Monday, March 25, 2013

Wabi-sabi and the Model Horse

I wasn’t expecting Halo to be the second Vintage Club release this year, as long time readers know by now. I interpreted Reeves words cleverly rather than obviously, which I should know not to do by now, considering my recent success rate on predictions.

So I won’t even hazard a guess on the mold for the BreyerFest Gambler’s Choice/Surprise model this year, except to note - as others have - that the descriptive term they’re using for it (CC Shuffle) is a reference to a style of line dancing. (So, something gaited?)

What I want is something with a saddle - Western Horse, Western Pony, Western Prancing Horse, Fury/Prancer - but realistically, I don’t see that happening. (Wouldn’t a Leopard Appaloosa Western Horse be awesome?)

Speaking of, I did finally get to see the Retro Release Roany Chestnut Appaloosa Western Pony last week and liked him a whole lot more than I thought I would. I didn’t buy one - trying to keep a tight rein on my budget, still - but if they should offer it up at a discounted price later in the year like they did with the Pinto Prancer, I just might.

The other new release that really caught my eye - and by surprise - was the latest on the Smart Chic Olena mold, a portrait of Topsails Rien Maker. I’m not the kind of person who gets super excited over Another Chestnut Quarter Horse release, especially on a mold that’s already seen a more than a few, but it was darn hard walking out of the store without him.

I loved the fact that - aside from the bang up job on the color, overall - they also incorporated the real Rien Maker’s Bend Or spots into the paint job. I’m not ashamed to admit that it’s those little details that make my heart grow fonder.

I think the first time Breyer actually incorporated a natural-occurring color "imperfection" into a portrait model was with the 1989 Limited Edition Abdullah, on the Trakehner mold. I was just as taken with it then - it being the Trakehner mold and a rather detailed paint job overall didn’t hurt, either.

(Sorry for the subpar picture - he really is much prettier in real life.)

The incorporation of these natural "flaws" has received rather mixed reviews, however, from hobbyists. While some appreciated the extra effort made to capture the unique characteristics of individual horses, others were dismayed by what looked like (to them) obvious manufacturing errors. There was quite a bit of consternation, for instance, when the 1999 Special Run Five-Gaiter Will Shriver came with only one eyewhite, and the 2003 USET Special Run Brentina came with white flecks, both reflecting actual characteristics of the portrait horses themselves.

Hobbyists are so accustomed to striving for perfection that any deviations from it - even if it’s something actually seen on the horse they’re trying to duplicate - tends to stand out. And not favorably so, in some eyes. 

That desire for a perfection that cannot be (realistically) achieved in real life is one of the reasons why I tend to think that the hobby can never truly be a "re-creation of the real horse world, in miniature". As I’ve said before, I think the hobby is more it’s own thing than just a shadow of something else. 

Striving to create the "perfect horse, in miniature" is totally fine, if that’s your goal. The wabi-sabi aesthetic is not for everyone. But surely there’s room enough in the hobby for both approaches - and the entire spectrum in between, right?


SubaruWolf said...

This post reminds me of the white marking inside the left nostril of Breyer's model of Zenyatta's foal. My friend got one first and thought that it was a flaw but when I got mine, we were both surprised to find he had the exact same white inner nostril.

Turns out the real horse does have that white nostril, it had just translated kind of oddly to the model.

Here's a picture of my model's nose:

And the third photo down at this link shows the real colt and the pale spot inside his nostril:

Julie said...

Hurrah for mentioning wabi-sabi in the hobby. :)