Aifix Collectors Club

 
Airfix Motor Ace

Motor Racing

Motor Ace &

Airfix:MRRC

Leaflets & Catalogues

Airfix Motor Racing was first announced at the February 1962 Toy Fair and in the March 1962 issue of Airfix Magazine where it was described as, “Table–top ‘dicing’ for Armchair Enthusiasts”. Later it would be rebranded as “Motor Ace” and finally “Airfix:MRRC” to reflect the takeover of Bournemouth-based Model Roads Racing Cars (see CS3).

Also released at the same time was a kit of the Morris Mini-Minor, which would later be offered as a motorised conversion kit for the racing sets and is the one Airfix car kit that was purchased by Jersey-based MRRC when Airfix went under in 1981.

I was just twelve when the first set was released and because it was Airfix I couldn’t wait to get one. I got my set for Christmas 1962. Rather like the later trains the cars were better detailed than the Scalextric ones and included ‘full Ackerman steering’ (whatever that was to a 12-year old, but the wheels did pivot whereas the Scalextric ones didn’t).

However, the down-side was that I don’t think the cars were quite as robust as Scalextric and the exhaust pipes, wing mirrors and roll bars were likely to break in a serious crash. Later, along with the wheels, they would be ‘chromed’ and windscreens added. There was also a limit to the number of times the body shells could be unscrewed before a new body had to be bought.

The first set was the MR11 (11 feet of double track) which retailed for £5 17s 6d (£5 87 ½ p). Later the set was reduced to £4 19s 11d (£5) when certain improvements were made to the track and fittings.

Over the years I carefully collected any leaflets or catalogues that appeared and so I think that my list is fairly complete but there may be one or two different ones out there or minor variations on the ones I have listed.

The first leaflet to be issued was a small black and white one some 3 inches by 3 inches (76 mms x 76 mms). It may have been included in the first boxed set but I really cannot remember. The second leaflet was two-sided and had all the accessories listed on one side with the two sets shown in colour on the other. It measured 129 mms x 203 mms in portrait mode. I picked up two so I could stick mine onto the wall above my racing set, before, of course, I realised how valuable they would become!
 

      
 

Since the MR11 set was revised and reduced to £4 19s 11d in March 1963 and the MR15 introduced in April 1963 we can deduce that this was not released until mid 1963. Also released at around the same time and possibly before the second leaflet was the first of the “here’s how” leaflets. These were all in landscape mode and consisted of four pages, each measuring 203 mms x 129 mms. I have two of the first issue and both are identical except for the price of the Power Unit (5048) which is given as 37/11 or 42s. The Power Unit was released in late 1962 at 42s so I am not sure which is first or whether the lower price is a misprint.
 


 

The next issue had a revised price list which now included the Grandstand and Motorised Car Kits which were announced in the August 1964 Airfix Magazine. The next issue was released around mid1965 for it featured the new MR185 set which was announced in July 1965 in Airfix Magazine. The inside of the leaflet was completely revised to reflect the new cars and sets (MR15 was effectively replaced by MR125).

In 1966 we had two revised leaflets each showing 1966 on the front. The first had the same insides as the earlier but featured increased prices for the four sets. The back cover had a revised list of accessories without prices and the first of the new “Clubman Special” kits was revealed. The second had slightly increased prices for the sets and a revised price list on the back.

Also in 1966 was a further four page leaflet, measuring 142 x 207 mms in portrait mode. One I have includes a yellow insert which announced price increases effective from 1st January 1966. The cover illustration was a great improvement and I recently found out were executed by Michael Turner who it seems was employed to paint several pictures for the later leaflets and catalogues. Some of these are reproduced in colour.

First Edition Catalogue – 3d:

Announced in the January 1965 Airfix Magazine was the new colour catalogue for the Motor Racing. It was the first of three similar catalogues, each measuring 203 x 144 mms. It ran to 12 pages in landscape mode. The cover illustration was fairly crude as were the pictures of the cars inside.

The MR11 and the short-lived MR15 were shown. The centre pages illustrated the 10 available cars including the four Motorised Construction Kits. The back page was devoted to a yellow price list and showed the MR7 set at £3 17s 6d.
 

Second Edition Catalogue – 4d:

I have not found a publication date for this catalogue but it was probably in late 1965. It ran to 16 pages and showed all four racing sets, MR7, MR11, MR125 and MR185. The MR15 set had been dropped. For some reason the Porsche was dropped from the sets and replaced by the Cooper although it was still available separately. The illustrations inside were of a superior quality and the price list on the rear was more comprehensive.
 




 

Third Edition Catalogue – 4d:

Very similar to the Third Edition, it was probably released in early 1966. The new Clubman Specials were shown. There were no prices shown on the “Price List” on the back page. But the four sets were priced inside, at slightly higher prices than before. Some of the above leaflets will have been issued to be given away alongside these catalogues.
 


