Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Trakehner Family

And… that upgrade isn’t an upgrade: it’s about the same condition as my existing piece, once I clean it up.

You’d think that after all those previous failed attempts to upgrade something good I already have into sometime great, I would have learned by now.

C’est ma vie. While I think I won’t lose any money on the deal in the end, I’ve managed to screw up sure things before.

In more cheerful news, I made some pretty good progress on the inventory over the past few days. I pulled out a few more duplicates and legit upgrades, a few scarcer pieces I really never fell completely in love with, and I’m in the process of sorting out some of my more obscure Classics.

A few of the Classics I’m letting go – more likes that never really turned to loves – but the “Trakehner Family” (from 1992-1994) is one set that’s sticking around:

There are a few reasons why. First, of course, is that there’s a Duchess in it. Second, the colors on all three molds are really well executed: the Jet Run looks especially good in Liver Chestnut, and the light, roany Dapple Gray is one of the prettiest colors the Duchess has ever come in, in my opinion.

And thirdly, it amuses me that this family was constructed from members of three completely different and unrelated “family” sets: Jet Run from the USET Gift Set, Duchess from the Black Beauty and Friends Set, and the Mustang Foal from the Classics Mustang Family.

That was borne out of necessity: this set came out at a time when there still weren’t all that many Classics molds, or at least not the variety we have today. Breyer had just started introducing new Classics molds right around this time – beginning with the Cheney Mestenos – after nearly a ten-year gap.

There was a slow trickle of new Classics molds after the Mestenos (the Western Performance Horses, some of the Nonplastics, the Draft Horse, and so on) but it’s only really been in the past ten years that we’ve seen a regular procession of new Classics molds.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Bear Family Gift Set Box

I’ve been feeling a bit unwell, the weather has been cold and wet, and every time I tune in the news it’s something upsetting: it is little surprise that all I’ve aspired to do for the past few days is hibernate.

Speaking of hibernation… here’s the not-often-seen Black Bear Family Gift Set box. I was working on my inventory earlier today and found myself stopping to admire it:

In 1973, Breyer discontinued the individual members of the Bear, Deer, and Cow Families, and reissued them the following year in Family Gift Sets. Unlike the various Horse Family Gift Sets that were also being issued at the time, the Nonhorse Gift Sets eschewed photographs and aimed for a more graphic look: they were basically very sophisticated, multicolored versions of the illustrated shipper boxes Breyer favored in the 1950s and early 1960s.

The more basic one-color illustrated shipper boxes continued to be used on bulkier items that were still shipped/sold in corrugated boxes (Wildlife and Cattle, mostly) and on some Christmas catalog items, particularly ones sold via the Sears Wishbook.

Most average/normal consumers preferred photographs to illustrations (heathens!), so this packaging experiment didn’t go far or last long. The original Bear Family Gift Set was discontinued in 1976, and the Deer and Cow Families eventually switched to more conventional boxes later in their runs.

This is a shame, because all three of those original boxes – and the Bear Family box, in particular – are really quite beautiful. If I had the time and the gumption, I’d scan them and blow them up to poster size.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Updates on the Duchess Project

Neither of my attempts to get something special outta Breyer worked this week (Moritz and the latest Test Color on Roy) so yep, I resorted to eBay again for a quick – and potentially profitable – fix. 

It’s a possible upgrade of something scarce I already have. I don’t have it yet, so the jury is still out on whether its actually going to be an upgrade, or profitable. Chances are likely neither, but better than my odds of ever winning a Micro Run or Test Color Purchase Raffle, so there’s that. 

Here’s another something I purchased recently that I was quite pleased with – the Red Roan version of the Duchess Western Horse and Rider Set: 

It was both on sale and on clearance at the local Tractor Supply: the whole shebang came to less than ten dollars, tax included! Score!

And right there is the main reason why I chose to collect the Duchess mold in the first place: it’s not a particularly hard or expensive mold to collect. Here’s a sampling of the others I’ve managed to acquire this year:

I think the Grey Thoroughbred Mare and Foal set is my favorite of this group; while it’s among the most common of the Duchess releases, the shading on this particular Duchess is especially lovely.

That all these sets are still boxed was not intentional. They just worked out that way. And the Grey Mare and Foal will be unboxed when the inventory situation is settled to my satisfaction.

I’ve discovered that one of the harder Duchess releases to find, ironically, is the Walmart Sunshine Stables/Sunshine Meadows re-release of that set from ca. 2012-2013. Other releases and re-releases in that series turn up with moderate frequency on the secondary market, still boxed, but the Grey Thoroughbred Mare and Foal re-release (#755481) is not one of them.  

It’s one of the few items where I am specifically looking for the boxed version, because it’s otherwise indistinguishable from the original release. 

Getting that set in a timely fashion is not a huge concern or high priority; I wrestle with enough frustrations in my life, and I am not going to add to those frustrations by actively chasing the unobtainable. It’ll come to me in good time, just like most things do. Eventually.  

Monday, November 13, 2017

Somethings Special

Most of my “big leads” on collections this Fall haven’t pan out – which is fine, since I wanted to focus on cutting back on my existing inventory anyway – but a few more strays are still managing to make their way here, including this lovely set:

The Tractor Supply Special Run Prince Plaudit Family! See, told you that I’d find a set locally, eventually. I just wasn’t expecting eventually = a few weeks later.

(Funny how that “trick” never seems to work on Decorators or rare Woodgrains!)

I am now somewhat relieved that the Calvins were finally taken off the Breyer web site. I did feel a twinge of regret when I noticed they were gone (they are not technically sold out, just gone) but I’m glad my patience and cheapness paid off.

Here are a couple more recent acquisitions, made mostly because (a) I had money in my Paypal account, and (b) my continued lack of success with Micro Run drawings makes me cruise eBay in search of… something special.

Rare? Weird? Didn’t matter. Didn’t care. I think I did okay!

The first thing you will undoubtedly notice is the Transitional Saddle, correctly placed on a Western Horse this time, and who has a sticker!

We’ve already surmised from the existing evidence that the Transitional Saddles were from ca. 1966-1967, which is also around the same time period the small version of the Blue Ribbon Sticker was used (ca. 1966-1968). While there’s nothing “new” to learn here, it’s a nice confirmation to have. The Western Horse has some conditions issues, but whatever. Not a deal breaker in this house.

And the other? That is a Grazing Mare variation with no black points on her front legs!

