Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Poodle Cuts

Let me tell you, yesterday was a day. It started out great - yes, there is a Banff on the way to my house! But it ended with me having a partially shaved head for the duration. What I thought was going to be a minor medical procedure involving a short-term comb over will now be less minor, and may involve at least a month of creative headcoverings.

(Long story. Really, it’s nothing serious, just unsightly and inconvenient.)

Anyway, Banff has made me think about other potential animal Special Runs in the not-too-distant future. Although the Special Runs for next year’s BreyerFest are likely already set, outside of a few details, I’m hoping that the Big Poodle (aka the "French Poodle", as it was identified in its earliest ephemera appearances) is among them. Either as the designated nonhorse Special Run, or something in the souvenir-heavy store off to the side:

With a dog coat, because a commemorative BreyerFest dog coat would be adorable, and a nice nod to Vintage collectors who avidly seek out the scarce felt-coated Poodles of Christmas Catalogs Past. They gave us a collar for the 2003 BreyerFest Boxer Duke, so why not? It wouldn’t take much effort to adapt a horse blanket pattern to fit.

The Big Poodle mold has been out of commission since 1973. The biggest factor in the mold’s retirement was the mold itself: because of the complexity of the head and legs and its heavily curled coat, it takes a lot of plastic to mold one. The irregular, deeply cut surface of the mold also leads to other molding issues, including mold flow lines and short shots.

A lot of plastic, and a lot of potential waste: for the number of pieces that were selling in a given year, he was getting a little too expensive to manufacture. That was also at the beginning of the Chalky Era, so that had to have been a factor as well. Shooting Cellulose Acetate of variable color, quality and origin into a mold with some manufacturing challenges? Yeah, time to let him go.

In the early days, Breyer mitigated some of those cost problems by cutting the cost the only other way possible: the paint job. The earliest Poodles were barely painted at all, outside of a little detailing on the face and the collar. Even the Black ones: the earliest Black Poodles were molded out of solid black plastic that necessitated, at most, a bit of gloss.

Like my example, above. Who is also without a mold mark; the mold was in production for three years before the circular mold mark debuted, so it’s not uncommon to find him without one. (Its absence also makes price negotiations at nonretail establishments a little easier.)

The Matte "Silver" Gray Poodle that replaced the Black and the White in the late 1960s wasn’t much more sophisticated; he had shading, but the curls in the coat did most of the work there. The Woodgrain was somewhat more complicated, but the market for Woodgrains was a bit different: they could, and did, charge more for them.

It’s been over 40 years. We’ve seen the revival of molds like the Racehorse and the Fury Prancer, the return of Decorators, the introduction of Translucents, and the release of items as exotic as a Glossy White Moose with blue eyes and a Silver Filigree Buffalo.

A Poodle for a French-themed BreyerFest? Not the least bit exotic. Nay, it seems like a perfectly logical choice, to me.

1 comment:

bubbasmom said...

Oh, I wanted a Banff SO badly, but I didn't get drawn for this one:^(

Looking forward to seeing pics of yours!