Saturday, July 31, 2010
Let’s go back to the Pit!
I didn’t hear about THAT video - the narrated one of the shenanigans going on before, during and after the Pit - until late Friday night, and I wasn’t in any mood to watch it. I’m still not, especially if the allegations about the video makers being line cutters themselves are true. (I wouldn’t know: I have a dreadful memory for faces.) I was there, and I know what happened. And my reality is probably significantly different than the snarky, blasé one portrayed in the video.
I didn’t hear about THAT foal - the Palomino Appaloosa Proud Arabian Foal - until Friday night, either. By the time I had fought my way to the Fun Foal section of the Pit, all that was left was the Pintaloosa Standing Stock Horse Foal, and I was happy to get even him.
I have heard different reports about just how many of these Proud Arabian Foals there were - anywhere from 8 to 25. I didn’t see them in the first place, so I can’t confirm either the higher or lower end of the estimate. A couple people have brought up the notion that this might have been a "surprise" designed for the early risers; if so, that might explain what last year’s Gloss Summer Solstices were about - right down to the small, undefinable quantity.
(Isn’t it interesting that the Gloss Summer Solstices that were so casually dismissed as "not all that cool" last year are now a hot item? Such fickle creatures, hobbyists.)
If this is true, it’s very nice of them, but also potentially quite dangerous; one friend of mine who showed up at 4 a.m. panicked a bit over missing the PAF, and is contemplating getting up even earlier next year. Reeves, if you really are going to do this "Early Riser Special" thing, you better darn well institute the Estate Sale numbering system next year, because someone will get hurt. I saw a fight break out this year, over what I think was the last Escondido (I didn’t want to get too close to find out what it was, exactly.) I hate to imagine what would happen if they dumped something like a couple dozen Gloss Honey Bay Alborozos in the mix.
I certainly don’t think that he’s worth the high three-figure or low four-figure price tag hobbyists are asking (and apparently getting!) for him right now. I sold a test color PAF last year in the $400-500 range, which would seem a little more sensible price range for him.
But ZOMG! It’s a PAF! One of the few molds beneath the hobby’s collective contempt! Whatever. It’s getting filed in the same never-gonna-have-it list as all those other uber-rare Glosses and SRs I can’t possibly afford. (Or would even be willing to pay for, if I could.)
Like the FEI World Cup Strapless.
I didn’t find out about the Straplesses until much later, either. I think of all the models I missed out on, this one annoyed me the most - not because I didn’t see it (a situation I would have been more acceptable to me, if so) but because of the way they were distributed in the Pit.
They were simply handed out, by Breyer employees. It was either randomly, or to people they thought deserved one, without the fuss or having to find or fight over it. I guess I was neither random nor deserving enough.
I had heard of this happening in a previous year: a random shopper just being handed this random treasure. I thought maybe that was an Urban Legend, but nope, it really did happen this year: I got to talk to one of those gifted persons. (An interesting story I could tell you more about - in private. Yeah, one of those kind of stories.)
It wasn’t really a gift - the giftee still had to pay $300 for it, but still a bargain. I would have paid it.
And now the story about my hat.
Well, either sometime during my first or second trip in the Pit on Friday, I lost my hat. I didn’t notice that my infamous chapeau - the one illustrated in my avatar - was missing until much later in the day. I was oddly unconcerned about its disappearance: I figured I’d find it on Saturday, either in the Lost and Found, or via a friend or acquaintance. It’s gone missing before, and always makes it back to me.
So I’m in the Pit again on Saturday, picking up a second Radar for a friend of mine, and there’s my hat, casually perched on top of the stacks of Dealer Catalogs, near the checkout. I put it back on my head, and continued shopping. A short time later, a Strapless-free Breyer employee roaming the Pit stops me and mentions the hat. "We were going to take it to lost and found, but we figured you’d be coming back here anyway."
