This second part of the “K.I.T.T. & K.A.R.R.” ERTL model cars review – a focus on the 1/25 and 1/64 scale models. Contrary to the 1/18 models I’ve reviewed in part 1, these cars were actually produced in 1982 when the TV show started.
Let’s start with the exterior of the 1/25 car. Contrary to the 1/18 models, this one is much more basic. The only parts that do open are the doors. In fact let’s take a closer look at them: You can clearly see that the doors are not well aligned, the clearance on the front and the right side of the bottom is quite significant. If you turn the car to the side, you’ll notice that the doors don’t stay shut. It’s a relatively low standard of fit and finish. Anyway, at least ERTL made the door handles and locks visible.
Up front, ERTL didn’t bother putting the custom K.I.T.T. bumper on it. Instead, they went with the original Firebird front. As you can see they did however, put a red scanner light sticker on it. I must admit, it’s not totally wrong, as K.I.T.T. can be seen in several scenes of the pilot episode of Knight Rider (Knight of the Phoenix) with that stock bumper and the scanner mounted right on the front.
The front marker lights are molded into the fenders, but are obviously not painted yellow. As a matter of fact, the whole car is all black. The wheels are equipped with the turbine finned alloys and the “Bowling Ball” hubcaps. They even have a little Pontiac logo in the center. Moreover, the tires have “Goodyear” markings on the side and descent profile on them – very nice! Don’t try looking for stone deflectors or air extractors on this car, you won’t find them.
In the rear, I’m unable to say whether there are rear marker lights or not, as the “Knight Rider” stickers cover that part of the body. They did however manage to put in the fuel filler cap on the left side. The back follows the same path as the front. You can clearly see the stock taillight cluster with the three parts, the horizontal lines, the Firebird logo, as well as the Pontiac lettering. Let me just add that there aren’t any side mirrors, but that’s probably due to the fact that this was built to be a children’s toy. Mirrors would have represented a safety hazard.
On the hood, we find the iconic Trans Am bulge on the left side including the separation line for the upper element. The roof has the T-top shape, but no actual glass or plastic covers to put in. Furthermore, the center bar is way too large for a third generation Firebird and reminds me of the previous generation model.
Overall regarding the exterior, ERTL didn’t bother applying any of the Knight Rider transformations and instead went for a bone stock Firebird Trans Am with some stickers. Bear in mind that this car was intended for children for ages 3 and over and not for adult collectors as it has become today.
Now, what about the 1/64 model? Due to the fact that it is even smaller than the 1/25, my expectations in terms of fit and finish were quite low. Interestingly, you can kind of see that it was made by the same manufacturer at the same period: the front bumper is the stock Firebird one with the scanner sticker and it does have the “Knight Rider” sticker on either rear fender, like on the 1/25 model. But I must say, it’s actually not a bad model. Contrary to the bigger one, this one does actually have air extractors in the front fenders.
It has a compact single piece body. As a result, none of the panels can be opened or removed. The doors do however have handles and locks. For obvious reasons, it doesn’t have rear view mirrors, but it does have garnish moldings which again, are not on its slightly bigger brother.
In the rear, the fuel filler cap is visible on the left side. As we get to the back, this is where it starts to get tricky: Look at the rear spoiler – it’s diagonal instead of flat and continuous along the sides, just like on the second generation Firebird. How weird is that? Maybe ERTL didn’t want to plug in the authentic spoiler just in case it gets loose and children would swallow it…who knows?
At least they put in transparent plastic roof panels on the T-top – good job. Nevertheless, I would have liked to see the Trans Am bulge on the hood. Wouldn’t have that been possible on that scale in 1982? Lastly, the wheels are simple black ones made out of solid plastic – most likely a standard issue part.
So much for the exterior. I’d love to open the hood and take a look at the engines of these cars, but unfortunately they don’t have any.
So let’s get underneath the cars straight ahead. The 1/25 model is reasonably accurate. It pretty much carries on the same attention to details as the exterior: You can recognize the shapes of the radiator and the steering, but of course, the whole undercarriage is just one single plate that imitates all of the elements, such as the oil pan, transmission, exhaust system and fuel tank. There is no functioning steering but the wheels mounted to their respective axle do turn. The undercarriage is clipped into place and bolted to the body with one screw only in the back. The traditional ERTL logo is branded in the middle. There is however no mention of Pontiac, General Motors, NBC or Universal Studios.
Let’s zoom in on the 1/64 K.I.T.T.: Obviously, the standard is lower on this model, but so are the expectations. It’s a one plate undercarriage as well. There are very few details visible, basically just the transmission and the exhaust pipes. The plate is riveted to the body with one rivet in the front and another one in the back. As on the 1/25 scale model, this one carries the ERTL branding in the middle.
Enough of the greasy stuff, let’s jump into the cars. As you know by now, only the 1/25 has access to the interior. If you want to get into the 1/64, you’re gonna have to do that ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ style, as the doors are just engraved.
The first instantly recognizable observations are the all black interior and the fact that it looks pretty stock Firebird inside. Neither the dashboard, nor the steering wheel is in Knight Rider fashion. However, I must give ERTL some credit, as they did a pretty good job at replicating the original Trans Am. The front seats don’t have the hole in the head-rest and the back seats are separated by a huge transmission shaft, but other than that it’s quite good. They even put in the center console and the hand brake lever. Furthermore, considering that the doors are made of a single metal piece, the interior trim is actually really good: most of the elements are visible and shaped accurately.
It’s a different story on the 1/64 model – it’s much more simplistic: A plane flat dashboard without any gauges, a standard steering wheel, front seats only and a gear lever.
Now this is something special: Having the original packaging of a model car that is over 30 years old, that alone makes it a collector’s item. So here it is: The box of the 1/25 model has a longer back plate with the ERTL and Knight Rider letterings on the front, as well as a drawing of K.I.T.T.. Notice that even on the picture they used a stock Firebird Trans Am with a scanner at the very front. The main part of the box comes in a yellow and blue color combination with an open window upfront all the way over the top. With “Durable Die-Cast 2000“ on the front and “Durable Die Cast Replica – Constructed to Last a Lifetime!“ on the top, ERTL emphasizes on the solidity and ruggedness of its product.
In the back, you’ll find a brief description of the car and another picture of KITT as well as Michael Knight. Funnily enough, on this picture, K.I.T.T. is shown with the actual front bumper of the TV show. On the bottom is where you can see the ERTL and, finally, the Universal City Studios brandings, trademarked in 1982. On the right side you’ll find a kind of an application form to fill out and cut out in order to become a member of the ERTL Collector’s Club. A very special and rare thing to have. I guess I’m going to have to find out want that has become!
Onwards to the packaging of the smaller car. You can instantly recognize that the two cars come from the same brand and are made in the same period. The car was originally hold in place by a transparent box. The cardboard comes in the same yellow and blue color scheme with the ERTL and Knight Rider letterings. On this particular example, there is an additional French sticker on it, indicating that it was originally sold in France. In the back, we get the same Collector’s Club application form as on the bigger model on top, as well as the ERTL and Universal City Studios brandings below.
Back on the road
These two model cars are definitely not the most accurate TV show car replicas, but they were meant for children to play with. Moreover, the fact that they were made at the time the show aired now makes them collectors items anyway and for that reason they have earned their tickets into the fan collection.