Considering how long the Bay and Palomino Grazing Mare ran – from the mid-1960s through most of the 1970s – you’d think there’d be more variations out there, beyond the requisite Chalkies. But Breyer was remarkably consistent painting the original Grazing Mares through the years.

Occasionally you’ll find a Palomino with a solid face, or a Bay with four stockings instead of two, but they are fairly scarce. Even the Chalkies for those two aren’t all that easy to find.

So even though her variation is a bit on the subtle side, and she’s seen some play wear, I just had to have her.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Brown Bear Mama

I was quite pleased to finally upgrade my Brown Bear Mama recently:

And the best part – she has a Blue Ribbon Sticker, too! Not a common thing to find on the Breyer Bear or Cub, since they don’t have much in the way of smooth surfaces where stickers could stay stuck.

The original release Bear Families (both the Brown and the Black) were one of my first “big” flea market finds back in the day – that day being in 1982! My family thought I was a bit nuts.

(These are not horses. Why is she buying these things that are not horses?)

Well, for one thing, they were one of my earliest Nonhorse purchases, and old ones, too. The original Breyer Brown Bear and Cub – numbers #307 and 309, respectively – were only available from 1967 through 1971. The Black Bear and Cub lasted through 1973 as individual releases, and then as a Family Set through 1976.

Even though they were relatively “rare” they weren’t all that expensive or desirable, which was another plus for me. Old, Scarce, Exotic, yet Affordable: that was a pretty potent combination for a budding Breyer Historian!

I could upgrade or collect variations as I pleased, and not worry too much about prices or competition. While they’ve never been a high priority in my herd, I’ve managed to keep up with the releases over the years, until recently.

I still need to get the Walmart Mustang set with the Cub, and the releases from the early 2000s. None of them are hard to get: newer, shinier things always seem to come up first and get in the way.

The Silver Charm Kodiak and Denali from BreyerFest 2014 also took a bit of wind out of my sails, dashing my hopes of completing my collection: I wasn’t lucky enough to get that set, and cheapskate me certainly can’t afford the aftermarket prices.

The Brown Bear was in the roughest shape of my original four: the timing, the price, or the condition never seemed to line up properly to allow me to upgrade her. Until I was cruising for some price comps on eBay a few weeks ago, and on a whim I decided to do a bit of Bear shopping.

And there she was!

There’s also one other thing worth noting about this particular Bear: take a look at the gigantic factory molding goober on her leg where the mold mark normally is. (One corner of the mold mark is just barely visible.)

While a flaw this large usually sends a model straight to the regrind bin, the fact that the mold already had a roughly textured finish (and was not a horse!) probably allowed it to pass QC.

It’s also interesting in that it’s more evidence to the contrary that everything was so much more awesome back in the Chicago days, quality-wise.

Everything else about her is great, so I see it more as an odd little quirk than a flaw.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Funky Dappling: A Love Story

By the way, that hunch I had didn’t quite play out – there were no softly dappled Hwins at the store I went to last Wednesday night. Then I made the mistake of going to the Tractor Supply down the road, and guess what I found?

Not one, but two Chalky Hwins!

Normally I’d just buy the one and leave the other for someone else to discover, but as you can see, they are completely different. It was getting late and I have to get up unbelievably early for work, so I bought the both of them in hopes of making the decision later on.

The weekend has come and gone, and I’m still not sure which one I want to keep. Do I go with the darker one with the nicely executed polka-dot dapples, or the lighter and more Matte-finished one with the seriously askew dappling?

You’d think it would be a relatively easy decision, but it’s not. Well, not for me!

Unlike the rest of the hobby, I do not have a reflexive dislike of the newer, hand-airbrushed dappling technique. The ratio of good to bad to meh isn’t really all that different from the random resist dappling technique that was the norm prior.

You had beautiful ones. Terrible ones. Weird ones. You had lacy dapples, cornflake dapples, dapples in the mane and tail. Some were beautiful, some were awful, and some were just weird. But most of them were simply unmemorable.

A few years ago when they had some leftover Aintrees – the Dappled Rose Gray Cigar – in the Ninja Pit at BreyerFest, I almost purchased one that had to have been one of the worst hand-dappling jobs ever.

It was so bad it almost touched the philosophical definition of sublime. I am terrible at doing dapples and not all that handy with an airbrush, and even I could have done a better job. In the dark. Wearing oven mitts. It almost looked like a piece that was done to show the painters what not to do.

Terrible, yet still memorable: every now and again I’ll walk past the Aintree I did buy in the NPOD that year – a gorgeous Sample with subtle dappling and handpainted gray hooves – and lament that I didn’t rescue his terrifying yet strangely compelling brother.

Hence, my hesitation at leaving the second Hwin behind. She’s not quite as terrible as that Aintree was, but the combination of being a scarce Chalky variation with bad dappling is giving me serious pause.

I don’t think I can afford to keep both, though. I planned on listing a bunch of stuff in various places over the next few weeks, so I’ll see if it’s possible to make room for them both.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Some Early Speculation on 2018

According to a flier now circulating the Internet, next year’s BreyerFest Celebration Horse is going to be Brass Hat, on the Carrick mold: http://www.brasshat.us

That’s pretty much what I expected the Celebration Horse to be: a former racing Thoroughbred now living a very active retirement. On the Carrick mold!

While it feels a little unusual to get a picture of the prototype this early – nearly two months before tickets even go on sale – it shouldn’t. When you think about all the Special Runs they have to crank out in time for BreyerFest (lately they’ve been averaging about 30 distinct releases, not including the Gloss Prize Models), it only makes sense that they’d get the ball rolling as soon as possible.

Other than thinking about non-Thoroughbred racing breeds – Arabians, Standardbreds, Appaloosas, Quarter Horses, Orlov Trotters, Finnhorses et al – I hadn’t given much other thought to what we’ll be seeing in Kentucky next year, until now.

What would I like?

A Pacer, of course: preferably in a Roan or Tobiano Pinto. Gloss Dappled Black would be pretty sweet too, but I’d take that paint job on almost anything.

I’d also accept a new release of Sarah Rose’s popular resin Hambletonian.

I really, really want an Orlov Trotter of some sort: twelve-year-old me found them so exotic and pretty, and even now I still pine for one. I don’t know what currently existing mold would be most suitable however, and this is one release where I would definitely have to go picky on the execution of the dappling.

While we’re likely to see an Appaloosa in the Surprise SR mix, something that honors or commemorates Stud Spider in some way would be awesome: not only was the real horse a racing Appaloosa, it’s the mold’s official 40th anniversary next year. (Well, technically: the Gift Set was available in the 1977 JC Penney Christmas Catalog.)

