When I read that, I had an a-ha! moment: could this be the evidence, at last, for the Walmart Special Run from ca. 1983?
I remember hearing about it in passing not long after it allegedly happened: a Special Run Gray Appaloosa Family Arabian set made specifically for Walmart stores. I didn’t hear or see much about it after the initial rumors; indeed, the only other reference I have for it is in the early Test Color/Special Run Lists compiled by hobbyist Jill Rademacher (now Gutierrez).
If they even existed at all, hobby interest in them waned quickly. They were Family Arabians in a previously issued color: that’s the very definition of uninteresting. I assumed that if they did exist, they would have been indistinguishable from later Regular Run Matte Gray Appaloosas, who also had USA mold marks. Those seemed a little more common than I thought they should be for something that ran only a year, anyway, so it seemed plausible.
For a while I tried to determine if there was a subtle or not-so-subtle difference in the paint jobs, but there’s so much natural variability with the Gray Appaloosa color that I quickly gave up.
For many years after their discontinuation from the Regular Run line, Family Arabians of all colors - Matte Alabaster, Bay, Charcoal and Appaloosa - were available on the Bentley Sales Company’s fabled "Discontinued" Lists. They appeared and disappeared on those lists through the late 1970s and up through at least May 1985; the next dated list in my archive is August 1985, and they are all gone.
It didn’t occur to me that I should have started to look for items with the B mold mark. It was right around the same timeframe. Duh.
With the possible existence of B mold marked non-Palomino Family Arabians, now I have to consider other questions.
If the Walmart Family Arabians did exist, were other colors - maybe all the other previously issued colors - going to be a part of that program?
Were some of the models sold to Bentley Sales (and other mail order houses) basically Reissues made specifically for them - in whole, or in part - during the B Mold Mark Era?
Or were they part of some unrelated program that never launched, only to end up in the warehouse - and then sold to mail-order houses?
Were the non-Palomino B-marked Family Arabians even distributed by mail-order at all, or just Tests and Samples mixed into the detritus that was sold off in the mid-1980s, when the Chicago factory was cleaned out? There were lots of Tests and Oddballs in that stuff, and I could see them slipping out undetected...
Always more questions than answers with these darn Family Arabians!