Saturday, February 6, 2016

Stinky

Here’s that model in question I referred to earlier in the week: he’s a nice, minty, later variation of the #47 Traditional Man o’ War.


One of my ongoing projects currently involves tracking the changes that occurred in some long-running Regular Run items, including the Traditional #47 Man o’ War and #46 Pacer. Both the timing and the price were right, so yay, a new Man o’ War is now in the house!

Most of my Man o’ Wars are either early variations or oddballs; this is good, in a way, because it means the holes I now get to fill in my Man o’ War chronology/timeline are the more common and less expensive pieces. (The only real “rarity” I need is the Presentation Series one. Since the last one I saw for sale ended up in the $700 range, that can wait!)

But tell me if you’ve heard (or experienced) this story before. You get super-excited to get something you want real cheap… until it arrives in a box that’s clearly too small, and reeks of your Grandmother’s ashtray.

Fortunately – and as you can see from the photos – he survived the journey to my doorstep without a scratch. The box and packaging made a quick exit to the recycling bin in the garage, though, and “Manny” has been going through a couple of showers with me since then.

(We all do that, right? Rinse dirty and/or stinky new horses in the shower with us? Please tell me I’m not the only one!)

Stinky models are not an uncommon occurrence for either me or thee. Traditional Breyers are made from a semi-synthetic material that is heat and moisture sensitive: kept in a stinky environment, they’re eventually going to start stinking like it. Only cleaning, fresh air, sunshine and time can remedy that problem.

I grew up in a family of smokers, so I got good at mitigating cigarette smells. The stinkiness of the packaging was the lesser of the two evils here. That could be fixed.

The size of the box, on the other hand, made me nervous as heck. It takes more than soap and water to fix rubs, scratches and breaks.

While I can understand that some people can become inured to the smell of cigarette smoke, the fact that the model is a little too big for the box you’ve chosen should be obvious. My local post office (as I assume most of them in the U.S.) has little handouts and charts to instruct you on sensible packaging procedures.

Some of it is a lack of experience: we ship a lot of stuff to each other on a daily basis, so hobbyists tend to be unusually high-skilled in the art. But I don’t know how many times I’ve been at the local Post Office during the year-end holidays, stuck behind someone holding a box, a gift item, and wearing a confused and desperate look on their face.

The other, of course, is cost: to either save money or to avoid a trip to the store to buy packing supplies, they’ll scrimp and make do with what they have in the house. And these models are virtually unbreakable, right? A plastic bag or a couple pieces of wadded up newspaper should be more than enough!

I got lucky this time, but there are times that I have not. Why it always seems to be the really rare or unusual items that end up losing the shipping lottery, I’ll never figure out.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Brambling

Well, that didn’t last long – another potential financial setback yesterday that puts a sudden damper on my plastic equine hopes and dreams. Like that reverse dapple blue roan Web Special Croi Damsha “Bramble” that looks like it was engineered out of the same stuff my “little girl and magical flying dream horse” fantasies were made from:


Bramble is not what I would have ordered if I ever “won” the opportunity to Design a Test Color, but I wouldn’t have crossed it off my preliminary/brainstorming list, either.

It will be interesting to see if they can pull off such a challenging color on a production piece. They have had mixed results in the past; some of the Connoisseur Flash Reverse Polarities looked awesome, for instance, but others looked like not-passable attempts to do a Leopard-themed Decorator.

The “Berry Pony” concept is not something anyone had on their radar – most guesses centered around gemstones, or Norse Gods and other pantheons. I also thought that maybe, in honor of the Rio Olympics, that they might have gone with something Olympic-themed – either by country, or by discipline.

I guess the “Pony” part shouldn’t have come as a complete surprise: Reeves has spent some time in the past few years building up their stable of Pony molds, including the Traditionals Newsworthy, Bouncer, the new Fell Pony, and the Classic Haflinger/New Forest Pony Mare and Foal. I am all for more and better ponies!

(Speaking of which, is a new Shetland Pony mold in the pipeline yet, Reeves? Something cute, fuzzy, and a little surly? Please?)

The Collector Club Exclusive Abdul, a Flaxen Chestnut Tobiano on the Ashquar mold, has also been taken off the table. I was a little less enthused about him anyway. It’s not the mold or the pose – I’ve seen lots of pictures of Arabian Stallions “feeling their oats”, so to speak, so I have no problems with a mold doing the same.

I’m just not that crazy about him in pinto; solid colors seem to do much more to enhance his unique silhouette.

At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. I am also annoyed that they went with pinto for the CC Special – again. Spotted releases sell better than solids, which is likely why they did it, but remember how pretty the Ashquar mold was in Gloss Bay last year, as Ganache?

He didn’t sell out at BreyerFest, but he did not long after the leftovers were put up on the web site. So while he was not everyone’s first choice, he was a lot of people’s second. Something interesting to ponder there, I think...

Gotta get to be early tonight – I have to work early, and I have a sinus headache that probably needs more sleep than medication to fix.

