Thursday, April 27, 2017

Odd Person Out

Funny how this always happens right after I pay my bills:

They made a Gambler’s Choice out of the Classics Swaps they asked us to vote on last year, and the one I liked – the Dun – didn’t make the cut. I figured the Dun was a long shot anyway (Matte + Solid), but to finish fourth in a field of four?


If there’s any silver lining to this cloud, the absence of my personal favorite makes it easier to walk away from a deal I would have had to walk away from regardless. The possibility of Reeves pulling a silly on us and issuing a few Duns as chase pieces in Scotty’s run isn’t enough motivation, either.

Then to make me feel even more like the “odd person out”, there’s the Special Edition Liberty, on the Silver mold:

I’ll give Reeves credit for managing to come up with a color that the Silver mold hadn’t come in yet. It’s similar in concept to the Lone Star Experience Fighting Stallion from 2009, the Rearing G2 Arabian from the same event, and the 2013 BreyerFest Special Run Lady Phase Twill.

But yeah, no on this one too. While the paint job is pretty, I’m not a member of the Silver Cheerleading Squad. Put that same color on the Rearing Stallion and we can talk...

This point seems a bit silly, but I am also annoyed by the copy on the promo flier:
Everyone knows that any American cowboy (or cowgirl) worth their salt owns their fair share of jeans – both for riding and for evenings off the ranch boot scootin’!
I don’t know why Reeves is so enamored of line dancing – there have been two different releases to bear the name Boot Scootin’ Boogie, including a Regular Run Justin Morgan in Black and a BreyerFest Raffle Model Brishen in 2013.

However, as someone who shares a house with a dog with various digestive issues, the term “boot scootin’” conjures up some less than pleasant memories.

(Though I would not mind getting the Justin Morgan one eventually. That mold looks good in Black!)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Semi-Gloss Buffalo

Another recent addition to the family:

A Semi-Gloss – or Glossy, depending on who’s looking – Buffalo, with pink hand painted nostrils and lips.

He has a few condition issues, but he’s got a great provenance: he (and his brother) were a part of that odd stash of models from Chicago that sold on eBay a little while ago. Back when most of them were still being listed in smaller batches or even individually – and thus somewhat affordable to the likes of me.

All of the listed models appear to have been manufactured prior to 1966/7, and from some of the oddities and anomalies that were visible in the photos – and later in person, via my purchases – it’s apparent that this collection was that of a former employee or jobber.

These were not your run-of-the-mill mid-1960s Breyers!

These Buffaloes have all the indicators of being really early releases, including the absence of a USA mark and the Semi-Gloss/Gloss finish. Since the Buffalo debuted in 1965, it is most likely that they are simply first-batch runs, but the circumstances in which they were found raises the possibility that they might be Photographic Samples, Salesman’s Samples or even (though most unlikely) Test Colors.

The more time I spend examining my purchases (including a Jumping Horse and a couple of Poodles) the more I regret not upping my bids on the ones I lost. Clearly there was an interesting story here I would have loved to uncover, but the seller was either unwilling or unable to offer more.

And certainly I couldn’t afford more – especially the giant lot that was thrown together after the first batch, consisting of all the previously unpaid lots and a Donkey sporting a yellow(!) Elephant’s Howdah tossed on top: a gold-plated maraschino cherry on one of the most expensive sundaes ever.

Auctions like that make me wish I could somehow structure a small hobby history syndicate to keep the collection in situ long enough to research, photograph and document it, before releasing it back into the wild.

It wouldn’t work for a number of reasons (trying to imagine the custody battle over that Donkey alone, yikes!), but the history that gets lost when collections like that are sold like that keep me up at night wondering what if…

Friday, April 21, 2017

Decision, Decisions

Hey there cutie pie!

Now this is interesting: it looks like they made a conscious effort to cover all the bases with the Stablemates this year. There is one Solid (Vivaan), one Pinto (Mishti), one Appaloosa (Tushar, above) and one Pintaloosa (Anaya). Two Gloss finishes, two Matte. Two “older” (G2) molds, two newer.

Although the general consensus is that this year’s lineup – all around, not just the Stablemates – is a pretty good one, there are unhappy customers out there.

There are always unhappy customers. It’s human nature. Heck, I’m disappointed in Reeves all the darn time, though usually on matters that would make most hobbyists scratch their heads and go “She’s complaining about what now…?”

(Like the fact that they can’t see to parse that Vintage Gloss Honey Bays should have Black hooves, not Gray ones. It’s not that complicated, guys!)

As much effort or thought as Reeves puts into anything – BreyerFest Special Runs or otherwise – there’s going to be somebody complaining that it’s either all wrong, or not enough. (This time I guess Tushar has some anatomy issues?)

I’ve been trying to be better about not letting that kind of stuff bother me, but it’s been a stressful week, and Vita has been very Vita this week. All I want to do most days is go ooh, pretty horsie!

Anyway, as someone who is generally pretty happy with the options this year, but who is also in the process of paying for a lot of delayed maintenance items (like the radio) I’m finding myself facing some tough decisions on what I want to bring home this year.

The Surprise selling out is a given, but whether I want it or not will depend on what mold it is. On the other hand, I’m fairly sure I want the Shannondell Vahana, who will also be a likely sell out. That is the only one that really worries me right now.

But after that, things get fuzzy. I think the Yasmin Kaalee and the Cow Diwali will also sell really well, and I love them both, but can I wait until the leftovers? It’ll depend on the production quantities.

Namaste is the wild card: much like last year’s funky Pegasus, I think she’ll be much more popular than the initial public reaction suggests. And like the Pegasus, I kind of want her, but I’m not going to deny someone else the opportunity if she’s their first choice.

I also want the Store Special Repeat the Beat and the Elephant Holi, both of whom will probably sell out. The Bluegrass Bandit mold – in any release – is almost impossible to get at a reasonable price right now. The Elephant is one of the more popular Nonhorse molds on eBay recently, if my recent research is accurate.

Whether I get either one of those is dependent on what my itinerary will be in Kentucky, and from what it looks like right now – especially with the Man o’ War stuff going on – I might not be able to make it into those respective sales areas in time.

The others I’ll have to see in person before I make a determination. (Except for any potential Crystals. I break things!) It’ll also depend on how good my room sales are, and that is partially dependent on what treasures await me at the flea market this year.

(It opens this week. Yay!)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Hey, Who is That Guy?

This week we’re getting a look at the One-Day Stablemates; Reeves was kind enough to give us silhouettes for all four on the ticket ordering page today:

Gosh, why does that last one (named Tushar) look so familiar?

Oh, that’s why: it’s last year’s Beautiful Breeds Ornament Gypsy Vanner!

Last year I decided to sell off all of my Breyer Christmas ornaments except for the Carousel Series and the Angel Fillies; with Vita around, nothing that goes on a Christmas tree is safe, especially delicate little porcelain or resin creatures with very edible legs.

And also because of my clumsy self, as I was rather unpleasantly reminded of this weekend: I was wrapping up some old paperwork and somehow managed to staple myself almost deep enough to require a trip to an emergency room.

(BTW, I am fine. As the kind of person who can manage to injure herself while reading, I am very familiar with the contents of the family first-aid kit.)

So yeah, minimizing my contact with easily breakable things is a good idea.

I never got around to acquiring any pieces in the Beautiful Breeds Series, though I wanted to: there are some genuinely beautiful little sculpts there. I was hoping that they’d eventually get around to translating them into a more Vita- and Andrea-proof substance, as they did with the little Spirit Series Esperanza last year (as the Premier Club Mini Geronimo, and the BreyerFest Sao Paulo).

