1979 Trans Am Model Kits
1979 Trans Am Model Kits

By 1979, the Trans Am was at it's zenith and the promo kits were once again available in Platinum and Starlight Black. Just like the 1978 Promos, the Black cars features Gold snowflakes while the Platinum ones were fitted with chrome snowflake wheels. The tradition of misleading box art continued as the Trans Am on the cover was the featured ad car for 1979, finished in Nocturn Blue.
MPC continued their annual kit releases for 1979, however the cars were now given a marketing name. The 1979 Trans Am annual was the "Warlord" kit. As on the 1978 kits, the roofs were scored so you could add your own t-tops.
The Trans Am celebrated it's 10th Anniversary in 1979, so MPC offer a special release of the the Anniversary bird. This must have been one great kit, because it appeared to be offered in four different variations. The original kit showed up in 1979 and was a pretty accurate representation of the actual car. The new turbine wheels replaced the Rally II's and the snowflakes, and in the interior the seats resembled the seat unique to the 10th anniversary model. The hood bird was big and bold. The kits produced in 1979 were molded in a metallic gray. I don't have open examples of the later kits so I don't know if this was consistent throughout production.The 1979 release was offered under kit number 1-0741.

Another release of the 10th Anniversary Trans Am is represented in these photos. There is no copyright date on the box, but the box art was almost identical to the 1979 release, but it now carried the ERTL logo. The Kit number was changed to 6323 and was marketed as a "Golden Wheels" bonus kit.

Kit number 6323 appeared once again in yet another non-dated example. This time the "Golden Wheels" bonus circular yielded to a "2 in 1 Stock & racing" combo. kit # 6323 unk yr 2 n 1

1988 saw the forth version of the kit, once again marketed as kit number 6323. It was still a 2 in 1 kit but was no longer a 10th Anniversary Trans Am but insead a 10th Anniversary Firebird. The MPC ERTL connection was now quite clear as the MPC logo now carried the ERTL logo. 1988

Combine one of the hotest actors with one of the hottest cars of the period and you have a new marketing tool. Revell's replica of the George Barris Modified Trans Am built for superstar actor John Travolta was decalled as Travolta's Firebird Fever (likely lifted from Travolta's hit movie "Saturday Night Fever"). I hope John didn't really drive a real car with the gaudy decals. The same basic body was used for at least one other Trans Am kit.

What appears to be the Holy Grail around Trans Am collectors is USAirfix's Firebird Type-K Sport Wagon. The model pulled off a pretty accurate copy of the real Type-K when viewed from the outside. The model is a snap-kit so it is a little lacking in the detail department, however the rear side windows swing-up, just like on the real car. Both the interior and the underhood details are lacking on the AirFix Type-K. Under the hood are a couple of plastic "lumps" that are supposed to represent the engine. By having the limited detail, the shaker does line up nearly perfectly however, something that is hard to get right on the MPC/AMT/Monogram kits. In the cargo area scuba gear rests. Thes kit carries item number number 8041.
In 1984 a second release of the Type-K was issued by USAirFix. This kit was molded in a tan color rather than the striking silver of the earlier kit. Included stickers were also not like the actual car's hood bird, unlike the kit which was packaged in 1980. Since this kit was already opened, there are are some photos of the bodyshell. In these views you can see the poor representation of the engine compartment.

Introduced in 1980, this 1/16th scale version of the 10th Anniversary Trans Am certainly hit at the right time. The Trans Am had caught the attention of both young and old, and the bug to build your very own copy of the 10th was almost too much to resist. The box curiously showed a painting of the 10th, while the side panels were views of the actual car.
AMT got a lot of mileage out of this partictular body mold. I remember two other 1979 versions of this kit and also an '80 version. This is a big, 1/16 scale version, and the one I have is of the 10th Anniv. edition. As time passes, I know I'll regret not getting the others when I had the chance. I am sure this is a re-release, but there are no dates on the box. Maybe inside the box there will be some dated documents. The celophane wrapper is in too good of shape to be an original kit. Of note to mislead the youths, the image on the box is that of the real car, not what's in the box.

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