Why TCR got a "bum rap" for years, until now..
We were there in 1977 when the first TV commercials aired for TCR Slotless Racing. Everyone was so excited and the public loved the concept. Who wouldn't want to "break the mold" of traditional slotted racing with a new technology adding the ability to change lanes? The falling slot car market needed something to revitalize it and it seemed TCR was just that. The public responded favorably with big sales in 1977 and 1978. TCR had rekindled the love of slot cars once again. Or so it seemed..
Then from 1980 to 1992, TCR sales (and sales of all slot cars) dropped significantly as the public shifted focus to other toys such as video games. While some of the traditional slotted slot cars (and their perspective companies) survived the 1990's, TCR pretty much vanished from the market. Why? What happened to the great concept of changing lanes that the public once loved?
The concept was not the problem, but rather the execution, marketing and even the companies themselves that spelled disaster for TCR. Many factors lead to TCR not getting the recognition it deserved and every one of these factors are either no longer a problem today or can easily be overcome with the information on this site alone. So forturntely for us, none of the original factors are relevant today. TCR slotless racing is still alive and well with collectors and slot car fans across the globe and is making a comeback. It has always had a cult-like following. We are excited to not only help keep the hobby alive, but to make it even more popular. The concept of slotless cars changing lanes is just as appealing today as it was back in 1977 when it all started.
Factors which lead to TCR's early demise:
Great idea at the wrong time - In the 1960's slot cars were in their hayday, a family toy with parent involvement (like the model railroads who's roots they were durived from) and this played a major role in why they were so successful. By the late 1970's, marketing of slot cars had shifted to kids and teens only. Slot cars (all types) were sadly marketed like hot wheels and matchbox cars and treated as such. The intricate and high quality TCR cars, built to last, to be maintained, repaired and rebuilt, like a 1960's slot car.. they didn't fit their own marketing!
The Toy Companies that produced them were all failing - Ideal, Aurora and Tyco were all headed for bankruptcy. TCR was on a sinking ship as these companies went out of business.
Too advanced for the consumers it was marketed to - Toy companies like Ideal and Aurora were airing their commercials in the 1970's during Saturday Morning Cartoons, targeting 10-14 year olds. TCR slot cars and tracks require maintenance that most teenagers just couldn't do. Interestingly, TCR did much better in Europe and remains a popular product, even today, which surely was due to better marketing there to an older (adult) consumer. Even Carrera succeeded with their Servo slotless system in Germany and it sold well into the 2000's. We never saw it in America.
The track layouts included in sets failed to show the potential of TCR - Oval tracks, allowing cars to stay on the outside lane, almost never coming off the track and no reason to lane change.. This ruined the whole concept. By the time the 1/8 round and sharper 7" curves were offered to help realize the potential, it was too late. 2 years into the sales already.. So many people were already stuck with the silly ovals and we're disappointed with the concept.
Optimizing the cars was too advanced for the time - limited information was provided with the cars on how to properly maintain and improve them, while of course consumers had no internet or even books for this information. Add to that the shrinking hobby shops at the time and even your friendly neighborhood toy store was unable to help.
Other factors - included the toy-like grey color of the tracks, not the traditional black that all of the more mature and advanced sets always had. TCR was probably the highest quality and most advanced slot car system you could buy in 1977 and yet the marketing and execution cheapened it. The really cool accessories like the electronic boosters and crossfire tracks came too late and most consumers never saw them at all, around 1980, well after the initial high volume sales were over and public interest was dying off.
In some ways it's nice that TCR has enjoyed a cult-like following all of these years, but it is still sad that it never got the recognition it so deserved and seems largely misunderstood, even by most slot car enthusiasts. Until now.. This site is here to to help "set the record straight"..
The Advantages of Slotless Racing
At TCRSlotCar.com we are fans of all slot cars and systems. There are pros and cons with any system and finding the best elements of them is part of the fun. Whether slotted or slotless, most of the same elements of the hobby exist. The competitive element of racing to win, the modeling, building, maintaining, repairing, modifying, etc. There are, however some unique differences between slotted and slotless car racing itself.
In Slotless racing the cars can still be fast enough to fly off the track with too much speed, but instead of the driver focusing on vehicle dynamics only to maximize speed and laptimes, tracks are setup with obsticles and jam cars (drones) to force lane changes for optimum speed and to win. This creates a different twist to the same goal. To fine-tune the speed and laptime element, accessories such as the speed equalizer and electronic booster can be used. It is more challenging to build a competitive track design in TCR because of all of the possibilities, but the added effort and creativity will pay off with a very fun experience.
Some of the Accessories that make Slotless Racing fun:
The Crossfire Track allows 2 circuts to be combined or a choice of 2 ways to get to the finishline. It also allows jam cars to run in the opposite direction for added excitement as the potential for a head-on collision! This track also adds the element of "merging traffic" and cut-offs, it is 4 lanes wide
Jumps were included in some sets and can be found separately as well as build your own! Without slots, jumps work very well in slotless racing. Cars can fly though the air and land on a powered track to continue going. This is simply not possible with slotted cars.
The Speed Equalizer allows you to balance out the power between the tracks/cars to compensate for faster/slower cars or simply handicap the better driver! The red slider on the power track allows you to adjust which track gets more power. This evens out the playing field for even more competitive racing.
More coming soon..