Monday, January 4, 2010

Appy New Year

Just spent the entire weekend going through and cleaning up my research notes - I think I ended up with more than what I started with! One of these days I’ll finally be able to "touch bottom" and work my way back up to the surface. Not any time soon from the current state of my desk, however…

In light of my increased work schedule, I’ve come to a decision on my blog posts for January: I’ll be sticking to smaller, shorter topics for the time being, instead of the graduate-level dissertations I’ve been lapsing into. I’ll profile some historically-interesting models from my collection, spotlight rare or noteworthy color variations, offer annotated scans of some rare or unique items from the archive, that sort of thing.

(Don’t worry, the dissertations will be back - eventually!)

To kick things off, I offer you a rare and unusual variation many collectors miss: the "Gray Appaloosa" Azteca:

The #85 Dapple Gray Azteca is know for its many color variations: white tail, gray tail, semi-gloss, matte, wild dappling, and so on …but this variation is distinct enough to be mistaken for a test color or separate release. (And sometimes is.) It’s very similar to the paint job seen on the Dark Dapple Gray Running Mare and Foal, but with the addition of fine, roany dappling over the rest of the body. You can catch a blurry glimpse of him in the 1980 Alden’s Christmas Catalog:

Christmas catalog photo shoots occur very early in the year - not long after the previous holiday season, usually. So that means he’s an early variation, possibly the earliest. However, the Dapple Gray Azteca I bought in early 1980 (with my leftover Christmas money!) is the standard wild dapple version. So either he was a variation who was quickly replaced with a more standardized paint job, or a painter might have either received less than clear painting instructions for a day. ("Paint ‘em up in dapple gray - you know, like the Running Mare and Foal.")

In either case, there weren’t a lot of them painted this way. I think I see maybe one "Gray Appaloosa" version of the Azteca a year, at best. It took me quite a while to acquire my specimen, and I’ve had no luck in upgrading him since then.

This brings up an important point: dapple gray paint jobs from the late 1970s throughout most of the 1980s were not very durable - in some cases, they’ll rub right off with a little vigorous handling! That’s because by then Breyer had abandoned giving them the clear topcoat that acted as a sealer. It wasn’t until near the end of the 1980s that they "reformulated" the way resist dapple gray paint jobs were done, and made them a little less prone to everyday wear and tear.

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