Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Reissue Thing

Reeves telegraphed us early on that there would be more than just flat-track horse racing specials at BreyerFest this year, but even I have to admit I am a little surprised they went with a Reissue of Scamper:

On their blog they went out of their way to point out how different this set is from the original #477 Scamper release, which was one of Breyer’s longest running recent releases (1998-2008).  In addition to the three blue and yellow BreyerFest-themed racing barrels:
Scamper features a "BreyerFest 2018" print on his belly, crisp leg markings and modern shading.
Okay, sure.

It’s interesting that of the eight models announced so far, four of the five “Portrait” models are solid Bays with minimal whites. That’s more a consequence of the theme (racing Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds tend towards conservative colors) than a conscious effort of color coordination on the part of Reeves.

Hobbyists out there are complaining less about the Bay Thing and more about the Reissue Thing “This is boring, and dumb. Why couldn’t they make him Glossy like Foiled Again, at least?”

Well, because I don’t think they’re necessarily appealing to hobbyists per se, with a Scamper Reissue. The original Scamper ran for over ten years, and that is an eternity in model horse time: long-running releases like that are clearly appealing to a larger swath of humanity than us mere model horse hobbyists and collectors.

That larger swath of humanity – fans of the real-life horse, or of barrel racing in general – are (at best) indifferent to the concept of glossing. Glossing is very much an in-hobby Thing.

By adding (and emphasizing) a number of subtle differences with the original release, they’re trying to make it different enough for hobbyists to at least consider it.

And I am.

I don’t have any Scamper models in my collection presently, but it’s not for a lack of love for the mold or the Western Performance Series. I just never found the right one. I keep telling myself I ought to get the cute Barrel Racing Set with the Semi-leopard Appaloosa and the pink and purple barrels, but something else always comes up…

…like a couple more unexpected variations I’ll get to later in the week.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Suckling Foal Oddity

I’ve been keeping busy the past several days by sorting through ephemera – both stuff that was pulled for research purposes, and “new” stuff that I’ve acquired over the past few years that I never got around to properly classifying and filing in the first place.

It’s almost as much fun as cleaning and sorting box lots of horses! Speaking of, I find myself presented with a particularly challenging little filly in a recent box lot acquisition:

The Suckling Foal from the original #3155 Thoroughbred Mare and Foal Set didn’t come in a lot of variations. It does come in Chalky, and it was one of the handful of releases that came in Gray Plastic without a Chalky Basecoat.

(The best known of those being the Elephant and Donkey, of course!)

But other than some slight variations in color and shading (lighter and darker) the Foal’s paintjob was remarkably consistent throughout its twelve-year run (1973-1984).

So when I found this one with two front stockings – well, she clearly had to come home with me.

The rest of the items in the lot weren’t bad either, but did not provide any hint of her origins. The seller was from a location not too far from Chicago, so that opens up the possibility of her being an Employee Take-Home. The paint job on the other side of her neck is a little uneven, too, which would be consistent with her being a finished Cull.

The only problem I have with her is that someone decided to spray some aftermarket gloss finish, and  they did a terrible job of it. Runs, drips, globs, lint and hair? She’s got them all!

Aftermarket gloss is not impossible to remove, but the fact that she’s a more-unusual-than-average oddity makes me extremely apprehensive about trying anything. So on the shelf she goes, with all my other rehab projects...

Sunday, February 11, 2018

More Hard BreyerFest Decisions

I really like the latest two Specials announced for this year’s BreyerFest. First there is Old Ironsides, on Strapless:

There have been three other Gray releases on the Strapless mold, including the 2005 Live Show Prize Dapple Gray Overo Pinto, the 2007 FEI World Cup Special, and the 2009 Valvella.

I loved the first two, but they are essentially Micro Runs, and unattainable. The Valvella is more plentiful (700 pieces) but I’ve had a hard time warming up to that release. I love fleabites and the loose mane/tail version of Strapless, so this one might be a no-brainer for me.

The Chestnut Snowcap Ruffian Dead Heat is the second (though she looks more Red Dun to me):

There’s our designated “Racing Appaloosa” release! The Traditional Ruffian mold has also come in Appaloosa a couple times before, both as BreyerFest releases: the 2006 Silver Bay Blanket Appaloosa Raffle Model Windswept, and 2007’s Glossy Bay Semi-Leopard Heartland.

Current speculation is that Dead Heat is the item most likely to be the 50/50 Gloss/Matte Split model, though I am more intrigued by the fact that they “accidentally” released a second photo (now deleted/replaced) of this SR with the mold’s original longer tail.

Allegedly this was a mistake and the short-tail version is the official version, but the fact that the second photo existed at all is interesting.

