Tuesday, November 5, 2013

An Uncommon Hope

I did get my JAH Annual the other day; I haven’t had a chance to look it over too closely because I’ve been preoccupied with older and more pressing business. I did notice that this year’s Volunteer Special Clydesdale Mare was given a name after all: Opry. At least, I think it’s Opry: I also noticed a higher percentage of typos than average, so for all we know, it could be Oprah. (Which would be fitting, since Oprah’s name was misspelled on her birth certificate!)

Since I am in the middle of a project with a deadline (Not NaNoWriMo! Thbpp!) here’s another interesting Variation I dug up during the recent inventory - on a Yellow Palomino Family Arabian Mare:

Her facial markings are masked! It’s a little hard to tell because the color is so light, but it’s not the softer airbrushing typical of the standard Breyer bald face. There’s a definite edge and shape to it.

I thought at first that it was either a case of someone getting creative with the nail polish remover, or just one of those random production variations that turns up from time to time. The collection that I found her in ruled out the first theory, and research on eBay showed me she wasn’t alone in the world, so she wasn’t a one-off, either. She’s legitimately a Variation.

Most hobbyists focus on Variations that occur early in a model’s run, because typically that’s where most of them occur. Either corrections are being made - like with Misty’s pattern or Halla’s star - or simplifications to the production process are.

Less common are alterations that occur near the end of a model’s run. They tend to get overlooked because they occur more frequently on common models with extended production runs: whatever changes are made are attributed to being of the random sort, if they are even noticed at all.  

They’re less common because a model that’s been in production a kajillion years isn’t going to rack up huge numbers at the end of its run, new facial markings or not.

Why these changes were made is more of a mystery. It seems unlikely that they would have thought that a minor tweak in the paint job would boost sales sufficiently to justify another production year.

My guess would be that these kinds of models represent "end runs": last batches of lower-selling items that were made sometime after the last previous batch, to cover projected sales.

It’s possible that they had enough of an item warehoused that the mold wasn’t put into production for an extended period of time. When time came around to making another batch of this item on the verge of discontinuation, maintaining consistency with previously issued pieces was not a high priority. Close enough is good enough.

If some collectors or hobbyists did happen to notice the difference, all the better - and more space in the warehouse! If not, well, it was going to be discontinued anyway. No harm, no foul.


Little Black Car said...

Now I have to go home and check--I think my beloved palomino (not this yellow, though) FAM may also have a masked face. I know it hasn't been altered because I got her new in 1987.

sharonl said...

Did the FAS or FAF in palomino ever come with stenciled faces?

ANDREA said...

I am not sure! Definitely a topic that could use a little more field research.

Anonymous said...

I just checked my mare and she is masked too! At least, the bottom part of her blaze around her pink nose is masked. Like you said, the upper portion is hard to tell, but she is definitely masked around the nose. The person who said 1987 is probably correct on the timing as that is around the time I would have purchased my mare too. Interesting!

Anonymous said...

These were some of the first models made when Breyer was purchased by Reeves and moved to NJ around early 1985 . I remember Mr Werner Fleischmann (Owner of Reeves at the time) asking me to come to a meeting to consult and evaluate products, I remember telling him that the Family Arabs and stock horse Reno ,(Both which had masked blazes), were Taxi cab yellow, and it was not a color collectors would favor! OK prove me wrong now 30 years later maybe collectors do want it!!