Black Beauty Slot Car Model Kit from Polar Lights
October 15, 2012
Product: Polar Lights has released a slot-car kit that is retro in every sense of the word. The 1:32-scale Green Hornet Black Beauty is a model of a 1960s television icon. This kit, and a similar kit for the original Batmobile, are slot-car kits reminiscent of the 1960s.
Performance: While everyone knows Batman’s story, the Green Hornet is a bit more mysterious.
The Green Hornet was a masked crime fighter on a radio show in the 1930s. Green Hornet comic books were published starting in 1940, and the Green Hornet’s guest appearance on the 1960s Batman television show led to a spinoff show. In that spinoff show, the Green Hornet drove the Black Beauty, a customized 1960s Chrysler Imperial with green headlights and armaments built into its bumpers.
As a slot-car kit, the Black Beauty featured an adjustable-length sheet-metal chassis, a can-style electric motor and a plastic body. Buyers of the kit will need to assemble literally everything.
I spent four evenings assembling the car and ran into a few problems.
I struggled getting the setscrew deep enough in the plastic crown gear to keep the gear from slipping on its axle. I finally resorted to using a longer screw from my parts bin.
The car came with clear styrene windows and an optional vacuum-formed window piece. I chose the vacuum-formed piece, but it was too long once the plastic rear-window trim was inserted, so I cut and spliced the vacuum-formed piece.
I decided to paint the black plastic of the body casting for a better appearance. The kit box stated that the car includes decals, but there were none in my Black Beauty sample, and I’m not sure if the Black Beauty actually had any markings.
The final assembly called for using double-sided tape to mount the body to the chassis. I positioned the mounting brackets in several different configurations, but none came close to reaching the width of the inside of the body. To solve this dilemma, I glued Evergreen styrene square tubes to the inside of the body to bring the body and chassis close enough together for the tape to work.
As a slot car, the Black Beauty’s performance was 1960s-style. There were no magnets for enhanced traction, so the car moved at a leisurely pace with plenty of tail wagging in the curves. Since the chassis was made from sheet metal, I attached some spare magnets to the car to pull both the electrical-pickup braids and the rear axle down to the track surface, and performance improved. However, the relatively hard tires did not have much grip on my plastic Scalextric Sport track.
Marketing: The Polar Lights Black Beauty and the similar Batmobile were packaged in attractive boxes that featured period artwork and clear cutouts to show customers key components of the kits.
You’ll want to make sure buyers understand what they are getting and that they have some model-building skills, as well as knowledge of slot-car mechanics.
As both a slot car and a plastic model kit, the Black Beauty will offer plenty of opportunities for add-on sales. Fine sandpaper, glue, paint and brushes will be needed for the plastic body. Small hand tools, light oil in a needlepoint dispenser and a tube of plastic-friendly grease will be needed for the slot-car chassis. I also suggest Cyanoacrylate cement (super glue) to glue the plastic axle bearings to the steel chassis.
Packages of stick-on weights and traction magnets for slot cars will improve the car’s on-track performance, but the Black Beauty by design will not equal the speed and handling of Scalextric, Carrera, SCX, Ninco and other brands of slot cars with traction magnets.
Product: Black Beauty Slot Car Model Kit
Maker: Polar Lights
Stock number: SCPOL884/12
Availability: Round 2
• Old-school looks and assembly
• Blends model kit and slot car
• Some creative assembly required