The terminology of each of the following packaging items has been taken from Wrenn’s standard Order Form. Wrenn only referred to ‘boxes’ when itemising the cardboard Set containers or those for the Power Units, all of the other cardboard containers were referred to as ‘cartons’ whilst the bagged Accessories and Service Spares were available in ‘packets’.
The 1st generation of Set boxes had a standard size of 17½” x 10⅝” x 2¼” and were manufactured from a complete strawboard construction having coloured paper facings. The box lid paper cover had a printed display featuring a photographic representation of the full size racing cars included within the Set on the front, whilst the box base was covered with a Dark Red gummed paper cover. This No 1 ‘Basic Set’ box contained a single, central, square piece of Pale Blue-faced strawboard with ‘H’ shaped cut-outs for the two Cars and rectangular cut-outs for the two Controllers and the Bottle of Oil. There were two rectangular box inner sections at either side that were composed of Pale Blue-faced strawboard which provided the storage for the Track sections and these also had a rectangular piece of Yellow-faced paper for the Track sections to sit on. One of the Set box lid ends had a White rectangle left out of the Red printing so that the particular number of the Set could be overprinted.
When the later Sets were introduced, the layout of the boxes were then modified to provide enough space for the additional Track pieces. This was achieved by increasing the depth of the box base from 2¼” to 2¾” with corresponding deeper different depths of the paper-faced strawboard track packing pieces. For all of the new Sets, the original, central Blue-faced cardboard section of the No 1 Basic Set was replaced. The Cars and Controllers were now fitted into small individual Pale Blue coloured strawboard trays, with the ones for the Controllers being slightly longer than those for the Cars. There were six of these provided so that they could accommodate either the two Cars and Controllers for the later Set No 1, Sets No 2 & No 3 or the larger sets with the three Cars and three Controllers in Sets No 2A or 3A. These trays fitted into a Yellow-face strawboard support covering half of the central area and the other half contained another smaller, rectangular inner box section to contain the curved Track sections.
Wrenn latterly replaced this Yellow-faced strawboard central support for the Cars, Controllers & the Bottle of Oil, which had proved to be quite susceptible to damage, with a vacuum-formed Pale Yellow polystyrene tray. This had rectangular recesses for these items and also included a raised ‘152’ with an outer raised ring. All of the items were a ‘snug’ fit into these recesses which successfully retained them when the box was being moved about. This was also the predecessor of the complete vacuum-formed trays which the later 2nd generation boxes used.
When Wrenn introduced the next generation of Set boxes, in August 1963, they were all larger in plan, being 18¾” x 14” x 2¼”, however the new Set No 0 box was the exception being only 1” deep. They were all constructed from White-faced cardboard for both the box lid and base with the box lid again being printed in predominantly Yellow with Red, Green & Black but this time it was an illustration of two Coopers and a Maserati racing cars and was printed directly onto the White-faced cardboard. In the bottom left hand corner there was a Black rectangle which contained the words ‘*3 Cars On Each Lane’ and on the opposite side there was also included the following words in Red ‘Exciting lane changing for overtaking Grand Prix circuits of table top size’.
When the DC-motored Cars were introduced during 1964, the Set box lids were upgraded to advertise this. The Black text box in the bottom left hand corner of the lid then included the words ‘New’ in Red within a White flash, and ‘Super DC Rotary Motor, *3 Cars On Each Lane’ in Yellow. A minor additional point is that these new Set box lids also had the Red text lowered slightly. As an interim measure, during the introduction of the DC motors, Wrenn had a number of Green & Black printed self-adhesive paper stickers made available to the dealers. These were to enable them to update their existing Set box lids to advertise the new motors, if they wished, to upgrade any of their existing stock of Vibrator Sets with DC Cars and Controllers. The words ‘New Super DC Rotary Motor’ were included on the stickers and only a few of these seem to have survived over the years.
All of the Set inner trays were vacuum-formed in a Pale Yellow polystyrene although a few Set No 0 inner trays have also been seen produced in White. There were only three variants of layout of these vacuum–formed trays with different arrangements of the individual components to accommodate all of the range of six Sets.
Two Extension Packs also became available in August 1961. These two boxes were both the same size at 10⅝” x 8⅛” x 1½” and were constructed in the same way as the then current 1st generation of Set boxes. They both included a number of Track sections, Bridge Supports, Fencing & Fence Posts. The largest of these, Ext No 1A, included an additional Car and a Controller as well as the other items listed above. In order to replace the boxed Car and the Controller in the smaller Ext No 1 box, Wrenn had a unique piece of packing designed. This piece of folded cardboard had a Red textured surface, almost like leatherette, with Black printing featuring WRENN formula 152, the standard Cooper logo with TRIPLE ELECTRIC MODEL MOTOR RACING, and then Manufactured by followed by Wrenn’s company address.
