Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Marks of Larks

After pontificating about my disinterest in minor color or finish variations, I will now show you the kind of minor variations I do see fit to have in my collection:

No, it’s not the color that piqued my interest in these Rugged Larks - though the difference is a nice little bonus. What I find significant between the two: one has a mold mark, and the other does not. (BTW, yes, I did discuss the unmarked one before, here briefly.)

The mold mark is so small and slight that most hobbyists would consider it just as inconsequential - if not moreso - than the color. It’s a small, flat area with a copyright symbol and the words "BREYER REEVES" next to it. If you weren’t looking for it, you wouldn’t see it. (I’m not even going to try and photograph it!)

The model without the mold mark is, naturally, the earlier one; there’s even a third #450 Rugged Lark with yet another mold mark - the number 97, added to the mold when Lark was reissued in 1997. (That one I do not have. Yet.)

I consider minor mold variations to be far more significant - and interesting - than minor paint variations, because unlike paint jobs, the changes are intrinsic to the mold itself.

All models painted on a given day may look different, but all models molded on that same day are going to be structurally the same - unless there was a repair or tweak made to the mold that very day, mid-production. If you’re familiar with the injection molding process, you know that this is very unlikely.

Because they are not so easily or quickly modified, mold changes are traceable through time in a way that paint jobs are not. Even if the changes only involve the subsequent removal of an added mold mark, it can still leave evidence behind. Such as in the case of the early Sea Stars, which I’ve discussed in greater detail in an earlier post, here.

By tracking minor mold variations, we are able to more precisely date models of questionable origins, and discover "hidden" Special Runs and Reissues otherwise indistinguishable from Regular Runs, like my Bloodhound with the USA mold mark.

(The #325 Bloodhound was discontinued in 1968 - well before the addition of the USA mold mark ca. 1970!)

The fact that Reeves apparently has - or had - several skids worth of older bodies with earlier mold marks does complicate things, though I hope that our current standards of documentation will render the issue moot.

What’s scary here is not my obsession over mold marks, but the fact that I have four different Rugged Larks in my collection, even after the culling. I only culled a fifth because the BreyerFest SR The Lark Ascending has become something of a minor grail, and I wanted to make room, just in case.

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