Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Plushie Goodness

The box of goodies from Reeves has been sitting in my office, unopened, since Friday. But it’s the pile of plush goodies I found at a couple local Salvation Army Stores over the weekend that has me most tickled:


Technically I guess this counts as my first local find, since one of them is the #10112 War Admiral plush from the Seabiscuit movie merchandising back in 2004-2005?  But I only happened to find him after spotting a couple other horse-shaped objects on top of the giant plushie pile, and decided to go digging.

Whenever I’ve brought plushes to BreyerFest, they’ve always sold well. So I always consider it worth the effort.

Plushes are a relatively new Breyer thing. The first official plushes in 2001 were Christmas-themed items, but in 2002 they unleashed a veritable herd of merchandise, both as Seasonal and as Regular Run items.

The first BreyerFest Plush Special Run was the “Spanish Bucky” – complete with a fringed sombrero and red rose – in 2004. He was listed in the program that year in the “Mid-Year Product” section, though I don’t recall seeing him for sale anywhere other than BreyerFest. I do recall purchasing one in the NPOD year or two later, at a significantly discounted price.

It wouldn’t be until 2012 that the Plushes would become an official BreyerFest Thing.

And of course this year, Reeves went into partnership with Aurora to launch a whole new batch of plushes.

Although I do have a few – a Pony Gone Wild who was included in a Grab Bag ages ago, and the Wind Dancer Bali because I thought it was particularly cute – I don’t make it a point to collect them, because I already have enough stuff and the dog will confiscate them anyway.

(Before I went all-in on the model horses, I will admit to fantasizing about buying a Shetland Pony-sized horse plush that dangled from the ceiling of Circus World but alas, he was far too pricey for my $2 a week allowance back then!)

So most of these goodies (I’m still undecided on the Fran├žois Pompon Polar Bear) will go in the sales stash.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Hamish

Yes, I am very pleased by this year’s BreyerFest Nonhorse Special Run Hamish, on the #365 Standing Black Angus Bull mold. He is even prettier than I imagined!


I thought this one was pretty obvious from the clue they gave us earlier in the week. Although combining splash spotting with masked markings is a technique that has been used on horse molds before – most notoriously on the Lady Roxana release Cinnamon – it’s been more typically found on livestock molds.

For examples, there’s the Micro Run Polled Hereford Bull Marshall, the BreyerFest Special Run Charolais Bowland, the Exclusive Event Longhorn Bull Wrangler, and the #384 Texas Longhorn Bull.

I momentarily considered the possibility that they might use the Charolais Bull mold instead. Usually when a mold returns after an extended absence as a small Special Run (like Reuben!) it’s followed up with a more plentiful Special Run or Regular Run shortly afterwards.

It’s costly and time-consuming to get a mold up and running, so it’s not something you’re going to do for just a couple hundred pieces. You run more, and warehouse the unused portion for later use. 

But it’s also possible that Reuben was made from the production leftovers from Bowland, back in 2012. After all, they only made 450 of him, which is partly why he’s one of the more difficult to find BreyerFest Nonhorse runs. That, and the fact that I consider him one of the more attractive recent BreyerFest Nonhorse Special Runs.

But Hamish is… well, all that and a bag of kettle chips: a vintage mold that hasn’t been in production for over 15 years, in an eyecatching gloss parti-color paint job. He’s basically Marshall with an Irish accent!

The consensus online seems to agree with me, so I am just a wee bit concerned about the piece run on this one. I hope that it’s a decently-sized one, because getting a good draw on my ticket times tends to be the exception, not the rule.

I have to admit that some of the more recent BreyerFest Nonhorse releases (namely, 2015’s Le Taureau, 2016’s Zebu, and 2017’s Diwali) haven’t blown me away. I collect the Dog molds so last year’s Saint Bernard Bucky was obvious, and I’ve been yearning (yearning!) for more Elk releases, so 2018’s Inari was my number one want (and got!) that year.

My only (minor) complaint is having to scroll past all of the usual backhanded compliments about this release being “appropriate to the theme this time”.

