Monday, November 3, 2014

A Horse for Nerds

Another recent arrival, a gift from a friend during a recent transaction:

I don’t have the original release of Champion to compare, but he appears to be pinker, with more "airbrushy" socks, pinker hooves, and less yellow in the mane and tail than most of the originals I’ve seen online, though not outside the range of production variation.

None of that is really necessary to distinguish him from the original, since he does have completely different reins - silver, and without the handgun bits - and I’m presuming a VIN number too, since I haven’t taken him out of his box yet.

(Oh, I will - it’s just not safe do so in these parts yet.)

I haven’t picked up the original release yet because all of the ones I found around here had issues, mostly with the reins, which were usually broken or mangled in some unique and interesting way. The last official release on the WPH - the 2004 Tractor Supply Special Run Bay, as Annie Oakley’s "Prince" - had similar issues with the reins, and was really quite hard to come by in these parts besides.

That struck me as odd, because the Western Prancing Horse always seemed to be more of a "model horse nerd’s" horse. He doesn’t have the vintage cachet that the Western Horse, Western Pony, and Fury Prancer do, and his molded tack and saddle make it difficult to update him to more modern tastes. I just assumed that like the original Champion - who had a healthy five-year run - the Hollywood/Western tie-in did most of the work selling him. That's what makes the John Wayne horse Dollor, on the Smart Chic Olena mold, so pricey in the secondary market.

("Nerd" is defined here as someone who not ashamed to love something not because of, or in spite of, but regardless of its popularity with the general public.)

I haven’t seen too many of the Reissue Champions floating around secondhand yet, either, which means he’s likely selling to hobbyists who want him for him, not for what they can get for/with him. He has his fans, but it's more like a fanbase for a beloved Character Actor (like "Cuddles" Sakall) than an A-List Movie Star (like Cary Grant).

Once I get some of the inventory issues sorted out around here, I’ll be on the hunt for the handful of WPHs I don’t have in the herd, including an upgraded Chalky Palomino, the black Vigilante, Prince, and of course the original release of the Champion. The Gloss Bay Pinto is not even on the radar.

A vintage Test Color would be nice, but they’re rather scarce on that mold. Even back then, I guess, he wasn’t all that cool. Ah, well, fine by me!


Peggy said...

I too love the WPH. He and the WH are the 2 molds that I buy no matter what color or condition they are in.

I have 2 of the original Champions. One for the collection and one that I removed the pistols from and he sits on my computer table. I haven't had any issues with the reins though.

I just recently was able to find a leopard appy in better condition for my herd so gave the super rubbed one to my niece.

Anonymous said...

If liking the WPH is wrong, then I don't want to be right! (but I only started getting them about 2 years ago, and I've been collecting close to 35 years!)