I've been sitting on this one for a while, time to post it up!
This article is intended to cover the MPC and AMT issued glue kits of the fifth generation of Chevrolet El Camino kits from 1978-1987. MPC produced promotional models for Chevrolet for this vehicle in various factory colours throughout the years, far too many to capture in the scope of this article. Having the promo contract ensured year-to-year changes in the kits, as shown below.
The first glue kit released by MPC was in 1978 at the start of the new El Camino body style. Keeping with their themed kits, this was released under the name Royal Knight and featured a large decal sheet of graphics for decorating the finished truck. The truck depicted is the special edition Royal Knight package, 78-81 body style with rallye rims. This kit was released with the stock number 78-0420 and molded in black.
The next kit on the shelves was released in 1980 as the Night Moves custom truck. Still depicting the 78-81 body style, this release adds custom parts to the Royal Knight issue: tonneau cover, snowflake rims, rear roof spoiler, tube grille, lake-style exhaust, and CB antenna. Again molded in black, this kit carried the stock number 1-0760.
In early 1981, the Branding Iron kit was released, adding more customization options to the Night Moves kit. This release added a camper shell top instead of the tonneau cover and spoiler, replaced the snowflake rims with Centerline style rims, and retained the tube grille and lake-style exhaust. Molded in red, this kit has the stock number 1-0854.
Sometime in 1981, the tooling of the El Camino body was altered to reflect the new-for-1982 body style, changing the front end to quad rectangle headlights from dual rectangle and a flush grille. The first glue kit released was in late 1981 and carried the name Red Light Bandit. As this issue was marketed as a "street racer", the customization options were changed once again. The tonneau cover and spoiler are back, retaining the lake-style exhaust, swapping out the Centerlines for turbine-style rims, and adding a hood scoop and new front bumper. Molded in red, this kit has the stock number 1-0857.
The next issue of this kit was not until 1984 and was part of the company-wide monster truck craze. This issue includes many extra parts to turn the regular street-going El Camino into a car-crushing monster truck: roll bar with off-road lights, grille guard with winch and off-road lights, monster truck suspension, axles and wheels, hood-exit exhaust headers, and high-rise intake manifold. Molded in yellow under the stock number 1-0453.
Now under the stewardship of AMT/Ertl, this kit was again issued in 1991 under their brand instead of MPC. The kit was returned to the street version, although now the tooling was updated to the SS model. This issue retained the tonneau cover, however all other customization options were lost. The wheels were updated to the SS-style rallye rims. This issue was molded in the usual AMT grey plastic and carried the stock number 6964.