Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Mysteries of Shermie Love

I’m not really getting the craze over the Fall Dealer Promo Model Autumn. Part of it is undoubtedly my aversion to the season from which he takes his name: for reasons I will not discuss here, it is not my favorite time of the year.

The Sherman Morgan has never been a huge favorite of mine anyway. I have him in his original release of chestnut, the lovely alabaster JAH SR Pride and Vanity, and the original black, but I haven’t been highly motivated to get the rest of them. The Dapple Gray Tobiano test piece in the 2008 BreyerFest Auction was a beautiful thing, I’ll grant you, but well beyond my price range.

But Autumn is a 2000 piece run: that’s significantly more than your average JAH Special (typically 1500) or BreyerFest Special (500-1500). The color is more appealing (it’s a rare mold that’s not improved with a bit of gloss), the SRP is more reasonable, and the distribution model seems a little more fair than last year’s attempt. Even if we factor in his higher popularity rating and the gloss factor, I still don’t think the prices some dealers and collectors are trying to charge will hold up in the long run.

I wouldn’t be surprised, even, if a few batches of them show up in the Tent next year. Not as many as the Medalist Ponies, but a few cases, at least? Yeah. We’re talking 2000 pieces here. That’s a lot of horses, no matter how you divvy them up.

I’m sure most of the current craze for him is just due to him being the newest, shiniest bauble on the table. Happens every year at BreyerFest: a model’s awesomeness is extolled, crazy-mad prices are charged (and sometimes, received), then the inevitable collapse of both praise and price a few months - or even weeks - later.

There have been a few exceptions to the rule, but there's usually been a mitigating factor. And the possible migitating factor for Shermie is his strangely potent popularity.

I’ve always wondered if all the Shermie love was a consequence of his extended absence from the Breyer line: the mold was taken out of production at the end of 1992, and did not return until 2000, slightly remodeled and with a brand new tail, as the #1105 Carpe Diem.

The story was that the mold was damaged beyond repair. The word "destroyed" is casually bandied about when the discussion turns to damaged or altered molds; Breyer was the first to use that term, in reference to the 1984 JAH Saddlebred Weanling’s pending mold change to the Rocking Horse. I don’t know when the word "destroyed" came up in reference to the Sherman Morgan mold, but any time a mold is put on an extended vacation from production, it inevitably enters the discussion.

I hate that word, because it’s pretty clear that the way the company uses the word is quite different from the way hobbyists do. In hobbyist circles, the word destroyed evokes cataclysmic imagery: tossed from a high-rise and shattered into a million pieces, drop-kicked into the Pacific Ocean, or melted down and recycled into parts for your Subaru. Gone forever and ever, amen and goodbye.

Breyer uses the term its more technical or artistic sense, generally, to describe a mold that is no longer in its original state. Kind of like art prints: an earlier state of an artistic etching is considered "destroyed" when changes are made to it. But it is not gone, only changed. Halla was "destroyed," but the "Bolya" mold lives on. The Saddlebred Weanling was "destroyed" but we had the "Rocking Horse" instead. (Until they restored it, more or less.)

Parts may go missing, or be retooled and remodeled, but molds are rarely discarded or destroyed entirely. (Alborozo being a notable exception.) They’re just too darn expensive and time-consuming to build from scratch: it’s better to keep an unusable mold in storage until it’s possible to repair or salvage it somehow.

His color is beautiful: that’s the only thing that’s keeping me from dismissing him entirely from my want list. But until I get some money and space issues resolved here, I’ll have to opt out of the Shermie Love Fest for now.


pipperroo said...

I agree with you . I wasn't collecting when the Sherman Morgan came out and thought of him as a rare and valuable mold to find. So I jumped all over Carpe Diem. And, well, I don't like the mold at all. I like the color and gloss of Autumn, but he's not on my want list at all.

Carrie said...

If collectors go really gaga over Autumn, there's a reasonable chance Breyer will put his lovely color on another mold in the future.

Stockstill Stables said...

I was never a fan of the old style of the sherman morgan, to me he looked like he had a big piece of crap stuck on his butt. The new tail makes the mold a little more pleasing to the eyes, IMO.

GWR said...

I certainly like the mold better post-improvement, but he's yet to come in a color that really "wows" me enough to buy one. (a slightly iridescent perlino or cremello would definitely tempt me!)

I wish Breyer would knock off all these glossy runs, or at least offer a run in half gloss, half matte/semigloss. Modern glossies do little to nothing for me.

Anonymous said...

I'm with GWR here; I was not a fan of this mold until the improvements were dome. I really hated that old tail!