Friday, April 29, 2016

Different Shades of White

For your consideration and discussion today, an early and attractive Classic Arabian Family set:

These were a part of the same lot that brought me my “Famous Race Horses” set. Even though I knew they were in nicer-than-average condition when I bought them, I didn’t have any hesitation about their ultimate destination: the sales list. I have several examples of the Classic Arabian Family, and I really didn’t need another.

Until they arrived and I was able to inspect them in person, and darn it, they’re Chalky Plastic!

Well, the Stallion and the Mare are, but not the Foal. I found that a little amusing since it’s been my experience that the Foal is usually the easiest of the three to find as a Chalky.

It’s not unusual for Family sets to have “mixed” finishes: we tend to forget that each of these molds is a separate entity unto itself. One shot of plastic into a mold does not make an entire family, just the pieces of a single family member (usually two, but occasionally more if it has interchangeable ears, manes, tails or horns).

This is not a universal truth: I know some of the G1 Stablemates molds (at least) are “doubled up” and one shot can get you two different horses. But that’s a different subject for a different day.

Most of the Chalky Classic Arabians I’ve had over the years have been the basecoated type; Chalky Plastic ones are a little less common.

These were from that time period, however, when Cellulose Acetate was hard to come by, and Breyer was buying whatever they could get their hands on. That included a lot of batches of varying shades of whiteness and translucency, ranging from very bright white to housepaint-opaque.

These different shades of white might not have been as noticeable then, but they’ve become moreso over time, yellowing in different ways (if at all) from the standard semi-translucent stuff.

I’ll give myself a little more time to consider whether or not the set gets to stay, or have to go. That mare is so nice…

Monday, April 25, 2016

Silver Linings and Gold Trims

Not that one either:

Even though I wasn’t as emotionally invested in Rodney as I had been the two previous Micro Run online Payment-Raffles – Marshall and Dugan – and I’m stretched rather thin financially at the moment, I still entered every day anyway.

I have the two variations of the Dall Sheep – Gray Horn and Tan Horn – and a nice early example of the original Bighorn Ram itself. But I do not have one of the later Reissues, from which the bodies of this Special Run were likely drawn.

I did at one point, but I must not have found the example I had to be particularly appealing enough to keep. (I didn’t find the “right one”, I guess.)

That makes me 0 for 3 since the switch to the online raffle system for Micro Runs, by the way. Y’all know my opinion on this new system, and since I seem to be in the minority about it, that's as far as I'll go.

In the meantime, on to happier things. Here’s another Traditional Man o’ War. There is something special about this guy – can you see it?

He doesn’t have any gold trim on his halter!

Generally hobbyists are quick to label something like this a Cull, but since this model is otherwise flawless (for a model from the early 1970s), I think he is better classified as an Oddity: the gold trim was the last, or one of the last steps in the decorating process, and it was obviously skipped.

A detail like that could have easily been overlooked, especially if it was the end of the day and/or they had to rush an order out. A lot of times even we don’t notice these subtle mistakes, unless it’s a mold we obsess about – like me with the Traditional Man o’ War, currently.

(Which may have been the reason why I got him so cheap!)

Since he has lighter gray (but not Battleship Gray) hooves, a USA mold mark, and warmer orange-brown tones to his body color, this example is probably dateable to the period from 1970-1973.

He also happened to be purchased from the same collection as that mighty fine Bay Proud Arabian Stallion I recently spotlighted, who also from that same time period.

Friday, April 22, 2016


There was a “contest” on the Breyer web site recently to make birthday cards for Queen Elizabeth:

Who, by the way, is totally one of us. A model horse collector, that is.

I can’t recall if I shared the story here or not – I did in one of my BreyerFest Samplers a few years back – but I accidentally met one of the Queen’s Ladies-in-Waiting at BreyerFest, who was there to pick up the Celebration Horse for her. I believe it was Grayingham Lucky Lad?

Anyway, it was a weird and wonderful moment for me, though a little unnerving. You didn’t go to BreyerFest – especially in the early days – and expect to find yourself confronted by questions of royal etiquette.

There was one other member of royalty who was also allegedly a Breyer collector, as well: Prince.

If you ever get a chance to watch the movie Purple Rain, take a close look at some of the scenery: there are Breyers in the background! There’s at least one music video that has a Breyer in it, too – a Buckskin Western Prancing Horse – but it wasn’t one of his videos per se, but of one of his protégés.

I remember watching it on MTV one day and freaking out about it, because to this day I still can’t find myself a decent Buckskin Western Prancing Horse, and Prince apparently gave his away to one of his paramours. Argh!

Anyway, it was something that was talked about back in the day; I remember being at one of the Model Horse Congresses I attended and the subject came up. The rumor was that hobbyists had tried to reach out and invite him to a local live show in Minnesota.

