Sunday, October 3, 2021

The Test Subject

While I’ve had my share of fabulous Internet finds, the thrill of actually acquiring one still hasn’t faded after all these years. But it doesn’t feel entirely real until it arrives at your front door:

Initially I thought he was one of that class of models where a production color has been altered in some way, usually with the addition (or more rarely, the absence of) an additional layer of factory paint. You see them every once and a while – Chestnuts turned into Bays, Palominos turned into Buckskins.

One of the more recent Special Runs of this type was Koh-I-Noor, a 2018 Web Special on the Totilas mold that was created from leftover pieces from the 2017 Christmas Horse Winter Wonderland.

There are lots of Test Colors of this type that were created in the 1970s and early 1980s, presumably by employees. I also suspect that the small number of Production Run models that were issued in both Palomino and Bay probably had some flawed Palominos turned into Bays, though I’d classify those more as oddities or variations than actual Test Colors. 

So when I bought this Five-Gaiter, I assumed he was one of that subcategory of models, presumably a Sorrel with added black points (among other things). Even his braids are white and red, just like a typical #52 Sorrel Five-Gaiter.

No, this dude is way weirder than that, and I’m not just referring to the arbitrarily added chain reins. He has a masked blaze – like several Five-Gaiter releases in the late 1980s and early 1990s, such as Wing Commander – and his color definitely has yellow undertones you don’t see in your average vintage Breyer Sorrel. He also has tri-colored eyes similar to the lizard-like “bi-eyes” that were experimented with in 1995, though more neatly rendered. 

You know who he most reminds me of, though? Releases like the Half-Year Shams in the early 1990s, including the infamous “Green Bay” Sham from the #3163 Arabian Stallion and Foal Gift Set. He has the same gray overspray that’s meant to add depth and shading to the base color, but just turns the entire model a weird muddled shade of greenish-gray, instead.

It wouldn’t surprise me if this guy was simply a model that wasn’t so much designed, but experimented upon. In other words, he’s not a Test Color, but a Test Subject. 

And as such, so much more fascinating to me than fancier, more modern Test Colors. 


Carrie said...

That is one cool funky dude, super congrats! In the photo the color kind of reminds me of Rocky? was it, that buckskin POA that has a tendency to melt. I can't stop looking at his nose piercing!

timaru star ii said...

Congrats on a thorough exploration of what-might-have-been, er, might-have-happened. Is that orange on his face? I just picked up a beautiful old redbay Western Prancer sans saddle and reins, so I'm eyeing your reins and bit.