It looks like that might be happening!

I’m hesitant to pencil Tushar onto my shopping list just yet, though. I had to buy a new radio for the car over the weekend too (LONG story, but no injuries!) and while it wasn’t all that much money to replace, I’d rather not think about spending any more money right now.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Indu and the Missing Polo Pony

And the final Special Run in the Ticket lineup is a Valegro, in a Dapple Gray paint job designed by Tom Bainbridge:

I have a funny feeling that Indu might be another Chanel or Galahad – BreyerFest Specials that were both quite fine-looking in their early PR photos, but on a whole other level in person.

I haven’t bought myself a Valegro yet – the Regular Run release, the Gold Chestnut one, last year’s Raffle Model Cinza (ha!) or one of the pre-release Samples (that I am pretty sure they still have leftovers of, somewhere).

I want to be more excited about Indu, but I’m trying to reconcile myself to the smaller budget I told myself I had to stick to this year – and hoping the Surprise model is not Legionario!

By the way, I don’t think the Bollywood Surprise is going to be a Polo Pony like everyone else seems to believe. I have a feeling if we are getting one, it’ll be in the form of the Classic Polo Pony and in the Pop-Up Store, since that’s where they’ve been relegating Classics-scale/sized Special Runs.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen the original Classics Polo Pony – BreyerFest 2008’s Patagonia was the last – and there have been only four official releases, total. The original #626 Bay ran from 1976 through 1982, and came with or without socks (the sock-free variation seems to be a bit scarcer). The other three were some shade of gray: Patagonia, the 1994 Show Special Silver Comet, and the 1998-1999 Regular Run release #733 in Dappled Rose Gray.

While I’ll give them credit for making each one of these grays distinctive – something they sometimes struggle with other molds and other colors (Traditional Hanoverians in Bay, ahem) – seeing the Polo Pony in other colors would be a welcome change of pace.

Unless it is the same shade of Dapple Gray as Indu.

That would be fine. Totally fine.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Another Unexpected Thing

And here comes another unexpected thing, in the form of Diwali:

We’ve had years with more than one Nonhorse Special Run: 2002 comes to mind, which gave us the Glossy Buffalo Choc, and the Cougar and Wolf set Kohana and Bandit.

Since we already had one announced as a Pop-Up Store Special (Holi the Elephant) and one as a part of a Store Special (Dally the Jack Russell Terrier, in the Dally and Spanky set), having a third Nonhorse as a Ticket Special seemed unlikely to me.

There have been numerous small Special Runs on the Cow, but most of them have been variations of the original five releases – Holstein, Jersey, Brown Swiss, Guernsey and Ayrshire. The one deviation was the 2008 BreyerFest Special Run Simmental Cow and Calf Heidi and Edelweiss.

Aside from being in a new (for her) color, Diwali is an entirely different finish from all other Breyer Cow releases too: she is both Glossy and Chalky. No other official production release of the Cow has ever been Glossy, and although there are a handful of Chalky Holstein Cows floating around the hobby, she’s so rare that chances are good that you have never even seen one.

As someone who makes her extra hobby cash reselling flea market finds, I’ve found that the Cow (even the common Holstein) is also one of the quickest and easiest of Breyer molds to resell. Whenever I’m lucky enough to bring one to sell at BreyerFest, it’s usually one of the first things to leave my room.

So even though the past few Nonhorse Special Runs didn’t sell out in Kentucky, I have a feeling that Diwali might. That adorable red and gold blanket doesn’t hurt, either!

Reeves is making it very hard for me this year, and extending the deadline for Early Bird tickets by a couple of days is not helping.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Bollywood Surprise

I’m up to my elbows in tax paperwork and Spring Cleaning here. (The latter somewhat ahead of schedule and against my will.) So it seems like a good day to engage in a little BreyerFest speculating, it being the last week before the Early Bird Deadline and all.

(In spite of my insistence that I wouldn’t, I know.)

Things the Bollywood Surprise won’t be: Othello, Silver, Lady Phase, a Mare and Foal set, or a random assortment of molds. It probably won’t be a Nonhorse mold or the Marwari, either. The former because most people attending BreyerFest want horses, and the latter because I just can’t see them doing that.

They kinda-sorta promised us a Polo Pony of some sort in a blog post back in January – in fact, it was one of the first “hints” they gave us – but I think that’s what makes it unlikely to be the Surprise, in whatever form it takes. There are still a few more Special Runs to go, and Reeves has a habit of saving the most obvious ones for last – like they did with the Gloss Dapple Gray Percheron Versailles, for the French-themed year.

The “Bet you'll never guess which model this is!” clue makes me think it’s a Vintage mold we don’t see very much or very often anymore.

The theory wouldn’t necessarily exclude Legionario (introduced in late 1978), who is the current popular choice for the Surprise.

But wasn’t one of the Chinese factory escapees a while back a Translucent Running Mare? That’s where I’ll put my imaginary betting money, then, since (a) last year’s Surprise assortment included a Translucent Deco, and (b) a Running Mare would be plenty surprising.

Nobody ever expects the Running Mare!

Other than a few Auction pieces, she’s never made an appearance as a BreyerFest Special Run. The majority of her production releases have being either Matte or Solids (and usually both) so in spite of the fact that she has come in over 30 distinct colors over the past 50+ years, there is still a lot of room for experimentation.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


And here’s our BreyerFest Decorator, Namaste:

I love the base color – a pearly pale Gloss Palomino similar to the 2008 Christmas Goffert Noelle – and the mehndi designs themselves are beautifully executed and complement the mold’s contours. Nice job, Lauren!

I figured we’d get a model with some mehndi tattoo designs, but I thought it’d be a Classic, and sold in the Pop-Up Store/Tent of Despair – like the Bandana-themed Broncos from 2013.

Rejoice is of the few molds that’s been made into a Celebration Horse twice: 1998’s original Rejoice, and slightly modified (with the addition of “boy bits”) as 2010’s All Glory. She also appeared as a Ticket Special in 2005, as the scarce and lovely Gwendolyn.

(The other Celebration Horse two-timer is Smart Chic Olena: 2006’s Joker, and 2013’s Smart and Shiney.)

Rejoice was last seen as a part of the 2014 Warehouse Reissue craziness, with the Buckskin Madison Avenue being reissued as a “National Show Horse”. The last true/original Production Run was in 2012 for the Passage to the Pacific Exclusive Event Like Thunder (an underrated Special Run, in my opinion).

The Rejoice mold is more popular with younger collectors than old, and who seem to be a little less bothered by her tipsy ways. I haven’t had much problem with that issue either – both my Gwendolyn and my Like Thunder have been display regulars for quite some time here, without accident or injury.

Her tail is a bit goofy, but as someone with hair issues myself, I am not unsympathetic to others also having a bad hair day.

Alas, I decided late last week that – barring extra tickets that mysteriously appear in the mail or get slipped under my door at the hotel – it’s going to be a one-ticket year. I was pretty circumspect with the spending money last year, and the surplus I came home with sure came in handy, especially when Chasing the Chesapeake rolled around.

Kaalee is a must, but Vahana is also gorgeous, and Darjeeling is so shiny and spotty... and we still have a couple more Specials to be revealed! We still have yet to see the One-Day Stablemates, the Surprise Model, the second Raffle Model, and the rest of the items for the Pop-Up Store, too.