A Reissue of the Sham would be fun too, especially if it comes with a Grimalkin on a Companion Animal cat. Sham is popular, the Companion Animals are popular, and the Dally and Spanky set was a big hit this year. And if the Sham comes in the correct shade of Golden Bay, even better.

Alternatively, they could just give us a Grimalkin release on the Kitten mold as the Nonhorse release! Or maybe a “Barn Buddies” Store Special Gift Set featuring one of the cats, one of the dogs, and the Goat.

I don’t know what they’d do for a Quarter Horse release. The first thought that entered my head was a Smarty Jones, since I believe the mold was planned as a racing Quarter Horse in the first place. Put him in a pretty Dilute or Dun, and I would totally be on board.

On the other hand, I could go on forever about potential Thoroughbred releases. Some of the releases I’ve fantasized about include a 12-piece Stablemates set featuring all the Triple Crown Winners, an Ageless Bronze Traditional Man o’ War to commemorate the statue at the KHP, or something honoring the famous Hungarian racehorse Kinscem.

Oh, and I want to see a return of the #36 Racehorse: in almost any color, I don’t care. They could use up whatever bodies they have left knocking around the warehouse, and that should cover the 12 to 15 of us who’d actually want one. (Gold Charm/Gold Chestnut would be great. Just putting that out there.)

The last larger-scale production BreyerFest Special Run on the Ruffian was 2007’s very popular Gloss Appaloosa Heartland. She would be my first choice as the Surprise Special, with either Giselle or Strapless as my second choice.

We’ll also likely see at least one SR on a recent Premier Club release, so I hope that’s True North. I’m not too fussy on the color or finish: I find him adorable and all of the existing releases are utterly unaffordable.

So that’s what I’d release, if I were in charge. Maybe add in a racetrack/companion pony into the mix, and another hunter/jumper for the OTTBs.

Whether or not we get any of this is another matter entirely. My prediction track record (no pun intended) has not been so great lately.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Bandit and Kohana

Funny how the flea market season ends, and things only seem to get busier around here!

I found two more of the lightly dappled Hwins at another store in the same chain I bought my original Hwin in; I left them there because, alas, I’ve been cruising eBay quite a bit over the past couple of weeks to do “research”, and the fun money fund is a little depleted.

I might take a trip to the third easily accessible one tomorrow to confirm my hunch that this chain struck gold again, getting a higher-than-normal average of the lightly dappled variations in their shipments.

On Thursday I’ll swing by another store I know has some leftover Markuses, just because I’ll be in the neighborhood and I want to look.

And sometime this week I might be picking up a few pieces off Craigslist.

Since I’m feeling a bit under the weather today, here’s another picture of another BreyerFest find this year – the Bandit and Kohana set from 2002:

They were in a box that was literally dumped in front of me in the Ninja Pit Saturday afternoon – though not intentionally or for me specifically. I think.

(Reeves has more recent pictures of me than my friends or family do, so I have a not-completely-paranoid suspicion that everyone there already knows who I am and what I look like.)

It may come as a bit of a surprise, considering how popular those two molds are today (especially the Wolf!) but the Bandit and Kohana set didn’t sell all that well when it was released as a BreyerFest Special Run back in 2002.

The Special Run lineup was pretty star-studded that year – including two Porcelain Stablemates, a Glossy Buffalo, and a Silver – so they sort of got lost in the shuffle.

It did not help that the Companion Animal line had only been introduced in 1999. While we were certainly thrilled to have a line of true Traditional-scaled animals back then, it was probably a bit too soon to throw a BreyerFest Special Run set at us in 2002.

This year, one of the briskest selling items at BreyerFest was the Store Special Dally and Spanky Set, featuring a Companion Animal Jack Russell Terrier. It had the same number of pieces (750) but sold out by shortly before they tossed the long leftover Bandit and Kohanas on the table – in the empty spot where the Dally and Spanky Sets used to be, in fact!

I thought that was pretty funny. How the times change...

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Strike Outs

Whenever I set a goal for myself, I tend to set a backup goal, just in case the first one doesn’t work out. I am always working toward the primary goal, but if the opportunity arises to achieve the backup, I go for it.

Generally, my success rate is about 50/50: one or the other gets completed, but I’m never sure which one, until it happens.

This year one of my Breyer goals was work on my Duchess collection; while I’ve managed to make a few nice purchases here and there, the backup Breyer goal snuck up on me and completed itself.

That goal was finishing my Pacers.

Aside from the QVC Niatross release (who is kind of hard to find with the original box and paperwork, which is what I would prefer) and the Exclusive Event Praline (unaffordable), all that’s left are upgrades and a few minor variations. A Test Color would be nice too, but I have a Quarter Horse Gelding used to test the Dan Patch paint job, so I suppose that’s close enough.

In the midst of catching up on my inventory, I finally had the opportunity to compare and contrast my Reissue Strike Out with my newly-acquired Original Release. The Reissue is on the right, and the Original Release is on the left:

The subtle difference in the color, and the issue of the VIN number (the Reissue has it, the Original does not) were already known to me, but I what really struck me were the differences in the head details.

The Reissue has a dark muzzle and a glossy black handpainted halter, while the Original Release has a much lighter muzzle and a matte black airbrushed halter. Neat!

As for my lack of difficulty in completing this collection, I have to say that I was fortunate to be around when all the “rare” Pacers were originally released, and purchased most of the others when the rest of the hobby wasn’t as keen on him. What I had to add here was a handful of common pieces I had not bothered to acquire before because other distractions kept popping up.

He’s still not all that popular, though I suspect his stock will rise a bit next year with a racing-themed BreyerFest. (There better be a Pacer somewhere in the Special Run mix next year. Right, guys?)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The End of the Season

The past few Octobers have been a bit of a wash at the flea market; aside from the weather becoming colder and more unpredictable, the vendors start tailoring their merchandise – and their prices – more towards tourists than regular customers.

Happily, that wasn’t (entirely) the case this past Sunday:

I could have brought home even more, but since I wasn’t expecting to find much, I didn’t bring much! There were a lot more books especially, but I wasn’t in a mood to haggle, and my sales stash is looking pretty good anyway.

The Breyers are all body quality, the Royal Doulton Pekingese and Norcrest Horse Head are from the same vendor who’s been supplying me with the quality Clinkies this year, and the Monty Roberts book is signed. Not shown: some groceries, a couple heads of cauliflower, and a big shopping bag of vintage quilting fabric.

Oh, yes, that really is an authentic, race-worn jockey’s helmet and cap.

