5 March 2015

SCX 1/32nd Scale McLaren F1 - 2014 "Magnussen Deco 2014"

The offerings from SCX have been few and far between since the company basically went through a restructure a few years ago. Since my taste in slot cars often differs greatly than what most companies offer, most of the latest arrivals have little interest to me.
Except for one.

Normally, F1 models rarely see my track. I am not much of a fan of the series, especially the modern era. But the funny thing about slot cars is that even though you may not care much for a particular series in the1:1 world, they somehow catch your eye in scale. Maybe it's just because you know how fun they are regardless of the type? I am certainly guilty of that. If I have friends side by side and we are laughing and enjoying the cars on the track, what exact type of car is normally not that important.

This model is odd because it's not really new. It's advertised as "Deco 2014" and the livery and driver Kevin Magnussen is from 2014. Any diehard F1 fan can see this is a MP4-24 car. So this mold has been around for quite a few years. Does it bother you that they simply put new paint on such an older model?

One one hand it bothers me because it's simply not the way to approach things in today's hobby. Perhaps a one year difference might be ok as long as the body shape and details are very close. But this is pushing it a little too far. You might say that it's "close enough" if you are not a real F1 fan, but I assure you it will not be for them.
On the other hand it doesn't bother me that much. The ONLY reason is that I did not buy this car because I am an avid fan of F1 or the driver. I wanted it because SCX F1 models have always been FUN to race. Aside from the scale issues the model will be enjoyed, I am certain of that. I felt this way about the recent NINCO F1 models which do not even have any real team decos. Old mold and inaccurate paint aside, the car itself is a fun slot car and I expect this one to be as well.

The finish is fair overall. I say that as I noticed some flash molding on the sides as shown on the photo. The left side has a much smaller amount of but this side is very pronounced. Many enthusiasts have used the term "toylike" when it comes to describing early SCX finishes and although that sounds a bit strange as it IS a toy, it sort of fits. Perhaps when compared to other offerings it simply seems more like a toy than a model. In any case, it does seem less impressive overall when comparing it to the last new mold SCX offered: The Lotus Renault R31.

One item you might find interesting is the front and rear wings are very flexible. Made from a lexan type material, this will allow these parts to withstand some pretty hard crashes.
Looking underneath I found no surprises at first. You have a basic inline configuration and bar magnet at the rear. You can loosen these screws to give the car more downforce depending on your taste in driving.

I did notice that it seemed to have a different motor than the last model we looked at. Looking at the Lotus Renault again, we see the newer "RK" series of motors that SCX was switching to at that time. I was curious and decided to open the car up and have a closer look.

When you take the model apart there are 3 screws, with one of them being up front right under the guide. It's a little hard to see at first.

Inside we see the older style RX-44B motor. It does not surprise me to see SCX use this motor in such an older model. In the wake of basically starting from scratch and returning to the hobby, I am just happy to see any model at all. Using inventory that they likely had on hand to release the models makes sense. And I actually prefer these motors. In simple terms, they have a more robust brush system inside and with break-in, they just become a nice running powerplant.
Veteran enthusiasts have all sorts of speed secrets for these motors. From the very advanced to the simplistic. I am on the simple side. I lightly oil each end of the motor and just run it. Why? Because that is what most average home racers will do. Taking time to break it in at low voltage or dunking it in what ever concoction you think is best is left up to you.

The motor is a 18K range motor and provides plenty of speed and torque. It has the standard gearing of a 9 tooth pinion and 27 tooth crown gear. I inspected the rear axle and wheels and they seemed very straight and true. Since I had it apart I decided to install the rear axle in the Tire razor and give it a quick truing. it needed minimal sanding which was a good sign. I noticed a very slight wobble of the crown gear but I mean slight. So I won't be changing anything unless it fails.

Once I cleaned up the wheels I swapped to Paul Gage tires. #21128 fits as good as it gets and just needed a little more time on the Razor to get them true.
And this is the only thing I changed. No other modifications. It was time to give it a run and see what we had in store for us.

I decided to match it up right away with the Lotus model to see how close the action would be with the different motors. My friend John had this model shortly after the release and it needed new tires. After new PG's were installed it was time to see if we had a good match up.

The results were exactly what I hoped. These 2 models are as close as you could ask for. Each had lap times in 3.8 second range. The motors seemed to have very identical performance, although you might find different on your track. Our track is smaller and the difference in the motors was unnoticeable. It was traction that mattered and new tires took care of that. We had a quite a contest with these cars and I can just see that they will get better as we tune them.

What do you think is your main reason for choosing a particular slot car? Is it the car itself as many others do? Perhaps you are a fan of the driver? Or just the series? What if I said that sometimes I choose a model based on how much fun I think it will on the track?

That might sound odd, but it's true. The appeal of open wheel slot car racing, regardless if it is modern or classic, is simply the ACTION. Models such as this one have delivered hours of fun on our track because they most often run very well without much tuning and the close wheel to wheel action has us smiling from the drop of the green flag.

And this model delivered what I had hoped. So in that regard I have to give the model a good overall review. With the price at PowerSlots of $39.95 I feel it's a decent buy. A little more than a Carrera and less than a Scalextric. In some ways you might feel it's too high when you figure it's not a new mold. I suppose that is fair enough. But if you are looking for a new F1 model to either get started or to join your existing series, I think it's worth considering.

All in all it's a nice slot car that works well out of the box with minimal tuning. On a wood track, non magnet. In my book that is a pretty good reason to give it praise, old or new.

- Harry
Feel free to contact me about this article or just our hobby in general.

This review Sponsored by Power Slot Cars.

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