Tuesday, January 6, 2015

More is Not Always Better

This model was one of the unexpected delights of a recent box lot:

Easily the prettiest Gloss Palomino Fighting Stallion I’ve ever owned! I knew he was in there when I purchased the lot, but since I haven’t had much luck with Gloss Palomino Fighters, I wasn’t expecting much.

What makes him outstanding isn’t necessarily his condition. He’s not perfect - there’s yellowing, and a few minor rubs - but the amount of money and/or effort I’d need to upgrade him to a "live show quality/live show ready" piece means he’s probably sticking around a while.

His color is really nice - sort of halfway between the Orangey Palomino he was when he was issued, and the Honey most of the early Gloss Palominos turn into. He’s deeply glossed too, typical of earlier pieces, ca. 1961/2. (He was a part of the ca. 1959-1962 box lot, so that makes sense.)

No, what makes him swoon-worthy is his body shading: this model has some of the nicest body shading I’ve seen on any Vintage, Original Finish model. Whoever painted him was either one of the better painters on staff, or was having an exceptional day at work.

"Body Shading" is the term I use to describe monochromatic (single color) paint jobs where shading is achieved by working with the musculature of the model itself, and using the underlying plastic as a secondary color. Lighter areas are lighter because there’s less paint there, and darker areas are darker because there’s more.

All it took for a richly shaded finish back then was a single color, applied with a deft touch. Some practice and talent played a part too, obviously; I’ve had my share of flat-looking Vintage pieces, especially on the Palomino Fighter. That’s why this guy stands out so for me!

The "Body Shading" technique was the primary way of shading models throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, but not the only way. With Alabaster models, for example, they had to take the opposite approach: contrast was achieved by shading the grooves of the musculature directly, usually with a fine gray line.

Executing the "Linear Shading" technique well also took some skills and practice; I’ve seen a few examples that looked like they were tagged by unusually incompetent graffiti artists. 

Both techniques are still used today, but usually in tandem with other techniques, and multiple layers of paint. As this Fighting Stallion shows, more is not always better.


Sandra said...

Beautiful Fighter! The Fighting Stallion is my favorite vintage mold, having bought my first one in the '60s with birthday money = nostalgia. :0)

This one is exceptional. I could kick myself for letting a matte Alabaster with the best shading I'd ever seen get away recently.

Corky said...

He's gorgeous! I love seeing old glossy Charcoal models with shading like this, too. They're just mouth-watering.

Carrie said...

More than once my father has expressed amazement at my dating even common models at a glance. "It's all in the painting style." I've tried to explain, but I have feeling he still half believes it to be some sort of Breyer Voodoo picked up from an over abundance of acetate fumes.

That's one lovely fighter; that lot was just full of interesting lovelies!

Anonymous said...

"Body shading" -that is what I love most about vintage Breyers. Sadly lacking from my 2002 Shockwave. I look at his blandly blacked-out face, and I'd like to slap whoever painted him...