Saturday, February 20, 2010

Black Leopards

Dealing with even more remodeling nonsense here: I had to clean out and move the other china cabinet. I sure do have a lot of breakables, for being a big, clumsy Buffalo!

Since so many hobbyists seem to be losing it over the Treasure Hunt Redemption Horse "Winter" - a Near Black Semi-Leopard Appaloosa - I thought I’d turn the spotlight on Breyer’s earliest attempt at the Leopard Pattern: the #115 Appaloosa Western Prancing Horse:

Yep, this one’s an oddity: no front stocking.

There are two variations of this paint job: some have dark gray stockings, and others have black. I don’t think there’s any consistency to the variations, at least I haven’t seen any. I used to think that the gray stocking versions came earlier, but my boy here with the missing hosiery has the USA mark, so it might be the other way around. It’s not something I’ve looked into yet.

When I first discovered that the Western Prancing Horse came Leopard Appaloosa, I became a bit obsessed with obtaining one. He had to be just right, too; I can’t recall how many times I upgraded mine. Then I discovered there were two variations to it, so I had to have primo examples of both. I found the guy above on eBay a few years back, and he became my representative example of the gray stocking version.

I have a pretty nice black stocking version too. And unlike Gray Stocking Guy, Black Stocking Guy has extra shading in his, ah, unmentionables. (A common feature on models from the 1960s and early 1970s.)

(The color difference is a little hard to see, I know. Like Chalkies, it's much more obvious in person.)

The Western Prancing Horse is another one of those models that was released sometime during the documentation gap of the early 1960s. Evidence suggests that he was a 1962 release, like the Running Mare and Foal, and that he was intended to be the replacement for the Fury/Prancer mold, who was starting to look a little dated by then.

The Appaloosa version of the Western Prancing Horse remained in production through 1973. In 1974, the Appaloosa Performance Horse premiered, as did a new style of Appaloosa paint jobs: masking replaced full-body splash spotting.

Splash spotting never went away, but today tends to be reserved for either reproductions of old-style paint jobs, or for models with airbrushed hip blankets (i.e. the upcoming Mid-States release.) Splash spot Leopards have turned up from time to time, too, but the Black Leopard varieties rarely come with the black mane-tail-point feature anymore. An exception was the 1990/91 Country Store Special POA:

I’m not sure what’s the big fuss over the new version of this old paint job. It’s not unrealistic; I seem to recall much oohing and aahing over a dark-legged leopard part-Friesian foal on Blab a few years back, whose photos inspired many custom copycats.

I think it’s a little bit of backlash over the two previous "owners" of this paint job: the Collector’s Choice Silver Matrix, and the BreyerFest SR Appydaze.

My negative reaction to Matrix wasn’t because of the paint job, but with the overuse of the Silver mold: he had already had his turn in the Collector’s Choice lineup, with Blue Suede Shoes. There’s no formal rule that a Collector’s Choice selection can’t be on a previously used mold, but with over 20 other releases in his relatively brief life, doing another CC Silver rubbed me - and many other hobbyists - the wrong way.

The Appydaze was a miscalculation on Reeves’s part. Having a model and paint job combo that was specifically designed for the younger set? A good idea. Making 1500 of them? Not so good an idea. You could sell over a thousand pieces of them - all of the other SRs that year were 1200 piece runs or less - and still have a ton of leftovers. When hobbyists see a lot of leftovers, they immediately think "That one must have been a dud." And regardless of their personal feelings about a model, most hobbyists tend to think twice before adding a "dud" like that to their herds.

It’s interesting that another model with a similar paint job - the Fest SR Ruffian "Heartland" - didn’t elicit the same negative reaction. Three factors at work with her, I think. First, the Ruffian mold definitely has its fans, or at least doesn’t get quite the negative press the other two sometimes attract. Second, she’s glossy: we’ve all witnessed the power of a Gloss Finish to drive hobbyists mad. And third, she’s a shaded Bay, not a flat Black: more shading and detail = greater perceived value.

It’ll be interesting to see what will turn up next. Most hobbyists are assuming a Gloss variation is on the horizon. A safe and logical bet, sure, but I’m kinda hoping for an old-school splash spot Leopard myself.


Liz Gower said...

My problem, at least, with Winter is that he's unremarkable in every way. He's just very much average, and not a model I'd want to spend $130 or more on (no matter how many models I'm also getting for the price).

It doesn't help, of course, that I've never liked a single Breyer leopard/near-leopard paint job, and that the "seasonal" theme makes no sense whatsoever, but.

All in all, I think I just expected a little more.

ANDREA said...

I was going to touch on that subject, but the post was running long so I cut it.

I'm not really understanding this "he's not that special" meme with the Winter. None of the previous Redemption Horses have been that "special" either in terms of detailing or overall quality. They're not Connoisseur-level SRs, and they're not meant to be.

Some have been more desirable than others - like the Roan Clydesdale Foals - but qualitatively, they're indistinguishable from most regular runs.

Their specialness is in the fact that (a) they are essentially "free", (b) they are somewhat more limited than the ones available in stores, and (c) the historical likelihood of surprises.

Liz Gower said...

I suppose our opinions differ there. While they aren't Conn quality, naturally, I've always thought they put a little more effort into them. The Silver pegasus, for example, is no Fortissimo, but his quality, in my opinion, is better than, say, the Silver Hobo.

I do agree on why they are "special", though, and I think some of it is percieved rather than actual.

I will say, I'm looking forward to the surprises/variations, and I'm sure that I'll like them. Just rather nonplussed about this first one.

Little Black Car said...

I hate the Winter model, but I might still get the other three, which I do like, and then sell Winter to offset some of the cost.

I love the Prancer mold, though. What a cutie.

Stockstill Stables said...

I do not like Winter. that color is a horrible choice, IMHO, for that mold. I may get the other 3 if I happen to come across them but Winter does not interest me in the least.