Gee, umm, thanks? Glad y’all know me so well, I think. (Now, wouldn’t happen to have a stray Chestnut Trakehner lying around you could gift me for a Benjamin or two, would ya? Didn’t think so.)
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Here’s a scan of the Armstrong Supply Company logo from the brochure I mentioned last week, just to prove I wasn’t talking out of my butt:
I did some cursory research, but wasn’t able to find anything more about the company - what happened to it, how long it was in business, or whether it’s now operating under a different name or something. At least I have a name and address to work with now.
My horse pickings were pretty modest this year: almost entirely stuff from the NPOD:
- Silver Charm Newsworthy
- Pink Poodle
- Lady Liberty
- Pintaloosa Standing Stock Horse Fun Foal
- Pippen (blue roan POA - in a Racehorse box? Odd.)
- Buttermilk (older Adios release in a JCP XMAS box, with video)
- 2009 and 2010 Dealer Catalogs
- Two Radars (one for me, one for a friend)
- LSE G2 "Denim" Arabian
I didn’t see any Autumns, no TSC or Mid-States pre-releases, no Christmas Catalog stuff except for the actual Christmas-themed pieces (Jewel, the ornaments, etc.) I just missed getting the last Music City (as did one of my roommates) and at one point I thought I was being offered a test/station sample of a Silver/Hobo, but I don’t know if that was just a case of bragging or affirmation, instead. (Annoying, but water over the bridge at this point.)
Lots of other stuff, too - the usual BreyerFest leftovers, recently discontinued items, new releases, clothing, odds and ends. They had Cream and Cocoa, but at the regular retail price - too rich for my blood. Not a bad assortment of pickings this year, overall.
Things did seem to go a little bit smoother this time around, but I don’t think much of what Reeves did had anything to do with it. It’s pretty much the same group of people who punish themselves every year with this nonsense, and we know how to police ourselves by now. There were the usual bad actors and cutters, but nothing is going to stop them short of serious professional intervention.
Reeves did enforce the one item per person rule on the Radars, more or less (allegedly they were confiscating multiple Radars from people in the checkout line, but I didn’t witness that personally.) I got one on the first day, and a second on Saturday for my friend, when I realized just how nice he really was in person. There are two versions - one with subtle dapples, and the other with more dramatic ones - though I couldn’t tell you which one is the more rare of the two. I got one of each, and I’m having a hard time deciding which one to keep. I might let my friend make the decision for me.
I was a little alarmed by the feeding frenzy associated with the Radar. He’s nice, but not elbow-to-eyeball nice. Things were nowhere near as crazy for Toby last year; it makes me wonder if the news about the nature of the "Store Special" has finally sunk in with the greater collecting public (i.e. lower piece run, no ticket required.) If that’s the case, Reeves really does need to step up their game in regards to the Pit, especially if next year’s Store Special is really something.
And regarding the Strapless and LSE leftovers, That Foal, That YouTube video, and the misadventures of my Hat - well, we’ll discuss that tomorrow.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Yeah, I did it. I wore the boots. And a wig, and a sparkly cape with feathers: I was Lady GaGa for the Costume Contest. In spite of the blast-furnace heat, the creepy stares of dirty old men and Japanese tourists, and the fact that they made us parade around on the dirt floor of the arena, I rocked my way to the top, babes, taking home one of the ten Gloss All Glories awarded:
He’s not going anywhere, so don’t even ask. (Someone already did.) I earned that baby! I still can’t believe he’s mine. And I still can’t believe I actually did that. I blame the boots - or should I thank them? In a roundabout way, they’ve become one of my best flea market finds ever.
(No, I don’t have any pictures of myself in full costume, but I posed for several, so they’re out there. Maybe in the next issue of JAH, even.)
I didn’t score either raffle model, I washed out in the Look-a-Like Contest, and while I did okay in the Ninja Pit of Death, I missed the really good stuff, like the World Cup Strapless and the Palomino Appaloosa Proud Arabian Foals. (That’s what I get for the unpardonable sin of sleeping in until 5 a.m.!) I didn’t get a chance to do as much shopping as I would have liked, but more than I did last year. (I spent an awful lot of time staring at Appaloosa Performance Horses, for some reason; looks like they’re going to be my next fixation.)