It’s my size, too, because of course it is.

I have to admit there was some trepidation about buying that. It was not about the price – it was actually pretty cheap – but the pain and suffering that will inevitably follow.

I’ll interpret it as some sort of sign that I need to incorporate it into a costume idea for BreyerFest, because next year’s theme is “Off to the Races”, and it’s not every day that a jockey’s helmet and cap just shows up at the local flea market for cheap.

I’ll get all excited about it, and after finally come up with a “good” idea, spend way too much time fussing over the details. Then I’ll show up early, dressed to impress, and inevitably lose to someone(s) who either slapped their costume together at the last minute out of construction paper and duct tape, someone who’s costume is only tangentially related to the theme, or someone wearing almost exactly the same thing as me but not me.

And then my picture will show up either on the Breyer web site or their Facebook page.

Hey, it’s October. This is how I get in October. Winter is coming and I’m not a fan.

The latest Test Run Raffle thing – a Freckle Red Roan Quarter Horse Gelding – is also not helping. Another dangling carrot, so shortly after Cornelius?

Dialing back the depress-o-meter a bit, the flea market itself was a treat, a weird and mostly happy close to a weird and mostly happy season: there was no spontaneous karaoke, but there was a (taxidermied) Bobcat, a (live) Catalina Macaw, and some guy walking around with not one but two swords strapped to his back.

I was tempted to grab one and yell “There can be only one!” But I figured that fantasy was best left inside my head.

(I totally could have taken him, though. You know that, right?)  

Sunday, October 22, 2017


In case you were wondering if the evaluation of my finds earlier this week was correct (i.e. as a preemptive consolation prize for not getting Cornelius), it was.

I know I am in the minority here, but I still think doing purchase raffles for Micro Runs is a bad idea. Partly because I’m pretty sure it means I will never win one ever again, and partly because I do not enjoy watching the parade of ransom notes masquerading as sales ads that follows.

Rather than make myself angry, I’ve spent most of the past couple of days off the Internet, enjoying the last genuinely nice weekend of the year and working on some particularly vexing sewing projects. And unboxing some of the recent arrivals:

It’s funny that I passed up the Bear models when the surplus was shipped off to Tuesday Morning a while back, but I had a much harder time resisting the Reissue – even though, technically, the Reissue has even less detail than the original release!

(No painted horseshoes, chestnuts, or belly stamps, in case you missed them.)

Some of it, obviously, is a response to its relative rarity: there are going to be fewer of the Reissue than of the original release.

I don’t think they’ve ever officially released quantity numbers for any of these Warehouse Finds, but it’s generally been assumed to be fewer than 1000 pieces each – and sometimes significantly less. (This, in part, is based on an early hobbyist hack of the ordering system than Reeves has since fixed.)

Second, and in spite of the winking web site conceit, most of the Warehouse Finds aren’t really old stock, newly rediscovered: they’re older bodies, newly painted to look like the older releases. They are Special Runs in all but name. Special Runs, even relatively common ones (anything over 500 pieces, in this day and age) still carry a certain cachet.

And third, well, have you seen the prices Bluegrass Bandits have been going for lately? It’s hard getting a body quality one for under $30.00! Buying the Reissue seemed a safe bet, financially.

Incidentally, the flea market was great this weekend, too, but I’ll get around to those goodies later in the week.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Necessary Treasures

The flea market has been mostly a wash the past few weeks, but darn it all if the rest of the retail market is trying to make up for it. First up:

Yes, I managed to swing by one of the local participating stores yesterday, and they still had a Markus on the shelf. He’s obviously not the best of the lot – he’s got mane masking issues, like a lot of them seem to do – but considering I didn’t think I’d score one at all because of my work schedule, I am perfectly okay with that.

I’m not 100 percent sure he’ll be staying – that’ll all depend on what other necessary treasures Reeves decides to foist upon us through the end of the year – but until further notice, he’s here.

The Bubble-dappled Gray Stock Horse Mare and Black Tennessee Walker/Bear Reissues, along with the latest Stablemates Club release, are also on their way. It appears that the web site photos of the Warehouse Finds are more or less accurate, and these “reissues” are as different from the original releases as we suspected.

In other words, if you’re a fan of one of these molds or releases, go get ‘em! (FYI: discount codes work on the Warehouse Finds. So if you got one, use it.)

Oh, and this thing happened earlier in the week:

On the way home from work one day I decided to swing by one of the more upscale Salvation Army Stores, ostensibly to see if the vintage fabric that piqued my interest the week before was still there. (It was – and it was on sale!)

I had also noticed that this same store had received a fairly high quality figurine collection donation – including a (sadly, broken) Boehm. There was nothing that had to come home with me during the previous visit, but since I was there again for the fabric I thought I’d take a quick swing by the scary-clown-and-Precious-Moments section of the store to see if they had put out any fresh stock.

And obviously, they did! So in addition to the fabric, I came home with a Zsolnay Hedgehog and an early DW Hagen-Renaker Mallard Hen with extremely crisp detail.

So my luck with both Hagens and Hungarian porcelains continues!

(As for why there are so many Hungarian porcelains to be had, this area of Michigan has one of the highest percentages of people of Hungarian descent in the U.S., including me. I haven’t been to Hungary myself to visit the alleged family castle, but maybe someday.)

I’m just going to take all of these goodies as the Universe’s pre-emptive “so sorry for your loss” consolation gift stash for the latest Micro Run Cornelius, on the Brighty mold.

I’ve been trying to remind myself that I am not a fan candy corn. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s one of the candies served in the waiting room to Hades, along with Circus Peanuts, Spearmint Leaves and Ribbon Candy. 

But I am pretty sure I am still going to be disappointed anyway.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Pendulum Swings

And the hits keep on coming…

… though Fletcher doesn’t technically come out until next year, being the first Collector’s Club Special Run for 2018. This is just a pre-order announcement.

It’s interesting that they’re offering him in both Gloss and Matte, since offering that option with some of the Premier Club releases has led to some difficulties, especially when people start making returns.

Glosses run out, Reeves offers Mattes, people get indignant when that happens and then stomp over to their favorite corner of the Internet to gripe about what an incompetent bunch of doody-heads they are for not obviously making the entire run Glossy, because duh.


Part of the appeal of Gloss Finishes – separate from the “Ooh, shiny!” factor – is that it has been traditionally associated with Vintage models, especially the scarcer and more desirable releases of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The thing is that Gloss does not automatically mean rare. In many cases, it’s the Matte-finished variation of a Vintage model that’s the scarcer one. How many times, for instance, have you seen a #43 Matte Palomino Western Pony? Or a #71 Matte Walking Horned Hereford Bull?

