Monday, October 18, 2010

Horned Herefords, Pt. I: The Commons

I actually found some models at the flea market this weekend. Nothing super-special - an Appaloosa Performance Horse, a Five-Gaiter, and a Red Roan Scratching Foal - but good finds still, especially when I thought the outdoor markets were tapped out for the year.

The vendor in question actually had more, but being a little more strapped for cash than usual this week, I had to leave them behind. They were good bodies at an even better price, but financial issues aside, I had just cleared out most of my bodies, and I really didn't want more cluttering up the office. (Hey, I didn’t spend all that time cleaning and organizing for nothing!)

Let’s try something short and uncomplicated today: Horned Hereford Bull variations. There are four significant variations on the original #71 in Brown and White - more if you count the different shades of brown, but I usually don’t. Today we’ll talk about the two most common variations - the airbrushed, and the masked.

Here’s an example of the airbrushed variation: the head and neck are masked, but the legs and belly are not.

(Yes, it's the one I have up for sale on MH$P. Any takers?)

The earliest photographs of the Horned Hereford Bull, however, show it completely masked. As it is here, in the November 1956 issue of Toys and Novelties:

So you’d think that would mean the partially airbrushed version is rare, right? Not really. Airbrushed Herefords are a little uncommon, but not uncommon enough to attract a much higher a price. He appears to have been in production in this variation as late as 1960, judging from his appearance in the 1960 Dealer’s Catalog.

But when did the completely masked version finally make its appearance? I couldn’t tell you. That version of the Hereford - one with the true production paint job, and not the obvious test piece from 1956 - finally appears in the 1963 Dealer’s Catalog. Whether the masking was new for that year, or something that happened in the time between the two Dealer’s Catalogs, is currently unknown. There’s no documentation from that period reliable enough to make that determination, just those same stock shots from 1956. (Those darn stock photos - the bane of my existence, they are!)

It’s strange that it took so many years for Breyer to change the masking to reflect the original concept. If it was selling just fine before, why bother tinkering with it later? Boredom? A make-work project? Did the original mask get lost in the factory somewhere until the cleaning lady found it?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Next time: the rarer variations.

No comments: