AMT Model Kits: A Little 3-in-1 History by Mark Budniewski
Recently, John Grezcula asked me if I’d like to contribute to the Round 2 Models blog. I’ve done some “around the edges” contributions previously, never anything like this though. I’ve been into model cars for as long as I can remember. I still have a few of my late Sixties builds; all of the survivors are AMT model kits–no surprise there, because they were my favorites back in the day.
Besides collecting the kits themselves, I’ve gotten into other items relating to AMT and MPC car kits, particularly the catalogs. In the early Seventies, the original AMT company made their dealer catalogs available to the public. This was done via advertising placed in a couple of the 1:1 car magazines. I’ve held onto the catalogs that I sent for starting in 1975, when I first learned they were available. The occasional earlier catalog, foldout, or single-page sell sheet turns up on occasion, and I am fortunate enough to have located some of those. The old Auto World mail-order catalogs fill in the gaps where no AMT or MPC catalogs exist, or where I haven’t found them (yet!).
Back in the day, it was nice to know what to expect in the way of new releases in the coming year, and when to start looking for them. Today, looking through these and the old Auto World mail-order catalogs, you can get a pretty good history of our corner of the model car hobby.
Many of the AMT and MPC car kits we have looked forward to seeing again have been in and out of the lineup many times over the years, with changes in box art and the occasional parts alteration in order to appeal to new generations of builders and collectors. In some cases, you might not know how far back they really go. Here are a few pics of earlier issues of some current Round 2 AMT car kits. Next time, we’ll get into the particulars of one or two of them.
First: AMT 25th Anniversary (1973) catalog illustration of the ’49 Ford and Mercury. The Tournament of Thrills series included the 1950 Ford convertible also. An authentic set of thrill show jump ramps was included, but this issue saw the custom options deleted from all three kits. Future issues would see most, if not all, of the customizing options restored to these kits… just the way they should be! The ’49 Ford was first released in 1962 (though it doesn’t appear in the ’62 catalog). The ’49 Mercury first appeared in 1963. If there is a ’63 catalog, I’ve yet to see one.
Second: The 1975 catalog saw both of these classic AMT kits returned to the lineup with the customizing parts restored and the thrill show ramps deleted. The catalog illustrations were often done quickly; note the similarity of the ’49 Ford to the earlier Thrill Show illustration! The Seventies-style side exhaust setup shown here did not make its way into any issue of the Ford. The Mercury illustration with the blue custom car was never used on any kit box, and shows the Merc with mag wheels that were never in any issue of the kit.
Third: The 1971 catalog shows a partial selection of AMT’s dragster kits. Of the four shown, three are currently available from Round 2, and the fourth was reissued a number of times and can still be found. Though the nostalgia craze had not yet caught on with drag racers, the Double Dragster was still hanging in there. 1971 would mark its final appearance in an AMT catalog… until now, of course!
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