Monday, May 11, 2009

Post Production Runs

I’ve covered this topic before in my Sampler, but I think it’s something worth covering here because - well, I think it’s interesting.

I’ve created the term "Post Production Runs" to cover cases of regular run models being put back into production after they were officially discontinued from the catalog. These models were more common in the 1960s, when Breyer was more accommodating to its customers and not as attentive about sending out updated price lists.

I came across this phenomenon when I purchased an unusual Breyer Bloodhound. There’s some controversy over the actual discontinuation date of this guy, but the records do seem to agree that he was gone before 1970, when most Breyer molds (but not all) received the USA mark. Theoretically, no Breyer Bloodhound should have the USA mark.

This one does.

I also have in my possession a mail order catalog from 1970 that features the Bloodhound. It’s not listed as a special or exclusive item - it’s just another one of many Breyer items listed for sale. I could have just chalked this up as a case of overstock being sold - except for the existence of my odd little fellow.

A Post-Production Run model would be, in most cases, indistinguishable from a regular run item; the only ways we could tell would be if there was (a) some documentation or (b) a change in the mold actually happened. Like this Bloodhound (possibly.)

As I hinted above, these probably happened more often in the 1960s, when Breyer wasn’t necessarily communicating with its customers on a timely basis. If a customer happened to order an item that just happened to be discontinued, I’m sure they just painted up the required batch per the order, provided they had the bodies available or the mold wasn’t already mothballed.

Most of the Ranchcraft lamp Woodgrains may fall into this category - although most of the Woodgrains used were regular run items, a lot of them appear to have been produced in the late 1960s, after the original discontinuation date. The most telling clue in the Ranchcraft case is the existence of Woodgrain Running Mare and Foal lamps with USA marks: in their original release, the Woodgrain Mare and Foal were discontinued at the end of 1965 - five years before the molds received the USA mark!

(Some of the Ranchcraft Woodgrains, though, are true special runs. And there’s some question as to whether all the lamps are classifiable as true special runs. I’ll get to that another time, though.)

There may have been a Wal-Mart post production run of the Matte Gray Appaloosa Family Arabians, too. It was a persistent rumor I heard in the 1980s, though I was never able to prove or disprove it. I did think it was interesting that the Matte Gray Appaloosa Family Arabians with USA marks seemed a little more common than they should have been. It leads me to think that some of the ones that were distributed through Bentley Sales might have been the cast offs of an aborted special run. (Don’t take it as gospel truth, though!)

In the 1970s, Breyer did bring back some discontinued items after a year or so, but I tend to classify them as regular runs, since they appear in the official catalogs. (The scuttlebutt I heard was that they had excess stock of these items in the warehouse, and putting them back in the catalog was a way of generating enough orders to move them out. I’m not sure if I believe the explanation, but that’s what I heard.)

I’ve called these items "Post production specials" before - a slightly different distinction that upon further reflection I’m not entirely comfortable with. Calling them "special runs" is not completely incorrect - they meet two of the three criteria I’ve set - but most of these items are intentionally indistinguishable from their regular run cohorts. I wouldn’t doubt that most serious collectors have at least one or two hidden in their collection, right now.

You’ll never know, of course, unless you can find that little difference that makes all the difference. Like in the case of my Bloodhound.


Sara said...

I'd be interested to know how you classify a lot of the "post production" classics that end up at Target or other similar retailers after they're officially discontinued. Are they special runs or post production? Another curious case, which I'm not sure what to make of it, is the UK "special run" gift set with the dapple grey Keen and doll and tack... that looks identical to the RR from a few years back, which has the same horse that was a RR individually before that. As a die-hard Keen collector I'm not sure how to classify the three releases.

Kelly Weimer said...

Another recent post-production run was the BreyerFest Celebration Model Fire Magic who was repackaged and sold in the UK in special Hamley's (department store) packaging in 2007. The fox hunting set with the hunter clipped Gem Twist was also sold in the UK as a post-USA release. The leftover fox hunt sets did not include the fox, however.

ANDREA said...

Regarding the Target items - if they're assigned a special run number, I consider that "acknowledgement" that it's a special run. If they're still assigned the regular run number - one or more years after it's been discontinued - then I'd consider it a post production model.

Several of the Classics distributed through Target and Kmart would qualify. I'm not quite sure what to make of the Golden Chestnut Johar Lusitanos, though. Technically, she's a post production run, but she's also a mold replacement. Which may have turned her into a special run. Hmm. Have to think about that one a while.

The UK sets I would consider special runs, since they are acknowledged as such, even if it's identical to the regular run piece. Just like the Toys R Us Bay Fighting Stallion is a special run, even though it's virtually identical to the regular run item. In order for it to "count" as a special run in a collector's class would be to keep it in the original packaging or with the documentation though.

The Hadley's Fire Magics I'd simply consider repackaged leftovers - sort of like the factory leftovers "brought back by collector demand" in the 1970s. They didn't make more later on - they just made some fancy packaging/marketing to sell what they already had on hand. And I don't believe they issued a different number for the repack, either. So I'd consider them a packaging variation, I guess.