My roommates were all uniformly excellent, and we got along fabulously. No complaints, except for the hotel’s chronic towel shortage. (Douglas Adams’s advice is as relevant as ever: when traveling, always bring a towel.) It might have been one of the best BreyerFests ever for me, honestly. I can’t recall having that much fun in a long time.
And to all the naysayers: the All Glory model doesn’t look anything like Naranda. The color varied on them from a dark chocolate (like my Matte) to a lighter Golden (like my Gloss), all of them well-shaded and detailed. His anatomical "enhancements" did look more like a certain part of the female anatomy than the male one, but that’s a minor (and very amusing) quibble.
William Shatner showing up on Sunday was also pretty awesome. I had heard the rumor the night before, and had my camera ready, but I spazzed out and dropped the camera. I got a few blurry distance shots, but no good close up shots of the Shat. I’ll just have to be content with actually having been there when ‘Fest met Trek.
There’s much more to the story, but I really need to continue catching up on my sleep; more BreyerFest news and gossip tomorrow.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I've been good so far with my purchases - just a bunch of reference materials, including some hobby stuff from the early 1970s, including a few show ribbons. (One from 1973 listed the judge as "Marney." Just about made me cry!)
And thanks to one of these reference material stashes, I finally solved a mystery we discussed here on the blog: the origin of those mysterious cast iron Breyer doorstops. The company responsible? The Armstrong Supply Company of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The brochure I found in my stash is for their "Western Art Collection," featuring what they call "Genuine Legal Forgeries."
"The Armstrong "A" Series (Prefix "A") is an outstanding collection of museum quality prints which are among the world's finest. These prints are exact reproductions of original masterpieces by famous western artists such as Charles Russell and Frederick Remington.
Published by Aaron Ashley, Inc., of New York, these fine prints are copyrighted reproductions authorized by the museums owning the originals."
Interesting. From the back page:
"We invite you to write for our Armstrong Supply Catalog No. 76 which includes an extensive line of equestrian equipment and tack. Also featured in this catalog, you'll find our delightful collection of Cast Iron and Brass Giftware. These unusual and authentic Early American Antique reproductions include everything from children's toys to Farm and Ranch Bells."
Hmm. More to the story than a simple case of copying, perhaps?
Monday, July 19, 2010
I have been meaning to look into those clocks to see what the exact relationship between them and the MasterCrafters version is (Before, during or after? Same suppliers? What about that plastic base?) but it's just another topic on my very long list.
Everything else was overpriced, or bodies. Don't need anymore bodies.
I'm now at the "randomly throwing things in the car" phase of the trip; something will be forgotten, I'm sure. I kept waking up last night thinking. "Did I pack that? And that? Oh crud, I think I forgot the spoons!" Ah, to sleep as soundly as little Vita. Gonna miss you, my little piglet.
(She's a bit of a picky eater, but she makes the most delightful little piggie noises when she's happy-excited-frustrated. Which is most of the time!)
See y'all in Kentucky.
Friday, July 16, 2010
If I had time to sleep, I doubt I’d be able to. Sigh.
Apparently they did remove the word "enigmatic" from the Boxer entry on the Facebook page, which is nice, though they didn’t correct the date, so I’m not going to chalk that up as a win in my column. Especially since they’ve posted a couple of real winners since then - Susan Prosser, really? Who on Earth has been posting these entries lately?
Is it sad that my first reaction upon seeing the picture of the Diamond Jubilee model in the BreyerFest program was Oh great, a half dozen more misspelled threads about ‘Silver Filagree’s on Blab. If you can learn to spell Appaloosa and Trakehner, you can learn to spell Filigree!
