Saturday, April 6, 2013


I’ve mentioned ‘Annual’ (sometimes called ‘Yearly’) cars before, kits that featured all-new or refreshed models from the full-size Detroit auto companies. For a time AMT, Jo-Han, MPC - and to a certain extent, Revell - matched the showroom glitz with kit versions of their own.

AMT started the Annuals craze in the late 1950s, but the components for each kit were packed into generic, near-identical boxes, the only indication of what was actually inside being a label, sticker, or small insert panel on the box-end.

Why the similar look?
Exactly why the generic styling was used is not entirely clear, though it was most likely a simple economy measure. Whatever the reason, the ‘mystery kit’ packaging lasted only a few years.

Individuality wins
The generic approach stayed until 1963, when, although a standard box-top was used across the range, individual kits now had their own end-panels. The following year, each model car gained its own box-top art too, although within the framework of an overall graphic style.

Retro deluxe
The 1966 theme was ‘stripes’, which brings me to the recent Round 2 Mustang reissue. At first glance, the box (above) could be a straight reprint of a 1966 box. But it’s not - quite. For Round 2 has trodden the vintage path, with what it calls a ‘retro deluxe’ look. Essentially, this means taking the basics of an original visual style, then updating it with the latest graphic software to give the box that cool, old-but-new appearance. In this case, the design was based on the box of another AMT Mustang, the 1:25 scale Fastback (below).

Real vs. retro
Compare the retro-deluxe design with the actual Hardtop original, a comparatively plain-Jane piece of graphic design that’s beaten hands-down by both the original Fastback box, and Round 2’s retro deluxe version. Well, there’s logic in the design decision - if it looks better, that usually means more sales. Even more interestingly, the plain-Jane version (header pic and below) dates not from 1966, but 1970!

Old and new
Here we show the side-panel of an original - and rather yellowed with age - 1966 Fastback box (below, top), compared with the current Round 2 Hardtop box.

Top swap
Incidentally, the Round 2 box we show here depicts the Mustang in two colours - red on the box-top, blue on the sides. But if you want something different, try the online Auto World store, where you can also buy a kit that swaps the colours, depicting a blue car on the box-top.

Review kit courtesy Round 2 Models.

Visit the Auto World store here.

Plenty more AMT kits here.