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Oldcarfan27

Palmer model kit history?

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Posted (edited)

Does anyone know how long Palmer Plastics made model cars?

And how they even stayed in business for so many years with such atrocious model kits? "Scale model" was not in their vocabulary.

Does anyone even care?

Edited by Oldcarfan27

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This page shows kits marked from 1961-75. How did they stay in business? Their kits typically ranged half price or less of a buildable kit. I wonder how many of these were bought to pacify a child the parent didn't think would actually finish the kit or for a "present" for a party for a less than popular boy. Remember this was the era when it seemed we had a Christmas party and maybe another where we all exchanged gifts. Not necessarily something we wanted to do but a right of passage. I was so glad that habit of my youth has been discontinued.

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A local antique mall has a couple of Palmer Cougar kits in one of the booths. They've been there a long time. For $10CDN for the pair, I'm tempted to grab them and see what the fuss is about.

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Posted (edited)

Keep in mind what they were competing with, scale model wasn't a term in common use.  Ever here the term "box scale"?  That literally means the model was scaled to fit into a standard size box, that was still common in the early 1960s. Johan's early Cadillac kits are notorious for having shortened proportions, because Cadillacs were large cars and many wouldn't fit into the standard box Johan used.  

 

In 1961 plastic model kits had only recently replaced wooden model kits. You think Palmer kits are bad check out a Monogram or Strombecker kit from the 1940s or 50s. Hey kid here is a block of wood sort of shaped like an airplane, here are some pictures of what it is supposed to look like.

Here is a knife, go. 

 

Their later kits like the 1940 Ford are much better than those early kits, not great, but better. Good enough that some people think they copied the AMT or Revell kit. Their early kits are similar to other brands early kits, kits many gripe about for being bad. Also cars do not appear to have been their strongest effort. Apparently their ship models are considered to be better. I'm not really much of a ship modeller, so don't know from personal experience but I have been told many of the better Lindberg ship models began life as Palmer kits.

 

Monogram's kits from the late 1960s really stand out because they were so much better than most anything else being done at the time. 

Edited by Aaronw

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Posted (edited)

I used to see "Palmer-Winneco" kits listed in the oldies section of  the old Model Empire catalogs of 1980-85ish. Was Winneco a concern that stepped in later?

 

Edited by garagepunk66

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Here's a Palmer discussion at The Other Model Car Magazine.  One poster mentions that Palmer mostly made plastic food containers, and model kits were only a side job.

Comments from poster Jimmy Razor:

"I am a regular contributor at scalemates.com, and have additional insight into Palmer.  Like AMT and MPC, Palmer offered a series of "annual" kits, featuring cars from the current model year.  Specifically, these are the "bad" kits.  Palmer's outdated molding process meant multi-piece bodies with shallow interiors.  The individual parts were poorly-engineered with terrible fit and often with inaccurate shapes.  Again, these were "junk" models, only of interest to nostalgic collectors.

Not all offered by Palmer was "junk," though.  Through a mold-sharing program with Pyro, Palmer offered a budget version of Pyro's "Table Top" series.  These were a selection of 1930's through 1950's cars in approximately 1/32 scale.  Price was kept at 29 to 60 cents through the omission of clear or chrome parts.

Although these "Budget Pyros" were basic by today's standards, they were fairly accurate in their overall shape and detail. Engineering was fair-to-good with decent fit, in spite of multi-part bodies.  The primary weakness of these kits was aging molds leading to excessive flash.

I built about a half-dozen of these Palmer cars in the early 'seventies, and really enjoyed them.  Most were later reissued by Life-Like and Lindberg, and remain available.  An experienced model builder can make these basic kits look rather nice."

http://cs.scaleautomag.com/sca/ask_scale_auto/f/11/t/125685.aspx

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I have always been amused that Palmer uses a micrometer to represent the 'P' in their logo, suggesting that the product is one of precision.

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Posted (edited)

Here is what I wrote about the history of Palmer Plastic, Inc. in Adam Rehorn's (aka Faust) "Sprue Lagoon" blog: 

Palmer was primarily a manufacturer of plastic toys normally sold in dime stores, drug stores, candy stores and such. Palmer was one of the manufacturers of those toy soldiers we all grew up setting fire to as kids. Plastic model kits were just a side line; so, one could excuse the lack of accuracy and detail. Besides, these kits were geared toward kids who built models for fun and future destruction on July 4th, not rivet counting obsessive-compulsives of later decades. As long as it looked like a Corvette, it was worth the allowance money spent. If you checked out the link, it doesn’t look that bad.

Palmer Plastics Inc. was originally located at 31 Stone (now renamed Mother Gaston Blvd.) Avenue, in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. This location was demolished and was replaced by housing projects. The company later moved to 10720 Avenue D., about a mile southeast of the Stone Avenue address, where the neighborhoods of Brownsville, East New York and Canarsie meet. The former Palmer Plastics factory still exists and is still used to manufacture plastic products.

Edited by SfanGoch

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19 hours ago, Oldcarfan27 said:

And how they even stayed in business for so many years with such atrocious model kits?

Two words: Box Art.

The price, the parts count and especially the box art is what got me to buy them in grade school. The crushing disappointment with fit and look is why I quit after two models (I'd given them a second chance you understand).

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17 hours ago, Aaronw said:

 

Their later kits like the 1940 Ford are much better than those early kits, not great, but better. Good enough that some people think they copied the AMT or Revell kit. 

