Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Eggs

Spent the Easter weekend cleaning up the yard, and the office. When either endeavor began to frustrate, I had another one of my "Why isn’t this one done yet?" quilt projects to distract me.

Once all three projects are completed, I’ll move on to BreyerFest stuff.

I made good progress on all three because I’ve been trying to limit the computer time. Just too many aggravating hobby personalities and situations I don’t want to deal with, even in the most passive ways.

Except for one. While I don’t have a vested interest in any of the locations for next year’s NAN, as it is unlikely that I’d be able to attend regardless, I am extremely curious to see how the current NAMHSA crisis du jour turns out.

I have had my issues with NAMHSA - I think they spend too much time focusing on an end result (the "Big Show") and not enough time focusing on foundational issues (like the reason and purpose of The Show in the first place). Some of the individuals in charge have occasionally fallen into my personal "don’t want to deal with" group.

Yet curiously, and unlike a lot of hobbyists, I think everything will be fine in the end. The existence of dysfunction is not the problem: stuff happens, no matter how much or how well you plan. How the dysfunction is dealt with is the truer measure of judging an organization's viability.

Maybe I’m a little inured to some of the drama because I’ve been in the hobby long enough to have seen most of it before. I’ve also dealt with similar issues in other interests of mine and know it is not unique to us. (Google "SFWA Controversies" if you want to see some real hair-raising stuff. And today, apparently, the 2014 Hugo nominations. Yikes!)

You made it this far with my pontificating, so here are a couple of pictures from Marney’s Album, as conciliatory Easter Eggs. Notice anything odd about them?

No socks! There are a number of photos of Woodgrains in the album, all taken around the same time frame (1970-1971). While some of the pieces are undoubtedly true Production Runs, these two pictures - and a few others - make me wonder if these were Test Colors, or something, on Marney’s part.

Woodgrains had been largely discontinued at that point - only the Fighter remained in production by 1970 - but we know that Special Run Woodgrains were being made in the late 1960s and into the early 1970s for the Dunning Industries Ranchcraft line.

It’s hard to identify those later Special Run Woodgrains, absent their presence on lamps, because there’s no way of distinguishing them from earlier releases. We only know that Non-Fighting Stallion Woodgrains were manufactured (and not simply pulled from warehouse backstock) after 1966/7 because Running Mare and Foal lamps can be found with USA marks, as well as Woodgrains of molds that simply didn’t exist prior, such as the Polled Hereford Bull.

All of the other Woodgrains in the album are on molds that had been released as Woodgrains before, so they could all be items from her collection that she had picked up elsewhere.

Yet there are other photos in the album of pieces that are clearly attempts at reproducing vintage molds in vintage colors, like the Old Mold Mares I’ve mentioned here before.

There will never be any definitive proof unless one of those album pieces does show up - and only if it has a USA mark. I haven't seen or heard of any so far, but I’ve seen a lot of unlikely things, especially lately.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

On Shermans, Past and Present

Felt a bit weepy earlier this week, but in a good way: I got a letter from the organization that I donated Sherman (my late car, the Saturn Station Wagon) to, and they ended up selling him already, and for way more than I expected. Aside from the bigger tax credit, which is nice, it was good to hear that someone saw that much potential in him.

Have a happy second life, Sherman.

Another Sherman entered the scene this week - the Silver Filigree one just announced as part of the SR lineup for BreyerFest. I’m not as into the Sherman Morgan mold as some hobbyists are, but he looks fabulous in that color, and I still don’t have an example of the mold with the newer tail yet.

I did find myself inexplicably drawn to a Rose Gray Baxter I found on eBay last week while shopping for something else. I wouldn’t mind the Gloss Bay QVC release, either, but I’m always either just missing him or getting sniped.

While I’m glad to see their photography skills are improving, is it just me or is that not the worst Photoshop clipping path, ever? I thought the Warehouse Find Chestnut Halla/Bolya picture looked bad: poor Shermie looks like he’s melting.

I can do better in five minutes with a ten-year-old copy of Photoshop and a cludgy mouse (Drawing tablet and stylus? Feh, for amateurs!) As could a substantial portion of the hobby, and possibly Vita. Baby steps, I suppose.

