Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Shrinky Stablemates

Ever have one of those days where you have all the time in the world, and you can’t get one darn thing done?

Today was that day for me. Grr. Argh.

But so far I’ve managed to resist the temptation of the BreyerFest Leftover Sale, so perhaps Thursday will be a better day.

Yes, I’m deciding to go for a Chesapeake ticket. I figure all of the Events from this point forward will be even further away and less accessible, aside from any more potential Factory-centered Events, so I might as well give it a shot. I’ll be home most of the day to monitor the availability anyway.

If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. The particulars I will sort out, if it does.

Here’s a little something I picked up at the flea market just before Kentucky – and I do mean little: a Shrinky Stablemates Bay Morgan Stallion!

The shrinkage is a little more noticeable in this photograph:

Yep, Shrinky Stablemates do exist. What’s fascinating about them is that since they are (by and large) molded out of solid acetate, they pretty much shrink at a consistent rate all over.

There is very little bending, warping or any other physical distortions, aside from the color shifting: they just get smaller and more adorable.

How much smaller, I don’t know. I guess I’ll be able to find out, now!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Mustang with the Good Hair

I recently purchased a lot of models from the early to mid-1970s; I was hoping for a Chalky or two in the bunch but alas, no such luck. Fortunately, it didn’t cost me much, and there was one unexpected keeper in the bunch:

This #87 Buckskin Mustang epitomizes everything that was both good, and bad, about Breyer models of the 1970s. That would be the era that I grew up in, Breyer-wise.

The Bad: his shading is fuzzy and inconsistent, there’s overspray in unexpected places, his seams are rough and punctuated by random gouges, and he has a factory-bent back leg that makes him lean at a rather precipitous angle.

The Good: look at that mane!

He’s got spit curls!

There was a lot of variation in the way the Buckskin Mustang’s mane was painted over the years: it’s been loosely airbrushed, tightly airbrushed, and it has had a couple of different painting masks/stencils. This release was in production for about 25 years, so variation of that sort is not only not unusual, it is to be expected.

I’ve seen, and owned, Buckskin Mustangs with tightly airbrushed manes before. But the quality of the airbrushing on this fellow – well, I haven’t quite seen its like before. It’s delicate, playful, and almost calligraphic.

Was someone in the painting department showing off? Bored? Or had a particularly good lunch that day?

No matter. They took what would have been a standard, barely-out-of-body-box quality Mustang and turned him into a genuine piece of art.

So of course I have to keep him.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Running, Jumping, Crunching

Earlier this week I ran my personal budget numbers; it’s not that anything is necessarily amiss, but this does tend to be my most expensive time of the year. I was hoping to see if there was room for some of the surprises that Reeves inevitably throws out. Because I had a feeling they were planning some doozies.

Then not one, but two of those doozies got thrown at us this very week: an unusually plentiful BreyerFest Leftover sale, and news of the next Exclusive Event.

The Leftover Sale is a bit different this time, in that they posted items not just from this year, but from the past several years – including pieces like Tunbridge Wells, Aintree, Champagne Wishes, and the Silver Anniversary Stablemates – and some were also discounted, sometimes rather deeply (the porcelain Dances with Wolves is only $35? Really?)

Depending on how a few pending deals go this weekend, I might indulge myself, especially since it looks like the weather is going to put a kibosh on flea marketing over the next few days.

The Exclusive Event – “Chasing the Chesapeake” – well, it’s theoretically possible. Timing isn’t an issue, since my job is very flexible in that regard, but everything else is iffy. With money being the biggest if.

On the plus side: it’d be an opportunity to have a “do over” of the less-than-optimal Chicago event; I already have a (hilarious) costume idea in mind; third, it’s drivable (though I’d do a rental) and fourth: Michael Matz!

Earlier this week, I was getting a little bit of work done on the car (again, routine stuff, nothing to worry about) and while I was waiting, I managed to catch some coverage Team Show Jumping at the Olympics – and of Cortes ‘C’, whose model is one of the ones I was hoping to schedule into my budget for the rest of the year.

(BTW: Get well soon, Tiny!)

Anyway, it made me flashback to the early 1980s. One of the perks of living in the Detroit area was being able to catch Canadian programming locally; this included some slightly demented children’s shows (Mr. Dressup, anyone?) and coverage of sporting events that U.S. stations didn’t deem worthy of airtime, like darts and curling.