 

Fourth Edition Catalogue – 6d (2.5p):

A totally new catalogue was issued in 1967 and was now in portrait mode and measured 153 x 230 mms. It ran to 20 pages and included the exciting new Monte Carlo MR205 set, which was advertised in Airfix Magazine for April 1967. A separate cream coloured price list was included in the catalogue. The AIRFIX:MRRC logo was increasingly being used. A reprint featured "Latest 1968 Additions" on the cover and probably included the 1968 leaflet below.
 

            
 

1968 Edition (5th?) Catalogue – 6d:

The 1968 catalogue (which may have been the 5th Edition) was now 24 pages but the same overall size as the 4th Edition. It carried the catalogue number 904041 on the back and the front cover now proclaimed that the range was called “Motor Ace”!

The new MR300 set (31.5 feet of track) was revealed which used the two new Honda and Eagle Westlake ‘made up’ cars. ‘Hi-Speed’ banked track was new to the range. Also shown was the new Motor Ace “Accessory Pack” which included many of the track and trackside accessories. A slightly modified price list (PL904041) was inserted inside.
 


 

Leaflets:

More leaflets were issued during 1968. The first, which showed the 1968 catalogue on the back was a simple two-sided one, measuring 140 x 203 mms. One side was devoted to ‘Motor Ace’ and the other to the three Museum Models and catalogues for the other Airfix ranges, and one is shown on page 78 of Arthur Ward's “TV & Film Toys” included in the Pan Am 2001 kit.
 


 

Later in 1968 came the “Latest 1968 Additions” leaflet, a four page version of the one above. It was in fact a condensed version of the 1968 catalogue and may have been available as an insert for the 4th Edition catalogue as well as being given away on the counter top. A Michael Turner painting of Monte Carlo Minis adorned the front cover.
 


 

Yet another leaflet was produced at this time which I think was intended to be included in Kits, etc, (see above) as all three of mine are neatly folded down the middle and I seem to remember several kits having one inside along with the ‘Complaints Slip’. I may still have some in my unmade kits in the loft. Another excuse to go through my stored kits!
 


 

There does not appear to have been a 1969 catalogue, instead there was a six page fold-out leaflet entitled “1969 Additions”. Page size was 154 x 203 mms and had the catalogue number: INS904041. The front cover featured the same cars as the “1968 Edition” but was finished to a higher standard and is probably by Michael Turner. The new MR175 “Indianapolis” set was included which contained the banked ‘Hi-Speed’ track.
 


 

1971 Edition:

A simple four page leaflet was produced for 1971 which was to the same size as the “1969 Additions” one. It was numbered 90406/7 and was notable for its use of decimal and old currency on the Retail Price List on the back. Also the range had shrunk considerably to only four sets (MR 7,11,125 & 185) and a lot fewer accessories. However, MRRC at Bournemouth was still supplying a vast range of specialist parts, etc.
 


 

Sixth Edition Catalogue:

The 6th Edition catalogue used the same cover as the 1968 Additions one and was labelled as “Copyright MRRC Ltd., 1973” on the back. It ran to 8 pages and listed little more than the 1971 Edition. The range was now marketed as AIRFIX:MRRC and the address on the back was now: “Model Road Racing Cars Ltd., 27/29 Ashley Road, Boscombe, Bournemouth”. It was still current in 1976.

The MRRC division of Airfix was now obviously running the Motor Ace range. I have one 6th Edition catalogue which contains a duplicated price list of the entire range (dated 1.7.76) including all the parts only available from MRRC. I well remember walking to the factory in Bournemouth and mounting the stairs to get a copy of the latest price list/catalogue.
 


 

Final (?) Catalogue:

In the late 1970’s the final AIRFIX:MRRC catalogue was produced. It was a simple 8 page catalogue 149 x 211 mms. The address on the back was still the Bournemouth one, no mention being made of Airfix. As far as I know the catalogue did not change but later ones contained a single-sided insert advertising the new Series 4 range of “Ready to Race” cars.

Later the catalogue was issued with a further 4 page insert stapled in which showed two more Series 4 cars and a circuit planner. A single-sided insert showing the seventh Series 4 car (Brabham BT49) was included in later ones. I sent off for one or two catalogues to “Barry’s (Bournemouth) at 29, Ashley Road and these included typed foolscap price lists; the last being dated February 1979.
 


 

In its heyday of the 1960’s there were many adverts for the racing sets; Airfix Magazine often had full page adverts for both the kits and the racing sets. By the late 1970’s there was little or no advertising and the catalogues and leaflets were becoming increasingly hard to find which is why I occasionally wrote to MRRC to get the latest one. All of the catalogues and leaflets were roughly A5 size and were never the size or thickness of the kit cataloigues.

I only recently found out that it was Michael Turner who did many of the illustrations for the leaflets and catalogues. Roy Cross actually painted most of the box tops for the early Racing Sets.

As I mentioned earlier, I collected most of the leaflets and catalogues as they came out, which is why I believe that the above listing is substantially complete. However, I do occasionally come across a leaflet or catalogue on eBay which has a minor change, so there may be more out there!
 

Jeremy.

This article appeared in "Constant Scale" number 34 - 2008.

                

 

 


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