will get a different colour treatment. Decide what colour rock faces you want, (black, dark brown, dark blue) your track to have and start with this colour as your base coat for these areas. These water colours dry very quickly, (around the hour) so you can apply a second base coat if required pretty quickly. Once the rock areas are completely dry it's time to see how good you were at making rocks.

Get a medium sized painters brush and dip it in some white paint. Using newspaper, wipe as much of the white paint off the brush as possible. You should basically have NO paint on your brush and if you were to paint your hand there would be no paint on it. Now take this paint less brush and brush the raised texture of the putty. You'll notice that there is actually some paint on the brush and that white paint is highlighting the putty texture creating the appearance of weathered rocks. This painting technique is termed 'dry brushing'. Have a look at the rock areas in the below photo.

The below photo shows some more areas that have been dry brushed to create a weathered rock appearance. The rock cliff in the bottom left-hand side of the photo was done with polystyrene foam.

Step 4 - Adding the Detail

Now that all the painting is finished you can add some detail like small rocks, grass, logs, bushes, rocks, etc. I also use Woodland Scenics products for this stage of the process, I have tried some cheaper products but the results have been less than favorable so I recommend not cutting corners during this final stage.

Woodland Scenics produce a huge range of different products so you have numerous texture and colour options here and they are available from most hobby stores. They are specifically designed to be used for model railway scenery but grass is grass. You can get fine turf, coarse turf, blended turf, clump-foliage, foliage clusters, etc., etc. in heaps of different colours.

I like to use at least 2 different colours of grass, (light colour grass on top to highlight) to do my grass areas. You can buy special Woodland Scenic shakers but I just use an old Parmesan cheese shaker. Firstly coat the area you are going to apply the grass to with a light coat of watered down PVA glue.

Once again Woodland Scenics make a product, (PVA based) you can spray onto areas instead of painting which is very handy but it's expensive so I paint during this phase. Once your area is adequately painted with PVA glue, sprinkle the grass lightly onto the area, don't use too much till you get the hang of it. If your applying a lighter grass for highlights, apply it once you have finished with you primary darker grass.

You can also get all kinds of sands and gravels so you can apply all of these different finishes at this stage. If you have any little rocks, (fish bowl rocks are good) you can apply them now in areas that you would naturally find rocks. Remember you are trying to create a realistic looking world so don't place rocks in funny places.

At this stage I also add some small bushes to add realism. I like to use a darker colour than the colours I have used for my grass so that the bushes stand out. The best thing I have found for bushes is Woodland Scenics clump-foliage, you get quite a large bag for $AU15 and you simply rip it into the size pieces you want.

Once you've placed all your grass, rocks, twigs, bushes, etc. it's time to seal it. Firstly use a clean brush to remove any grass from your putty rock areas and track. Using the spray PVA based adhesive I talked above previously, spray a fine mist of glue over all treated areas. This will act as a sealer and ensure you don't end up with grass all over your track and therefore onto your slot braids. If you get some over spray onto your track remove it straight away, (warm water) particularly on the rails.

Step 5 - Adding the Goodies

The last step is to add the little details that make all the difference. It's always difficult to source 1/32 scale static scenery items but you will find them in toy stores and hobby shops. Add a few of these items will really get your track looking fantastic.

In the above photo I purchased a 1/32 lifter for $AU9 from a toy farm range and converted it into a track-side crashed car remover. I trashed the remains of an old Fly B98 and bingo, great piece of slot car scenery.

You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to adding detail to your new layout and the more you add, the better and more realistic your track will look.  Checkout some of the follow-up scenery tips and tricks pages I've linked to at the bottom of this article; signage, helicopters, team transporters, pit lane buildings and even construction sites!

Step 6 - Adding Trees

One of the most effective scenery items you can add to your layout are trees. The main problem you're going to have is getting enough of them to make your layout look realistic. Even on a small layout, (several square metres) you're going to need dozens of trees to get a decent effect. Remember, the more realistic your track looks, the more fun it will be to race on.

You can purchase readymade trees from a number of companies (Faller, Woodland Scenics, JTT, etc.) but the realistic looking trees can be very expensive when you are looking at purchasing dozens or even up hundreds if your layout is as large as mine.

Let's face it, you'd rather be spending your hard earned dollars on new slot cars so you need a price effective way of producing mass trees. This is where making your own trees can save you serious dollars.

There are numerous ways of making model trees and some are better (or more realistic) than others. I like to make my tress and life-like as possible so I'm prepared to spend a little more to that end. As I describe this simple method for making your own trees, I'll also talk about some of the materials you can substitute to reduce the cost of the process even further.

The process of making your own trees is a little too detailed to cover here so I have created a seperate How-To article, you can find it below:

I've added a few photos of my track layout below to give you some ideas of just some of the things you can do with scenery. Good luck, enjoy yourself and don't be afraid to experiment as you can always paint or construct something again.

You can find some more scenery tips and photos at the following resources:

Find this useful?  You'll find more useful 'How-to' content, tips and tricks at the below link.

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