When a car is popular, it’s tough to make it stand out in a crowd. It’s a none-too-cool situation to be in. As a young, (likely manly) auto enthusiast, you want to drive the cool car, but you have to go that extra mile to make it something special. This has always been a problem, and the answer has always been the same, although in very different ways. If you want your car to stick out, you have to make it one-of-a-kind, and that means customization!
Back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, customizers had a “basket” of tricks from which to draw. Just like today’s customizers who seem to embrace multiple wings, excessive camber and exhaust pipes that found their origins in a Folger’s canning plant, the customizers of this bygone age relied on tried and true tricks, employed in different combinations. Back then, you could almost rely on excessively gaudy custom paint, either with lots of stripes, panels or both. These often found themselves in the red-orange-yellow part of the spectrum, leading to what I call “Sunset stripes”. Surely, they marked the “sunset” of good taste… In addition, side pipes, CB aerials, sunroofs, hood scoops and blowers were common.
So, when MPC was faced in the early ‘80s (about 1982) with what to do with “yesterday’s” Mustang Cobra kit (from the first “FoxStang” design of ’79-’81), it naturally occurred to them to do the same as is done in real life: customize! If it’s one thing that MPC got, it was how to stretch a mould by tuning into the desire of younger builders to emulate the “Kar Kraftiness” of their older, able-to-drive brethren, but with plastic. To this end, the “Wild Breed” Mustang Cobra was born!
When it comes to ‘80s MPC box art, subtlety is a rare commodity. The guys at MPC COMPLETELY understood how to visually bludgeon a buy with hyperkinetic colours, fonts and box art arrangement. The crazier the subject matter, the better! In the case of the Wild Breed, the car’s inherent custom nature helps take this cacophony of graphical design to a whole new level. The box features the Wild Breed on the front, prominently displaying its stylish custom features, like wild paint stripes, panels and lines, with Mustang theme, of course. Never one to stop at the over-the-top, the WB also has custom wheels (which are, actually, exceptionally nice, and seem to be the same as those on the EXP!), side pipes (no way!) and a custom two-toned red/black interior. It is boffo. Period.
The raging custom storm continues on the sides of the box. On one side, you get to see all the awesome features, like the optional hood scoops, chromed pieces and, the best part of all, the choice of two full engines! The other side is the traditional “full sized” view of the Wild Breed, to whet your whistle and get you building. It really works, trust me!
Like all MPC boxes of this era, this one is fun, flashy and makes me LUST after ever-more MPCs. They had boring boxes before these, and boring ones afterwards, but man, that ’79-’84 period is a high point in box design! Making this box cooler is that it still has a price tag! This kit was $9.95 back in the mid ‘80s at a hobby shop called “Leisure World”. This is actually a store that was in London, Ontario, for quite some time, so this one is actually a home-town hero for me! The best part is that it was $10. Even better, was that when the original owner of this fine kit bought it, it was on sale for $3.88. I would break into embarrassingly off-key songs to get MPC cars for that now!
To cap it all off, the kit was STILL SEALED when my brother gave it to me on my 39th birthday. This, though, inevitably brings me to an inner conflict: I have lots of opened car kits, and this one’s already been sealed for almost 35 years. Should I open it? Well, I opened my super-mega-ultra-rare Mazda Familia Rotary, and it was way older, so OF COURSE I opened it! It was never really a conflict; patience and prudence were always going to get their collective behinds bruised against seeing how cool something like Wild Breed is out of the box! Besides, it wouldn’t be much of an “out of box” review if the box was STILL SEALED, now would it?
This kit is pure MPC. That means there is a lot of one colour of part in a bag. In this case, the parts are black. There’s another version of this custom Stang that’s called “Snakebite”, and it’s in red. Sadly, the black does not photograph well through the bag, and I dare not open the bag until I’m ready to build this thing. Why? Because in typical MPC fashion many parts have liberated themselves from the confines of their sprue prisons and are furtively darting around in the bag, desperate for any way out. I decided it was best to keep the kit in the bag and not lose half the parts.
On top of the “bag o’ car” you also get red tail lights, a rack of chrome with both stock and custom wheels, side pipes, a CB aerial (told you) and the obligatory inappropriately-chromed engine parts. There’s a pair of clear red tail lights and of course, the windows and tires. Normally, there is a risk on any MPC kit that the tires will have found their way to the windows. This is bad. MPC tires and windows get along like bones and hydrofluoric acid; the tires just dissolve the windows, often leaving irreparable damage. However, in this case, they were kept separated, and the tires and windows both look good! As a bonus, the tires are nicely rendered and have raised lettering on them. Ah, the good old days of name-brand tires on model kits. These are Good Years.
