Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oasis and the Multi-Molds

No convenient excuses today: I was just being lazy. I had a longer-than-expected work assignment the other day, and I didn't feel like typing. Then I found a couple of movies in the discount bin at the local Big Lots that just exacerbated the problem. (Me and my fascination with cheesy vampire flicks. Sigh.) But I was actually doing some model horsey research at the Big Lots, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

I sent in my entry for the latest Connoisseur drawing Oasis today. My JAH took a little longer than average to arrive at the Ranch, so I witnessed most of fuss and bother from a slightly distant perspective. Was I missing something from the scans? Or was it just the usual carping and moaning? (Too plain! I hated the first tail less! Looks too much like the Bay Missouri Fox Trotter!)

Sure, she’s a little pricey, and she doesn’t have a flashy, ornate paint job that might visually justify the price. But we’re talking about a mold with multiple molding variations: two necks, two tails, two manes (so far.) All three of the known or upcoming releases of this mold differ in both color and shape: it may well be that this particular combination of mold elements may be unique, or rare. So the price justification may come not from the quality of the paint job, but in the mold itself.

Interesting new development, I think.

We’ve had significant changes to molds in the past, but for the most part these were permanent alterations: being able to switch back and forth is something new. (It’s already giving me fits in the documentation department: do I label them by their parts, or give each part combo a label? Grr. Argh.)

Stone paved the way with the ISH and his various mane and tail combos. Emboldened by the success of the ISH, they began to experiment with more drastic and dramatic changes, essentially creating a whole new subcategory of OF models now dubbed "Factory Customs." They’ve improved their processes considerably from their first awkward attempts - leaden lumps of hair being blown in three different directions - but they’re not mass-produced pieces on the same level as an average, regular run Breyer release. Most of the alterations they’ve done have been done post-molding, on a small-scale basis, and are mostly cosmetic.

One of Breyer's earliest experiments with the multiple molding variations was the Classic Shire: we had the head up "Shire A" and the head down "Shire B." We haven’t seen much of the "Shire B" variation, though. All three of his plastic releases have had rather limited distribution: the Bay in the pricey 2405 Delivery Wagon in 2002, the 2007 BreyerFest Contest model Yankee Doodle, and this year’s (now discontinued?) 620 Spotted Shire.

The Spotted Shire’s quick disappearance is being blamed on molding problems. Normally I’m not a big fan of that theory - anytime a mold is taken out of production, even briefly, hobbyists start screaming about molding problems - but there may be some justification in this case. As Reeves’s first serious "multi-mold," he might have some issues that later, more technologically sophisticated ones don’t.

The newer molds have their problems, too: the original, head-down Make A Wish has a funky double shoulder that’s somewhat covered up by her big hairdo. Mane and tail options don’t always "fit" to the body correctly, either technically or aesthetically. I’m sure these mold probably cost more than the average mold, with higher than average maintenance costs.

So far most of the newer "multi-molds" have limited themselves to insertable mane and tail changes; whether we get more molds with more extensive changes will depend on how well the Make A Wish mold performs - both in the factory, and on the shelf.

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