So I pulled the trigger and bought the second ticket. My first choices will be Gossamer, Sherman, and at least one Surprise. Second choices will include the Bears and the Appaloosa Carrick. There’s still one more Line Ticket item to be revealed, and the Surprise potentially being something I’d rather not deal with (cough Silver mold cough) so it could change.

(Not the Gossamer though. That one’s non-negotiable.)

Some of the Anniversary store items are starting to be leaked, too - the Plushie, the Crystal Alborozo, a Decoratory "new" Classic that basically a plastic version of the Sir Buckingham mold, and a Pink G3 Highland Pony covered in sprinkles that I Must Have. (A Cupcake, with sprinkles! Gah!)

There’s another obvious thing for you: individual Stablemate Store Specials. They could make at least a thousand of those, and sell ‘em out. I could see it as a good item for tourists passing through the Park on actual vacation who might want to get their kids a little memento of the event, without committing to something bigger or more expensive.

Not realizing, of course, that Stablemates multiply, and grow, and the next thing they know the family’s computer has some strange new bookmarks and there are printouts of the newest Web Specials just sort of sitting casually on the kitchen table in the morning, and….

Stablemates are the hobby's gateway drug. So cute, so little, so seemingly harmless.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bears, Obviously

The Special Run Bear Family Kodiak and Denali took me by surprise; I was thinking the Deer or maybe the German Shepherd/Rin Tin Tin had a better shot at BreyerFest Special Run-dom.

No complaints, though. They look very nicely done, and there haven’t been any Special Runs on the set ever, though the Cub alone has come in some Wal-mart Mustang sets. They make sense, too, for a Silver Anniversary: they’re Silvertip Grizzly Bears, duh!

Like most of the more recent Nonhorse Specials, they’ll likely be a small quantity release. Around 400-500 sets, if not less. That’s no guarantee of a sell-out, though the initial reaction to them seems very positive.

I have most of the Bears - all but some variations and the most recent releases - so I am definitely considering them. Unlike some of the Nonhorse molds, they’re relatively easy (though occasionally pricey) molds to collect. Though I have had a bit of a time trying to upgrade my 1960’s era Brown Bear. With that textured hairy coat, both molds are prone to rubs, but the Brown Bear Mamas I find around tend to be in much worse shape than all the others.

Don’t know why that is - I just chalk it up as a weird regional thing. I’ll find one eventually, no rush there. The flea market opens this week, so hope springs anew.

I’m still mulling over getting another ticket though. I usually buy two, but so far I’ve only bought one, and no other tickets appear to be forthcoming by other means.

It’s not a lack of enthusiasm that’s staying my hand, it’s that I’ve already bought more than I expected to this year. I told myself at the start of the year that I needed to sell more and buy less, but with my ongoing work-life scheduling issues, I haven’t been able to sell a darn thing since December.

And I had to spend my rare and glorious weekend off dealing with other, almost overdue things. Like finishing my taxes, and finally wrapping up a sewing project I’ve been picking at since October. (That Imperial Fan Quilt I started back in 2012. ‘Nuff said.)

We’ll just have to wait and see what this week holds. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Same, But Different

Another day that was longer than necessary. Sigh. But I did find another BreyerFesty thing at the Salvation Army on the way home. And when I did get home, I channeled my remaining frustrations into something also necessary - and overdue: I cleaned off the deck.

I’ll call the day a wash.

I only had a chance to open up one of the Reissues, but it was the one I was most excited about - the Pacer! And he didn’t disappoint:

Dark, more shading, more metallic, a differently colored hoof - and just look at that beautiful face! If you’re a fan of the Pacer mold, I highly recommend going forth and buying one.

I already have a Strike Out - the model that this is a Reissue of - though there’s a slight possibility that I don’t. It was a model I picked up in the sales tent many years ago, before the NPOD became a "thing". Back then they’d occasionally have loose (bagged, not boxed) recent Regular and Special Runs just sitting in unsorted piles on tables.

They didn’t look any different from the models they claimed to be on the bag labels - and back then, we didn’t give too much thought otherwise. There was no way to tell if these were true "Samples" or just loose models that they happened to have lying around the warehouse or offices.

This was pre-VIN numbers, and before anyone put much effort into looking for handwritten notations. I did find a few with notes or initials on them, that most of my hobby compadres found more curious than noteworthy.

