Anyway, here’s the pretty picture: it’s a cull!
Sometimes it wasn’t anything at all: things would get missed during the production process, especially on models where the finishing details could be subtle, such as the black(er) eyes and gray(er) hooves of an Appaloosa Running Stallion.
If it was noticed, it still might have been the end of the day, or end of the week, a quota had to be made, or an order had to pushed out of the door. Something like this could have been boxed, shrink-wrapped and sent on his merry way, with nothing illicit about his escape.
From his shading, spotting and coloring I’d guess he was a mid-1970s model, from the “White Picture Box” era (ca. 1973-1978). Every Traditional and Classic model back then was, essentially, a surprise model: sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes weird.
This guy was a gift from a friend, at BreyerFest, as a small way of helping me through some of the rough patches this year. She had no idea (or at best, only a faint inkling) of the special place the Black Appaloosa Running Stallion has in my heart. I bought one at the Kentucky Horse Park gift shop during my very first visit there – in 1979!
I still have him (of course) in addition to an early one with a Blue Ribbon Sticker and no USA mark I found at BreyerFest many years later. Interesting: that means all three of my Black Appaloosa Running Stallions (and none of the dozens of others that have passed through my hands, over the years) were acquired in or around the Kentucky Horse Park.
The only slightly bittersweet note to the newest one’s arrival was the revelation of his origins: sometimes a mystery is more powerful and meaningful without a subsequent revelation.
(I wanted to attribute his arrival to Ninjas. Or Fairies. Or the Elevator Gnomes. Maybe I will, the next time the story gets told.)