Thursday, November 15, 2018

Core Fandom

Some of you know that I can play “Six Degrees of Separation” game like a champ; it should come as no surprise that I need considerably less than six to get to Stan Lee.

Now is not the time or place to explain in great detail; I only bring it up because it’ll help explain my shocked, but not shocked reaction to the reports of the attempted theft of a centerpiece model at the Scottsdale Stampede.

Comic Book Fandom and the Model Horse Hobby have a lot in common; not only are the social dynamics fairly similar, but there is also a perception among casual participants of each activity that the “core” of it – people, places, activities – is much larger, distant and anonymous than it actually is.

I had been a casual participant in Comic Book Fandom for years. One day I decided to get more involved – by responding to an open invitation to join an APA in a letter column.

What seemed inaccessible – hanging out with the movers and shakers, artists and writers, and all the BNPs – suddenly wasn’t. It was both exhilarating and disorienting to find my new friends gleefully teasing Jim Shooter, making idle conversation with George Perez, and overhearing industry insider gossip both salacious and mundane….

My experience with Comic Book Fandom came with the revelation that the actual dedicated “core” of most hobby communities isn’t that large, and isn’t that remote. It just takes a very modest bit of effort to step it up to the next level.

So anyway, back to this incident. The fact that some hobbyists exhibited bad behavior at a hobbyist-oriented event is not unusual. I have been in the hobby now for over 40 (ulp!) years, and I have seen many things, some of them quite bad.

If you’ve been to BreyerFest even once, you’ve seen or heard similar things.

While there’s some degree of anonymity at an event like BreyerFest (that allows bad things to happen with little in the way of consequences), there is not much room for error at an Exclusive Event (with only 200 participants, many of them repeat customers).

Who are broken into groups of fifty people each.

Where you have to provide proof of your identity when you show up to pick up your models (yes, even me).

And where almost everyone is taking multiple pictures of everyone and everything.

So while I am not shocked that an attempt was made, I am shocked that it was attempted at what is essentially a “core fandom” event: this is the last place on Earth you should try to pull a stunt like that.

You might think you’re anonymous, but trust me: for better or for worse, you’re not.

(FYI: mostly for the better. But you knew that already.)

Monday, November 12, 2018

Shades of Blue

While reading this post, keep in mind that (a) it’s been in the upper 20s and low 30 degrees up here since Friday, (b) our furnace has been on the fritz since Saturday and (a) it’s Monday.

(It is getting repaired tomorrow. At least, that’s what I’ve been told.)

Reeves, seriously, what’s going on in your office?

The e-mail you sent out about the new Winter Decorator Special Benasque announced it as a “New Test Color”. Umm, no.

According to the web site copy, he’s marked “Benasque 2017”. Last time I checked, it was still 2018.

Why are you calling his color “electric blue filigree” when you have another perfectly fine name for it – Copenhagen Blue? Is it actually different in some way – with iridescent, metallic, or purplish undertones? We know better than to trust your photos…

And speaking of photos, you even misspelled the name Benasque as “Banasque” on the photo. Normally I’d not even give this a mention because I mangle names all the time when I’m saving photos, because spellcheck can’t save anyone’s behind there.

But as I was pulling a copy of it from their web site all I could manage to mutter from underneath the pile of blankets, quilts and sweatshirts I’m currently residing under…

“… and that, too? Cripes!”

At the very least, the nitpicky distractions of this new Duende have kept me from fixating too much on the Scottsdale Stampede Table Centerpiece Model Peplum.

The Camilla/Foalzilla mold doesn’t move me either way, but they just had to paint her Turquoise with copper veining! I figured they would do some sort of Turquoise-themed SR, but I assumed it would be the Stablemate or maybe one of the Event Specials. You know, something in the neighborhood of affordable.

Alas, no.

Before I was a Breyer Collector, I was a pretty serious Rockhound. I still am to some degree, though I rarely go so far as to buy rocks, minerals or fossils outright. Part of the reason why I took a Metalsmithing class several years ago was because I wanted to incorporate some of my favorite specimens into art and jewelry.

I am too cheap and not terribly lucky, so Peplum is not going to happen. All I can hope for is that she might be a precursor to other (more affordable) rock and mineral-themed* Breyer Decorators in the future.

Not just Alabasters, but I’ll settle. Benasque would be nice, too. I love how his mane looks like icicles!

(*FYI: for a variety of reasons, I don’t do Stones.)