Being a fan of the Pacer mold, and in need of that particular release, I bought the Strike Out. I picked up a few others, too; Pretty Buck, and the Bay Quarter Horse from the 2001 JC Penney’s Riding Academy Set both come to mind, both purchased mostly because I liked the coloring on them. The prices were good - comparable to Traditional Regular Runs, perhaps a tad cheaper - so whether they were something special or not wasn’t that much of a consideration. I bought them because I liked them, plain and simple.

So I may, or may not have a Sample Strike Out. One of these days I’ll have to pick up another and see if there’s anything significantly different from mine. I doubt it, but you never know, with these things. (Yes, I kept the labels they came with. Because ephemera.)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Vanilla is Good, Too

That’s all I’m saying about today: that box of Reissues can’t arrive soon enough. I’m so opening all the boxes and going full carpet herd with them.

Anyway, happier thoughts. Like the latest in what appears to be an unending stream of Store Specials - Novelisto D!

It’s yet another variation of the Brishen Multi-Mold, with the original Brishen mane and tail, but the Laredo legs.

And I like him. The front legs still give off that "Barbie Horse" vibe, but the combination of the various parts, with the plain - yet elegant - glossy White/Alabaster paint job is wonderful. It appears that I’m not the only one who thinks so. He seems to have jumped (or flown?) onto a lot of hobbyists’ To-Buy lists, too.

We haven’t seen many plain, unfancified White or Alabaster paint jobs in recent years; most Aged Gray or White models nowadays have some embellishment to them. They’re Chalkied, Pearled, Dappled, Shaded, or some combination thereof.

Some of them have been quite beautiful; the BreyerFest Pecos and the Gladwin Lucky Lady are both big favorites in my barn.

But sometimes, plain old vanilla is good too. The first "Vintage" model I ever saw - one that I hadn’t seen in a store or in a catalog - was a Matte Alabaster Family Arabian Stallion. A classmate on the bus took one to school one day, and I was entranced. Shortly afterwards we struck up a conversation, and many entertaining lunch room conferences were had, often spend ogling over the latest Breyer Collector’s Manual.

She and her friend even showed their models, which blew my mind and led me to finally subscribe to Just About Horses, which led me … here. So I guess it shouldn’t shock that I have about a half dozen variations of that model now: Gloss, to Matte, to Special Run. It wasn’t intentional, not at first.

Novelisto D is the horse that played the part of Athansor, a mystical, time-traveling flying horse in the recent film adaptation of Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale.

I read the novel not long after it came out - because it was a fantasy novel with a horse in it, duh! While I was impressed with the beauty of the language and the scope of the story, the novel I read shortly after - John Crowley’s Little, Big - had a much bigger impact on me, emotionally and artistically. Even if it did have fewer flying horses in it.

The Winter’s Tale film came and went, which is what I expected to happen; it’s not the kind of book that’s easily adaptable to a compact two-hour theatrical release. Genre fantasy is a tough sell cinematically, but literary fantasy even moreso. Because of my schedule, I didn’t get a chance to see the film in its brief theatrical run, but I’ll be more than happy to add the horse to my herd in the meantime.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Oh No, Not Again - Again!

I had heard rumors about as-yet-unreleased Reissues being spotted at the Factory Tours during the latest Exclusive Event, but I hadn’t given them much thought. I assumed that they’d spring them on us the way they did last year. You know, just setting them out in the Sales Tent, no announcements or nothing.

Nope. Say hello to the latest Warehouse Finds.

I swear I did not know they were being released on the web site this week, just a few days after I mentioned my hunch. I had a hunch something was coming because we had the White Moose Ghost in March of last year, and the Buried Treasure Lusitano in April the year before.

Logic and recent history.

Sometimes, though, I feel like Reeves is punking me. (Decorator Khemos? Let’s do it! Another web site surprise? Let's move it up to this week!)

So anyway, I bought a Pacer and an Old Timer. because those are molds on my "Approved to Buy" List. I picked up a Sucesion and LeFire too because I’ve been wanting to upgrade my set for a long time, and the prices for them on eBay have been out of my league.