Goodness, could you have imagined if he had accepted?

I had the opportunity to look at some of the new 2016 releases first hand, finally, on Tuesday. While I’m not in a position to buy anything right now (and how!) it doesn’t cost a thing to just take a look, right?

One of those pieces was the Rock ‘N Roll Forever Horse, the Translucent Purple Decorator on the Classic Frolicking Quarter Horse:

It’s purple and covered in flamboyant decals and an image of a guitar. I looked at it and said to myself “This is totally Prince’s horse.” 

I think it’s a coincidence: I rather doubt Reeves would have known of this rather obscure bit of hobby trivia. The only celebrities they seem mention in their social media accounts, outside of the equine ones, are country music artists I’ve never heard of. (No offense, just not a fan of the more modern stuff.)

As soon as I can manage to scratch up the cash, though, I am bringing my “Purple Rain” home with me. And making a teeny-tiny raspberry beret for it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Mahogany Bay PAS Of My Dreams

Now here, my dears, is one of the most beautiful Mahogany Bay Proud Arabian Stallions in the world:

He’s one of the early ones – the “*Witez II” version, ca. 1971-4, or thereabouts – with the neatly airbrushed hind socks. Everything about him in fact, is neatly and lovingly done, right down to the wisps of his mane.

Later Mahogany Bay Proud Arabian Stallions – particularly in the late 1970s – were not so carefully painted, and were especially prone to having fuzzy gray oversprayed socks. Among other things: the late 1970s were really and truly not the best of times for Breyer’s quality control.

It was a constant source of frustration to me my younger days, when I wanted to add a Mahogany Bay PAS to my herd. Then I started going to live shows and found that neatly painted, two-stocking versions did exist, and were just as awesome I had imagined, giving me hope that I’d finally get the Bay Proud Arabian Stallion of my dreams.

It wasn’t until recently that I finally – finally! – managed to acquire one that was all the things that I had hoped for: Beautifully shaded. Neatly painted. In near-perfect condition. And (relatively) cheap.

The hardest part wasn’t finding one – he was a fairly popular mold back then, as Breyer’s first Arabian Stallion who really looked like an Arabian Stallion, or at least the way we imagined them. On any given day on almost any part of the Internet, you’re going to find multiple Bay Proud Arabian Stallion for sale somewhere, and some of them are the early two-sock version.

The biggest issue is condition: these models weren’t just popular and played with, they were also dearly loved: held, cuddled, taken to bed and taken to school. The lightly textured finish that was another hallmark of these earliest pieces was very prone to rubbing, so many Proud Arabian Stallions bear the wounds of that well-meaning devotion.

So I went through a lot of these guys – until I found this guy.

The only problem now is that the hobby’s standards of Arabian beauty have changed. While he would have crushed the competition in the late 1980s, he’d only be competitive in Vintage and Collectibility classes today.

No matter. I love him anyway. And his buddy, too, who is next up in the queue...

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Puppy Monkey Breyer

Just a little head’s up here: I got hit with a double financial whammy this week – a bigger than expected tax bill, and some bad news from the dentist – so I’ll be listing some items on MH$P in the next week or two to help with the slight shortfall. I’ve been meaning to do that anyway, so I guess now is as good a time as any.

I don’t know if I’m going to buy one – the pictures are clearly that of a prototype, and not the real thing, and we all should know by now not to judge a Special Run by its prototype – but you know something? I don’t hate Estrela do Carnaval the way the rest of the hobby does.

My first reaction was not unlike the one I had for that strange and slightly disturbing Mountain Dew “Puppy Monkey Baby” Super Bowl commercial. (“What the…”) but then I sort of started giggling over the absurdity and inevitability of it.

Seriously, they’ve done just about every conceivable color and pattern on the Silver by now: an orange, lime green and brown Pegasus with a semi-naked lady decaled on its belly was just about all that was left.

While I would have gone full-on “parrot” with a bright blue body color instead of poo brown, I’m assuming that was tried and the show-through didn’t mix well with the skin tones of the Samba dancer on its belly.

It is worth remembering that the original Decorators – in Wedgewood Blue, Copenhagen, Florentine and Gold Charm – were considered hideous and spectacular failures when they were released in the 1960s. And Palomino Family Arabians were, in terms of sales and longevity, one of Breyer’s most successful.

