Today, pickup trucks are big business. You can get them all dolled up with as many (or maybe more?) goodies, toys bells and whistles as any luxury sedan. They are big sellers, and big money. They’ve come a long way from the workaday farmer’s utility vehicle they started out as. Looking at some of today’s trucks it’s almost impossible to imagine using them for work, lest they get scratched up, or their very nice leather interiors get dirty. However, it wasn’t always like this, of course. There was a day when trucks were JUST for work. They were basic vehicles with only the barest necessities on board.
So, when did it start to change? When did trucks go from being a muddied, dinged-up farm accoutrement to a full on status symbol? It started when Chevy decided to take the lumpy, ugly humble truck and try to sell it as something else. They wanted to make a truck a farmer could drive into town. They wanted to make a utility vehicle that wouldn’t look out of place in suburbia. It started with the Chevy Cameo in 1955. This was the first truck to offer car-like amenities such as automatic transmissions, two tone paint, and a flush-sided body that dispensed with the lumpy “stepside” look that trucks had up until that point.
To follow on from that initial attempt at “civilizing” the truck, Chevy offered the long-lasting line of “C/K” trucks starting in 1960. There were both stepsides and flush-sided trucks, which were called “Fleetsides”. However, unlike the Cameos which also used car styling cues in their design, the early C/Ks were pretty darned ugly. They had inherited the 1959 chevy “eyebrow” breathers, and continued to use them as lighting pods until 1962. At this point it seems someone realized that if you wanted to sell a truck to suburbia, it should probably not be an ugly parody of Grouchu Marx. Thus, in 1962 the first cleaned up models were introduced.
These still had a bit of a high hood line, but now there were much smaller, much better integrated breathers and lights, and the awful “pig snout” of the earlier years was nowhere to be seen. This mirrored what Chevy was doing with its cars, creating a cleaned up, simplified and de-nostriled/de-batwinged line of vehicles that didn’t look like a bundle of bad styling ideas all lumped together. (You may guess from this that I really don’t find 1959 Chevys attractive. I don’t. I think they’re hideous!)
By the mid ‘60s, there was a styling change, and the second generation of C/K debuted in 1967. The truck was a very successful one, and the C/K like stayed in production until 1999, when the Silverado name was used instead.
Now, for those who know me, you’re probably wondering why I’m writing about a pickup. After all, I’m not a “truck guy” (I do prefer sedans and wagons) and this isn’t an awful AMC or horrendous world-sourced econobeaterdeathshamebox. Still, I do like a good model kit when I see one, and I’m always looking to expand my horizons. Not only that, but this truck is a very interesting piece of automotive genealogy; it marks the transition from the widespread idea of “trucks are for dirty jobs” to their modern evolution of being not only accepted but sought after as “everyday” suburban vehicles. For that alone, it’s a cool thing to have in my collection. It also didn’t hurt that I got it for $10 second hand.
So, let’s take a look at Revell’s mid ‘90s rendition of this now-classic “missing link” in truck development, and see what the fuss was all about.
Well, if there’s one thing I love about a model, it’s the box art. I’m used to some pretty cool box art, being that I normally surround myself with late ‘70s and early ‘80s MPCs, and they are the king of the wild box art. Those boxes lash out and blacken both your eyes with a 1-2 punch loaded with the tastelessness and pseudo-machismo of the day. This box, however… Well, suffice to say it doesn’t.
Model boxes are a lot like music. In the late ‘70s the utterly ridiculous stylings of disco music and fashion gripped the world in a ‘no holds barred’ frenzy of questionable taste and overwrought excessiveness. By the ‘80s hair metal had toughened things up and made leather, lasers and jagged edges all the rage. You can see that in a lot of 80’s model boxes, can’t you? However, by the ‘90s, the music scene had degenerated into the grunge era, a time of flannel-clad hateful self-reproach, utterly devoid of any of the “good times” vibe of the previous decade and a half. Sadly, model boxes followed this self-deprecating, minimalist approach.
