Saturday, August 23, 2014

Matinee Idol: Pink vs. Black

Everybody knows Stone's Matinee Idol came in two versions, pink hoof and black hoof.  But why?  Which is rarer?  Is there any real difference between them?  A friend gave me her Matinee Idol to sell (as of this writing he is still up for grabs), and I took the opportunity to do a side-by-side photo shoot.  I also did a little research, because I'm curious myself.
My own Matinee Idol, seen here on the left, has been with me since the original year of release, 1999.  She was my first ISH (Ideal Stock Horse).  (Note: some of my horses are sexed by character not body.)  Given that my ISH collection has swelled to over 25, you might logically conclude that I fell in love with the mold.  Me and just about every other model Western performance horse shower!  I will restrain myself to Matinee Idol here, and mention in passing that this sculpture was originally a portrait of Zan Parr Bar (1974-1987), the very famous Quarter Horse stallion.  Nineteen-ninety-nine was the year the ISH first appeared in plastic.
The first and most obvious difference between the black and pink hoof versions is the color of the head.  The pink one has a much redder head.  Of these 3 pictures, the top one shows this difference  best.  Despite what that shot looks like, neither horse is glossy.  Matinee Idol appears a sort of semi-gloss, something Stone Company could do to perfection at the time.
Despite seeing various references to "skunk," I have never seen any Matinee Idol without a dorsal stripe.
My memory is that I first heard about this model at BreyerFest 1999 (July 30, 31, and August 1), and promptly mail-ordered one.  West Coast Model Jamboree took place that year from August 25 to 29th.  The Jamboree was Sheryl Leisure's heroic effort to bring a BreyerFest-like event to the West Coast.  The special run, described as a Silver Grullo Pinto, was being offered at an advance-discount total price of $47.95 for pick-up at show.  My copy of the Jamboree bulletin claims that straight mail orders were not being accepted.  My own records for my horse reveal what I did:  mailed Sheryl a check on July 6 (!) and took delivery, via my dealer friend Nancy Fowkes of Spotted Horse Ranch, on August 30, for a pick-up fee.  So much for my memory.  I must have gotten an ad in the mail in June, and first seen the ISH at BFest.

(And so much for my photography skills:  please excuse the moccasins!)  Black is on the right here.  And black was the color of my true love's hooves, at least in the rear.  Naturally, I thought all Matinee Idols had black hooves.... even though the press release clearly showed pink.
In addition to the face color, I can detect a different body color.  The black hoof version is more golden, the pink more yellow.  The variation is slight, and does not always show in these shots.  But scroll up to my first two shots (look rapidly from shoulder to shoulder), and compare some indoor ones.
I'm always learning how difficult it is to get digital cameras and computers to depict reality!  But take my word for it:  the pink hoof horse is a lighter, brighter, more yellow tone, whilst the black hoof's body color has just a scoosh more red-brown, making a darker golden.
Not by much!  But it's there.
All of which leads me to conclude that there really were two different batches made.

It is impossible to deny that pink came first.  My earliest printed references, the 1999 Jamboree ads (and the card that came with my horse), show pink.  Keri Okie's great standard Stone Horse Reference book, published in 2006, merely states "Known variation" for the model number 9967.  Eight hundred horses were made for the Jamboree.
 This is the card, and curiously it shows a number, 613.   I cannot explain this.
Go online to stonehorseref.com and the model number changes to SR1999, but: surprise!  the release number swells to 900.  And here we have a clue.  Could it be that the popularity of this run was so great that 800 was not enough, and someone at Stone hastily painted another 100?  this time with black hind hooves?  in time to fill the orders received before the Jamboree, viz., my own?

This theory is borne out by checking Model Horse $ales Pages for a random sampling of Matinee Idols.  There are 8 currently for sale, but only 2 are the black hoof version.  Four to one:  just what you'd expect in a random sample reflecting eight to one!  A sampling of current eBay reveals five to one.  Ahah.  I thought claims of "rare" and "only a few" black hoofs were typical sales patter; but it looks like they just might be true.
My own Matinee Idol is much too special ever to let go, (at least until one's final dispersal).  She is the leader queen of my ISH herd, veteran of many pieces of TSII tack built, and the one who offered her life when I was needing a scapegoat sacrifice-horse in 2010.  This dramatic story will have to wait until another time and place; suffice to say, it's the pink for sale in this picture and not the black!
Happy Collecting.

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