Models from Monogram II: Monogram Models’ Pocket Hobby Catalog

From the late 60s through the early 70s, Monogram Models had a very astute and sensible way of marketing their plastic models:  Included with each of their kits – whether of aircraft or military vehicles, or, their smaller variety of ships, boats, and spacecraft – was a “Pocket Hobby Catalog” intended to promote interest in Monogram’s entire line of plastic models.

In pamphlet format, the catalog showed a single image of each model in the company’s inventory – that image appearing as a simplified form of the kit’s “box art” – and, the kit’s retail price (the 1969 price, that is!), accompanied by Monogram’s “P”-prefixed product number for every kit.

By virtue of the catalog’s small size and horizontal layout, specific information about the kits could not be presented on a “one on one” basis.  Instead, models were grouped by scale or general category, with a general “blurb” above each section.

For example, Monogram’s line – in effect, its mainstay – of 1/48 WW II-era aircraft was described as follows: “Most popular continuing scale series of airplane models ever produced.  Extra fine detailing.  Most kits have working action – folding wings – retractable landing gear, etc.  Authentic decals.”  Or, with their “Combat Models” (Monogram’s relatively small number of American, and, WW II German military and armored vehicles), appeared the text, “Vehicles and figures of army personnel are all one scale and may be formed into fascinating military groups.”  (“Fascinating military groups?”  Well, that phrase leads to all manner of humorous memories…!)

Corporations, like people, are products of their time, and importantly, the time that came before.  In that sense, the subjects chosen by  Monogram for its kits – primarily combat aircraft and military vehicles of WW II, and to a lesser extent the Cold War, and, Viet-Nam War – were a natural and direct reflection of the decades immediately subsequent to the Second World War.  In this, the company was quite similar to Revell (then, its main competitor) of Venice, California, and to a lesser extent, Aurora, Lindbergh, and Hawk.

For those who remember Monogram, the emblem atop the catalog’s first page (where appears the company’s 1/24 “Phantom Huey”) – showing a modeller holding a 1/48 P-38 Lightning, alongside the text “MONOGRAM – quality hobby kits” – is quite significant.  Just a few years later (I think in the early 1970s) the company was acquired by Mattel.  Monogram’s distinctive emblem disappeared forever.  Fortunately, in the late 1970s the company underwent a tremendous revival, in terms of the scope and particularly the physical size of its models, the latter especially through the release of 1/48 kits of WW II American medium and heavy bombers (B-17G, B-24H, B-25G and J, B-26B, and B-29) of the Second World War.

As for myself, years ago, even before that time, I acquired and built each the 1/48 kits shown in this catalog (at least once…) as well as the company’s “Combat Models”, and a few other kits, in 1/72 and “various” scales.  Of all, my favorites were – and will always remain – the company’s P-38J / P-38L Lightning, OS2U-3 Kingfisher, and P-51B Mustang.  The 1/48 Lunar Module (not featured here) was also a superb kit, of an obviously different sort, commemorating another, much grander, and meaningful moment in time…

So, enjoy this glimpse of the past, from the past.

Monogram 1969 Pocket Hobby Catalog 1 Monogram 1969 Pocket Hobby Catalog 2 Monogram 1969 Pocket Hobby Catalog 3 Monogram 1969 Pocket Hobby Catalog 4

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