The three Special Sets that were advertised in January 1967 were each promoted to include a special presentation box. As yet, there is not any recorded information on these boxes although they must have been quite large in comparison to the previous Set boxes since they contained a larger number of components with the largest Set even including a Power Unit.
The final 9-Volt Set box was the same size as the previous Set No 0 box but this time featuring a full-colour illustration of the Vanwall and Maserati cars racing on the lid. It also included the following marketing text ‘SUPER Battery powered Slot racing Set, Two Precision built Mini-Scale Racers, Racing-style Push-start New type Motors, Engineered for Extended Battery Life, SPEED & BRAKING Hand Controllers, Complete with Crash Barriers & Pylons’. A further statement was quoted ‘Requires two 4½ Volt Ever Ready 126 batteries or equivalent’ and this box was unusual in that it did not have Wrenn’s name emblazoned over it. Instead the only reference to Wrenn was in very small letters in the bottom corner under the text ‘Made in England’ stating the company’s name and address, almost as an afterthought. The various items contained in the box were retained in the same vacuum-formed plastic inner tray as seen previously in the Set No 0 box.
Individual Cars were supplied in printed cardboard cartons that were peculiar to the specific Car they contained, with either an illustration of a Ferrari or a Cooper printed on both sides of the carton. The Ferrari carton featured printing in Red & Black whilst the Cooper’s was in Green & Black. When the Yellow Ferraris and Blue Coopers were introduced their cartons then included a small self-adhesive circular coloured paper dot stuck to the end flap of the carton in order to denote the colour of the Car inside. All of the individual Car cartons also included a Pale Green paper guarantee with Black printing and a perforated return section for registering the ownership of the Car with the manufacturers. See the upper pair of photos below.
As different Car types were introduced Wrenn decided to use a standard, generic type of carton. This design was produced with a graphic patterned display of solid colours and stripes in Red & Black on one side and featured the original Ferrari illustration on the other. This new design had Black end flaps with a White elliptical area left for the printing of the Car type, it’s colour and code number on one flap. When the DC-motored Cars were introduced the same carton was utilised but the elliptical area on the flap was also overprinted in Red with large ’DC’ letters. Initially some of these cartons featured a White gummed paper notice stuck to the bottom outer side of the carton, reminding the buyer that the Car inside was actually ‘DC-powered’ in Red. See the lower pair of photos below.
The Trackside Pit building was supplied in a White-faced cardboard carton with Mid-Blue & Black printing on the outside of the carton titled ‘Trackside Pit – with space for two cars’. The carton illustration included both standard versions of the Trackside Pit buildings with the ‘Cooper/Ferrari’ and ‘Vanwall/Maserati’ versions of the pit name boards in a row with a Grandstand further down the line.
The 2No different pre-painted figure sets were available in cardboard cartons with a cellophane front section so that the contents could be viewed. The White-faced cardboard had Green and Black printing to the outside and was produced for either set with tick boxes printed on one of the end flaps to indicate which set was contained within. The figures were held in place in a folded cardboard insert which was printed with a Pale Green display having a view of a racing circuit. There were two different inserts produced which were necessary to accommodate the different standing/seated figures within each of the figure sets.
The various items of Track were available separately as well as in the Sets. These were supplied in White-faced cardboard cartons that were printed in Mid-Blue & Black in the standard graphic display of blocks of colours and stripes. Some items were available singly, such as the Deflector Straight, the Lap Counter and the Chicane Set, and these also contained the relevant Pale Green instruction sheets where appropriate. See the upper three photos below. It seems from the standard Order Forms that the Terminal Straight was only supplied singly and not in a carton.
The other standard items of Track such as the Straights, 4” radius Curves, 8” radius Curves and the 12” radius Curves were supplied in the larger, bulk cartons containing 12No pieces of Track. These were usually supplied to the model and toy shops who could generate orders with the large enough quantities necessary for their use. See the lower two photos below which contain all of the different known examples of the bulk cartons. Please see the detailed article on these Bulk Cartons in Newsletter No 14.
The Bridge Support Set was supplied in a cardboard carton 4″ x 3 1/16″ x 1 5/16 which was printed in Yellow & Black and depicted an illustration of the items and their use. This carton also contained a Pale Green instruction leaflet describing how the Bridge Supports should be used.
The original cardboard cartons for the Controllers were specific to the item. They were printed in Red & Black with the standard patterned graphic display of solid colours and stripes and they were the same size as the cartons for the Cars. The initial E1-Controller cartons featured the standard graphic display in the centre section and the end flaps were printed alternately Red and Black with the lettering ‘CONTROLLER’ together with the Wrenn name and address in the contrasting colour. See the upper pair of photos below.
When the later Mk2 DC Controllers were introduced Wrenn used the generic carton design with one side as previously used for the Ferrari and one of the end flaps was printed in Black similar to the later Car Cartons leaving the central White ellipse featuring Black text stating ‘CONTROLLER VARIABLE Type E.1.DC’. See the lower pair of photos below.