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.)


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?)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Having a fun time, wish you were...

Well, actually, most of you are here, or will be.

I had some interesting technical issues getting down to Kentucky this time, beginning with Vita eating a part of my costume shortly before I had to leave. Then there was a problem with Florian's radio that had me yelling at the poor tech support people while I was stuck on a very rainy and very scary section of I-75.

But I am here, and I am (mostly) well. Still coughing up unspeakable things from my lungs, but the coughing fits are becoming less frequent and less terrifying.

Up late tonight working on the diorama; to give you an idea of the kind of detailing I'm doing on this thing, I just made a tiny umbrella. Earlier today I stuck a MiniWhinnies Foal in a teeny-tiny shopping bag, and made an itty-bitty pair of nunchucks. (Have you figured out what I'm doing, yet?)

Sometime during the afternoon I also ate a pickle. That's not in any way related to the diorama, but I thought I'd like to share, anyway. There was also some discussion of a wandering magical chair. Possibly wearing a top hat.

(No, really, and I'm fine. Yes, I will be going to bed very, very shortly.)

It's absolutely true that the Clarion has been - and continues - to make actual physical improvements to the facilities. There's an elevator in the 500/600 wing that's allegedly going to be functional this weekend: we'll see how long THAT lasts. (Talk about a trial by fire!) Elevators in the other wings are also apparently in the works, so second floor rooms may no longer be an issue in the future.

My room's toilet is no longer haunted, either. I'm not sure that's an improvement; I had become so accustomed to the strange sounds that emanated from it that the Room 312 now feels like it's missing a bit of its ambiance.

On the other hand, the 300/400 wing now has fridges and microwaves, whoo-hoo! I'm so excited I want to buy candymaking supplies and make some microwave fudge and Rice Crispies treats. (NOTE: This is probably not going to actually happen.)

My sales have been relatively modest so far; more lookers than buyers so far this year. I haven't done much shopping yet; however, I did spot a couple of interesting variations in the 500s that might end up coming home with me. They're not on the top of my official want list, but I fear they may be coming home with me anyway. You know how that goes.

Okay, now I really am going to go to bed now. Another post tomorrow, possibly.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Needs, Wants, Desires

Let’s just say that after today, I’m pretty sure I am no longer infectious. (Things…had to be thrown out. That’s all I’ll ‘fess to.)

Everything else is proceeding more or less according to plan. Being further along would be better, but considering the obstacles I had to overcome to get where I am, I am not complaining.

I’m probably not going to the flea market tomorrow, even though it looks like the weather will be cooperative. No time, no space, no energy. Even my poor Charcoal Adios will have to remain unopened until I get back.

My poor Amigo!

Most of you have already heard, but for those of you also distracted by things in the material world, they’ve sold out of the BreyerFest Special Run tickets this year. Not the Celebration Horse itself, though Reeves also announced that they’d have about 500 "bubble-wrapped" pieces available in addition to the boxed ones, so they’re close.

(IOW, they had time to make more horses, but not more packaging.)

They’ve sold out of the One-Day Stablemates before (though they do hold some in reserve for people with "Will Call" tickets), and Celebration Horses before (remember the Mariah’s Boon mess? Which also involved a batch of unboxed horses?) But the Special Run Line Tickets are a surprise - especially since they added four time slots on Sunday to sell more.

Might not be too many leftovers to worry about, then. There’s always some - not every ticket gets redeemed, or fully redeemed - but I might just leave after the Sunday Raffle and not worry about them until they post them online, like they did last year.

I won’t be doing much extracurricular shopping this year, either: I really do need to move more horses out than in this trip. I will, as always, be on the lookout for more old paper (the 1974 Dealer’s Catalog is a big want!) and anything that catches my eye. And you know me, that really could be anything.

The only two things I am seriously on the hunt for this year are a couple of variations: a Matte Walking Horned Hereford Bull (the very last ones in ca. 1980/1 were Matte-finished) and a Family Arabian Foal with a belly stamp (the earliest ones). Condition and color is irrelevant on the Family Foal: it’s one of the few mold variations of the Foal I don’t have, and it’s bugging me. 

I will leave you with a tiny Sneak Preview of The Diorama that I am now returning to work on. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Early New Roans

I’m sort of obsessed with my BreyerFest Diorama Thing right now - which will be one for the ages, if I can get it done in time. The only problem I’m having is the same one I always have, once I have (what I think is) an amazing idea: I’m freaking over the littlest details.

The only good thing in this instance is that I might - might! - have the time to pull it off. Eh, it’s not like I’m sleeping anyway, with the Horrible Chicken Death Flu wracking my body. (Today’s symptom du jour: lots and lots of coughing. Eating an ice cream cone today was…interesting. And messy.)

Speaking of details, here’s a little game. Here’s a Test Color of the modestly popular Breyer #710 Indian Pony. The model ran from 1988 through 1991 - a pretty long run, even back then. This fleabitten-y, pale Roan with the tiny freckles was one of Reeves’s earlier attempts at improving/updating Breyer painting techniques.

Can you tell what distinguishes this model as a Test Color? I’ll give you a minute or two to think about it.

I love Roans in general (and Blue Roans, in particular!), and I was thrilled back then that we’d be getting more and better roany Breyers, but I have to admit that these Early New Roans left me a wee bit cold, initially. They looked more like Fleabitten Grays or really Weird Appaloosas.

I like Fleabitten Grays and Weird Appaloosas, too, but I was kind of hoping that if they were trying to "improve" their interpretations of horse colors, the naming of those colors would also improve.

I love the older, Big Freckle Red Roans to pieces, but I think of them more as a peculiar later Decorator color than a realistic one, in the same category as Charcoal: clearly inspired by a realistic color, but definitely its own thing.

Reeves is a lot better now about this - not perfect, but close enough to be forgivable, in most instances. There’s still some oddness going on with some of the Pintos, some of the Dappled stuff, and the proper formula for Silver Bay seems to be a mystery to them. But they’re right more often than not, and they do seem to be trying. Just not always succeeding.

Give up yet? The detail you may be missing: this one doesn’t have socks! My production run one is currently in storage, but he looks a lot like this one, via Identify Your Breyer:

The Test is also a little bit more brown than red. He’s a shrinky though, too, and this may be affecting his color in some way.

Still, he’s a neat guy, even if his color is a little off - either by nature, or by design.