Monthly Archives: February 2016

Carrera D132 Hybrid Power Slot Car Race Set

Carrera Digital Hybrid Power Race Set Review

By Jeremy ‘bibbster’ Bibbee

One of the newest slot car race sets released from Carrera, the D132 (which is short for Digital  1/32) Hybrid Power Race Set, item #30173, comes with everything you need to play. And boy will you be able to play with this set! To assist me in reviewing all the neat features and benefits of this set, I’ve enlisted two of my kids. This will offer you a family review of the set, which is what slot car racing at home is about; doing something with your family that is fun!. Of course, as we know, most of the time if kids like it, you know it’s a winner. And since we’re not dealing with Brussels sprouts, I know the kids will like it!

Hybrid_Set

We began unpacking the parts from the box, organizing them in stacks by like parts. While the package contains many parts, they are all easily identifiable. The set came with a very nice operating manual that goes into every detail of the set including how to set up the track as well as how it operates. The manual is very lengthy for parents with kids who are eager to race, so thankfully, Carrera included a ‘Quick Start Guide’ with the set. The ‘Quick Start Guide’ covers all the necessary steps to get everyone ready for playing quickly. While the ‘Quick Start Guide’ allows for fast play, I recommend reading the operating manual in order to use the set to its fullest. While it is not hard to operate the set, the more you understand all the parts and how they work, the more fun you and your family will have with it.

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Also included in the set is a product warranty card. This card should be filled out and returned so that, should you need a part replaced under warranty, Carrera can more quickly assist you. Additionally, this card allows Carrera to contact you should there be any recalls that you need to be aware of. So take just a few minutes and fill this card out and return it.

Documentation

As we continued to unpack the parts, the kids made their way to the cars. The Hybrid race set contains two digital cars, a Porsche 918 Spyder in a race livery, and a Ferrari LaFerrari in a street livery. If you didn’t know, this set gets its name from the fact that both of the actual cars represented as slot cars in this set are hybrid cars. This means that the cars operate as both electric and fuel combustion. You can find more information on these cars by doing a simple internet search. You’ll find that the D132 Porsche 918 Spyder and Ferrari LaFerrari look almost identical to their full scale counterparts. Katelyn, 11, picked up the Ferrari LaFerrari, looked at it a bit and said, “These cars are really detailed.” At about the same time, Kelsey, 8, grabbed the Porsche and exclaimed, “I like the stripes!” As with all the newest offerings of cars from Carrera, the detail on the cars is impressive, especially considering their low cost. There is lots of value in those little toy cars when it comes to quality and fun.

Porsche_918_Ferrari_LaFerrari

As we finished unpacking the box of parts, Katelyn said, “Man! How big is this track?” The Hybrid race set comes with twenty eight feet of track that sets up in a 10’ by 6’ area. While this isn’t the largest set offered by Carrera, it affords plenty of racing action along the 28’ of track. And if you consider that you can race your car in both lanes, that essentially doubles the length! Should you decide that the track needs to be bigger, additional track sections can be purchased to add on to your existing set.
As we put the track pieces together we made sure to use the interlocking red clips that came with the set. These clips help to ensure that the track stays together where each piece is joined to the next. We found that inserting the clips into one end of the first piece of track that we started with and then adding the next piece of track was the easiest way to install them. Just repeat the process until you have the entire track assembled. It goes rather fast once the first couple of track sections are joined.

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We worked our way around the track piece by piece which brought us to the first digital section of track. So I showed them the lane change pieces and explained to them how they worked as we assembled them. We continued putting the rest of the track together as indicated in the instructions, which included another lane change section, the power base and the controller charging station.

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Controller charging station? Yep, that’s right, the controllers use rechargeable Li-po batteries (included) and charge on a special piece of track border. Not only are the controllers battery operated, they are wireless. The controllers feature 2.4 GHz technology and are good up to a range of about fifty feet or so. Upon seeing the controllers, Katelyn asked, “Are these controllers cordless? Awesome!” So not only was Katelyn excited, I was as well. Having wireless controllers means that the kids, and adults, won’t be getting tangled up in cords and we don’t have to stay right next to the track. We found that the controllers responded just like the wired versions. They are easy to use and easy to charge. One more feature is interchangeable color coded plunger buttons. This allows racers to be assigned a color which helps keep things straight.
Installation of the batteries is fairly simple though the plugs are very small. Even my daughter with small fingers had a hard time with them. A slightly longer pigtail on the controller would be helpful. You will need a small screwdriver to remove and reinstall the battery cover since a screwdriver is not provided. I think that Carrera could easily include a low cost screw driver for this making it a true ‘everything in one box’ product.

