Monday, February 27, 2012

Automobile fun for $20?

About a year ago when I started this blog I did a post called "Automobile fun for $1". That post was about collecting Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars. Today I am going to talk about the next step beyond that which is plastic model car kits. When I was young these kits cost anywhere from $10-$20 depending on the store and manufacturer. Today I think they sell in the $20-$30 range from what I have seen in hobby stores.
Plastic model kits have been around since the 1950's and are still made today. This lets a child or adult get a little more hands on than the Hot Wheels cars. You can really see the differences in car styles and cars when you assemble them yourself.
A standard model kit would come with all the parts to build the car. The body and frame would be molded in plastic. and the small components came on plastic "trees". Generally all parts are molded in one color, which would be the same as the color of the body of the car. There was also a tree of chrome parts and one clear for windows and lights. Glue and paint were sold separately. There were also directions and a usually a sheet of water decals to detail the body of the car after construction. The example I have of the 1966 Chevy Nova the body has been spray painted in primer and some of the suspension and engine parts have been painted on the trees. You can see in the photos the trees of parts and directions that came with the kit.
One nice part of model car building that is fun is each car can be painted or modified to the builders preference. Some kits would come with customizing parts to hot rod the car. This gave the builder the ability to personalize the model.
The most common companies building kits when I was young were Monogram, AMT and MPC. There are many other companies to choose from and just about any car ever made has had a model kit produced.
I used to get most of my kits from a place called Duane's Toyland in Niskayuna, NY. Which is long gone now. They had a huge selection of cars and trucks. Today they can be found at hobby stores like Hobbytown USA, Michaels, and there are still some great mom and pop hobby shops also. In my area Mohawk Valley Railroad Co. has a great selection of model cars kits as well as airplanes and boats.
Some things you will need that are not included are a hobby knife, Plastic model glue, fine grit sand paper, tweezers, toothpicks, some small assorted model paints, spray paint for the body and frame, and your imagination.
The winter is the best time of year for model building since you may be stuck in the house anyway. When I was young I built nearly 100 model kits and had fun with each one.
Some of the kits in the photos are ones that I have made when I was younger. The Richard Petty Plymouth Superbird kit was made in the early 1970's by Jo-Han. The Chevrolet Corvair kit was produced in the 1960's. All the other kits show are from the 1980's.

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