History of Monogram Kit and Toys

Starbird was appointed the custom car consultant for Monogram Models, starting in 1961. In late 1962, Monogram exec Bob Reder contacted Starbird and offered the buy the Predicta and suggested that the car be restyled, freshened, and painted candy red, in anticipation of a kit that Monogram would issue (Monogram had previously offered models of Starbird’s Big Deuce, Futurista, and had offered kits with Starbird custom design elements: the 1958 Thunderbird, the ’40 Ford pickup, and the 1955 Chevy kit). Later, Monogram offered a model kit of Starbird’s Ultra Truck (renamed the Orange Hauler when Monogram issued the kit). Starbird agreed and the rest is a wonderful and rich history.

When a model kit is made, the vehicle is meticulously measured and then highly-skilled kit engineers (such as Monogram’s legendary Roger Harney to whom this Project is partially-dedicated) have skilled craftsmen drawing the plans that created that the model makers use to make scale reproductions of the part (usually in 1/10 scale) after the die makers transfer those dimensions and shapes to the two-part injection tools. Many years ago, Roger Harney loaned me the original Monogram Predicta kit engineering documents. With permission, I copied the same and returned the originals to Mr. Harney to whom I repeated my heartfelt appreciation. This drawing shows the body, the bubble top ring, and the Chrysler engine block. Here are a couple of the many drawings that will be presented in my book.

Copyright Monogram Models.

From those and many other drawings, Monogram created a wonderful kit in 1964 of Starbird’s creation. Here are a sample of those kits:

This is the first kit version. This flat box was probably derived from the early “PC”-prefix vintage hot rod kits (1930 Ford coupe, 1930 Ford Phaeton, 1936 Ford Coupe/Phaeton, 1940 Ford Pickup, Yellow Jacket and others) and was ideally suited to the relatively flat body of the Predicta model.

This box lid featured art by an in-house illustrator and featured Chicago’s Marina Towers in the background. The depiction of the supposed futuristic building featured forced perspective. This box lid was in the style of other Monogram model car kits from the early Sixties, for instance for the 1 955 Chevy, the ‘30/’34/’36 Fords, the 1958 Thunderbird and the ‘40 Ford. Interestingly, the Chevy, T-Bird and Ford pickup all featured custom parts designed by Starbird.
One side of this box has text describing images of the model’s interest (with a finger ominously operating the steering tiller with the bubble off the model) and the other picture showing the hood up (to reveal the engine) with the bubble re-mounted and in the down position.
One side of this box has text describing images of the model’s interest (with a finger ominously operating the steering tiller with the bubble off the model) and the other picture showing the hood up (to reveal the engine) with the bubble re-mounted and in the down position.
The other side of the features a photo of the then very young Starbird flanked by a description of the car, and the awards the Predicta won. Quite a tribute to the builder! 
The other side of the features a photo of the then very young Starbird flanked by a description of the car, and the awards the Predicta won. Quite a tribute to the builder!
Both ends of the box match, showing a reproduction of the art on the lid plus the Monogram log and product.
Both ends of the box match, showing a reproduction of the art on the lid plus the Monogram log and product.

In this box, two versions of the kit were issued: the very common solid red plastic version and this exceptionally rare pearl red plastic version that was quickly discontinued because of production problems in getting the metallic powder to distribute evenly. While there is no authoritative information available, Roger Harney once mentioned to me that less than 1,000 of the parl red plastic version were issued before being withdrawn and discontinued in preference to the now-famous solid red color.

A very few of the parts packaged in the original box were molded in a bright pearl red plastic. The color was beautiful, but the color couldn’t be injected evenly meaning that there were darker “streaks” in the color which was determined to be unacceptable. 
A very few of the parts packaged in the original box were molded in a bright pearl red plastic. The color was beautiful, but the color couldn’t be injected evenly meaning that there were darker “streaks” in the color which was determined to be unacceptable.
Seen up close, the color was really beautiful.
Seen up close, the color was really beautiful.
Very quickly after production started, Monogram switched to a solid red color plastic seen here in the foreground. Check out the immense contrast between the two colors of plastic.
Very quickly after production started, Monogram switched to a solid red color plastic seen here in the foreground. Check out the immense contrast between the two colors of plastic.
It’s too bad the pearlescent pearl material didn’t work out better.   
It’s too bad the pearlescent pearl material didn’t work out better.

Each kit in the original box came with the instruction sheet, decals, the then-current Monogram catalog and Starbird’s really cool “From cArbs to customiZing” booklet that featured a lively text by Darryl — this booklet is available here in its entirety. 