That means that by the ‘90s, most model boxes were, quite literally, totally lame. This kit’s box is no exception. The box shows a picture of the completed model. That’s it. No funky fonts, not wild custom version, no attitude, no nothing. If it stared at its navel any harder, it’d likely go blind. Making matters worse, this must be after it was illegal to retouch the photos, since the model has some painting issues around the grille. So, not only is it not exciting, it’s not even putting its best foot forward!
There is literally nothing, NOTHING, going on with this box that makes me want to buy this kit. I believe that in the ‘90s kit sales to kids started to decline. Children were turning away from models to other more exciting pastimes, like video games. With a box like this, is there any wonder why? Seriously…
Honestly, if this kit hadn’t been so cheap, and looked somewhat interesting from the perspective of a long-time modeller, there’s no way I would have bought it. I hate the box that much. It is the antithesis of the Matchbox armour box art in every way. Those enticed me to buy a raft of kits of subjects I had never even considered building before (armour); this box almost made me reject something that I thought was somewhat interesting.
The utter void of emotion continues on the sides of the box. On the one side there’s a front three-quarters view of the completed model, and a look in the engine bay. Neither one of these is inspiring at first look. For one thing, the engine is red, and I don’t believe that’s correct. For another, there’s nothing calling out what are, as it turns out, pretty cool features of the kit. But more on that later. The other side of the box shows the back of the truck with the same lacklustre presentation as elsewhere. There is a list of detailed features, though. However, this list is as plain and useless as the box presentation itself. It tells almost nothing of the cool stuff in the box. Even worse, it considers propaganda a feature! The first “detail feature” is: “A truck lover’s delight, the ’64 Fleetside model has become a classic in recent years.”
WTF? How is THAT a feature? I can’t paint collectability? I can’t superdetail classicness? Useless.
This box is so boring the only emotions it elicits from me are contempt and a pitiable form of anger at its own massive failure to have any redeeming features at all. Thankfully, what’s in the box is better!
While the box may be a drab, uninspiring and miserably pedestrian attempt at attracting potential buyers, it’s good to know that the kit itself shuns this trend and is actually very nice. There are a lot of great things to say about this kit. However, let’s just get the basics out of the way.
The kit is moulded in white, which is more or less standard for car kits. I actually prefer coloured plastic since it’s easier to photograph and see flash on, but it is what it is. There are five racks of parts, as well as five tires, the cab and bed (each as a single piece), a rack of clear parts and two clear red tail lights. There’s also a rack of chrome pieces and a separate rack of plastic whitewalls! The parts all look quite well moulded, and while there’s a bit of flash in spots, it’s nowhere nearly as bad as the MPCs I’m used to. (I guess you pay for good box art with dodgy moulding. Seems like a fair trade…)
There are several really cool things about this kit that I’ve been hinting at, and I’m going to get to them now. One thing that really jumped out at me was the chrome rack. There wasn’t much on it. Why is this good, you ask? The reason is surprisingly simple; it’s a small rack because only things that NEED to be chromed are thusly treated. In many ‘70s and ‘80s kits there was always a raft of inappropriately chromed engine components (valve covers, manifolds, air cleaners). I hate that, since they have to be stripped anyway. This kit does away with that completely; the engine components are all un-chromed, and only the wipers, bumpers, grille and a few other small details are plated.
Another cool feature on this kit is the detailing on the bed and cab. The bed has a wooden deck, and it is nicely reproduced. There’s a fine graining texture on each of the boards, and while it may make painting it harder, it will make the bed look much more realistic when it is complete. To take things up a notch, the wood panelling is even detailed on the UNDERSIDE of the truck, so when you lift up the model you’ll see the wood pattern through the frame! Now, if only I could find a good underside view to see if it was protected or left raw, that’d be great. The cab has the very nice feature of having a headliner with sun visors built into it. This is not something I’m used to either; earlier car kits just have “roof”.
The clear parts are all beautifully clear and free of scratches. Unlike earlier kits where the front and rear transparencies are joined by straps of clear plastic that glue to the roof, this model has separate windows that are designed to fit into a recess, making life much more realistic. One part on the clear rack surprised me; it was a square-ish prism. I looked it up, and found it was the washer bottle! How cool is that! Normally, I have to paint the bottle white and use coloured Future to tint it as to where the fluid would be, since the bottles are moulded in the same colour as the rest of the car.
