Monday, March 23, 2009

The Touchability Box

Since the powers-that-be at Reeves have decided to revive the Touchability box packaging, I thought I’d post a picture of an original. They’re surprisingly rare - probably one of the scarcest of the many varieties of vintage Breyer packaging out there:

The original Touchability box was a late 1960s experiment. Breyer was looking for a box that was more store-friendly than the corrugated cardboard shipper boxes that were the norm at the time. Their scarcity nowadays is partly a consequence of the short duration of the packaging: they were only used for about a year. Another reason would be the nature of the box itself; they were designed strictly for display and couldn’t be repurposed for storage.

Actually, there are a number of reasons for the lack of success of the original Touchability box. As you can see, the only things holding the horse to the packaging were a few stretchy, flexible ties that weren’t much of an obstacle to theft or package tampering. The boxes themselves weren’t terribly sexy either - just barely a step up from the corrugated shipper in terms of visual appeal.

A year or so later, Breyer experimented with the clear plastic "Showcase" boxes. They had a couple of advantage over the Touchability box: they were more tamper-proof, and you could inspect every square inch of the model before purchase. But these boxes were prone to yellowing, and not terribly sturdy; the horse wasn’t secured within the box either, so rubs and dings were another issue. In 1973, Breyer finally switched over to the familiar, much loved two-piece illustrated box for the Traditionals, and all was right in the world for the next dozen years or so.

The new Touchability box is sturdier and more tamperproof than the original. I know some collectors are concerned about condition issues, but I’m not as worried. I tend to give higher marks for durability of Breyer paint jobs than others do. I’ve occasionally had issues with the quality control of the paint jobs - overspray, sloppy glossing, inadequate shading, smudges, missing details - but the durability hasn’t been one of them.

The only models released in the original packaging were the Family Arabians; like the original, the new Touchability box appears to be targeted to a younger audience. An audience that may be looking to upgrade from the more toyish fare of Safari or Schliech, but is still appreciates and responds to the tactile nature of that kind of packaging.

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