Oh, goodness.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Going for the Gold

FYI: I don’t know any more about the Man o’ War Special Run than anyone else. Classic or Traditional? Plastic or Porcelain? New mold, or old? Lower piece count, or higher?

My guesses: Traditional, Plastic, piece count of at least 500 – though probably more, if the KHP is already “advertising” it. It may even be something open-ended (reorderable), if they intend on selling them through the rest of the Man o’ War Celebration.

I have about a dozen variations of the original #47, so I’d be perfectly fine with another gussied-up Reissue. Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me, just as long as I get one.

Speaking of Reissues, there’s the Diorama Prize to talk about….

I know I’m not the only one who took at look at Sona and thought “Hey, isn’t that Tesoro?”

The original, inexplicably popular (to me) #867 Tesoro was a garden variety Breyer palomino, right down to the four airbrushed stockings and gray hooves. In an era when an average release would get two years, Tesoro got four – from 1992 through 1995.

I like the El Pastor well enough that at one point I ended up with at least a half dozen variations of the original Red Bay release, and I have several others – a couple of the Blue Roans, Escondido, the Black Pinto Desperado, the rare Raitliff no-star Special Run among them.

But never the Tesoro, because he held no appeal to me – in fact, he felt like just another generic release in an era of Breyer History chocked full of them.

Clearly, I was in the minority.

Sona is not really a Reissue, literally or even technically: his markings are different, his mane and tail are pearly, and he’s dappled. And he’s likely to be even more different in person than the publicity picture shows: since his name means “gold”, I suspect that he will also be a bit more metallic in person.

I wish I could get more excited about him, but he’s a prize in the Diorama Contest.  I’ll give it my best shot and dutifully craft an entry I feel prize-worthy, but I’m not going to clear any shelf space in anticipation, either.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Man o' War: The Centennial

It’s the centennial of Man o’ War’s birthday, today.

I think most of you are aware that the original #47 Man o’ War was my very first model horse, purchased with my birthday money. It was at a toy store called Circus World, across the street from the Kmart where Mom worked. Here he is, just a little worse for wear:

In case you cannot tell from the photo, he is also a Chalky. The blaze was not original: it was an attempted repair at a seam split, gone wrong.

(Yes, a store-bought Chalky. I am old!)

 “Has a nice head on him.” Dad said, nodding in approval of my selection. He had been a horseracing fan, too, as a kid, listening to the races on his radio. (His favorite racehorse was Native Dancer.)

I have since acquired many Breyer Man o’ Wars, of both the Classic and the Traditional variety. One of my most recent and treasured acquisitions being the 1991 Gold Charm Raffle Horse, at last year’s BreyerFest:

For as many as I have, there are still more I would love to own: a Presentation Series one, one in the Showcase packaging, a MIB Chalky one, one with a Large Blue Ribbon Sticker, one in the original corrugated shipper…

…and any other Test Colors or Oddities, if I can find them. I have a few of the later, and one of the former – depicting another famous racehorse, Phar Lap:

The Kentucky Horse Park will be hosting a Man o’ War Celebration from now through November 1 – the 70th Anniversary of his death, in 1947. (The likely origin of his original issue number, in case you hadn’t made the connection before.) Here’s a link:

And gosh, look at what’s on the list of events:
JULY 14TH, 15TH & 16TH
As part of the annual Breyerfest event at KHP, a collector’s edition Man o’ War horse has been commissioned. This replica of the greatest Thoroughbred of all time will prove to be a popular addition to the heavily attended model horse festival for fans from around the country.
That’s all there is to say, really. I’ll be spending the rest of my afternoon doing a Snoopy Dance of Joy.

Happy Man o’ War Day!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Some Recent Shopping

A sampling of recent purchases:

A Border Fine Arts piece with original hang tag, an addition to the Duchess collection, a signed (!) first edition of Mr. Limpet (yes, the book that the film The Incredible Mr. Limpet was based on) and another sari.

It is hard to tell from the photograph, but the sari is handmade and of the most beautiful green and orange shot cotton. It’s more likely I’ll be cutting it up for a quilt than wearing it.

There have been a few other items – another Duchess, a body for my Diorama Contest entry, some interesting variations – but they’re either not ready or not suitable for prime time. I’ve been trying to keep the shopping excursions to a minimum, as some bills and the flea market will be coming up soon.

I also had the chance to see the new 2017 horses in person late last week, as work took me past one of the stores that carries the full line – including the Pocket Animals and CollectAs (though this is the one that stocked CollectAs before the deal with Reeves.)

They had a clean, perfectly masked Paint Me a Pepto, but the two new releases that almost came home with me were Xavier (the Unicorn Othello) and the Decorator Geronimo Bandera.

The Xavier was so iridescent it glowed, and the Bandera was really well executed and almost exactly how I imagined it was going to be: a plastic representation of a potmetal carnival prize horse. But after seriously considering them and a couple of the newer CollectAs, I managed to walk away from the store unscathed.

The new Reeves-CollectAs, if you haven’t already seen them, have the Breyer logo imprinted on their bellies in addition to the paper tags. Other than my Australian Stock Horse, I haven’t spent a whole lot of time examining the earlier pieces to see if there are any other subtle (or not so subtle) changes to the “new” pieces.

It’s good to know that we’ll be able to distinguish the Breyer “in the wild” sans paper tags, though.

The only other thing worth noting about the shopping trip was that they had BreyerFest brochures, that I happened to see a couple little girls pick up as they were shopping. Other than inform them that the CollectAs they were also looking at were now being distributed by Breyer, I left them alone; I figured they were already well on their way and Mom wouldn’t want some rando at the toy store to evangelize.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Happy National Puppy Day!

Since it is National Puppy Day, here are a couple of happy puppies to celebrate! Specifically, a pair of  eternally joyful White Breyer Poodles:

Even though the mold has come in only four colors, officially – Black, White, Silver and Woodgrain – I think I have about a dozen total and alas, no Woodgrain! (Yet.)

The Black and White ones were made for about a decade, ca. 1957 through 1967/68 (both the beginning and ends dates are a bit fuzzy, so an exact measurement there is difficult) so there are a lot of variations to keep collectors occupied, if they so choose.

And I am apparently one of them. I am considering trimming off a pup or two, for the sake of space and my sanity. (Do I really need five different White Poodles? Wait, don’t answer that!)

Anyway, the reason I’m spotlighting these two is to note the variation on the collars: some are painted on by brush, and others are clearly masked. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the variation: there are early and late pieces of both the masked and brush painted varieties, in both the scarce early Blue Collar and the later and more common Red.

The two Poodles here are both later pieces with USA mold marks, with the Masked piece on the right dating to ca. 1965. (Yes, there is a story there, soon to be told.)

There’s even a sub-variation of the collars without the white painted buckle and keeper details, and that was also inconsistently applied, too. Just to keep us on our toes I guess, like a dog will do.

Thank goodness that the Black and Whites are, by and large, plentiful and cheap. Now if they only weren’t as heavy as an average doorstop…

Monday, March 20, 2017

Quality Control and Production Thresholds

Here’s my Wailua:

Not quite as dramatic or showy as some I’ve seen, but otherwise I have nothing to complain about here. I especially like the subtle warm hints in his mane and tail, and the slightly different shade of gray on his hooves.

(Those details at the edges get me again!)

As for the conversation going on about the fact that this run appears to have been manufactured in New Jersey and not China, there’s something to be said about that. But as you might suspect, my line of thought runs a little contrary to popular opinion.

