Sunday, January 15, 2017

Moondance and Hwin

I like the new Collectors’ Club Special Run Moondance, a lot. But if I’m getting another Forever Saige this year, it’s going to be the Regular Run Hwin instead.

Looking back at my most recent permanent acquisitions, there are very few spotted horses in the mix. The last ones were the Vintage Club Stablemate Riptide and the Chesapeake Stablemate Cecil, and both of those were “Gift with Purchase” kinds of items. The last intentionally purchased ones were the BreyerFest Bozeman and the Classic Duchess. I guess I’m just on a solid color kick right now!

Some models look better in solid colors anyway, and I think the Forever Saige is one of them. I’m not the only one; quite a few hobbyist hearts seemed to turn when they saw her as last year’s BreyerFest Special Namib in that beautiful Dark Bay-Brown.

The real Hwin, as I suspect most of you know, is named after one of the talking horses in C.S. Lewis’s The Horse and His Boy.

I have mixed feelings about that installment in the Narnia series. I loved the Narnia books in general, and I was really excited to find out that there was one with talking horses in it.

Reading it did motivate me enough to start writing my first novel – about a talking horse – back when most of my friends were writing Star Wars fanfic. (My early exposure/obsession with Mr. Ed didn’t hurt, either.)

But that was because it turned out to be my least favorite book in the series. I don’t know if it was because it hadn’t aged well, or if it had to do with the apprehensions I had about equine literature even then. I felt compelled to write the talking horse fantasy novel I really wanted to read.

Around the same time, though, I also discovered the hobby, and after a while it mitigated my need to write horse fiction. Why write talking horse fantasies when I could essentially “live” them in miniature form?

I still continued to write fiction, but horses were only incidental to the plot, if they appeared at all. Even my fiction-writing attempts today are relatively horse-free. The hobby still fills that niche for  me.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

In Glorious Black and White

On the heels of last year’s Diorama Contest Prize Pele, we now have Live Show Benefit Horse Reno, on the Buckshot mold. In an intricate Gloss Black Frame Overo Pinto:

I wouldn’t mind taking one of those home! It doesn’t look likely that I’ll be able to attend any live shows this year either, so he’s another Rare Shiny (partially) Black horsey that I’ll just have to admire from afar.

Here’s a little factoid worth pointing out regarding Pele: while the greatest number of entries in the BreyerFest Diorama Contest is usually in the Over-20 Age Bracket, that wasn’t the case last year. I believe it was in the 10-14 Age Bracket!

If the number of entries indicates the general level of interest in the prize itself, it was a younger group of hobbyists who were the most interested in a Buckshot, for once!

A notoriously tipsy, thirty-year-old mold with “artistic” conformation?

It does seems curious, until you realize that there was a Palomino Buckshot release named Rascal a few years back – in 2009 and 2010, to be specific. He was a part of the “My Favorite Horse” series, which was specifically designed and marketed for younger/newer collectors.

Judging from the number of Diorama Contest entries last year, that program obviously succeeded! Some of those kids got a little bit older, stayed in the hobby, retained a fondness for the Buckshot mold, and were motivated enough to enter.

I know some hobbyists are making squishy faces at the thought of another Buckshot prize model, but I think they’re just tailoring the Live Show Benefit Horse to a slightly younger crowd this year. The past two models – 2015’s Western Pony Razzmatazz, and 2016’s Fury Prancer Chase – were more esoteric and targeted for older and/or more experienced hobbyists.

Some of us grayhairs like Reno too. Will he be motivation enough for me to find the time and money to attend a live show this year? That I do not know.

Just one minor housekeeping note here.

Since I am in the busy season at work and consequently not home much, my selling activity will be greatly curtailed or even nil through January and possibly part of February. As soon as I am able, I’ll try to start tossing a few odds and ends up on MHSP.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Nazruddin and Sokkar

We already knew that this year’s BreyerFest Celebration Horse was a Chestnut Marwari; the only question any of us really had was what mane and tail option they were going to go with on the Marwari mold.

The original short mane and swish tail it is, then!

The Early Bird Raffle piece is, umm, different? As in a Glossy Black Icelandic named Sokkar? (That means socks, in Icelandic. She has four big ones, so that makes sense, at least.)

Early Bird Raffle pieces are another one of those unpredictable BreyerFest things. Sometimes they seem to have a vague connection to the theme, like last year’s Smarty Jones Polo Pony Polomar; Polo is popular in South America. Other years are baffling, like the infamous Stretched Morgan Bennington in 2012 – one of the most quintessentially “American” breeds for a British-themed year? Okey-dokey!

So this year it looks like we get something more the latter than the former.

If there was any model from last year that I could have taken home, aside from the treasures that I did, it would have been one of the live show prize Glossy Carrick Cortes Cs. So Black! So Shiny! So of course I’d be happy to take home a Sokkar.

It might just be me, but I am also getting a bit of a Vintage vibe/callback from Sokkar, too – specifically, her similarity to the original #27 Fury Prancer. (Great. Now really like is turning into I think I want. Always doing this to myself, I am.)

