Thursday, July 31, 2014

Desirability is Weird

I just spent about an hour on the phone with Paypal trying to resolve some crazy issue that apparently came up today. I think it’s fixed, but you know, it’s Paypal. So I’m trying real hard to think happy thoughts right now, in lieu of eating massive amounts of ice cream.

This model’s presence in my office definitely helps:


The 2012 Passage to the Pacific SR Like Thunder, on the Rejoice mold. It’s another Early Friday find, and one of my favorites this year.

I thought the model was pretty enough in pictures, and since I have the start of a nice collection of Rejoices going here, I thought I’d take a chance on one. When I opened it up a few days ago (finally, I know) I was surprised and delighted at how captivated I was by this model. Crisp masking, delicate shading, clean and precise hoof striping: there’s lots to love here.

There’s going to be some shuffling in the display collection to keep this beauty out in the open.

I’ve noticed that at least one person is claiming that the Like Thunders found in the NPOD were Samples, It’s possible that one or two Samples might have been mixed in the boxes too; my Sample Kiowa was found mixed into a box of standard issue Kiowas. But all indications I see - backstamps and bag labels - point to most if not all of them being the unsold/unclaimed leftovers, instead. It took a while for all of them to find happier homes; there were several to be had, and they were priced around (or a touch higher) than current market value.

We’re so used to assuming that all of these Exclusive Events are going to sell out that we sometimes forget that at least one didn’t.

It did seem weird to me that these models - a Special Run of a mere 200 pieces - floated around the sales area for a while, while Store Specials three to four times that number in quantity (or more) were being so fiercely fought over. Sure, the price differential had something to do with it, and there’s the thrill of the new (with the Novelisto D being a Brishen/Laredo mashup). And Silver Filigree driving collectors mad in general.

(Would you believe I still haven’t actually seen a Silver Filigree Misty in person yet? Sigh.)

Desirability is such an odd thing.

Rejoice is also a mold that’s a bit of an acquired taste. Her proportions are a little cartoonish, and that skinny tail of hers bends and breaks easily, causing tipping issues. When it comes to more recent Gaited molds, I wouldn't say that hobbyists actively dislike it, they simply happen to prefer the Clock Saddlebred, or the various Stablemates more.

It is worth noting, though, that the Madison Avenue (the Buckskin Rejoice) seemed to be one of the better-selling Reissues at BreyerFest this year; it is also possible that they had fewer to sell, and couldn’t restock. I didn't notice because I spent most of my time in the Reissue selection of the store distracted by those magnificently shaded Smokies. I still don’t know how one DIDN’T come home with me.

Another weekend off coming up, so a few more posts coming sooner, rather than later.

Monday, July 28, 2014

From Silver to Gold: A Chalky Palomino FAF, At Last!

Silver Dapple it is, then! On the Pop the Cork Nokota Horse, I mean. I figured it had to be a Silver something.

I’m sure I heard that color description at some point; once I heard someone describe one of the Pintos as "Sweaty Palomino", though, I facepalmed and decided that I was going to call the one The Tobiano and the other The Overo and leave it at that. On those terms, we can more or less agree.

Yesterday was my first "official" trip to a flea market since Kentucky. The weather was fine but attendance - and the mood - was a bit down because of an ongoing police investigation just down the road; this market, like so many others of its kind, is full of both vendors and customers trying to avoid contact with authority figures.

Still, I did find a number of nice things, and this was nicest of all:


A Chalky Palomino Family Arabian Foal, nearly mint! I usually find a couple of Chalkies every year or so, but I hardly ever find one in such beautiful condition. When I flipped it over, I saw why: drill holes under the hooves indicate it had been mounted on a lamp once upon a time.

That was a bit of a bummer to discover - a Chalky that’s also a Lamp would have been an even bigger coup. The Ranchcraft Lamp line, for instance, was just coming to an end around the same time the Chalky Era was getting underway - in the early 1970s - and most of the other aftermarket lamp makers (not all!) soon followed suit. Chalky Lamps are relatively uncommon.

The only other one that sprung immediately to mind was the Donkey. Oddly enough, this vendor had a Chalky Donkey, too, but it hadn’t been lamp-mounted, and it was in pretty rough shape. Its price was a bit on the high side, and since I already had one anyway, I left it on the table with a few friends - including that Hartland Saddlebred I passed by earlier this season. (Yes, same vendor. Told you he gets good stuff!)

Ironically, of all the known Chalky Era Chalkies, Family Arabians are among the tougher ones to find; I’m not sure why that would be. Condition may well be the key here: Family Arabians tended to get drafted into Carpet Herd duty, usually ending up well-loved and well-rubbed, Chalky or not.

