Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery?

Back in November, my friend and fellow blogger Kristina Lucas Francis brought an eBay auction to my attention. The item was a replacement insert for a lighted Budweiser bar sign; it was printed on translucent paper with mirror image printing on either side. The horses should look awfully familiar to Breyer collectors.

I clicked the Buy-It-Now button and then waited and waited and waited for the print to arrive. USPS decided to send it from New Jersey to my local hub in the suburbs of Chicago, but then for some reason, the print took a jaunt to Miami for several weeks. Finally, just before Christmas, it made its way back to Chicago and into my hands.

Obviously, this print is interesting to model horse collectors because of the striking resemblance the horses bear to Breyer's traditional Clydesdale Mare and Foal molds sculpted by Chris Hess. But what is truly fascinating, as Kristina pointed out to me, is the copyright date on the print (click to enlarge). 

The print was copyrighted in 1964 while Breyer's Clydesdale Mare and Foal did not debut until 1969. Allowing a year for molding, the print still predates the Breyer models by four years. While I can't state conclusively that Breyer's Clydesdales were inspired by this print, given the company's history of copying the designs of other makers in the 1950s and 1960s, it's not a stretch to think that someone from Breyer saw a sign like this in a bar, maybe even Chris Hess himself. I personally think the similarity between them is too strong to be mere coincidence.

There are subtle differences---the heads of the mare and foal are turned a little bit more in the print and the colt's tail is swished a little differently---but I think the similarities of pose, leg placement, hair, etc, speak for themselves. Interestingly, even the color of the original releases echos what is shown in the print. Despite actually being bays, the foal coloration was rendered as chestnut by Breyer. And the mare in the print has just a hint of black on her knees and hocks, something that could easily be overlooked by someone not familiar with horse color. Breyer's mare reflects that with only a darker mane and tail. Granted, most Breyer "bays" at that time were produced with no black on the legs, but I think it's interesting all the same.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Kudos to Kristina for spotting this fascinating piece of the puzzle that is Breyer history!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Melty Monday: Vinegar Syndrome Revisited

(Last year's adventure with vinegar syndrome for those unfamiliar with shrinkies/oozies: http://modelhorsecollectibility.blogspot.com/2013/01/vinegar-syndrome-breyer-shrinkies-and.html )

Melty in terms of plastic horses. Not so much in terms of the weather here. With temps in the -14 range with -43 windchill, the snow here in Chicago isn't going anywhere fast. Would that it was the snow melting and not the horses though!

I spent some time over the holidays again working on inventorying my collection, and I was alarmed to see the continued disintegration of the shrinkies and oozies I pulled out of storage in the last few years. My BHR SR sorrel/orange PAS has shrunk dramatically in both height and width in the last year, and his paint has radically lightened. He looks like he has a film of chalk dust all over him now. And worse still, one of his back hooves had started to melt to the plastic shelf he's been sitting on.

I didn't get a chance to check on the shrinkies/oozies that had been relegated to the garage (I'm sure they're practically soup by now), but I was both interested and horrified to see what had become of my dapple grey Five Gaiter. He has been lying on a styrofoam meat tray on a shelf in  climate-controlled room for several years now, and he has shrunk even more...

How he looked a few years ago:

He's smaller and even more curved now. He no longer stands.

His head doesn't seem to be shrinking at the same rate as his body, and it's not quite proportional anymore. His hind leg reacted with the styrofoam tray and has melted through it partially:

I flipped him over and was startled to see that the vinegar syndrome process had eaten a hole through the styrofoam:

And he's reached the point where he's beginning to develop "warts." I'm not sure what causes them---bits of good plastic mixed in with bad? Or plastic decaying at a different rate?

My mom wanted to throw him away, but for the sake of scientific observation (and because he's a sentimental favorite (::sniffle::)), he's been sentenced to life in the garage for the time being. I'll check on him in July when I'm home again for BreyerFest to see what exposure to a Georgia summer has done to him.

(And in the meantime, if anyone has a non-shrinky dapple grey Five Gaiter for sale, I sure would love to own one. Mine didn't survive nearly long enough.)