That also included a lot of equestrian events. Anyway, one day I was home by myself and watching some show jumping – I can’t remember what event it was, specifically. The first horse I saw was Jet Run (and Michael Matz, of course).

This was shortly after Breyer had released the USET Gift Set in 1980; I had read about them, but hadn’t seen them in actual (live!) action before. So I was dorked out beyond words. I think that was all I talked about for the rest of the day, much to my family’s chagrin. (Me: “I saw Jet Run on TV today!!” The Rest of the Family: “What on Earth are you talking about?”)

Anyway. So there’s all that.

But the money and the planning are a huge issue, and tied to the reservations I have about these “Exclusive Events” in general. Especially now that they seem to be a yearly thing.

(In short: they run contrary to my notion of the hobby being a being a more egalitarian and affordable alternative to the “real” horse world. But I don’t have the energy for that conversation today.)

I have a lot of time off in the next couple of weeks – it’s always a bit slow this time of year at work – to crunch more numbers and see if I can make it more doable. If anyone wants to volunteer to carpool or splitsies on a room, let me know. It might help.

Monday, August 15, 2016


The flea market yesterday was a bit of a bust, for a variety of reasons. The past few weeks have been pretty good overall, so I can’t complain too much. Take, for example, a recent Salvation Army store haul:

Yes, that Dachshund is a Hagen-Renaker Brunhilda – with a broken leg and tail, but still a keeper. It’s been a little while since I’ve found an H-R Pedigree Dog, in any condition, and she has a sweet and nicely detailed face. (FWIW, I prefer them “pre-broken” anyway: I am clumsy and it takes the pressure off.)

While most of my most recent purchases will end up on my sales list – because my other rationalization for shopping is “I need inventory!” – nothing I’ve purchased will make me any serious money. Lots of bodies and mid-range Traditionals and Classics; I think the best piece, aside from Brunhilda, was an early and near mint Kelso with no mold mark. (Also not a keeper, but not for sale, yet.)

Not that there hasn’t been temptation to buy strictly for myself: the Appaloosa Classics Draft Horse Triton who appeared on the Breyer web site recently is adorable. He reminds me a lot of another recent release, the Let’s Go Riding – English Set Appaloosa Pluto:

I call this painting technique “splash dotting” as opposed to “splash spotting” because the spots look like dots. Reeves developed this technique – basically a much slower and more controlled splattering – to reduce the incidence of streaky spots that used to plague Dappled and Appaloosa paint jobs in the 1970s and 1980s.

Unfortunately, it turned out that this technique wasn’t any more realistic that the original splash-spotting: streaks were replaced with a handful of randomly scattered polka dots.

It looks like with the release of Triton – who is also Gloss, with metallic blue ribbons – Reeves may be acknowledging and embracing splash dotting as another technique in their Decorator arsenal, just as they now have with the original Freckle Red Roans and the Matte Shaded Resist Dapple Grays of the 1970s.

Those latter two colors, incidentally, were among the earliest attempts by Breyer to create more “realistic” paintjobs, per hobbyist demand. While they might not be realistic by today’s standards, they are still appealing on both a decorative and nostalgic level.

So yeah, bring on the polka-dotted ponies! (Just not right now for me, I need to buy some new tires soon.)

Friday, August 12, 2016


I am not really understanding the antagonism over the latest Stablemates Club release Ricochet, the Pink Pearl Florentine Decorator G3 Andalusian:

I dislike the gender stereotyping of Pink as a “girly” color as much as the next person, and I don’t wear it personally because I look terrible in it, but I don’t hate it. There are some colors I like less than others – Magenta, ahem – but I don’t shy away from any of them as an artist.

Whatever works, works. (I’ve found it to be a very versatile color in my quilting projects: it works especially well with browns, yellows, and neutrals.)

Ricochet is not the first official, non-accidental production run model in some shade of Pink: come to think of it, we’ve had a lot.

Off the top of my head… we’ve had Color Crazy Stablemates, the 2011 BreyerFest Fairytails Flora, the 2014 BreyerFest Stablemate Birthday Cake, the Breast Cancer Awareness Horses, pieces in both the Blossoms and Zodiac series, and of course the notorious Pink Poodle Cotton Candy, on the Small Poodle mold:

Most recently – this year, in fact – we’ve also had the Mini Whinnies Blind Bag Surprise Landing Jumper Strawberry.