Although it makes sense that the other Family Arabian colors still in production at the beginning of the Chalky Era ca. 1973 (Bay, Alabaster, Charcoal) would be even tougher to find than the Palominos, it’s the Palominos I’ve had an extraordinarily difficult time finding in both passable and affordable condition. I’m pretty sure it’s something I can attribute to the weirdness of my local markets, though - the same ones that offer me up more Charcoal Fighting Stallions than Matte Alabaster ones.

Other than a couple of black marks on the tail, all my new cutie needed was a bit of cleaning. A Keeper, for sure!

All the other horses I picked up, more or less, were body quality. This I am fine with, because shoppers picked my Body Box clean at BreyerFest this year. Never too early to start restocking!

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Rare Ones?

All the blankets have been claimed; the first ones will be out the door Saturday morning. I would have gotten them out earlier, but the anti-inflammatory medication I am on for the busted foot has been totally pwning me the past few days. I am feeling much better today, though, and I have the weekend off to stay off my feet as much as I should!


Like many other hobbyists, I am skeptical about the final count numbers for the BreyerFest Pop the Cork Nokota Horses. Here are the official numbers straight from the Facebook page, for those of you who don’t venture there:

Pop the Cork – Special Run Surprise – 2700 total
711181 A - Palomino Pinto (720 Matte, 155 Glossy)
711181 B - Bay (660 Matte, 120 Glossy)
711181 C - Chestnut Pinto (540 Matte, 120 Glossy)
711181 D - Varnish Roan Appaloosa (240 Matte, 120 Glossy)
711181 E - Silver Charm - 25 pieces

Even though I only had two SR tickets, at one point or another I had each of the four colors in Matte Finish. I came home with the Appaloosa and the two Pintos ; I traded my Bay for the Appaloosa early on - not because I had heard it was the "Rare" one, but because Varnish Roan Appaloosas make me do that kind of thing.

I actually really, really liked my Bay - and if I had had a choice, it would have picked a Bay in Gloss. There was no luck this year on the Glosses for me - or any of the Rarities - which is what I expected to happen. I’ve had really good luck the past couple of years with the Surprises - including a Gloss, and a Low-Piece Run item - so figured it was about time for it to peter out.

(The only Rarity that made me wince just a tiny bit was the Silver Bear Set. But I’ll get to that another day.)

The rumor of the Appaloosa Nokota being the "Rare" one got started very early - what I was told was that it was announced at the Open Show? - but it was pretty obvious by the end of Friday that there were way more Appaloosas than you’d expect to see if they were truly The Rare Ones. The one I didn’t see at all on Friday was the Overo Pinto, whatever color it’s supposed to be. (The one listed as "C", above. I think it's Silver Bay, but I’ve seen it described as both Smutty Palomino and Flaxen Chestnut.) I didn’t see one until late Saturday morning at the Horse Park, when someone offered me one at cost - and I jumped at it!

The Model Horse Blab poll was very good at predicting which one was The Rare One last year (the Blue Roan Tovero Roxy), and this year’s results point to…the Overo. I did some quick and dirty surveys on eBay and it also seem to back up our suspicions: I see only half as many of the Overos compared to any other color, save the Silver Charms.

So either there’s some really strange sampling errors happening, or Reeves got their numbers wrong. Or what I think is most likely: they’re giving us the numbers for what they "ordered", but that’s not what the factory gave them. Maybe the Overo and the Appaloosa production quantities were switched? Everything comes wrapped in opaque bags, so it’s not like they’d be able to know when they open the boxes, either.

Just another mystery for history, I suppose. Fortunately for me, the only one that I need to find (again) is the Matte Bay, who doesn’t seem like he’ll be too hard to locate affordably. (Just not now - I need to sell some stuff STAT!) Not even going to think about the Glosses, unless some amazing trade deal gets tossed my way.

Monday, July 21, 2014

American Shineys

Due to the surprising demand for the Anniversary blankets, I’m going to have to limit them to one per person. Since I haven’t finished emptying my storage boxes yet, there’s a possibility that more may turn up.

I had no idea that they were such a hot item - or that I had cornered the market on them! I had some urgent paperwork to follow up on today, so I should get back to everyone on Tuesday.

Here’s another mystery of the Pit. They looked like this:


And turned out to be this:


At first glance, it’s just another 2013 Smart and Shiney - until you start looking at the details. There’s no VIN, of course, and the paint job is deeper, darker, more metallic, with more pronounced dappling. The belly stamp is different - just a generic "BreyerFest 2013" imprint in a script font, not the more complex stamp in black with the Breyer logo that the boxed Shineys have.

And the face - it’s hard to capture in my less-than-stellar photography, but his face is completely different, with a spot on his muzzle, a crisper and more complex blaze, and more dramatic shading overall. In other words, this is not your average Shiney.

Since they were all bagged and bubblewrapped, and there were several boxed Smart and Shineys for sale at the hotel in the $35-45 range, most shoppers gave them a quick once over and moved on. I was moderately curious, but my arms were already full, and I figured that if they turned out to be something special, I’d get one later on.

