History of MPC's Dodge D/W Series Trucks

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Time for another installment in kit history. These kits are a bit more familiar to me so I hope I've done this chronicle justice. Also, being from the 70s information and pictures of these kits are easier to find as there are more of them left around.

As you may or may not be aware these kits started as a series of annuals produced by MPC. As far as dating of the kit release goes, I have found box pictures showing a copyright date of both the year depicted and the previous year for most of the issues. For simplicity's sake I have chosen to list the year depicted as the year issued.

The first kit issued with this tooling's long run was the Baja Brute, which was actually the 1972 annual although not labelled as such. The truck depicted is a regular cab, 8' full width box trimmed as an Adventurer SE. The engine is a cobbled together Chrysler B/RB V-8 that lasted throughout the tooling's run. Options with this kit included both 2WD and 4WD suspension with stock wheel covers and 4WD 8-lug wheels, a stock hood and a bulged center hood, off-road race equipment, and service station attendant equipment. The kit has a the grille used for 72-73 and is molded in white. MPC #1-0458
mpc1-0458.jpg

Next up was the 1973 Dodge Pickup annual. This was a straight re-issue of the Baja Brute, swapping the service station attendant building option with an emergency attendant option. The kit has the grille used for 72-73 and is molded in white. MPC #1-7309
mpc1-7309.jpg

Moving on to 1974, the kit was re-issued with changes appropriate to the full size truck, which was mostly limited to the grille. This same grill was used until 1976. To keep the kit interesting to buyers of the 1973 issue, this version had many of the same options including a choice of either 2WD or 4WD and associated wheels, both hoods as before, service station equipment and a dirt bike. This kit is also molded in white. MPC #1-7409
mpc7409.png

The 1975 issue is almost the same as the previous 1974 issue, however the service station equipment was swapped out for the race equipment from the 1973 issue. MPC #1-7509
mpc7509.JPG

In the year of the US's bicentennial, the changes were limited to the omission of optional truck equipment and inclusion of a second dirt bike. There also appears to be two boxes for this issue: one with '76 in the upper left corner and the other has 'NEW' in the same location. MPC #1-7609
mpc7609.png

Late 1976-1977 was a big year for this tooling and saw a lot of kits issued. The body trim was re-tooled to reflect the 1:1 trim changes: the body side moulding was moved from above the wheel well flares to below them, a new trim line added just below the cab window along the entire body and bed, the Adventurer SE badge moved from behind the rear wheel well to between the front wheel well and the door, the tailgate relief panel was re-shaped and lost the 'Dodge' badge, and the new-for-77 grille. All subsequent re-issues would include either 4WD or 2WD suspension rather than the option to build one or the other. The first kit on store shelves was the 1977 annual with the ubiquitous dirk bike and off-road racer equipment. The bulge hood was also omitted. MPC #1-7709
mpc7709.JPG

Edited by kataranga

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Also in late 1976 a separate, non-annual version was released as an Off-Road Camper. This issue includes the dirt bike and an odd partial-length camper/sleeper arrangement. The Adventurer SE badge on the front fenders was replaced with Power Wagon 100. MPC #1-0412
mpc412.png

The seemingly final edition of the annual kits for this series was for the 1978 model year. Addition from the 1977 issue include wood stake box sides and a front roll pan. MPC#1-7809
mpc7809.png

At some point in 1977, the tooling was modified to include a 6' step side bed. The bed is an entirely new piece as is the shorter chassis pan. The cab was also stripped of any molding or emblems. The first version with the step side bed was released in 1977 as the Warlock. Buildable only as the box art truck, this kit was the first inclusion of the generic MPC 5-lug wagon wheels. Molded in black. MPC #1-0417
warlock.png

The existence of this next kit suggests that there may have been plans for a 1979 annual, but I can not seem to find any references to one. The biggest re-tooling for this kit occurred at this time to update it to the 1979 body style which included modifying the cowl, a new hood, and a new grille. Aside from the model year changes, this kit includes the same options as the previous Warlock. Molded in orange. MPC #1-0418
firefighter.png

Curiously, the next issue of this kit from 1979 returns to the previous 77-78 body style, depicting the 1:1 special edition Li'l Red Express truck. The 2WD suspension returned and the kit included new 5-lug slotted mags and exhaust stacks. Molded in red. MPC #1-0427
lre1979.png

