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The 1985 Gibson designer series flyer demonstrated the range of Custom Graphic finishes available for the Flying V (styles 30, 31 and 32) and Explorer (styles 20, 21 and 22). All were applied to a standard Ebony (black) or Alpine White instrument. A range of flag finishes were also shown: as well as the Union Jack Explorer, a confederate flag was applied to the Invader and Victory bass: the Rebel Invader and Rebel Victory. Was it just a play on words? Or perhaps a nod to the 1983 Star Wars film?
The use of the confederate flag in modern times has usually been contentious, representing a hostility to integration and the South's resistance to political dominance of the North (the Union). Obviously it harks back to the American civil war, but in this case it may actually be a symbol of another American war, which the South did indeed win. Gibson had long had difficulties with trade unions, and it was felt that they simply held too much sway. As a result Gibson opened a new plant in Nashville in 1975, with non-unionized staff, hoping to end the unions dominance, and assert more control over the workforce. Naturally there was significant resistance to the changes made, with workers not wishing to relocate aross the country.
So in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Gibson production was split between two plants: Nashville in the South, and the heavily unionized Kalamazoo in the North. But there was simply insufficient orders to keep both open, and one had to close. This was the battleground, and for some time it could have gone either way. In late 1984, however, the war was finally won. The Kalamazoo plant closed, and guitar production moved completely to Nashville. Almost immediately this promotional flyer was produced; it is surely a celebration of the Nashville 'rebel' victory over the union(s), and of the South over the North.
Victory or not, practically nobody seems to have bought these guitars and they are seldom (if ever) seen in the used guitar market.