I am a little concerned about mold maintenance, especially with older molds (the Hesses) that are basically handcrafted artisan pieces. (Most of the “loss of mold detail” that gets complained about is actually overly-enthusiastic post-molding finish work, though.) And I do wish that they had another layer of Quality Control to catch a higher percentage of the garden variety “oopsies” before they get on the boat.

While I am not happy with the idea that the bulk of production has moved overseas, I haven’t had any significant issues with models made in China either – or at least, not any more problems compared to U.S. production pieces, on average. (I’ve sent a few things back, but it’s not a regular occurrence.)

Some of the issues we do see are a result of higher expectations, and the ever-more-complicated paint jobs that are a consequence of that.

Part of the research that I do on a semi-regular basis (i.e. when I get time to do it) is writing down detailed descriptions of the paint jobs for each release. Early releases can get summed up in a couple of sentences. A typical vintage Charcoal:
Body-shaded Charcoal, brown undertones; masked white mane and tail; four stockings, airbrushed, with pink hooves; extensive bald face, airbrushed, with pinked muzzle and nostrils, with some gray shading in nostrils; gloss black eyes, sometimes with hand-painted eyewhites.
But Darjeeling’s color description? That one’s going to be so long it might have a subplot. The more complicated something is, the easier it is for things to go wrong.

As to why some Web Specials – like Wailua, and previously the Croi Damsha Bramble of Berry Pony fame – are now being made here, I think it’s simply a matter of math.

It’s not cost-effective to do paint jobs at that level and (relatively) error-free on higher production Regular Run models that are supposed to retail in the 40-50 dollar range.

For a low production Special Run that retails for 160-180 dollars, however? Then it would be, especially since the purchasers of those particular pieces are expecting something close to perfect. Producing those items in the U.S. will cost more, but the extra costs will be offset by the reduced number of returns and customer service calls.

So no, I don’t see this as a harbinger of large-scale production returning the U.S. any time soon. All I am seeing is that the maximum quantity threshold for U.S. production has increased from around 200 to around 350. Maybe even a little higher than that (up to Club-level quantities?) but not much.

Friday, March 17, 2017

And Now For Something Completely Vintage

Criminy, Reeves is crushing it this year with the BreyerFest Special Runs:

When they made a reference on the blog to “one of Chris Hess’s most iconic sculpts” I assumed it was going to be one of the “Decorator Five” – the molds used for the original Decorator releases in the 1960s: Mustang, Five-Gaiter, Fighting Stallion, and the Running Mare and Foal.

I figured it had to be either the Mustang or the Running Mare: the Gaiter would have been too hard (even for Reeves!) to reconcile with the theme, the Fighter they seem to reserve for extra-special rarities like raffles and giveaways, and they rarely have a Foal Special independent of a Mare.

I thought it’d be the Mare, because (a) the Mustang recently had a pretty nice release with the 2015 Exclusive Event My Kind of Town, and (b) there was that Translucent Sample Chinese Running Mare that showed up on eBay a little while back that made me think we’d be getting something extra special on that mold in the near future.

But I am completely fine with Darjeeling, who is very reminiscent of the 2015 Western Horse release Glitterati. I am so fine with it, in fact, that I’ll probably be spending the next few days trying to reconcile myself to the notion of having to buy two tickets, instead of the “just one” I promised myself.

It makes me glad, in a way, that the Elephant Holi is a Pop-Up Store Special: while the “Tent of Despair” has its own challenges, at least I won’t have to buy another ticket.

The only thing that has me worried is that I think the Elephant will be fairly popular and may even sell out at the event this year. The Elephant is one of those Nonhorse molds that is a reliable and consistent seller with hobbyists and nonhobbyists alike – and, come to think about it, the ideal kind of Special Run for a venue that’s supposed to be geared (in theory) more towards the tourist/casual collector crowd.

Also, if there is one item in the Breyer lineup – aside from the Celebration Model – that is directly and obviously relevant to the Indian theme, it’s an Elephant.

And it has freckles and gold toenails! Gah! Prior to Holi, most of the previous production releases on the Elephant have had minimal extra detailing, outside of the eyes, mouth and tusks. It’s not something that’s noticed or noted much, because the mold’s plethora of lumps, bumps, wrinkles did most of work in the past.

But now that they’re there, they make such a difference! There is some pretty nice actual shading in the gray paint, too, underneath those decals.

I have no idea if we’ll be getting any more Vintage molds in the lineup, or another Nonhorse Ticket Special. I certainly wouldn’t mind either, though I’m sure my bank accounts would…

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

An Elephant of Another Color

And right on cue, an all-too-obvious Elephant clue:

Gray with painted decorations, in the same manner Elephants are decorated for the Elephant Festival, which happens a day before the Festival of Colors – Holi – that (not coincidentally!) just wrapped up.

And that’s just about what I expected. I know a lot of people were hoping or expecting a White Elephant, but the more I thought about it, the less likely it became.

First, although a White Elephant named Airavata was the mount of Indra, King of the Gods, White Elephants are more closely associated with the history and mythologies of Southeast Asia (Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia).

Second, the term “White Elephant” has some rather negative connotations I think Reeves might not have wanted to associate with a Nonhorse Special Run. Wikipedia, again:
The expressions “white elephant” and “gift of a white elephant” came into common use in the middle of the nineteenth century. The phrase was attached to “white elephant swaps” and “white elephant sales” in the early twentieth century. Many church bazaars held “white elephant sales” where donors could unload unwanted bric-a-brac, generating profit from the phenomenon that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Many organizational and church fairs still use the term today. In general use a “white elephant” usually refers to an item that’s not useful (decorative) but may be expensive and odd.
Considering some of the issues they’ve had in the past few years with Nonhorse BreyerFest Specials not selling as well as they hoped, marketing an actual “White Elephant” could be a, uh, little problematic?

The 1950s Pink Elephant was a bit cringe-worthy in retrospect, too. I tend to be somewhat more forgiving of that one since believe that that release – along with its Blue friend – were a one-time/one-run deal designed to use up colored acetate that had been earmarked for another project that had gone by the wayside.

Since the first BreyerFest Elephant Special Run – 2006’s Nimbo – was a straight-up Decorator of the Copenhagen Blue variety, it also seemed unlikely that they’d go with another, unless they were going to do the Surprise SR on it to “complete” the set. But I really doubted they would go for a Nonhorse Surprise.

Decorator Ageless Bronze – like the Commemorative Edition Durango – might have worked, and would have been a nice callback to the infamous “Bronze Glo” models that turn up from time to time, a club of whom the Elephant is a member. (Side note: I am skeptical of many “Bronze Glo” models I’ve seen. Like Gloss, it’s a finish that’s very easy to fake.)

I would have been all-in on another release with the rarely-seen plastic Howdah, but that would have been a little too “Modernistic Buck and Doe”-level obscure, I think. And I say that as someone who has advocated for another release on the Modernistic Buck and Doe.

So an Elephant in fancy festival makeup it is. The only question remaining is whether or not it will be a Ticket Special, or a Pop-Up Store Special? A difficult decision for me, either way.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Different Kind of Black Beauty

Next up: a Black Rabicano Sabino Yasmin, named Kaalee.

I haven’t seen the mold in person yet, but I am slightly obsessed with the breed she’s supposed to represent (Shagya Arabian), it’s an Eberl, and her paint job (designed by Lesli Kathman) is unique and interesting, so all signs so far point to her being a “Yes” here.

