Friday, August 7, 2020

The Spiegel Pluto

First, a little bit of housekeeping: I thought I had downloaded a PDF copy of the BreyerFest 2020 Program, but (slaps head) I didn’t check if this was actually the case until Tuesday this week. So if anyone can pass along a copy to me, that would be much appreciated.  

Second, I’ve been engaging in some online retail therapy this week, since none of us had that in-person option at BreyerFest this year, the flea market – for many, many reasons – is simply not a safe place for me to visit right now, and I am still a little steamed about THAT Western Prancing Horse I lost out on eBay a few weeks back. 

This delightful little “Buy It Now” item came today definitely makes up for this deficiency:

A Spiegel Pluto! (Does wild, Kermit-style flail.)

I got him for a great price, too – the kind of price that helps me justify (a bit) other recent purchases I’ve made at full retail. 

In spite of the fact that he’s a relatively plentiful item (about 1150 made) the nature of his distribution actually makes him a hotly-pursued grail for many hobbyists, particularly now that Jeanne Mellin Herrick’s molds have seen a resurgence of popularity. 

He was sold in the 1993 Spiegel holiday catalog, alongside a Two-piece Dressage Set that included a Black Misty’s Twilight and a (super-duper pretty!) Dark Bay Hanoverian. The Dressage Set was very clearly a Special Run, but it was not as obvious that the Pluto was. The #475 Pluto was still current at the time, and the picture in the catalog appeared to be a #475 Pluto, so most hobbyists assumed that’s all he was. 

It wasn’t until several months later that we found out otherwise.

Roughly the same amount of Dressage Sets were sold – 1130, I believe – but both the Misty’s Twilight and Hanoverian are not especially difficult to acquire. There are a couple of the Hanoverians on eBay right now, and a Misty’s Twilight was listed (and relisted, twice) back in July. 

But the Plutos are few and far between. And why, you ask?

While hobbyists were aware of the Dressage Set as an actual Special Run item, and purchased accordingly, most of the Plutos were (presumably) bought as actual gifts for either children or horse-loving nonhobbyists. 

If hobbyists wanted a Pluto, he was still available from their favorite retailer. Probably cheaper, and with the option of handpicking, too.

So while most of the Hanoverian and Misty’s Twilights stayed within (and circulated about) the hobby market, most of the Spiegel Plutos ended up in the general market. When they do resurface, they’re either (a) in less than ideal condition, or (b) misidentified as a #475 Pluto. 

Mine fell into Category B: I swear I punched that Buy It Now button so hard I thought it would leave a hole in my computer screen. 

Technically he wasn’t a full-on “grail” item – I had half-heartedly hoped I’d find one at a thrift store or in a box lot on eBay or Craigslist, but didn’t actively pursue him – but both the price and the timing were right, so I couldn’t just pass him by.

Monday, August 3, 2020

More Thoughts on the BreyerFest Stablemates

I decided to skip out on the final weekend of BreyerFest content: aside from a deeper analysis of the Virtual Show results I’ll be doing over the next few weeks, and my still unfinished musings about the Special Runs and next year’s theme (that I like, a lot), I’m going to focus most of my creative energies – for the month of August, at least – on gardening and quilting.

(Finished two quilts this past weekend, already! Woot!)

I’m glad they finally put up the full videos of the live broadcasts, though; I know a lot of people were asking about the Archive Room Tour footage, in particular.

(HINT: “Trips to the Archive” could be something you could feature on the web site or YouTube channel on a regular basis, guys.)

The Special Run I fought the hardest for this year was Eire. I wasn’t even 100 percent sure I wanted him in the first place, but after he was snatched from my cart for the fourth or fifth time, I wasn’t going to let that little bugger go without a fight. He was one of the first things I pulled out of my “BreyerFest in a Box” and I have to say that… I’m glad I fought for him:

Hobbyists have come to expect the final product to be somewhat different than the initial promotional photographs, but the differences between “online” Eire and “in-person” Eire were starker than average – and in my opinion, significantly for the better!