(I got the former purely by accident, and finding the latter took… years. And years.)

And as far as desirability goes, Breyer gradually phased out Gloss in the 1960s due to collector demand for more realistic-looking models. Liking Glosses in the 1970s and most of the 1980s put you in the minority camp, for sure.

In other words, the pendulum swings. (Speaking of, someday I shall tell you about the BreyerFest where I walked around the hotel and bought every decent Chalky I could find, because nobody else was really looking at them at the time…)

I like a beautiful deep Gloss as much as the next person (that QVC Gloss Bay Justin Morgan Sherman is staring at me right now from behind my monitor) but some models look just as good – or better! – in Matte.

So I am fine with both options on Fletcher, though my initial reaction was tilted a bit in favor of the Matte. My guess is that it’ll be the scarcer of the two finishes too, but that’s only an incidental consideration.

I’m not sure if I’ll even be ordering – it’ll all depend on how well my holiday sales go. It’s a good thing they’re giving us until the end of November to decide.

Friday, October 13, 2017


And here comes another batch of goodies from the latest shipment from China…

I’ll probably be passing on the new Collector’s Club Special Run Cleveland Bay Griffin, though. It has less to do with whether I like the mold or the color (I like both, actually) and more to do with budget priorities, and space.

But mostly space. All three of the Cleveland Bays that I own currently are in storage because he’s a giant shelf hog. I can’t even think of adding a fourth until I finish the inventory/reorganization here.

Or much of anything, really: some of the deals I have passed up on eBay over the past few weeks have been killing me! And Markus is looking increasingly unlikely, simply due to logistical issues. And collectors losing their gosh-darned minds over the newest-hottest thing.

Older Brick and Mortar Specials are not that difficult to find in the aftermarket, and their prices have also not veered too far off their MSRP prices. The only exception to the rule has been the Sahran, but that is primarily because the Ashquar mold has not had a Regular Run release yet. Once that happens, I think his price and availability will fall back within the normal range for this category of Special Run.

As will Markus. Though I do not think we will have to wait as long for a Regular Run release of the Shannondell mold.

But back to Griffin. He is very similar to the 2008 JC Penney Special Run Palomino, who has a loose mane, no dapples, and different markings:


They really do like doing multiple versions of the same or similar colors on this mold, don’t they? A bunch of Grays, a bunch of Bays, and now they’ve clearly moved on to Chestnut/Palomino.

I don’t have much else to say today; I’m still trying to clean up a bit of the fallout from that rather messy start to the week. After that, I’ll try to do something creative, because I really need it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Dapple Gray Stock Horse Mare: The Reboot

I’m a little short on time today (the past 24 hours – I can’t even, right now) so I can’t comment on the six new Warehouse Finds released today as a group. But this one piece though, I cannot let pass:

Technically, she’s a Reissue of the #761 American Quarter Horse Mare from 1999-2000:

…but with a somewhat different paint job. To put it modestly!

The Dapple Gray on the original #761 is quite realistically rendered, with smaller and finer dapples and extensive gray body shading. The “reissue” is more like the 1996 BreyerFest Volunteer Special Run Merlin – the Rearing Mustang, not the Resin Dragon Horse thing – in a form of Dapple Gray most of us would now classify as something in the “Decorator” family:

While Stock Horse Mare doesn’t have a huge fan base within the hobby, she does pretty well with the general public looking for a sweet, pleasant-looking Stock Mare. It’s no coincidence that she’s been featured in a number of Special Run Sets and Play Sets targeted toward those consumers, and always in strictly realistic colors.

Until today. It seems hard to believe, but this is the first intentionally non-realistic color on the Hess Stock Horse Mare.

And I love her so much. It’s like she’s covered in bubbles!

You have no idea how much I needed to see her today.

It was pretty tough not to buy her on sight, but budget says I better wait until the Stablemates Club piece gets released so I can save a couple of bucks on shipping. And maybe toss in the Black Bluegrass Bandit too, if that one is still available.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

QVC Justin Morgan and Candy Apple Bay

All those Calvin pictures are making it very hard to resist hitting the “Buy Now” button. And I’m really warming up to the Bay, which shouldn’t be a surprise, considering who is my favorite BreyerFest find this week:

A lovely Gloss Justin Morgan on the Sherman Morgan mold, one of the many Special Runs done for QVC in 2002 – and another one of my Saturday afternoon NPOD finds, box and all.

It’s funny that of all the Sherman Morgan releases that there have been – many of them being Decorators of the “over the top” variety – it’s this relatively sedate Gloss Bay that’s finally made me “get” him.

Or it could just be the color. One of the handful of Traditional Silvers that I’ve kept is the BreyerFest Special Run Valentino, who comes in almost the same shade of Glossy Shaded Bay.

I sometimes refer to it as “Candy Apple Bay” even though, ironically, I don’t particularly like Candy Apples. I’m more of a Caramel Apple person. (I am neutral on the addition of nuts, sprinkles or chocolate drizzle.)

I briefly considered putting him on my saleslist – I am dead serious about getting the horse pile up in the office under control, and almost no one is safe – but once I popped his box open again earlier this week, I knew he was a no-go.

I have only one other Revised Sherman Morgan mold – the 2014 BreyerFest Silver Filigree Celebration – but I doubt I’ll be going crazy trying to play catch up with the mold anytime soon. Too many of them are on the unobtainable side, anyway.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Calavera and Decals

It was too darn cold to go to the flea market Sunday morning, so I channeled that early morning energy into cleaning the office and reorganizing the storage boxes I ravaged my way through just before BreyerFest, searching for various pieces for assorted purposes.

And paperwork. There’s always paperwork to do!

While I didn’t get to see a Markus today, I did see a Calavera – the new Dia de los Muertos horse on the Ethereal mold. I was somewhat indifferent to the release initially – in terms of Decorator Ethereals, I don’t think much can top the BreyerFest Special Run Times Square – but the sample I saw at BreyerFest made me reconsider.

I had heard some horror stories about decal issues with the Calavera, but I didn’t see anything significantly wrong with the example I saw. There were the usual bits of overspray and rough edges you’d see on any of the more complex paint jobs, but the decaled areas looked clean and smooth to me.

I left him behind, for a couple of reasons. Aside from wanting to stick to my budget, future condition issues were weighing on my mind. Extensive decals are a relatively new decorating technique, Breyer-wise, and how well these models will age is unknown.

