I’ll spare you the gruesome details, and only give you the one word sufficient to end all inquiries on the quality of that awfulness.
(See? I told you it was a conversation stopper!)
Now that that bit of nastiness is out of the way, onto more pleasant things. I had to do a little reorganization of the storage area yesterday, and in the process I just so happened to find one of my older Pit Samples:
It’s the Shaded Bay Quarter Horse Gelding, from the 2001 J.C. Penney XMAS Catalog SR "Riding Academy Set," sans Rider Doll and the Grooming Kit. He was wrapped in a bag with some bubble wrap, along with a bunch of other models heaped in a pile. Since I was, and am rather fond of the QHG, I picked him up and carried him to the register with the rest of my booty.
That year, by the way, was 2006. I didn’t think much of the disparity of time, assuming that he was just a leftover who overstayed his welcome in the office or warehouse. It was a reasonable assumption: I can’t remember if it was that year, or a year previous, that they had boxes of the spare Grooming Kits and Dolls for sale, separately.
He was - and is - in immaculate condition, so I know he was never boxed or packaged in any way, whatever the case. I haven’t had the time or inclination to dig any deeper, or compare him with other examples to look for any significant differences. In light of the more recent Samples found in the Pit, it might be a good idea.
The provenance is good enough for me, for now, though.