But as I might be on the other side of the Park for the “Bollywood Bash” Costume Contest when they draw for them, I will have to persuade myself to not worry about the tiny possibility of getting drawn.

I like that the Diorama Contest rules have basically done away with all of the nuance and boiled it down to a generic “Make it something about India”. That’s what I think these contest entries have been judged for all along, regardless of whatever silly copy they wrote up in the rules. Whether that realization will help me or anyone else I know who is pining for the glory of a win, though….

I already have somewhat solid ideas for both the Costume Contest and the Diorama Contest, but since I’m currently putting in some OT at work and am tied up with some other creative projects, they’ll have to wait.

The “good” bodies and craft supplies are packed away in the garage anyway, and January is being very January. All I want to do when I get home from work is snuggle myself underneath one or more of my fifty or so unfinished quilt projects.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Filling in the Holes

So it looks like the CollectA line will be operating under an arrangement similar to the Pocket Box animals: certain items (horses, pets, farm animals) are being repackaged/rebranded and sold as Breyer product, with the originating company maintaining the noncompeting lines and items independently.

Both of these moves were done, obviously, to plug holes in the Breyer brand – expanding their offerings in the Micro Mini scale with the Pocket Box items, and making an entrĂ©e into the vinyl toy animal market currently dominated by Schleich. 

Like the Pocket Box critters, it’s still a little too early form me to determine how I will handle them. There’s a potential for multiple releases with the CollectA items that’s not available with the Pocket Box items, so I expect I’ll end up treating the CollectA pieces more like standard Breyers, and the Pocket Box pieces more like accessories.  

One thing that’s been largely forgotten in all this is that this is not the first time Reeves has adapted or adopted competing items as their own. In 1986, they gave us the #9900 Breyer Riding Stable set, aka the Pine Lodge Riding School, a play set composed of Britains:

It was a fairly popular item, too, running through 1989 in the Collector’s Manuals/Dealer Catalogs, and available through 1992 in the Sears Wishbook; I still find (usually) incomplete sets around here from time to time. 

It does feel a little weird/wrong to find a Breyer box with Britains in it, though.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these products per se – some of the CollectA horse molds are actually great, and I might be buying some of the Pocket Box Aquarium items, too. But it’ll be a while yet before I can “buy” them as Breyer products.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

First Findings

Both the BreyerFest info and the new CollectA/Corral Pals dropped on the Breyer web site today, but I’ll get to those later in the week when I get a little extra time to review it all.

I just happened to be in a Toys R Us for work yesterday, though, and had a chance to see a few of the new 2017 Classics, including one of the new Liams – specifically, the 916 Chestnut Quarter Horse:

He’s not the only new Liam in town. In addition to the Chestnut, he also appears in the #62045 Palomino Morgan and Foal set, and as the Web Special Run #712236 Black Beauty, replacing the Classics Warmblood Stallion.

And let’s not forget that he was also just seen in the Tractor Supply/Big Box New Beginnings Set, in Appaloosa, and in Buckskin in last year’s BreyerFest Pop-Up Store Special Run set with the Duchess.

That’s five separate releases in six months! Prior to that, the Sir Buckingham mold had only been seen twice since its conversion to plastic in 2014 – as the #62115 Liam (in Gloss and Matte) and the 2014 BreyerFest Decorator Special Run #711189 Let’s Celebrate.

It’s a little unusual now to see so many simultaneous or near-simultaneous releases of a mold that aren’t somehow related to a Gambler’s Choice – like the recent Sherman Morgans.

During in the Chicago era (pre-1985), though, it was the norm. Part of the reason why was because there were fewer molds to work with – if they wanted more product on the shelves, it was cheaper and easier to work up a new paint job and packaging for an older mold than it was to create an entirely new one.

I don’t know what’s motivating the decision to go forward with multiple releases on the Liam now. My guess would be cost, again: it’s cheaper to run one mold for multiple releases, than multiple molds for multiple releases, even if those molds already exist.

I came pretty close to taking the Chestnut Liam with me, but I managed to resist somehow. Then I stopped at another Salvation Army on the way home and found all of these goodies instead, all for less than the cost of the Liam, combined:

The Western Horse is for a potential Christmas project, the Mini Whinnies go in my stash, but all of the other horsey items will go straight to the sales list.

Although I am a little skeptical of the coming year as a whole, at least the horses continue to be plentiful!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Picks and Predictions

All those pictures of the Holiday Shermans are making me almost regret not getting one. That’s okay, though, I came home with a decent little haul from the Salvation Army the other day:

I have some interesting things to say about the Stablemates painting kit, but that’s for another day.

I’ve been sort of obsessed with incorporating it into my quilting projects lately, so of course I wasn’t going to turn down a 25-yard spool of giant lime green ric-rac.

