Friday, May 6, 2011

Rehabilitating Khemo

In other less than important news, I had my first official "BreyerFest Nightmare" for the year. Remember those dreams you used to (or maybe still do) have about high school? Showing up for class to discover that there’s a huge test you didn’t study for, a term paper due you knew nothing about, or suddenly realizing that you’re naked?

Yeah, like that, except with forgotten horses, money and reservations instead of tests and term papers. There’s been the occasional BreyerFest dream with missing clothes, but those don’t seem to elicit the same amount of terror as forgetting to bring my paperwork or not setting my alarm clock for the NPOD.

What it means, though, is that I really need to get my act together re: BreyerFest. All I’ve done so far is a preliminary sketch of what I’m going to do for the Happy Ending Contest. I guess I know what I’m doing this weekend! (Depending on the weather, of course.)

Since I still haven’t processed the new archival stuff yet, I’ll have to resort to another show and tell. Since the Lady Roxana went over so well, we’ll go with another less-than-lovely: Khemosabi! And not just any Khemo, but the #766 Arabian Stallion, in a most peculiar variation of an allegedly realistic color: Dappled Rose Gray.

Slightly later examples are less challenging to the eyes. Toning him down, I think, was a mistake. Everyone - from the top down - is very, very aware of the mold’s shortcomings. Putting an ordinary paint job on him doesn’t camouflage them. If you're going to release a new Khemo to the world, you might as well - as the saying goes - "go big, or go home."

As far as what exactly went wrong with the mold itself - well, it was the confluence of many, many bad things. You had a sculptor who wasn’t quite up to the task, inadequate or inappropriate reference materials, issues with the moldmaking process itself, and Heaven knows what else. (Gypsy curse? Bad Chinese food? Zombies?)

He did not turn out how anyone hoped, or intended.

There was discussion by the powers that be, early on, about remedying some of the mold’s aesthetic issues, but I think the decision was ultimately made to just … let it go. Hardcore hobbyists may have found him laughable, pathetic and sad, but the general buying public was much more forgiving: the original release of the mold as Khemosabi ran for a fairly respectable six years. No need to fix something that the rest of the world didn’t think was broken.

And a few years later, after he was originally discontinued in 1995, there was a surprisingly robust run on the original Khemo on eBay. Fan of the flesh-and-blood Khemosabi started snapping up the plastic versions at a healthy clip, for increasingly robust price tags: $100+ price tags on NIB examples were not unusual.

There’s only been one other release of this mold, as the 2003 Christmas Horse "Silent Night." His paint job wasn’t any great shakes - a light, fleabitten gray - but his snazzy green and gold outfit, dripping with tassels, made up for the lack of drama.

I’m sure there are a few test color Khemosabis floating around out there, though I haven’t seen or heard of any. I wouldn’t turn one down, if I was offered. (Everything - even Khemo - looks better in Gloss Charcoal or Silver Filigree, right?)


BluelineGoddess said...

The thing that makes me laugh the most about him is that tail. It look like a worm escaping from an apple or something... I can overlook his sausage-like body and his uneven legs, but that tail is too much.

A quick Google search showed Pam Stoneburner's website with some pretty neat drawings... but no mention of sculptures. I would guess this lack of sculpting might explain Khemosabi's/Rugged Lark's obvious flaws? I guess like Rudisch with the Lady Roxanna/Sham, Breyer thought that a good 2D artist would be a good 3D artist.

Teresa said...

I've found the photo that he was sculpted from in the past and she caught the pose, just not the real horse. Khemo was a VERY charismatic guy and waaay more gorgeous than his model version.

Anonymous said...

Agreed on the tail, it looks almost obscene. Yucko.

I would buy a chestnut tobiano like "Chili" on Khemo.

Anonymous said...

It's really sad that the model is so godawful, since the real Khemosabi was such a huge influence on the breed and a really gorgeous horse. I know Arab breeders are heavy on the hyperbole, but he's regularly referred to as "the immortal Khemosabi."

Little Black Car said...

I just remember thinking that he made Sham--one of my sentimental favorites whom I will readily admit also has significant flaws--look really good. I know we wanted Khemo to have his own mold but I still wish they'd just used Sham with a Khemo paint job. Oh, well.

Breyer went through some tough years there in the late 1980's through the mid-1990's--Khemosabi, Rugged Lark, John Henry (love ya, JH, but you're not going to win any beauty contests), the lemon-sandy-bay Clydesdale family, the Black Stallion in leopard Appaloosa, screaming acid-yellow buckskins, even-weirder pinto patterns. I don't know what was going on in the color and mold departments. Maybe they hired a bunch of people who had never seen real horses?