One hears the refrain 'Really Rare' an awful lot within the collecting fraternity, mostly - it has to be said - from either dealers, or the inhabitants of the Internet 'Bubble'. There are - of course - some things which are genuinely rare, but most of the stuff we collect was produced in vast quantities to feed a global customer base, or justify the expense of the moulding tools.
Here are a couple of things which have worn the epithet 'Rare' in the last fifteen years, on the left a figure of Custer from Imex, on the right a dead (or very poorly!) Confederate soldier from Accurate.
The Imex figure being an addition to the Union (Federal) Cavalry sprue, for the Battle of the Little Big Horn play set, was simply a marketing gimmick to get people who had already bought the figure sets seperately to shell out for more of the same.
The Accurate figure was dropped from the mould and replaced by a figure standing with his arms out.
Of course Imex had permanently altered the mould (or forgot to change the insert back?) and started issuing Custer in the separate cavalry boxes of subsequent issues, so now the overly expensive play-set is shifted at cost-price at shows and swap-meets, by dealers happy to get rid of their back stock and the figure is no longer 'rare' at all. Worse; It's become a lottery which set/figure you get, Big Bad Custer, or a chap waving at his mother!!!
The Accurate figure on the other hand remains 'rare', but as a non-issued figure is only a curious part of the production process, and of limited interest/use. By which I mean, if you take it off the sprue and paint it up for inclusion in a war-game army, you are - of course - destroying an historical artifact, but leave it on the sprue, and it's just a dead lifeless thing, (twice dead in this case!). So; Rare figure or unusual artifact? Would you give the same significance to the floor sweepings of the production line or the sculptors studio chaff? No.
And if the new owners of the Accurate moulds were to find the insert? Mass production would probably follow.
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