Monday August 30, 2004

 

New Artin 4 Lane Set
Is It Also The Best 2 Lane?

 

There simply isnít anything quite like opening a new slot car set. I have opened many of them over the years, and each time I do, it reminds of Christmas and my youth. This time was no different as the new Artin 4 lane set arrived intact and ready for me to act like a kid all over again.

 

Of course, we have already covered this set in our first review and not a great deal has changed. So why was I so excited? Well there have been a lot of improvements to the Artin system as a whole since that first review and I wanted to bring this to the attention of current and future enthusiasts. We also have discovered that this set is not only a great start in 4 lane racing, but can be easily converted to 2 lane racing and the size and amount of layouts you can make are more than you might think.

 

 

But before we get to that, there are some changes to this set in particular, and the most important one is the new models included. As we have said time and time again, these models will not win any scale accuracy awards. Scale detail is not the strong point of these models, but they have their place in our hobby all the same. The new 4 lane sets come with 2 Saleens, 1 Lola and 1 Lamborghini. All the models ran as expected out of the box and should plenty of fun for the new enthusiast.

 

 

For younger or beginning enthusiasts, they are perfect. They look well enough on the track for younger racers and they can withstand the punishment that comes from learning to race. They also are being used for kit-bashing by advanced enthusiasts. The chassis is inline of design and actually comes equipped with a guide that has a good amount of depth to the blade. These factors, along with a very low price make them perfect for projects or "guest" cars to protect your more expensive models from damage.

 

For example: The Artin Lola certainly isn't as scale accurate or detailed like the Fly Version. But does it have to be for your younger son/daughter? No. The children that visit our shop range in ages from 4 to 9 years old and they could care less if the wheels are wrong or the brake rotors are missing. I think you get the idea. Parents on tight budgets don't care either...they see the Artin models that cost $19.00 and are in big favor of them.

 

And in case you thought older enthusiasts won't race them...well, we do. Many times I have seen 4 veteran racers grab these cars and do battle on the track. Banging and slapping each other in the corners until they are laughing too hard to race. Simple and mindless fun is sometimes just what we are in this hobby to have, and these little models deliver that.

 

These models are often criticized by some "advanced" racers in our hobby, but they usually are failing to see that these models were never designed to be in "scale" or "racing" competition with other models such as those made by Carrera, NINCO, Fly and Scalextric. They are nothing more than inexpensive models that allow those on tighter budgets to get started enjoying our hobby and they do that very well.

 

 

Another subject that comes to mind is that a few years ago people said that Artin was limited in track designs due to the lack of specialty size track pieces. Since then Artin has brought out the 30 degree half R1, half straight, and the R3 double outer curve. These pieces alone allow much more flexibility in design. However, even based on the standard pieces found in the 4 lane set we have built our own Dixon Hills Speedway that is a wonderful layout to race on. 2 of the 4 lane sets is all it took to build this layout and you can read more about our construction here.

 

Inside the new sets there is a track design sheet that shows you many different layouts you can make. I thought this was very important as it clearly shows there are many designs to choose from and that this system is one that can grow over time. Enthusiasts reading this might like to know that some of these designs were made right here at our own Artin Message Forum and even more can be seen in the ARTIN Track Plan Online Library.

 

However, what if you donít need 4 lanes? This little fact escaped me when we did our first review, but enthusiasts here have pointed out how large a 2 lane layout you can build utilizing this system. We decided to see for ourselves just what kind of layouts we could build and the results were amazing!

 

4 Into 2

Our Goal Was To Produce Layouts Utilizing ONLY The Components Found In A Standard 4 Lane Set. No Specialty Track Or Additional Parts Were Used On Any Of The Layouts You See Below.

 

The power base is very easy to hook up. You simply only need to hook up one side of the transformer to the power base and then the 2 controllers. It just doesn't get any easier than that. You can use either the inner or outer lane depending on how you prefer it. For our layouts we chose the inner lane and just placed the other 2 cars on the outer lane.

 

 

For our first project, we decided to find out how large a NASCAR oval we could create using the 4 lane set. As the photo clearly shows...this is one large race track! End to end it measures 14 feet, 10 & 1/4 inch in length with the straights being 11 foot, 5 inches. That is simply a very long and fast oval and will fit on 2 4X8 tables put end to end easily. If you had even less width to work with, you could utilize the R1 corners instead of the R2.

 

 

But it doesn't stop there, not by a long-shot. Maybe you want a NASCAR layout that looks a little more realistic compared to the 1:1 tracks across the country? The first design we came up with was a generic "D" shaped oval as shown above in the photo. This layout adds a little more driving challenge and still only uses the components found in one standard 4 lane set.

 

 

A third layout is made to resemble more of a Daytona type shape. It is much wider of course, but is a incredibly fun layout to race on! These 4 layouts are just a few designs that are possible with this 4 lane set. However, what if you are an INDY fan? Well, you can make a very close replica of Indianapolis Motor Speedway again just using the standard 4 lane set. One thing you might notice is that all these layouts have a good number of the outer borders to allow the cars on the outside more room to slide. You may not think this is a big issue, but if you had to purchase these borders separately, it does start to add up. Again, the value of the Artin system keeps showing itself for us.

 

 

Coming back to our first oval, what if you would like to make a road course instead? Well here is where the design of the Artin R1 curves come in handy. You can easily make chicanes or a set of "esses" using the curves in place of the straights without the need for 1/4, 1/5 or any other odd sized straight. Using the leftover curve sections from the earlier oval, you can see the placement we chose to use them in "The Big One" layout pictured above. The R2 sections are very slightly shorter than 3 straights...but I mean VERY slight. To be honest, it is less than 1/8 of an inch which means all the track snaps together without any binding. Again, the above photo shows where we utilized the R2 corners on the left of our layout and it fit perfectly.

 

 

Once installed, you have a brand new road course in the same amount of space, and again the racing challenge just got better. The neat thing about this layout is the fact it utilizes all the track sections found in the 4 lane set.

 

The layouts we constructed were all built and raced on in one afternoon. Artin track is in my opinion the easiest track to assemble and take apart quickly. Of course there are more layouts you can design yourself, the above layouts were just a sample of the amount of track you get in a 4 lane set and what you can do with it in a 2 lane application.

 

Dollar for dollar I personally feel Artin is the best value in our 1/32nd scale slot car hobby. Compared to other 2 lane sets on the market, the $149.95 price tag of this Artin 4 lane system seems to make it also the best 2 lane available. With the holiday season fast approaching, those on tighter budgets should really look a little closer at what Artin has to offer.

 

- Harry

As always feel free to contact me about this article or just the hobby in general at harry@homeracingworld.com, or better yet drop into our Message Forum and share your thoughts with other enthusiasts!

Thanks go to SLOT CAR WORLD for providing us with this new set.
Check Out The All New Artin North America Website Too!