Friday, April 17, 2009

Breyer Urban Legend: Black Adios

This one has gotten me in trouble before, so I’ll have to tread lightly.

There is no such thing as a Black Adios Special Run. What you see here is also not a Black Adios: it’s a Mesa, in the extremely handsome and rarely used "Mahogany" paint job. (Few models would not be improved by it!) It’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to a Black Adios, and I’m okay with that:

I see the Black Adios on a lot of want lists as a valid item. Nancy Young listed it as such in her reference bible. And there are just enough of them out there that some folks may actually find one, lending credence to the idea of it being a special run. But what they’re buying isn’t really a special run.

A Special Run item has to have a few things going for it to qualify as a one. One characteristic is consistency: all of the models have to be the same, or nearly the same: one batch might have better shading than another, or slightly different markings, but the variability is relatively narrow.

The second characteristic is limitation: it is either available only for a limited time, in a limited quantity, or only through a specific dealer or venue.

The third characteristic is acknowledgment: it has to be advertised or distinguished from a regular run item.

Not every special run item shares every characteristic, but they do meet at least two of them. "Acknowledgement" probably the most controversial: a lot of early special runs - especially the XMAS catalog items, and the Woodgrain Ranchcraft Lamps - were never advertised as such, but that’s mostly because the term really didn’t exist back then.

"Acknowledgement" mainly applies to later items that are very similar or identical to regular run releases, but were specifically advertised as specials. The most obvious item would be the Toys R Us Bay Fighting Stallion - virtually identical to the regular run release, but sold a special run.

(There’s another subcategory of this kind of special I call Post-Production Specials, which are regular run items rereleased after their original discontinuation, but I’ll leave that esoteric concept for another time.)

The Black Adioses only really meet one of the criteria, and it’s only because of the person who was involved in their creation: Marney. The Adios model was a particular favorite of hers, and the black paint job was an extremely easy one to render. Any Adios cull with reasonably clean seams could quickly, and easily, be transformed into a Black Adios.

Markings on these Adioses varied widely - some had leg markings, facial markings, gray hooves, tan hooves, black hooves - whatever Marney’s mood and the condition of the body allowed.

They were made over a period of years; she didn’t have a stockpile of Black Adioses waiting for shipment or orders to come in. They were made whenever she had access, opportunity, and potential customers. Some were reputedly available as a gift at the end of factory tours (I almost had a chance to go, but it was canceled at the last minute. And when I did finally get a tour - well, another story, another time.)

So they were not limited by time or quantity. There was no real consistency in markings or finish. They were not really advertised as special runs, though Marney was never really consistent with that terminology one way or another either. They were available almost exclusively through Marney, but that’s because she was probably the one making them on an ad hoc basis.

So what do we call them? How do we classify them? It’s a good question I really have no answer for: he’s a unique case. The Black Adios is the Black Adios.

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