Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Ertl International Transtar II Eagle #6183

Recommended Posts

As a lifelong lover of International trucks, and a model builder, I have to say that among my all-time favorite kits are the '70's-era Ertl International kits. Mostly accurate and crammed with detail, it takes little more than clean and careful building techniques to make a real show piece from one of these kits. While the Paystar kits are relatively easy to find, the others can be a bit more of a challenge.

Case in point, the Transtar II. Though it was reissued in 1996 and run until 1999, it's tough to track down today, which is ironic considering that it was a bit of a flop in the marketplace at that time. This kit started out as a Transtar CO4070A, and Ertl later updated it to the current Transtar II Eagle specs. The original kit had an innovative feature- templates for painting the stripe scheme, a feature picked up later on by many of the Japanese kit manufacturers but pretty much forgotten by everyone else. The 1996 reissue, which is what I'll be showing here, does not include these templates, though their presence is still called out on the box. 


Ertl's box art was always striking, and fortunately this kit was not reissued in the unimaginative "standard" AMT-Ertl boxing of the time. The 1996 reissue is pretty much a pure duplicate of the original Transtar II box art.


Here we have the cab, and the piece to the right is the upper interior bucket, which has the inner door and side panels, rear upholstery, and headliner with sun visors. Almost anything that could be done as a separate piece on the cab, WAS done as a separate piece. If you take a close look at the cab, you might be thinking "Hey... it kind of looks like a big Cargostar." That's because, in a way, it is. When IH designed the Transtar cabover, they opted to use as many existing stampings from the Cargostar as possible, in order to cut costs. In fact, I know of a resin caster who is using one of these cabs to master a Cargostar. But that's a story for some other time...


Here we have a sprue full of engine and chassis parts. The Detroit V8 in the kit has very nice surface detail... much more so than AMT kits of the period. I have heard it is a tad underscale, but it is an impressive looking engine when built up and detailed. We also have the battery boxes, dash, cab floor, sleeper partition (complete with a rolled up curtain), visor, and various other doodads. 


Here we have the passenger's side frame rail up top, with more chassis parts, mainly wheel parts, front axle, forward drive axle, air brake chambers, and radiator. Again, all parts exhibit very nice surface detail. Keep in mind that this kit dates from the mid 1970's!


Here we have the driver's side frame rail, rear drive axle, the massive walking beams, batteries, inner front spring halves, and the fifth wheel plate. Two high-back buckets, standard on the lux Eagle model, are also included on this sprue. Also note the CB radio... a feature which is strangely lacking in many "big rig" kits. 


Unlike AMT, Ertl did not go "primate feces" with the chrome plating, though you will want to strip the fifth wheel. Again, great engraved detail on these parts, and the chrome plating doesn't muck it up too badly at all. The "International" lettering on the grille frame stands out far enough to accept a paint wash quite well.


You'll want to strip the exhaust manifolds and piping, and possibly the air cleaner, but the rest here is good to go. Again, sharp detail and the plating quality is pretty good. Again, the "Transtar" lettering in the side trim stands out proud- note that the side trim pieces also include the door handle and side step. Oddly, Ertl had a love affair with molding the fog lights into the bumper. A little detail painting... or going to the extent of drilling out the molded lenses to replace with clear units, helps quite a bit. Still, that's a very small fly in the ointment, considering how good the rest of the kit is in terms of parts breakdown.


Again typical of an Ertl kit, all the "clear" parts are just that... clear. You'll need your favorite clear red and clear orange for the taillights and turn signals, respectively. The clear parts are relatively thin and don't exhibit much distortion.


Tires are hollow Goodyears by way of MPC. Remember at one time Ertl, AMT, and MPC were all separate companies. Ertl did buy out MPC's "big rig" tooling in the late '70's. A few years later, Ertl took over AMT, and later, MPC. If you've built pretty much any AMT, Ertl, or AMT-Ertl semi reissue from the late '80's onward, you are no doubt familiar with these tires!


The decal sheet includes the Eagle graphics, along with door signage for two fictional hauling firms- Eagle Freight and TSR Freight Lines. Several small permit labels and detailing graphics are also supplied. The names "Linda" and "Elaine" are also on the sheet (hard to see in the pic but visible just to the right of the top "Eagle Freight" decal... so your Transtar can have a name, or so you can put a female driver behind the wheel. Like most '90's Ertl sheets, the carrier is thick and you'll want to trim it as closely to the graphic as possible, but they do tend to lay down well and look good once in place. Barring that, Jerry at modeltruckin.com does a set for this kit, and no doubt there are numerous other choices available through the aftermarket or kitbashing.


Ertl kits don't have instruction sheets. They have full-blown, bona fide, honest-to-Thor instruction booklets, laid out in a checklist format. This booklet also includes a few photos of 1:1 Transtar IIs for reference, thought the photos are black and white and not quite as sharp as you might hope. 

As far as building goes, there are really only two things to watch out for. The front track is a bit wide, so you may look into modifying the axle and or front hubs so that the front tires won't stick out past the sides of the cab. You also may want to move the battery box rearward just a tad. Every time I hear someone comment on building this kit, those are the two things always mentioned. Of course, since the kit has posable steering you could always take the lazy way out and just display the model with the wheels turned to hide the track!

I have not yet had the chance to build this kit, but I am very much looking forward to it. The Transtar was once a very common sight on American highways- even 40 years later you'll still see a few out and about from time to time. It's an iconic kit of an iconic semi tractor, an I do hope Round 2 will see fit to bring it back again. Given the superiority of Round 2's decal sheets to the old Ertl sheets, that alone would be an improvement over what is already a great kit.



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

nice work.This is the finest model I have built to date.I have a couple 4300 yet to be built,hope they are as good.I took the easy way out and just turned the front wheels.I did the ertl paint scheme but chickened out and copied the template on to Tamiya tape.As a side note every truck kit the axle is too wide


Edited by cunuk truckbuilder

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

A Cargostar....I wonder whos working on that......


As a foot note, the original issue of the kit had the cab, engine, & interior parts molded in white, and the frame was in black. Some of the very early versions also carried over the air ride rear suspension from the 4070A kit.

The first IH to used these cab components was the CO-Loadstar. The CO-Loadstar later became the Cargostar A, and B. The stampings were used on the CO 4000, 4070A, 4070B, and the CO 5370 (cab over Paystar)

  • Like 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I need some help locating parts. I purchased a "complete" kit that wasn't complete. Does anyone have extra parts from a scratch build that may help locate a few. If I can't find I'll scratch up a single axle without any steering up front. Parts missing include #39b, 40b, 63b, 30b, 32b, 60b, 139, 15b, (2) 129, 89cr, 1cl, 2cl, 3cl. Any help would be appreciated and thanks in advance.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m glad I found this nice review. I’m hoping for a reissue of the Transtar II. Better yet, I’m wishing for the additional unique parts tooling for an upgraded 4070B, using most (but not eliminating the unique parts) of the excellent new tooling of the 4070A. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I just acquired this model last week from eBay.  This was the first truck model I built back in the late 70’s.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this