Controller_PartsRemoving_Controller_Battery_CoverInstalling_Controller_BatteryController_Battery_Installed_Replacing_Cover

Included in the set are sections of ‘guardrail’ that can be installed in key turns around the track. These barriers help to keep the cars from getting too far off the track should the racing become a little heated. When the racing is side by side, racers tend to push the car to it’s limits causing the car to deslot from time to time. Just like real cars, you have to slow down in the turns! The barriers are held into place with clips which snap onto the edge of the track. Then the barrier slides into the clips which can then be adjusted left to right as necessary.

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Now that the girls and I had the track assembled, we were ready to start playing.

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With that overview of the set and how some of the parts function, let me get back to what slot car racing is…it’s all about F-U-N! That is a simple three letter word that is sometimes easy to forget exists these days. My daughters and I, after setting everything up, enjoyed lots of racing. What is great though, is that while we were having fun racing, we were also talking to one another and interacting in ways that families should. When someone would drive too fast into a corner and deslot, we’d all laugh and joke about it. Sure, there is a time for serious racing and if you want to do that, this set, as well as the others offered by Carrera can provide that, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the fun. With fun comes great memories and an environment where families can break free from the chaos of life and just smile and relax.
My kids will tell you just how much fun racing slot cars is if you ask them. Guess what? So will my wife. Slot car racing is something that the whole family can enjoy. While there technically can be one winner, after only a few laps, it will be easy for you to see that everyone is a winner by nothing more than the smiles on the faces of each racer, or even those just watching. So give this set a try, you and your family will be glad you did!

A Triple Threat: Carrera Porsche 917K

Review by: Jeremy ‘bibbster’ Bibbee

What could be better than a Porsche 917K in 1/32 scale manufactured by Carrera? How about two Porsche 917Ks in 1/32 scale? How about three?! I’ll be reviewing all of the recently released Porsche 917Ks from Carrera which comes in two liveries; the Martini International Watkins Glen 6h, No. 35 (digital item# 30737) and the Martini International Kyalami 9h, No. 2 (digital item# 30736), the latter of which is also available in analog (item# 27498). I’ll take a look at all three of these cars, and though their mechanicals are the same, they all deserve a look especially if you like Porsches and slot car racing.

While the Porsche 917K has been produced by other slot car manufacturers, the releases from Carrera beat them all by a long shot. There is a lot of value and several features that make these cars shine. Hopefully I’ll be able to provide you with some information to help you decide which model(s) you will choose.

Porsche917K_Track_Shot_Front

Before I go any further, I want to speak about the value aspect of Carrera slot cars for a moment. There are no other manufacturers that offer 1:32 scale slot cars at the price point that Carrera does. Period. While there are occasionally analog cars offered at similar prices, they usually have blacked out windows and no interior, among other things. Where is the fun in that? For approximately $32 USD, you get a very close representation of an actual car, interior, driver, and all. For about $12 more, you can get the digital version which comes with lights as well as the opportunity for you to change lanes, make pit stops, and various other features that come with digital racing. So overall, Carrera has the dollar, fun, value, and feature ratios set at a place where anybody can enjoy the hobby of slot car racing.

Porsche917K_2_InteriorPorsche917K_35_Interior

As I mentioned earlier, there are three models available from Carrera, which brings us to our first feature; digital and analog options. Whether you race digital or analog, Carrera has you covered in more than one way. If you are an analog racer, you can easily convert all Carrera digital cars to analog mode with the flip of a switch on the bottom of the car. After flipping the switch, put the car on the track and depress the controller throttle three times. The car is now in analog mode. Purchasing a digital car affords you to have lights in your car. Analog cars do not come with lights so if you like lights, go with the digital version(s).

Porsche917K_Side_by_Side_Night

The digital versions provide you with two liveries to choose from; the Martini International Watkins Glen 6h, No. 35 (digital item# 30737) and the Martini International Kyalami 9h, No. 2 (digital item# 30736). Both liveries look very nice and you may as well not settle on one. Go ahead and get them both, they are Porsches after all! Seriously though, each model is executed very well. The sponsor logos, text, numbers, and other graphics are all very crisp and the colors are vibrant. You can see just how nice these cars look in the various pictures throughout this review. So while other makers produce a detailed 917K, Carrera has upped their game over the years and provides a striking execution of this iconic race car that runs very well, as you’ll hear about later, for very little money.

