Remember Model Ads in Comic Books?

Most people spring clean.  I do too but I get the most cleaning done in the fall.  And by cleaning I mean purging.  The rule I have adopted is “if I have not touched it in 2 years, then out it goes.”  But there are a few exceptions:

  • Stuff that doesn’t actually belong to me
  • Stuff that we got as a gift and somehow it would be rude to throw out
  • Stuff that I fully intend to use again (even if I am joking with myself a little)
  • Stuff that I finally found after looking for it for 2 years
  • And stuff that makes me feel a little nostalgic.

As for that last category, there isn’t much: Some baseball cards, university stuff, old pictures and box of comic books.  I came across my old box of comics recently in a big basement redo.  I was not a big time comic collector and I am not sitting on a gold mine here.  I was a comic reader (and a re-reader). Let’s just say the condition of most of these comics could be easily described as “avidly enjoyed.”  To be fair, many were bought second hand at the barbershop by my dad.  For a 7 year old, getting an old beat up copy of Sgt Rock or GI Combat was well worth the agony of sitting still in the chair.

Relevant to this blog is the fact that I remember seeing a few ads for models in these comic books.  So I thought I would page through a few of them and scan these ads.  Some of these are great – so sit back and take a walk down memory lane:

Revell Ad in ‘Tarzan’ (DC Comics February 1975)

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Sure – the silverback and the Rhino can be dangerous.  But a condor?

Um, ok.  First off, I have no idea why I have this comic book.  As you will see, 99% of my comic books are military oriented.  Besides, I was 18 months old when it was published!  My guess is that it was included in a grab bag of comic books or maybe it was a trade throw in?  At least, that is what I hope.  As for the ad, if there was any model related advertising in “Tarzan” of all things, then model animals make sense… right?  The snap together construction and movable or “playable” features will continue to be a theme in these ads.

Revell Ad in ‘War’ (Carlton Comics May 1976)

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Now that’s more like it.  Monogram trademarked “Snap-Tite” (which is definitely the more catchy name and the one I am more familiar with) so I guess Revell had to settle for something a bit more descriptive in “Snap-Togethers.”  At any rate we have some 1/48 scale tanks and 1/32 dragsters.  I do not remember these kits but I am surprised at the 1/48 scale armour.  I thought that was a relatively recent invention by Tamiya.

Monogram Ad in ‘Spiderman’ (Marvel July 1976)

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Definitely a 70s thing for Monogram – Hot Rods! I am guessing Rods were very popular models back in the day because I can remember them.  I distinctly remember an older kid on the street with a model of the ‘S’Cool Bus‘ which was some sort of Hot Rod built into (or out of) a school bus.  Looking at this ad, we have three cool models in the familiar 1/24 scale.

And then we have…Satan?

What exactly is Monogram trying to say here?  Very strange.

Monogram Ad in ‘Blitzkrieg’ (DC August 1976)

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“Pilot’s Check List”:  (1) Hold model, (2) Turn prop, (3) Prepare to be disappointed, (4) Release.

When I was little my dad would buy me those balsa gliders with the red ink lettering and the metal clip nose that were all contained in a flimsy plastic envelope.  I’d get one every spring, usually on a Saturday.  By Sunday morning the thing would be in splinters.  It’s probably for that reason I never got the version with the wind up prop.  No, that was always the kid down the street whose dad obviously loved him more.

Anyway, I never knew Monogram made a prop glider; I certainly never saw one.  And here is another excellent trademarked name ‘Speedee-Bilt.’ It just rolls off the tongue.  Screw those cheap balsa bags that were guaranteed to die in less than 24 hours.  These Speedee-Bilts were ‘built to last’, they had stickers, a pilot checklist and a WHOLE LOT MORE!

Monogram Ad in ‘Blitzkrieg’ (DC September 1976)

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My first Snap-Tite was a 1/72 F-14 Tomcat.  I picked it because it had a sharkmouth, wings that could swing and I had that thing built in record time.  It was also the first time I combined model building with frustration.  The canopy rails were in transparent plastic.  The rest of the plane was gray.  So I got some “Gray” Testors paint in the little square glass bottle along with the cheapest nylon hobby brush money could buy  (seriously – the “tip” looked more like a duster).  Anyhow the frustration came when the gray paint did not match the gray plastic.  I bought ‘Gray paint’ didn’t I?  Such warm memories.

