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AMT/Ertl MPC Trans-Am Blackbird

June 2006
Trans-Am Blackbird
AMT/Ertl No. 38438
Model Type: Injection-molded styrene
Molded Colors: Black, clear
Scale: 1/25
MSRP: $12.95
Pros: T-top fit, interior
Cons: Heavy chrome; some parts fit; kit is showing its age

AMT/Ertl recently started to reissue some of its "classic" kits in boxes featuring replicas of old box art. One of the kits in the series is the MPC 1978 "Blackbird" Trans-Am.

Along with the General Lee Charger, the Blackbird was one of MPC's most popular kits, with more than a million units sold. As such, this kit has been in production for most of the last 28 years - and it shows.

This kit has its origins in the early 1970s, starting with the MPC 1970½ Trans-Am. The chassis is well done for the era. The rear suspension and exhaust are molded as a unit, separate from the chassis. A metal axle is used for the rear wheels, but the fronts are mounted on pins that attach the separate A-arms. Care must be used when attaching the wheels to these pins, as failure to do so can (will) result in some funky suspension geometry.

The interior is also typical of the period, featuring a basic tub with separate seats, dash, and steering wheel. The detail of these parts is good, if not a little soft. Curiously, for a 1970s kit, there is no CB radio!

The body features all of the spoilers and scoops of the 1:1 car, but none of them fit without some major work with sandpaper, files, and gap-filling super glue. I spent almost three hours getting mine to fit
okay (not perfect; just okay). The separate T-top panels did fit well on my example, though.

The kit includes a decal sheet that is virtually identical to the original's, which means that it is not good.

The gold striping is included, but the stripes are way too thick, and I felt that they would detract from the finished model, so I left them off of mine. I did use the "screaming chicken" for the hood, and found that it worked quite nicely.

My least-favorite part of the kit was the chrome tree. There was so much lacquer-and-chrome buildup on it that most of the detail on the parts was obliterated. It took me two nights of soaking and scrubbing to remove it all. The result was much better-looking - especially the grilles and wheels.

The finished model looks okay, but there are more-recent kits of this car that look nicer and are more accurate.

For a kit that harkens to the 1970s, it made me realize how far we have come since then.


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