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SEMIFREAKS Model Truckers

Model Trucker
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 In 1948, a Michigan attorney, West Gallogly, Sr.started a side business making aluminum models of cars. The aptly named "Aluminum Model Toy Co." was established.  Considering that Gallogy had close relationships at the Ford Motor Company, Gallogy began making Ford vehicles in miniature form - out of aluminum and using actual Ford paint to cover his models. Ford was impressed, and began using the aluminum models as promotional pieces as part of their marketing. The following year in 1949, injection plastic molding was developed, including a wide array of colored plastic, that meant Gallogy no longer needed to use actual car paint and saved on time and costs.  At that time, the new AMT name was being used to distance from the aluminum models that Gallogy began making.  AMT was now at the forefront of an American toy market - scale model car kits.

During the 1950's AMT wasn't the only player in the space. There were several other model kit manufacturers who began working with OEMs to release new car scale model kits before the launch of the actual car models themselves. However, AMT was the most prevalent scale model kit maker. Moving into the 1960's, there was some fierce competition between the model makers like Newcomer MPC (Model Products Corporation) and Jo-Han, Monogram, and Revel.  All were in the model kit business and each one became specialized for the most part. For example, Revel was into making European Sports and racing car kits. Monogram was into the custom car and hot rod style kits, including: movie cars, airplanes, and ship kits.  Monogram partnered with legendary car customizers' like Gene Winfield and George Barris - Hollywood car customizing pioneers! That license deal offered customers truly unique products and helped garner scale model hobby enthusiasts worldwide!  Customers could buy a scale replica of their favorite cars  from TV and magazines!

By the late 60's AMT shook up the industry and began making scale model kits of semi trucks! They started a model revolution in 1969 when they released a 1/25th scale semi truck kit; "California Hauler - 359 Peterbilt."

AMT's new semi kit changed model building.  The Peterbilt 359 semi truck model kit came with over [a mind blowing]  250 pieces and had every detail, directly from the manufacturer's specifications. "California Hauler" came with an authentic 8V71 Detroit Diesel engine under a the new wider Peterbilt hood. The kit originally came in a day cab model, but enthusiasts who bought the kit would receive a coupon that could be sent in by mail (along with ten cents) and hobbyists would get an additional sleeper to add on!  For the 1970 kit, California Hauler came with the sleeper inside the kit instead of the coupon/mail in.  The California Hauler - Peterbilt 359, was huge success, so much so, that AMT exploded with 1/25th scale semi truck kits through the 1970s. There was a wide variety; a White Road Boss, a White Western Star, a Kenworth W123, the GMC/Astro 95, and its twin, the Chevrolet Titan.  They offered a Peterbilt 352, Kenworth W925, Autocar A64B, Mack Cruise-liner, and many other kits - including custom semi truck kits like the Peterbilt "Turnpiker" in 1974. They released multiple semi trailer kits - AMT had the semi truck market covered.  You could mix and match any semi truck and trailer combination; van trailers, flatbeds, refrigerated  trailers, auto haulers, lowboys, and fuel tankers.  You could even buy tow / wrecker kits. By the mid-70's there were several model kit manufacturers tooling real trucks for scale models. There was no shortage of choices for the scale model builders.

Considering that there was no such thing as a home video game market, internet, cell phones, or home computers, an entire generation grew up building scale models.  Model building was a great hobby.  It was relatively inexpensive, widely available, and not only taught basic engineering skills, it had limitless creativity potential - and it was fun!  As a young semi freak, my freak-disease began in parallel with the 1970's model revolution.  As little kid, I worked at my grandma's tavern to earn money just to buy semi truck model kits.

I would sort aluminum cans and empty bottles, save and stack newspapers, paint fences- anything to earn some cash. Eventually I could fill the entire long bed of grandpa's pick up truck with recyclables.  Once I had a truckload, it was off to the recycling center where they would pay by the pound.  I always came away with enough cash to buy a new model, which were usually about $25.00 per kit!

My local model distributor was a place called Hobby Town USA in West Allis, Wisconsin (yes - the same West Allis that built the Allis-Chalmers "BIG AL" purple diesel engines)!  Whenever I would go to Hobby Town, it was like a religious experience shopping for semi truck models; finding the type of truck kit to build, selecting the perfect paint colors, model glue - everything needed to create my semi truck dreams into a 1/25th scale reality.

Building scale models of my favorite semi trucks taught me many things - patients and discipline were the top two.  Everything must be assembled in a protocol; removing and prepping each part, selecting the colors, painting the pieces. The glue had to dry before the next step. If you went away from the proper steps in hast, the kit would not assemble correctly.  You would not have a good representation of your favorite truck, and you would also waste a lot of money and time.  Studying the details of each truck was like following in the footsteps of the truck designers and engineers and factory assembly-line workers that built the real trucks.  To this day, I can still can see only a small portion of a semi truck and be able to identify the make and model - because of models, mainly.  You didn't just open a 1/25th scale kit and have it assembled in an afternoon.  Each kit was comprised of over 250 pieces.  The instructions to each kit was the bible in order to turn the box of molded plastic parts into a blueprint replica of a real semi truck.

During the '70's & '80's, the scale model industry thrived, as millions of hobby enthusiasts painted and glued together every aspect of transportation man ever built -all in miniature plastic form.  Since we are a twinge bias here at Semi Freaks, the big rig kits were the only models that mattered.  The commercial publication - OVERDRIVE Magazine, "The Voice of the American Trucker", wasn't lost on the scale model truck kits available.   Each month, OVERDRIVE would feature a "Model of the Month."  For me, and many others, getting your truck model project recognized and chosen as Model of the Month in the greatest trucking publication on the planet was a dream. [ True story: I was about 9 when I had built the AMT Peterbilt "Turnpiker" kit. In my world, entering that model contest was epic. After a photo shoot of my model with a Kodak 110 camera, I had to rely on my mom to take the film to be developed. Meanwhile, I had written my short story about the model, my love of trucks, etc. The photos came back, and they were not very clear, but my mom sent them into OVERDRIVE along with my story. Weeks later, I received a letter from OVERDRIVE. They told me that my model would have won the contest, but my photos were not good enough to print.  I was as elated as I was dejected.  Being all of 9 years young, I wasn't able to process that I should have had the photos retaken and resubmitted. For whatever reason, that key solution was swept under the rug and my "winning entry" lives only in my memory instead of in the annuls of the OVERDRIVE printed pages.

The scale model companies are experiencing a renaissance. AMT has dusted off the now vintage model kits from yesteryear with their"Retro Deluxe" reissues! The past is now the present if you never experienced the model craze of the 1970's & 1980's.  You can walk into any Hobby Lobby store and find a huge selection of retro model kits, or find hobby stores in dozens of states that sell every type of new and old scale model kits - factor in online distributors and there's no excuse for not starting a new model building hobby!

Semi Freaks are paying homage to OVERDRIVE and we are reviving the

Model of the Month. To keep it fair, we simply ask that you send us an email and submit your entry and a brief description about you and your model entry - including why you are a Semi Freak! Click the Model of the Month link below (only one entry per month please). 

Winners will get some Semi Freaks merch of their choice and posting of the

winning entry on our social pages. Good Luck!

early AMT
AMT K799 Kmart
Kenworth 01
HJ box 02
AMT PK-6806 LTL9000Gd+
Hobby Town USA
collection3 parts
shovel truck
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