Back in June, 3DBotMaker announced he was discontinuing production of his track accessories. He wasn't the only game in town but his products were well-reviewed and popular, but now without his products available, track builders are looking elsewhere for the pieces and parts to create the track of their dreams.
One of those looking to fill that demand is Slanman Customs. You can find their products through their Facebook catalog. They offer track sections, accessories, and even some decorative items for your track scenery. It's all 3D printed on-demand like 3DBM products.
Recently, Slanman Customs reached out and provided me with a few of their products to review. The review kit included a starting gate, some 45-degree curves, and a lane merger.
Slanman Customs Track Accessories
Visit Slanman Customs on Facebook to make an order
2-Lane Starting Gate
On the surface the 2-lane starting gate looks a lot like the old 3DBotMaker starting gates. It has connectors on the front and the back, which would be handy if you want to add some track on the back to stack up cars.
The holding pegs are a good height that should handle any casting you throw at it. The release lever works like you would expect and comes with a hole pre-drilled so you can easily add a "remote" starter using some string.
The connectors are quite snug when used with the standard HW orange track. In fact, they were so snug that it was not as easy to pull the track off as I would have expected. I held the gate in one hand while pulling the orange track off with the other, but the connectors held so tight that the front plate of the gate pulled away, making it feel like I was ripping it apart. Everything squeezed back together without any issue, but I would be worried that after repeatedly removing track that the gap would get worse or that the front plate might just pop off.
There's only one screw holding the front plate on and it's in the center of the gate. Future revisions might consider using 2 screws and aligning them with the connectors so when you pull off the track, the force is distributed a little better. Again, not a showstopper, just something I noticed after even some brief use.
The magnets holding things up seem decent but didn't feel as strong as I would have liked them to be. In a few cases, when I placed some heavier castings into the gate, the pegs dropped prematurely under their load. I'd only be worried about extremely heavy castings (or heavyweight mods). Otherwise, the pegs released evenly and fairly without giving any lane a drop advantage.
All in all, this is a good starting gate if you're looking for one or need an additional one. It works like you'd expect and gets the job done. Slanman Customs offers a 2-lane and 3-lane starting gate at the moment. At $30 and $35 respectively, it's a good price point too. I just hope a 4-lane option is on the horizon as well.
- Simple drop mechanism with good peg height
- Rear connectors allow for stacking
- Track connectors are tight
- Pre-drilled lever hole for remote starts
- Track connectors might be a bit too snug at times
- Magnet strength could be better; heavy castings might drop the pegs early
Laned 45-degree Curves
Slanman Customs also provided me with two, 2-lane, 45-degree angle flat curves. This was probably the track accessory I was looking most forward to trying out.
It seems laned curves are difficult to find. The official Hot Wheels sets often offer 180-degree turns but they're also usually only 1-lane. Slanman's 45-degree turns let you choose how far you want things to go. You can make a 90-degree turn with two curves, or further up to a 180 or even a full circle if you want. Pretty cool.
The first thing I had in mind with the curves was to make a slalom section. I made a simple, low-angle test track on my floor just to see how the parts would hold up in a simple setup. I ran several different castings down my little track and only a few cars made it through the slalom. I can't say if it was the cars or the track, so this isn't a ding against the curves at all, just an observation I had during my tests. It seemed putting curves back-to-back might not result in the most consistent racing. Bummer.
However, I tried again with adding a straight section between the curves and cars did much better. Again, I doubt it has to do with the curves or the hard plastic, but if you're looking at these curves thinking about making a nice S-style section in your track, just try adding a little buffer between them.
One issue I did have with these curves was the connectors. Included with the kit are some proprietary track connectors you need to connect to orange track or between additional curves. This would be fine but the connectors are not easy to slide in or out. Once you manage to get them into the curve track, they are nice and snug, which is good, but then it's not easy to disconnect them without feeling like you're going to break something. The plastic is rigid so you can't really flex or wiggle it like you can the Hot Wheels plastic, and that makes it feel a little brittle.
If you're using these curves in a track layout that is somewhat permanent and wouldn't need to be taken apart often, you'll be fine. But if you're using these curves during play time and need to take everything apart for storage, I could see the connectors (or the female slots on the curves) breaking. There's also the possibility of losing some connectors and not having a quick source for replacements since you'd have to order more.
A single 45-degree, 2-lane curve will run you $17 but you get a price break the more you buy. A 90-degree turn would run you $30, and a 180 about $48. At first blush this might seem a little steep but considering you can't really buy these shallow curves in the store, it's a fair price for what you get. There is also a 3-lane option.
- Great to have shallow curves for more unique track layouts
- Modular so you can buy as many as you want
- Connectors are difficult to slide in and out
2-to-1 Lane Merger
Last but not least, included in my Slanman Customs review kit was a 2-to-1 lane merger. The piece I got supports orange track and claims to work with Crash Racers track but I wasn't able to test that since I don't have any of that brand.
But...really...there's not too much to say about the merger. It's a merger. It does what it says it will do. The connectors work great and keep things snug. One thing I did notice was the merger has straight walls rather than the flared/rounded design of some of the retail Hot Wheels mergers. I'm not sure if that makes a difference in the probability of cars getting stuck or not, but that happened a lot during my testing.
A simple 2-lane merge will run you $15 at the Slanman Customs store on Facebook. There is also a Sizzler-compatible merger which is also $15.
Filling the gap
All in all, I found the Slanman Customs track accessories pretty good. Despite the few concerns I ran into, all the parts did their job when put to use on the track. The starting gate released cars, the curves curved, and the merger merged.
Some of the product design choices could pose some issues after repeated use, but the great thing about these on-demand, 3D-printed products is the ability to revise and change things quickly between production. Heck, I do it myself! So there's a good chance Slanman Customs will make adjustments to some of these accessories, making them even better. I'm willing to bet he's already made changes to some of them already!
Slanman Customs can be found on Facebook where you can order the accessories reviewed here or one of the other accessories he offers. Along with track sections and starting gates, you can find an assortment of decorative pieces like concrete barriers, traffic cones, and car lifts.
Visit and order Slanman Customs on Facebook
All track accessories were provided to Redline Derby Racing by Slanman Customs for the purpose of review.