MPC Wacky Races Model Kit: The Creepy Coupe (1970s)
Anyone who’s known me for a little while discovers fairly quickly I’ve got a thing about the old Wacky Races cartoon show. Like a lot of kiddie TV, it’s not really all that good, but the thing I liked about it the most was the cars. Hanna-Barbera took the premise of The Great Race and ran with it - not only were there a lot more contestants, but the vehicles were all themed to their drivers. The cavemen drove a rock car, the hillbillies drove a go-cart powered by moonshine, the mobsters drove a huge ’30s sedan, and so forth. I loved all the designs then, and still do today.
Merchandising wasn’t nearly as aggressive as it is now, but there were some Wacky Races toys made back in the day. Some of the best were a series of model kits made by MPC - one of my neighbors had a couple of them, and I coveted them like crazy. Luckily, two of the best cars were made - Dick Dastardly (the main villain, who was popular enough to be in two or three different shows) in his Mean Machine, and Penelope Pitstop in her Compact Pussycat. Naturally, I’ve since found built versions of both kits on eBay.
An interesting thing happened about a year or two ago. I learned that there were two other kits in the series - The Gruesome Twosome in the Creepy Coupe, and Peter Perfect in his Turbo Terrific. Unlike normal people, collectors love to learn that they don’t have closure on something, so I went right to work to try and find the ‘new’ kits.
I found a complete kit of the Creepy Coupe about a month or so ago - it was a good bargain, as the box wasn’t included. I built it up last night, and overall it went together fairly easily (it’s a snap-together kit). Two things to be aware of if you build one:
1) The radiator is very hard to remove from the part tree. Cut the connection at the base of the radiator, then (holding the entire part carefully) spin it gently about the other two connection points. Hopefully, the part should snap off correctly, rather than breaking the delicate candelabra ‘headlights’ off from the radiator. You’ll also have to be careful not to snap the ‘candle flames’ off as well. When you build a vintage kit, you’ve got one shot to get it right!
2) The engine is hard to snap onto the chassis, as the former is made from rigid plastic and the latter from a more flexible one. I couldn’t get the engine tabs to flex and grab onto the frame. Rather than risk breaking anything, I cut the tabs from the bottom of the engine block and simply glued it onto the frame (using the instruction sheet to aid alignment).
The kit has rolling wheels, and the box art clearly assumes the builder will play with it after the kit is finished. I think it’s far too fragile for that, myself! A neat feature, though, is that the kit comes with a tiny display base - you can either snap the characters onto it, or into the car itself if you want them to ‘drive’. The ‘tool’ you use to build the wheels can also be played with (as a sort of spinning-disk-on-a-string toy) when the model is built.
There’s not a lot of different colors of plastic involved, and the red and chrome pieces have little connection to the car’s actual colors. So you’ll either have to paint the kit or build it as is. I chose the second option, as it has a nice ‘cereal-prize’ look to it unpainted.
The box design is a little surprising, as most model packaging sports an amazing illustration that has little resemblance to the finished toy. These boxes do picture the finished models - and they’re not even overly-painted! Only the characters are decorated more than the kit’s supplies actually allow, which is kind of refreshing.
If you want to buy this kit, it’s one of the rarer ones, so it may take a little while. Expect to pay between $70-$100 for it, depending on whether the box is included or not. Happy hunting!