The stoneware animals are by a local Michigan artist, and I’m kind of shocked that I bought them as inexpensively as I did, but that’s our local Salvation Army for you. I don’t know if I’m going to keep them yet, or consign them to the sales stash. They are adorable, but the china cabinet’s looking a little crowded.

The blue sari fabric – about three yards – I found the previous week, but I thought I’d include it because “finding a bit of inspiration for the coming year’s BreyerFest” seems to be turning into one of my newer holiday traditions. It’s not quite enough to make a sari (traditionally you need about six) but I do plan on finishing more quilts in the coming year, so an Indian-themed BreyerFest quilt could be a part of that.

Speaking of that, tickets for the event go on sale starting next week, correct?

Generally I’m one of those people who waits until the last minute to buy tickets, depending on the Special Runs offered. Since I’m trying to keep to a tighter budget this year, I might just get it over with and cough up the dough for my one ticket now. And hope if there are any items above and beyond the two allotted to me that I want, they will be unpopular and have plenty of leftovers.

I’ll save myself several months of aggravation and get all of my hopes/dreams/predictions for Special Run items out of the way here and now, too. My predict-o-meter has been somewhat off lately, so take these all with a grain of salt:

The Breyer Elephant mold is of an Indian Elephant, so that’s an obvious choice. The only question here is color; most are assuming either White, or Decorator, but I’d like a fancy Glossy one with lots of shading and detail, and a fancy new Howdah. I’ll be fine with anything, though.

I have no idea what mold the Pop-Up Store Crystal will be, but I’d be surprised if its name is anything other than Koh-i-Noor, for the famous diamond.

Since modern Polo was more or less invented in India, there might be a Polo Pony of some sort. We’ve had a couple of BreyerFest Smarty Polo Ponies lately, so the Classics Polo Pony feels more likely. In a Pinto pattern, if it was my choice to make: that mold has almost always come in either a solid color or some shade of gray.

Something possibly British-themed, to acknowledge India’s history as a British colony. So someone in the Thoroughbred family, maybe?

The famous warhorse Chetak is another potential candidate; he’s described as having a “blue tinge”, which could lend itself to some interesting artistic interpretations.

The Buddha’s horse Kanthaka is another possibility, a White or Aged Gray stallion in Matte or Gloss.

A Baloo and Bagheera set, from Kipling’s The Jungle Book, because someone at Reeves is an unrepentant Disney fan and probably won’t be able to help themselves. I wouldn’t mind this one too much, really, since I really want another Cougar Special Run, and I can always make room for another Bear.

I’d also like to see something that honors the Indian textile industry. If it was me, I would make a two-piece Classics set in pastel colors and decals, one called Paisley, and the other Calico. This wouldn’t be that hard to pull off, since they still have paisley decals from the Bucking Bronco releases a few years back, as well as all the floral motifs from the Blossoms series and Prince of Chintz.

I am also hoping for least one other pony. For no rhyme or reason, I’d like it to be a Galiceno Pony.

Along the same lines, I’d also like to see either a Weather Girl or the pretty new Premier Club Yasmin in some shade of Chestnut (please?)

I won’t offer up any guesses on the Surprise model because other than last year’s Esprit, it’s been almost impossible to predict.

Now to wait and see how wrong I am!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Holiday Shermans

When the “Christmas Surprise” e-mail came through late on December 24, my imagination went into overtime with all of potential ways Reeves could tempt me.

An Elk? A Deer Family? The Zebra? Maybe even another dog, like the Saint Bernard?

Instead, we got a trio of Sherman Morgans:

Since I don’t love the mold as much as others do, and I’m not one to buy to resell, I walked away from the offer with my Paypal account balance intact. A Gold Florentine to match my Silver Filigree Celebration would have been nice, but it being a Gambler’s Choice there was no way I could guarantee it.

(The Silver Filigree Celebration, incidentally, is the only example I have of the revised Sherman Morgan mold; my other three Shermans are all of the original lumpy version with the turd-shaped tail.)

I imagine if he came in a favorite color like the original Freckle Red Roan or the “Silver Dilute Dun” the Web Special Adios Frappe came in, the story would be different. I sometimes hesitate just a bit whenever I see an affordably priced Gloss QVC Special Run of the Justin Morgan, or the Millennium Horse Carpe Diem.

I wouldn’t have hesitated to keep a Silver Charm Celebration either, if I had lucked into one.

It wasn’t all that surprising that the Sherman didn’t sell out by the end of the day: there were 350 of each color, 1050 pieces total, and limited to one per account. That’s a lot of models! I’m not sure he even officially sold out, or they just removed him from the site.

Other than the Grab Bag with the WEG Classics Ruffian in it, I didn’t bite on any of the offers made on the web site this Holiday season. I did put a few items in my shopping cart to see if they qualified for the latest “Free Random Gloss Classic Arabian” offer. They did, and the Free Shipping offer on top of that was tempting.

But still didn’t do it.

One of my hobby resolutions for next year is to get models off the office floor, and that’s going to require another culling of the herd by another five or ten percent. Buying fewer models now will mean fewer models to cull later.