Friday August 19, 2005

Old is New Again!

The New Ninco Cobra


The recent release of the Ninco Cobra brought a smile to my face. Not only because of the beautiful livery, but how it took me back to the time when it made its debut ( 3 years?...more?...less?) and how I couldn't wait to get one in my hands. Now another livery has arrived and sure enough, one soon landed here to begin its home racing career!

Although this model has been with us for quite some time, to be honest this is the livery Ninco should have done long ago at least in my eyes. The shade of blue (Guardsman?) looks fantastic on this model, and combined with the white striping and crisp markings makes it very striking in my eyes. There are just some models that catch your eye and you want them based solely on looks alone...this happens to be one of them for me.

Body fit and finish is at the usual high standard I find on most Ninco releases. I was also happy to see a full clear-coat sealing all the markings in place. This clear-coat was as dirt and dust free as you could ask for, with no orange peel or fading around the edges and combined with this shade of blue makes you think you can see a mile deep into it. Details such as the jack brackets front and rear seem to stand out and add even more scale appeal. I have found that these little brackets won't fare to well in a hard crash, but as small as they are still managed to hold up well for some time before eventually giving way.

Now of course this model has been criticized mostly due to its overall body shape, along with a few other scale issues. Compared to the prototype, the body of the model does seem a little "squished" and it does sit a little high off the axles as well. However I still think Ninco has captured it very well, and this will only offend a small part of enthusiasts in the hobby. From the recent mail I have received, a great many of you have found this car to be very well done and I tend to agree with you.

Interior detail is at the Ninco usual standards of providing a great balance. The half-tray interior is more than enough for most enthusiasts with added touches like the Tonneau cover and dashboard detail adding to the scale appeal. Hard core fans of the Cobra will certainly have reservations as they did when it was first released, yet none of these scale issues stopped us from having fun with it then, and nothing is going to stop us now either. Sitting on the track and most importantly at speed, this model represents its 1:1 counterpart nice enough for my money.


Wheels and tires here are standard fare for Ninco, with the wheels and knock-offs adding great visual appeal to the model. The one thing I wish was present are the white letter markings, which to my eyes would make this model look even better. Of course this is easily solved with decals or different tires, then again how long do these markings last? Some seem to last forever, where some seem to vanish after only a few laps of hard racing. I can highly advise sanding these rear AND front tires to get them as smooth and true as possible. In our testing here, the fronts usually need the same treatment as the rear to smooth out the model and improve the handling of it overall. Some enthusiasts have said it didn't matter that much, but it did here, so give it a try and let me know your findings as well.

4 easily removed screws mount the body to the chassis with body removal itself easily accomplished. It is here where we see the main difference between this release and the first edition: The addition of a magnet. Like it or not, I am happy Ninco included it because now at least you have the OPTION of using it or not out of the box, hence saving you the time and money ordering one if you prefer your models with it.

Aside from this magnet pocket and magnet, the rest of the chassis mold is unchanged. The resilient NC-2 sits in its familiar inline position with a 9 tooth pinion driving a 27 tooth crown gear. This motor is more than enough for this little car, and you should not need to have anything stronger in my eyes. I found the rear brass bushings seated very tightly in place, and noticed no spinning of them under load. I still added a light drop of adhesive here just as a preventive measure. Gear mesh was smoother than I expected as it ran surprisingly quiet right out of the box.

Up front we see one more change, and that is just the added spring in the longer shaft front guide. The spring here is designed to keep the guide firmly planted to the rails in the event of uneven track surfaces, and as far as my testing has shown it doesn't effect performance in any measurable way. Some enthusiasts do think it effects it, and if so you can just simply remove this spring.

Performance here is one that we rather enjoy, and to be honest I am happy with the added magnet. Given the location of this magnet in the front part of the chassis, it doesn't really add any excess drag effect that the NC-2 cannot easily handle. Also its location still allows you too happily hang the rear end out in the corners, giving you a wide correction window in the event you get a little "lead-fingered". Braking was of course a little more distinct thanks to the magnet, and acceleration was still crisp using both a PARMA 45 ohm and Professor Motor controllers.

The magnet here also helps pin the front end down, which for our racing seemed to be needed on the first release. We had to add weight under the hood before to stop the model from hopping in the front end, and here is where sanding the front tires helped a great deal. The front axle does sit in the chassis with a fair amount of vertical free-play, yet the magnet seems to keep it firmly planted. Lap times were quicker than expected with average times landing in the 3.5 second range according to our DS Timer on Carrera track. Make no mistake, I think this little model is quite fun to drive. I am the kind of driver that doesn't mind a mild magnet set-up and this model certainly drives like one although the Ninco magnet is powerful. Again it is the location of it that makes all the difference to my eyes, and we shall leave it in place.

I have not had a reason to get another Ninco Cobra since the first release until now. The great looks of the car took hold of me and the operation of it has made a fan out of me once again. Although some will still pass on this model due to the scale issues, I am firm in my thinking that you shouldn't. Ninco has a few models out there that combine decent scale detail with fun, durable performance and this model happens to be one of them. If you have never experienced one before, I think now is the time.

For some good history on the prototype, try going HERE and HERE!


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

Thanks go to Gene at SlotCarPlace  for providing us with this little gem! Check his site for some excellent photos of this model! Many enthusiasts admire his slot car photography work and certainly makes mine look like the rookie I truly am!