O F F - T H E - S H E L F

The following editorial reflects the personal thoughts of Doug Breithaupt relating to our common hobby of miniature cars. It is intended to generate discussion relating to 'Tales of Toy Cars'. Your letters are welcome and may be submitted via the 'Guest Book'.

Something Different

Last month, an e-mail message from Ron Magin was printed in the May issue. Ron is the Managing Director of Eurogames / Descartes - USA, Inc. and is currently promoting their new "Formula De" board game. This is a Formula 1 simulation game, and in exchange for a variety of F1 diecast cars, Ron sent me a sample of the game (pictured left).

While the game does not come with diecast cars, rather the little race car pieces are plastic, it does involve toy cars and is so much fun that I want to tell you about it. Let me begin by saying that in this age of technological revolution, a simple low-tech board game may seem like old news. Don't make that assumption. In fact, this game has several advantages over the current F1 electronic simulations. First it is very satisfying to be able to see and touch a full, 3D version of the Monaco Grand Prix. The graphics are excellent and I enjoy arranging the little race cars on the starting grid. Ten cars are included in appropriate solid colors. You can choose yellow for Jordan, White for Stewart or Red for Ferrari. Blue, Green and Orange are also available. What sets this game apart is the way the cars are raced. A series of six dice are provided in different colors with increasing numbers from 1-30. Each color represents a gear and as you shift gears, you move to dice with higher numbers for higher speed. Players must upshift or downshift as they circle the track in order to navigate the corners without penalties for engine or tire-wear. Qualifying laps can be run against the clock for grid position. The constant shifting, combined with passing or being passed by other cars makes the game work. You really get the feel of the race as you go along.

No, it does not have wild crashes and sound effects like electronic F1 games. At the same time, it has a tactile and emotional advantage over these game that can make your dining room table into any F1 track in the World. If you like racing and little cars like I do, you will love this game. The game retails for about $35. For more information and retail sources, visit the "Formula De" Website at: <http://www.formula-de.com>. Thanks to Ron and "Formula De" my four-year old son thinks he is Michael Schumacher so don't even think about driving the red car if you come to play at my house. It's taken.