Friday, November 9, 2018

Sand and Snow

Fortunately nothing I’ve seen of the Scottsdale Special Runs is making me mutter curse words into the freshly fallen snow here in Michigan. (Curse words about the snow, I can make no promises…)

Although I did have a brief moment of panic when I saw the word “Bolo” being bantered about – I thought maybe they had actual Special Run Breyer Bolo Ties, and that would have got me going!

Good for Reeves for correcting the flaw inherent in the distribution system at the last two Exclusive Events, and separating the models into two categories to avoid the unpleasantness some of us had to experience at the end of the line having to double up on the leftovers.

Anyway, if I were there, my choices would be the Bobby Jo Sonorah from Category B (because I love Perlino Dun, and all of the Breyer releases in that color have eluded me so far) and… either one of the choices from Category A (Buckskin Show Jumping Warmblood Bolo or Black Splash Lady Phase Oakley). Maybe a slight lean towards the Lady Phase, because of my current fascination with Splash Pintos.

(Just saw a picture. Yep, definitely Lady Phase. Not that that means anything, but there you go.)

I am mildly amused by the tizzy hobbyists are getting in over the Black Huck Bey Prescott. Yeah, he’s probably in that same lovely shade of Black they used on the BreyerFest Dark Horse Surprise Black and that is awesome.

But it’s still the Solid Black.

I guess being Huckleberry Bey and super-limited (44 pieces) trumps that stigma. And perhaps minds and hearts were finally swayed by the subtleties possible with such a paint job on the Dark Horse Surprise release, as well?

Not that I wouldn’t mind having him either, but I am being realistic with my expectations here. I would be happy with anything from the Event, if that were an option.

If I want a pretty, and relatively cheap Solid Black Breyer of recent release, I’ll finally spring for a Justin Morgan Black Jack. I’ve been eyeing them on eBay again, recently, probably because my Black Dark Horse Surprise Smarty Jones is just visible over my computer monitor, reminding me how pretty he is.

Heads up: I have a number of things I need to get done over the weekend, so I am going to be scarcer than l usually am (which has been pretty darn scarce, I know, but I’m working on it.)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Marketing Strategies

Let’s wrap up the rest of the weekend news…

Some of the Justify items are now available; I’ll be getting the Traditional version eventually, because of my recent infatuation with the Carrick mold. It’ll be a while though, because: he’s already on backorder on the web site; it doesn’t seem likely that I’ll be any where near one of my local toy stores for the next few weeks; and good heavens, have you seen those prices on eBay?  

I can wait.

The Unicorn Foals Sirius and Vega are neat – and on my two favorite Classic Foal molds! – but as I’ve skipped most of the other recent Unicorn releases, I’ll probably skip them too. Kudos to Reeves for coloring them to match their astronomical counterparts.

(Vega is the blue one.)

Renewals for the Vintage Club are up, but so far all they’ve been offering is a picture of the Pacer Rockford, who we already knew about.

I have no clue what their marketing strategy is, and am assuming that pictures of the other models will be coming eventually – perhaps as a way of gauging the response to each release? Because I severely doubt that they’re going back to the “everything’s a secret” mode from the first year of the Vintage Club. Especially since, you know…

(Is it ironic that the suspense is killing me?)

Regarding those YouTube videos that Reeves taunted us with – specifically, the one with the mysterious Solid Bay Bristol in it – well, I found them more annoying than rage-inducing. If you’re going to click-bait hobbyists who’d normally never give a passing glance at these videos, could you give us a little something for our effort?

I’m not much of a YouTube person, I’m not the target audience for these types of videos anyway, and I’m okay with that: hobbyists and hobbyist organizations certainly aren’t doing much in the way of youth outreach, and it’s in Reeves’s financial interest to do so.

But offering exclusive information about possible upcoming releases via these kinds of channels does not seem quite right, either. It’s like giving out sports scores during a weather report, or stock market tips in the middle of some celebrity gossip: while it is technically all news, it is not the news the viewers are looking for, or where they were looking for it.

My only other real criticism is that I’d rather they take more of a “bottom-up” approach than a “top-down” one with their youth marketing. Focus on activities and crafts that are more affordable and accessible to everyone: battle bots made with $150 Web Specials and craft bowls made with $50-75 worth of Stablemates would not have happened in the working-class household I grew up in.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Rushmore Zippo

Wow, there’s been a lot of Breyer activity the past few days! Let’s just focus on the one that’s most interesting to me – the latest Test Color Purchase Raffle, a Dappled Bay Roan Zippo Pine Bar:

Often it’s hard to see why a Test Color was done; in many instances, there was no specific goal in mind, other than experimentation for experimentation’s sake. But in the case of this Zippo (as with the previous Flaxen Chestnut Stud Spider) it’s clearly the antecedent to a specific production run: the BreyerFest 2007 Special Run Rushmore, on the Smarty Jones mold.