As I’ve addressed before, having every release hew as closely to a given theme is neither creatively nor economically viable. It’s in Reeves’s best interest to have a variety of molds and models to suit as wide an audience as possible – up to and including people who have little or no interest in the theme itself.

Personally I am indifferent to the theme this year, but all the models revealed so far have been quite lovely, whether they directly fit the theme (Hamish) or not (Oak).

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Dapple Belgians: A Love Story

My current favorite thing? Looking for horses on eBay wearing the wrong saddle – not the ubiquitous Western Horse/Western Prancing Horse switch: those, at least, make some kind of sense. It’s the pictures of Family Arabian Foals, Misty, and (my personal favorite) the Bubble-butt Belgian – that get me through my day. 

Researching Breyer horses can be hard, so I don’t necessarily fault the sellers, especially if model horses aren’t a regular part of their sales inventory. (Though if I ever see a Poodle with a saddle, I’ll know for sure they’re not even trying…)

But anyway, since I’ve obviously been on a tear with my eBay purchases lately, I was thinking about what other “wish list” items I could possible hope to acquire in the next few months – from eBay or elsewhere. And then I realized it’s probably been staring me in the face the entire time.

The #93 Gloss Dapple Gray Belgian.

Not the Dapple Black variation – that one’s definitely going to take the intervention of a higher power – but the “garden variety” Dapple Gray, made from roughly 1964 through 1966.

There is, naturally, a story to this.

Growing up, the lady that lived on the corner of our street had a Glossy Dapple Gray Belgian in her window, a window I had to walk past literally every day on my way to school.

Back then, any #93 Dapple Gray Belgian – not just the Dapple Black – was the grail of many a model horse collector, with nice examples typically going for $200-250 or more, far more than my model horse budget at the time could spare.

This is partly why a number of the earliest Special Run Belgians from the late 1970s and early 1980s were some form of Dapple Gray. Those of us who could not afford an original settled for a Special Run, instead: so much so that they kept bringing him back in Dapple Gray, again and again!

Eventually our neighbor retired and moved away, and she evidently took the Belgian with her; it definitely wasn’t in the house when we went to her estate sale. (I do not blame her one bit!)

Ever since then, I’ve been hoping that I could find one locally. But alas, it still hasn’t happened yet. And me being me, I’ve been too cheap to buy one retail.

Aside from amusing saddle placements, another thing I have noticed on eBay of late is that there are a ton of Glossy Dapple Gray Belgians for sale right now. Most of them are pretty darn nice too, and almost all of them are under $250. Sometimes significantly so.

That’s less than Appreciation Sale Glossies, and a lot of the more recent Web Specials.

Hmm.

If I hadn’t just dropped a wad of money on the Breyer web site yesterday – for Trailblazer, Jujube and Klaus – I would be much more tempted than I am now. And guys, I am seriously tempted. 

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Presenting...

Back in June of last year, I said this in passing about the possibility of completing my Bell-bottomed Shire collection:
(The Chalky Sorrel and the Glossy Dapple Gray are sufficiently out of reach that I am not even going to consider them a part of my list. Sort of the way I ignore the Presentation Series Man o’ War, until/if/when it happens.)
Dear readers, it happened:


He has a few (mostly minor) condition issues, a slightly sunken-in shoulder, and all that’s left of his brass nameplate is the stickum.

He also smells of cigarette smoke, but I swear virtually every Breyer model I’ve had that has been mounted on a wooden base – trophy, clock, sales awards, et al – has smelled this way. Wood is porous and absorbent, and way more people smoked in the early 1970s, back when these things were new.

In other words, it was not unexpected.

It’s also a pretty easy fix – clean it with warm water and good quality dish soap, and give it some time. For really bad cases of “the stinks”, sealing the offending model in a trash bag with an open box of baking soda for a couple weeks also helps.

Most of the minor condition issues will be fixed also, but the sunken shoulder (also not an uncommon issue with models of this era) will not. I’m undecided on the nameplate; it’s a common enough problem that it doesn’t bother me that much, especially considering the price I paid for it.

