Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Brief History of Dapple Grays, Part 2

Of course, the morning after I published the last post, I came to the realization that I completely forgot about the Dapple Gray Clydesdale. (I was a bit under the weather at that time; must have been the cough syrup.) Fortunately, I still think most of my observations hold, and that the Decorators were a greater influence on the style of Dapple Gray paint jobs that came to dominate the rest of the decade.

The early Dapple Gray Clydesdales tended to be more roany, and more sedate - two terms that could rarely be applied to the Dapple Gray Belgian or Old Timer. And when hobbyists describe their favorite old-fashioned colors, the Gloss Dapple Grays of their dreams tend to be the ones on the wild side. And Reeves seems to agree:

(Yes, the photo is dreadful. Still working from scans here, folks.)

As promised, here’s the story of In-A-Tiff, in Marney’s own words (mostly.) From an article in the August 5, 1979 Chicago Tribune, "Model horses are center ring as a hobby," written by Mary Daniels:

Still another favorite in her "barn" is a very dark dapple gray Arab, In-A-Tiff. "He’s special because I made a suggestion to Breyer Moulding, and they did something about it. In 1970 I wrote Breyer and complained about the models being made." She felt they were not as authentic or as exciting as they could be.

Peter Stone himself says the earlier Breyer models were "not very emotional at all. They had four legs, were very straight, were a Western-type ho[r]se. There’s been a great deal of sophistication since then."

"They asked me to come down," continues Walerius, "I went into the factories and talked to the designers and the artists. In-A-Tiff came out of that visit, and he became the forerunner for the current dapple gray Arab they use."

(Neat, eh? Lots of good information in this article, especially about the early days; I’ll have to shoot a copy of it over to the folks at the Hobby History web site sometime soon.)

There were a couple of things that made In-A-Tiff’s dappled paint job different from the ones that came before. First, he was matte; with a few notable exceptions - including the Dapple Grey Old Timer, and "Dark Dapple Gray" Running Mare and Foal - most of the Breyer line had already made the switch to the Matte Finish. Second, he had additional shading: dorsal striping, facial detailing, and dark shoulders and hindquarters.

While not as realistic as today’s Dapple Grays, In-A-Tiff’s paint job was a significant step forward. And a popular one, too. In the 1970s, it seemed like Breyer dappled everything: the Proud Arabian Family, the bell-bottom Shire, the SR Clydesdale Family, the SR Belgian, the Classic Andalusian Family Mare, the Stablemate Saddlebred and Arabians …

There was no consistency to these paint jobs, however. Some of the earliest of the new Dapple Grays came with the full complement of new features, and others didn’t. Some had fine lacy dappling, while others had the infamous giant "cornflake" spots. Others had conservative patterns with minimal dappling on their heads and necks, and other had dappling on every square inch of their bodies - including their manes, tails and eyeballs!

I guess it all depended on the mood of the painting department that day. By the end of the 1970s, though, most Dapple Grays had reverted to a slightly toned down, matte to semi-gloss version of the wilder Dapple Grays of yore.

After that, it’s hard for me to make generalizations, because I haven’t done the research yet. And you can see what happens when I get a little lazy with the research. So my history of the Dapple Gray paint job will have to end here, for now.

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