Kaalee is also very reminiscent of the original release of the Traditional #89 Black Beauty, except prettier and more correct. Allegedly she’s just as much as a shelf hog, but since I also collect the Pacer mold, I know how to deal if it becomes a deal.

Just when I thought I had made peace with my “just one ticket this year” rule. Sigh. Time to do some budget number crunching again…

I have nothing further to say about Kaalee or the Yasmin mold, other than noting that she’s the third of the last year’s three Premier Club molds in this year’s lineup. (And will make a mighty fine ladyfriend to Polaris!)

It’s good that they got the new Premier molds out of the way early for the sake of the Special Run speculations, I guess? Maybe that means the rest of the Specials will be on older molds, for balance?

While it’s pretty much a given that we’ll get the Elephant at some point, beyond that I’m going to stick to my minimal public speculating rule for the year. I’ll just go with the flow around and let it all be a surprise, more or less.

And how’s this for a surprise – I actually “won” a Wailua! It’s been two years since I’ve won a Web Special of any kind, so I was a bit gobsmacked when the e-mail showed up in my In Box. I only have the one official account and my luck is typically about average luck, but that dry streak was just starting to make me think otherwise.

The only downsides to winning are that I have to push the BreyerFest ticket buying two more weeks down the road, and I have to scale back some of my eBay bidding ambitions. (Darn it, and just when it was starting to get interesting there!)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


Oh Sweet Christmas, will you look at that:

A Bay Roan Pinto Shannondell with silver and purple braids, named Vahana. And believe it or not, it’s not a Raffle or Contest prize but a honest-to-goodness BreyerFest Ticket Special!

As for the connection to India, I’ll let Wikipedia explain:
Vahana (Sanskrit: वाहन, Vāhana, literally “that which carries, that which pulls”) denotes the being, typically an animal or mythical entity, a particular Hindu deity is said to use as a vehicle. In this capacity, the vahana is often called the deity’s “mount” […] The vahana and deity to which they support are in a reciprocal relationship. Vahana serve and are served in turn by those who engage them. Many vahana may also have divine powers or a divine history of their own.
He’s basically supposed to represent a horse glorious and powerful enough to carry a Hindu deity. Judging from the almost-reverential reaction to him, I think they nailed the concept! So I doubt that they’ll do multiple mane/tail options or the Gloss/Matte split on it: Vahana won’t need any help selling out.

I haven’t a Shannondell in person yet (and judging from the prices, I’ve been seeing them go for, it’ll be a while) but I think I prefer the braided version anyway.

I still think I’m sticking to my one-ticket plan this year, but if this is just the start of the Special Run parade, I might be in trouble.

I wasn’t too crazy about the cutesy stunt they used to “reveal” it, though, or the fact that they were redirecting people to visit their Facebook page for the news. I think the world – not just the model horse world, but the world-world – would be better served if more people were encouraged to venture off of Facebook, not on.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Wailua, and Other Business

Today is going to be a bit disconnected, since I’m still recovering from a bit of who-knows-what from last week. (There have been a lot of unexpectedly extended naps over the past few days!)

First up is Wailua - Second release in the America the Beautiful Series, all designed by Sommer Prosser:

Ooh, a Gloss Legionario! It is true that Gloss Finishes are a rare feature on Legionario releases; other than Tests and Samples, the only ones I can think of are Decorators like the 1991 Gold Florentine Raffle piece, and the Silver Filigree Grane of Gotterdammerung.

My only (tiny) quibble with him is that it’s yet another flavor of Gray. It is in keeping with the theme of the series – his mane is like a waterfall, and the dapples like water bubbles – but darn it, it’s still left me pining for a nice Dark Dappled Bay or Pinto!

On the plus side, the appearance of a relatively low-quantity piece run does suggest that more Legionarios may be in our future. The last widely available Legionario release (excluding the Exclusive Event Excalibur in 2014) was 2009’s Spanish Flamenco Set.

If there’s a Legionario SR at BreyerFest – Surprise or not – I am all in. I’ve entered every day for Wailua, too, but I haven’t been picked for a Web SR since Astru, so I am not hopeful.

Second, another previously unknown In-Between Mare has appeared on eBay. Needless to say, I won’t be participating in that exercise of financial futility.

It appears to have surfaced in the Chicago area, which is in keeping with the history we think we know about it: that a small test batch was made, whatever was made was mostly destroyed/reground when they did not pass muster, with a handful of survivors circulating locally.

The slow drip-drip of IBMs into the marketplace is just more fuel for the fire that that understanding of its history is wrong, or incomplete. (I still favor the notion that whatever was made was not destroyed, but simply mixed into the earliest distributed batches of the “new” Family Arabian Mare.)

Third, there’s the news that this year’s NAN has been cancelled.

In this house, whenever things get real quiet, it usually means that Vita has been up to some serious no-good – stripping the guest bedroom bed, eating an umbrella, or picking your coat pocket for cough drops and candy wrappers.

Just a couple of weeks ago I was thinking the same thing about NAN and NAMHSA.

I can’t say that I necessarily saw it coming, but it is also not a surprise, given the lack of meaningful communication and what recent changes and announcements have been made (like the switch to a one-judge system, and keeping the event in Kentucky for multiple successive years).

I don’t know if I’ll attend the event that they have planned for the Thursday before BreyerFest, since Thursday is already the busiest day of that week for me. I might just to attend the Open Meeting, but like the last time there was a serious controversy, I think by then it will be too late, with opinions too calcified for any progress to be made.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Bay Shetland Ponies

I have to say that I’ve been impressed with Reeves doing the daily (during the workweek) posts on their BreyerFest blog. Way to step up the game, guys!

My only concern is that at the pace they are going through material, I might find myself either the subject or illustration to a post. The latter is much more likely than the former, since I’ve actually found pictures of myself on their web site multiple times. (They have more pictures of me than my family does, I think!)

But anyway, back to the Dally and Spanky set:

Cute! And again, not entirely unexpected, since they were mentioned on the web site as guests.

I have mixed feelings about it: I’m glad the Merrylegs mold is not being used for this – that mold’s tippy ways vex me so! – but I’m not sure I am up for another Matte Bay Shetland Pony, either. It is significantly different than the original #23 Bay release, though. From the 1973 Collector’s Manual:

And it does have a Jack Russell in a kerchief. Darn it Reeves, stop making it so hard to decide!

The Matte Bay Shetland Pony is one of the most common and ubiquitous of Breyer releases, having been in production from 1973 through 1988. Everyone has one, or has had one at some point.

I’ve had several, though none of them have “stuck”: like the Palomino Western Prancing Horse, I just haven’t found the right one yet.

Even though she’s probably the most common Shetland Pony release ever, the Matte Bay was a relative latecomer: the mold itself debuted ca. 1959/1960, in Gloss Alabaster, Gloss Black Pinto, Gloss Brown/Palomino Pinto, and possibly Gray Appaloosa (either as an obscure Special Run, or an extremely short or cancelled Production Run like the Buckskin Running Mare and Foal).

Gloss Bay was a vital part of the Breyer color repertoire in the early 1960s, so it is a bit of a mystery why we never saw a Gloss Bay Shetland Pony. It might have been proposed, but for whatever reason they decided against it producing it.

Not flashy enough? Lukewarm response from the sales reps? Dunno.

The #23 Bay was in production long enough to generate a number of unique variations: Chalky is the best-known, but it also came in a Solid/No Bald Face variation, a four stocking variation, and in every color in the Bay rainbow from light reddish to dark bay-brown.