Well within my budget? Oh, yes. 

Y’all know my collecting philosophy by now: unless you are one of those people blessed with extraordinary good luck, you must either invest time, or money. Since the only luck I have is in living where model horses are relatively plentiful, and I grew up in a family where paying full retail for anything is almost a sin, time is my currency by necessity.

And my patience has paid off: except for some obscure variations, the 1970s Dapple Gray, and (sigh) Riddle, I’ve managed to come as close as possible to completing my Traditional Man o’ War collection as I probably can, without going into serious debt.

There are still a few Regular Runs I need to get, like a Spectacular Bid without staining, a General Lee’s Traveler without massive paint goobers, and some box/packaging variants. Another Test Color would be awesome, but unlikely unless I get insanely lucky or Reeves just randomly sends me one.

Not a bad consolation prize for not going to Seattle, I must say.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Emma and Lady Phase

Rough weather, more drama.

But on to happier things, like the restart of the Berries Ponies Series – as they hinted at in the January Collector Club newsletter. What I didn’t expect was that they started with the Emma mold!

(No really, I didn’t know ahead of time. The usual caveats apply.)

I especially appreciate the detail paid to Jujube’s off-side floof:


If I’m lucky, some of the money that I had allocated to the trip that’s not going to happen will now go towards purchasing her. (More about that below, if you’re interested.)

I’m still hopeful that the Emma mold will be making an appearance as a BreyerFest Special Run, too.

Prior to the 1980s, it wasn’t unusual for a mold to have only one or two releases over the course of a decade, but nowadays if something like that happens people start speculating about the reasons why.

And hobbyists being hobbyists, the scenarios are always something pretty dire, up to and including the destruction of the mold itself.

When the Lady Phase became kind of scarce in the late 1990s, I heard all sorts of bizarre conspiracy theories, most of them premised on some version of the mold being destroyed, or being replaced by the Ideal Quarter Horse. Or not, or it being switched back and forth and good gravy it all gave me headaches.

Molds can sustain damage that merits pulling them from use either temporarily or permanently, though it the case of the latter, the reasons are more a matter of economics than a lack of technical expertise. Sometimes it’s easier and cheaper to simply create a newer mold in a similar breed or pose, updated for more modern tastes.

But more often than not, the lack of new or different releases is a matter of popularity and priorities. If it’s already selling well enough in the color it’s in – and in the case of Emma, her color is a pretty simple and inexpensive one to paint – developing new colorways is not a big priority.

Other considerations also come in to play, especially with portrait models. Again, Lady Phase serves as an excellent example: the reason why she came in three slightly different Buckskin Special Runs prior to 1988 was because that was the only other color her owner Lynn Anderson authorized.

I don’t remember which Model Horse Congress it was, but I remember Marney having a brief round table with attendees to ask for product ideas, with one exception: anything involving Lady Phase was probably off the table. I still wrote down “Dapple Gray Lady Phase with black points” anyway.

When it finally appeared a few years later, some celebratory fist-pumping was involved.

Finally, my last bit about Seattle.

Well, it’s pretty obvious at this point – barring some last minute cancellation or other miracle –that I’m not going. I’ve been struggling to find appropriate words to express my disappointment, but as a Michigander, I am afraid none of the words that immediately come to mind are the least bit appropriate.

Especially since “Plan B” – another event that happens the same weekend as Seattle – now goes into effect. That involves me losing not a little weight and fitting into a costume that looks a little something like this:


I’m trying to tell myself that this challenge will be better for me in the long run anyway, but right now the prospect is a little terrifying.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Unboxing More, Chasing Less

The in-hand photos of the new Collector’s Club release Carter are beginning to trickle in online and, as we suspected, his color is merely a slight variation on the very attractive Rose Gray color that was one of the scarcer colors available on last year’s BreyerFest Surprise Andalusian.

