Sunday, October 14, 2018

Good Enough

It just occurred to me that the two items I ordered late last week – the Vintage Club Weather Girl Grace, and the Stablemates Club Finn – are both Gambler’s Choice items. I just paid out a decent chunk of money and I have no idea what I’ll be getting.

Out of the 12 different possible combinations (three of the Grace, four of the Finn) that is.

And you know what? I’m fine with that. I grew up during the “picture box” era of Breyer collecting – pre-1985 – and most of the time you had no idea what you’d actually be getting inside that box. It wasn’t just a solid, opaque cardboard box either: they were shrinkwrapped too!

(Handpicking? Hah!)

Breyer was in something of an experimental phase with retail packaging in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Prior to then, toy stores generally kept out display pieces, and you had to ask the clerk to bring you your selection from their backstock.

By the end of the 1970s, most stores – toys or otherwise – had switched to a self-service mode as a cost-saving measure, which necessitated a move to more decorative and informative packaging.

The history of Breyer packaging is, of course, much more complicated than that, but I don’t have the time or the mind to deal with the intricacies today. Another day, perhaps.

Aside from the packaging issues, a lot of the time you couldn’t trust the catalogs or manuals, either. Case in point: the Stock Horse Stallions from the 1981 Dealer’s Catalog:

Well, okay, I am still a little mad about that one: I want that minimally-marked Black Pinto San Domingo, dangnabit! I probably have a slightly better chance of acquiring one of the numerous Stock Horse Stallions Tests, like this one:

Seriously, there’s like a bajillion different Black Pinto Stock Horse Stallions out there, and I like them all better than the pinto we actually got, but that just might be a “wanting what you can’t have” thing. Or that I’m always up for another Test Color or Oddity, no matter the mold or color. I already have two Stock Horse Stallion Tests, and don’t really need another.

But back to the original point: everyone has gotten very spoiled since the advent of display boxes. We can be picky now, instead of later!

However, the ability to be pickier isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially if we find ourselves becoming so picky that nothing less than perfection is good enough. And since perfection is an arbitrary and abstract concept, what happens is that eventually, no model is ever good enough.

The perfect is the enemy of the good. 

I’m not saying y’all should accept a substandard model, but sometimes, life is easier and a lot less stressful if we just accept that everything comes occasional ding or flaw, whether we like it or not.


Anonymous said...

About the boxes... is it me, or were the old classic sets in the fully enclosed boxes A MILLION times more enticing than the current style?

Unknown said...

Hi Andrea! I've been a Breyer fan for a decade or more, but really hadn't learned much of their history until reading your blog, so thank you! I wanted to ask if you had any other Breyer related blog recommendations,and also, if you had any tips for finding vintage models locally, for someone living in the Breyer starved mid west.thank you so much for your contribution to this hobby, I hope to see you at breyerfest one day!

Anonymous said...

Anon- I just want to be able to buy a Classic Family set without all the extra garbage like fences, grooming stuff, dolls that don't sit on a horse, and other props that drive up the price to $50...