Shadow of Colossus - It all fades...
by, 08-21-2012 at 09:04 AM (662 Views)
At first, it was just a show name for a horse I hadn't even created. But it has turned into a very symbolic sentiment to me.
I suppose I should start by explaining a bit more. I have always loved and supported the Peter Stone Company. Their models are what rocketed me back into the hobby full force. I was a buying machine. In my year back in the hobby... just one year, I've likely spent over 8,000 USD on horses. 5,000 USD easily going towards them. One of my absolute prides is my American Saddlebred Show String. Their names are powerful to match the beauty and force of the models themselves. Classical Renaissance, Pride of Pompeii, Unchecked Imperialism, Golden Age, and the crown jewel, Colossus of Rhodes.
Colossus of Rhodes, named after the fallen wonder of the Ancient world, has been a legend in the show ring. My ace in the hole. His victories surprise me even still to this day. While I felt there was much wrong with him, it seems that the judges beg to differ. Different judges in different areas all with a common love of this model. I wanted to get him a son to show under him, but the best I could hope for was for his son to live in his father's shadow. So I knew when the Champagne color became available in the Design A Horse project I would need to create his son.... Shadow of Colossus.
My Region is pretty dry for shows. One of the regular yearly shows was cancelled, and the other is not worth going to. So there is only two shows in my region. One in September, and the next in March. My last show was in March of last year so it's been far too long for me to have my horses confined to their totes, yearning to stretch their legs and be adorned with ribbons. For me, the hobby aspect of collecting is showing. With shows running dry, it's harder for me to justify the cost of purchasing new horses.
Furthermore, I've watched over the last few months as the company that I had grown to love so dearly has made so many business choices that have confused me and made me feel completely unappreciated as a former customer. The cheerful face of the company has begun to fade and be replaced with a cold indifference, favoring things that seem to go against their Company's mission.
The fiasco with Sante Fe Renegade was where I began to have extreme difficulties trying to defend the Company I loved. They released the horse for Pre-Order in December 2011. Anticipating shipment in March 2012. People ordered, paid, and were very excited. March came and passed... still no Morgans. That's fine because there were issues with the mold. I can understand that! Well, just before Equilocity they got their first huge shipment of "not messed up" Morgans. And... guess what went for sale in Kentucky? A slew of Sante Fe Renegades. All sold to people in Kentucky rather than shipped to people who waited 5 months PAST their initial estimated shipping date. These people waited 9 months total for these models, then got to watch the first batch-- which was promised to them-- get snapped up by people in Kentucky as Impulse buys. I simply could not find a reasonable defense for the Company's actions. It was obvious that the money made on the Renegade's sold in December was long since spent, so they needed to sell the first run to make more revenue in Kentucky. Ultimately sticking it to the people who invested in the company in December of 2011.
They come back from Kentucky with much talk about "Cinnamon Mew Mew" -- a person who makes.... very youth-centered videos on youtube. The Stone Company decides to give her her own run of horses for her .....???????? web series? Comic? I don't know. But it's clear that Stone is attempting to market at youths by targeting this person. The real insult is that they aren't trying to market it to their existing customers. They won't even explain [I]what it is[/I] to their existing customers. Every time someone asks, they just link to youtube. That's it. It seems to me that they're designing a run of Stones based off of Breyers in her "movies". Which seems sketchy to me anyways. But, the real insult is that they're marketing this SO POORLY in assuming that everyone knows who this person is. Why would everyone who collects Stone know who this person is? Cinnamon Mew Mew is not a name that I'd expect to hear when I think of multi-thousand dollar auction models by Boydston. Nor the name I would associate with high quality pieces of model horse "artwork". It's the name I would associate with a kid playing with Schleich horses. But in actuality it's an adult playing with Breyers. Throwing them off of banisters and coating them in ketchup. Yes, this is the new face of Stone. While I can appreciate their attempt to draw in a younger crowd to continue the legacy of collecting, marketing 100 dollar horses to children (her viewing audience is I assume 7-13 years old) doesn't seem like a lucrative business practice. Mom and dad will have a hard time shelling out 100 bucks for a horse their child is going to throw in the mud and cover in condiments.
The Design a Horse program, once relatively efficient, has turned to be very uncoordinated and sloppy. It seemed like for the bulk of 2011 people were receiving horses within the 4 week "minimum" time frame. Lately most horses have been surpassing the 12 week (4 month) wait time for their models. The Company combats this not by trying to streamline the Design-a-Horse program... but by making the minimum wait time 12 weeks. Meanwhile they continue to put out new runs and OOAKs weekly. Many of which using similar colors to the Design A Horse program. If they are indeed trying to market to a younger generation they should be trying to enhance this program since the base cost of a horse is 60 dollars (much within a youth's budget!) When I was a young collector I would've been SO EXCITED to get my own one-of-a-kind (of sorts) Design A Horse. and for under 100 bucks?! I get to design it?! That's the ticket to market to youth! But to enhance the wait time to 12 weeks effectively deters most youths from ordering... as 4 months is a very long time to wait.
Shipping practices have been more questionable than ever as I've seen 4 public very bad mess ups in the past 2 weeks. Including someone who ordered chips being sent a OOAK traditional horse. Another was someone buying a close out discount horse and receiving a brand new run whose release date wasn't scheduled for another week. Another receiving someone else's Design-A-Horse order. Etc. These sort of issues hadn't been an issue in the past. At least they weren't spoken if they were a problem. Any discrepancy with shipping was few and far between. But as they're about to begin a partnership with Utterly Horses in the UK they're starting to show some very big sloppy mistakes in shipping that leave me fearful of ordering from them any further.
