Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Different Kind of Blind Bag...

I wasn’t planning on going to the flea market today – it rained last night, and that tends to scare off some of the more delicate flowers – but I threw caution to the wind, and I was rewarded for my efforts:

Not quite the “blind bag” I was hoping for, but I’ll take it!

Don’t freak out, they’re mostly bodies. I got them inexpensively enough that I didn’t object when the lady decided to stuff them all in a single bag. One of two of them might end up in my personal project box, but the rest are going to ‘Fest.

And here I was worried I wouldn’t have as plentiful a body box as I had last year! Piffle…

Incidentally, I have now reached the point of my BreyerFest prep where I want to do nothing more than hide in the basement and work on my quilts.

Everything is actually going fairly well and according to plan. The only hangups I’m having are my sales list – I haven’t had the time to dig through my storage boxes as I planned – and the costume, which I am just not feeling right now. I know what I have to do with it, and I have all the supplies on hand, I’d just rather work on other things.

There have been a few scheduling issues at work that have been distracting me too, but there’s nothing to be done on that front until after Kentucky.

Not much else I want to say today, other than I finally broke down and bought the Web Exclusive Fiona and Rory set. (Still available on the Breyer website, though you do have to do some searching.)

I had a little extra cash in the Paypal account, and I’ve been really good this year, budget-wise. So I figured I was entitled to a couple of sparkly black ponies!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Blue, Not Blue

Apparently there’s a new “surprise” in the Blind Bag Stablemates Assortment that hit Cracker Barrel Stores this week – a metallic blue with black points on the G4 Endurance - Arabian mold.

But the two nearest Cracker Barrels to me are 45 minutes to an hour away, and judging from the reaction he’s causing online, I’m not even going to try. I just can’t take that kind of time out of my day anyway, this close to BreyerFest.

So that makes two “rare” Stablemates that were basically not distributed in my area. The Breyer supply here is good enough that I really can’t complain about getting my fair share of ponies, but I did “cut my teeth” on Stablemates back in the day, so it does hurt a little bit, nevertheless.

I had a ton of other stuff distracting me this week (and coming weekend), so here’s another short tidbit to keep you while I get back to the proverbial grindstone:

This is not the same Buckshot one auctioned off on eBay this week. When I saw the price that one went for, I blinked a few times and went “Oh, really now?”

(As handy as a thousand or so dollars could be right now, mine’s not going anywhere.)

But he’s a useful example to illustrate this point: very few Test Colors are truly unique, especially “vintage” ones. The only thing that really distinguished these two Buckshots from the standard production version is the absence of one step in the painting process: the blue base coat.

So is it possible that there might be more like these guys? I wouldn’t rule it out! Especially when you realize that a model like this is a result of less work being put into a piece, rather than more: basically, they are culls that present as “finished”.

For what it’s worth, the fact that something isn’t unique doesn’t necessarily diminish its value. Sometimes it even enhances it: you might not even consider bidding on something that’s truly “unique”, but something that exists as a group seems within the realm of possibility – and bid-ability.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Spirit Days

Interesting day at the flea market – a lot of horse stuff, but not a lot of model horses. The only thing I bought that’s worth mentioning here is this handsome pup:

A Boehm Schnauzer! It would have been even better if it had been one of the Boxers or Bulls the Breyers are based off of, or the Adios, but one doesn’t find Boehms of any variety in the wild all that often, even at my flea market. And the price was more than right.

The Boehm made up, a bit, for the events of the previous day. For a variety of reasons, I wasn’t able to go to either one of the Spirit Fun Days near my house on Saturday. I am a bit disappointed because there is still an awkward, horse-crazy ten-year-old inside me who desperately wanted to sit at a table to talk horses and paint Stablemates.

(Like the rest of you, my life is full of people who nod, smile, and secretly hope for their cell phones to ring when I start talking about horses.)

The new Breyer Spirit line itself seems to be getting pretty positive reviews in general, though the reaction to the TV show its based on is a little more mixed.

