Sunday, January 11, 2015

Buffalo Conga

 Normally Breyer's Web Specials blow right past me, but when I saw Banff the Silver Buffalo I leapt like a hooked fish.  For some reason I was sure I would win him, and I did -- a tribute to the powers of deep belief, I suppose.  The above arrangement shows my Buffalo Conga at its best: each beast is displayed with maximum contrast to its neighbors.  On the extreme left are my three examples of the old #76, the buffalo I knew as I was growing up.  He ran for 26 years!!  On the extreme right are Breyer's most recent 3 buffaloes, in order of their release, left to right.

The three most recent are Choc the pink-nosed (BreyerFest 2002, 850 head made), Taima the tortoiseshell see-through (Connoisseur 2010, 350 head made), and Banff himself (2014, 300 head). Glaring in the middle is Tatanka the White, model #380, released 1992-1993, rare today.

 Before we leave this particular arrangement, I'd like to point out some details.  Until Choc in 2002 only the old 76ers had white horns.  (And the Tatanka whites, but no one had any trouble telling those apart!)  From 1965, when the mold was introduced, to 1991, all buffaloes were one model number and they all had white horns, with dark-shaded, usually to black, tips.  After 1991 came a long string of dark-horned ones, eleven years' worth.  And after Choc, well, the horns are not white...!  So that's one clue to distinguishing between buffaloes:  note whether their horns are white or not.

 This arrangement (above) of my conga is somewhat more haphazard and personal:  it's as I took them down off the shelves!  Taima is at left -- thank you Margaret so much, how will I ever repay you!!  Talk about a generous friend...  Second-left is the "American Bison," the yellow-gold version.  Until I researched for this blog I hadn't realized that this yellow-dun animal was released twice, once in 1994-1996 and again in 2000-2005.  Mine is from the first distribution.  Like Tatanka he is easy to identify; but if your buffaloes are side-by-side on a high shelf, the hindquarters are hidden and you have only dark heads to deal with.  Things get a bit tricky then.

It has been great fun cropping these shots.  The buffalo is a long lengthy mold, one of Breyer's largest and longest, and these pictures reflect that.  Forgive the poor focus...
Above are my three 76ers, with Shag the darkest and oldest at left.  The red-chestnut one, so distinct! is certainly a later, younger issue from those 26 years.  Like my red-chestnut Moose, I was so thrilled to pick this one up:  a variation to cheer the heart of the collector.

This is what my Conga usually looks like.  Only six can fit on that top shelf.  Collecting more than  6 was a leap into the unknown:  I felt they could not go downstairs with the horses, which were fighting their own shelf-space battle.  The buffaloes can only go in front of the books.  What a conflict: books versus buffaloes!!  And yet still I had to get Banff.  When I opened him, two ideas were very clear:  He was "Frozen" inspired... and "So that's why he's so cheap: They only had to paint half of him...!"  The differences from Tatanka (best seen in the second picture) include a pink nose instead of a black one, smaller eyes, and solid-silver horns with no black tips, instead of the by-now-standard shaded-grey with black tips.  Banff's hooves are pink instead of shaded-grey.

 What's really interesting, now that you can see them all together, is the rarity of glossy.  Only two of these 9 are glossy, Choc and Banff (and Banff has to be).  Taima could possibly be considered part of this trend, but I consider the tortoiseshell to be a color unto itself, part of a group of translucents that started with the original Tortuga Andalusian Connoisseur back in 2004.   And given how glossy Breyer's bare plastic is, it's even conceivable that Banff's front half isn't glossed (although I think it is).  Glossy buffaloes!  Who'd-a-thunk-it!  Well, conga collectors like to speculate about weird possibilities...

 There is one buffalo I haven't talked about: the dullest and most boring brown of all.  In the top picture he is at the center.  This is another "American Bison," model no. 388, issued 1997-1999.  About his only claim to fame is his hand-detailed bi-eyes, seen above on the right.  There is a dash of darkish-reddish to that eyeball -- compare it to the one on the left.  But let's pause:  of all of them, he is probably the most realistic Buffalo.

Speaking of eyes, here is a close up of Choc.  His eyes also have much detailing:  not only a black pupil against dark brown, but a nice eyewhite line.  Note the lighter shading of the face above his eye, something no other buffalo has.
Although my Buffalo Conga is not "all-encompassing complete" -- no Woodgrain, no second yellow dun, no rare 1970s Whitegray -- I am very pleased with it.  For somebody who specializes in Western braidwork and Spanish-inspired silver parade, there is an appropriate touch of the Old West here.  On my bookshelves and in my soul, the buffaloes still raise their distant thunders.


  1. I love your Buffalo!
    I really love the gloss on Choc, it really brings out his color.
    Love the books and buffalo, especially the Stephen King books. :)

  2. Thanks Kristian! I knew somebody was going to notice the Stephen King... it is mostly Dark Tower.

  3. I had no idea there were so many Buffalos! What a lovely collection.