Instead of just being a translucent lime green with a shamrock on his butt, he’s a deeper shade of green (not quite Kelly Green, but close) that’s nearly opaque. And that’s not merely “gold interference”,  he’s heavily oversprayed with gold to the point of being gilded.

I wouldn’t say he’s my favorite of all the Special Runs this year (still Hamish!) but my opinion of him went up several notches.

(As far as the color scheme goes, I suppose – as an alumna – I am obligated to say Go Tartars!)

All the Stablemates this year were great, actually. A couple of the quilts I’m currently working on incorporate a lot of plaids, so you would be guessing correctly that I love the little fabric bags the One-Days came in almost as much as the Stablemates themselves. I could really use some of that orange and turquoise material for my stash:

Friday, July 31, 2020

Still Surprising, Sometimes

Well, I’ll be diggidy-danged – they did make all the Slainte Surprises the equal amount! 800 for each of the Mattes, and 325 for each of the Glosses.

I was beginning to suspect that was the case; after the initial rush of horse trading, I noticed that the numbers seemed to be leveling out, and that no particular item seemed significantly “rarer” than the other.


It took a few years for the BreyerFest Surprise Special Run to evolve into what it has become today. With the first Surprise – the Quarter Horse in 2009 – we knew what the mold and colors were ahead of time. The only real “surprise” (aside from the Smoke, Charcoal, and Silver Filigrees that were supposed to be randomly distributed throughout the weekend, but were not) was in which one you’d get.

They switched it up a little bit with the Spun Gold Surprise Ethereals in 2011: we didn’t know the mold initially, but the quantities – again, aside from a Gloss Palomino Appaloosa that actually was randomly distributed – were more or less equal.

It wasn’t until 2012’s Stoneleigh Surprise on the Flash mold that the BreyerFest Surprise became more “standardized”: scarce Gloss variations of the Mattes were introduced, with variable amounts of each color (now four, instead of three). There’s been some variation since then – extra surprises for Anniversary years, the “Dark Horse” in 2018’s Dark Horse Surprise Smarty Joneses – but the formula has been more or less stayed the same.

I know some are lamenting the “chase” aspect, or the delightful mathematical models we build to determine which one is the rarest while we wait for Reeves to actually tell us, but I am perfectly fine with going back to equal quantities across the board. It’ll minimize scalping, encourage trading, and people who suddenly discover that there are eight variations of a mold they NEED NOW won’t find themselves maxing out their credit lines to do so.

It also doesn’t come as a surprise to me that the Glosses were at almost a 1 to 2 ratio compared to the Mattes – I figured there had to be more to my luck this year than The Universe glancing my way and saying “Fine, fine, humor her with a Gloss this time.”

I’ll still take it, though.

One of the other “surprises” this year – the Epona coming in two variations, both loose-maned and braided – is simply a case of Reeves catering to our fondness for variations, nothing more. I fully expect to see unannounced mold variations on BreyerFest Specials going forward, on any mold that comes with that possibility.

(Like most of the Special Runs, she is much lovelier in hand than the photographs suggested, though she is another I will wait a few months on before I even consider purchasing.)

As for the third Surprise – the Volunteer Model being a Gambler’s Choice – that was also something I did not find completely unexpected. With the increased need for volunteers, introducing variations to the Volunteer Special lowers the individual piece counts and therefore increased the potential resale value on the secondary market.

It seemed odd that they would introduce it this year, when the need for Volunteers was significantly reduced (therefore rendering the need for a lower piece count kinda moot). I suspect that this was something that was already planned ahead of time, when an in-person event was still on the table.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Trying to Summon the Lightning

For lots and lots of reasons I’d rather not get into, I am going to pretend that Volunteer Models didn’t exist this year. (Not that I particularly love the mold, but…  yeah, let’s not go there. Be happy with my Glossy Surprise and move forward.)

Recent BreyerFest Nonhorse Special Runs haven’t been much to my liking – and I was baffled by the inclusion of a Spanish Fighting Bull in the French-themed year, when there were so many more appropriate (and less controversial) options available – but I am quite delighted by this year’s edition Hamish:

Take a boring but competent mold that’s been out of circulation for a few years and give it a snazzy, shiny makeover!

