A model car or toy car is a miniature representation of an automobile. Other miniature ground-running vehicles, such as trucks, buses, etc. (but not railroad trains or tracked military vehicles) are often included in the general category of model cars. Because many model cars were originally sold as playthings, there is no precise segregation between a model and a toy car.
Model cars from kits
Model car most frequently refers to scale miniatures of real production vehicles, designed as kits for the enthusiast to construct. They can be created in plastic, die-cast metal, resin, even wood. The best kits have incredible levels of detail, even in parts unseen when the finished model is on display. Major manufacturers are AMT, Revell, Monogram, and Tamiya but many smaller companies abound.
The model car "kit" hobby began in the post World War II era with Ace and Berkeley wooden model cars. Revell pioneered the plastic model car with their famous Maxwell kit derived from a toy. Derk Brand, from England, pioneered the first real plastic kit, a 1932 Ford Roadster for Revell. He was also famous for developing a line of 1/32 scale model car kits in England for the Gowland brothers. These kits were later introduced by Revell in the U.S.
Aluminum Model Toys or AMT introduced model car kits in 1958. Jo-Han, Revell and Monogram started producing model car kits about this same time, and the mid-1960s was considered a "golden age" for model car building from these new innovative customizing kits. Most of these were known as "annual" kits, and were the unassembled kit version of the Promotional models or 'promos' representing the new cars that were introduced at the beginning of each model year.
In addition to building them stock, most annual kits offered "3 in 1" versions which allowed the builder to assemble the car in stock, custom, or racing form. MPC joined the kit/promo business in 1965, and among their first annual kits/promos, was the full-size Dodge Monaco, which was released with a gold metallic painted body and is a valuable collector's item today.
Typically, the kits had more parts and details than the promos. For example, kits often had opening hoods, separate engines and detailed suspension parts.
Interest in model car kits began to wane in the mid-1970s as a result of builders growing older and moving on to other pursuits. A resurgence was experienced in the late 1980s, Monogram helped spark this revival with a series of replicas of NASCAR race cars, as did AMT with a kit of the 1966 Chevrolet Nova, which American modelers had been requesting for years. Model specific magazines sprang up, such as Scale Auto Enthusiast, (now simply Scale Auto), Plastic Fanatic, and Car Modeler. These spread the word, helped advertisers, and brought modelers together from all across the country.
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