For 1980 the tooling of the Li'l Red Express was re-issued with the body of the 79-80 body style, this time in grey/silver plastic and new decals naming the truck Pumpin' Iron. Original 77-78 grille and hood were also included. MPC #1-0432
pumpiniron.png

Edited by kataranga

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The full-width 8' bed returned in 1981 as a pulling truck called Thunders Truck (see what they did there?). The bed was stripped of trim to match the cab, which was the same as the LRE however the kit curiously included the 79-80 grille. The bulge hood from the original annuals was modified with holes to allow headers to exit straight up. The engine also was modified to add a blower. Molded in black. MPC #1-0442

thunderstruck.png

The final offering of this tooling associated with MPC was first issued in 1984 in the middle of the monster truck craze. This version is an almost carbon copy of the Thunders Truck but with monster truck suspension and wheels. Molded in red and first issued under MPC #1-0451. Re-issued again in 1988 by Ertl, the box art was unchanged other than to note that Ertl stock number 5344 replaces MPC stock numbrer 1-0451.

mpc6344.jpg

AMT later reissued the kit multiple times in 1994, 2005, and 2006, all as the Li'l Red Express and seemingly forgetting that other versions of the tooling exist. This version is the same as the original MPC LRE and Pumpin' Iron releases only molded in the typical AMT grey plastic. Stock numbers 5459, 38248, 31938.

amt6459.jpg

Edited by kataranga

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Thanks for the trip down memory lane! I remember building one of the '76 trucks and would love to find an original '74 issue to build.

Hopefully somehow Round 2 can see fit to restore this tooling and bring back the 4wd longbed kits soon!

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At this point I'd settle for the Warlock. Would love to see if the 79-80 cab is a separate tooling or not.

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Id love another chance to build those early 70s ones again....they were great kits.

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I believe for the most part the cab is the same in all kits.

I know the Parking lights for th 72 are Still in the grill/bumper divider bar!!

Also, Though the Pumpin' Iron box art shows the Li'L Red grill, I believe it came with the 79/80 instead.

I need to dig it out, but do not remember it having the round headlights of the 77/8 Li'l Red.

I built one with the Monogram 1/32 scale Mack CF Pumper body .

I got the kit Cheap due to being open and missing the tire.

Edited by Edsel-Dan

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I can't say for the earlier issues, but the shortbed trucks, and the Thunders Truck and monster truck longbeds all have a B block engine, rather than the LA smallblock. That includes the LRE, which is odd as the big block was not available in that particular version (it was an option on the Warlock, though).

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The pumping iron included a '79-'80 Style grille & hood as well as the correct '79/'80 Cowl in addition to the '78 grille & hood, the reissues of the Lil Red Express have different mag wheels than the Original release but the same as the Pumpin' Iron.

my Pumpin' Iron is a built up but my others were sealed and are currently sealed inside for the most part. A friend of mine has a complete open Pumpin' Iron kit that I compared mine to to see if it was missing anything.

GEDC3495-1.jpg

If anyone wants to see the difference in rims, let me know.

Nick

Edit: also all the annual kits were released with two boxes, one with the Word "New" and one with the year, I've seen both boxes for nearly all of the above annuals, still trying to get a few more.

Edited by Nick Winter

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Aha, that makes more sense! So, with the Pumpin' Iron release you could actually build the 79 LRE version, hmm.

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My Pumpin' Iron issue only had the one grill & hood.

It Was opened missing the tires, but there did not appear to be

sprue locations that were missing such large parts.

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Mine has the correct cowl molded to the cab, my buddies has a seperate Sprue with the hood & Grille, grille was molded in colro and not chrome.

Nick

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I have been working on a replica of my original fire departments '79 brush truck.

8016-01.jpg

Started out with the Monster Truck, 4x4 chassis from a glue bomb, and a hood and grille generously donated by a fellow modeler. Been trying to make an accurate looking round headlight grille like this:\

79_dodge_powerwagon.gif

but am not happy with the result. Dencon resin did offer a '79 grille, but it was not the round headlight type as shown above. Have been working on it off and on for a while.

