Monday, March 8, 2010

Gold Ribbon Belgian

Sometimes I think some hobbyists get a little bit too carried away with the concept of variations. Remember when those slightly semi-gloss, slightly-nicer-than-average Smarty Jones models were found in Grab Bags last year? The fuss was all out of proportion to the amount of variation, I thought.

Yeah, some of them were pretty sweet, but they were also within the range of normal variation for any average, regular-run model. It wasn’t something intentional or planned. A little scouting or judicious handpicking through your favorite dealer could have netted you a model just like it, or better, without the begging on MHSP or the mess of unloading the rest of your Grab Bag.

On the flip side, there are many models that are ignored or undervalued because their subtle differences from the norm - or from similar runs - are missed completely. An excellent example of this is a permanent resident of my office, this SR Dapple Gray Belgian:

Can you see what makes him special, rare and different from the half-dozen other Dapple Gray SR Belgians? It’s not the powder-matte finish, the sparse dappling, or the black mane and tail.

The tail ribbon is painted metallic gold.

He’s the rarely seen - or shall we say, rarely recognized - special run from Eighmey’s Wagon Shop in Waterloo, Iowa, released in 1986. Not many were made - my guess would be in the 150-200 piece range, similar to the equally hard to find Palomino and Dark Palomino SRs from roughly the same time period.

He’s very similar to another SR Belgian released a short time later - through a number of mail order dealers, mostly notably Your Horse Source - though that one came with a yellow tail ribbon with red crosshatching. They made significantly more of that SR, probably around 450-500 pieces; he’s nowhere near as rare as the gold-ribboned one.

I missed out on the gold-ribbon Belgian when he first came out. Maybe I didn’t have the money at the time, or I didn’t hear about him until after he sold out, or I was distracted by something else. I really can’t remember.

Several years later I found one for sale at BreyerFest - just a few rooms down from my own, at the HIN. The seller was quite surprised when I recognized him for what he was - and that I didn’t object to the price. (The price wasn’t high - it was just more than the more common red and yellow-ribboned one.) She had brought him because another buyer had expressed an interest in him initially; it was late Saturday night, and it was obvious that the buyer had either lost interest, or lacked money.

So he came home with me, instead.

The Belgian mold was prone to subtle, hard-to-differentiate SRs in the 1980s - likely the result of cost cutting, not a lack of imagination. I don’t know who was planned or ordered first, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Eighmey’s SR and the slightly later SR were manufactured concurrently. Make one big batch of Matte Dapples - put gold ribbons on the pieces going to Eighmey’s, and yellow and red ribbons going to everyone else.

Two different SRs, for the cost of one. Less cost = more profit!

1 comment:

Kate said...

What an absolutely beautiful model! The post is very informative--a gold tail ribbon? I never would have noticed!