Oh, and the box with the horse I bought came today: the box was very small, and very stinky. Methinks I’ll be talking about this model sooner, rather than later, and about a topic or two only vaguely related to the reason why I bought him in the first place.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Cinza and Company

Taking it easy today; the travails of January are over, and a certain financial issue I’ve been grappling with all this month is about to be resolved. I celebrated by buying myself a (very cheap!) horse, but he’s part of an ongoing research project so you probably won’t be seeing or hearing about him for a while.

(Nothing particularly rare, just nerdish. You ought to know me by now.)

So let us discuss the Raffle Model Cinza, on the Valegro mold:


I was expecting a Valegro release for this year’s BreyerFest, but I thought it’d be something a little more conservative – solid-colored, and possibly Glossy. But a Grulla Blanket Appaloosa? Nice!

Although it is labeled a “grullo blanket Appaloosa”, I tend to think of this color (and all its recent permutations) as the updated version of Breyer’s vintage “Gray Appaloosa” paintjob. Another of which is coming soon on the Stablemates Club release Primrose:


There has been a great deal of speculation about the origins of the Breyer color Charcoal; my working theory is that it was likely based on photo references of a Silver Dapple or Sooty Palomino horse that was captioned as a “Charcoal Palomino”.

But what about the “Gray Appaloosa” concept? Where did it come from?

The first Gray Appaloosas appeared in 1959 – on the Old Mold Stallion, Mare and Foal – and variations of the paint job later appeared on the Fighting Stallion and Mustang. It appeared at least a year, or maybe two, before Charcoal was introduced.

My guess would be that, not unlike the Charcoal, it was based on a photo of either a Blue Roan or Grulla Blanket Appaloosa that was labeled “Gray Appaloosa”. Because then, as now, most people tend to focus on phenotype (what something looks like) than genotype (what something is genetically).

It was probably via Western Horseman magazine: Breyer seemed to get a lot of its ideas from Western Horseman back then, and even used it as one of their primary promotional outlets in the years before the introduction of Just About Horses.

Although it has never had the same allure as the Charcoal, it continued to pop up over the years, most notably on the Stock Horse Family in the 1980s (Special Runs on the Stallion, Mare and Action Foal; and as a Regular Run on the Standing Foal) and most recently in a few Vintage Club releases. My personal favorite, though, continues to be the 1984 Appaloosa Performance Horse SR from JC Penney:


Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Different Kind of Cat

The Store Special of Diablo DC, a Matte Light Dapple Gray on the Desatado mold isn’t all that surprising – I think most of us were expecting a Desatado release in the mix somewhere. Reeves refers to the Desatado mold as the “Criollo Horse”, and this year’s event is South American-themed.

I’ve passed on or passed along every Desatado that’s come across my path so far, so I’ll have to wait and see on this one before I make a decision. The Matte Alabaster finish is definitely a plus!

(Scroll down to January 22nd. Discussion of beautiful Raffle Model Cinza will be for another day.)

I was just thinking about what this year’s Nonhorse Special Run could be. While it’s likely to be – yet again – another Bull mold of some sort, I continue to hold out hope that Reeves is thinking outside of the box. Yes, I’m hoping for a different “Big Cat” Special Run for Fest this year: perhaps a Jaguar on the Cougar mold?

The Cougar mold has already been released as a BreyerFest Special Run once before, as part of the 750-piece 2002 Set “Bandit and Kohana”, with the now very, very popular Wolf mold. The Cougar mold has been out of production since 2007, and it’s high time for another release, I say.

The Cougar mold was introduced as part of a couple different Walmart Mesteno-Mustang sets in 2001 – Rufo and Diablo, and Azul and Fausto. It was then released in various shades of tan in subsequent sets, eventually getting its own stand-alone Regular Run in 2005-2006, as #3813.

I’ve had a few Cougars over the years – mostly body quality pieces via box lots and flea markets. I’ve since sold all of them too, partly because they were useless for research purposes: they had no context. I had no idea if I was in the possession of a standard issue Cougar from Set A, B or C, or a variation or oddity.

It exposed a hole in my knowledge and I wasn’t comfortable with that.

It’s something I’d like to rectify eventually, but my budget and timing have been conspiring against me on that. (I heard rumor that a few leftovers of the Bandit and Kohana set were in the Ninja Pit last year. Sigh.)

If Reeves thinks a spotted pattern a little too challenging to execute competently – and with the mold’s small size and textured coat, it may well be – I think many of us would be happy with a basic Black Panther. Pair it up with a Classic Horse and Rider and there you go – a Pantanal Play Set!

Probably won’t happen; a Brahma Bull modified into an Indo-Brazilian Bull, with short horns and droopy ears seems more likely:

http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/cattle/indobrazilian

The Brahma Bull hasn’t been in production since 2004, when the #385 Red Brahma was discontinued. If they can make the necessary horn and ear adjustments to the mold, and since the ears and horns of the Brahma are separately molded parts, I don’t see that being a big technical or financial hurdle.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Pottery Barn Specials

As you may know, the only Pottery Barn item I have is the Sample of the Gray Kennebec Count that appeared on eBay during that brief window of time when rumors were swirling about that Special Run’s potential cancellation:


Fortunately I didn’t pay too much for him; most either decided to wait out the rumors, or just give it a complete pass altogether because it was Kennebec Count. (Which I have no problem with: more for me!)

