Monday, December 15, 2014

Another Family Arabian Mystery

In the comments about the Palomino "B" mark FAF, commenter Denise noted the existence (in her possession) of non-Palomino Family Arabians with the B mold mark.

When I read that, I had an a-ha! moment: could this be the evidence, at last, for the Walmart Special Run from ca. 1983?

I remember hearing about it in passing not long after it allegedly happened: a Special Run Gray Appaloosa Family Arabian set made specifically for Walmart stores. I didn’t hear or see much about it after the initial rumors; indeed, the only other reference I have for it is in the early Test Color/Special Run Lists compiled by hobbyist Jill Rademacher (now Gutierrez).

This was back when Walmart was still a regional chain, and not the retail juggernaut that it has since become. It wasn’t something I could confirm for myself, because the nearest Walmart was hundreds of miles away.

If they even existed at all, hobby interest in them waned quickly. They were Family Arabians in a previously issued color: that’s the very definition of uninteresting. I assumed that if they did exist, they would have been indistinguishable from later Regular Run Matte Gray Appaloosas, who also had USA mold marks. Those seemed a little more common than I thought they should be for something that ran only a year, anyway, so it seemed plausible.

For a while I tried to determine if there was a subtle or not-so-subtle difference in the paint jobs, but there’s so much natural variability with the Gray Appaloosa color that I quickly gave up.

For many years after their discontinuation from the Regular Run line, Family Arabians of all colors - Matte Alabaster, Bay, Charcoal and Appaloosa - were available on the Bentley Sales Company’s fabled "Discontinued" Lists. They appeared and disappeared on those lists through the late 1970s and up through at least May 1985; the next dated list in my archive is August 1985, and they are all gone.

I used to think that all the Family Arabians on that list were old backstock, and that maybe some of the Gray Appaloosa ones might have been leftovers from that Mystery Walmart Special. But again, there wasn’t any way I could prove it, and like so many other Breyer mysteries, it got tossed into the "look into it later" pile.

It didn’t occur to me that I should have started to look for items with the B mold mark. It was right around the same timeframe. Duh.

With the possible existence of B mold marked non-Palomino Family Arabians, now I have to consider other questions.

If the Walmart Family Arabians did exist, were other colors - maybe all the other previously issued colors - going to be a part of that program?

Were some of the models sold to Bentley Sales (and other mail order houses) basically Reissues made specifically for them - in whole, or in part - during the B Mold Mark Era?

Or were they part of some unrelated program that never launched, only to end up in the warehouse - and then sold to mail-order houses?

Were the non-Palomino B-marked Family Arabians even distributed by mail-order at all, or just Tests and Samples mixed into the detritus that was sold off in the mid-1980s, when the Chicago factory was cleaned out? There were lots of Tests and Oddballs in that stuff, and I could see them slipping out undetected...

Always more questions than answers with these darn Family Arabians!


Denise said...

Thanks Andrea for this great information! I've never heard of a SR made for Walmart back then, let alone Matte Gray Appy Family Arabs! I have a complete set of these B-stamp Matte Gray Appies-Stallion, Mare, and 2 Foals, and also the Matte Charcoal B-Stamp Stallion. Very interesting! The Appies look almost identical to the originals, except the pinking is a bit brighter. I thought maybe these were samples for the Gray Appies that came out around that same time (Stock Horses, Performance Horse, etc.). Thanks again for your insight/input!

Denise said...

Oh I should add: I hadn't heard of "B-Stamp" Matte Appy Family Arabs! That would help!

Carrie said...

Holy schmucka, THIS is the type of hobby talk that really gets me drooling! Reading those earlier comments did put a rather large question mark in my head; then again, I had no idea Walmart even existed in 1983, much less was a Breyer retailer. Thank you for another interesting theory (& yet another reason to be caught checking out plastic pony crotches)!

For as much as many in the hobby pooh-pooh the Family Arabs, they have some of the most fascinating history.

C. Hiser said...

Where exactly is the "B" stamp...inner thigh? If so, none of my Bentley Sales Family Arabs have them (charcoals, alabasters, grey appies).