I also take slight issue with the entire "60th Anniversary" concept, because we’re not entirely sure if it’s true or not. Breyer might have been manufacturing horses for MasterCrafters by 1950, but the entity known an "Breyer Animal Creations" may not have come into existence formally until 1952 or 1953 - the earliest known mention of it is in the Boxer announcement in that 1953 issue of Playthings we’ve been discussing. "1950" has a nicer ring to it than "1953" though, and they’ve been going with the 1950 date for so long I doubt most hobbyists would even notice if they did discreetly change it.
It is a Silver Filigree, so I’ll likely be buying it. The piece count isn’t too low, so I’m not too worried about a quick sellout. They made 2000 of the Autumn last year, and I just found a couple of lovely examples at one of my local toys stores just last week, sitting on the shelves with all of the other regular runs, for a regular run retail price.
If the cash situation is not bad coming out of BreyerFest, I might go back and get one of those Autumns. It’s not that I’ve necessarily had a change of heart over the remodeled version of the Sherman Morgan mold; I’ve just decided that, for research purposes, it’s probably a good idea to have at least one example of every mold or significant mold variation around.
At least, that’s how I’m going to rationalize any purchases in the near future.
(And speaking of mold variations - that test Gem Twist with the remodeled mane and tail - hubba hubba!)
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
(Hey, it’s a really, really comfy chair. Sometimes I fall asleep in it even when I’m not exhausted.)
I also had to rewrite a portion of the partially printed Samplers because of what I found at the flea market on Sunday. Here’s a picture:
I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version of the story next week, once I’m settled in the HIN. Or you can read the full story in the Sampler.
One of the other things I found at the market this week: another slightly obscure piece of reference material. It’s a promotional brochure from the International Arabian Horse Association, extolling the awesomeness of Arabian Horses.
I used to love these sorts of things when I was in elementary school. When I discovered that you could get free stuff if you wrote to various organizations, I spent a big chunk of my allowance on stamps writing to every single breed association listed in the back of the All-Breed issue of Western Horseman. Nothing is more thrilling than a big fat envelope in the mailbox with your name on it!
I compiled all this free stuff into huge multimedia scrapbooks, with stickers, cutouts, envelopes, glitter and other embellishments - several decades before it was the cool thing to do. I carried them around me everywhere: even then, I wore my weirdness openly. I still have them, carefully stored in archival boxes in the closet, fragile artifacts of a compulsively creative childhood.
I can’t recall if I got anything from the IAHA, though. I don’t think so, but I’m in no condition right now to plow through some of my most treasured possessions to be sure. I’m pretty sure if they did, this wasn’t one of the pieces they sent me. The illustration on the cover, by Gladys Brown Edwards, should tell the story why I would have remembered: it’s one of the main references Chris Hess used to create the Proud Arabian Stallion!
Did Hess work from this brochure specifically, or was it among other reference materials he picked up along the way?
He did take a few liberties, not out of a lack of sculpting prowess, but probably to make the mold a little sturdier as a plaything, and more practical for production. Lots of hobbyists bag on the Proud Arabian Stallion, but outside of the Maureen Love-based Arabians, there aren’t any Breyer Arabians that escape that ire.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
A nine week old Wire Fox Terrier puppy! (Photo extra big for your viewing pleasure. You'll just have to imagine the puppy breath.) We picked her up today.
We haven't decided on a name yet. I'm leaning towards something flowery, like Ivy, Petunia, Zinnia or Nigella. A family conference tomorrow will pick the winner.
I'd love to take her to BreyerFest, but I'm not sure the rest of the family would approve of me absconding with the world's cutest puppy for a week.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Okay, I’m getting really, really annoyed with Breyer’s Facebook page. "Enigmatic" is hardly the word I’d use for Duke. If they were talking about the White Boxer, yeah, he’s a bit of a mystery. Duke was only released seven years ago - at BreyerFest! With a certificate and everything! Yeesh.
