Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The First Overo

I’ve been the recipient of all kinds of news over the past several days - good, bad and disconcerting - so I’m feeling a little out of sorts today. Nothing I need to make public yet, though a few friends might be on the receiving end of some entertaining rants very soon.

(Ever hear the term "roving right fielder?" That’s what I’m feeling like, right now.)

Now here’s something that I bet most Breyer collectors haven’t given much thought about: who - or what - was the first Breyer overo pinto?

It’s not who you think it is:

Yes, it was the #113 Black Pinto Western Prancing Horse, introduced a good seven or eight years before Yellow Mount arrived on the scene in 1970.

That’s assuming that the white mane and tail on the WPH were not intended as the consequence of his pinto-ness. I think it the white mane and tails on most early Breyer pintos was just another weird quirk in their painting standards, kind of like the solid leg on tobianos thing has become today. No one I knows refers to plain, straight-up Charcoals as even the most obscure kind of pintos. (Though I’m sure someone could come up with a reference photo somewhere.)

(BTW, even I’m starting to get a little annoyed by the solid-legged tobiano thing. I’m pretty laissez-faire on the issue - it’s the boilerplate griping from other hobbyists every new release sparks that’s really starting to cheese me off. It’s not cute or funny anymore, Reeves. Controversy doesn’t always automatically lead to more sales.)

Yes, Prancing Horse’s markings are more abstract and stylized than the standard, real-life overo, but so were most Breyer pintos, prior to Yellow Mount. That stylization was a result not of ignorance, but of the existing state of their painting technology back then; fancier, more detailed paint masks were more expensive to make, and easier to break.

The investment of time and money into the painting mask for Yellow Mount was another signifier that Breyer was moving towards catering to the hobbyist market, and their demands for greater realism.

I don’t think Breyer ever referred to the Western Prancing Horse as an "Overo" Pinto; they didn’t start using the terms Overo and Tobiano until the 1970s, and even then they applied it either inconsistently, or incorrectly.

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