Cross-Border Car Bonanza!

If this doesn’t look like the outcome of a great road trip, we’d better never travel together!

They say that adventure is where you find it, and that half the fun is getting there. I guess that can be true, depending on your definition of adventure and the mode of transport you take. Now, I think it’s safe to say that many of you reading this are probably on the same page as I am when it comes to adventure, at least on the modelling end of things. My idea of a good time is trolling hobby shops in an unfamiliar place, or one I frequent very rarely. However, for me, half the fun is being there, and basking in the glow of new places and new sprue to wade through. The other half is yammering on about what I’ve found while eating lunch and driving home.

In early June, my brother and I decided to kick it up a notch and try someplace we’ve never really gone “Hobby Shopping” before: Michigan. We do a run to Hamilton, Ontario, a couple times a year, and generally do the Toronto/Oakville run once in the summer. However, the only place we’ve ever really shopped for models in the States is Port Huron’s Hobby Lobby. Sure, they have some neat stuff (and usually a bunch of Round 2s are in stock), but it’s only one store. There used to be another in the city, but it’s been closed a while. (I got my Typhoon there, actually!) This time, though, we took it on the road and toured around the Detroit-to-Port Huron corridor.

As it turns out, this was a pretty darned good idea! While I didn’t score any Matchbox planes (sadly, all the ones I saw I had…), both my brother and I did manage to collect a pretty nice group of car kits!

I had great luck on the loser front. Firstly, I managed to get a hold of the MPC 1979 Mustang Turbo Cobra. Now, you might think that that’s not a loser car, but it kind of is. I mean, while GM was punching out V8 Z-28’s and 400-4 speed T/As, all the Blue Oval could muster was the new Fox-bodied Mustang. Sure, it was newly designed and a break from the Mustang II (which I personally love, stylistically), but it was little more than a tarted-up Fairmont. I’ve long wanted a kit of this progenitor of a long line of Fox-Stangs, but for years all I’ve had was Wild Breed. Now, that’s cool, but it’s based on a later Cobra, and is not as anemic looking as the sieve-grilled, no-cladding wheezer that was the ’79. The kit’s in beautiful shape and didn’t even have tire melt!

Here’s my haul! A first-year four-eyed Cobra and three flavours of Monza. It’s like an Automotive Dark Ages all-you-can-eat buffet!

Of course, you can’t have a loser car collection without a Vega. Sadly, I’m still missing a mid-‘70s Vega/Astre (I wish!), but I did get one, or rather, three, better! I’ve had, for a while, the AMT ’77 Monza. Of course, the Monza was what followed the Vega, with new, pointy styling and more pretentions to performance. It was a very, VERY heavily kitted car back in the day. Well, thank goodness for MPC’s ability to crank those annuals out, since I was able to get my hands on the ’76 annual, as well as two re-nosed “Spyder-style” customs. One, “Black Max” is a wild dragster that can be built stock, and the other is a typical MPC custom: “Street Spyder”. With IMSA Flares and ridiculous graphics, the Monza almost looks cool. Well… okay, that’s a lie. It does look ridiculous, and thus it was a shoo-in for my buying frenzy!

How much awesome can one road trip generate? You tell me! Look at those classic boxes and custom parts! Spruegasm!

So, I got a bunch of “M”s; a Mustang and three Monzas. My brother, on the other hand, is a big fan of ‘70s boats. You can see it in what we drive. He has a ’77 Cougar, I have Faust. That says it all. Or should… if it doesn’t then this will!

My brother is always on the lookout for monster ‘70’s cars, and usually that means JoHans. They’re not easy to get, so finding two on this trip was something else! He managed to get one of the ’76 Eldorados in blue, and one of the ’79 Coupe DeVilles in red. These two kits are pretty simple, and are essentially the Promos knocked down, like the Sebring, but far more crude and simple. In fact, they’re really not impressive as kits at all, but when you consider they’re huge boats and available for sale, that makes them more than good enough! Sadly, one of the boxes was scribbled on, but you can’t be too picky. One thing I learned is that JoHan plastic is BRITTLE. At least on these kits, the plastic felt more like glass, or at least something from the ‘50s! How they got their reputation for quality I don’t know, but these kits sure don’t showcase it! They do have very nice boxes, though, and the whitewalls in the kit are great!

JoHan boats and a pair of pretenders. My brother has good taste, eh? (You can never have enough Bear Baits…)

Of course, there was no way my brother was going to turn down a second copy of Bear Bait!! This is the second time I’ve seen the kit, and you all know what I did with the first one. My brother decided to leave his sealed up, since it is actually sealed with what looks like factory wrap. I can see why he’d do that, but me… I’d be hard-pressed not to pop it open and build the actual Bear Bait itself! Still, any other copy of this kit is an amazing find!

Even more amazing, and the crown jewel of the lot, was the AHC-100 Camaro by AMT. This is the ’77 Camaro annual kit (I believe) dressed up as the AHC-100. The AHC was a “total styling concept” to create a convertible-like Camaro when there wasn’t one. In fact, I thought it was AHC that brought T-Tops to the T/A in ’76, but I’ve been corrected in that it was actually Hurst. So, it seems multiple companies had the same idea! The AHC-100 was an aftermarket package, but I think it was only ever proposed; no one, it seems, has ever seen one. This kit was also still sealed, and as much as I want to open it to get the decals to do an AHC-100 Monza (Why not, I have so many?!) my brother is going to keep this one sealed for a while longer. Can’t blame him; being an AMT, the kit is likely crappy anyway!

So, the Camaro’s clearly compensating, but Bear Bait doesn’t have to! Not with Sam and Harold striking a mighty pose on the box side!

Who knows, he might even be persuaded to sell the Bear Bait and AHC? I should ask…

So, there you have it. A stunning array of losers, boats and pretty-darned-rare bad-custom-idea kits! All this, and we got to enjoy some sunny weather and snack foods you can only get south of the Canadian border!

Which one is your favourite kit?

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