And if we’re talking about the mold in general, we know more about it than most Breyer molds from the 1950s. For example, it’s one of the few early molds where we have an official release date: January, 1953. It says so on this page from Playthings Magazine:
In this article, entitled "Tenite Boxer Newest Breyer Animal Creation." I scanned the entire left side of the page so you could get a better look at the date:
(Click on image to enlarge.)
This is not "new" information; Nancy Young pegged the Boxer as being ca. 1954 or earlier by 1995 - fifteen years ago. I found this page with the Boxer information a few years after that; I’ve published it in my Sampler, distributed copies of the Playthings page to anyone that wanted one, and mention it whenever the topic comes up.
Yet the bad information persists, and gets perpetuated by Reeves on their flipping Facebook page.
The only "enigmatic" thing about the mold, aside from the circumstances surrounding the White Boxer, is why it has the mold number of 1. Why not 66, his original item number, mentioned in the article above? I wonder if it’s a remnant of an early, abandoned number system, or something more mundane? (Lassie is mold number 2; there is no 3.)
They could have just been forgotten about when they were initially numbering the molds at whatever point in the past, and had new numbers assigned when it was discovered that both the Boxer’s and Lassie’s item numbers were already given to Stud Spider, and Justin Morgan respectively.
Eh, it’s probably something even more mundane than that. Sometimes my imagination gets the best of me.
Monday, July 5, 2010
At least this one has a horse on it!
It’s pretty trashed, but it was cheap, and the clock mechanism works. I won’t be discussing it any further here since, by sheer coincidence, it’s a crucial part of an article I had just happened to be working on the night before for the Sampler. (Actually, I was kinda worried how I was going to illustrate the article, since I didn’t have one of the key pieces I writing about. Problem solved!) So y’all will have to wait.
(The Sampler’s about half done. As are the two contest entries. Looks like I won’t be getting much sleep for the next two weeks.)
Man, I really feel sorry for the BreyerWest Escondido. He doesn’t look anything at all like the model he’s being compared to, the inexplicably popular palomino Tesoro. The #867 Tesoro had an almost unprecedented four year run in the Breyer line - from 1992 through 1995 - at a time when many models were lucky to stick around for two.
I found it inexplicable because I thought Tesoro’s paint job back then was underwhelming. He looks great in that color, no doubt, but there was no "there" there. There were no crazy markings, shading, or hoof details to distinguish it from any other palomino paint job. He was just a plain palomino.
He obviously struck enough of a chord to be able to stick around for a leisurely four years. I haven’t picked one up yet; I have just about every other El Pastor, some of them in multiple variations, but not Tesoro. I’d hate to pay "retail" for him, only to find one for substantially less at the flea market. It’s nothing personal; it just happens often enough that I’m leery of buying almost any regular run models straight from the store, unless the shading or detail are really exceptional.
I’m still on the fence about buying Escondido. It’s not the price that’s putting me off - the limited quantity and level of detail just about justify it - but ‘Fest is just around the corner. Maybe there’ll be a few in the NPOD, or I can work a trade for one. I’d hate to buy one now, only to discover I could have saved myself the postage.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
In case you missed it in the comments, we were able to determine the identity of that big, funky horse on the wooden plank: he was a "backbar sign" for the Burger Brewing Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. I’ve found a couple of links, including this one:
I haven’t had time to track down a copy of the book this piece is in, so I can’t give you any more details like the date of manufacture, or the manufacturer. Hartland did a number of advertising pieces for the beer and liquor trade, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they had something to do with it.
Breyer did briefly make a brief foray into the beer and liquor trade, as well - with the Drewry’s Mountie.
The Drewry’s Mountie is distinguishable from the regular run piece by only one feature: small decals of the Drewry’s logo on the back corners of the horse’s saddle blanket. The logo consists of, rather redundantly, a Mountie and his horse. (That logo was eventually replaced with one featuring a large capital D, when the Canadian Government let it be known that they didn’t want the RCMP associated with a cheap, American-brewed beer. As far as I know, all of the Mountie figurines feature the Mountie and Horse logo.)