 

Yes, it definitely looks like their 1/25 scale Dodge Challenger, Mustang  and Corvette kits look like copies of the MPC kits. It seems like it was pretty common for the smaller companys to copy the offerings of larger ones back then, especially with the ship models. 

I don't think the '40 Ford was ever issued back then though. From what I've read when it was first released by Lindberg, it was tooled up back in the '70s but for some reason never released until Lindberg released it in the '90s.

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One thing that kept them in the kit business was the dime store trade. My grandmother ran a small mom and pop style store in the early 70's and she stocked some of them because they could be gotten for a 1/4 the price of the name brand kits.

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Thanks guys, all these responses are interesting to read. I never knew all this about Palmer. It sounds like they were equivalent to the junk toys we find at the dollar stores today. Cheap, throwaway toys that we buy to keep our young kids quiet and content while we get what we need. Makes sense now!

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Give credit where credit is due. Palmer Plastics wasn't the equivalent, it was the king. In addition to the ubiquitous plastic soldiers, Palmer produced tchotcke such as promotional pins for various corporations, radio stations and record companies, water guns, toys, trinkets and costume jewelry that were sold in the same dime stores alongside the plastic dog faces. 

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On 4/20/2018 at 3:47 AM, Mike999 said:

 Price was kept at 29 to 60 cents through the omission of clear or chrome parts"

...And they're probably still available for that same price today! 😎 lol.

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Posted (edited)

I've acquired a few, simply because they were in the boxes of parts that I really DID want. I got two of their 65 Corvette coupes this way, while they are restorable, I just have no desire to waste my effort to do so. They're so bad I can't even use them for parts. 😝

I did also get a 61 Cadillac this way - and its not too bad. That one I may restore because I'll never get one in my regular scale - 1/25.

I also got a 67 Galaxie from the thrift store decades ago. Like people said, the box art hooked me, but the contents - Meh 😩. It's missing the roof, but looking at other built ups, it probably isn't much of a loss. Again I may reassess it as a possible restoration/conversion candidate. Not gonna find Galaxies growing on trees anymore, Right?

Edited by Oldcarfan27

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I have read about Palmer before and I have seen pictures of them and have had no interest in having any of their kits myself and I was quite sure that I had none of them in my stash untill I found out that the Lindberg 1:32 49 Ford is actually a Palmer kit (that explains the strange proportions) and that the 1:25 boat kits released last year by Lindberg is also old Palmer kits become very apparent when one opens the box and look at its contents.

Here is a 60s Corvette by Palmer on ebay right now:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-1960s-Four-on-the-Floor-Corvette-Stingray-model-kit-Palmer-Plastics/263603740763?hash=item3d6001e05b:g:i70AAOSwux5YUEes
s-l1600.jpg

Supercool boxart, you know you want that one.

Or do you?
s-l1600.jpg
maybe one could get that boxart enlarged and printed out as a poster, looks really great. The model....hmm....:rolleyes:

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5 hours ago, Atmobil said:

Ha!  That very same one was on eBay several weeks ago.  I recognize the rip in the box, and the built model.  I grabbed the same 2 pix and posted them in another thread.  Maybe the "Bad Box Art" thread.

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As mentioned, Palmer box art is interesting and fun to collect.  Many years ago in the hobby you'd see them at swap meets for $5 or $10, so I started to collect them...

MVC006F-vi.jpgMVC007F-vi.jpgMVC002F-vi.jpg037b_3-vi.jpg195galx-vi.jpga9c4_3-vi.jpg9e36_3-vi.jpgdscn5209-vi.jpg2e_1-vi.jpg

e1_1_b-vi.jpg

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Nice coincidence!  I was just checking out eBay "Ending Soonest" and one of the Palmer budget kits popped up, a '32 Ford Roadster.  The Palmer name is nowhere on the box top, so maybe they knew their reputation wasn't so hot, even back in the 1960s.  Notice the "Suitable For Slot Car Racing" pitch on the box top.  The name Palmer only appears in small print on the side panel.

The other side panel got my attention:  the list of other Palmer kits available includes a Cooper Ford, Ferrari 250 GTO/LM, Porsche 904 GTS and Lola GT.  Don't think I've ever seen any of those in a Palmer box.

 

p32-1.jpg

p32-2.jpg

p32-3.jpg

p32-4.jpg

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Not too shabby for a dime store kit. Everyone is looking and disparaging Palmer models through the jaded eyes of adults who seemed to have conveniently forgotten, or wish to forget, their youth. I seriously doubt there there is anyone here who, as a six to ten year old, actually knew, or cared, about correct body lines, accurate proportions, etc. A lot of kids back then would get their introduction to model building by buying these models at the candy store while checking out the comic book racks. I know I, and most of my friends, did.

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Posted (edited)
51 minutes ago, SfanGoch said:

...I seriously doubt there there is anyone here who, as a six to ten year old, actually knew, or cared, about correct body lines, accurate proportions, etc. ...

I was almost as anal-retentively pedantic as a kid as I'm reputed to be now.

Maybe it's PTSD, resulting from the brutalization my innocent psyche suffered when I opened a Palmer kit, that makes me so intolerant when I encounter poorly-designed, engineered, or proportioned anything today.   :D

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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Okay, Bill. YOU are the exception. :D 

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I remember that '32.  One of the earliest kits I ever built, and I found cars of this vintage way more interesting than most contemporary cars then.  Near as I could tell, that, and similar 1/32 kits int he Palmer line were just reboxed Pyro kits, and weren't that bad.  Not the greatest kits, but unlike Palmer's larger offerings, at least you got something that looked like what it was supposed to be.

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