Monday, September 28, 2009

Unicorn Obsessive Disorder

I don’t have a lot of Breyer Unicorns in my collection. They’re just not interesting to me, especially since they’ve turned into little more than big hairy gray horses with strapped-on horns.

A creature borne of the imagination shouldn’t be so boring!

I had a Unicorn phase back in High School. I made a nearly life sized one out of papier-mache in art class, doodled unicorns endlessly in my notebooks, and faithfully bought the first Breyer Unicorn - the #210 Running Stallion - when he came out in 1982, right at the height of my Unicorn Obsessive Disorder. I found him a little lacking in the fantasy department, but I was grateful to have one at all.

The Little Bit Unicorn a few years later was better: Hess at least made an attempt to make him more fantastic, and less horselike. He’s the only Breyer mold so far that was intentionally designed to be a Unicorn. Not only is the horn integral to the mold, but so are cloven hooves, a beard, heavy feathering, and an insanely curly mane and tail.

I had done the research (yes, even back then I was a total history nerd,) and knew there was not a lot of consistency from description to description: some were more goatlike, and others were clearly based on deer or antelope. They were usually white in the tapestries, but the books, bestiaries and manuscripts were not quite as settled on the matter.

At least Breyer seemed to be headed in the right direction: imaginary creatures don’t need to be bound by reality. The Little Bit Unicorn was very horselike, but not quite a horse. I would have preferred the tufted tail mentioned in the medieval mythology, and a mane that wasn’t quite that girly-curly, but I could go with it. A good beginning and all that, right?

Ah, foolish mortals!

Let’s see, what kind of colors have we had on the Little Bit Unicorn since then? Alabaster, alabaster, iridescent white with lavender shading, iridescent white with green shading: notice a theme here? Even the Carousel Unicorn - a creature you’d expect to sport a more fantastical color scheme - got saddled with another white paint job. With a light blue mane and tail, and a solid gold painted horn, but still …white.

(There are a few test color Little Bit Unicorns out there: Marney had a small batch of solid black ones for sale at a Model Horse Congress in 1985. I do remember that they were the last ones to go in the test color sale; we were limited to one test color per person, and most hobbyists snapped up the Traditionals first.)

We still haven’t gotten any new "dedicated" Unicorn molds, either: every one of them since then has just been another repurposed Traditional horse with a tacked-on horn and a white or iridescent white paint job. Sometimes we get lucky and they’ll throw us a curveball - ooh, look, some pastel shading! Here, let’s put a Decoratory mostly-white paint job on the Running Stallion Unicorn Stardust!

Snore. I know it’s a cost saving measure to repurpose the horse molds - and most little girls just assume that Unicorns have always been magical horses with horns anyway, much less check out medieval bestiaries from their local university libraries.

I know I’m not alone in my demand for slightly less conventional fantasy animals. You’d think with the enthusiastic response they received to the Raffle Dragon Horse Merlin that Reeves would be a little more open to making the fantastic look a little more, I dunno, fantastic.

Gussy them up with more Decoratory paint jobs: how about one with one of those ornate Oriental paint jobs, like Jade or Cai Lun? A lot of the new molds come with multiple mane and tail options: how about a tufted tail option, or with actual ribbons or flowers molded in? (And for heaven’s sake, at least bring back the whiskers. Is that too much to ask?)

Heck, I’d settle for the Little Bit Unicorn in the four standard Decorator colors. Who wouldn’t love a little Wedgewood Blue or Gold Charm Unicorn?


Carrie said...

Thank you. I now have a new holiest of holies: The Black LB Unicorn Test. The LB Unicorn has always been a favorite of mine & I've often wished for something w/ a little more 'oomph' in my conga of white beasties. I mean, they coulda at least done a glossy black like the TRU Unis, right? Hey, maybe the PG line will throw us a -gasp- pink one!

Anonymous said...

I have the light blue flocked Unicorn Running Stallion from JC Penney that I've had since 1984. He has a blue haired mane and tail as well. There were two versions--one with brown glass eyes-- the one I have, and one with blue eyes. I have the Paddock Pal one, and the black Toys R Us RS and Lying Foal. Even my Paddock Pal unicorn is black with gold and glossy (customized my myself).