I also contacted them months ago about my concern on their practice of not putting a base coat of white on their models before mapping off markings to paint the pinto patterns. For the last few years, they've just masked off the bare white plastic of the body in lieu of painting it white to save time and money. Back then they likely didn't know that years down the road (years being 1-2 years, not 10-20) that the plastic would eventually erode due to the natural compounds found within the plastic. I told her that it wasn't my home that was the problem, nor my storing habits. But in actuality it was the plastic.
I know this due to a OOAK ISH I have that is mostly white with a windswept mane that is also white. The windswept mane hasn't faded, but the body color has. So now I have a horse with an off white/egg shell body and a CRISP WHITE mane which is pitifully obvious when I show her. I even sympathized, stating that I don't expect a refund and am taking the loss.... but others who spend more... thousands more... might not be as agreeable as I am. The answer I got was a "we'll look into it, but it's expensive" sort of response. When your customers purchase models costing upwards of 3,000 USD.... I think that it's important to do more than "look into it".
We're paying an expense. A huge one. We're investing our money in an American born and run company on non-essential items. I'm sure if there was a 10 dollar price increase due to painting base coats... no one would notice. But in the long run the models would hold their value far better. I felt so hurt by the lack of compassion. I would expect this from Breyer, a huge corporation that is too big to really "know their roots" but Stone is still run by the man who founded it. I didn't expect them to be so... corporate-y towards someone trying to make a suggestion in their best interest. At least they know now that their plastic fades. Maybe the people who've spent 800 dollars on that etched auction model or on a YCI will speak up and be far less accommodating than I was. They may even demand a refund. I've found that sometimes my lack of aggressiveness just labels me as a pushover. When in actuality all I am trying to do is help. But as they say, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I guess in the future I should be a lot squeakier.
I don't hate change. But, when it's all negative or questionable changes I do have a problem. When something I cared about so much suddenly became so indifferent and no longer accommodating to the people who support them, I have a problem.
I've spent the last few days trying to figure out what to do, and what separating from the Company means to me. My show string is 80% Stone Horses. I cannot bring myself to buy from the Company anymore so I can either buy second hand or continue in another venue, such as Breyers or Customs. I am scared to because Breyers, while less expensive, are a real crap-shoot at a horse show and there's a high chance that my winnings won't be reliable. Customs on the other hand can be just as expensive as Artist Resins and there's no telling what the judge will prefer. Extreme customization or repaint? ---- Perhaps I should forget showing, and consider tack making or painting to continue this as a hobby rather than a collection. I keep going back to the same feeling of hopelessness and loss, wishing things could go back to the way they were.
So, now we go back to Colossus of Rhodes and his yet-to-be born son, Shadow of Colossus. I was on Model Horse Sales Page today, trying to distract myself from my dreary outlook on the current state of my hobby... and I found my resolution. All in the form of a Champagne ASB Design A Horse. He was identical to the one I was going to order from the company myself. I couldn't believe it. I contacted the owner, nervous about the answer, and she said he was still available and all mine now. This horse was exactly what I needed. The piece that I had lost. The piece I failed to ever achieve. In my Shadow of Colossus I got the clarity I needed to continue.
Seeing the Company that I loved so much begin to fail this hard hurts. I feel betrayed, I feel loss, I feel sadness and nostalgia wishing things could be the way they were. But instead, it all fades.
While I am happy to have secured my Shadow of the Colossus, I find myself standing in the Shadow of the Colossus, The shadow of the Company, just one voice-- just one sad collector-- looking up to watch something I loved puff itself up to unfathomable heights, alienating themselves from their loyal customer base.... eventually to come crashing down. Never to be what it was again. I've learned that I can continue to see the fond memories in the unblinking eyes of my model horses as opposed to associate them with the betrayal and sadness that I've recently felt.
I've learned that even when standing in the Shadow of the Colossus, I felt that their changes and lack of compassion toward their existing customer base had ruined my hobby for me. But the only person who can ruin my hobby for me... [I]is me[/I]. And I refuse to let anyone take my joy away. I'll adapt, I will continue collecting, and I will enjoy the hobby in new ways I never thought possible before.
[B]Updating 8/22/12 to add[/B]: Stone officially announced that Sandy, their sole customer service/account management rep for many... many years.... will no longer be a part of the company. The word choice leads me to believe that they willfully cut her from employment as opposed to her suggesting separation. They have made yet another very large mistake. On the heels of all the other events that've been rolling out, just days before they decide to leave for this trip to the United Kingdom, they terminate their longest term (or one of the longest term) employees who has been [I]the face[/I] of the company to the customers. With shipping and Quality Control at their lowest point ever, they make the decision to cut one of their most knowledgeable employees.
Roughly an hour after the announcement they add an album full of Cinammon Mew Mews new horses. Further cementing my dreadful theory that the company is moving away from their current customers. From the things we loved about the company. All in pursuit of a customer base that is solely dependent on their parents incomes to fund their frivolous purchases. Kids who have no sense of fiscal responsibility or even the value of a dollar. Kids who will very publicly bash the company at the drop of a hat if they don't like the product or the prices. If they thought the adults were bad, wait until they see the kids. At least we understand why the models can be so expensive. The kids will have no understanding. They will just feel ripped off.
Anyways. In a sense I am happy for Sandy. She no longer has to drain her happiness in an effort to please customers who are upset with a company that truly doesn't care for them anymore. She no longer has to try to justify their shortcomings and take a verbal lashing. In a way, she's free. I'm not sure if she still collects or if she's into the hobby... but if she is, she finally has a chance to enjoy it.