The web site’s copy about it being “one of the tests that inspired the Burbank Nakota Appaloosa model for the Velvet Rope Collector Event in 2008” was clearly written by someone with only a passing familiarity with Breyer History.

Yes, it’s technically correct, but it is more obviously and directly connected to the BreyerFest Special Run than the Burbank. Except for the absence of the snip, he’s a near-exact match, and came out the year before!

In fact, him being the clear ancestor of the Rushmore is a big reason why I want him in the first place.  All Test Colors are awesome, but I reserve a special place in my heart for Test Colors that obviously led to widely-available (1000+ piece) Production Run items.

Another plus: if I do win him (unlikely, but still a tiny possibility) it won’t be difficult to get a matching Rushmore; barring a lottery-level miracle, a Burbank will never happen for me.

And also I would like to give a big, gigantic “ARGH” to the misspelling of Nokota, which is one of my biggest pedantic hobby pet peeves, right up there with “hobbiest”, “filagree” and “defiantly” (for definitely).

But to end on a slightly more cheerful note….

One really fascinating thing about the Zippo Pine Bar mold: did you know he was designed to be an “easy” model to mold? There are no undercuts that require special gating or tooling, and no special add-ons or take-aways that could complicate the molding process.

The simpler the mold, the cheaper it is to produce. Having a mold like that around helps mitigate the cost of some of the more flamboyant or labor-intensive molds.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Stablemates, Old and New

Interesting lineup for the 2019 Stablemates Club:

Two new molds, and the Mirado, who has only had one previous release – as the final release in 2017’s Stablemates Club. And then there’s the G1 Love Morgan Mare, who we haven’t seen since she was replaced as Rain by the Paso Fino in the #5312 Spirit Family Play Set at the end of 2005.

But alas, no mini Dundee/Lipizzan yet; still hoping he turns up somewhere and somewhat affordable next year, like in a Regular Run boxed assortment or play set. (No Mystery Assortments, please!)

I am fine with all of these selections, since I have been a Stablemates loyalist since almost literally day one. My very plebeian hobby fantasy after winning the lottery wouldn’t be to start buying Decorators or Test Colors or Micro Runs, it would be to complete my Stablemates collection.

Except the super rare or expensive ones because frankly, collecting Test Colors or vintage Decorators would be way cheaper. Of all the reasons why I collect Stablemates, the fact that they are mostly affordable is also a huge part of the allure. Having the luxury of being able to buy what I want wouldn’t change that.

Besides, I could keep my occupied for a good while tracking down all the commons and variations I don’t have!

It’s a lot: I fell off the Stablemates wagon sometime early in the G2 era. It wasn’t any one thing, other than life getting in the way, and then realizing how far behind I was when it wasn’t. Now I get what I can get, and if a release shoots out of my budget range, I just move on to something cheaper.

So when the colors and finishes are finally revealed, the most you’ll get from me are minor quibbles about details – certain molds being annoyingly tippy, color selections I wouldn’t have made personally, aesthetic issues I have with the smanes and tails on later molds, that sort of thing.

I will say that I like what I see in the silhouette of the obvious Thoroughbred in the upper righthand corner. I think he and I will be fast friends, in whatever colors he comes in.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Vanity Organizer Redux

Friend of Blog Ellen tipped me to this wonderful ancient Breyer History nugget, from the 1948 Sears Wishbook:

The brown thing in the lower lefthand corner is the Vanity Organizer – a Breyer-manufactured item from its pre-equine days. I wrote about in an early blog post, when I made the initial discovery:

Here’s the copy from the catalog itself:
New! Vanity Organizer. 
A smart gift women will appreciate. Provides “place for everything.” Sturdy brown plastic; 12 compartments for bob pins, comb, brush, manicure needs.
15" x 12 3/8" x 2" inches. $2.79
So we now know when the item was manufactured, what it sold for, and one of the venues it was sold through!

The company that the Vanity Organizer was manufactured for – The W.F. Goodell Company – was based in Louisville, Kentucky; Sears, like Breyer, was a Chicago-based one. This makes me wonder what role Breyer had, if any, in getting the item in the Sears Wishbook in the first place.

And was the experience what led to the first identifiably Breyer product appeared in the Sears Wishbook: the Cigarette Host, in 1950?


Right now I am beginning to wonder what other still-unidentified items could be lurking in these early Sears Wishbooks that were also Breyer-molded. Another thing to add to the “research topics” list, I guess.