Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Moose Variations

I swear this local flea market has a sense of humor. Among the odds and ends I found this week? A Bergen Toy Cow:

It was in one of those giant miscellaneous junk boxes full of finger candy - cheap plastic toys, buttons, beads, ephemera, other crafty bits. I laughed, and tossed it in my buy pile. It wasn’t my best find of the day - that title would have gone to an Old Mold Stallion in Woodgrain - but it was the most amusing one.

I want to take a brief break from the Tenite tech talk and focus on less research-intensive subjects this week; most of my attention right now needs to be on getting my BreyerFest paperwork in shape. Let’s begin with another beloved denizen of my office: this lovely "Chocolate Moose."

He has handpainted pink nostrils and black antler tines. He does have the USA mold mark, so he’s not a super-duper early one, but he’s one of the nicest ones I’ve had the pleasure of setting my eyes on. I’m quite delighted to share his company.

The original #79 Moose ran from 1966 through 1996, and his color ran the whole gamut from nearly black to almost tan. While the darker ones tend to be from earlier in the run, and the lighter ones later, there was no true consistency to the paint job from batch to batch or year to year. The "Chocolate Moose" variation is, naturally, among the most desirable.

The most desirable Moose is, without question, the Presentation Series one. Actually, all of the Presentation pieces are considered quite rare, with the exception of the Adios, who is only slightly less so. I’ve found a few trophy mounted Breyers in my time, but no true Presentation pieces so far, Moose or otherwise.

He has had only two other releases: the #387, in a pale chestnutty color, and the #398, in a dark shaded dun with tan antlers. I haven’t had any luck securing a decent #387; he was only available for two years - 1997 and 1998 - and the paint job seems unusually prone to damage. I do have the #398, and a unique one at that. How unique? Here’s his head shot:

Isn’t he adorable?

He’s another one of those "newtoymens" models. I don’t know if he’s a test piece, an oddball who was pulled from production, or a little something someone at the factory whipped up for their own amusement. Maybe they were experimenting with different antler placements? Or was it merely a fortuitous fixturing failure? I haven’t examined enough of these later Moose to make the call.

The Moose’s antlers were molded separately and attached post-molding. He’s not unique in that respect: lots of models, including the Big Poodle, Elk, Bighorn Ram, Cow, and most of the Bulls also have separately molded body parts. What’s unique about my Moose is his complete lack of symmetry, well beyond the normal degree of variation we usually see for these sort of things. The Longhorn Bulls are notorious for the amount of variation in their horn placement, but individual models tend to be symmetrical, whether they’re pointing up or pointing down.

And not quite as amusing.


Tana said...

Your crooked antler moose is too cool! I got this guy from an antique mall in Texas in the mid-90s. No USA stamp, pink nostrils, and a Yellowstone Park souvenir sticker. He's a much deeper chocolate than he appears in the picture. http://www.labratango.com/temppix/moose.jpg

Molly said...

Too cool! I stumbled into a Presentation Moose on Ebay a while back and I bought him just thinking he was cute! I had no idea what he was!

Anonymous said...

I was vacationing with my folks when I was a kid, probably around 1970, and bought a moose that looks just like this one along with an elk at a souvenir shop. I was interested in where to look for the identifying marks you mention?

Thanks in advance for any information you can provide.