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History of MPC's Fifth Generation El Camino Kits

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I've been sitting on this one for a while, time to post it up! B)

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.

mpc0420.JPG

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.

mpc1-0760.jpg

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.

mpc1-0854.jpg

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.

mpc1-0857.jpg

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.

mpc1-0453.jpg

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.

amt6964.JPG

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Posted (edited) · Report post

This kit saw several reissues.

In 1998 as stock number 30074, with and without a plus pack:
amt30074.JPG

In 2002, same stock number, different box art:
amt30074-1.jpg

In 2007, with stock number 38588:
amt38588.JPG

And the latest issue, in 2009, seeing a return of the original MPC brand, stock number 712:
mpc712.jpg

This was also releases as part of a three-kit set in 1992, carrying the stock number 8911:
amt8911.JPG

In doing my research for this article, I can't find any issues of the SS kit under the MPC brand before 2009. If there was an SS promo issued between 1984 and 1991, that would explain the body change. Otherwise, I have no idea why AMT would modify the kit at all and not just re-issue the last version of the kit. If anyone has any thoughts, please share!

Edited by kataranga

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Posted · Report post

Included for completeness sake, MPC also released the GMC Caballero in 1979 as the El Diablo. This issue had all the same custom parts as the Night Moves but added the GMC grille and was molded in blue. Stock number 1-0754.

mpc1-0754.jpg

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Posted · Report post

Excellent Article!!!!

Thank you!!!!

I never knew the Monster truck could be built stock!!!!

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Posted · Report post

Good info. Thanks, Chris.

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Posted · Report post

In doing my research for this article, I can't find any issues of the SS kit under the MPC brand before 2009. If there was an SS promo issued between 1984 and 1991, that would explain the body change. Otherwise, I have no idea why AMT would modify the kit at all and not just re-issue the last version of the kit. If anyone has any thoughts, please share!

The El Camino with the Monte SS nose is not a factory offering, but rather an aftermarket conversion by Choo-Choo Customs (you can see the name on the LF of the nose in one of the box art pics), so there never would've been a promo issued with that nose cap. It was a fairly common/popular conversion from what I remember, so perhaps AMT decided to inject a bit of life into an old kit by slightly updating it. Too bad the part of the nose which wraps around the lower edges of the front fenders doesn't blend well at all. In fairness, the real CCC ElCo SS's nosepiece didn't blend well either, but was craftily disguised by a thick piece of molding:

z1998pres3b.jpg

:( Just looking at the box art model from the 6964 and 2002 reissue tells you you're in for some serious front wheel offset issues. :blink:

Here's the "Thunder Wagon" decal sheet:

MPCThunderWagonElCoMT1-0543.jpg

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Posted · Report post

Excellent Article!!!!

Thank you!!!!

I never knew the Monster truck could be built stock!!!!

Actually, it can't, unfortunately. BUT, if one was to pick up the monster truck kit and the latest reissue, a stock 82-87 style El Camino could be built. And then an SS monster truck... :D

The El Camino with the Monte SS nose is not a factory offering, but rather an aftermarket conversion by Choo-Choo Customs (you can see the name on the LF of the nose in one of the box art pics), so there never would've been a promo issued with that nose cap. It was a fairly common/popular conversion from what I remember, so perhaps AMT decided to inject a bit of life into an old kit by slightly updating it.

Ahh, okay. The original issue was before RC2 came into the picture, so it makes sense that someone at AMT would put some money into it.

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I was almost gonna mention that you missed the 3n1 kit featuring the lowrider on the box top, but then I noticed that it was the Revell version, not AMT/MPC. You would almost think it is though since it offers the Royal Knight version parts along with the custom tube grille, camper shell, and tonneau cover as well. I will say though, if the detail level of the late 70's kits is the same as the newer SS version, then I'm glad that Revell released their version! :lol:

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Posted · Report post

Thanks for the article Chris, curious as to why the Revell issues weren't included in your write up?

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I have one of the 98 issue SS conversion kits.

The tooling was Highly Polished leaving the kit body parts with a very High Gloss shine.

I remember that it was sold as Not needing paint.

I built the El Diablo issue too

Replaced the molded coil springs with actual coils.

Yes, it would deflect!

I sold/traded that one a LONG time ago.

Edited by Edsel-Dan

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Posted · Report post

Mike, I stuck with just the MPC kits at this time. May do the Monogram/Revell kits later... :)

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Posted · Report post

Very cool write up! Thanks!

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Posted · Report post

Nice article! From what I found out the Royal Knight is a 79 model (released in late 78), it could be called an annual. The following kits you mention are 80, 81 and 82 models. MPC made promos of exactly these years as well. No 1978 was made by MPC, I think the Monogram is a 78. Except for the 87 SS noone ever made a model year after the 82.

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Posted · Report post

Another great article please keep them coming

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Posted · Report post

Nice kit, first Royal Knight & other 70's Street Machine look(s) was neat looking... Bradley's "Red Light Bandit" version look a bit TOO over the top!

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The El Camino with the Monte SS nose is not a factory offering, but rather an aftermarket conversion by Choo-Choo Customs (you can see the name on the LF of the nose in one of the box art pics), so there never would've been a promo issued with that nose cap. It was a fairly common/popular conversion from what I remember, so perhaps AMT decided to inject a bit of life into an old kit by slightly updating it. Too bad the part of the nose which wraps around the lower edges of the front fenders doesn't blend well at all. In fairness, the real CCC ElCo SS's nosepiece didn't blend well either, but was craftily disguised by a thick piece of molding:

What Casey said. I have an old issue of SAE from 1991 which states the AMT/Ertl '86 SS version was a new offering for that year, obviously based on the former MPC annual, but all of the SS-specific pieces were added for that modified reissue.

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Posted · Report post

Love the elcaminos, wish they would reissue them.

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Nice history Kataranga! Couple clarifications: the grille in the Night Moves and Branding Iron issues is actually the stock 1981 model year grille, not a custom tube unit. The GMC Caballero version has the 1980 model year grille, with the Buick-style vertical bars.

When AMT/Ertl converted this kit to the SS, it was a mixed bag. They really butchered the front end of the body, and it takes a fair amount of work to get the nose to fit properly. You can also tell they rushed the job, since the vertical bars in the grille of the SS nose aren't even spaced evenly on the passenger side (you can see this in the pic of the 2002 box art). However, they did see fit to upgrade the dash to the proper 1981+ style, which MPC never bothered doing. If memory serves me correctly, I believe they also added the trim that circles the top of the bed and tailgate. I restored a glue-bomb of the Night Moves issue back in the 90's, and I seem to recall being surprised that the trim was missing on that version.

The SS kit also changed the seats to buckets (the monster truck had a bench), but they didn't bother adding a console. I believe you could order a 1:1 like this, but it's definitely not how most were optioned. I recently bought the latest MPC-branded Round 2 reissue of this kit from Hobby Lobby. One change that surprised me is that, in addition to the 5-hole "eighties-style" rally wheels that are shown on the box art, they now also include a set of the 6-hole rallys from the older versions of the tooling. The 1991 issue of the SS did not have these.

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