Drewery’s originated in Canada (thus explaining the original logo), but then moved production stateside to South Bend, Indiana. It was popular in the Midwest - Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, mostly - but like most regional beer brands, was bought out by a series of increasingly bigger breweries, and eventually ceased to be.
The exact nature of this piece is unknown. Was it an advertising or backbar sign, a promotional gift with purchase, a little something for company employees? When was it made? Was it a commissioned piece, or did the beer company buy up batches and affix the decals themselves?
I know nothing. This not-knowing bothers me more than it usually does in this case because there’s some family history tied to it.
My thrifty Grandmother’s second husband, Art Kuhl, worked for Drewry’s in the 1950s as a delivery driver. During the summer, Dad sometimes accompanied him on some of his deliveries. Somewhere in the family archives - I don’t know where, so you’ll just have to take my word for it - there’s a picture of Grandma leaning provocatively against the beer truck, a bottle of Drewry’s (presumably) in hand.
The Breyer Horse and Rider Sets have always been pretty high on my want list; it should go without saying that the Drewery’s Mountie occupies the top spot on that list.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Some folks are in a tizzy because Reeves is "repeating" a color, but it doesn’t bother me at all. Lots of real horse colors have been repeated in the series, on different molds, and this really isn’t any different. Like Silver Filigree, I think it’s something that’s going to be reserved for special runs and special occasions; I just don’t foresee the Tortuga-style coloring become a widespread technique.
I can understand why folks might have wanted to see a Decorator Buffalo in a more "theme-appropriate" color, but what, exactly?
Woodgrain is out of the question; they already did a tiny batch of them as a special run for the Ranchcraft line in the 1960s - one of the rarest of all Woodgrains, but still. There are a handful of stone-based color might work (marble, sandstone, basalt, agate?) but then you’d run in some potential conflict with Peter Stone, who seems to think he has a lock on all colors based on rocks. A metallic color might work, but then there’s the infamous "Bronze Glo" pieces to contend with.
I’m guessing they decided to play it safe with the Tortuga-style coloring; the crazy prices the original Tortuga has been bringing in the aftermarket might have had some influence on the decision, too.
I have a great deal of affection for the Buffalo mold, because I am part Buffalo, myself. "Buffalo" is a slang term for persons of Belgian/Flemish descent; in some circles it’s seen as a mildly derogatory term, but that’s not been the case in my family or any one else I know of similar ancestry.
What I was told about the origin of the term is that Buffalo, New York was the first place Belgians emigrated to, en masse, from the old country. I’ve always wondered if it had something to do with the old Buffalo nickels. Belgians are notoriously thrifty; my Grandma never relinquished a nickel without a fight. (When we moved her from her apartment to the nursing home after her stroke, we found 88 dollars of spare change in her bedroom, alone!)
Like the Elk, he’s come in multiple variations and releases in Brown, from Buckskin, to Chestnut, to near Black. The earliest Buffaloes have hand painted lipliner: mine looks like he’s got a bit of a smirk on his face. The Buffalo was also one of a handful of models to get the unpainted gray plastic treatment in the 1970s; the easiest way to tell is by the color of his (mostly) unpainted horns.
Among the most desirable of Buffaloes are the White ones: the brief regular run Tatanka, a small special run of Tatanka that was made a few years later, and a tiny batch of heavily shaded ones that were probably made for the movie The White Buffalo, ca 1977. You’ll have to part with an awful lot of nickels to add any one of the three to your collection, though.
As you might have guessed, I have a lot of Breyer Buffaloes. I’d love to have the Woodgrain, the Bronze Glo, or the Presentation piece, but so far I haven’t lucked into one via my usual sources. I’m way too much of a Buffalo to pay "retail" for any of them.
Oh, I won’t give up hope; I did manage to get a Tatanka in an extremely favorable trade deal at BreyerFest several years ago. Would have made Grandma proud!