It’s not likely that I’ll be watching it any time soon, but that’s more because I’m mostly indifferent to horse-themed film and TV projects in general, and not the quality – or lack thereof.

And also because you have no idea just how far behind I am in my movie and TV watching. I have a DVD I got for Christmas in 2015 I still haven’t gotten around to watching….

But anyway, back to the models themselves.

The Spirit “blind bag” Stablemates assortments – if purchased by the box – apparently contain one of each of the entire set, which is nice. That’ll make it easier for the Stablemates completists.

The “Small Sets” I wrote about earlier appear to be just a shade smaller than the original Little Bits/Paddock Pals. For the purposes of showing, I still think they will be classified as that scale.

Traditional models have had the same scaling issues over the years – like, for instance, the Boehm-inspired Boxer – and even with the models that don’t have the excuse of being copied/translated from other manufacturer designs.

The Traditional Boomerang mold is about as cute as I expected it to be, but it is not likely that I will be able to pick one up, or even see one in person, until BreyerFest rolls around.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Green-Eyed Monster

I was just taking a few pics here and there for various posts and projects, and this one made me laugh out loud….

Long story I cannot go into here, but this sort of sums up what I feel like right now.

Incidentally, green-eyed Poodles are a later variation, not an earlier one, running contrary to the rule that releases tend to lose extra details as time goes on. Actually, the earliest Black Breyer Poodles did not have much extra detailing at all; in fact, they were cast out of Black-tinted Tenite and barely even painted!

White Poodles, on the other hand, were special in their own way: they frequently (but not always) come with painted black eyebrows that sometimes reached Spock-level goofiness.

But anyway, there you go: a bit of levity for your late Friday nights. More later in the weekend, I hope, as circumstances allow.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


A little over a month to BreyerFest, and I don’t even have my sales list done yet. (About the only thing going remotely well is my diorama entry, for some strange reason.)


I am guessing that there is not going to be much sleep for me between now and then?

One of the pieces I have managed to pull is my 1995 QVC Gem Twist. I have a lot of Jumping Horses as it is – including one Test and a Sample Kiowa – and I’d like to make room for a State Line Tack Jumpin’ Jupiter, because I think it’s just flat out the prettiest Jumping Horse release ever.

The QVC Gem Twist wasn’t technically a rerelease or reissue of the original Gem Twist – the former USET team member and Olympic medalist was still available in his original color and mold #495 – but a reinterpretation, I guess?

I found it very strange.

In 2002, they did another QVC “reinterpretation” – this time of the #718 General Lee’s Traveller. Instead of using the original Traditional Man o’ War mold, they used the San Domingo:

In this case, it made some sense to use a different mold, since he had been discontinued for a while (since 1999) and they also reissued the Traditional Man o’ War for QVC that year, too – as Man o’ War. Two releases on the same mold in the same year probably wouldn’t have flown with QVC.

Normally I’m not a fan of San Domingo in solid colors, and I had been having a hard time finding an acceptable Man o’ War Traveler to add to the herd – most of them either had weird trimming flaws or paint goobers – but I went ahead and bought this Traveler anyway.

And it turns out, I not only really liked him, he’s probably one of my favorite San Domingo releases ever, of the ones I can afford.

(The ones I love that I can’t afford? The 1997 Volunteer Model Moccasin, the BreyerFest 1999 Raffle Ransom. Or those Dealer Catalog Tests for the Stock Horse Stallion that EVERYBODY wants….)

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Lime Green and Magenta

Everyone has their own likes and dislikes, so we’ll never be able to come up with a perfectly designed model horse that everyone will love. 

But as a thought experiment I once tried to dream up the ugliest possible Breyer ever, something so outrageous that everyone’s first reaction would be DO NOT WANT.

The “best” idea I could come up with, coming at it as a person who has a hard time hating any Breyer release, in any color? 

A Lime Green and Magenta Khemosabi. (The part that would put it over the top for me: the Magenta. Almost nothing looks good in Magenta.)