One of my roommates - as big a Smart Chic Olena fan as you’ll find - ran past me a few hours later yelling "They’re Samples! They’re gorgeous! They still have a ton of them in the Pit!"

So I went and got one.

The word "Sample" gets bantered about a lot in hobby circles: we use it to refer to any recent model that doesn’t have a VIN backstamp. The truth is a little more complex than that: any model manufactured in the U.S. - whether it’s a Test Color, some flavor of Sample, or a lower-piece run Special Run (less than 100 made, usually) is not required to have a VIN backstamp.

The current working theory is that these Shineys were a batch painted up in the U.S. for a still-unknown reason. There was at least an entire box of these guys - around two dozen, maybe? - while Sample quantities typically register in the single digits.

None of us had the insight, as far as I know, to ask any of the Breyer people about them. (And me, I had some issues.) I have about another week of unpacking, sorting and inventorying to go, so if anyone else wants to take the lead on this, that’d be great.

There were still some of these "American Shineys" in the Pit on Sunday, so there’s a chance we’ll be either seeing them again - next year, or on the web site. If they do, and if you’re a SCO fan, don’t hesitate.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Toe Exams

I promised myself that I wouldn’t do anything halfway at BreyerFest this year, and I apparently lived up to it in every sense of the word: all the medical professionals I met this week were very impressed with the extent of my foot injury.

Due to those various appointments, the plan for multiple posts this week didn’t work out, obviously. Today was the first day this week I didn’t have to go anywhere or do anything, other than unpack the car - at last!

First, does anyone need a few extra Anniversary blankets? They seem to have stuffed all my Sales Tent bags full of them. I did toss a few into my free box, but I still ended up with eight of them total. I’ll keep two - one for each of my Gootzy-Tootzies  - but the other six are free for postage.


I did get one of each of the Boxed and Bubblewrapped Gootzies - I had two tickets, and they offered both - and my cursory examination didn’t reveal any significant paint differences between them. The Gloss on them - on all the Gloss models I saw at BreyerFest this year - is deep, thick and wonderful. Reeves had been having some issues with their Gloss Finishes lately, so it’s nice to see that they had been working to resolve them.

(A-ha! THAT’s what that really neat Super Glossy Black Appaloosa Proud Arabian Stallion in the auction was about!)

It almost makes up for the lack of extra detailing we were all hoping for: his eyes are nicely painted and the base is silver, but there are no dapples, no undershading, no sparkles to be seen. His Gloss Finish is so nicely done, though, that I consider him a more than adequate representative of the mold in my collection. (I’ve had others before, but I’ve let them all go.)

Originally I was going to just keep the boxed one (with the documentation, naturally) but I just took a second look at the VIN numbers, and there is one subtle difference between the two. My Boxed Gootzy is dated April - but the Bubblewrapped one is dated June! That’s what another toe exam gets me, more trouble….

If I do decide to let the Bubblewrapped one go, I don’t think I’ll have much of an issue selling him. All the Gofferts we had for sale in our room - except for an original Goffert - sold briskly, and generally for asking price. (The original Goffert had a lot of lookers, too, so I think it was just a matter of time with him.) He may not be a super-popular model in certain segments of the hobby, but casual collectors and younger hobbyists can’t get enough of him.

And as I (and others) have said before, if you really can’t get rid of your extras within the hobby, donate them to charity. Spread that Breyer love! And just imagine how lucky some little kid will feel to get a Shiny Black Horse as a gift. I certainly wouldn’t have turned him down.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Changes to the Pit

When I got home today from work, I had a late lunch, sat down in a chair, and fell asleep for the rest of the afternoon. So I didn’t get a darn thing done at all today - or even get a chance to follow up with the doctor’s office.

I am not overly worried, however. The toe is less purple and hurts somewhat less, though the painkillers did make me want to sleep every time I sat down at work.

The car is still not completely unpacked. It may remain that way for a few more days because of an issue unrelated to my left foot. (A something I had nothing to do with, that I had no control over, but for which I’m being used as a convenient scapegoat anyway. It’s a story so long that it involves chapters and character guides.)

One of the few things I have been allowed to unpack is this lovely creature, one of the last things I found in the NPOD - late Sunday morning!


As you might have guessed, it’s no ordinary Vintage Club Kiowa: not only does he not have any VIN numbers or stickers, he’s NOT Chalky. He also has the old copyright horseshoe mold mark, and it looks like the Indian markings are handpainted in acrylic paint (though I’m not willing to test that theory).

I’m not 100 percent certain that he’s the guy in the Vintage Club batch photo, but I would not be surprised if he is. (All I can say is I haven’t seen anything that would indicate otherwise.)

