Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Daft Days

The Zebra arrived today, but I’ll probably wait until the weekend to open him up – partly to forestall any potential disappointments, and because I am already elbow deep in horse inventory stuff. The Stablemates alone will be the death of me…

And speaking of, Reeves pushed out one last enticement to join the Stablemates Club: an optional seventh release, a Mini Me of the Dapple Gray Clydesdale Stallion by the name of Duke.

A moot point for me (I signed up a while ago) but there is the answer to the not-really-a-question of whether or not they’re shrinky-dinking other Vintage molds. Of course they are.

But let’s get back to the question of Ambrose. Some of you won’t like my answer, but you know I am not afraid of being a contrarian.

I find that Reeves’ marketing of Ambrose – one that emphasizes its “painted in the USA” status – as both a little cynical and troubling.

For one, it devalues some of the genuinely beautiful models that are now being made in China. Are they all “Live Show Quality”? No. But the possibility of acquiring something excellent at a not unreasonable price does exist.

And not only that, this exclusivity is simply not true: there are a lot of models still painted in the USA: some of the Web Specials (Wailua, Bramble), Volunteer Specials, Prize and Raffle models, models for Exclusive Events. To name a few.

Sure, they may not available to everyone equally, but a $300 model hyped as being “extraordinary” and sold on a First-Come, First-Served basis at the end of an already overcrowded December selling season is also… not available to everyone equally.

It’s just another flavor of exclusivity, albeit an economic one. For those of us who choose not to (or simply cannot) spend ourselves into oblivion during the holidays, we’re now faced with a glut of promotions with ever escalating stakes. Do we risk getting a Gloss Regular Run, or should we wait for the Winter Web Specials? Will the Christmas Day model be to our liking, or will Reeves throw down something else in the “Daft Days” that follow? Is a New Year’s Day Special not far behind?

The hobby’s original appeal of opening the often-too-expensive world of horses to everyone is something now reflected even Breyer’s own marketing strategy: “A Horse of Your Own”. This is an approach I’ve been touting for years, and I am glad that Reeves is taking it. 

Targeting to your higher-end customers is not wrong, but when it appears that you are catering to the higher-end customers to the exclusion of everyone else, that’s a problem. Especially when those customers not only expect it, but demand it.

This issue ties to another troubling point in Ambrose’s sale pitch: quality escalation. While I have no doubt that the Ambroses will be uniformly excellent, they will not be uniformly perfect. Looking at the way many hobbyists nitpick models at half – or even one-tenth – the price, I can only imagine how intense the scrutiny will be for models like Ambrose, and his successors.

It can’t end well.

If they continue this “series” – based on the response, I am assuming that it’s going to be added to the end-of-year sales blitz – I won’t rule out the possibility of buying one in the future. But it’ll have to be on a mold I really love in a color I can’t pass up: I prefer to buy things for keeps, not to speculate.

1 comment:

timaru star ii said...

Thanks for all the info on Ambrose -- I didn't know. I agree totally. I'll get him on the secondary market if, and when, I want to.