Anyway, I’m not sure yet if I’ll be getting one; it’s one of those pieces, like the Times Square before it, that probably won’t win anyone over until he’s seen in the flesh. I am also trying (again) to keep my spending to a minimum this year – not out of a lack of interest, but a lack of space. Still trying to downsize here just a bit…

If anyone’s interested, this is the order – from most to least – of my interest in this year’s lineup of purchasable BreyerFest Special Runs, based on my assessment from their photos alone:
  1. Dag Dia – Brishen (Store Special)
  2. Namib
  3. Samba Surprise
  4. Bozeman 
  5. Sheila
  6. Estrela do Carnaval
  7. Zebu
  8. Furano
  9. Mamacita y Chico
  10. Diablo DC – Desatado (Store Special)
Interesting that there’s only one Gloss release, aside from the One Day Stablemates and whatever will be the “surprise” in the Samba Surprise. I wonder if that means we’ll be getting a 50/50 Gloss/Matte split on someone this year?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Classic Mustang Mare Variations

There’s a new Collector’s Grab Bag up for grabs on the Breyer web site, but alas I have to take a pass on it: April is an expensive month around here, with taxes, dental appointments and license plate fees on top of all the usual bills.

The hint for the last BreyerFest SR is up, and as most of us thought it’s something of the Decorator variety. (Shrunk here for clarity):

It looks like something in the Moody family of molds, with a paint job similar to the Show Jumping Warmblood Sunny, from several Exclusive Events back:

If I recall correctly, Sunny was painted on leftover Translucent bodies of the Halloween Special Run Twilight Terror, so if that’s the look they’re going for, this might be another one of the Translucents we’ve been looking for. An equine representation of the Olympic flame on a Silver, maybe, with masked flames like last year’s wild and crazy auction piece Brishen?

Back to the box lot…

This is one I’ve been meaning to spotlight for a while, but my other Mustang Family is currently in storage, and I wanted to do a side-by-side comparison. The box lot had a similar Mare, so here we go:

Some early Classics Mustang Family Mares have hand-airbrushed pinto markings, but the majority are masked with some overshading, and the ones near the end of the run are even darker and dispense with the extra airbrushing.

This photo clearly shows the first and second variations of the Mustang Mare; I don’t have the third “Clean Mask” variation because I haven’t made the Mustang Family the priority it now obviously should be.

The Mustang Family was the last of the three Classic Hagen-Renaker Family sets to be released, in 1976, and Breyer seems to have gotten a lot of the variability out of their Classics paint jobs by then.

But not all, obviously. Although my hand-airbrushed Mare is fairly close to the masking that was settled on, it’s not difficult to find ones that are not. Sometimes wildly so! The Stallion and Foal have some variability, too, mostly in the shades of Chestnut they wear (the Foal, especially) but their markings and masking stayed fairly consistent.

The Clean Mask variation of the Mare seems to be the least common of the variations among them, though none of them are particularly rare. Unlike the Arabian and Quarter Horse Families, if you want to track down and buy them, it should put much of a strain on your horse budget.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

1975 Sears Wishbook Famous Race Horses Set

And here is Pretty Horse Number Two from the recent box lot – a beautifully shaded Classic Man o’ War with an oversprayed blaze:

Of all the Classic Love Racehorses, the Man o’ War is the one with the most variability in its run. The earliest examples, like this beautiful boy, are a body-shaded Chestnut with orange undertones and extensive dark shading on his head and hooves. Later ones are lighter, more orangey, and with less extra shading. Classic Man o’ Wars at the end of the release’s extended run are redder and flatter, with paint jobs very similar to the Traditional Man o’ Wars of the same period.

The facial markings varied quite a bit, too, with at least three distinct variations:

The broken stripe is the most common, and the Hobo-style blaze is the least.

Like his compadre, the Man o’ War is also free of the mold mark. Indeed, those two and the Swaps came in the Classic Racehorse set that was sold in the 1975 Sears Wishbook, in this snug little shipper box:

It is amazing that all three fit inside that box – its dimensions are approximately 6.5 x 7.5 x 8 inches – and that at least two of them came out immaculate. Alas, the Swaps who also came in the lot has already been consigned to the body box: it’s impossible to tell if the worst of the damage came before or after the box had been opened by its previous owner.

The best part of the purchase for me wasn’t the horses, but that box. Most of the Christmas catalog shipper boxes came with similar graphics, but the size and shape of it also remind me of a vintage lunchbox. It’s a weird thing to say about a cardboard box, but it’s kind of adorable.

It also holds special meaning to me because my original three Breyer Racehorses also came via this set, though not exactly for Christmas.

Santa always made sure that my brother and I always got the same amount of gifts every year, but one of the elves in charge of processing our “order” that year delivered one too many to me, and that gift – the Famous Race Horses Set – was taken aside and hidden in a closet for a few months until it could be given to me as an early birthday present.

I discovered its hiding place a few weeks after the holidays, while I was looking for something else; it was wrapped in red and white striped paper, and I could just make out the outlines of the three horses through it. I don’t know how many times I went back to the hiding place to stare at it, until it was finally given to me.

And now I can stare at it all I want!