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what ever happened to mpc and they heyday of model kits?


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#1 MsDano85gt

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 05:33 PM

Lateley. I give kudos to round 2 for reissueing many old favorites and bringing back some great kits with better tooling less flash and injector marks etc. The coolest has to be pad printed whitewalls and. Drag slicks! So that brings me into what happened to mpc? "Amt" has reissued some old mpc stuff like the off road gmc is simply the "byway "man fall guy truck right? Why have some of the mpc come back to life some even with "mpc" on the boxes ( a gto out there is one sample) but others have not? There were soooooo many mpc kits and they made models of all sorts of cars and trucks back then, chevrolets, vans, dodge full size trucks, the d-50 mini trucks,(awsome offroad radical versions too) datsun trucks, ford couriers( that may have been old amt) the "fox" mustangs from 79-86 the list goes on and on we see where --I'm going I did. Read the post about items won from the revell/ gears. Contest this is awsome that's. What we need to motivate the hobby along with each other. Mpc also used to do "golden wheels" you collected box tolkens mailed them in and got to choose from several. Models you wanted you pick your top 3 first or 2nd choice not available you get your final selection. Model companys. Today need to do something like that! Sure would be awsome. By the way. While I'm. Rambling who or what is "fundimation". They are stamped on about all mpc chassis plates anyone here. Know much about it?? Anyways. Enuff ramnbling - just wanted to know if the seasoned guys here thay have seen a few decades of model kits go by and "mpc" at its heyday know what I'm talking about as far as a lot of kits now are. Rebumps of older stuff some with new toolin and parts but a lot are just hohum same old all the old mpc kits -I've cracked open had large parts. Counts lots of cool graphics and. Decals neat. Box art and were just plain cool anyone agree? List any old favorites



#2 Casey

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 05:50 PM

Round2 owns the AMT, MPC, and Polar Lights brands, but AMT and MPC were previously owned by RC2, which is when many of the MPC kits were released under the AMT label (the '84 GMX 4x4 with the blue box art model, for example).

Round2 has reissued MPC kits in MPC boxes and packaging, and they are very conscious of both the AMT and MPC brands, and what each brand means to consumers. The '76 Caprice, Rupp Snow Sport, Zingers! and so on have all been reissued in MPC packaging in the last few years, and I don't see that changing.

Fundimensions was a subsidiary of General Mills, and was the division which managed the MPC brand in the mid '70s, which is why some MPC kits from that time period have the Fundimensions name in various places.

MPC's heydeys were long over by the time I got into models in the early '80s, so MPC kits didn't appeal to me at all.

#3 MsDano85gt

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 05:51 PM

Some vans are making a comeback but there are tons more I forgot to mention vans lol especially ones like offroad chevy van with dirtbike, mpc ford offroad van, chevy van/w race trailer, a team van!, I've noticed on ebay as well apparently there were more "dukes" of hazzard kits then the current reissues we have 1) general lee(charger) 2) daisy dukes plymouth satelite 3) daisys's jeep 4) and the monoco sheriff car. Online I have also seen a cooters tow truck, and a light blue cooters pickup truck! They need to bring those back too! Man I could think of hundreds of kits from the past that would be awsome if they could come. Back!

#4 Ben

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 06:45 PM

I've come to realize that the things we miss so much is because we saw them through a young persons eyes. It's sad because now I see the flaws and things I never saw as a child when looking at model kits! Always makes me wish I could go back to the days of getting a new model kit and staring at the box art for hours. Then, staying up all night building it, having a blast! So proud the next day as I looked at my progress or completed model!

#5 Helix

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 09:59 PM

Well said Ben, I remember the MPC kits as a kid, would love to see the '68 Impala again B)

#6 niteowl7710

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 02:42 AM

Well said Ben, I remember the MPC kits as a kid, would love to see the '68 Impala again B)


I don't believe that's possible, that was an annual kit wasn't it? I believe it was made into the 1969 and then 1970 Impalas, the '70 has been reissued more times than the Impala had cars built that year I think...

#7 Casey

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 04:53 AM

I've come to realize that the things we miss so much is because we saw them through a young persons eyes.


Quoted for truth. ^_^

Now we look at them through bifocals. :lol: Or for some, rose colored glasses. -_-

#8 kitbash1

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 05:27 AM

I wish that Round2 would reissue some of the Indy car kits from the 70's and the Can Am kits as well.

