My Days at Cox

At the end of my "wetback days" racing slot cars to earn enough to keep me from being homeless in my early days in the country, I was hired by the famous Santa Ana based toy maker. They had read my little "exploits" on the period magazines, building neat pro-racing slot cars and winning big events with them, so they contacted me and I accepted their offer. They needed someone knowledgeable to sort out the mess they inherited from Leisure Dynamics Inc, the parent company that had dumped the old Eldon slot car program upon them.

This was 1973, and one of the most enjoyable jobs I ever had, basically being in a toy shop designing the toys and generally having a ball. LeRoy Cox was no longer the company owner but he still owned the large building on Warner Ave., and he would visit time to time, and this is when I met him. A delightful man who gave me a Cox Chaparral 2E toy, that I still have, and had it signed by Phil Hill 2 years before his untimely death.

First, I revised the Eldon track, designed new smaller cars featuring the first traction magnets ever placed on a slot car to enhance down force. Eight models were produced, all using the same basic chassis.


  The new chassis was patterned after the professional slot cars I had built and raced in 1971-1972, using a two-piece chassis design with a floating, zinc plated steel pan. There were no flexible lead wires, I used instead some brass ribbons that applied contact to the motor when this was snapped into place.
Two of the new bodies cars were of my own design, Can-Am models inspired by the vacuum formed bodies I devised for pro racing. The original graphic design is seen at left. The traction magnet was fitted in a pocket under the rear axle. The body was mounted on the chassis using side clips, allowing prompt removal for  mechanical maintenance.
  Many years later (2002!), I retained much of the original design for the TSR line of slot cars I devised to keep me occupied in my early retirement days. The new car is in the 1/32 scale and shows its size here compared to the original. A similar sunk lead-wire system, now using stainless-steel wire instead of brass ribbon, is being used. The motor is now in full sidewinder mode as the motor is narrower in relation to size. The steel pan is much stronger and can take serious abuse. The front axle is now part of the floating steel pan, and the wheelbase can be adjusted nine ways.

After the slot car fix, I was entrusted with the new designs of Cox core business, gas powered models of cars, airplanes and other toys, powered by the famous Cox .049ci marvel, entirely produced on "Coxmatic" screw machines.


After the slot cars, I was put in charge of the newly created styling department, then of the Research and Development department while keeping a firm hand on styling. Cox studied the possibility of converting their U-control aircraft line to electric as pressure against excessive noise and use by children of dangerous fuels mounted. The miniature rechargeable battery technology was in its infancy, but we designed, developed and put into production several electric airplanes, the most commercially successful being a Supermarine Spitfire. The project was named "Falcon" after I drew this F16 that would have been propelled by an electric motor mounted in the tail.



The Falcon project led to several prototypes, the red one at left having survived.
Meanwhile, another project began, that of a low-cost, gas powered aircraft line. The "Wings" project led to a series of aircraft in which this dream machine I designed  gathered the most votes in a test.
The original line drawing is shown here as well as a wooden mockup and a production airplane under its blister pack. These are old factory documents.



Another fun project was the Magblaster, an exercise in camouflage of a huge engine flywheel that had been devised so as to allow easy starting and idling of the .049ci engine. The original chassis powered a van that was very popular, and the same chassis was used for this GT car I styled with multiple air intakes so as to hide the implement. The original drawing is at left with a hand-built prototype made of a vacuum formed styrene body set over the chassis.

The Magblaster was also produced as a two-channel radio controlled model, molded in yellow with contrasting blue graphics.
The radio signals worked a non-proportional steering and the engine's throttle. The cost of the radio was $2.00, a fantastic achievement in 1975. This is original artwork I did for a new HO-scale car using a new smaller motor set in an angle-winder fashion. The design is similar to that of the current TSR slot cars.   The new motor was going to be patterned after the serious pro-racing motors in the larger scales. The top left plan view compares the new motor to the size of the Mabuchi ST020 as used in the Riggen and TycoPro cars.
Unfortunately it was not to be.


There will be plenty more soon added in this website as I scan more old stuff...


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