Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Defining Things

Went back to the book sale on Monday for the "by the box" sale. I can now safely say that I my book stash is now fully stuffed.

It’s mostly dollar-table stuff, but I generally do pretty well with that. People might hesitate a bit on fifty dollar horses, but not on fifty cent Scholastic paperbacks. Fifty cents here, a dollar there - it all adds up. (Why yes, I do roll my pennies and deposit them in the bank. What, don’t you?)

I’ve been thinking about the term "Grail" a lot in the past couple of days. I don’t have any philosophical or etymological problems with it, the way I do with other hobbyist terms. (Nobody who owns more than a dozen models actually "congas" them, "Congo" is a country in Africa, and hobbiest is NOT A WORD AT ALL. And while I’m on a tear here, may I point out that definitely and defiantly are NOT different spellings of the same word?)

I am a little troubled by its overuse, however. Everything everyone has ever wanted for more than five minutes becomes a "Grail." If you can turn around and get a Grail within six months of it being released in the first place, or with a very large application of money, it’s not a Grail. It’s just something that was on your want list.

When I think of Grails, I think of quests that are years in the making. Models that may not necessarily be "rare," but always seem to elude your grasp, no matter what you do. (And some of the things they make you do are exceedingly stupid.) They taunt you, revealing themselves (casually) in the hands of your nemeses. They walk into your room at BreyerFest in the arms of someone who purchased it in the room next door. (The one you hadn’t had time to visit yet.)

They elude you so that you question whether you’ll ever own them. They make you question if you’re even worthy of owning them. They make you wonder whether the pursuit is even worth all the anguish it's caused you. They make you cry - and make you feel stupid for crying.

Those are Grails.

A Grail is not a singular thing: the heart can hold many different desires. I can rattle off at least a half dozen Grails of my own, each a unique little ache:
  • Traditional Man o War with eyewhites, battleship gray hooves, and a sticker
  • A Presentation Series piece (doesn’t matter which one)
  • A Vintage Decorator (ditto)
  • Woodgrain Polled Hereford Bull Lamp
  • The Ford Pinto Family Foal
  • The 1980s SR Black Blanket Appaloosa POA
The odds of me finding these models via another hobbyist - or at BreyerFest - are exceedingly remote. Oh, some of them will be "available" eventually, but not at a price I can afford (the spare change thing? I really do that.)

I have to depend on lucky strikes on eBay, or at the flea market, and occasionally on the hubris - or outright ignorance - of other hobbyists. This is where the research helps: it’s so much easier to find and acquire rare and wonderful things before everyone else realizes how rare and wonderful they are, too.

Or after everyone has moved on to the latest, trendiest things. I am so glad that I managed to get all the Traditional Man o’ Wars that I’ve got, for instance, before he became cool again. (Didn’t see that one coming, honestly, but glad to have y’all join the party.)


Christi said...

Honestly? I'd like to have the Ford Pinto foal just because I learned to drive in an old baby-blue Pinto (only non-hatchback Pinto I ever saw). Can't justify the money just based on that reasoning, though.

Anonymous said...

Wow- of all people, I'd've bet money that you have not just one vintage decorator but a shelf full. Then again, I guess we all dream of finding one for $10 at a flea market somewhere (and secretly assume everyone else already did).

ANDREA said...

Nope, not a single vintage Deco in the house. I'm not picky - broken ear, missing tail, partially eaten? Not a problem.

My policy is to never spend more than $300 on any one model. Period. Which rules out most vintage Decos. A few have been found locally, so I'm not giving up hope.

I want a Ford Pinto Foal because I have a sneaking suspicion that there are a couple in this area somewhere - I'm less than an hour's drive from Ford World Headquarters, for heaven's sake!

That one could be sitting in somebody's attic nearby haunts me.

Anonymous said...

Part of the rampant misspelling of definitely as definantly comes from an unfortunate autocorrect that offers the wrong word or automatically changes it in a version of Word...

f3dc5ebc-d9b7-11e0-96ca-000bcdca4d7a said...

Somehow my post did not make it. Minor recap below.

I sought a presentation Man O War, because I have a MOW conga and I am missing him, the glossy, and a blue ribbon sticker. He is my grail, and I was outbid threefold when it was over. I suppose I will just keep chasing him :) It is part of the thrill of the hobby.

I has no idea the old guy was popular again.

ANDREA said...

Yeah, I saw the Presentation MOW; my next post will touch on him.

I really don't care which Presentation piece I eventually end up with. I ain't picky. (MOW would be awesome, though.)

I think the current MOW "craze" started with the WEG reissue, and has sort of snowballed from there.

I really, really wish Reeves would do a BFest SR of the MOW in patinated bronze, just like the statue at the KHP.

f3dc5ebc-d9b7-11e0-96ca-000bcdca4d7a said...

That is a must have SR, Breyer are you listening?

Anonymous said...

I don't call multiples of any molds a "conga" I like to call them synchronized :)

bubbasmom said...

I'm still waiting for my beloved QH/molded-on halter for Bfest! Speaking of which, the 2 models I most want are the glossy charcoal QH that was part of the "surprise" at Breyerfest, and The Big Red One Angus bull.

Ha! Like it'll ever happen...but one can dream...(grin)

And thanks again for your blog!