Sure, there’d always be a few people who would buy it for the sake of completion, or actually have a fondness for the mold or the colors, or be able to rationalize it as being “so ugly that it’s cute!” But the majority of us would take a pass on that one.

So guess what colors the BreyerFest Bazaar Stablemate is?

Oh, my. 

Actually, I think Navya’s cute, and definitely not the ugliest Breyer ever.

Two things are working in his favor. One, he’s on the new Stablemate Cob mold Django, and I like him a lot. He’s a little narrow chested, but otherwise I don’t see any especially egregious about him conformationally.

(I’m sure there’s something wrong, but I’d rather not go down that well today. Or any day, really.)

And he’s translucent! Translucency makes everything better, regardless of color or mold type. 

Like last year’s funky Orange, Brown and Lime Green Silver Pegasus, I have no worries about Navya not selling out. Collectors and Hobbyists tend to be more forgiving of oddly-colored Stablemates, since the financial commitment tends to be small anyway.

Since he’s only the second release of the Django mold, I suspect that a not-insignificant portion of them may sell as bodies, too. The original Stablemates Club Django is still selling pretty briskly at well over his original 20 dollar issue price, so 8 to 10 dollars for a scarce new Stablemate mold will seem like a bargain.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


I wasn’t holding out much hope for the flea market this weekend – the weather reports were a bit iffy, and that tends to depress the turnout – but look who showed up in the last aisle during my last walk through…

… a mid-1960s Matte Bay Clydesdale Stallion with gold bobs and big handpainted eyewhites! He has just a few minor condition issues – slight yellowing, a couple of nicks, eartip rubs – all the usual stuff you’d expect in a fifty year old model, and what other hobbies would classify as desirable “patina”.

(He was actually a little more suspect-looking at the flea market, but he managed to clean up better than I expected.)

Desirable is definitely a word to describe him! He’s such a pretty boy I am tempted to keep him – I’m almost certain that I don’t have this particular variation in my multitudes of Bay Clydesdales, and his shading is outstanding – but I have a lot of things on my plate right now, and I haven’t had the time to cull the herd for potential sales items as I planned.

I am not letting him go for a lack of fondness for the release: none of my other Bay Clydesdales are going anywhere. It’s just easier to let more recent arrivals go, especially this close to BreyerFest.

There is also the issue of space: there is only so much room in the house for variations. (Perish the thought!)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Native Divers

I have a lot of stuff I need to get done over the long weekend – mostly, but not entirely model horse related – so my Internet time will be even lighter than usual through Tuesday.

Look who I found while digging through some of my storage boxes this week, looking for something else – my Matte and Gloss #921 Native Divers!

I bought these two at a local Toys R Us back in 1995 – right after they were released. That particular store was actually a little bit out of my way, but I made it a point to visit whenever I was in that part of town because it had a reputation for getting oddities.

Both the Gloss and the Matte were sitting on the shelf together; since I had no idea which one was the “official” version (I didn’t have a catalog on me, and I couldn’t recall hearing about any variations) I eventually surrendered and got both. Just to be safe.

The Gloss is much more obvious in person, though it is more in the thin/wet style that sits on the edge of Semi-Gloss, rather than the thick/deep style we’re more accustomed to now – and way back when. The Gloss one also seems to be a darker black than the Matte, who looks almost like a dark charcoal gray in comparison.

They’re not particularly flashy or eyecatching – as you can see, they don’t even have much in the way of shading or detail – but even though I’ve sold off a big chunk of my Phar Laps, these two guys are still here.

Just sentimental favorites, I guess.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New 'Bits?

The latest Web Special Acadia is beautiful, but I only entered once and did not win. He would have made a lovely husband to my Ruffian Goddess Athena, but it wasn’t something I felt I could justify going all-in for. I still want/need a Valegro, but I’ll have to wait for a more affordable one.

(The BreyerFest release Indu is still a contender.)