As I’ve said before, I would have been happy if they had just given him an updated version of his original Solid Black paint job, add some shading, hoof and facial detailing, and wrap it up in a Gloss Finish. But Hamish in all his sparkly, splashy, glittery glory is more than fine!

This has gotten me to thinking. Who else is a boring but competent mold who hasn’t seen a lot of action lately? And who would definitely benefit from a sharp modern update?

(FYI: Not a typical Stud Spider.)

Stud Spider! We haven’t seen much of Spider in the past ten(!) years; the last time we saw him as a production piece was Stetson, a very nice Dun Micro Run (24 pieces) for the Lone Star Experience in 2009.

As for whether or not there’s a market for a new Stud Spider release, all I have to do is point to one of the Regular Run releases that immediately preceded Stetson: the #1236 Banjo in Buckskin Tobiano Pinto. He ran a remarkable five years as a part of the My Favorite Horses Series, from 2004 through 2008. That’s longer than his beloved original pinto release – the #88 Overo Pinto, that only ran for three years, from 1979 through 1981.

I was thinking a minimal frame overo would be nice (Blue Roan, or Sooty Palomino?), but the Collector’s Club “Picture This” Sweepstakes – where we had to choose one of four different molds to appear as a Special Run Frame Overo next year – tragically did not include Stud Spider as an option.

(I would have voted for him instead of... gosh, I don’t even remember now! Was it Latigo?)

So, not likely.

But stranger things have happened, and maybe whatever magic I seem to have at my disposal here might help make another Stud Spider happen sooner, regardless.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

BreyerFest in a Box

More technical difficulties this week, that (I hope) are finally worked out.

On the plus side of being mostly offline, I’ve been able to (a) finish dusting, (b) clean the garage, (c) sort and “triage” my quilt projects and even work on them a bit.

(The situation there is not as bad as I thought – I may still be able to hit my original pre-pandemic target by the end of the year!)

I’ve also – mercifully – been able to avoid most of the Online NPOD/Grab Bag “reveals”, which have become something of a sore point with me this year. While I am glad that I managed to get what I could get when others could not, that was one thing I was really hoping to “participate” in this year.

But alas, like so many other things this year, I could not.

My “BreyerFest in a Box” arrived Tuesday, and I’ve slowly been opening pieces throughout the week, as my emotional needs warranted. The first model I opened wasn’t the Surprise, but the Thorn:

I knew when they revealed that the Thorn was the Gloss/Matte Split model that that meant I was still probably getting the Matte, because my lack of luck with Glosses extends even to releases where I have a 50/50 shot (or better, with Lancelot!)

And as chance would have it, the Gloss Thorns are especially nice, and all the people who had him as their 5th or 6th choice and ended up with the Gloss are now either deciding to keep him, or using his “new hotness” to procure something more to their likings.

As you know, I do not play that game, so it’ll probably be a while before I add a Gloss Thorn here. I’m hoping it’ll only be a year, maybe, but the prices for a lot of not-that-rare things are absolutely nonsensical now so it’s hard to judge. Either way, it means I’ll have to wait.

(I was not expecting to see Kochab – the Stablemate MiniMe of the Duende North Star – going for nearly a hundred bucks on eBay, but that’s where we are right now.)

So I didn’t have a whole lot of hope when I finally decided to open my Surprise Friday night. When I took off the orange outer bag I could see that it was the Silver Dapple Black, so I immediately and logically assumed it was the Matte – who appears to be the most common color/finish combo of the Surprises this year.

And I was fine with that, since the color is beautiful and something that they could definitely put on all the things going forward. So when I took off the inner plastic bag and discovered this instead:

My brother and I used to joke that if Mom ever had the luck of actually winning the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes, they’d never be able to use the footage in their commercials. Instead of immediately bursting into tears or screaming for joy, she would yell something along the lines of “It’s about [expletive deleted] time!” grab the giant check from the hapless Prize Patrol people, and slam the door in their faces.