#9 Danno

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 05:56 AM

"Heyday?" {It's actually Hay Days. Evolved from terminology for the harvest season for farmers when it became time to get busy and put up the hay.}

Heydays? That's NOW! Far more kits being issued ~ new and reissue ~ far more frequently now than ever before.

Back in the days that MPC was alive, they (and AMT and Monogram and Revell) did not issue or release so many kits during a year as we're getting now. Sit back and enjoy.


Rambling? Yes. Big time.


B)

#10 MsDano85gt

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 06:50 AM

Yeah well at least its ramblings about models! So what exactly does annual mean anyway when it comes to model kits?

#11 TooOld

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 07:18 AM

It's like a flower that only blooms for one season then dies , never to be seen again .

#12 Monty

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 08:35 AM

If I understand the history of MPC correctly, they were founded by former AMT executive George Toteff, who left to start his own model line. His first release, a '64(?) Corvette, allegedly had some outstanding detailing for the time (metal coil springs!) but over the years, MPC's undercarriages became fairly simplistic, engine bays were fairly devoid of other details, and they almost never deviated from molded-in chrome headlights, despite the fact that AMT had been using separate, clear lenses for years.

That said, they offered kits no one else did ('70-'81 Firebird kits with Trans Am and Formula building options, a '70 Grand Prix, the Dodge Charger III, various mid-'70s Dodge pickups etc.) When they put their minds to it, they could create some great stuff. I haven't built one, but I'm told the 1/16 427 Cobra is incredibly well done. Most of their Connoisseur Classics also seem to be very well designed, but apparently weren't as popular as anticipated. Toward the end, though, some of their releases, such as the Chevette and the Ford EXP, really puzzled me. OTOH, many MPC kits will bring $40.00+ on ebay, so....

As for favorites, I have a number of their '75-'82 Corvettes. They take some work to make them more accurate, as MPC didn't always keep up with the changes, but they were definitely better than the AMT Corvette offerings at the time.

Edited by Monty, 07 October 2012 - 08:37 AM.


#13 Art Anderson

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 09:02 AM

Lateley. I give kudos to round 2 for reissueing many old favorites and bringing back some great kits with better tooling less flash and injector marks etc. The coolest has to be pad printed whitewalls and. Drag slicks! So that brings me into what happened to mpc? "Amt" has reissued some old mpc stuff like the off road gmc is simply the "byway "man fall guy truck right? Why have some of the mpc come back to life some even with "mpc" on the boxes ( a gto out there is one sample) but others have not? There were soooooo many mpc kits and they made models of all sorts of cars and trucks back then, chevrolets, vans, dodge full size trucks, the d-50 mini trucks,(awsome offroad radical versions too) datsun trucks, ford couriers( that may have been old amt) the "fox" mustangs from 79-86 the list goes on and on we see where --I'm going I did. Read the post about items won from the revell/ gears. Contest this is awsome that's. What we need to motivate the hobby along with each other. Mpc also used to do "golden wheels" you collected box tolkens mailed them in and got to choose from several. Models you wanted you pick your top 3 first or 2nd choice not available you get your final selection. Model companys. Today need to do something like that! Sure would be awsome. By the way. While I'm. Rambling who or what is "fundimation". They are stamped on about all mpc chassis plates anyone here. Know much about it?? Anyways. Enuff ramnbling - just wanted to know if the seasoned guys here thay have seen a few decades of model kits go by and "mpc" at its heyday know what I'm talking about as far as a lot of kits now are. Rebumps of older stuff some with new toolin and parts but a lot are just hohum same old all the old mpc kits -I've cracked open had large parts. Counts lots of cool graphics and. Decals neat. Box art and were just plain cool anyone agree? List any old favorites


You speak of "The heyday of model kits", and lament about "whatever happened to MPC"?

If there ever was a "heyday" of plastic model kits, that, IMHO would have been the 10 year period roughly 1955-65, when almost anything, any subject area you can think of was done in plastic model kit form (planes, trains, automobiles, animals, birds, anatomical models--you can fill in just about any subject here you can think of!). However, while Revell pretty much introduced plastic kits of cars over 60 years ago (their legendary "Highway Pioneers" kits, and Monogram issued, as their first plastic model kit, #PC-1, a 1/20 scale so-so Kurtis Midget, it was AMT Corporation, by 1957 the biggest maker of promotional model cars for the auto industry who pioneered for 1958, a series of "Annual" model kits, based on their promotional offerings, which were customizing kits of then-new American cars, most all of them in both hardtop and convertible form. Key to AMT's success was the "one piece body shell", which for 1/25th scale model car kits, something very new! Yes, Monogram had done a pair of gorgeous 1956 Cadillac Eldorado kits in 1/16 scale, even Ideal Toy Corporation had produced a full detail (with opening doors, no less!) 1956 Lincoln Continental in 12th scale with opening doors, but those were the exception. Revell introduced several 1/25 scale model car kits in 1957, a pair of Dream Cars (the 1955 Lincoln Futura and the '55 Pontiac Club DeMer, along with a '57 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham and a '57 Ford Country Squire wagon, but those all had multipiece body shells, mostly indifferently modeled and tooled, the exception being the Squire, which is truly quite well done (tooling disappeared when it was redone into a rather inaccurage '57 Ranchero), but AMT was the first to do model car kits as we've come to know them. But, as they say on late night TV infomercials, there's more.