The earliest decaled Breyer, incidentally, was in the 1950s: some Breyer Canadian Mountie sets sport tiny Drewrys Beer decals on their saddle blankets. Whether it was a formal Special Run that was produced at the Breyer factory, or something that Drewrys cobbled together for their own promotional needs, I don’t know.

If Breyer did manufacture it, Drewrys would be one of a small handful of companies/licenses that have done/did business with both Breyer and Hartland. (Hartland did a lot of promotional beer signage, including Drewrys.) Another topic to add to the research list!

I don’t have the Drewrys Mountie, but I’d love to get one eventually: my step-grandfather was a delivery driver for Drewrys, way back when. You’d think our proximity to Canada would make finding Canadian Mountie memorabilia a little bit easier to find, but alas, this isn’t so.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Arrivals and Departures

The Calvins look great, the Goblins really do glow purple, and the Markuses are just arriving in stores, too. Alas, I won’t be in the vicinity of a Markus-participating store until Tuesday, at the earliest.

And then there’s the Premier Club Duende.

You already know I was not overly enthused by the arrival of yet another Andalusian to the Breyer line, when so many other breeds and types are underrepresented, poorly represented, or not even represented at all.

But as to the Duende mold itself, I think I still need a little more time to collect my thoughts. To be honest, I haven’t really had much time to give him much thought at all...

The biggest Breyer-related news of the week, of course, is not an arrival but a departure – that of longtime Breyer employee Kerstin Chalupa.

I probably knew of her a little bit before everyone else in the hobby only because my local post office had a habit of misplacing my Just About Horses on a rather frequent basis. So a month or two after the issue was mailed, I’d find myself call Kerstin again to get a replacement issue mailed to me.

(The local post office had no problems delivering any other of my periodicals. A most curious situation, it was.)

It was always a delight whenever I’d call Breyer about something else unrelated to the location of my current issue of JAH, and hear Kerstin’s cheerful voice on the other end of the line.

Aside from the fact that I knew that that meant whatever problem or issue I was having would be promptly resolved, it was also reassuring just to hear her familiar voice.

As some of you may know, I suffer from telephonophobia: it’s much better than it used to be, but you’re not going to get a phone call from me “just to talk” anytime soon!

Having someone familiar at the other end of the line is always a help, and a comfort. And now one of those someones at Breyer is going off to a happy retirement.

Don’t be a stranger, Kerstin – I’ll always take your call. Even just to talk!

Thursday, September 28, 2017


Nope Reeves, can’t make me…

I just can’t do it right now, guys. The budget says no to Calvin!

Actually, it’s more like my budget is laughing and then pointing out to me that if I really want one, I should just wait a few months when everyone who was hoping for the “Metallic Interference Blue” one tries to sell off the Bays and Chestnuts they got instead.

In the case of the previous Gambler’s Choice Classic Scotty, all three colors were more or less equally desirable: that was sort of the whole point of offering him as a Gambler’s Choice, since voting didn’t produce a clear winner.

However, the BIS Quarter Horse is not a Love Classic, and the only color that’s generating any real passion is the Blue one. (Am I the only one thinking that Metallic Interference Blue is going to be the next Silver Filigree?)

Don’t get me wrong: I’d love a Blue Calvin, too. I’ve done my share of futile blind bag groping at Tractor Supply, searching for the G4 Endurance Arabian. (When I’ve actually found any Blind Bags to grope. Sigh.)

But I really do need to focus on other things, budget-wise, and there are still a couple of recently purchased packages sitting here in the office that I haven’t gotten to opening yet, anyway. Including a grail, yeesh!

Incidentally, I am absolutely fine with the use of the Best in Show Quarter Horse; the original release’s scary bald face threw me for a loop, but the #931 Dark Bay Roan finally won me over.

Of the three “Best in Show” Classics – the Quarter Horse, the Arabian, and the Thoroughbred – it’s the Quarter Horse that’s had the most releases so far. Save for the original release and the Bay Roan, almost all of them have been Special Runs.

Only the 2010 Tractor Supply “Famous Sire” Series pieces are particularly difficult to find, though. I kind of regret not picking up the Appaloosa Prince Plaudit set when I had the chance. I’ve had some luck finding TSC Specials at the flea markets around here, so I won’t give up hope just yet.

Monday, September 25, 2017


I was doing so good this weekend: there wasn’t much at the flea market, I decided to pass on the darker Hwin and the Halloween Horse Goblin and its adorably cartoony germ-monsters (though that one was tough!), and so far no Chalky Hwins appear to have shown up at any of the local TSCs I’ve visited, yet. (More on that a little later).

But it was a long, rough day at work today, so on the way home I caved and bought that softly and lightly dappled Hwin at the local Family Farm and Home. I love how sassy she looks here: she’s obviously not giving lovesick Java the time of day!

Her other side is a little more dappled, but definitely less-so than the average Hwin. Just a couple of teeny touch ups and I’d definitely put her on my live show string, if I had one. (I am still thinking about that possibility, yes.)

It’s still too early to tell how scarce this variation – or the Chalkies – will be. Judging from the number of ones I’ve looked at so far, I’m thinking/hoping fairly scarce?

I would have bought her regardless, but it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

Incidentally, Family Farm and Home is a Michigan-based farm store chain that tends to carry a pretty decent selection of Breyers for the holidays – more than the average TSC. Remember when the first run of the Zenyatta release sold out at the Reeves warehouse just before the holidays, and everyone was scrambling to find her?

The then-local FFH in Richmond – not far out of my way, but not a direction I usually go to shop – had at least four cases of them sitting on the floor, still leftover after Christmas.

Then a few years back, the store up in Almont had at least a couple dozen S Justadreams on the shelf. I remember looking at them thinking to myself “Is this another Zenyatta situation? Should I buy one just in case?”

(Yes it was, and no I didn’t. D’oh!)

Anyway, that’s why I’m moderately excited about having one of these stores in town now: while they don’t tend to get exclusive Special Runs, their buyer obviously knows what they are doing! I’ll be checking out other FFHs for more as time and travel permits, mostly to determine if this Hwin is an aberration, or an indication of something else going on there, again.

All the Chalky Hwins that I have heard of or seen so far have been found at Tractor Supply stores, and there’s some talk that this is perhaps related to Chalky/Nonchalky situation that occurred with the 2015 Tractor Supply Special Run Jesse.

