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FACTORY-BUILT DISPLAY LAYOUTS

A number of display layouts were built by the factory to promote Wrenn Formula 152 at exhibitions and toy fairs. They were built to be totally functional and included items from the existing range of buildings and accessories. It now seems that there were at least seven different display layouts built which made appearances at various exhibitions and photos of them were then used in Wrenn’s 152 Catalogues, in adverts and also in books. Unfortunately there are only single or partial view photos available of two of these layouts, with no further details, so they can only be imagined at this time. Wrenn did actually include some of their railway track on a few of these layouts. At the time of the 1962 Brighton Toy Fair, Wrenn announced to the trade that there were smaller display layouts available for dealers to use in their toy and model shops or even as a static display in their shop windows. 

The simplest display layout seen was an oval of track mounted onto a 6mm thick piece of plywood 32½” x 15½” painted a Terra Cotta colour. The centre section and other small areas had a thin Green foam sponge material stuck to the board to imitate grassed areas however in the examples that have survived and been seen, this has subsequently perished over the intervening years. A Grandstand and a Trackside Pit were included which were push-fitted over raised timber blocksfactory-built display layouts There were also various scenery items such as Fencing, Flags and Flag Poles, there were also some Figures which were included and glued into place. Finally there was even a Car included, although this was just a rolling chassis permanently screwed to the baseboard. From a recently seen ‘News Sheet’, that Wrenn sent out to the trade at the beginning of 1963, it seems that Wrenn were going to be promoting a ‘Miniature Display Layout’ at future Toy Fairs. They stated that ‘these would be available to agents for either display or for use to demonstrate Wrenn 152 in their shops’. A scanned photo from the Wrenn Archive seems to show one of these layouts on Wrenn’s exhibition stand at the Nuremburg Toy Fair, see the upper photo opposite.

I am aware that there are at least three examples of this type of layout that have survived and subsequently been acquired as part of individual’s slot racing collections. It is likely that these were supplied as part of the dealer offer above since these versions included two special items not necessary when Wrenn originally took them to exhibitions. Firstly there was a specific, custom piece of Barrier Fence with unique printing and the other was the inclusion of one of Wrenn’s Formula 152 cardboard advertising banners fitted onto two stainless steel posts. The cardboard banners had previously been used at exhibitions where a number of these were usually placed around the exhibition stands. The track itself included a Lap Counter and a Deflector Section and to promote the latter unique element a special short piece of Barrier Fence was produced. This was printed in Red with an angled arrow pointing to the Deflector operating button and with the words ‘OVERTAKING THREE CARS ON EACH LANE’. This straight section of Barrier Fence also featured an angled end to emphasize the arrow. The special cardboard advertising banner was printed in three colours, a Turquoise background with Yellow & Red which was 18⅞” x 3½” overall and then folded horizontally. It featured the standard Cooper illustration to the left, ‘WRENN formula 152’ in Yellow & White and ‘FOR REALISTIC MODEL MOTOR RACING’ in Red to the right hand side. This was stapled together so that it could be fitted onto two polished stainless steel rods which were fitted vertically to the base via holes in flat timber blocks.

The examples seen of this version of display layout have included Trackside Pits with Maserati and Vanwall pit boards. Two layouts have been seen with E1 Controllers fitted to the corners at opposite ends of the base with their separate securing strips. The other later layout is the one that I luckily own and it includes Mk2 Controllers, so the assumption is that this layout could well have been produced after 1964 since it does not have any previously drilled fixing holes which would have been necessary for the earlier Controller securing strips. In support of this, the bodyshell of the car that is fitted to the baseboard is a Red DC Ferrari which further supports that this layout was originally assembled for use with DC-motored cars. The examples seen of these layouts are all slightly different from each other, from the building positions, type of car included and the positions of the figures which all differ.

There were three medium-sized layouts built, some with and some without the Wrenn railway track. The larger of these layouts seen is the more interesting, being the one featured in the 4th version of the A10 – ‘152’ Instruction Manual with a photograph and accompanying layout plan, therefore dating it’s probable production during 1962. Wrenn described this as a ‘high density layout’ and it was one which I was lucky to subsequently acquire over twenty five years later in a very sorry state. The layout was fitted onto a baseboard with a substantial timber frame having a plywood top and being 4’-6” x 2’-6’ overall. This was painted, similarly to the other display layout baseboards, with a Terra Cotta coloured paint. Since the layout was built on a number of levels the Track sections were additionally supported on timber blocks as well as items from the Grey polystyrene T30 – Bridge Support Set. A paper-backed Green Landscape Sheet was used to imitate grass and to cover the landscaped areas. This layout included a Deflector Section, two Trackside Pits, with Cooper and Ferrari pit boards, as well as various items of Fencing, Flags and Figures. The landscaping of the layout was improved with model trees, a small river section, a supporting feature ‘brick’ wall and even included some of Wrenn’s Model Railway items such as track and points etc. These elements were used on other subsequent factory-built layouts to enhance the overall appearance and obviously to further advertise Wrenn’s other products. In the report of the 1962 Brighton Toy Fair in the April 1962 issue of the Model Maker & Model Cars magazine, it was noted that Wrenn were promoting this ‘scenic high-density’ layout as being available to dealers for use in their shops. Saying that it would be ideal for use as a way of displaying and demonstrating Wrenn 152.

The other medium-sized layouts had photos taken of them and these were included in the Wrenn 152 Catalogues and Wrenn’s UK trade adverts. One of these appeared in the book ‘Model Car Collecting’ by F. Brian Jewell and another appeared in the book ‘The Complete Book of Model Raceways and Roadways’ by Louis Hertz.

The final, and largest, figure-of-eight layout appeared in the last Catalogue as well as in the current trade advert and was actually based on the ‘Q 2-level’ layout from the Racing Circuits leaflet. This landscaped layout was actually used as the feature element in Wrenn’s exhibition stand at the Olympia Toy Fair in August 1961, where a competition was held over the week-end for the Olympia Sprint Championship. This was held in two categories for Juniors (9-12 years) & Seniors (13-16 years) but unfortunately with nothing for the ‘older’ racers. See Newsletter No10 for details and photos.

However there were a number of other notable landscaped layouts that were not built by the factory and even some local International importers also had scenic layouts built to promote Wrenn Formula 152 in their countries. See the new Contemporary Layouts page for details of these.

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