There was a really pretty bright Red Bay variation on eBay that had been tempting me for a few weeks, until someone else (whew!) bought her.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Rangoli and True North

Here’s the Sunday Raffle Model Rangoli, in case you haven’t seen him yet:

That paint job – an extra dark Sooty Dappled Buckskin Sabino – is amazing, and the rest of him isn’t too shabby either. But you know what I really like about the True North mold?

The shaggy buzzcut of a mane! It’s just so stinking cute. If he were a real-real horse, I’d want to run my fingers through it. 

I tend to appraise sculpts not purely on their anatomical or conformational correctness, but on the finishwork at the edges: the mane and tail, the ears, the hooves, and the muzzle. For me, that’s where the sculptor’s care and passion really shows: everything else is a matter of technical competence.

Getting the technical aspects correct is important, but it doesn’t always make you fall in love. Sometimes it does; but its things like pooky lips, fuzzy ears, and artfully messy manes that quickly turn admiration turn into adoration.

However, I am not real fond of having the first several releases of new molds (mostly but not exclusively the Premiers) be either expensive, or of extremely limited quantity. It’s difficult to get passionate about collecting something that becomes almost immediately hard to collect.  

That’s what turned me away from the Esprit mold, initially. Although I’ve since added a few to the herd – most notably the quirky BreyerFest Special Run Prince of Chintz, and the beautiful Dappled Bay Steppin’ Out – I’ve been hesitant to sink any more effort into it. I wouldn’t have minded getting the Decorator variation of the Samba Surprise from last year’s BreyerFest lineup, but I got only one shot at that guy last year and it didn’t happen. So I sold the one I did get (Matte Palomino) and moved on.

Part of the appeal of collecting Vintage is that unless you pick an exceptionally hard mold to collect – like the Elephant, or the In-Between Mare – the ratio of rare and difficult to not-so-rare or -difficult is better. You can collect for a while before the rarities start to bother you too much. And unlike most of the newer molds, there is a small but real possibility that you just might run across one of those rarities at a yard sale or late-night online auction. 

I never expected to own an Elephant with Howdah, but I somehow managed to snag one on eBay some years back, for considerably less than the going rate. (The Pink, Blue, and Woodgrain? Ah, well, I guess that is what the flea market is for.)

The actual True North release isn’t even out yet, and the likelihood of winning Rangoli is going to be pretty slim (I mean, just look at him!) but it’s a little too early to abandon hope yet. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

When History Shakes Your Hand

Originally I was going to write about that cute Dally and Spanky Store Special Set, but I was just looking at the BreyerFest Blog – ostensibly to check out today’s post about the Sunday Raffle Model Rangoli – but I found that the post from the day before… was directly relevant to something I had been trying to write about for a week.

I guess now is the time!

On the blog yesterday they announced the addition of the author Elizabeth Letts to seminar schedule. She wrote The Eighty-Dollar Champion, about the famous show jumper Snowman, who has been made into a Breyer model a twice over – and I own them both. That alone would be reason enough to have her as a guest. (And get my copy autographed!)

But she’s written another book, The Perfect Horse, about the rescue of the horses – primarily Arabians and Lipizzaners – seized/kidnapped by the Nazis for their equine breeding program. I’m sure most of you are familiar with or have seen the movie The Miracle of the White Stallions? That’s part of that story.

Prior to seeing that movie in elementary school, World War II was an abstraction for me. Most of my relatives (Belgian, Polish, Hungarian) had left Europe earlier, and those relatives that did serve never spoke of their service, at least not when the kids were around.

Anyway, as I’m walking in to work one day last week I overhear two coworkers talking – about horses! This is not unusual when I am present, but (obviously) I had not been present when this conversation started.

This was completely unknown to me before, but apparently the family of one of my coworkers – an older, soft-spoken lady who is also a professional clown – owned a Lipizzan farm in Poland just before World War II. Their horses were among those seized by the Nazis. Her family eventually left Poland for the U.S., but not everyone made it out alive.

I wasn’t quite rendered speechless – I ended up filling in a few incidental details about the story to the other coworker – but I did end up walking around in a bit of a daze for the rest of the day.

As the title of this blog makes abundantly clear, history is my thing. Most of the time I have to hunt and peck for it, but other times – like last week – it walks up to me and shakes my hand.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Toy Fair and Spirit: Riding Free

One of the things on my personal “bucket list” is attending Toy Fair. It’s not just about the horses (in general) or Breyers (in particular); if you know me at all, my toy nerdery is both wide and deep.

Access isn’t the problem, but time and cost is: I am in Michigan, and Toy Fair is in New York City. So I have to content myself with living vicariously:

The only big news to come out of Toy Fair was the official announcement of the Spirit: Riding Free line, which was just about the worst kept “secret” in the model horse hobby ever. But it’s nice to see pictures of the actual, live pieces now and not just the catalog promo shots.

That being said, this line is not designed with someone like me in mind, though I will undoubtedly end up buying at least a few of the Blind Bag Stablemates and possibly the boxed Traditionals. (The Rain mold looks great in Matte Palomino!) It’ll be interesting to see if the third Traditional scale mold in the line, Boomerang, will eventually get incorporated into the regular line as the Spirit and Rain molds were.

There also didn’t appear to be any Toy Fair-specific giveaways, like the Gloss Highland Pony keychain or the Little Bits Chestnut Saddlebred, but my online shopping has been limited to targeted searches on eBay for box lots and specific (and oddly rather scarce) bodies, so I may well have missed it.

Incidentally, Breyer has been represented at the Toy Fair literally since the beginning of Breyer, as this article from the March 1951 issue of Playthings makes clear:

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Recent Findings

I was just reviewing my “buy” list for the year so far: other than club-related purchases and the Locarno, almost everything else has been body box material. The most recent finds include these two recent dollar-a-bag dump bin discoveries:

This is the third (I think?) Classics Morgan Foal I’ve found with a broken/missing tail. Poor babies!

I completely cleaned out my Body Box last year in Kentucky, so this recent abundance of bodies is not an issue for me, so far.

What it has done, however, is pique my interest in the BreyerFest Customs Contest. This is a bit of an issue because I really don’t have time to enter another contest – I barely have enough time to get all of the other things done that I already need to get done!

But I’ve been on a project finishing kick lately, and if it’s a contest that motivates me to finish a few of those sad little derelicts sitting on my project table, so be it. And I like that they’re tweaking the rules and categories a bit, and adding a thematic category that will change from year to year.

The only problem I see is that the kind of customs I prefer doing don’t really fit into any of this year’s categories.

While I do have a Running Stallion Unicorn I’ve been working on for a while, he’s unfinished because I’m just not all that into Fantasy-themed models right now. I think I am capable of competing in Finishwork, but painting on that level stresses me out way too much, and I’d rather focus on something more enjoyable. I’ve never been much of a tack or performance-oriented person, so that category is clearly out, too.

Extreme customizing? I’d rather start with something that’s almost-sorta there and get it across the finish line; I’ve always had the most fun working with older funkier molds and doing subtle “A-ha!” customizing jobs that make you go “I see that now!” In other words, working with the existing mold, rather than against it. Reducing a Breyer model to an armature is…not my kind of fun.

So that leaves me with the thematic class, which is restricted to Little Bits scale and below this year, with no firm restrictions on the amount or kind of customizing. I do have a couple of Stablemates projects I could finish, but I’ve always wanted to do something interesting with a Little Bits mold – mostly because they don’t get a lot of customizing love.