I think…maybe there’s a correlation? It could just be coincidental one: I am assuming that Tractor Supply’s purchases/factory shipments occur at the same time every year, and maybe it happens to be the same time the factory in China “chalks up” slightly flawed bodies to repurpose from production runs earlier in the year.

So, in other words, the Chalky Hwins might be a de facto Special Run for TSC, in the same way the Black 75th Anniversary AQHA Horses became a de facto Tuesday Morning SR. One of circumstance, not intent.

While I’d love to find one, I’m not going to go out of my way to find it. One Hwin is enough for now!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Infinite Variations in Infinite Combinations

The Breyer Fairy is just flat-out messing with me now.

While I was out running a few errands yesterday, I decided to make a quick stop at the new farm store in town – yes our little town has not one, but two farm stores that carry Breyers, don’t hate me – and guess what they had?

The other variation of the Hwin I’ve been looking for: a pale and very lightly dappled one. Of course!

So I’m just not going to get out of this week without buying something, is that it? (I have not bought either/any. Yet.)

I was planning on stopping by a couple toy stores in the next week (Markus hunting!), but now I’m afraid I’ll find a Chalky Hwin in one, and a Hwin with no dapples at all in the other…

But here’s a tale of me resisting temptation and showing some restraint when it comes to variations and such: so far I’ve only bought one of the Man o’ War re-releases!

They had a big pile of them in the NPOD at BreyerFest for me to choose from. Qualitatively, they were pretty much the same – I saw no glaring factory flaws or overspray. Most were more on the Matte side, but some were Semi-Gloss, too.

Circumstances made it impossible to judge relative rarity: it was at BreyerFest, shortly after the release had been released, and late enough in the day on Saturday that the sample I was working with was undoubtedly skewed. What if a big chunk of the Semi-Gloss ones were already sorted out and sold?

The safest bet would have been to buy both. But after briefly consulting with a few of my compadres in the NPOD, I went with the Semi-Gloss. It didn’t matter if he was the scarcer variation or not, he was the one that caught my eye (like that extra dark and Chestnutty Bandera!) so in my buy pile he went.

The release has been popular enough that if time and space opens up, I can get a few more.

But right now I am afeard that the space I’m trying to make in the house will now be occupied by Hwin variations.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Well, That’s Inconvenient

I guess it’s a good thing that there hasn’t been much at the flea market recently? Other than some adorable maneki-neko banks I found on a dollar table last week:

I’ve always wanted one – I even attempted to sculpt one in my Pottery class in high school – and now I have an instant collection!

And judging from the Java, they do work! 

(Incidentally, if I ever manage to snag some distressed Breyer Kittens for customizing someday, a Maneki-neko custom is high on the list. Along with the Silver Filigree, a Pink Panther, a Chartreux, a Glow-in-the-Dark Halloween Kitty…)

The problem now becomes: do I sell him, or sell someone else? The extra money would come in handy, but I haven’t been winning a lot of Web Specials lately, and rumored existence of “black panthers” are a local urban legend that I am very fond of. 

The plan for now is to sell someone else in his stead. I was already doing some herd culling anyway, so it’s just a matter of adding an extra one or two to the sales list, whenever work finally lets up for a moment and lets me do it.

In other news, I spotted the Tractor Supply Specials today, too. I wasn’t as impressed with the Lakota Black Beauty as I thought I would be – they were well-executed, but they not metallic or shimmery enough for my tastes. Silly me was hoping for something more along the lines of the BreyerFest Smart n Shiney or El Pastor Prize Model Sona. 

I found the Jacy Geronimo much more appealing in person: he had flea bites! If I happen to see an especially pretty one in my travels, or on clearance (not likely, here!) I will definitely consider it.

They also had the Mystery Surprise Stablemate Blind Bags, the same assortment as Cracker Barrel, apparently (save for the TSC-standard VIN numbers on their bellies, I assume). After a couple minutes of groping I was able to determine that none of them were the Metallic Blue Arabian, so that saved me a trip back to my car to get my wallet... 

One model I did almost pull my wallet out for was a Hwin. I’ve been doing a lot of shopping on this release; I want one that’s either exceptionally light or dark, or distinctive in some way. This one was: she was very dark, and her dapples were so insanely unrealistic – perfectly round, and covering every inch of her body – that it bordered on Decorator territory. 

I’ll be in that part of town again on Saturday, and if she’s still there, I don’t think my willpower will hold. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017


Like a good chunk of the hobby, I am also in love with Java:

I was hoping that they’d get around to that color/pattern, eventually. The Nokota Horse mold is an inspired choice of mold, too. It really suits him!

I am a little surprised that they decided to do a fifth member of this series, since most Web Special series only have four releases, generally. But the “Big Cats” Series was already unusual in that it was (or became?) a “yearly” series, much like the Christmas Silver Filigrees.

Is it by design, or a consequence of the complexity of the paint jobs? A little of both, I am guessing.

As I have only one official account, and space issues, and I’m trying to generate funds for the two train wrecks in the garage, the likelihood of Java coming home with me is slim.

I will not be completely heartbroken, as I was also thinking of cutting back a bit on some of the bigger/bulkier/more spatially challenging molds, and the Nokota Horse definitely falls in that category. If I get selected for one, that means someone else might have to go.

It’s not a coincidence that we’ve seen the mold so often as a non-boxed Special Run – he’s been a BreyerFest Raffle Model three times, an Exclusive Event model three times, and a Surprise Model. While other Breyer boxes can be adapted/repurposed to fit multiple molds, I believe that the Nokota Horse’s box is uniquely his own. And therefore is more expensive to get printed.

Oddly, he’s only been a “Web Special” one other time, the 2011 Cyber Monday Decorator Fall in Love. I thought it was more than that!

I’m sure he won’t be difficult to find a Java in the aftermarket, the same way the Zion and Moab set was – for a price. (The sheer number of those I saw for sale was giving me painful flashbacks to Marshall, no joke.)

If I don’t “win” one, I won’t be seeking him out.

I don’t think I’ll be getting out of the next few weeks without buying something, however: rumor has it that the Brick and Mortar Special Markus will be hitting stores this coming week, and my work schedule will take me past a few participating venues. I cannot not see him....

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Random Test Color Day: Appaloosa San Domingo

I’m tired, not feeling particularly well, work has been running long, and what little free time I’ve have over the past two days I’ve spent researching carousel horse restoration.

(The only decision I’ve made on them is that since Sparky is a Herschell Indian Pony, he needs to be painted like one – specifically, like the Brown Pinto Breyer Indian Pony, warpaint and all!)