The moulding on the car is quite good. Sure, there’s a lot of flash, and some injector pins are in a rather inappropriate part of the trunk floor, but overall, the detail is very good. The engine detail seems to be quite good as well, and the instructions show that there are the usually much-loved separate engine accessories. This model doesn’t have an interior bucket; instead, the engine bay, interior panels and trunk panels are all given as one long “inner side” of the car; one for each side, of course. This makes assembly a bit tougher, but overall, it does make painting door detail a lot easier.
One thing that is very interesting is that the body has a small emblem on the front fender that says “SS”. Well we all know that “SS” is a Chevy thing, right? Well, no… there was an Escort SS back in ’81 (is that an SScort, then?) and I can’t help but wonder if this is what happened with the Mustang. If anyone knows, post an answer here on this page, or email me!
Instructions and Decals:
The instructions are typically well-laid out and easy to follow. This is good, because this car has a lot of options! One great thing about MPC was that, as they added features to a kit, to keep it relevant, they often didn’t take out the old parts. This is true of the Daytona, which has parts for three different engines, thanks to the evolution of the kit form the Omni. Just like that, the Wild Breed evolved from two different branches of the Stang family tree. The first is the 1979 Mustang “Turbo Cobra” model, which accounts for the I4 engine and non-blocky under-bumper option for the front end, not to mention the forward facing hood scoop. However, the Wild Breed also evolved from the 1979 Pace Car kit, which had the body kit, later-style hood scoop and a T-roof.
The T-Roof is interesting, since it wasn’t available until ’81, but this kit has it (and is copyright ’81). This clearly comes from the Pace Car, but gives the builder and awesome ability to mix and match parts to create almost anything. Decals aside, you can get a ’79, ‘80 or ’81 Cobra with either front end out of this kit. You can also get a pointy-nosed ’80 or ’81 without a hood scoop, since both scoops are optional. The roof of the kit is set up inside to allow the T-roofs to be cut, but this also involves cutting the windows and replacing the roof with a small “T-bar” shape that goes in between the front and rear of the car.
The options continue at the back, where you get a choice of two spoilers (one is the Cobra-specific unit, the other I can’t quite tell what I’m seeing). Add this to the fact you can put the forward scoop on the body-kitted front, and you have a lot of different variants. That’s really cool, but really confusing to a Stang Noob like me. As always, the best thing will be to find a picture of a car for sale and build it to that, if I can.
Another option alluded to before, is the engine. You get two full engines, one 2.3L Turbo 4 and one 4.2L V8. Yes, it’s not the 5.0 that Mustang people are always raving about. No, it’s the 4.2. This miserable engine replaced the 5.0 (302) in 1980, I believe, for a few years. This emissions-choked abomination is one super-sad little motor. It is the little engine that couldn’t. It made 120 hp, the weakest V8 ever installed in a Mustang. It doesn’t get sadder, and thus more awesome to build, than this!
The most important part of the kit is the decals. In fact, the whole point of the kit IS the decals. Apparently designed by Mr. Harry Bradley, these are on a fairly long sheet. Interestingly, on the box art, the decals look to me to be red and yellow, or orange and yellow. However, in real life, they’re red and orange-y. Either way, it’s a stunning decal sheet! Obviously, you also get MPC racing credits;although those aren’t shown on the box, it’s something of a given on their decal sheets.
This kit is exactly what I love and hate about MPC kits. It has an awesome box, and is well-cast by and large. There are a lot of options to play with, and anyone wanting to make an early FoxStang should be able to find the pieces they want in the box. Having a model that also comes with the 4.2L engine is great! Not only can I remind the world at large of how low Ford let the Mustang sink, I can keep the nice 2.3L for my Turbo Capri, which, being a Revell, has a crappy engine.
While this kit was designed to appeal to kids (like ice cream trucks and “free puppy” windowless vans), it isn’t really suitable for them. Sure, it’s a good learning experience, but there are a lot of fiddly bits in this kit, and to do it justice, you’ll need some experience. With these kits being a lot more rare now, it would be a shame to glue-bomb one. So, as with all MPCs, I say it’s best for those with patience, experience and a will to do the subject justice.
This will be a massively fun kit for me to build, and I’m looking forward to it. Like all MPC cars of this era, I would recommend it highly!