Sunday, April 12, 2015

Prune Brown

Head’s up: I’ll be starting to sell stuff again within the next week or so. The outdoor flea market season opens soon here, and I will need some walking-around-money for that.

The Special Run we thought would be a vintage model turned out to be the Croi Damsha in Dappled Sooty Palomino: it’s the very antithesis of a Vintage Model. Huh. I wasn’t expecting another release on that mold until the Fall.

You know, from a distance, in passing, and if I wasn’t wearing my glasses, a Palomino Croi Damsha could pass for a Palomino Family Arabian Stallion. There’s that, at least.

(Hmm. A Reissue Palomino FAS in Dappled Sooty Palomino. I had not considered that a possibility until now.)

The final model in the Ticket Special Lineup will be a Gloss Dappled Rose Gray Wixom, if the rotating banners on the Breyer web site are to be believed. (A Percheron, finally!) Unless it turns out to be a different kind of something, like a Store or Souvenir Special.

Regardless of what she is, I doubt her inclusion there is an accident. It feels more like a way to drum up interest for the last weekend of Early Bird Ticket sales: Let’s drop a previously unknown/unseen Gloss Special Run on the front page!

Back on topic. Here are a couple of actual Vintage Models: a pair of Western Ponies in Dark Brown and Black Beauty:

The Dark Brown variation is comparatively rare; it appears that it was only issued ca. 1956, or shortly after the discontinuation of the Davy Crockett Horse and Rider set. It really was listed as "Dark Brown" on at least one piece of ephemera from the era, so it was a genuine release, and not a variation.

My theory for its existence - and relative rarity - is that the #40 Dark Brown release was created to help use up the "Plum Brown" acetate that was purchased for the manufacture of the Davy Crockett Horse and Rider set. The Davy Crockett fad faded almost as quickly as it rose, and Breyer may have been stuck with a load or two of Plum Brown plastic.

But not too much: the Brown Western Ponies aren’t easy to find today, and (as far as I know) there aren’t any other Plum Brown models floating around, other than the Fury/Prancers. The "Brown and Gold" Western Horses that occasionally cause a stir on eBay are just early (and not very good) knockoffs.

The color of the Brown Western Pony is dark enough that in the right setting and the right lighting, it’s almost indistinguishable from the Star-faced Black Beauty, so it might be slightly more common than we actually think. And the Star-faced Black Beauty slightly more rare.

Through the 1950s and early 1960s, Breyer seemed to have an "as above, so below" policy when it came to the Western Horses and Ponies. Except for the Dark Brown - and the Star-faced Black Beauty Ponies, who share the same item number. That, and their decorative similarities lead us to the conclusion that the Star-faced Black Beauty Western Ponies were the variation - of the Dark Brown, created when the Plum Brown plastic finally ran out.  

Due to the ephemera gaps of the 1950s, we can’t be sure when the transition happened. It was somewhere between 1956 and 1958, since the No. 40 Western Pony is listed on a 1958 dated price list - and is shown in a ca. 1958 Dealer Catalog - as "Black Beauty". I tend to believe it was earlier rather than later, hence my "ca. 1956" dating.

On a final note, I have to admit that I snicker a little bit every time I see or hear the term "Plum Brown" used to describe this brown plastic we’ve been discussing today. "Plum Brown" has always struck me as a very pleasant euphemism for the word "Prune".

We’re very fond of describing horse colors using food words: Olive Bay, Mulberry Gray, and Peach Dun. But Prune Brown? It doesn't sound quite so yummy.

1 comment:

Denise said...

Back in the day we used the term "chocolate" to describe the dark brown Western Pony, which is what I'm used to. Maybe that term isn't used anymore, but it sounds delicious-talking about foods that is!