By the early 1960's, AMT, solely on the strength of model car kits, became the King Kong of the plastic model kit industry, surpassing Revell's vast line (mostly ships, aircraft with only a few model car kits thrown in), their annual sales reaching toward the $200 million level by the mid-60's (Wall Street Journal wrote up AMT on their front page in the summer of 1965, as the "Largest carmaker in the world, on sheer numbers of units, which were in the millions at that time). Model Products Corporation was started in late 1963 by a then-former AMT engineer, George Toteff (who BTW had bought up Lindberg around 1990, found the AMT '34 Ford pickup kit tooling gathering dust in a tool shop in Windsor Ontario a couple of years later, and also introduced several pretty nicely done 1/25 scale model car kits in the middle 1990's). For 1965, MPC unveiled a small series of "Annual Series" 3in1 model car kits based on their line of promo's made for GM and Chrysler, some of which were actually produced for them at AMT (the 1965 Dodge Coronet being a prime example, along with a couple of show rod kits).

MPC (as Model Products Corp became known much better) was an independent company for approximately 3 years, being sold to the Big G, General Mills of breakfast cereal fame circa 1967, and placed into a division of hobby/craft companies at General Mills, which included Craftmaster, the maker of then-very popular paint-by-number sets of famous paintings. This is what became known ultimately as Fundimensions. MPC began a sort of partnership with Airfix, the British 1/72 scale model aircraft producer (nothing like seeing model kits of SBD Dauntless US Navy Dive Bombers with chrome plated customizing parts--yeah, they made them!). By the early 1970's, General Mills had bought Lionel Trains from an investment house who'd acquired that line upon the passing of Joshua Lionel Cowen, the man who'd made Lionel Trains a household word by the late 1940's).

Fundimensions was spun off from General Mills in the mid-70's, and MPC products began being molded by Kenner Toys, another Fundimensions brand.

Enter the middle 1970's now: The business of designing and producing model car and truck kits hit a severe decline with the series of recessions, and what was called back then, "stagflation", that is, inflation even in recessionary times, which drove costs up dramatically, tooling costs were increasing on almost a weekly basis. To go along with that, the customer base for model car kits, us late "war babies", along with the baby boom generation had passed beyond what was the traditional age for model building as it had been, that being approximately ages 10-16, and although there were boomers still growing up, they were a lot fewer in number--the rest of us were too busy with military service, college and trade school, landing (hopefully!) that good job, getting married (and divorced) buying houses, raising and supporting families. By 1978, things did NOT look good at all for the future of this hobby, nor for any of the companies, save Monogram who were far better known for very nicely done model aircraft kits at the time. In the fall of 1978, AMT was bought up by Lesney (Matchbox Toys) just as their attorneys were preparing a plea of bankruptcy in the US District Court in Detroit. Early players such as Hawk and Aurora had already disappeared from the scene (Hawk tooling was bought by Testors), IMC--who had hit the model car scene in 1964 with a Lotus Ford kit had also sold their tooling to Testors. Model paint lines diminished by a third when AMT abandoned their excellent line of lacquer paints by 1993. Even us modelers were completely bereft of any magazines whatsoever aimed at car modelers. Lesney AMT went bankrupt in March of 1982, and things really began to look bleak.

In 1983, Monogram bet some serious tooling dollars on their initial NASCAR offerings, along with a couple of IMSA racers, and Ertl began reissuing selected AMT kits, and all of a sudden a trickle of now adult boomers, former model car builders in their teenage years, began calling up local hobby shops (my experience was exactly that, as a fledgling hobby dealer in 1984--and I was one who had never quit building model cars). In the same time frame, model car clubs began to spring up seemingly everywhere, and the few clubs that had been around saw a real upsurge in interest. Now such legendary gatherings as the NNL in Maumee OH (now in Sylvania OH) and The Greater Salt Lake City Model Car Contest started up. A die was cast, believe me.