There are a couple of stores reasonably close by that are holding Spirit Fun Days in a couple of weeks. (Yes, I know I am lucky to have multiple stores to choose from!) If I’m not scheduled to work that day, I might go to check the new releases. Especially the new Traditional-scale Boomerang mold:

He reminds me of the pinto in one of the stashes of vintage photos I found last year:

So I could definitely see myself coming home with one sooner rather than later! (Especially if it keeps me from breaking out the paint and epoxy and attempting to customize my own.)

The “Small Sets” in the Spirit line intrigue me also. Here’s the Boomerang one, who (coincidentally) is the nicest of the three new Small Set molds, I think:

So, if I’m reading these details right – 3-inch riders, 4-inch horses – these are basically Little Bits scale? So after all these years Reeves is giving us three new, honest-to-goodness plastic Little Bits/Paddock Pals molds?

Sneaky, guys.

Nevertheless, I approve.

The last “official” Little Bits/Paddock Pal mold release was the Saddlebred, in 1985. Unless you count the Small Mare and Foal with the rooted hair in the same scale who debuted in 1997, but are usually associated with the Ponies line. Or the resin Breeds of the World pieces from 2012 that tend to be lumped in with the Gallery/Nonplastics.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Desi, The Rare Gem Twist

I really like the Open Show Reserve Prize this year, the Gem Twist Desi in Dark Bay Appaloosa:

While there are some scarcer-than-average Gem Twist releases – the Dark Dapple Gray 2002 QVC release, and the 2006 USET Special Run Exclusive Authentic come to mind – there aren’t a lot of rarities. Until the addition of Desi, the mold was a relatively easy one to collect.

It’s a moderately popular mold that I thought might have been a good candidate for the BreyerFest Surprise model this year, since there is hardly anything “colorful” in this model’s production past. Lots of room to experiment!

There has been only one other production run in Appaloosa (the #726 Gray Appaloosa Sport Horse in 1998-1999), and one in Pinto (the flashy #1705 Pinto Sport Horse 2013 Mid-Year release). The closest thing we’ve gotten to a Decorator was the very pearly Petsmart Special Run of Snowman, from 2005.

(My personal favorite!)

There has been a fair smattering of Test Colors, though.

The only other thing worth noting today – aside from the mold’s obvious USET connections, as a portrait of the legendary show jumper Gem Twist – is that when it debuted in 1993 it was the first Kathleen Moody mold designed for injection molded plastic. Kathleen’s earlier molds for Breyer included pieces in the Porcelain Evolution of the Horse Series, starting with the Icelandic Pony in 1992.

It’s hard to believe that Kathleen’s been doing molds for Breyer for 25 years now! And me so old I can remember when she was a mere mortal, like the rest of us.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Splash Cull

Because of recent time constraints, I was expecting to pull the bulk of this year’s sales stock for BreyerFest from the herd (just the usual edge and hedge trimmings, no worries) but my wonderful flea market has other plans:

A framed print of English Triple Crown winner Bahram, by Wesley Dennis, and a Cull(!) of the 1998-1999 release Splash, on the Quarter Horse Gelding mold.

The Gelding was part of a box lot that included ten Traditionals in various states of disrepair. He was only keeper in this lot, while the rest will fill out a body box that is on its way to being as deep as last year’s horde.

He was also the only “interesting” model among them – everything else appears to be garden variety Regular Runs from ca. 1998-2000. While he is not in the best condition, his color is pretty and all his limbs are still intact.

And he’s a Cull. That I found at a flea market 15 minutes from my house. That is about 12 hour drive from New Jersey.

How he got there is a mystery. The dealer wasn’t able to give me any information: he hadn’t even noticed it was any different from the others.

The most curious part of the story is that the rest of the models in the lot were from roughly the same time period.

While it was not unusual for some Culls to make it into retail store stock even at that late a date, it was usually pieces in a more finished state. The hooves, the eyes, or the mane and tail might not be painted, but it could have passed for a finished model otherwise.

Though this dealer certainly didn’t notice, so maybe the previous owner/s did not, either?

A couple of other possibilities include (a) a friend or family member worked at the factory in New Jersey, (b) this might be directly or indirectly related to the “newtoymens” factory escapees.