430006 Quarter Horse - Blue Roan (AQHA Horse)
430007 Standardbred - Chestnut (Pacer)
430010 Thoroughbred - Chestnut (Halla/Bolya)
430011 Arabian Mare and Foal (Sucesion and LeFire)
430012 Redmond - Bay (Midnight Sun)
430019 Paint Horse - Bay (Cody/Ranch Horse)
430020 Old Timer - Appaloosa

The Old Timer is sans blinkers and hat, like the Palomino, but it’s too soon to tell just how much the other Reissues vary from the originals, outside of the VIN numbers and better executed paint jobs.

I have a feeling that the Midnight Sun will be the Huck Bey of this group - different enough from the original it was inspired from to qualify as a distinct release on its own. It even has a "real" name as opposed to a generic descriptive one, which I find interesting.

Plus, it’s been 25 years since the original #704 was discontinued, back when Reeves was still having some significant quality control issues. He’ll be different just by virtue of that. (I remember liking the release back then, and having a very hard time finding one that did not have major issues.)

It might be worth noting that this may represent the last official production release of the Midnight Sun mold. Due to the ongoing issues within the real world of Tennessee Walking Horses, there hasn’t been an official production release of the Midnight Sun mold since the last Special Run was made for WCHE in 2002.

The only other Midnight Suns we’ve seen in the meantime have been either auction pieces, or the Unpainted ones Reeves has periodically tried to sell us at BreyerFest.

Those "Whiteware" collections might be the key to figuring out what Reissues may be coming down the pipeline in the future. (There are gaps in the Reissue numbering system that still haven’t been accounted for yet. Seems inevitable to me.) The last boxed Whiteware sets included the following molds:
  • Sucesion and LeFire
  • Gem Twist
  • Belgian
  • Cody/Ranch Horse
  • Midnight Sun
  • Clock Saddlebred
  • Clydesdale Mare
  • Family Arabian Stallion
  • Stock Horse Stallion (original tail)
  • Shetland Pony
  • Western Prancing Horse
Six of the twelve have turned up as Reissues! So I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the other six show up soon. Gem Twist seems the most likely choice, but I would be most excited about the Western Prancing Horse. (Another one on my Buy List!)

Reeves has disabled the parts of the inventory system that allowed us to figure out the rough counts, but (no surprise) the Sucesion and LeFire sets are already gone. Everything else still seems to be available, though.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

In On The Joke

Tuesday was not shaping up to be the best day of my week; alarm clocks should not be allowed to be set to go off at 2:30 a.m.

And it just about lived up to my expectations. I’ll spare you the particulars; it felt like the kind of day that was constantly running up to me, poking me in the eye, and running off.

The day was almost salvaged with a couple of side trips to stores with excellent Breyer selections; I didn’t buy anything, but just looking at pretty horses did wonders for my mood.

On the way home, I stopped at a couple of thrift stores too, and found one wonderful not-a-horse thing that gave me crazy ideas about a certain contest entry - putting me in an almost giddy mood, I daresay. Take that, Tuesday!

When I arrived home, however, I made the mistake of reading the online comments to Breyer’s April Fool’s Day joke about Khemosabi.

Whatever holidays you want to celebrate I am completely fine with - especially if chocolate cake is involved. I’m rather fond of Towel Day, myself.

But I have always - and continue to be - apprehensive about April Fool’s Day. It’s not just that it hurts people who either cognitively or philosophically obligated to accept everything they see, hear and read at face value, but that some people will continue to believe the joke or prank was real - no matter what the evidence (or the perpetrator!) says.

The hobby seems especially prone to this (certain Yahoo Groups spring to mind). Not only is it painful to witness, it leads to lots and lots of posts refuting bad data

Look, Reeves is VERY aware of Khemosabi’s awfulness, and they've known about it for a very long time. I know for a fact that they considered retooling the mold as early as 1992. I was a party to a conversation back then with the Powers That Be.

Really, no fooling.

Think about it: he’s only been used twice since his original release - once as a Christmas Horse, and second in that crazy Dappled Rose Gray that I mentioned before. Neither one I’d consider a "realistic" release.

There is a tiny bit of truth to the prank: this single set of models will be made available at BreyerFest - via the Silent Auction. Judging from the reaction I’ve been seeing on Blab, the set will be fetching a healthy price, too. I might put in a bid, just for the heck of it.

And who knows? If the interest keeps up, we just might end up with a Silver Filigree Khemo for Christmas.