Monday, March 17, 2014

The Unsellables

I spent most of my waking hours over the weekend organizing the last of the tax paperwork: I sold more, it’s true, but I also bought more, and the difference between what I bought and what I sold is going to be almost identical to last year’s difference.

Funny how that works!

My downfall this year, again, was the retail end: too many store impulse buys. If my schedule continues the way it has been, though, that shouldn’t be much of an issue going forward. (Though I hear rumors of models reappearing at Tuesday Morning. Must. Stay. Away.)

A lot of what I sold was older, lower end items, and quite a bit from the dreaded period from the late 1980s through the mid-1990s: aka, The Age of the Unsellables.

Don’t let the online community fool you: now THAT was the true dark ages of Breyer quality control. Reeves had just taken over production and shipped it to New Jersey - with some, but not all of the Chicago crew. (Just the handful who were willing to move from Chicago to New Jersey.)

Coupled with the fact that Reeves had no idea what it had gotten into - well, it showed. Rough seams, undistinguished paint jobs with masking issues, questionable choices for sculptors, and problems with the plastic itself that later morphed into Shrinkies and Oozies.

Things didn’t seem so bad at the time, because there were some genuine bright spots. The first BreyerFest was in 1990. Models like Breezing Dixie and Precipitado Sin Par were early and moderately successful attempts at more complex paint jobs. Detailed, handpainted eyes and hooves reappeared on certain releases, as did Vintage colors, like Gloss Charcoal on the 1992 release of Memphis Storm.

The darkest parts were the new molds that they gave us: headshakers like Khemosabi and Rugged Lark, and pieces like Roemer and Misty’s Twilight that were more conceptual and "artistic" than realistic. While I didn’t have any problem with more artsy-fartsy molds, the increasingly complex and realistic paint jobs Reeves was putting on them did feel incongruous.

There is room for both approaches, but it’s rather hard to pull off on the same model.

By the end of the decade, however, we had molds like the Silver and the Huckleberry Bey, both of whom are still popular - almost too much so, in Silver’s case. While they may not be up to the almost too rigorous standards of today, consider that only ten years separates them from the likes of Khemo or Rugged Lark. They hardly seem like products of the same company, in retrospect.

Anyway, back to the selling aspect. I haven’t had too much trouble selling "Unsellable" Era models: at the right price, in the right marketplace, you can sell almost anything. I’ve found that New in Box items from that era sell moderately well at low - but not unreasonably so - prices.

For out of box items, it all depends on condition and relative quality - is it a good piece compared to others of the same kind? Is it something that at least has moderate value as a body (Adios, Lady Phase, G1 Stablemates, Love Classics)?

Fortunately for me, most of the items I resell from this era I pick up from my usual haunts, so my emotional and financial investment is not very substantial to start. For what they are and for what I invest in them, I do fine.

There is no model so homely that it cannot be loved by anyone.

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