Or it could be one of those random weird and unexplainable thing that just shows up from time to time. This flea market seems to be good for that.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

USET Contest

Back in 1980, Breyer ran a subscription contest for Just About Horses, with different prize levels resulting in different awards. For fifty subscriptions, you got a Test Color!

In retrospect, it seems like a pretty fabulous deal: subscriptions to JAH at the time were a mere dollar. So you could have gotten your own personally designed Test Color for a mere fifty bucks! And at least one person did:

But of course, this was 1980: the average retail price of a Traditional Breyer Horse, according to a Bentley Sales Company flier dated May 1980, was $6.99. (FYI: for Classics, it was $4.99, and Stablemates it was $1.79. I know, I know…)

I didn’t enter this contest since most of my friends who were into live horses or Breyers at the time already had subscriptions, and my friends or relatives who weren’t wouldn’t have appreciated me asking.

Five years later, I managed to make it to Model Horse Congress for the first time, and acquired my first Test Colors. While I didn’t get to design them, they did cost me considerably less than fifty dollars. (Several of them combined, even. Again, I know…)

I have acquired many more Test Colors since then – so many that I’ve even had the luxury to sell a few – so the appeal of this kind of prize is no longer as strong as it used to be.

While I have had some ideas translated or incorporated into Breyer releases over the years, I’ve never had a Test Color designed by me for me. I simply can’t afford the “Design a Test” auction at BreyerFest, and the other opportunities have never really panned out.

But yesterday I got that e-mail from Breyer about the fundraising contest for the United States Equestrian Team Foundation - “to increase awareness of equestrian sports” – with the top fundraiser getting a “a custom Breyer® model” and “a framed Rio Olympic poster signed by the entire 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian Team.”

(That “custom Breyer model” being, of course, a self-designed Test Color under another name.)

This time around, I’ll go for it. The cause itself is a worthy one, and it doesn’t involve me annoying my family or coworkers into getting a subscription for a magazine they wouldn’t ready anyway. Even if I don’t “win” this contest (unlikely anyway), it’s still a win for USET.

All this means in the short-term (until the end of the contest in early June) is that I’ll have a link off to the side, and have a few more posts focusing on past and present Breyer USET releases in the interim. I’ve written about Breyer USET models a lot in the past – most recently during my trip to attend the Chasing the Chesapeake event back in October – and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I have even more to say about the subject.

What was funny was that while I was reading through that e-mail I was fixated on the illustration of the prizes:

The picture that they so helpfully labeled “sample model” is actually one of those Sample Valegros that I am slightly obsessed about! I’d be just as happy with one of those as with any Test Color I could design, though I wouldn’t turn down a Test Color, if the opportunity arose.

It’s also worth noting – and most likely, a coincidence – that that first Breyer contest with a Test Color prize took place the same year that Breyer’s USET Gift Set debuted.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The 2017 Man o' War

So that Man o’ War release is a Reissue – of the Classic Man o’ War:

It’s not too surprising that they went with the Classics mold. The Traditional Man o’ War has already been reissued three times before: as a part of the Sears Glossed Racehorse set in 1990, slightly modified and with a certificate through QVC in 2002, and at the 2010 World Equestrian Games with hangtag and accurately masked facial markings.

Since this is a release being marketed as much to casual hobbyists, tourists and the general public as to us (it was no coincidence that the formal announcement happened right around Derby Day weekend) it was unlikely that they’d make some odd Glossy or Decorator-styled thing that would appeal only to us.

The Classic mold has never been reissued before – sort of. He was a part of at least a couple Christmas Catalog sets during his lengthy run (1975-1990), most notably as a part of the Sears 1975 Famous Race Horses Set with that fabulous box:

The original Classics release, like its bigger brother, came in a host of color variations.  There are least three different facial markings – the early straight blaze, the common broken stripe, and the late irregular star – and multiple gradations of Chestnut, from light orangey brown (usually earlier) to dark red (usually later).

