Thursday, February 25, 2016

Plain is the New Fancy

I’ve been sick almost to the point of being bedridden the past day and a half – some horrible nastiness at work that finally caught me – and while I now think the worst of it is behind me, it’ll probably be a while before I’m up to full speed again. So if you’ve been expecting a response from me, it might be another day or two yet.

So I will keep it simple today. Here’s a picture of one of my old favorites, the “Alabaster” (White, really) Running Stallion, released from 1968-1971. I liked this release so much I actually bought one at full market price, instead of waiting for the flea market to provide me one:

I am a little baffled by some of the online commentary – instigated by the release of the Croi Damsha Banks Vanilla – that berates Alabaster (and to a degree, Solid Black) paint jobs as lazy. While they are certainly less complex, they are not necessarily “lazy”.

In fact, I’d argue that a soft light Alabaster or White paint job like Banks Vanilla is no less difficult to execute than another color that may require more layers of paint or masking. Most of the work involved in an Alabaster paint job isn’t in the painting technique, but in the prep work.

Since minor flaws or imperfections cannot be hidden or camouflaged by painting or masking, the prep work on the model – the molding, seamwork, deburring, and cleaning – has to be held to a higher standard.

And contrary to common belief, the white plastic itself is not “unpainted”: anyone who has seen a true unpainted model next to a vintage Alabaster knows they are nothing alike. The surface of unpainted models have a certain sparkle or sheen to it that is removed during the production process.

I’m not entirely sure how the process goes today, but in the Chicago years that sheen was usually dealt with by the application of a Clear Matte or Gloss topcoat. Typically it was done after most of the details were paint on, but that was not always so in the case of Alabasters. Often the gray paint was applied last, which is why that gray paint tends to rub so easily.

The application of the Clear Matte topcoat during the Chicago era was inconsistent, however, and sometimes dispensed with altogether with releases that had only minor bits of white, like the Traditional Man o’ War. In the more modern (Reeves) era they have been similarly inconsistent, though most of the Matte-finished releases get “deglossed”, at least.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just want to know why models with barely any paint on them at all are the same price as fully painted models. Or when you compare Vanilla to Emma, the Fell Pony, actually cost MORE? What are we paying for? Is the paint free? Are the painters not getting paid?

I'm not trying to be snarky, I'm honestly curious.