Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On Rarity, Again

I just got a supercool thing in the mail, but since I’m a little crunched for time today, y’all will have to wait a couple of days before I can discuss it in full.

Many of us have gotten used to the using the term "rare" or "exclusive" only when referring to items of exceeding rareness. Since I am somewhat in between topics here, I guess it’s a good time to address the discrepancy between the way I use those words, and the way the rest of the online hobby community does.

Hobbyists who have become blasé about sub-100 piece special runs have forgotten that what they consider "rare" is not what either the greater hobby or the general public considers "rare." The online hobbyist community - and here I refer to those who actively participate in the online community, and not just everyone who has access to a computer - sometimes forgets that it does not encompass the entire hobby.

There are lots and lots of passive, part-time or casual collectors, whose interactions with the hobby may be limited to a subscription to Just About Horses, standing orders with their local toy stores, or lurking online. For many of them, attending BreyerFest - and acquiring any of the special runs distributed there - is out of their reach, physically or financially. All of those special runs, to them, are rare.

Dealer Specials, Web Specials, Treasure Hunt Redemption Horses, and Connoisseur models also fall into this category. If they can’t just walk into a store and buy it when they want it, it’s rare.

That’s why I so often rail about the lack of precision in Reeves’ language. The words they chose were calibrated to a certain segment of the hobby - ironically, to the ones always complaining about Reeves not catering to their specific wants and desires - but did not take the members of the larger hobby into consideration.

Like a certain acquaintance of mine.

I just made a rather big sale (nearly half my saleslist!) to a very nice gentleman whose interaction with the greater hobby is rather limited. He subscribes to JAH, corresponds with a few other hobbyists, but buys most of his models locally. I’m not sure how he managed to get my name, but he always calls me after BreyerFest for the latest gossip - and my sales list.

Most of the stuff that populates my sales list, at any given time, consists of items that most of the online hobbyist community does not consider rare, like this rather nice #103 Appaloosa Yearling. I get most of my "stock" from the flea market, thrift stores, and occasionally from online auction lots: super-rare stuff doesn’t turn up in those venues very often. When it does, I tend to keep it.

(I almost kept this Yearling, incidentally. I already have six other variations, so she had to go.)

While the items I sell to him aren’t considered rare and desirable to us, they are to him. His notions about rarity are shaped by what’s available to him. In his sphere, rarity is a word that can extend to items manufactured in the thousands, not merely the dozens.

So yes, many items sold at the warehouse sale would definitely fall into his definition of "rare."

1 comment:

Little Black Car said...

Reminds me of one of my recent acquisitions: An old #88 brown overo "Stud Spider" mold. I've wanted this model for, seriously, 20 years, but when I was a kid I couldn't afford him, and when I got older, the ones I found were all mangled. I lucked onto one being sold by another hobbyist for $15, and he's absolutely gorgeous. Great condition, great shading, not yellowed.

She considered him just another middle-aged OF Breyer, but he was totally one of my Holy Grail models.