Sunday, December 11, 2011

Buckskin Lady Phases

The Seasonal Affective Disorder must be kicking in, because I’m feeling spectacularly unmotivated today. I haven’t even begun making one of Mom’s Christmas presents, and the other two aren’t looking so hot either.

I have lots of time on my hands for the next two weeks, so everything will be fine. It’s just the getting started part that’s hard, especially when you’re trying to finish at least a half dozen other projects, too.

Here’s one of those handful of things - besides Fall in Love - that I’ve added to my own herd recently:

It’s the 1980 Model Horse Congress Buckskin Lady Phase, the one with the pinked nose, B mold mark, and black eartips!

That means I now have examples of all three Buckskin Lady Phases special runs: the 1979 VaLes Solid Buckskin with charcoal/black nose, the 1980 MHC Special Run, and the 1983/84 J.C. Penney’s Buckskin with bald face.

(Yes, I know the JCP one comes in a solid-faced variation. Notice that I prefaced my statement with the phrase "examples of"? )

One of the most infuriating bits of misinformation that gets passed around on the Internet is that of the alleged rarity of the Buckskin Lady Phase. A case could be made for the 1979 or the 1980 ones being especially difficult to acquire, and I wouldn’t argue with that: there were only about 200 made of the 1979 SR, and about 240 made of the 1980.

On the other hand, however, the J.C. Penney version was probably one of the most popular Christmas special runs Breyer ever made: according to Nancy Young’s Breyer Molds & Models, around 8,000 sets were made over the course of its two year run.

Eight thousand pieces is not "rare," neither then nor now.

I can remember a time when Buckskin Lady Phases were so common that customizers resorted to using them as bodies. Lady Phases became unexpectedly hard to find right around the time she was discontinued in 1985. The story goes - as I heard it from Marney, anyway - was that the last batch of Lady Phases made before she was discontinued in 1985 were lost in a fire.

With no fresh bodies available in the store, no new regular runs on the horizon, and several hundred - if not thousands - of Buckskin ones cluttering up hobbyist shelves, what else are you going to do?

(FYI: I don’t believe enough Buckskin Lady Phases were lost to customizing to affect their overall rarity. Enough to skew the perception within the hobby, maybe, but not overall.)

In the intervening years, a lot of hobbyists conflated the 1979 and 1980 special runs with the later J.C. Penney run. You’d think with all the Buckskin Lady Phases floating around that hobbyists would do the math and realize that they weren’t quite as rare as they thought they were.

Alas, many of our fellow hobbyists just aren’t that good at math. And are all too often plagued by the ghosts of wishful thinking.

Even so, the 1979 and 1980 special runs are still genuinely hard to come by. On average, I see about one of the 1979 pieces up for sale or auction per year, if that; the 1980 examples aren’t a whole lot more numerous.

I was lucky enough to get my 1979 one in 1979, straight from the dealer (yeah, I’m THAT old.) I had been shopping around for a 1980 for some time now, but the few that had come up recently had been significantly out of my price range.

This little lady wasn’t because (obviously) she wasn’t mint. I’m not much of a shower, so I’m totally okay with that. I’m not exactly mint, myself.


Anonymous said...

What does the "B" stamp mean?

ANDREA said...

The "B" stamp was put on Breyer molds ca. 1979-83 to indicate that the models were being made of a different form of Cellulose Acetate that couldn't be reground or remixed with the standard stuff.

Teresa Rogers said...

Hi! What is the difference in the facial shading on the ValLes Bead Trailer buckskin Lady Phase and the JCP buckskin?