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Wooden Masters for Scale Models Revealed

Former AMT employee shows never-before-seen wooden masters for 1/25 scale plastic models. 
RELATED TOPICS: 1/25 | AMT | 1970S | 1960S | MOLDING
AMT 1978 Catalog
This page from AMT’s 1978 Kit Announcement Brochure includes a Gar Wood Refuse Truck planned for a July release. But the kit was cancelled during development, and modelers understood it to be the result of warping to the 1/10 scale wood master during an extended plant shutdown resulting from a strike by AMT workers. It turns out that’s not the actual reason the kit was cancelled.   

All photos courtesy Tim Boyd

During the last 60 years, many secrets about the development of scale model car kits have come to light. As it turns out, some secrets still await unearthing. And at the Detroit Area Auto Modelers (DAAM) Show on Sunday, March 31, 2019, some very big untold stories came to light.  

Thanks to the efforts of Tim Rice, former AMT model and mold maker, and, later, supervisor at the Lesney Products U.S. operation in Warren, MI, those stories weren’t just told, they were revealed. 

Until the last couple of decades, model kit development typically started with extensive photography and measurement of a full-size subject, followed by drafting detailed blueprints. Then the model shop team took those drawings and developed 1/10 scale wood models of every part of the new kit. Model manufacturers would then make molds from these wood masters. A set of production molds, or tools, would be made from the large molds at the reduced 1/25 scale size.  

At the DAAM show we saw the 1/10 scale wood masters for a number of AMT kits that were never produced. These master had been discarded after the projects were cancelled and Lesney was moving its operation to Moonachie, NJ, in 1982. Fortunately, some of these wooden masters were saved from the dumpsters at the last minute.   

For four decades, virtually no one outside of the company knew of these kits — until now. The collective reaction upon seeing these wooden masters is summed up as “Wow!” We thought you’d have the same reaction.  

Many thanks to Tim Rice and former AMT project engineer John Mueller for talking with us and telling us about the background of several of these heretofore unknown AMT projects.
Here is the 1/10 scale wood master for the Gar Wood Refuse truck body, along with a 1/25 scale equivalent Tim Rice recently built.  As you can clearly see, there’s no warpage whatsoever in the wood master. Instead, AMT was already in negotiations to be acquired by Lesney-Matchbox, and the potential new owners were just not interested in a kit of this subject. Had it been produced, The truck would have been paired with AMT’s existing Ford C-600 cab and chassis kit. 
I was doing contract work for AMT in the mid-1970s, and on one of my trips to its headquarters I saw a 1/10 scale wood master for a Porsche 911 kit that was never produced. Until now, I don’t believe this artifact has ever been seen outside of AMT corporate headquarters. Note the exquisite detail evident in the body, undercarriage, and chassis and suspension components – proof of the quality of work by the AMT model shop team.
This Porsche 911 began development in 1966 as a planned addition to the AMT Trophy Series lineup. Trophy Series kits were engineered during less busy times in between each year’s annual kit production run and as budgets allowed. The still-incomplete project was subsequently cancelled in 1969 by AMT’s newly appointed president, in view of other higher priorities for kit development.        
AMT eventually produced three 1/25 scale fire engine kits, but a fourth kit was under development. Here are the 1/10 scale wood masters for an articulating boom tanker with a snorkel. It would have been joined to AMT’s already existing Ford C-600 cab and chassis tools. The intricately detailed components suggest that the masters were fully developed and ready to enter the mold-making, scaling, and tooling stages before the project was cancelled.  
By 1973 AMT had introduced an entire range of 1/25 scale trailer kits to pair with its highly successful semi-tractor kits. It turns out that yet another trailer kit was under development: a double hopper bottom grain trailer. In this view of the 1/10 scale wood master, which shows the detail of the underbody (and several cardboard fixtures to protect it during storage), you can get an idea of how spectacular this kit could have been. 
Each individual component of the grain-trailer rear suspension and the back gate was fabricated from wood, and then pieced together just as the real kit builder would have done. Note the swinging back door and the intricate brake levers adjacent to the springs with individual leaf detail. Potentially AMT’s most impressive trailer kit ever, it was cancelled in late 1973 due to the economic impact and raw material shortages resulting from a Middle East oil embargo.        

This 1/25 scale incomplete wood master resulted from a project inspired by the 1976 Miss Budweiser U-12 racing boat (seen in the background here). It was envisioned as the basis for several 1/25 scale kits of unlimited hydroplane boats. However, the differences needed to accurately portray each boat made the overall project unprofitable, so it was cancelled. (This project was unrelated to the Testors Miss Budweiser kit that debuted in 1978.)


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