Monday, October 5, 2009

Christmas Decorators, Part III; or, What’s the Deal with California?

As many of you are aware, Breyers are not uniformly distributed throughout the country, much less the world. Breyers are easier to find in the Upper Midwest than they are in the Deep South, particularly Florida, both first and second hand. Some of it has to do with regional demand, and some with the socio-economic mix. Suburban, semi-rural and rural areas will have a bigger demand than urban areas, as will areas with concentrations of families with young children, or with more disposable income.

But then, there’s California. Sure, California is big, and has lots of the right kind of consumers, so the fact that Breyers are relatively plentiful there is not unusual. What is unusual is that there’s been an awful lot of …odd Breyer stuff coming out of California. Way more than you’d expect for a market so far away from the original factory in Chicago: the Gray Appaloosa Shetland Pony, In-Between Mares, the Palomino Adios, a higher than normal percentage of Decorators.

So it’s no surprise that there have been reports of Christmas Decorators coming out of California.

It may just be coincidental that one of the few pieces of documentation we have about the regular, run-of-the-mill Blue and Gold Decorators was from a long-time Breyer Representative in California: J.C. Unger and Associates. (How long-term? They’re mentioned as a Sales Rep for Breyer in advertisements from 1953!)

But in addition to being product representatives, Unger also worked in product development and marketed their own toys under the Unger Toys line. If the name sounds familiar to any of you, it’s because they were the ones who developed and unleashed the original Brenda Breyer upon the world. And the infamous Puffy Stickers! What total Breyer nerds didn’t go out of their way to get those crazy Puffy Stickers?

(I have no idea where mine are! Actually, I think I do, but I’m not in the mood for digging, so the pic from the 1980 Dealer Catalog will have to do.)

Is it possible that Unger might have collaborated with Breyer before Brenda? That might explain why all those strange Breyer things keep turning up in California. There might have been some collaborative efforts going on, or test marketing, or maybe they were the go-to people for the dumping of less-than-successful items. Could it be that they had a hand in the creation and marketing of the Decorators too - both the Blue and Gold, and the Christmas?

I have no idea, since I haven’t had the time or the moxie to do any further research about their relationship with Breyer. (They’re still around as Henry Unger and Associates, if anyone else wants to do the leg or phone work.) There’s definitely something more to the story there, though.

If we go with the supposition that the Christmas Decorators were a failed regional product launch or dump, limited to California or other parts of Unger’s territory, then that might explain why the documentation is still lacking. If the catalogs exist, then they’d be regional ones with limited range and low distribution: in others words, might be just as rare - or moreso - than the actual models themselves.

So, that’s all there is to know about the Christmas Decorators, including where my current speculation stands.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Wow I can't beleive I just learned the story on the Christmas decorators! This absolutely had me fascinated! I wish we could someohow get yo the bottom of this. Breyer and there damn terrible documentation! Lol