Thursday, October 21, 2010

Horned Herefords, Pt. II: The Rarities

Remember when Chalkies weren’t that big a deal? They really didn’t become a "thing" until about 10 or 15 years ago. Hobbyists knew about them, and some of us even kinda-sorta collected them, but generally they didn’t elicit much of a reaction except among the true diehards.

The one good thing about Chalkies being not all that cool back then was that you could amass a fairly decent sized collection of them, at unscary prices. I can't recall exactly how many I have at the moment, but it's definite in the dozens.

One that I do regret not acquiring - back when I could - was the Horned Hereford Bull.

Some Chalkies are more rare or more desirable than others, and he certainly falls in that category. He’s not the rarest of Chalkies, but he inspires the kind of prices that make it seem so. Part of the reason so is because he’s what I call an Anomalous Chalky - Chalkies that weren’t made during the "Chalky Era," ca. 1973-1976.

A lot of hobbyists tend to think of these Anomalous Chalkies as being even more desirable than the standard Chalky Era Chalkies precisely because ... they’re anomalous. Chalkies from the 1950s and 1960s just have to be more rare and more valuable than the ones from the 1970s!

Actually, it’s hard to determine. I think they are a little scarcer than later Chalkies because of the way the technique was employed back then. A substantial portion of the Breyer line - not all, but most models - were made as Chalkies during the Chalky Era out of sheer necessity. Some of those Chalkies are definitely harder to find than others, but finding any Chalkies from that time period isn’t all that difficult. I picked up three or four of them this year, alone.

(I know, I know, my flea markets are better than yours. Blah blah etc.)

The Anomalous Chalkies - especially the earliest ones, from the 1950s - were made on a case by case, as-needed basis. Ran out of white plastic? Mold them in whatever color we’ve got, and paint ‘em over. Need a few pieces in another color to fill an order? Repaint the overstock.

Is it possible that some of the individual Chalky releases from the 1970s might be more rare than some from the 1950s and 1960s? Yes. The problem in determining that isn’t just one of time (its ravages, and the distance) but also of knowledge. There are a lot of low-information hobbyists out there that do not know what they have. Look at how many collectors still can’t tell the difference between the Family Arabians and the Old Molds, especially when the consequences of not knowing are so darn high!

The other Horned Hereford rarity may come as a surprise: it’s the Matte version. Yep, they made them in Matte, albeit very (very) briefly at the end of his very long run in 1981. Hobbyists are accustomed to assuming that the Glossy version of any given model is the rarer or more desirable one, but that’s not always the case.

The Horned Hereford Bull is one of those special cases. I know he’s rare, because I’ve been searching for one, unsuccessfully, for several years now. I don’t know if he’s more rare than the Chalky, but I think I’ve only seen one verifiable Matte in the past ten years. It wasn’t in the best condition, so I passed him by.

Silly me won’t be making that mistake again.


Sara said...

My question is, are there also Chalky-Era herefords? I have an example of the one your post it about, the un-masked chalky. But were masked chalkies made in the 1970s as well?

ANDREA said...

I don't know. I haven't seen any, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. If they do, they fall into the "really scarce" category.

Carrie said...

Do you know if the pre-chalky era chalkies include both basecoat & plastic chalkies, or are they just basecoat?