Sunday, February 28, 2021

And Here We Go

When I said SOON, I wasn’t expecting NEXT DAY!

Well, I was kind of hoping it would be, because it would have been a perfect way to celebrate National Model Horse Day and all. But I also know that NMHD is pretty much just my personal holiday (it’s the 57th day of the year!) and not anything outside of this blog even knows about, so it’s almost purely a coincidence. 

I think. 

Anyway, I didn’t get a chance to access the Internet until almost 5:30 p.m. that day, so the initial batch of Lafayettes were long gone before I even knew they were available. But fortunately Reeves did go with the backorder option, much to the delight of almost everyone except hobbyists with an unusually narrow definition of the term “limited edition”.

It’ll take six month or so for the backordered ones (including mine) to get here, but thank goodness I don’t have to rely on the secondary market to get one at all. A few are selling in the $125-135 range, but for the most part I think people actually read the e-mail/understood the maths before pulling the trigger. 

I hope that all Collector’s Club Exclusives are done this way from now on, especially ones that are advertised for months in advance. There are a lot of models offered through the CC that are not guaranteed in any way – Web Specials, Test Colors, Exclusive Event models, BreyerFest items – and there should be some models available to anyone who has a CC membership, if they want it. 

As for the small handful of folks complaining that Lafayette is not really all that special anymore because he can be backordered... well. I have said this before, but it needs repeating: quantity is only one factor of many when it comes to aftermarket prices on any given model horse, whether it’s a Special Run or Regular Run. 

There are many models with pretty substantial runs that command pretty high prices because collectors love them and want them. Some of the pricier Exclusive Event models, for example, are the ones with 80-125 piece runs, oddly enough. Heck, look at the prices for the Seattle Soiree model Redmond!

When Reeves started labeling things “Limited Editions” and “Commemorative Editions” back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, those items regularly outsold Regular Run, open stock items. Sometimes by A LOT.

So I would always roll my eyes whenever a flea market vendor would try to tell me how “rare” those models were. The quantities specified on the Commemorative Editions had no relation to how well other models made that year were selling. Just because they limited a model to 10,000 pieces in a year did not mean all regular run models made that year were selling more than 10,000 units. 

In fact, I would not be surprised if these “Limited Editions” were the best-selling items in their respective years. (I do not have the time to dig out those files for specifics.) It was just a marketing tactic. People see a number, and they automatically assume that if there is a fixed number, that means it is rare.

Limited does not mean rare. It just means something about the run of an item is fixed in some way: by location, by time, or by quantity. Sometimes those models retain their value. Sometimes they do not.

Collectibles are an unreliable and unpredictable investment, and your money should be better spent on models you intend on keeping long term. End of story. 

Personally, if I really want to get down and dirty, I would propose that Reeves consider making all of their more aesthetically pleasing Special Runs the higher piece count ones, and the more challenging/less showable pieces the scarcer ones. Let’s see just how much money some collectors will cough up for a metallic magenta Khemosabi with lime green points, a Lady Roxana in “Baby Poop Brishen Brown”, or a Fuchsia Pintaloosa Family Arabian Mare. 

The fan base of these molds is sufficiently high enough for most of them that smaller runs will still sell out, handily. (In fact, I am certain that more than a dozen of you are now saying to yourself “I would buy a Fuschia Pintaloosa FAM in a heartbeat.” Me too people, me too.)

If they want to make something extra nice and showable, put it in the Benefit Auction and make sure that money goes to charity.  

In short: if you want to make short-term profits by buying low and selling high (arbitrage) go play that game in the actual stock market, not the plastic one.


timaru star ii said...

I was lucky enough to snag a Lafayette on first sight; I had made up my mind on him long since. But I was immensely relieved to read of the backorder option. I really hope they keep this habit up. It does not diminish his value to me one whit.

Hokieponiez said...

A pink pintaloosa sounds awesome might I suggest the in between mare as I have fell in love with her awkwardness... seeking that glossy bay still :)

Anna Miller said...

I, too, am glad they did the backorder option. While I'm not in the Collector Club, I typically buy the ones I like second hand. Making them more obtainable helps me. Also, totally agree with what you've said about collectibles being an unreliable investment and you should spend money on models you intend to keep. PREACH!!!

Corky said...

Collectibles are a crappy investment; you should collect something because you LIKE it and it makes you happy, not because you think you're gonna get rich buying and selling it.

Re: "limited edition" -- I work for a company that sells model kits. Oftentimes model-kit manufacturers will take a relatively commonplace kit and add something extra to it, like new decals, a poster of the box art, or photo-etched parts -- or all three! -- and then hike the price (sometimes only by a little bit) and call it a "limited edition."

Denise said...

I am BEYOND thrilled they offered this backorder option. I LOVE this model and was able to get one I am one happy camper! Rarity doesn't matter to me since I won't be selling this model anyways. So many times I miss out on CC specials since I am working so am very thankful to get this model-can't wait!

Qatgirl said...

Oof, I cringe/shudder every time I hear someone bash Khemosabi! The "irl" Khemo (the living horse) was stunningly beautiful... and my mare's grandfather! How I hated it when my girlfriend's kids came over and made fun of him (the model)!

EllOnWheels said...

Say it again louder for people in the back! I agree with all of this. The secondary market is out of hand and in a bubble that will eventually burst given the current economic situation unless there are significant changes. I just hope that folks who spent all that money on beautiful plastic ponies appreciate that beauty when the price they can command drops. I worked in a comic shop for a lot of years, and I had the guys who had INVESTED... And once Marvel came out with their app where they are uploading their back catalog all the time, the bottom has fallen out for back issues. Of course that is different from a medium that cannot be easily translated to digital, but the idea is the same. The market will eventually change as individual tastes change.

I can see someone who buys in order to resell being upset by this, but I assume that is a very small portion of the market as far as Breyer is concerned. Breyer is probably like, "Heeeeey, this secondary market thing is blowing up... Let's make some profit there. That's a nice little slice of pie." And I don't blame them for it since they create the things the market wants.

Boulder Sheep said...

I am fascinated by this, as someone who recently (in this very stressful year) got back into collecting. I've stalked eBay relentlessly, and joined the Collectors' and Premier Clubs for this year (leaping back in with both feet, as it were.)

And I've not bought Lafayette, because beautiful as he is, he's not a model I collect. I do appreciate that every Club member will be able to purchase directly, though - in the first month or three of membership, I was getting a little bit tired of lotteries with highly unlikely odds.

Salem said...

I lobbied hard for at least one model per year that's both affordable and available to all basic Collector Club members. It should only be as limited as the number of members who want one. I miss the days when even SRs were not much more expensive than RRs, so at least the limitation was not based on the collector's economic status. I know we're never going back there, but agree that the sudden explosion in secondary prices is bound to raise the company's prices as well, and that it may just be a bubble that investors will someday regret. In particular, I highly suspect that there's a wave of total non-collectors out there who have decided that they are going to buy and sell these plastic horses... but how far will this go? I'm thinking of the tulip bulb mania that reached unbelievably epic proportions in its time. ;D