Overall, the engine is nicely moulded as well, although it doesn’t have as many separate accessories as does an MPC engine. Still, the valve covers have the nicely moulded “Chevrolet” writing on them and the overall impression I get is that this will build into a nice replica of the 283. There are a good number of underhood components, too. Making it even better, there are decals for the battery and air cleaner as well. Engine bay decals are a much more modern addition to kits, and I love them.
The separate whitewalls are, my brother tells me, awesome to work with, and I’m looking forward to using them. Sadly, while the tires have a very nice and realistic bias-ply “pie crust” effect on them, they are handicapped by the piece of gate material still attached. Care will have to be taken when chopping this off; it’s attached at the front sidewall of the tire. This is very unfortunate; it should have been at the back. Why can’t American makers understand how to make good wheels and tires, and present them in an easy to use fashion? That’s one place the Japanese car kits really dominate.
There is a raft of other nifty minor details too:
– separate tailgate chains (one on each side)
– separate chrome door handles, vs. just being moulded in
– separate gas cap
– upper AND lower radiator hose (a luxury I’m not used to – most kits don’t have a lower hose)
– separate fender badges
– a real spare tire – not just one moulded in!
– clear panel to cover the instrument panel
– an actual support arm for the alternator – it doesn’t just hang in space off of the belt!
– separate gas, clutch and brake pedals
– detailed hood latch
– mouled–in, detailed and correct hinges on the hood, not just the usual crappy gooseneck hinge or, worse yet, locating stub
So, you can see that this kit is far cooler and more exciting that anything the box could have told you. It really looks great, and while the suspension might be basic and the fame could use a bit more texturing, they’ll do a good job supporting the rest of this very nicely moulded model.
Instructions and Decals:
The instruction booklet for this kit is the typical large Revell book. It has multiple pages loosely folded together. Mine are nice and white and on good quality paper. Like other Revells from this era, the paint/colour call outs on the instructions are very good, by and large seem to be correct. However, the instructions do call for the engine to be “engine orange”, which, from what I can tell, is wrong. I’ve found one picture of a stock engine, and it is GM blue.
This aside, though, the instructions are excellent. They are large, clear and well-drawn. They show clearly where to put decals and how all the assemblies will fit together. They aren’t crowded with info so there’s no difficulty in following what’s going on. Anyone will be able to follow these instructions without fear of messing something up. This means that even if you’re not an experienced car builder, you should be able to work through this one without too much mental anguish.
The decals are simple, consisting of a few licence plates and a plumbing decal for the side, if you wish to do a commercial truck. The bulk of the decals though are for the engine bay, and I cannot sing their praises enough. I don’t know how they’ll work, but it seems to me that mid-‘90s Revell decals were solid performers, so I expect no issues. One decal is actually the owner’s manual cover, so you can put it on the seat! I would first put it on a piece of thin styrene, or maybe just cut the decal out without putting it in water, so it had some body. This is a neat inclusion, and is something that I’ve seen usually only in far newer kits than this.
This kit is really a very nicely detailed and well thought out model. While the box may suck heartily at the teat of miserable mediocrity, the actual kit and instructions more than make up for it. The level of detail and attention to detail is clearly a decade and half ahead of most of what I’m used to seeing, and I’m very impressed with the parts and how they’re made.
This model may look completely pedestrian on the box, but don’t let that deter you. It’s actually a pretty advanced kit with excellent detail and features. Even considering that, though, I think it’s good for any skill level. Sure, small details like the door handles might prove too much and may require some supervision for younger hands, but overall, the way the kit is broken down is conducive to allowing anyone to build it with at least considerable success.
For fans of trucks and Chevys in particular, this model is quite a treat. If you have one, or have always wanted one of these trucks, it certainly behooves you to grab this kit if you see it. Even if you’re not a truck fan, like me, there’s so much interesting stuff going on with this model that it’s impossible not to get excited and want to build it.
It’s a good model of an interesting and important subject. It’s well-made and well-detailed. It should be a challenge without being difficult. It looks like it’s really everything a good model kit should be. I know I’m glad I looked past the cover to see the greatness inside!
There are a number of other