But so far, no Little Bits scale bodies have crossed my path.

While I mull my options, I also have to figure out what to do with another promising recent find:

Yes, it’s a beautiful, genuine, heavily sequined and embroidered green sari, found at one of my local Salvation Army stores. Because of course I would!

After a little bit of research, I figured out how to put it on, and proceeded to prance and sparkle around the house like a princess. I’ll be wearing it at BreyerFest at some point, no doubt. But when and where? No idea, yet.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

More Fun with Fury

Here’s a picture of a couple of scarcer-than-average variations of the original #27 TV’s Fury for your examination:

Most Furies are either solidly painted or (more rarely) molded black plastic with overpainted markings. These two early, pre-mold mark fellows have bare plastic markings instead.

The “tan” hooves on the sockless Fury are actually just plain, slightly yellowed plastic. The facial markings on both are also irregularly shaped, as if they were tape-masked, though I don’t know if that was actually the case or something else was going on here:

There are a lot of variations on this release, which really isn’t shocking for something that ran nearly ten years (ca. 1957/8? through 1965). However, I’d consider any individual variation from the standard Black with overpainted markings to be scarce, at least in terms of volume.

Most of my variations – I think I have five or six of them, total – either came in box/body lots, or were found locally. Like my Black Stretched Morgans, I don’t go out of my way to find them, but they do seem to go out their way to find me!

It doesn’t hurt that I’ve been collecting for what seems like forever, and I have a fondness for the oddballs. They tend to stick around, while the more common/ordinary ones move on.

As common as the model is, they can be a bit of a challenge to collect, online or off. It’s not realistic enough for noncollectors to automatically assume it’s a Breyer, and since the mold was in production for a few years prior to the addition of the mold mark in 1960, a significant portion of Furies don’t come with it.

On the flip side, this lack of recognition as a Breyer does help when one is found “in the wild”. Just another toy horse, nothing to see here…

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Repeating Themselves

Well, there’s my first must-have for this year’s BreyerFest, the Store Special Repeat the Beat:

That’s exactly the color I’ve been hoping for on the Bluegrass Bandit mold! It is very similar to another recent roan paint job that I was very fond of, the Classics #931 Bay Roan Quarter Horse:

In its rather short life, the Bluegrass Bandit mold has already made three other appearances as a BreyerFest Special Run model: 2011’s Translucent Under the Sea, 2013’s Store Special Lady C, and 2014’s Store Special Champagne Wishes.

True, it is a bit unusual that a mold that’s only been around since 2008 is now making its third appearance as a Store Special, but Bluegrass Bandit mold has become unusually popular over the past few years; I’ve been trying to add to my tiny (2 piece!) collection, but the prices keep getting in the way.

While it is also true that a Tennessee Walking Horse has little to do with the India theme, I suspect the real horse’s guest appearance at BreyerFest this year may be a not-so-subtle nudge in the effort to get the soring ban finally implemented.

Like the recent Christmas Horse Esprit Bayberry and Roses, Repeat the Beat’s tail lacks a white basecoat; because Samples are usually depicted in these early promotional pictures, it’s too early to tell if this is idiosyncratic to this particular Sample, or a detail that will make it into the final production pieces.

It may see a bit odd, but I do like it, since it adds a hint of translucency to the tail itself. But I’ll be fine with it, either way.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Locarno 62

It’s that time of the year when everyone is cleaning closets, slashing prices, or listing their otherwise unlistables in order to pay off their bills and/or stay on budget. I’ve been trying to be good about my budget, too, but some of the deals I’ve had to pass up have nearly killed me.

I finally broke down and bought a box lot. The price was right, and after I resell the bulk of it, I’ll be left with this handsome fellow free and clear:

It’s a Special Run #1406 Morganglanz Locarno 62! I had been wanting one for a while; I have a bit of a soft spot for this largely unloved mold, and his Mahogany Bay paint job is so dark and pretty.

This release is one of the best illustrations of why the most important component of “Collectability” is Desirability. He has all the points in his favor, on paper: he’s a relatively scarce Special Run, distributed overseas, in a genuinely beautiful color.

But he is not considered particularly desirable. While his coloring does give him a bit of reprieve from the antagonism the 2014 Exclusive Event Gris Gris receives, he’s still not beloved or sought out by many. A lack of interest translates into a lack of listings, so you hardly ever see them for sale stateside – and that’s most of the reason why it took this long for me to get one.

It’s mostly about the mold: there’s never been a lot of love for awkward and ungainly Morganglanz. He’s a tough sell even when you dress him up in pretty clothes, like last year’s BreyerFest Reserve Grand Open Show prize Brigadeiros.

That might change in the future. The original Decorators were a huge bust in the 1960s, and molds like the Classics Mestenos and Brishen have gone from “not” to “hot”. So as unlikely as it may seem, it could happen.

In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the fact that rarities like Gris Gris and Brigadeiros are within the realm of possibility in my budget.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Adios’s Little Star

Since I mentioned it in passing last time, here’s a close-up of the original Adios’s teeny-tiny star:

(The spot on his nose is just a rub, not some rare or obscure variation.)

You might notice that this example has extra black shading around his eyes, because he’s an early release of this model, ca. 1970, with a near-complete Blue Ribbon Sticker. Some examples even have fully blackened ears; mine has black ear tips, but I wasn’t quite able to pick them up in the light of my office.

The only thing that would make this guy any better – besides a sticker in slightly better condition – would be if he didn’t have the USA mold mark, but that’s a pretty rare trick to pull off for an Adios, sticker or no.

Early Adioses with Blue Ribbon Stickers seem to be a bit of a hot commodity lately, so I am not going to think about upgrading, unless one miraculously drops into my lap at my local Salvation Army or something.

Adios was not the first Breyer “portrait” model – as true Breyer aficionados know, Lassie and Rin Tin Tin can claim that title, both being released in 1956. (I think Lassie came out a couple months before Rinty, but that topic deserves a post in and of itself.) And then there is the Circus Boy set, which came out in late 1956 or early 1957: the actual “Circus Boy” is a fairly decent depiction of a young Mickey Dolenz in his pre-Monkee years. 

Adios isn’t even the first equine portrait model: that title would go to the Fury Prancer release of “TV’s Fury” ca. 1958. The second? That was the #47 Man o’ War in 1967.

But other than being “a black horse with white markings”, Fury looks little like the actual Fury; and as much as I adore the Traditional Man o’ War, it wasn’t until 2010 that the WEG Reissue accurately portrayed his actual star and stripe.

Adios is thus the first equine portrait model that made a real effort to look like the actual horse, both in form and in the paint masking.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Meet the New Guys, Same as the Old Guys

Silly me tried to upgrade something I really didn’t need to upgrade, with the usual consequences:

As experience should have taught me by now, this older Classic Quarter Horse Family was in about the same condition and about the same quality as my current set. The only significant differences were that this set has larger stars, and still has its original box.

The difference in the size of the stars is really quite striking, though:

There were no actual templates or masks for the stars on the early Classic Quarter Horses that I know of. Details that small were probably too difficult to create via the intricate metal masks of the era anyway, so they might have either tape-masked or resist-dappled them.

In some cases, even, they may have been created by paint removal – with a little dab of acetone on a paint brush or cotton swab, quickly blotted away.

In the case of the new set, I think they used the resist dapple technique – dabbing a bit of the resist-dappling goo on the forehead prior to painting, and peeling it off after painting was done. The plastic looks too raw and too clean for it to be anything else, really.