The earliest examples of the mold also came without a mold mark, and boxes? Yes, in addition to the Christmas Shipper Boxes, the original Classics box comes in a couple different variations as well.

He has been released a couple of times in different shades of Chestnut, too: in 1991/2 as the #252 Pepe, with four high stockings; and in 1988 as Affirmed in the Triple Crown II Set, with an elongated star.

(And maybe the #288 Tumbleweed in 1997, depending on how pedantic your definition of “Chestnut” is.)

It’s hard to judge it based on the available photos, but the shading on the Classics Reissue seems quite different from the original Classic releases, and I am going to assume that the facial markings will be different also (more accurately masked?)

The only minor disappointment I have about the release is that it’s being treated, basically, as a Mid-Year release: it appears to be an open-ended run (no set quantity manufactured) and there’s no need for you to go to BreyerFest, or the Horse Park itself to get one.

On one hand it’s a good thing – it won’t be pricey or hard-to-get, like the WEG Reissue or the QVC Reissue – but it does feel a shade less special.

Unless they have something else planned just for us. I doubt it, but one never knows these days.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Box

I’ve been coughing up a lung for most of the past two days (my annual Spring cold came a bit late this year, bleh) so I don’t have much energy to do anything except comment on a photo Reeves posted on Facebook today:

I’m not quite sure what Reeves is doing by posting this picture now. While these cleanouts are something that they do on a somewhat regular basis, they haven’t so blatantly “advertised” it before.

They did an archive room cleanout a few years ago; we knew because they solicited hobbyists to come in and assist. Although we didn’t know for sure the items getting cleaned out would be in the Ninja Pit, if you were paying attention, it was a safe assumption to make.

It was a scarier than normal year in the Pit, especially when everyone saw the boxes and did the math.

For many years now they’ve intimated that they wanted to tamp down the enthusiasm for the early Friday morning line, though they have done only minimal or nominal effort in that regard. Although I don’t ever want to see it completely eliminated – people are going to line up, regardless, and there should be a least a token something for the faithful’s efforts – they need to do a little bit more than just passing out numbers and holding back a few goodies for later.

Posting a picture like this is definitely not going to help. Unless they have other plans, like Blind Bag Purchase Raffles or Grab Bags or something.

Just toss in a little card or letter congratulating the recipient on their “Archive Room Escapee”: Reeves makes money, collectors get a Sample with bombproof documentation, nobody gets a shuriken to the forehead, everybody happy….

(This could all be moot, though, if they’re just tossing them in the regrind bin. I don’t think they’d be that intentionally cruel.)

Saturday, May 6, 2017

A Tale of Two Ranas

I’ve been wanting to add a Desatado to my herd for a while now, but none of the more widely available releases have really clicked with me. The closest I’ve come is with the Web Special Orion in that lovely pearlescent Perlino Dun – one of my favorite colors – but what they’ve been going for is a little bit beyond what my budget allows.

There was an insanely cheap one on eBay about a month ago, but as April was shaping up to be a rough month for me financially (taxes, dentist appointment, a new radio for the car) I had to walk away from it.

Then Reeves surprises us with this beauty earlier this week:

Normally I’ve been skipping the disappointment of the Saturday Raffle to participate in the disappointment of the Costume Contest: effecting a costume change and getting from the Covered Arena to the Alltech Arena in less than an hour is challenging, and my odds of winning the Costume Contest are fractionally better than the Raffle anyway.

But, oh my goodness, this is the Desatado that I’ve been waiting for. In fact, it’s been a while since I’ve wanted a BreyerFest Raffle model as much as I want Rana.

The costume is already well underway, and buying Rana in the aftermarket will not happen, so I don’t quite know what to do.

The funny thing is that another horse named Rana is currently on my want list: the original Breyer #863 Rana, on the Sham mold.

This Rana also features an unusual color on a moderately popular mold: it’s the Traditional Sham, in what’s been described as “Blue Chocolate.” More precisely, it’s Reeves’ early 1990s interpretation of an unusual form of Black Silver that used to occur in Friesians.