While most Pink Breyers are of recent origin, one Pink piece is among the oldest, and rarest: the Pink Elephant, made very briefly in 1958. It was probably made from a batch of pink-colored Tenite purchased for the then-unlaunched Small Poodle mold.

I think. It’s what makes sense from the evidence, since Test pieces of the original Small Poodle mold seem to indicate that they were intended to release it in Pink and Light Blue. (The former being the inspiration for Cotton Candy!)

It would also explain why they’d release an Elephant, otherwise inexplicably, in Blue instead of a more logical color like White.

(Yeah, I saw that Test Color White Elephant on eBay a while back. Sigh. Odds are pretty good for an Elephant Special Run for next year’s Indian-themed ‘Fest, so here’s hoping…)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Gloss Namib

My draws for the ticket line at BreyerFest the past few years have been bad – I can’t recall the last time I was even in the front half of the line – so I did not expect to get, and did not get, the Funky Brown Pegasus.

That did sell out easily because it was – as I said – a low piece run and a Pegasus.

I haven’t been having much luck in the Gloss department, either, but I did manage to at least get a Gloss Namib, who was the designated 50/50 Gloss-Matte Split model this year:

She looked beautiful both ways, and I would have been content with the Matte, but it was nice to get one “surprise” Gloss this year, even if I had a 50-50 chance all along, technically.

It’s interesting that this marks the third year in a row at BreyerFest that we’ve had a Gloss Dark Bay Special Run: in 2014 it was one of the Glossy Surprise SR Nokota Horses, and in 2015 it was the Ashquar Ganache.

Is it a coincidence, or a consequence of the feedback from buyers? I’m definitely not complaining – third time was the charm for me, yay! – but I think it’s worth noting.

While she didn’t sell out while the ticket time were running, she did sell out when the leftovers went on sale Sunday afternoon. So while she might not have been everyone’s first choice, she was apparently a lot of people’s second.

Reeves did a fairly good job this year managing the inventory this year; after everyone with tickets had their share, and then the leftovers, only three items had any significant leftovers to spare: the bull Zebu, Furano, and the Mamacita y Chico set.

The Nonhorse molds have been hit or miss the past few years, so leftovers on Zebu weren’t too shocking. But the Make a Wish mold (Furano) is really hot right now, and Mare and Foal sets have tended to sell well at BreyerFest in general. I thought for sure those two would be the sellouts, with the Namib and Bozeman being the ones with leftovers.

Again, worth noting: if history is any guide, it’s the items that don’t immediately sell out that become hot ticket items down the road (see also: most of the stuff that ends up at Tuesday Morning).

It’s unlikely I’ll bite if and when the leftovers go on sale online. I’m trying to lay off the retail purchases for the time being. I tend to remain stuck in “shopping mode” for a couple of months after BreyerFest, and that sometimes gets me in trouble.

(Though if the past few days are any indication, going the “nonretail” route isn’t going to be much more help!)

It helps that I’m currently a bit cool on those molds right now, too, though it might just be a matter of the right color and finish at the right time that correct that.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Black Spotted Appaloosa Gelding

I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather the past few days (this allergy season has been hitting me like a sledgehammer) so you’re getting something short post today.

Here is another one of the handful of nonretail/nonstore acquisitions I made at BreyerFest this year. Technically he’s a body, and shouldn’t be anything to write home about, but can you see why I was so excited to make this Appaloosa Gelding’s acquaintance?

Check out the spots on his butt – they’re dark brown/black, not the standard Chestnut! They are the same paint color as his halter, as opposed to more typical Geldings, whose spots are the same darker shade of Chestnut color as the mane and tail.

It’s a known variation, but definitely not a common one. I’m not sure how he fits into the Appaloosa Gelding’s variation chronology. Most (but not all) vintage Breyer paint jobs tend to get simpler and less sophisticated over time, not more complex; judging from the overall look and characteristics of this example, I’m thinking closer to the beginning of his run (1971) as opposed to near the end (1980).

He’s been a “back burner” want of mine for a while, until I spotted him – naturally! – in a body box at BreyerFest.

Alas, I didn’t walk away with him when I found him originally, because (silly me) I didn’t have my money on me at the time. When I went back, he was gone, so I assumed someone else noticed how special he was. (I am not the only one who knows some of the greatest finds at BreyerFest are to be found in body boxes!)

To make a long story short – because the allergy meds are starting to kick in – he still managed to find his way to me. While he might not have he same flash or backstory as, the Gold Charm Man o’ War, his acquisition will be just as treasured a memory.