Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Edge Case

I used to fantasize about what the homeliest, least desirable Special Run in the world could be. At one point, I thought a Metallic Lime Green Khemosabi with Magenta points could be it.

What would most hobbyists do, presented with a model like that - something really rare, but also really homely? Especially if the quantity was very low, and the price was very high? What desire would win out?

You’d be able to find at least a handful of people to buy such a thing, because some people would buy anything, some people would buy it for sheer absurdity of it, and some people actually even like Khemo. (He does have a nice head and neck.) Even so, I couldn’t see more than a handful selling, because Metallic Lime Green Khemosabi, yo.

At least, that was what I thought until this week.

Naturally I thought I’d at least have a shot at the Marshall. It’s a Polled Hereford Bull: not many people collect those, beyond the standard one (and in very rare cases, the Woodgrain as two.) It’s Gloss Splash Spot Black Pintaloosa: again, not all that popular a color combo, especially on a Bull, for Heaven’s sake. And the price was a heady (though not completely unreasonable) $225, $75 more than the last super-scarce Bull SRs, last year’s Vault Sale Logan and Colton.

He’s as close as Reeves has ever gotten to actually issuing a Metallic Lime Green Khemosabi.

Alas, in spite of my best efforts - and those of several others entering for me - there will be no Marshall at my doorstep by Christmas. My little herd of Polled Hereford Bulls shall be leaderless. I’m not even going to entertain thoughts of wait lists.

I briefly considered buying one second hand, but the prices I’ve seen so far are far out of the range of what I’m willing to pay. The price I paid for my half dozen PHBs, combined, doesn’t add up to the minimum bid most Marshalls are starting at. And I certainly haven’t seen many willing to trade it for anything.

I’m trying to take solace in the whole affair by looking at it as a lab experiment of my hypothetical Lime Green Khemosabi in action. Actually, a better term for this is "edge case": as something pushed so far out to the edges of known or acceptable parameters of its particular case that it challenges what those parameters actually are.

Looking at the fact that there were over a dozen Marshalls up for sale less than 24 hours after the notifications went out, I think I now know the answer to the question of the Lime Green Khemo: Money beats weird and homely.

I think it is interesting that in recent cases when items similar to this have been offered on a "first-come, first-served" basis, the likelihood of immediate reselling appears to be less than when it is offered on a raffle basis. There were immediate resells of Logan, Colton, and Ghost but not half of their 40 piece runs. Most of the people who did buy them kept them, or sold them discreetly (i.e. not on eBay or MHSP), or at least not immediately.

And in the case of the Christmas Kitten "Angel", it actually took a few days to sell out at all.

I think this is because the primary (though not sole) motivation of buyers in online direct sale situations is its emotional value: a desire for the object in and of itself.

In the case of raffles - online and offline - many people look at them strictly in terms of financial value: whether they really want the item or not is irrelevant. All that matters is that it has value to other people. The cost to enter these raffles is nil, financially and emotionally.

There has always been a market for Bulls in general, and that may be skewing the numbers slightly. Yet I had heard no hue and cry for a PHB SR, and most everyone thinks it funny when I tell them that one of my "Design a Test Color" fantasy models is a Wedgewood Blue PHB. (The other being the FAS Yellow Man o’ War.)

Some Marshalls have resold, and will resell. But then, what of the rest? Will the prices die down to a more reasonable level?

I'm not so sure I could buy even if it did, but I will refrain from saying anything further. I’ve cried the few tears I allow myself for such things, and made some Christmas cookies. And even though I am not a particularly religious person, I will pray also that the next weird-ugly-rare SR is not a FAS Yellow Man o’ War.


Liz said...

I dunno, I thought that "Chestnut Pearl Leopard Appaloosa" San Domingo from the 2012 Breyerfest auction was pretty damn fugly, but someone liked it enough to pay $1200 for it.

Anonymous said...

Ah, it's fun to read how the flippers try to justify it. If only they would step back and take a look at how they sound.

Anonymous said...

I was fortunate enough to get drawn for Marshall, and it seems like I will be one of the few who actually wanted him. I love his color and I am a big fan of the Breyer cattle. It made me really sad to see how many were for sale immediately after the drawing. I know if I had not been drawn, I never would have been able to get him on the secondary market. I was hoping you would be able to get him too, because I know how much you wanted him.

Anonymous said...

I just went and looked him up. Wow, he looks just like the old Stock Horse Mare in black Appaloosa, lol! And that's not a bad thing. I grew up in that era and really liked her!