A while back I built the 1981 Camaro by Fujimi and basically droned on about how the 1979 Camaro from Revell Monogram was better and went moping around about how I rather would be working on that kit.
So, I bought it! To be honest, I had already bought one before and built it as part of my all yellow Camaro line-up but never bothered to write about it(It was the second kit I built ever and it looks like ass compared to what I can do nowadays, so I’m a bit ashamed of it even) so cue me buying another one.
So, it turns out these kits are rare as sin these days but I got lucky on bidding for a Monogram release from 1995 and figured I’d put it to good use. These Camaro kits have been around since 1985, first coming to the market then as the “Midnight Z” Camaro and has been largely unchanged since that first appearance. Even for the time it was a heck of a deal, a 3-in-1 kit from the get-go, with the Midnight Z appearance package, a secondary but similar “drag” version which had the parts but different wheels and the stock Z/28.
And they went all in on the choices being worthwhile; the blower kit and open hood look menacing, the interior options are nice extras(rollcage, extinguisher, so forth) and both sets of wheels for the custom and race versions look really good. I’ve always been more favorable to the stock options so I ended up with that route twice thus far.
What’s been changed since then? Well in 1995 this kit saw its ten year anniversary re-release, though being entirely the same. Still tinted glass, same decal sheet, same everything. Hell if they hadn’t updated the box, you could’ve fooled me that it was still a 1985 release. The only indication is the box showing 1995 copyright information, the whole inside’s straight from ’85. But anyhow, the kit saw another release in 2003, only this time things were beginning to change.
The tinted windows were made clear(thank God for that, as tinted glass looks cool and all but by God can it look dingy and dull on bright color paints), the mold was re-done to be crisper and the inclusion of better tires, though the 1985 and 1995 kits have some really good quality Goodyear GT Radial tires, the drag and custom slicks are frankly awful. They also ditched the black mold color and rehashed the entire decal sheet.
From here on out, the 2003 and 2011 re-releases had this “StreetZ” for a custom option(designed to be on a yellow Camaro with pink letters), though the drag version was enhanced with some nice decals and more sponsors). The stock version? Well it got some love, but it also got rid of something for it. You see, the ’85/’95 release has the all black Camaro with the red/orange Z/28 stripes in mind for its stock version, which I adore. The ’03/’11 releases replaced this with the blue/gray and yellow/orange Z/28 decals. I love both of them, but part of me really wished the red/orange version still remained on the sheet.
But I digress, in the end there’s some differences in versions even though overall it’s been largely unchanged. Like I said, this kit has tinted glass, which makes the already all black car even more sinister and I’m quite the fan of it. The only place where it looks a bit out of place is on the headlights and taillights where it just makes it look a bit off but despite that, it carries personality.
Despite it being a mid eighties mold, like nearly all Monogram releases it’s crisp as hell. The newer release is even better but for a 32 year old kit it’s a freakin’ great job on their end. However, something that’s also decisively Monogram is the following: fantastic body, fantastic engine, great interior, solid build all around, slab like engine bay. This engine bay in particular is victim of Monogram taking shortcuts on the engine bay detail, the coolant reservoir for instance’s gargantuan and goes all the way down to the chassis.
Other than that, the 350ci V8 is done beautifully, the dashboard and the rest of the interior got crisp as can be detail that makes me wish for some dial decals cause it looks this good that only a decal could finish it up making it look more real. And through the T-tops you can easily still see all this detail so, yeah it’s all good stuff all around!
It is a rather simplistic build, I have to admit. The parts count is in the nineties but in reality, it’s no more than 60 per choice. I mean, sometimes simplicity isn’t all that bad and that’s definitely the case here but it would’ve been nice for to name something like… the brake-booster to be a part instead of being molded to the body. But those are just personal wishes, it’s perfectly fine as it is.
Bit of a history thing-a-ma-jig here; Towards the end of the second generation of the Camaro, Pontiac and Chevrolet were still in a fierce(despite being under the same brand; GM) competition for sales. Both the Firebird and Camaro were flagship “muscle car heritage” monsters, even though 1973 saw the muscle car being taken out back with a shotgun in hand due to the fuel crisis. I mean, the muscle car era was far from dead but if you look at efforts like the Ford Mustang Cobra II(sold well, but failed in every other department), the Plymouth Volare Road Runner/Dodge Aspen R/T(similar fate as the Cobra II, just… didn’t sell nearly as well), the Mercury Cougar XR-7 only became a more luxurious version of itself and far slower due to weight and the AMC Hornet AMX, the only legit actual attempt without being cheap; it hardly made any ground and AMC was running massive losses by the end of the seventies and bordering bankruptcy.
The muscle car era had some giant issues trying to come to grips that fancy decals, body kits and desperately reworking and resizing engines so they conform to emission standards instead of innovating upon smaller blocks, they weren’t gonna recapture that big block V8 era without cutting losses. But by the end of that generation, both the Firebird T/A and Camaro Z/28 were just… immense. Both touted great, quick engines, with the Chevrolet manning a 350 cubic inch V8, which is replicated very nicely in the kit. Both had the giant fender flares, front and tail spoilers, it captured the brutal, mean looks from the higher range muscle cars(like the ’69 Camaro and ’69 Firebird T/A) without being overly expensive, just like the original muscle cars!
But here I am just going on about the legacy of the Camaro and why the 1978-1981 Camaro is my favorite of the bunch, apologies for the history lesson. Jesus, I only just spotted the length of this bastard. Anyway, I wanted to make it the black Camaro with the red/orange stripes already, so this fell perfectly into my plans. Otherwise, luckily Keith Marks has them available if I couldn’t get my hands on this kit. Though with how milky these decals get over the years and how rotten they can look, getting Marks’ set isn’t such a bad plan anyhow.
I painted over the already black body with a high gloss black, added some BF Goodrich Radial T/A tire decals from Fireball Models and boy does it look menacing now. There’s always something so sinister about black cars, especially black cars with tinted windows and red stuff all over ’em. And lo and behold, the ’79 Camaro in all its glory.
There’s always a solid chance Revell puts out this kit again within half a decade or so if the pattern maintains, but as of writing this they’re becoming rare as hell and honestly if you can get your hands on one and feel like building a very, very solid Camaro model? This will make you happy as hell.
’79 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 specifications:
Skill Level: 2
Molded in: Smoke Black