Porsche917K_35_Front_EndPorsche917K_35_Fan_Closeup

The size of the car is very close to scale as well. While it isn’t spot on, the Carrera 917K is close enough that you won’t be able to tell, which makes it a very good representation of its full size counterpart. Here is the rundown on the measurements of the full size car and the slot car model.

1:1 – Length / Width / Height / Wheelbase 4,120 mm  /  1,980 mm  /  940 mm  /  2,300 mm
1:32 (True scale) 128.75 mm  /  61.87 mm  /  29.37 mm  /   71.87 mm
Carrera Model 130.51 mm  /  61.30 mm  /  29.20 mm  /  72.40 mm

Porsche917K_Nose_to_Nose

Porsche917K_Side_by_Side

Here you will see the mechanicals of the cars. The pictures below allow you to see the digital chip which is required to run on the Carrera digital track system. As mentioned earlier, you can run digital cars on analog track with the chip in place. The gear ratio is 3.37:1, by way of an 8 tooth pinion and 27 tooth crown gear. While typical gearing in Carrera cars is 3:0 (9T pinion and 27T crown), this car utilizes a motor that allows it to be competitive with other cars using the standard gearing. The motor in the 917K is a FF-050 (slimline) and is rated at 25,000 rpm. The extra rpm’s allow it to keep up easily with other cars motored with the Carrera E-200, which is rated at 21,000 rpm.

Porsche917K_Internals

Notice that the lights at the front of the car are each on separate circuit boards. With the slope at the front of the body, a single circuit board is not possible. While the full size 917K did have brake lights, the Carrera model does not. You can’t blame them though as the car doesn’t lend itself to the required wiring and such while keeping kids safety in check. For those like myself that may have an urge to add brake lights to this car, the rear light plug (orange/white wire) is present on the digital chip so wiring will be pretty straight forward.

Porsche917K_Internals_Again

Porsche917K_Track_Shot_Reara

Carrera has done a nice job on blocking out most of the residual light from the LED’s, but there is still some very minor bleed through. The most noticeable amount of escaping light comes from the underside of the car, which you can see in the photo below. It is more prevalent on the #35 car than the #2 car that I have. If it really bothers you, some strategically placed black paint and/or electrical tape will take care of it. Me? I’m gonna race ‘em!

Porsche917K_Body_Underside

Porsche917K_Side_by_Side_Night

The bottom of the chassis shows the item number, the dip switch to change the car from analog to digital and the IR sensor (located on the digital chip), as well as the guide and magnets (one located just forward of the rear wheels and one inside the chassis just below the item number).

Porsche917K_Chassis_Bottoma

Okay, so how do they run? When reviewing slot car I take them right out of the box and head to the track. On my way to the track, there are three things that I do; make sure the front and rear wheels spin freely, make sure the guide braid is adjusted so that it makes good contact with the track rails, and make sure the guide turns freely. Carrera cars come from the factory with a decent amount of lubrication on the gears and axles which usually suffices for testing. All Carrera cars come with an instruction sheet on maintaining your slot car. It is easy to skip reading it since it is in the back of the case and we’re usually anxious to get started with racing, but give the sheet a good once over and you’ll be set for future purchases as the procedures are the same for all of their cars.

Porsche917K_Side_by_Side_Front

All three cars ran very smooth on my custom routed wood track. Typically, if a car is smooth on that track, it will be smooth on my Carrera digital track. That held true with all three of these cars. I had a spare digital chip, which can be purchased separately for any analog car (item# 26732), so I put it in the analog car and tested it on my digital track as well. Lane changing functions worked well as did all the other functions of digital racing, including pit stops, lap counting, and so on. Again, analog cars do not come with lights which means no night racing for this particular model.

Grip from the tires on both tracks was good for two of the three cars. One rear tire on one car was significantly harder than the others. It reminded me of Carreras old tire compound from a couple years ago. The tires, while the did have some grip, would quickly begin to lose traction. Their newer tire compound is almost more of a urethane type as they are much softer and hold their grip for many more laps over the older versions. Aside from that one single tire, the cars performed very well in the tire department.

In less than fifty laps, on each track, the cars became very predictable making them easy to control. Speed out of turns was quick with very little tail-out action. Braking was smooth and crisp with the cars stopping in less than a foot from full throttle to zero on both wood and plastic track. I was able to drive deep into the turns and find the sweet spot for exiting quickly. Racing these cars is loads of fun!
In conclusion, this model definitely does not disappoint in the looks department or the fun department. As I mentioned before, you’ll be hard pressed to find this much fun in an affordable package in the slot car hobby. Adding this model to your collection, whether it is the first slot car you buy, or you have hundreds, is a must! So give this one a try, you won’t regret it!