8016-06.jpg

Lots of details as you can see, as well as slide in pump, tank, plumbing, dual hose reels and a master stream device mounted on the pedestal in the back bed. Hope to finally get it done one of these days...

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I glue bombed a bunch of the 76 to 78s when I was a kid, sure wish I had them now, great kits. Would be a popular re-release for sure

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a stock hood

Commonly referred to as the "bird bath" hood, since it retains a puddle water on both sides...until you raise the hood and rinse the firewall, including the ICU, starter relay, wiper motor, and ballast resistor. :(

Another great review/history Chris. I am still puzzled why MPC opted to include 1/20 scale tires and wheels for the early off-rad versions. Can anyone confirm which 4x4-option tires and wheels were included in the '73-'75 kits? It appears the 1/20 scale road race tires and eight-lug steel wheels started in the '76 kit, but I can't discern what was used in the earlier kits, due to the box art having only drawings.

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I wish they would release one of the long boxes with the yamaha dirt bike in it, so I can modify it to like like the 125 I have.

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Commonly referred to as the "bird bath" hood, since it retains a puddle water on both sides...until you raise the hood and rinse the firewall, including the ICU, starter relay, wiper motor, and ballast resistor. :(

Another great review/history Chris. I am still puzzled why MPC opted to include 1/20 scale tires and wheels for the early off-rad versions. Can anyone confirm which 4x4-option tires and wheels were included in the '73-'75 kits? It appears the 1/20 scale road race tires and eight-lug steel wheels started in the '76 kit, but I can't discern what was used in the earlier kits, due to the box art having only drawings.

Those eight-lug wheels have nice detail but looks a tad oversized. Would be nice to have in scale replacements.

Did anybody else noticed that the box art model for 1976 has the wheels the wrong way round?

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I have a builtup of the 72-73 long bed truck if anyone wants pictures

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It's great to see pics of these old favourites !

I had many of the '76-'78 versions , none of them survived the ravages of my imagination ...

Has this series always had a totally goofy and incorrect B / RB Engine with manual trans combo , or was the small "LA" engine / Torqueflite ever available ?

I , too , would LOVE to see this kit --the original longbed , two-wheel-drive-- restored and reissued by Round2 , perhaps in the following guise :

-The original kits' wheel covers

-new plain steelies in a *correct* size

- hub caps , perhaps sourced from Missing Link (their excellent '69-'75 Dodge "dog dish" caps)

- engine / transmission from the 1971 Charger R/T (big block / Torqueflite combo)

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I think they used the same rims and tires all the way through the run. Which, BTW, interchange perfectly with those in the most recent AMT 84 GMC kit. The tires are Goodyear Blue Streak Specials.

And I guess I got the engine wrong, my apologies. I'm not that familiar with Chrysler engines.

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Has this series always had a totally goofy and incorrect B / RB Engine with manual trans combo , or was the small "LA" engine / Torqueflite ever available ?

Curious, Why do you say incorrect.?

the Dodge trucks WERE avail with both a 400 B engine as well as a 440 RB up till approx 1977 ( maybe 1978 )

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I think what he means is that the engine in the kit is inacurate as far as being a B/RB Cherylser engine, rather than the B/RB not being available in the 1:1 truck.

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Or maybe he means the RB/manual trans combo, but I'm 99% sure the granny gear first NP-??? trans was available behind the RB-series big block.

I'd actually prefer this kit doesn't return, and IIRC, Model King looked into refurbishing the molds and they were not in good shape, or at least not worth the time and money to refresh. The details are so lacking on these kits that you'd end up buying two or more additional kits just to make them look decent. RB-series engine from the AMT '71 Charger or Revell '68/9 Charge or '69 Dart, realistic off-road wheels and tires from another kit, decent solid axle suspension from elsewhere, and then you've still got the one-piece bed. -_-

If Moebius' upcoming Fords do well, the '72-'80 Dodge/Plymouth pickup and SUV line could be a future series, too. ^_^

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What's wrong with the one-piece bed? I prefer one-piece full-width beds, myself.

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They take away accuracy, and narrow the interior of it.

Especially the flood/bed.

They are more susceptible to warping in a way that requires cutting them apart

anyway to straighten. IF they Can be that is.

Edited by Edsel-Dan

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