(This was roughly the same era that gave us Clayton and the Majestic Arabian: obscure colors on inappropriate molds were a thing then.)

I’ve been wanting one ever since I saw friend’s example that was more Blue than Black. It was very similar, in fact, to the early Stone Horses “Turquoise” color.

The problem I have in acquiring that Rana hasn’t been a matter of cost, but degree: most of the ones I’ve found are more Charcoal Gray than Blue. While they are not unattractive, they are also not the models I want.

Even though I’ve set myself a rather unusual hurdle, it’s still more likely I’ll come home with the Sham rather than the Desatado. But after what happened last year, who knows?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Experiments vs. Customs

There’s another Test Piece Purchase Raffle up and I think she’s adorable, but you know I have a thing for Roans:

Being an older piece with a less sophisticated paint job and not mint, they really lay on the sales patter:
This lovely test is vintage late 1990’s, and features tape mask sabino markings, fine splatter roaning and a darker shaded head. She has four extensive stockings on her feathered legs, and a pretty blaze face. She is a beloved older sample in our archive room, and it is time for her to find a new loving home so we can make room for new test pieces! There are a few dark marks on her white legs and face, which can be seen when you zoom in on the images. We've decided not to attempt to touch up older test runs as we've found that this can alter their character and uniqueness.
Guys, seriously, you had me at “tape mask”. Behold, one of my own beloved Test Color treasures:

I think they (Marney?) used at least a half roll of masking tape on this boy! That took some serious effort and dedication, for what they knew was going to be a less-than-stellar result.

In all seriousness though, this is what an average Vintage Test Color – and the bulk of my Tests, in particular – look like. The BreyerFest auctions have accustomed many to the notion of a Test Color as a Factory Custom when they are, first and foremost, Factory Experiments. Experiments are not always beautiful, and do not always succeed.

As an historian, I find Experiments much more interesting than Customs. Judging from the commentary I’ve seen, it looks like a lot of hobbyists aren’t feeling the same way towards this little Clydesdale baby, who is pretty nice for a late 1990’s Test.

Based on what’s happened with all of the other previous Test Color Purchase Raffles, however, I don’t see that lack of enthusiasm translating into better odds for someone like me. I want her because I want her, not because of what I could get as a result of her.

But the laws of probability, alas, do not take that into account.

I’ll live. I have plenty of other Vintage Tests to keep me company.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Midnight Blue

It’s water over the dam at this point, but I wish Reeves had waited an extra day to post the Scotty offer. It doesn’t seem quite right that a lot of people who had to wait a day for their paychecks to clear on Friday found themselves out of luck.

The sellout would have still happened in roughly the same amount of time, but the distribution would have felt a little more even-handed.

The release of the newest Web Exclusive Mare and Foal set, Fiona and Rory, seems like small compensation:

This little bit on the web page is interesting:
Their inky coats shimmer with just a touch of midnight blue iridescence.
That’s something new! Or at least something I had not noticed before. (Like the fact that my birthday was also National Superhero Day. How did I miss that awesome fact for 20-some years?)

Reeves has been issuing Black horses with metallic or iridescent undertones for a while now; Gwendolyn came out in 2005, the Web Special Stock Horse Stallion Summer Solstice in 2009, and the lovely Weather Girl Thunderstorm in 2011.

All of those releases were more of a gunmetal gray, and not “midnight blue”. The photographs on the web site are not helpful: Fiona and Rory don’t look any different from the standard, solid Black seen on models like Rhapsody in Black, the Fell Pony Emma, or the Classic Standing Thoroughbred.

That means one of three things: the photographs depict Preproduction pieces without the added “bling”; the iridescence is subtle and/or hard to capture in photos (like a Chalky!); or the photos – like so many of Reeves’s other photos – just aren’t that good.

Experience tells us that the third option is the safest bet, but we won’t know until they start showing up.

It won’t be here, anytime soon: I didn’t order these either. The next time an obligatory Club purchase comes up, I’ll definitely give it some thought.

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!)