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shaunmza

What is a 'promo' model?

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I am showing my ignorance here, so please bear with me.

I see posts in the workbench section where people refer to a model as a 'promo', but have no idea what this refers to. The kits looks like any other to me.

Can someone please clarify this for me?

Edited by shaunmza
Title changed to reflect its a question

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A promo is a preassembled model with minimum chrome. Usually bumpers and grill. Molded in color with same color interior. Promos are issued to represent new cars and are usually offered in several colors. Some people disassemble to detail paint. Not sure about new promos but older ones had four screws attaching  chassis to body. Hope this helps.

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Shaun.... I love promos myself and love restoring and collecting them.  A promo will have screws holding the chassis on ...no engine but a molded engine plate,etc. on the chassis.  Sometimes they will have writing molded into the chassis like information on the real cars features.  Some will have a friction mechanized motor on one set of axles while others are just coasters.   Some have been reissued while others never have or will be.  They were advertising and thank you gifts from the dealerships years ago...many times when the dad would come in and buy a new car with the son the dealer would give one to the son to have.  Hope this helps you some.    

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34 minutes ago, disabled modeler said:

  ...They were advertising and thank you gifts from the dealerships years ago...many times when the dad would come in and buy a new car with the son the dealer would give one to the son to have.  Hope this helps you some.    

Hence the name..."promo", short for promotional.

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Thanks for the replies!

Appreciate it, now I know what you are all on about in the threads :)

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Don't feel bad Shaun. I've been in my forties for 27 years and I have yet to see one in the flesh.

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1 minute ago, landman said:

Don't feel bad Shaun. I've been in my forties for 27 years and I have yet to see one in the flesh.

Yeah, I take it it is an American thing?

We never had new cars, but event then I don't think such things existed in South Africa while I was growing up.

It really is eye opening some times to see the differences between countries.

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At a local flea market recently, a vendor had 2 promos for sale:  AMT '60 Ford, in a nice white-over-blue factory paint job, and a white Jo-Han '58 Cadillac.  They were filthy, cracked/broken, missing wheels/other parts, and warped.  The poor '60 Ford looked like a banana.  I was checking them out, trying to decide if they were worth haggling over just for the remaining chrome and interior parts.

The vendor said:  "Real promos!  $50 each!  They go for over $75 on eBay!"  Uhhh...not in that condition, they don't.  At that starting price, I wasn't even willing to try and haggle with him.

You can also find a lot of UN-real promos on eBay:  glue-bomb kits with all the custom parts and decals stuck on them, advertised as "promos."  That usually seems to be done out of ignorance more than dishonesty.  Vendors who don't know much about models probably take a quick look thru eBay Completed Items, see something that looks sort of like their kit, and think:  "Promo!  Ka-Ching!" 

Here's an early AMT Falcon chassis with the writing on it mentioned earlier. The same chassis with advertising was used for the promos and kits.  I think AMT only did that in 1962, but I'm not sure:

    

IMG_0006a.jpg

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1 hour ago, Mike999 said:

  I think AMT only did that in 1962, but I'm not sure:

I have an AMT 64 Galaxie kit with features called out in text on the chassis as well.

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This is a great visual example of what a promotional model is, and how it was used to promote the real vehicle(s):

 

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Here's an original, unmolested promo, a '66 Toronado by JoHan (with some chrome wear). Most promos were molded all in one color, but some, like this one, were painted and had a contrasting color interior. 

66Toronado01.jpg.ca363402c2c35b87ea1223d4021aaebe.jpg

66Toronado03.jpg.b850e8c3145e67f6c160966e6c85b121.jpg

 

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Somewhere on a model forum or another car enthusiast website it explained promo's. The difference between coasters, frictions, and craftsman models. I vaguely remember coasters were give-aways from the dealers. Frictions were sold at the retail store and had a friction motor to keep the car moving when it was pushed. Craftsman were purchased un-assembled promo kits with extra "Hop Up" parts to customize the car. The early plastic promos were made of acetate which when new, was shiny and very bright with color. Unfortunately, this material becomes brittle and warps with age, especially if not stored properly. Sometime around 1961 they started using Cycolac (ABS) plastic and painted the bodies.

Edited by THarrison351

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And to think I was anxious to ask this question...

Appreciate all the replies, this forum is a gold mine when it comes to information!

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Some promos were AM radios, too, The stock chassis and interior were replaced by the radio. The speaker was in the passenger compartment, and the battery/dials were on the bottom. The radio is hidden fairly well so it is not very obvious. I have two 1968 Thunderbirds that are radios, but there are many others.

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2 hours ago, shaunmza said:

And to think I was anxious to ask this question...

Appreciate all the replies, this forum is a gold mine when it comes to information!

Exactly Shaun....that is what makes this place so great....there is always someone willing to help another out if possible here.   And I have some great (on-line) friends from here since I started here.

Jim..Yep I have had some with radios in them some still worked.

Snake...I could make that old Toronado look new again...nice one.  I have a sad 68 Toronado promo..it would be mint but the tornado we had tossed it around I found it in our backyard that morning...now it needs a body and glass...bummer.

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Promos are much more than what has been mentioned hitherto. They are the cradle of our hobby and a vital part of the American automotive advertising history.
Most of the American car model kit manufacturers of yore started their business by making promotional models for the real car industry and only ventured into
kit making as a consequence.

In the 1950s American car corporations began to commission outside suppliers to provide plastic models of the current cars to be distributed to car dealerships,
which used them as giveaways to entice real car buyers. For some reason, the overwhelming majority of these promotional models was made to 1/25 scale.

The model manufacturers then went ahead and coaxed further profit from the tooling by modifying them into kits by adding additional parts, like speed equipment
and customizing parts and wheels, thus the 1/25th scale American car model kit was born. Most contemporary car kits that could be built stock were
promo based until the real car manufacturers stopped commissioning promos in the late Seventies - early Eighties, which explains why so few model kits exist
of later American cars.

Note that this is a very rudimentary description of a history that has hitherto filled numerous books and omits many a detail, but in a nutshell, this is how it went.



 

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2 hours ago, disabled modeler said:

Snake...I could make that old Toronado look new again...nice one.  

So could I. I could even make it look better than new (and often do so with "distressed" or less rare ones). But I think I'm gonna just leave this one alone as a nice, honest "survivor." B)

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21 hours ago, Snake45 said:

So could I. I could even make it look better than new (and often do so with "distressed" or less rare ones). But I think I'm gonna just leave this one alone as a nice, honest "survivor." B)

Snake... I myself can see your point but for me I am driven to make them whole again and like they should be and were once..LOL..   If I find them in too bad of shape to they will become models somehow...I just cant see letting anything go to waste..specially with my budget.   I have been lucky enough to find a couple of them that were of cars the family had owned once...still looking ofr other promos or models of the rest of them.   My first real car was a 72 Toronado...very nice one.   The # 1 on my wants list is a 75 Firebird or TA...I owned one once and truly loved that car.

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Again,Promos are very basic model cars,that were used by car dealers to "Promote"some of the cars that were being sold at the time.I don't really do anything with promos,but they are pretty cool.And some of them can go for big bucks $$..

On 2/21/2018 at 7:30 AM, Ace-Garageguy said:

Hence the name..."promo", short for promotional.

 

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