Monday, September 21, 2009

Finite vs. Open-Ended Specials

I was home and (mostly) conscious for the QVC show on Thursday to see the "exclusive" Wild Blue and Little Prince Gift Sets. Like the Nutcracker Prince on the previous show, they’re "technical" exclusives. The exclusive part is that they came with hardcover versions of the books, rather than the paperbacks that will be included in the sets the rest of the world will be getting shortly.

Another one of those lovely documentation headaches.

I did like the Wild Blue: I love blue roans, and Duchess is probably my favorite mold in the Classic Black Beauty Family. I’ve always thought that she’d be incredibly fetching little thing, with just a touch of remodeling and the right paint job. Here’s my none-too-great photo of the pretty dapple gray Duchess from the 3347 Trakehner Family Set:

She’s coming out in a couple of new sets this fall that I might have to buy - the 1391 Cloud’s Legacy Set, and the 300311 Bonanza Four-Piece Set, which may or may not be a TSC exclusive. It probably is; it’s just that the page in the current issue of JAH that features them doesn’t make it entirely clear, which may be intentional, if it’s an open-ended special run, and not a finite one.

The defining characteristic of a finite special run is its limited quantity: a certain number is made and distributed, and that’s that. More may turn up later, but they’re almost always leftovers from the original run, which means it either didn’t sell out originally, or a batch of models that had been reserved for a specific event or clientele was not distributed.

Banner is a finite run, as is the Mid-States Red Rock. Connoisseurs, most BreyerFest items, and most JAH specials are finite. Finite specials are often numbered or certificated, but not always.

Open-ended special runs are made in quantities enough to fill orders - and can be reordered, within a certain time limit. Most Christmas items, store-specific items, and mail-order catalog items are open-ended, unless they’re specifically labeled otherwise. The initial batch may sell-out, but they can be reordered, for however long the catalog or program is considered current. For a mail-order catalog like J.C. Penney’s, that can be for up to a year. They may come with certificates, but aren’t usually numbered.

(There's definitely some overlap in the definitions; I'm not quite sure where the recent QVC exclusives would fall.)

That doesn’t necessarily mean that all open-ended special runs are more common than all finite special runs: it all depends on the popularity of molds and colors involved. Only 900 Red Bay Kelsos from the 1992 Sears Wish Book "Drawing with Sam Savitt" Gift Set were sold, and only 547 sets of 1997 State Line Tack Pinto Family (featuring the Classic Black Beauty, Ginger, and Arabian Foal) were distributed. Both were open-ended, as far as I know.

Generally open-ended SRs do sell more; the only time we notice this is after the fact, when some of the more entrepreneurial among us try to sell off our extras, and discover that, oops, so is everyone else.

This is what happened with the TSC Duke from a couple years ago: he was open-ended SR. The initial batch sold well, just like most other TSC Specials, so the stores ordered more - and got more. Unfortunately, they overestimated the demand, and once the season was over, they were stuck with a lot of leftovers. He wasn’t less popular than other TSC Specials - it could be argued that he probably more popular, based on the sheer number that were produced - they just miscalculated and made just a little too many just a little too late in the season.

The two different TSCs I’ve visited in the past week haven’t set out their Holiday Gift stock yet, so I haven’t had to the chance to inspect a set personally to see if they are numbered or not. It doesn’t matter to me (except in a documentary sense) because if I do purchase one, it’ll strictly be because it’s a darn attractive set, and I want it!

1 comment:

Christi said...

I bought the last two Dukes that TSC had available online, when they were on clearance for the insane price of $4.69 (plus shipping). I would have ordered 3 (with notions of having them customized), but 2 was all their site would let me order, so I guess they were the last.

Some people get excited about buying the first of something, but I bought the tail end, by golly. :)