Monday, November 11, 2013

Oh, Gee

All I can say of the past few days is that I am ever so glad that I decided against writing a novel this month. (Spare time? What’s that?)

There’s been a bit of discussion on Blab over how next year’s Vintage Club bonus Stablemate came to be. For those not in the know, it’s a G1 (Hagen-Renaker, Maureen Love mold) Draft Horse.

Especially since it’s considered common knowledge that the leases for all the Hagen-Renaker molds were not renewed, quite some time ago. As far as anyone knows, they still haven’t been, though there’s much speculation that maybe there’s been a change in their legal status.

I have no idea if that’s the case. Recent history suggests a more mundane answer: leftover bodies in the warehouse. You know, like the Reissues that appeared at BreyerFest this year, and reappeared on the web site a short while ago, which now appear to rather conclusively be from old molded stock.

As for the quantity in question (500), well, you can store an insane number of Stablemates in a very small amount of space. One of my all-time favorite memories of the "good old days" was at one of Marney’s garage sales, when I plunged my arms into a giant drum full of hundreds Stablemates. My arms were covered in little scratches made from tiny ears and hooves, and I was totally okay with the damage.

I can’t remember the exact dimensions of the drum (three feet deep, at least) but there had to have been several hundred bodies in it, easily. The Draft Horse is on the smallish and more compact side, so 500 pieces in a single drum? Entirely plausible.

(They were 25 cents apiece, by the way. Not rubbing it in, I just know some of you were wondering about it.)

In fact, this little tidbit, from page 303 of the updated Fifth Edition of Nancy Atkinson Young’s Breyer Molds & Models had me tossing and turning one night last week, as I was doing a research project unrelated to the blog. From the entry for the Stablemates Thoroughbred Lying Foal mold:
"However, whereas normal Breyers are made from opaque white cellulose acetate, the keychain foals were cast from a colorless transparent cellulose acetate to which color - amber and black - had been added, according to Stephanie Macejko (conversation of March 1995). Stephanie noted that Breyer molded many experimental foals (which are now in storage) before achieving nicely colored ones…"
A bunch of swirly, allegedly unattractive G1 SM TB Foals now in storage? Is it any wonder I couldn’t sleep? (Wouldn’t they make awesome party favors at BreyerFest next year? Paint them solid silver or leave them as is, we’re not fussy.)

Anyway, back the Vintage Club Drafters…

I am not privy to the legal details involved, so everything that follows is speculation. (I am also not a lawyer.)

The lease could relate specifically to the use of the mold, and not the pre-existing bodies. If that's the case, then Reeves is free to do what they want with the unpainted bodies they have on hand, but is forbidden to mold more.

Extra bodies are a consequence of the molding process, and stockpiling molded bodies for future use has been a standard operating procedure since the beginning of recorded Breyer time. Therefore, it might be difficult to argue that Reeves couldn't sell items molded under the terms of the original lease, especially if both the lessor and the lessee were aware of that procedure when the leases were originally drawn up.

Even with the most sophisticated inventory management systems, it is impossible to predict exactly how many of an item will be needed, or how many will end up damaged or otherwise spoiled. Operating costs also dictate that they have to run a certain number of pieces from a mold every time they drop it, too. (This is why whenever you see a small run on a mold that’s been out of production for forever, it’s either made out of stockpiled bodies, or a precursor to a larger run in the future.)

The argument that they don’t constitute finished/saleable merchandise wouldn't hold up either, since Reeves has been putting unpainted Stablemates in their Activity Kits for years.

What all that pseudo-legalese means is that everyone out there getting all hot and bothered about the possibility of the return of Proud Arabian Mares: you might want to take a deep breath put a few more ice cubes in your drink. There's a very real possibility that nothing has changed.

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