I found him mixed in the bagged horse boxes, along with several other Kiowas and BreyerFest SRs of years past. I’m pretty sure he was a newer "plant", rather than something that had been overlooked before. Even though many of my fellow Ninjas were avoiding the leftover Vintage Club models like the plague, he did have one of those generic labels - and a handwritten price - that screamed SAMPLE SAMPLE BUY ME NOW.

The NPOD was … different this year. Reeves threatened to "spread the wealth" throughout the weekend, and as this fellow attests, they did. There were some quality items to be found Friday morning, but a lot of them were either priced accordingly - or buried and mixed into things.

I did get some other Samples - most notably a couple of the Reissues - and a few other items that I will eventually get to sometime in the next few weeks.

The most important development is that they HANDED OUT LINE NUMBERS. They were laminated and everything! They should have done it earlier than they did (shortly before the gates opened) but it was wonderful to see the usual linecutters wandering around and looking disoriented. The line to the Arena was neat and orderly and almost stress-free.

About danged time, you guys!

As to some of these changes to the Pit, I have mixed feelings.

Changes needed to be made, no doubt; the line standing had escalated to the point where some people were skipping out on the Thursday night room sales entirely and heading straight to the Park, which just feels wrong. Something had to be done to prevent a Walmart-style Black Friday Stampede from occurring.

(Seriously people, they gave us cake and ice cream at the hotel!)

Salting the Pit with the occasional rarity also encourages people to go back, again and again. And we love surprises, as the continuing popularity of the Surprise SR attests. I was somewhat concerned that this would lead to people camping out around the Arena and stalking Reeves employees, but after an initial bit of that Friday morning, it seems to have dissipated. (The heat and humidity also helped with that, I think.)

Putting out a portion of Store Specials - and enforcing the "one per person rule" - every day makes sense, and should have been a feature of the Store Specials from the get go.

On the other hand, I do not want to see the NPOD phenomenon eliminated entirely. Not because I have a vested interest in it (though I do) but because for some of us, it’s one of the few means of getting something special and rare that’s at least partially under our control.

Not all of us are lucky, or talented, or blessed with good financial fortune, or live near wonderful flea markets and antique shops. For those of us in that situation, camping out at the Park to be among the first in the "Pit" is the best opportunity to get something really awesome. It’s not just a matter of being the first or the most aggressive, but of capitalizing on the skill of being able to spot the rare and unusual at a moment’s notice.

Eliminating that opportunity - and making all rarities completely random - would deprive some of us of our "thing". It would become just another means for the very lucky among us to continue to be very lucky.

It’s not just about the "power shopping", it’s a social event, too, and one I’m a little surprised that Reeves has not capitalized on. I’m not saying that they should be handing out SRs or special offers to the Ninjas, but arranging for some food carts to provide a picnic-style breakfast (bagels, donuts, muffins, fruit, coffee, etc.) would be a wonderful thing, for instance.

It’d be something that other people who like to line up early anyway, and not just for the Pit, would appreciate, as well.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Still Recovering. Literally.

The car still isn’t completely packed, and here’s part of the reason why:


It happened Friday afternoon, at the hotel. At first I thought it was just another typical toe stubbing. I am big and clumsy and I do it all the time, so the fact that it was sore and a little purple was no big deal. In fact, I had done almost the very same thing about a month ago on the right foot.

Then the next day, I stubbed it again. That’s when (stuff) got real; it hurt even more and looked dislocated. Because of what happened in the Diorama Contest (and after some hugs and a pep talk from a good friend and former roomie) I sucked it up, put on the snuggest pair of socks I had, slipped on my big girl boots, and went back to the Horse Park for the Costume Contest. And got that little bit of validation that I needed.

A Glossy Harley D Zip! The Gloss finishes on everything this year were superb, and he’s no different. (The Kids contestant totally got ripped off, but we’ll talk about that and all of the other issues we had with that contest later in the week.)

Anyway.

Everyone at the doctor’s office was impressed by the quality of the injury today. The skin wasn’t broken and the nail is fine, but it’s comically swollen and it’s almost the same color as that Purple Florentine Tennessee Walker One-Day Stablemate from a few years back. So I had to get it x-rayed to see exactly what’s going on underneath. I’ll find out tomorrow if there’s anything more that can or needs to be done, aside from drugs and bandages.

They did give me some most excellent painkillers to get me through the week. I don’t normally like to take much of that stuff, if at all, but since I have to go to work, finish unpacking the car, get an oil change, and run many errands, I took the prescription and ran (i.e. hobbled) with it. What I had been taking before was making me nauseous, besides.

On the plus side, since I most of my recreational time for the next several days will be spent in the sitting position, and I have a lot to get out of my system, I may end up posting multiple times this week.

First up, I think, will be the NPOD. Remember this photo from a couple of years ago? I think I may have found someone in it. (A few of you already know, so no spoiling it for everyone, m’kay?)