This means that they might have only very recently made the decision on the tail but had photos of both versions made ready, just in case. Or we’ll be seeing the long-tail version in some other capacity such as a Raffle, Auction, or Online piece.

I prefer the short-tail version, regardless: I am more of an “old school” Appaloosa fan. (One of my “dream” Special Runs is a Few Spot Leopard on the Appaloosa Performance Horse mold.)

Breyer’s first Racing Appaloosa was, of course, the Stud Spider back in 1978. While I wouldn’t mind seeing something to commemorate that mold’s 40th anniversary – a Glossy Re-release, or the original Stud Spider pattern on a newer mold – I’m kind of doubting it.

BreyerFest Portrait Special tend to be of the “Store Special” variety, and they’ve already announced three: the Gloss Foiled Again, Icabad Crane, and now the Old Ironsides.

My only hesitation about the Dead Heat is the size of her. I own only two Traditional Ruffians currently (the original release, and the Goddess Series Athena) because she’s a shelf hog and hard to display properly.

I wish I could more ruthless with my affections as some are – we are not even half way through February, and Reeves is already making things hard for me!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Another Oddball FAM

Here I thought I was doing pretty good earlier this week when I picked up an inexpensive box lot of unicorns through a local auction house. Even after taking out a few treasures for myself (the Hagens), I should be able to make a nice little profit from the rest of the lot at BreyerFest.

Then I saw what that Mahogany Bay Family Arabian Mare went for on eBay. Yikes! If only I could be that lucky.

Well actually, I have been, but my problem is that the really good stuff tends to stick around. The ability to own a rare and beautiful thing tends to trump whatever financial considerations I have – and it’s usually easier just to sell off things I am not as emotionally invested in, horses or otherwise, until the need passes.

Ironically, one of the models I had been waffling on has been my other Oddball/Test Color FAM, here hanging with a couple of friends:

Isn’t she lovely? She’s basically a mid-1970s Matte Palomino with a Palomino mane and tail, a simple yet surprisingly effective alteration. I assume she was another Factory Employee Take-Home, possibly a Cull that was fished out of the reject bin and finished for gifting.

I picked her up pretty cheaply several years ago on eBay, before Family Arabian Mares of any stripe were a thing. I remember being a little apprehensive about paying that much money for what was essentially a glorified Matte Palomino FAM.

It doesn’t seem as foolish a deal now. (Less than two percent of the Mahogany Mare’s selling price, if you’re curious.) She is staying: she only happens to be on my sales shelving unit because I am still in the process of reorganizing here.

I have to say, though, that I am as shocked as anyone that the Family Arabian Mare – who has been, historically, the least appreciated of the three Family Arabian molds – is now a “hot” item.

This is good for her, though not so good for me. I might have to find another lightly collected, underappreciated and cheap Traditional mold to obsess over now, or at least until this craziness blows over.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

FAMs as PAMs?

Several years ago I acquired a Matte Dapple Gray Family Arabian Mare in a Body Box lot. She was missing a leg and half an ear, but I didn’t care:

I knew there was at least one other Dapple Gray Family Arabian Mare like her out there, and where there are two, there are usually more. I assumed that she was either a Salesman’s Sample or very early production piece of the Proud Arabian Mare, produced before the Proud Arabian Mare mold was ready for full production.

I also assumed that meant there had to be at least a few Mahogany Bay Family Arabian Mares out there too, either sitting unnoticed in someone’s collection, or passed off as a simple variation of the Bay.

(Any Matte Alabasters that would have/could have been produced would have been virtually identical/indistinguishable from the original Matte Alabaster FAMs, save for a little extra body shading, perhaps.)

So it wasn’t a complete surprise when a Mahogany Bay Family Arabian Mare showed up – on eBay, of course. What was odd about it was that it came with the original White Cardboard Picture box, and a not-quite-matching Bay Proud Arabian Foal.

Oddballs and obvious Samples have turned up in retail boxes before, especially the enclosed cardboard ones of the 1970s and early 1980s. It might have been done to round out the production quota for the day, or (according to a rumor I heard from Marney herself) to give the hobby community a few little surprises to go hunting for.

But if these Oddball Mares were Samples or simply very early production items, you’d expect to find them with Corrugated Shipper Boxes: the Proud Arabian Mare debuted in 1972, but the retail-friendly White Cardboard Picture Boxes didn’t appear until 1973.

A random thought occurred to me a while back, now bolstered by this Mahogany Bay Mare and her box: what if these Mares were straight-up goofs? What if – like so many hobbyists – one of the factory painters simply confused the PAM mold with the FAM mold?

