Wednesday, April 15, 2009

When a Chalky isn’t a Chalky

Why the Gray Bucking Bronco was so abruptly canceled at the end of 1966 I have no idea. Did he really sell that poorly, or was there a problem with the paint job? Even though he was technically discontinued, he appears to have been available for at least another year through some mail order dealers. And when those didn’t sell, the remainders were probably repainted and sold - as Black Bucking Broncos.

These former-grays are not chalkies: the new paint job was simply sprayed on top of the old. There was no white basecoat involved. For lack of a better term, I call them paint-overs. And the Bucking Bronco was not the only model to get this particular painting treatment, either.

While the chalky technique was known and used before the Bucking Bronco’s release, it was a spotty and relatively rare occurrence - Breyer was probably salvaging pieces from the cull bins to finish orders and avoid reloading the mold back in the molding machine (a costly and time-consuming effort.)

One of the creative ways Breyer tried to limit culls was through planning. They’d try to release a mold in several different colors simultaneously, with at least one very "light" color and one very "dark" color. The light colors would get painted first, and if you messed up any of those, some of them could be painted over and "salvaged" with the darker paint job.

This paint over technique was used primarily in the era just before - and during - the official "true chalky" era of the early to mid-1970s. It was just one of several salvage techniques in Breyer’s arsenal. They did whatever could to get the job done - and keep costs down.

Didn’t you always wonder why there were so many Black Classic Arabian and Quarter Horse Foals? A lot of those popular blister-card releases were paint-overs. Dapple Gray Proud Arabians with darker than average manes and tails may have started out life as Alabasters. That may be the case with some Gloss Dapple Gray Running Mares and Foal, too: every once and a while I spot one with an exceptionally dark mane and tail, and wonder...

I don’t believe the technique was completely abandoned after the Chalky Era, either. I have some reason to believe that the late 1970s Special Run releases of the Family Arabians and Semi-Rearing Mustang in solid black were paint-overs of flawed production models or warehouse overstock.

The Bucking Bronco never received the USA mold mark, so it can be difficult to distinguish a potential early black-that-used-to-be-gray Bronco from a later always-black one. There are a few physical clues.

Even though the original gray body color is similar to the oversprayed portions of the black overpaint, it is not identical. The gray paint has a distinct bluish cast that can be distinguished from watered down or oversprayed black, and it can sometimes been seen in the transitional areas around the edges of the stockings and bald face.

Since the difference was noticeable, the painters would slightly overpaint these edges, shortening the length of the socks and shrinking the extent of the bald face. So while it’s usually the case that older models have higher socks and more extensive bald faces, in the case of the Black Bucking Bronco, it’s exactly the opposite.

And there’s absolutely no way to distinguish between one that was painted over for flaws, versus one that was painted over because it didn’t sell. I’m good, but not that good.

(Today's Facebook error: the Grazing Mare and Foal were introduced in 1965, not 1961. The pricelists, Reeves, check the pricelists!)


Unknown said...

love this blog, now how about a post explaining what a chalky is and how to tell with photos showing the difference?
Rebecca Turner

ANDREA said...

Soon, soon. The topic of chalkies is an extremely complicated one - several different kinds, several different eras. I've done a lot of research on that very topic and I could give an hour long lecture on the topic, easily!