I have no idea of the scale of these models in the ad.  The soldiers (reminiscent of my wonderful green army men) look like giants next to the vehicles.  I like the air burst artillery pummeling some little town in the distance.  I can’t help but think of the conversation over the radio.  If they have radio contact, why send a dispatch?

Maybe I’m over-thinking these ads.

Monogram Ad in ‘Men of War’ (DC April 1979)

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“Hey there, Bowlcut! Check out ‘my’ 48th Marauder with perfect bare metal finish and invasion stripes!”

Now this ad is a feast for the eyes!  But let’s inject some truth in advertising: there is no way Mustard Collar could build that notoriously difficult kit by himself.  Few adults can turn in a nice build on that kit.

However, if that kid runs fast enough, I bet that collar could generate lift!

Kidding aside, there are some real classics in this picture – the Marauder, the Colonial Viper, a Starfighter, Sherman, Shuttle and a Scooter… I remember those “metal” cars too.  I think that is also a box for an F-16A in demonstrator colours propping up the pick up.

Monogram Ad in ‘G.I. Combat’ (DC February 1980)

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Because with all things, including models, BIGGER is BETTER

This ad features a couple of well known models.  I actually had that 1/72 Shuttle and it was far too much model for little pre-teen me.  My sister bought it for me when she visited the Kennedy Space Center.  I was very excited when I opened it and I recall it was a decent kit.  But I messed it up and junked it.  I should have kept it, stripped it and started over again.

There is also the “visible” B-17 in there.  Up until the announced HK Flying Fortress, the Monogram and/or Revell kits have long been the only option for a B-17 in 48th.  I’ve never attempted the Monogram kit but I’ve seen some really nice models.  Except I have never seen a visible one built up.

I did miss the pliers at first – what a strange tool to choose to place in this picture!

Monogram Ad in ‘G.I. Combat’ (DC November 1980)

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This the third ad in a row where Monogram is hinting at their superior detail.  This is no accident.  I recently watched a fantastic video on YouTube about the histories of Aurora, Revell and Monogram.  The creator states that Monogram always offered  superior products.  I have to agree.  Back in the day, it was the Monogram models that I wanted.

As for the ad itself.  Although Smokey and the Bandit may not be mentioned, they are certainly marketing the iconic trans-am.  I’m thinking that movie sold a pile of these kits.

MPC ads ‘G.I. Combat’ (DC March 1980) ‘G.I. Joe’ (Marvel February 1984)

 

I don’t remember much about MPC kits except 2 things that are reflected in these ads.  The first is the boxes had some sort of tokens that could be cut out and mailed in for merchandise or kits. The second is that my friend in Grade 6 had a single focus in life and that focus was the MPC Millennium Falcon kit.  He spent every waking hour thinking about that kit and saved every penny he could to get that kit.  I am sure many a driveway was shoveled in pursuit of that kit.  And, he did eventually get his Millennium Falcon.  I recall he did an excellent job on it too.

Which is why I feel the second ad is burying the lede somewhat.  Yes it has the Tie Fighter and that cool looking shuttle but really, I think far more builders wanted the Falcon.

Monogram ad ‘G.I. Joe’ (Marvel January 1985)

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Now I have to think to myself:  Would I buy a model if I got a free T-Shirt?  Damn right I would!  And what a great market control tool!  Instead of setting strict release dates and rolling availability for new releases; What if Tamiya offered free t-shirts to those who purchased from their local hobby shop?  Free t-shirts featuring the box art or hell, just the company logo!

That would be sweet.

Monogram ad ‘G.I. Joe’ (Marvel February 1985)

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There was a period in my youth where the term “funnycar” was very popular.  At the time I had a vague understanding of what it was.  Its not like drag racing was a reality for me.  I had never seen it in person or on TV.  But all of a sudden there were models, diecasts, hot wheels, and other toys featuring “funnycars”.

I really like this ad because it explains a lot in a small amount of space: First it shows the full builds that look great with all the eye-catching racing stripes and colours.  Then there are the interior model shots showing these things to be very detailed and likely fun to build.  Then it shows all the models in this collection of cars.

Monogram ad ‘G.I. Joe’ (Marvel March 1985)

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I remember GoBots as being the dollar store version of Transformers.  And for those of you who don’t know or don’t remember, Transformers were clever toys that could “Transform” from a vehicle into a crappy looking robot.  They were definitely a craze when I was a kid and I believe the first craze related to toys coming out of Japan.  And to cash in on that mid-1980s craze, Hollywood made a series of big budget block buster Transformer movies about 30 years later.  Yeah – that never made sense to me either.