He’s quite lovely, but as I am still opening up things from last year, I’ll have to give him a pass. Things like my beautiful Bisbee, who I only recently rescued from the backseat of my car:


Yeah, I know, Bad Andrea. In my defense, (a) the weather has been mild, (b) I usually park under a tree anyway, and (c) I don’t do a lot of off-roading in my spare time. As you can see, she survived the ordeal just fine.

Sometimes I do feel a little alone in my appreciation for the Forever Saige mold, and I am perfectly okay with that. Collecting less popular molds means a lot less stress tracking down the scarcer ones! And wasn’t the Saige in last year’s BreyerFest Auction the cheapest of the lot? That’s definitely food for thought.

Last year – and particularly, the last four months of the year – were a little crazier than I anticipated, and the unboxing of things was not a priority. So for the next month or so I’ll focus my attention on unboxing all the goodies that are already here, instead of chasing more.

Unless I luck into that Black Pinto Smarty Jones: him, I’ll make an exception for. I love Black Pintos and I have a pretty fine little Smarty Jones collection going – including the Daytona, the 2018 BreyerFest Dark Horse Surprises in Black and Palomino Splash, the Connoisseur, and the Halloween Horse – and he’ll fit right in.

I’d love to add a Polo Pony version of the mold to the family, but the two that I really like (the 2016 Early Bird Model Polomar and the 2012 Raffle Model Carlisle) are essentially unattainable, and it’s hard to find a 2015 Santiago that doesn’t look totally goofy.

And good gravy, how insane is it that Palomino Hamiltons are selling for more than the Pinto Smarty Jones on eBay right now? I mean, I get that math is not everyone’s strong suit, and rarity alone does not guarantee value, but that’s still… arithmetically questionable.

It’s only (checks calendar) February 2nd! I don’t know what the production cutoff date is for models designed to be one-year releases, but I’m pretty sure there’s no need to worry until, I dunno, at least May or June.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Oak

In spite of the pretty tight crop on the photo, this one was pretty easy to peg, except for the part about it being an ordinary BreyerFest Special Run, and not a Raffle or Prize model:


That should make “Oak” easier to acquire, depending on your ticket draw. It’s too early to determine if he’s going to be the Gloss/Matte Split model. At this point, I would say no: Georg is still too new and popular for that kind of promotional hoo-ha.

I guess my only complaint at this point is that they are… laying the blarney on extra thick with the rationale for incorporating a Noriker into this year’s theme:
Oak trees feature prominently in Celtic mythology – they are an aspect of a magical trilogy of trees related to fairy lore. Their use in sacred rituals dates back to the First Century, when Pliny the Elder described their incorporation into fertility rites performed by ancient Druids, and Celtic Britons under Roman rule worshiped Daron, the goddess of the oak tree. Even the town of Kildare finds its roots in that of the oak tree – Cill Dara is Irish for “church of the oak.”
I get it. You’ve got folks on staff (and a significant portion of the hobby) who are very, very, very personally invested in this theme. Meanwhile in my corner of the universe, the closest I can come to a connection is that there was a story on Dad’s side of the family about a male relative who was a coachman for an Irish Duchess.

No evidence whatsoever, just a story.

And I was in the Highlander Fan Club for a few years. Because I loved sword fights, the Queen soundtrack, and the male leads were all nice to look at. (RIP Stan Kirsch.)

But I am going to be very frank with you and say that some of my lack of enthusiasm goes back to 2015 when I felt very… alone in my love of the French theme. And kind of put out by the execution of said theme (a Spanish Fighting Bull as a Tent SR?!?) and the fact that I couldn’t find three people – out of thousands! – who had even heard of Le Petit Prince. Which made me feel more than a little crazy.

It’s certainly not for a lack of effort this year: the models, so far, have all been lovely. And I am not normally one who gets too worked up about mold selections or appropriateness, unless they’re real eye rollers. Like the previously mentioned Spanish Fighting Bull, or the baffling selection of the Stretched Morgan as the Early Bird Raffle Model Bennington for the British Invasion theme in 2012.

But you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t get rapturous when Celtic words and phrases or obscure Irish trivia get thrown at me. Versta?