From those new beginnings in the very early 1980's, continuing out to the present day, yearly we modelers have been presented with completely newly tooled model car kits not just from the likes of Monogram, Revell (Revell-Monogram since 1988), even MPC in their final, dying days (MPC became an Ertl brand in 1967) but also a host of Japanese companies became household words at model clubs, the hobby shops, and at the rapidly expanding model car show circuits. Indeed, by 1980, the French company Heller, and the Italian maker, Italeri made their products well-known in the hobby as well.

"Heyday of model kits" you ask? IMHO, we are, and have been, for the past 30 years been living in them! By the late 1990's there were at minimum, over 400 different model car kit subjects available, not only from the two US domestic brands still standing, but from all over the industrialized world--that's probably more than 4 times the available model car kit offerings around in say, 1965. Included in that were not only dozens upon dozens of newly tooled kits, but many old favorites had been reissued (and this continues to be a big part of the story). I suspect that were someone to sit down, audit all the model kit offerings out there in just these past 5 years or so, it would be found that the vast majority of model car kits available in 2012 are those tooled up as new kits SINCE 1980. So, with all this in mind, isn't this still the heyday of model car kits, and model car building? I think so.

Art

#14 Art Anderson

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 09:11 AM

Yeah well at least its ramblings about models! So what exactly does annual mean anyway when it comes to model kits?


MsDano85gt,

"Annual" as it refers to model car kits, refers to those model car kits which were spun off the ready-assembled, curbside "promotional models" that automakers used to buy for use at dealerships to promote their new cars. These were quickly morphed into model kits, first by AMT in 1958, then by JoHan for 1959, and finally by MPC in 1965. At the time, among the kids we all were once upon a time, there was very little interest, generally, in any model kits of "Last Year's Cars" (they were, after all, so "Last Year"!, so model companies either set those tools aside, or were able to alter them into the coming new year's new cars (that happened a lot back in the 60's!). It was AMT Corporation who really fed the interest in iconic cars of the past (as the "past" was in 1959, when they introduced the first of their "Trophy Series" kits, a '32 Ford roadster, followed quickly by a '32 Ford 5-window coupe. Those were done, from the get-go, as 3in1 kits, following on the success of AMT's Annual series of 3in1 customizing kits, the Deuces being buildable as factory stock, street rods, or drag cars.

MPC got their start primarily with annual series kits of new cars, and quickly did a series of antique/Classic cars, the Gangbusters series. JoHan did likewise with their Gold Cup series of Classic era cars as well.

Art

#15 MAGNUM4342

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 10:30 AM

I don't believe that's possible, that was an annual kit wasn't it? I believe it was made into the 1969 and then 1970 Impalas, the '70 has been reissued more times than the Impala had cars built that year I think...

Of course it's possible. Not only is there reverse engineering, but just look at what Round2 is doing right now with the 1/16th Charger kits. The General Lee, backdated to the Street Charger, and now being backdated to it's original form, the Petty 1973 Charger.

#16 caine440

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 11:29 AM

As a kid the highlight of the year was Autoworlds new catalog with all the MPC annuals.
Now I know their chassis and engines were very simple but like Johan they bodies were dead on great looking.
As a life long Mopar fan only Johan and MPC got the looks right.

#17 slusher

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 12:34 PM

One thing we don't know is the inside info on what molds may be still around and the ones that may have been destroyed..

#18 charlie8575

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 02:09 PM

Quoted for truth. ^_^

Now we look at them through bifocals. :lol: Or for some, rose colored glasses. -_-


Rose-colored bi-focals, in some cases, perhaps?

I would love to see the advent of what I call spiritual successors to these kinds of kits. Reasonably simple, looks-good-when-done kits that are reasonably easy to put together and are kid/early modeler friendly.

The major difference would be that they can be engineered to today's standards and actually deliver what the kits of yore tried to.

Charlie Larkin

#19 AzTom

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 02:13 AM

Great history, Art

I always enjoy reading your posts, but you may have typo here.

(MPC became an Ertl brand in 1967)

Ertl bought AMT in the early 1980's and MPC in the mid 1980's

#20 Art Anderson

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 04:05 AM

Great history, Art

I always enjoy reading your posts, but you may have typo here.

(MPC became an Ertl brand in 1967)

Ertl bought AMT in the early 1980's and MPC in the mid 1980's


Yeah, phat phingers! Meant 1987!