Monday, February 15, 2016

The Little Valegro

There is almost always some difference between the promotional pictures of a new model and the actual production pieces, but with the Stablemates Valegro, the differences are starker than most: while the “promo pic” Valegro has hand painted/masked leg markings similar to the real Valegro, the production Valegros have four generic airbrushed stockings.

Masked markings and finer details tend to be the exception, not the rule, on Regular Run Stablemates releases. Sometimes we’ll see some dappling, or eyewhites, or facial markings, but for the most part that kind of detailing is reserved for higher-end Stablemates releases, like the BreyerFest One-Day SRs, various Holiday-oriented items, and Club and Event giveaways.

Why? It’s probably not cost-effective to put that level of detail into items that will retail in the $3-5 range, individually.

It actually took a considerable amount of time for us to get anything other than a solid paintjob or airbrushed markings on any Stablemates release. Sure, we got Dapple Grays right out of the gate in 1975, but they were discontinued by the end of 1977, presumably because it was difficult to keep those resist dapples in scale.

(Though I think “cornflake” dappled Stablemates would have been kind of cool, personally.)

It wasn’t until 1984 that colors started getting more interesting, and more complicated: that is when we got an old-fashioned Freckle Red Roan in the Riegseckers seven-piece G1 Draft Horse set. Appaloosas appeared in 1992 (the Chestnut Leopard Appaloosa on the QH Stallion, and the Black Blanket Appaloosa on the Morgan Stallion in that year’s Sears Wishbook Stablemate Assortment/Set) and in 1995 we got a Pinto, finally, on the Seabiscuit mold (#5179 Running Paint, in Chestnut Overo – a Regular Run piece!)

Aside from the cost issue, there were also technical ones: in the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s, the technology wasn’t there to make the wee little masks necessary to pull off a nicely detailed Pinto, or to do anything beyond splash-spotted (or hand-spotted) Appaloosas.

We have the technology now, but the cost issues still remain. While Stablemates fanatics are not averse to spending 10-20-30 dollars or more on a single release, the vast majority of consumers (who are not hobbyists, or even particularly “horse people”) are.


LostInAn80sFog said...

You - and Breyer - are not going to let me be a former collector, are you? Masked markings, airbrush markings, I don't care, I'm in LOVE with this little guy! Why do I let you do this to me?

Carrie said...

Size reduction anything is expensive! The pinto Seabiscuit - I remember thinking "Neat, a pinto...kinda." But ya gotta give kudos to Breyer for putting in the effort for nice 3" horses.

Had you ever noticed that in the last few holiday assortments made for catalogs there was one model in the set with a higher level of detail/complexity to the paintjob?