Anyhow, it seems like Monogram tried to cash in on the transforming robot craze as well.  I’ve never seen these kits (or toys?) and I wonder if they were a successful line for Monogram.

Monogram Ad “G.I. Combat” (DC January 1986)

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Transforming robots were popular with boys back in the 80s.  So were 4×4 Jeep like trucks.  So I get the idea of making 4×4 kits.  Cash in and make what sells.  Now I don’t remember 4x4s that had large yellow paws spring out of the tires.  But if that’s what it takes to make your truck “unstoppable” then I guess yellow paws it is.

Monogram and AMT Ad “G.I. Combat” (DC March 1986)

This issue had two model kit ads – hot damn!  Starting with Monogram, I definitely remember the RC Car craze back in the day.  Although I was not into them, I’d say that half of my friends had one of those Tamiya RC Hornets and spent a lot of money on them.   I don’t think any of those guys ever built a scale model again.  So here we have Monogram doing its own Tamiya thing and releasing an RC off-road car.  Were they feeling the pinch of the RC craze?  Was this another attempt to cash in on a craze?  Either way I never heard of anyone buying a Monogram ‘Lightning’.  But it looks substantially like it’s competition at that time.

On the other hand, the AMT ad is old school. Certainly there is no need for any analysis:  “You want a model?  We have models.  Go buy one.”

Monogram Ad “G.I. Combat” (DC January 1987)

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I really like this ad too – even if it isn’t about models per se.  I love the colours in the launch picture – it is very well done.  I wish the entry form was on another page so I could see the rest of the picture.  I’m pretty sure there have been all sorts of sweepstakes but how many of them would involve going to a shuttle launch?  I think that would have been an amazing prize.

Final Thoughts

These ads and where they were placed reflect a different time that I briefly talked about in a previous post.  Scale models then were different products than today.  Back then they were cheaper and, for the most part, simpler products marketed to the masses.  Today (again, for the most part) they are a niche product aimed exclusively at hobbiests.  So I doubt any model company does ads outside of model specific  publications – least of all in today’s Comic Books ‘Graphic Novels’.

It was fun to page through the comics and really look at the ads.  It seems that Monogram tried to capitalize on trends and offer products beyond their scale models.  I wonder if others tried to do this as well.  I also wondered how well this strategy worked.

I chuckled a few times at the campy writing of the stories but I was also reminded at what attracted me to these comics in the first place: cool drawings of tanks, planes and other military equipment.  For example, look at this gem in a 1980 G.I. Combat:

Could this be what spawned my fondness for all things Corsair?

While I am still trying to figure out what Satan has to do with scale models, I’m wondering if anyone else remembers these ads from back in the day.  Or do any other ads stand out in your memory?  I never built an MPC kit and I feel as though they would have been fun builds.  In fact, I only had one of the kits depicted in these ads.  Does anyone have any experience with these models?

As usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “Remember Model Ads in Comic Books?

  1. Those ads were really effective. Not only were they reflective of a different modelling mentality (price, youth appeal etc.) but comic book readers were the prime market for these kits. Just as we have an aging demographic for model kits, comic books have moved up the age scale as well. They would not be an effective way to reach a younger market these days. People who collect comic parts (for the most part) are focused on their collecting and enjoyment of that media and don’t (generally speaking) crossover to our hobby. This is one area where people in the hobby business side of things continually try to “rediscover” ways to reach the youth market.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Tough assignment to find effective ways to reach the “youth” market. The irony being that every birthday my kid gets invited to, the presents they all seem to want is “something creative” or a “craft” or “slime”. Contrary to popular belief, kids are still wanting to make things and not just veg in front of Youtube or video games.

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  2. Revell’s snap 1/48 armor wasn’t a unique scale to them – Aurora’s armor kits starting in the 60s were 1/48. They had folded and disappeared by the mid 70s, and while Monogram had the molds, they never reissued them. Atlantis has them now, and some will get pressed again.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, they had already pretty much standardized on 1/48 for their WW1 and WW2 aircraft releases long before starting the armor line in the 1960s. Aurora’s armor kits were generally not that good, but they were one of the few places you could get armor models at all. I don’t think it really took off until the Japanese companies like Tamiya got regular releases rolling in 1/35. Atlantis Models will soon reissue the Aurora M46
        Patton. Maybe others if it sells well.

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