If so, it was obviously a mistake that was caught early. This is a darn shame, since I have grown rather fond of Mahogany Bay as a color.

I had the strange misfortune of actually finding the Mahogany Bay FAM auction very shortly after it was listed, and fumbled around the page for a few anxious seconds desperately looking for the “Buy It Now” button that was not there.

So I will simply have to be content with my three-legged mare…

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Striking Green Gold

After getting dismissed early from jury duty on Thursday, I decided to stop at the Walmart on the way home, and guess what I found?

It looked like they had just plopped a freshly opened box of Mystery Stablemates on the shelf, so it was more a matter of timing than luck or skill. (There is nothing especially special about the Pony. I just like the mold.)

I wanted to wait until I got home, but my curiosity got the best of me, and I opened them in the parking lot. I probably should have waited – you guys weren’t kidding about the overwhelming paint-store smell!

It’s not just the Gloss that’s responsible for the Friesian’s unique funk, but a combination of the opaque green-gold metallic paint, the Gloss, and the sealed bags they marinate in.

I think that these Green-Gold Friesians will end up being not all that rare, since they seem to be appearing at roughly the same rate/quantity as all of the other pieces in that Mystery assortment, and are being replenished somewhat regularly. They only seem scarce because everyone is rushing the stores and grabbing all the Glossy! Metallic! Friesians they can find.

The situation with the Copper Florentine Django is a little bit different: he’s appearing in one out of every four Mystery assortment boxes. That is rare, but not elbow-to-eyeball Black Friday Sale rare: that’s 750 pieces for every 3000 boxes of Stablemates shipped.

Since many of the other pieces in the assortment are in high demand also – the Reiner, the Bucking Horse Rivet, Tushar, and that especially handsome Alabaster Eberl Andalusian among them – I foresee many more boxes of those Mystery Stablemates being sold and shipped, and many more Djangos with them.

This is why I can’t muster the energy to worry about him. There will be more in the pipeline, sooner and later.

My second Friesian will be sold or traded in the near future (for the Metallic Blue Endurance Arabian, I hope?) There were no Unicorns or Mini Whinnies at the store I stopped at, and since I have too many other things to buy and/or worry about in the next several weeks, that’s likely the end of my Walmart adventuring.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Mirado, et al

Since I’m still feeling a little out of sorts today over last week’s matters, I’ve been trying to work off some of the frustration by starting my Spring Cleaning a couple months early.

I packed away some sales items, sorted out my shipping boxes, and now I’m attempting to get caught up on my more recent Stablemates arrivals, like the Mirado I only just recently unwrapped…

Generally I like him – his carved out ears and raised hoof are adorbs – though he has just a tad bit too much mane for my tastes. (I have the same issue with the Tushar.) Some people are a bit put off by his blue eye, but it doesn’t bother me.

Incidentally, I have so far managed to avoid the Stablemates (and the Squishy Mare) I saw at Tuesday Morning, and since I won’t be on that side of town again for another week, I think I have managed to successfully avoid the temptation.

While I wouldn’t mind picking up some of new Regular Run Blind Bag Mystery Stablemates, I’m getting the impression that my search for them – at least, for the next few weeks or months – will probably be as fruitless as my recent Walmart quests.

At first I thought that making the “chase piece” the same mold as another item in the assortment was a great idea – until I realized that meant it would make the more common example hard to come by as well.

Especially when you use a newer and more desirable mold like Django, and use a brand new Decorator color like Copper Florentine for the “rare” one.

I understand the marketing strategy behind it, but I do miss the old days of Stablemates collecting, when you had multiple simultaneous releases that were produced in roughly the same quantities. Any variances were because of desirability (some colors being more popular than others) or production issues.

On the other hand, that was largely because we only had a handful of molds to work with for over 20 years – 16, technically – until the Kathleen Moody “G2” molds came out in 1998 and blew up the world of Stablemates collectors.

At one point, I had an almost complete collection of Stablemates. I was just missing the Silver Saddlebred, the Poop Paperweight, and a complete Stablemates Stable Set. I’ve since improved upon that original collection – I’ve since found a factory sealed Stablemates Stable Set, and the Wooden Stable, an item so rare I didn’t even think it made it out of the prototype stage.

But the newer stuff? I am so far behind. I lost my Stablemates mojo sometime in the early 2000s: all those new molds and colors tapped me out, then wore me out.

My purchases have been a bit spotty since then, but I’ve made up a bit of ground recently with the web site special offers and such. When I do finally get back into the swing of buying again, I might just stick with Stablemates for a while.

But just the slightly older stuff. Part of the appeal of Stablemates collecting for me is the affordability thing: $100 Copper Florentine Djangos are definitely not in my budget.