And only then she would have cried.

Yeah, that’s what I did.

One tiny bit of redemption in a BreyerFest that was otherwise not what I wanted, or expected.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Sorting Things Out

Still not done dusting; I was distracted by the fact that my BreyerFest orders have been upgraded to “Fulfilled” on the Breyer web site, and now that’s all I can think about.

The rhubarb pie didn’t help, either. (I don’t know what magical ingredient my mother puts into it other than rhubarb, but it’s great!)

It’s kind of interesting to watch the transactions for BreyerFest Surprise models take place entirely online this year; it’s still not entirely clear to me (beyond what the most common color is) what their relative rankings are, and I think a lot of transactions are still being based strictly on past history and overall desirability.

(Actually, I would prefer that they make all colors in equal quantities and let hobbyists sort out them out purely by desirability like they did with the first couple of Surprises, but Reeves is going to Reeves.)

Keeping in mind that I have the annoying habit of picking the “rare” one out of the lineup right off every year when I go to take a look at the Silent Auction set first thing Friday morning: my first choice is the Roan Pinto because I have a thing for Roans in general and I think it’s the prettiest one out of the set, though the Silver Bay is a close second.

My second is the Appaloosa because it’s been forever since I’ve drawn an Appaloosa Surprise (the last being the Spun Gold Surprise in 2011) and that’s even longer than my Glossy drought (the last and only being the 2012 Stoneleigh Surprise).

But anyway, enough of the blatherings. Here’s the situation with this year’s Samplers.

I’ll print up about 20 copies to start, and the rest on-demand, with the first batch ready to be mailed out on Friday. After that, they’ll be mailed out as my schedule permits.

All I am asking for is a dollar to cover the cost of postage and supplies, sent via the donate button off to the side here or via PayPal directly, using my Yahoo account (leeta87). With your address, of course.

I haven’t had a chance to pull out older copies out of my files yet; aside from the dusting, my other big project has been pulling and sorting all the unfinished quilting projects crammed in the nooks and  crannies not occupied by horses, and holy cats, that's a troublingly tall pile of work to do. It is almost as tall as I am, and I am not short. 

I do have several copies of the 2018 (I accidentally left a bundle at home that year!) so I can toss one of those in easy-peasy and at no extra charge, but the rest will take a little more time to sort out.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Dusting and Revelations

My weekend was messy and complicated. The Samplers will be done tomorrow, and I’ll give everybody an update on them then.

Anyway, the power kept flickering in and out, the computer was being glitchy, I lost an auction on eBay last night that was important to me emotionally, I developed a sinking feeling that my BreyerFest purchases are stuck in limbo for the duration, and I’m in the middle of dusting which is not exactly my favorite activity in the world.

While I am generally of the same opinion as most of you when it comes to dusting – I only do it when (a) I need to take a picture, (b) I am getting ready for a show, or (c) the spiders are starting to get entirely too comfortable in the house – my family has been most insistent that I get this done as soon as possible.

And of course, it’s the only project this weekend that I made any significant progress on at all. In fact, it is going well enough that I might be finished by tomorrow, and thus salvage my week, if not my weekend.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of one of my old favorites who did diddly-squat at the BreyerFest Virtual Show, my beautiful #54 Bay Trakehner who doesn’t look like an off-the-shelf Regular Run Trakehner from 1979, but he is:

It’s funny, when I used to show him in the 1980s, he’d either get totally ignored, or he’d attract a huge crowd that would stand agape at his insanely awesome shading and ask me how I acquired such an amazing specimen of Trakehner-ness.

(Santa. The answer was Santa.)

At Pansies and Ponies last year several people came over to my table to do much the same, but the judges had other thoughts on the matter. I had high hopes for him at the Virtual Show too, but again, he became invisible. I could see that other Hess Trakehners were considered but alas, my beautiful Revelator was not.

He’s one of those models that I keep going back to when I think about entering the actual live show next year, maybe. Would seeing him in person persuade the judges? Or is my time better spent focusing on winning the Customs Contest first?