By 1965, the kit was reboxed as part of an overall corporate design change. This first version of the new more ‘square’ box is very unusual these days. The photo on the cover was reportedly taken at the 1964 New York Auto Show. The color printing portrayed the car as having almost a candy cinnamon paint job which was certainly inaccurate. This version of the kit contains the solid red plastic model; the Starbird booklet was gone as was the Monogram catalog. The color was deep and rich, and suggested a slight pearl cinnamon overtone to the paint that the car didn’t have.

The cover of the second box featured an actual photograph of the car, ostensibly on display at the 1964 New York Auto Show (though we’ve not been able to confirm this claim). An artist created an impressionistic background of a couple early Sixties bon-vivants talking about the car in a car show setting.
The cover of the second box featured an actual photograph of the car, ostensibly on display at the 1964 New York Auto Show (though we’ve not been able to confirm this claim). An artist created an impressionistic background of a couple early Sixties bon-vivants talking about the car in a car show setting.

By 1967, the box art (same box size) was tweaked a bit. Essentially a section of the artwork from the 1965 version, the box art contained the white border design of the fresh Monogram design. The copyright notice on the box showed 1965 and 1967. The same original kit number – PC 150 – remained, and the kit price was $1.50 at this point – one cent more than the first (1964) version!There was no difference in the color (still the solid red) and quality of the plastic of the model; as in the 1965 copyright kit, the Starbird booklet was gone as was the Monogram catalog. After being on the market through 1968 or so, the kit was withdrawn from domestic production.

The third box art strongly resembled the second kit box, but the background was dropped in relation to a photo of the car that had faded quite a bit (the rich color of the photo on the second box lid was diminished).
The third box art strongly resembled the second kit box, but the background was dropped in relation to a photo of the car that had faded quite a bit (the rich color of the photo on the second box lid was diminished).
The sides of the second and third boxes differed significantly. Photos of a model of the decaled car and the engine appeared on the third box (top) with drawings of other Monogram Model cars showing up on the side of the box of the second box lid. The ends of both boxes essentially matched one another: like the first box lid, an image of the car appeared (this time the box lid photo) to the right of the company logo and kit identification.
The sides of the second and third boxes differed significantly. Photos of a model of the decaled car and the engine appeared on the third box (top) with drawings of other Monogram Model cars showing up on the side of the box of the second box lid. The ends of both boxes essentially matched one another: like the first box lid, an image of the car appeared (this time the box lid photo) to the right of the company logo and kit identification.

At about the same time as the issuance of the third version of the box art, the kit was apparently issued for distribution in New Zealand. The kit had no lid, and opened from two end panels on the long side of the box, and was originally shrink-wrapped. The side panel copyright notice – identical to the United States version except for the copyright notice – contained the interesting notation found in next photo caption. “Copyright 1965 & 1967 Monogram Models Inc. Morton Grove. All rights reserved. Made, printed and packed in New Zealand by E. Allan Brooker Ltd. Auckland” 

The image from the second American box showed up on the lid of the New Zealand-issued kit. Note the end flap – the parts were stuffed into this much smaller box.
The image from the second American box showed up on the lid of the New Zealand-issued kit. Note the end flap – the parts were stuffed into this much smaller box.
This text seems to suggest that the dies were shipped to New Zealand for production. The box art portrayed the car in a much deeper cinnamon color - the image of the car continued to degrade through replicative degeneration. The instruction sheet, bearing the original 1964 copyright date, was a very poor reproduction which also showed multi-generational degeneration. The kit was not different from the domestic model though the plastic was in a slightly darker color and wasn't as shiny as the domestic kit, lending credence to the assumption that the dies were shipped to New Zealand. I am fortunate enough to have two of these impossibly rare kit thanks to Ed Sexton (thanks, Ed!). After the New Zealand kit, the model went out of production for nearly 23 years.
This text seems to suggest that the dies were shipped to New Zealand for production. The box art portrayed the car in a much deeper cinnamon color – the image of the car continued to degrade through replicative degeneration. The instruction sheet, bearing the original 1964 copyright date, was a very poor photography reproduction which also showed multi-generational degeneration. The kit was not different from the domestic model though the plastic was in a slightly darker color and wasn’t as shiny as the domestic kit, lending credence to the assumption that the dies were shipped to New Zealand. I am fortunate enough to have two of these impossibly rare kit thanks to Ed Sexton (thanks, Ed!). After the New Zealand kit, the model went out of production for nearly 23 years.