There were (or are, so far) only four horses in the Pottery Barn lineup: the 2007 Kennebec, a lovely Dappled Bay loose-tail Strapless released in 2009, the Classic Best in Show Thoroughbred in Black, and the Classic Johar in Chestnut Appaloosa. The Classics are still up on the Pottery Barn web site, though they were released in 2012, and are no longer available from them:

http://www.potterybarnkids.com/products/breyer-horses/

They also sold the Classics Scale Horse Trailer:

http://www.potterybarnkids.com/products/doll-horse-trailer/

None of the models had “official” names, and the two Classics are indistinguishable (as far as I know) from the Regular Run releases, aside from the special packaging.

The Kennebecs are relatively easy to find, though I don’t know if that’s because they made more, or he’s liked less than the Strapless. (A dislike that has struck me as much personal in nature, as conformational.)

On the other hand, the Strapless mold is currently quite the fashionable little darling now, no doubt aided in part by the well-received BreyerFest Store Special Oration last year. (Good luck finding one those pretties for less than $100!)

The two bay Straplesses are relatively easy to distinguish from each other: the PB Strapless is a little darker, dappled and more shaded, with a loose tail and three stockings; Oration is a lighter and redder bay with a braided tail and four stockings.

Of the two, I prefer the Pottery Barn Bay, partly because I still don’t have a loose tail variation yet. I have a funny feeling she’ll be on my newly-revamped want list for a while, however. (Eh, no money to spare at the moment anyway!)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Another Odds-and-Ends Kind of Day

I’m so tired today that I feel partially melted. At least we don’t have to deal with massive amounts of snow here. Just the cold, and exhaustion.

Just a few odds and ends before I hit the sack.

That Breyer posted about the 5K Run on their BreyerFest Blog the day after I posted about it here was a coincidence, I swear. That’s not a wink-wink, nudge-nudge kind of denial, either.

Second: I was poking around the usual sales sites and found a couple of unpolished “Let’s Go Riding” Secretariats that were obviously not Samples, so I can confirm that they do exist. Determining whether the polishing occurred during production or before is still difficult.

It’s possible that they had a small stash of older Secretariat bodies lying around that they needed to use up anyway. It’s a not-uncommon practice: the Black Family Arabian Special Runs from the 1970s, the Chalky Dapple Gray Hanoverian from the 1980s, and the Warehouse Reissues were all made from previously molded/warehoused items.

For what it’s worth (small sample size over a short period of time), the unpolished ones do seem to be less common than the polished.

And finally, even when I’m not looking for anything, I find things:


A large Rain Plushie in the Stuffed Animal Bin of one of my regular haunts, on the way home from work today. She was just sitting on top of the heap like she was waiting for me. Plushes were on sale today, too, so I had no excuse not to take her home.

I don’t have a lot of plushies – Breyer or otherwise – because Vita considers all plushies her personal property. In fact, she personally inspects every shopping bag that enters the house in hopes of adding new victims to her toy heap.

Not today, sweetie. This one’s hiding in the closet until I determine a less gruesome fate for her.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Getting Started

In a sense I have gotten started early on my BreyerFest prep. Remember those shoes I showed you a little while back that I was contemplating as a part of a potential costume/outfit?

I pulled a muscle in my foot when I tried them on last week. I’ve been limping around in various degrees of old-lady-ness (physically, and attitudinally) ever since then.

I’m trying to spin this as a positive: perhaps this means that I’m getting the standard “damage to self or personal property” portion of the trip done now, and not later? And the shoes themselves did, as I hoped they would, looked great on and made me feel a little bit more fabulous while I was wearing them.

So going over the particulars of the BreyerFest 5K Run the other day, well, it made me laugh:

http://www.breyerhorses.com/breyerFest-5K

Several years ago I tried writing a satirical novel about the hobby and BreyerFest. One of the reasons I put the project on hold indefinitely was because reality kept catching up with the satire. No matter how absurd I made things, reality went one better.

Remember the brief discussion a few years ago in one of the NAMHSA discussion-type-places about establishing breed standards for Unicorns? Stuff like that.

In one portion of the novel I was trying to devise the craziest, most embarrassing or downright grueling contest or activity hobbyists would put themselves through to win a model.

Let’s see, a 5K Run on the final day of BreyerFest, in Kentucky, in what is usually almost-intolerable heat and humidity? Reality, you have beat me once again.

In spite of all that, I am thinking about it. Not for a prize model – not with my feet, which are as oddly shaped and mismatched as the Traditional Stock Horse Mare’s – but because “running a marathon” is something on my bucket list. A 5K at an event I’m already at might actually motivate me to start working towards that goal. Even if I limp home last, I’d still get a t-shirt out of it.

I sincerely hope, however, that whatever prizes are involved aren’t exceedingly valuable – Regular Runs, Web Special leftovers, etc. – because seriously, I don’t want to see people pass out and/or hurt themselves over a prize model.

Just make a limited edition SR Stablemate for all physical participants, with glossy ones for the category winners. Everyone gets something special for making a good faith effort, and we can all go home happy. And in one piece.