Friday, June 11, 2010

Kansas City Shams

I was dismayed to discover that there was nothing in my body box suitable for my Celebrity Look-a-like Contest idea. Nuts! Maybe I’ll get lucky and find something at the flea market in the next few weeks, so I don’t have go to and buy something new from the store.

I have nothing against customizing - I just hate buying brand new models to customize. Part of it is my "rehab" mentality: if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. My bigger problem with it is that there’s that slight possibility that you just might be destroying something special in the process - especially if you’re working with a new release. Most mold and paint changes occur early on in a model’s run, but we don’t really become away of some of these changes, or value them, until later releases of the same mold or color come out.

The Kansas City Shams are a good object lesson. At least one was lost that way, because it was assumed that the batch available at that show were production run Shams - or were going to be. Both Mr. Rudish, and hobbyists in general, were a little miffed when the Sham debuted in 1984 in a flat Red Bay, and not the "Golden Bay" described in loving detail in the book. It was assumed that the color correction was made, and the Red Bays were going to be the variation, not the standard.

Unfortunately, that was not to be. Rumors floated around that they had given the remainder of the Golden Bays they had produced to Sears for their 1984 Wishbook orders. Imagine what a nice surprise that would have been on Christmas Day!

Alas, there was little truth in the rumor. The paint job on the Sham did vary widely throughout its run - ranging from neon orange, bright red, to darkest mahogany - so it’s possible that a few of those early Sears Wishbook Shams could have been some shade of Golden Bay. But they were not the true Golden Bays from Chris Nandell’s Heart of America show.

Another complicating factor is that Breyer evidently did struggle with getting the Sham’s color just right: there are a lot of Bay test pieces floating around, and most that I’ve seen appear authentic, or at least not obviously faked. I even have one myself; if you look at him closely, you’ll notice that his mane and tail are hand-airbrushed, not masked like the production run piece:

(I purchased him from the estate of a man who had worked for Breyer in Chicago. He was not listed as a test color, but all the clues were there.)

There are a lot of dubious Kansas City Shams floating around. He’s so desirable - and potentially lucrative - a thing that many sellers start throwing around the "Kansas City" claim the moment they set eyes on a slightly lighter than average Bay. If every model claimed to be one on eBay were authentic, he’d be more common than most of the Special Runs of the early 1980s - ones measures in the hundreds of pieces, not in the dozens.

If you’re ever offered a Kansas City Sham, make sure the seller shows you the paperwork: the provenance, chain of ownership, receipts, whatever. And if they don’t, give ‘em the old stink eye and walk away.


Anonymous said...

"there’s that slight possibility that you just might be destroying something special in the process - especially if you’re working with a new release." I have to quote you on this one, because its my biggest fear with Alborozo. That is the truest special run ever, and since the mold is gone--who knows what we lost?

Laura Skillern said...

There were 24 Kansas City Shams...and 10,000 Alborozos. In a hobby where 200+ runs of OFs and resins are considered common, I think Al will be fine.

I own almost every variation of Sham imaginable, some light, dark, red, and orange. But so far almost all of them still have the same red tone to them that the KC Sham doesn't. For painters, the KC is closer to a Raw Sienna color than Burnt Sienna. If you can get a hold of a copy of King of the Wind with the color illustrations, check out the color. The KC Sham's color was based on the original Wesley Dennis paintings reproduced in the book.

beforetheRfell said...

Many Sham models from the release year have hand airbrushed manes and tails.