In 1990, I received a great call from Monogram exec Ed Sexton who asked if I would like to assist with a reissue of the Predicta kit (Ed and I had been good friends for several years). I quickly and enthusiastically told him I’d be honored to do so. In the process of working on the reissue, Ed sent me parts for roughly two Predicta kits shot in a milky, matte white plastic. I looked the stuff over and everything appeared to be in great shape — the tool’s trip back from New Zealand had been uneventful. These parts are some of the most rare of all Predicta memorabilia.

Ed also asked me if I would build the box art model – Wow! I called Darryl Starbird for the lacquer formula and then tried to duplicate it on this model but my paint turned out too dark. Monogram attempted to mimic the ‘futuristic’ box art of the second issue of the kit with a photo of my model imaged in front of fresh artwork. This model now sits in Darryl’s Rod & Custom Hall of Fame and sits in a case, next to the real car. I was honored to present this model to Darryl in 1996.

In early 2000, good friend Ed Sexton called again and told me that Revell-Monogram LLC would be re-issuing the Predicta kit again as part of its “Monogram Classics” series. He asked if I could provide a color photo of the exact image used for the 1965 box, but I couldn’t help him: I’ve never had that photo in my very extensive collection! As it turned out, Ed’s crew reused the 1965 image though the color reproduction of the car is inaccurate by still being too cinnamon in tone (but better than any of the previous boxes!).

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I had the great privilege of writing the text for the Collector Card…
… as well as the introductory text for the instruction sheet.
… as well as the introductory text for the instruction sheet.

I will always be grateful to Ed for the privilege of helping out with the re-issuance of this kit. I can’t say often enough how much I appreciated that great opportunity.

Kit.11
Predicta Headquarters has acquired two very rare models from ebay auctions apparently produced in the late Sixties in Hong Kong. Check out this battery powered toy made in Hong Kong and acquired from a collector in the Netherlands.
And here are both of these impossibly rare photos in one shot.

The box is in remarkably good shape as is the model. Check out the cool box and the green helmeted driver with a steering wheel. This toy was apparently ripped off directly from the Monogram model—the measurements exactly match the kit! The bubble top does not rise, and the hood doesn’t open. No date is given anywhere on the box.

This is one of the long sides of the box for the battery-powered toy. Of interest is the distorted illustration of the car with the driver sitting on the right side!
This is one of the long sides of the box for the battery-powered toy. Of interest is the distorted illustration of the car with the driver sitting on the right side!
This depicts the end of the box - the same image appears on both sides.
This depicts the end of the box – the same image appears on both sides.

The red toy is battery operated. The long rectangular piece – placed near the center of the underneath of the model – slides forward and permits the placement of two AA batteries. The switch is the long metal lever at the rear of the model. The bubble does not operate and the windsplit was clearly placed on the model after the interior details (dig the green helmet and the silly steering wheel!) have been added.

The yellow toy plasticis very bright; this toy has been used pretty hard (the tip of one fin is broken off). The interior matches the red battery-powered model. A child (or an adult here at Predicta Headquarters!) just pushes the model toy across the floor to make use of the flywheel action. The underside of this model has been dragged on a hard surface at some time in the past. No box accompanied this model acquired from Australia! There is no date on the underside or anywhere.

No assembly was required for either toy-- both toys were molded in the indicated colors. Roger Harney told me that I was the first to bring these rip-off toys to the attention of the company.
No assembly was required for either toy– both toys were molded in the indicated colors. Roger Harney told me that I was the first to bring these rip-off toys to the attention of the company.

Check out the joint photo – these may be nearly-unique in all the world!

Kit.16
In early 2004, a Monogram/Revell insider donated this white plastic test shot of the 2000 kit to Predicta Headquarters. The white plastic has a faint metallic or pearlescent hue, but was very reflective. The chrome was badly plated – obviously, the plating was being tested on the tree. Thanks, insider (we know who this person is).
In mid-2004, another person anonymously contacted Predicta Headquarters by e-mail, and offered this black test shot of the 2000 version of the kit. Check out the grey trees for the chrome and other parts. The black plastic had a mid-gloss finish. We never did find out who this person was, but all we had to do was to reimburse the shipping charges (a check was written to a company with which we were unacquainted). Thanks to this anonymous and generous person!
In mid-2004, another person anonymously contacted Predicta Headquarters by e-mail, and offered this black test shot of the 2000 version of the kit. Check out the grey trees for the chrome and other parts. The black plastic had a mid-gloss finish. We never did find out who this person was, but all we had to do was to reimburse the shipping charges (a check was written to a company with which we were unacquainted). Thanks to this anonymous and generous person!

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It is almost certainly true that the next Predicta kits will be those that this Project creates!

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