Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My Elusive Electroplated Grail

Have we seen any BreyerFest auction models yet? It feels like we’re overdue. Normally I haven’t been all that interested in those things, but since Reeves seems to have been placing more actual Test Colors in the auction lately, I’m beginning to see them more as "Sneak Peeks of Future Releases", rather than "Things I Shall Never Have". (A healthier attitude to take, I think.)

It just occurred to me this week - yes, I can be a bit slow sometimes - that next year’s BreyerFest will be the 25th one. Wouldn’t it be appropriate if they somehow commemorated the Silver Anniversary of BreyerFest with another Silver Stablemate?

That’s sort of what the original G1 Saddlebred was created for, back in 1975: it was to commemorate Breyer’s 25th Anniversary. It was a very early example of a promotional piece - one given back then to sales reps, jobbers and worthy (profitable) customers. Most hobbyists didn’t know a thing about them until 1990, when one showed up at the first BreyerFest auction, and was later featured in an issue of Just About Horses.

The Saddlebred was chosen because it was the first completed Stablemates mold, and unlike the other Stablemates molds back then, it was not paired up with another. This was important because the plastic that was used to create these Saddlebreds was ABS, not Tenite. ABS - acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, commonly called (in the hobby) Styrene - is the same stuff they use for all Stablemates today. (Except for the occasional special runs that specifically advertise otherwise.)

It was used in this instance because ABS can be electroplated, while Tenite (Cellulose Acetate) cannot.

Of course, when I heard about the Silver Saddlebred, it crushed me. The G1 Stablemates were what really put me on the road to ruin as a hobbyist. Traditional scale horses were for birthdays and holidays, but Stablemates? Stablemates I could buy myself - for just a dollar, at the Kmart down the road! I quickly became obsessed with them and completing my collection.

Finding out about the Silver Saddlebred was the first inkling that that would never happen.

I managed to hold on to the dream until the late 1990s: I kept the collection up to date and (nearly) complete until then, when the sheer weight of new releases (and new molds) finally did me in. I still buy ones I like - or I can find - whenever I can.

But that Silver Saddlebred eluded me then, and will probably always elude me. He became a "Grail Model" for a lot of hobbyists, and when they do (on occasion) show up on the market, the prices are several degrees beyond my comfort zone.

(That’s part of the reason why, in spite of my adoration of Peter Stone Chips, I simply cannot collect them in any meaningful way, either. I love that little mule!)

Allegedly they made about a 1000 of those silver-plated curiosities, so it’s still possible that I could find one: that’s not super-duper rare, in the scheme of things. Most Special Runs from the 1970s and early 1980s had significantly smaller runs. Maybe I might get lucky some night on eBay, with a late night Buy It Now, or something…

If they do go that route and make another Anniversary model, I’m not particular: almost any mold will do. As long as it comes with a velvet-lined box - or even better! - a teeny tiny velvet bag.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Even if 3,000 of the Silver Saddlebred had been made, they'd probably be almost impossible to find today for the same reason that the post-G1 Stablemate molds have thicker legs...styrene is much more fragile than tenite, so even minor falls often cause breaks. :-( I so wish Breyer would go back to using tenite...