While the operation is only meant to lightly buff the metal, it's not difficult to remove fine detail; some of the molds may have been polished so vigorously as to lose their mold stamps, which then had to be retooled. Down the line we'll get a look at these guys when we revisit the mold stamps.
To help illustrate this deterioration, we have here one of the molds that went through the most dramatic change - the G1 Morgan Stallion.The dapple grey model in the foreground is one of the earliest releases of this mold, one of the early 1975 "Arabians". The 1998 SR bay blanket appaloosa is one of the last runs to come out of the mold. The change from refined to chunky happened rather dramatically, apparently in mid-to-late 1994 based on models around that time.
The first thing most people notice on a newer Morgan Stallion is that huge, thick foreleg. Who added the extra bone in there? Where did the fetlock go? Then you notice the ears that look like chocolate left in the sun, the forelock melting into the forehead, and the smooth, nearly featureless face.
Speaking of smooth, look at the the difference in the detail in the tails. The appaloosa also has a clubbed near-hind foot in addition to an overall lack of detail in the body and legs.
None of the old molds escaped unscathed, though some are worse than others. Towards the "worse" end of the scale is the Quarter Horse Stallion. The models get older from right to left: 1976 Chestnut, 1976 (likely a 1980s model) Buckskin, and a 2005 Bay.
Though it's likely the buckskin and the chestnut are less than ten years apart, you can easily see the newer model is already showing a slight loss of detail; by 2005 the difference is dramatic.
If you can tear your eyes away from the featureless legs on the bay, check out the gradual melting of the ears. The wrinkles on the crest of the chestnut didn't even make it onto the 1980s model, never mind the 2005.
I still have more to ramble about on the subject of the things that go bump in the production process, but I thought we were getting a little picture-heavy already. We'll just have to revisit the topic again at another time. If you have any weird and wonderful mis-cast or factory damaged model, please, send me a picture and I'll be happy to feature it in the next molding mishap post!