It is not really a surprise that such a minor and labor-intensive detail on non-portrait (non-Adios) releases like the Classic Quarter Horse Family disappeared so quickly. That’s a bit too much work for not quite enough reward.

My original, smaller-starred set’s better provenance (it’s the one mentioned in Nancy Young’s book!) outweighs the bigger stars + original box of the newest set, so the new guys will likely be heading to my sales list soon. Or whenever I can actually find the time to update it.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A New Decorator Color? On Geronimo?

I had a tiny bit of free time over the weekend, and it seemed like as good a time as any to get caught up a bit on paperwork – and do a bit of unboxing!

Yep, I still hadn’t unboxed stuff from BreyerFest last year. It’s not out of a lack of interest – I love Translucents, and my Auriverde! – but of time, space and priorities. (In other words, the usual nonsense.)

There is nothing particularly noteworthy to say about the Auriverde, other than I wish I had some sunny window space for him; all that is currently occupied by other models more in need of the sun.

Some of the first hints and inklings of this year’s BreyerFest Special Run lineup have been announced in the past few days – a blog post that specifically references “polo ponies” and of course, a sneak peek of what appears to be a Geronimo:

Interesting! I haven’t had a chance to examine a Geronimo extensively or in-the-round yet – all three releases so far (the Premier Club release, last year’s Custom Contest Prize Guerreiro, and the Raffle Model Areia) are all either a little or a lot out of my price range. There is a fourth release on the mold coming named Bandera, so that lack of familiarity with the mold will likely change soon.

At first I thought Bandera was going to be a slighty-more-metallic-than-average Chestnut, but it looks like Reeves might be doing a full-on Copper patina with him.

We’ve had “Ageless Bronze” pieces in the past – like the #1102 Durango on the Smoky, and the #832 Hyksos on the Black Stallion – and other metallics in whole or part (some even made with/of actual metal!), but I think this the first time they’ve released a model that actually looks like a pot metal carnival prize horse.

Which is not a criticism – I kind of like it! At the very least, I am intrigued. If that is actually the case or intent, I would absolutely love to see future releases on something a little old-fashioned and/or Western-y, like the Western Pony or Prancing Horse, or the good old (and little seen) #36 Racehorse mold.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Soap and Sunshine

Here’s an updated picture of those two Gloss Alabaster Family Arabians that came in an especially dirty box lot a while back:

Originally I was going to leave them as-is, as an “ultimate” example of grubbiness, but after nearly a year of their sad faces peering over the monitor in my office, I had to do something.

They still have a ways to go in the unyellowing process, but here’s what the other side still looks like, to give you an idea of how far they have come:

You might think that’s bad, but it’s a considerable improvement over what they originally looked like before they even hit the bathtub:

They were literally so grimy you could not even tell they were Gloss! The grime was so thick in spots that it actually came off in chunks, which kind of freaked me out a little bit at first. Was something else coming off as well?

Nope, just years of neglect.

And it really didn’t take much serious effort, beyond a little soap, sunshine, and patience. (No actual bleach in this case: it tends to do more harm than good on Gloss Finishes.)

In the weeks that they’ve resided in my bedroom window, I’ve kind of gotten attached to these two; they were slated for my sales list after rehab, but right now it’s 50-50 on whether or not they’ll stay.

I already have a really nice Gloss Mare, and several superlative Gloss Foals (because of my obsession with tracking ear/mold variations on the Foal mold), so I shouldn’t. Since Family Arabians have been trending up of late – especially now, with a Family Arabian Stallion in the Vintage Club lineup this year – finding them a new home shouldn’t be hard.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Unfinished or Unpainted?

No luck in the local Walmart Stablemates hunt so far; it looks like that experiment/promotion may be a little more limited than we imagined.

C’est La Vie.

The past few days at work have been slow going, and a new shiny thing would have been a nice distraction. I’ll just have to distract myself with other things.

Speaking of Stablemates, here’s that Stablemates Painting Kit I found a little while back at the local Salvation Army. Complete with all the painting bits too, remarkably!

The models in these kits may be unpainted, but they are not raw or unfinished. They’ve been trimmed, cleaned, and the surface lightly prepped/primed to accept paint. Painting is just one step in the production process, albeit the finishing one.

I don’t have any true Factory Unpainted pieces out right now to show you the differences, and it might not be that helpful anyway. Like Chalkies, true Factory Unpainteds can be difficult to photograph, with nuances that are probably best demonstrated with an in-person examination or comparison.

Ironically, these early Test Color Quarter Horse Mares may be most helpful here, since I suspect they were Preproduction pieces that didn’t go through the full finishing process before they had a paint job slapped on them. The paint job caught and accentuated all the ridges and roughness of the back seam:

The unfinished nature of the seam is especially visible on the example on the left. Most of this roughness wasn’t from the mold itself, but from the acetone used to melt and soften the edges prior to assembly.

Most (but not all!) Stablemates come out of the mold solid, so they wouldn’t necessarily have this kind of problem to deal with. Most of the molding issues with Stablemates would be with sink marks (indentations caused by overheated plastic), mold flow lines (squiggly lines on the surface of the plastic), and flashing (rough extruded edges at the seams).

Sink marks can’t really be fixed or finished away, but mold flow lines and flashing can, to a degree.

So this is why I wince a little whenever I read complaints about newer releases that are either mostly or extensively white, as somehow being less finished or less complete. Perhaps, but there’s still a lot of work that goes into getting a model to that state in the first place!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Single Year Releases

Here she is, my newest Duchess:

That’s the #62006 Pinto Sport Horse and Foal set. It’s one of the slightly less common Duchess releases – it was only available in 2010.

I was expecting my first purchase to be something a little more common – like the #62031 Gray Mare and Foal set that was also rereleased as part of the Walmart Sunshine Stables/Meadows promo in 2012, or one of the current releases like the Red Roan Western Horse and Rider set with the disturbingly oversized doll.

(Seriously Reeves, what the heck is going on with those funky horse and rider sets?)

But this pair turned up on eBay at an unbeatable price, so they became my inaugural purchase in The Duchess Project.

The bonus here is that this was a set I had been thinking about buying before I decided to collect the Duchess mold. She looks lovely in Tobiano Pinto, and I’m a big fan of the saucy little Sport Horse Foal mold, too.

Back when I started collecting – or more accurately, when I started learning all I could learn about Breyer History – Breyer models that were released for a single year (or two!), like the #191 Gray Bucking Bronco or the #169 Liver Chestnut Scratching Foal seemed so exotic and appealing for just that very reason.

In the 1960s, 1970s and well into the 1980s, it was unusual for a release to run less than three years. If it did, it was either a Decorator-level turkey, or had a manufacturing issue (too expensive to produce, or an actual qualitative problem).

I wince a little now when I see either of those two on eBay, usually unsold and endlessly relisted. I cannot offer a home here: I added examples of both of them to my herd a long time ago, with no pressing need for more. (Well, perhaps a few more of the Scratching Foal – there are some sock variations I don’t have!)

Time has not made them less numerically rare, but the market is now flooded with items of similar or greater rarity, on a seemingly endless number of molds. Our choices, and our focuses, are no longer as narrow or limited as they once were.

In a way, it makes collecting easier – as long as the focus you choose isn’t the mold of the moment.

So far, so good for me with the Duchess. Except for those darn Walmart releases with the Wolves in them; those sets may be the bane of my existence this year.