So anyway, while I attempt to get caught up on my sleep, my bills, my mail and so on, here’s a random picture of a Test Color from one of Marney’s albums, for your enjoyment:

I have no idea where this San Domingo is, or what happened to him. I just happen to find his big old splashy spots very fetching right now. I have always preferred my San Domingos to be of the spotted variety – though I wouldn’t turn down one of those really scarce BreyerFest Special Run Buckskin Porcelains from 1999 if the price wasn’t too high…

There’s a nice old Appaloosa Gelding on eBay who has spots even bigger and splashier than that, but I am trying my best to resist the urge to bid. I doubt he will go very high, but I need fewer horses and more money right now, not other way around.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Cliff Diving 2: Sparky and Jules

Still trying to process this….

Yep, I bought two carousel horses, including the screamy guy I kind of fell in love with. His legs are a mess, but dat face! 

Technically, it’s more like pieces of two carousel horses, but the better and fancier horses went for better and fancier money, and the prices for these guys were in the “moderately desirable Web Special Run” range.

I still can’t believe I did that, though. It feels like I just bought two real rescue horses and now I have to make arrangements to get them taken care of, ahhh….

No, actually, feels more like last year when I took that chance on the Chasing the Chesapeake Event. I was mildly to moderately terrified at the enormity of the task ahead of me, but it turned out wonderful in the end.

This will too.

If this does anything, it will motivate me to do that serious herd thinning I’ve been putting off. Partly because I’ll need the money to get Sparky and Jules all fixed up, and also to make a place for them in the house.

(Can you guess who is who?)

I’ll also probably be abandoning a lot of my customizing and craft projects because cripes almighty, I just took on the two biggest craft projects ever…

(Not the quilts, though. Quilt projects are carpool-friendly.)

Breathe girl, breathe.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Literary Aspirations

The book sale on Monday was better than I expected – I ended up doing a nice little “restock” on my own sale books and added a few to the personal collection, including an older (but not a first edition) copy of Tschiffely’s Ride. It’s kind of beat up, and without a dust jacket, but I can live with that:

I know it’s still in print, but I’m a sucker for older editions: they tend to be cheaper than newer editions, and just as sturdy, if not more so. Chances are if I hadn’t picked it up, it would have gotten tossed into someone’s “decorative book” pile anyway, and that weirds me out to no end.

I’m not as averse as some are to using books in crafting (the “altered book” movement) but the idea of buying books strictly as decorative objects is not something I will ever be (or need to be!) into. If I’m going to have “pretty” books on the shelf, I want books that I would also want to read or find useful.

Another book in that stash was a more recent copy of Will James’s Smoky. I only bring it up here because I’ve been meaning to get the illustration that Chris Hess clearly modeled the Traditional Smoky on, because it’s not one easily found on the Internet:

(Not the best quality, I know…)

As to why Chris selected this pose and not the others, I’d suggest taking an online looky-loo at some of the other original Will James illustrations from the book: this pose was probably one of the easiest to adapt to injection molding!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Rising Above

I do not have much to offer today; I’ve spent most of my extended weekend cleaning and organizing things, with a little bit of crafting on the side to break the tedium.

It rained this morning too, so there are no fun new “finds” to overanalyze. This is for the best I suppose, with that carousel auction coming up next weekend, and a possible mini road trip later in the week for a garage sale.

So here’s a picture of one of my BreyerFest finds, a nice example of the 2003 BreyerFest Rugged Lark Special Run of The Lark Ascending. He was cheap, he was in mint condition, and he was signed. He didn’t come with his teeny-tiny “Certificate of Authenticity”, however.

The last year they handed out certificates for the larger run BreyerFest Specials was 2006. The practice is now reserved primarily for prize models; as much as the hobby loves and lives for its paper documentation, it was stunningly impractical to hand out certificates for models with piece runs in the hundreds or thousands.

I kind of wanted The Lark Ascending that year, but when I managed to get a really good place in the line for a change, the two porcelains – the Othello Galway Warrior, and the Stablemate Seabiscuit – took priority instead.

The Lark Ascending has been a backburner want since then. They did a nice job on his color, with extra shading and metallic undertones to add a bit of sparkle to what could have been another ho-hum Bay paint job. The more I saw him, the more I thought Yeah, I think I need that guy.

The release exists in that strange state of being both relatively rare (only 500 pieces) and somewhat undesirable (being on the Rugged Lark mold). While it wasn’t hard to find one for sale, finding one at a price I was comfortable paying was the real trick. Physical rarity alone is not, and should not be, a guarantee of an elevated resale price.

And then this guy turned up during my late Saturday CHIN shopping marathon, at a price I literally could not walk away from. Sure, he didn’t have his little certificate, but I have gotten used to coming home from BreyerFest without them.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Are You Serious?

I thought my budget was safe.

The flea market has been relatively uneventful, the pickings slim on the thrift store circuit, nothing’s out at my local Tractor Supply yet, the Tuesday Mornings were mostly cleaned out by the time I got to them, and even Craigslist has been quiet…

And then my brother shows me this ad, and my world gets turned upside down:


Are you kidding me?

A live auction with real, honest-to-goodness Vintage Carousel Horses that’s literally a twenty-minute walk from the house?

Gee, thanks again, Universe.

To give you some evidence of the seriousness of my desire to own the “ultimate” model horse, behold the cover art of the second (!) issue of my MGR Sampler, from 1995:

Now I find myself doing the math to figure out if buying one of the fixer-uppers is actually feasible. As long as I stay away from the Dentzel or the Greyhound I might be fine, right? (I have been eyeing the tragic, screaming pinto on top of page two. I think he needs me.)

Yeah, right. It’ll probably devolve into me taking lots of notes and pictures while I mutter cuss words to myself the moment every piece soars past my teeny budget. (They just bid HOW MUCH on that pile of horse parts? Are you ******* kidding me?)

I might not be able to afford one, but can’t not go, either. Carousel parts do turn up at the flea market and local antique malls from time to time, as there used to be a considerable number of amusement parks in this area.

It has been a while since I have seen a genuine carousel animal, though. (I think that one that did turn up around here ended up being spotlighted on an episode of Antiques Roadshow?) I cannot pass up the opportunity to see over a dozen for auction, so close to me.

It’s just more proof that I pretty much do live in the best model horse shopping zone in the U.S., outside of the Reeves Warehouse.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Tractor Supply 2017

This year’s Tractor Supply Specials offer an interesting contrast. We’ve got something old – the Traditional Running Black Beauty in Palomino, named Lakota:

And something new – the Geronimo in an Aged Gray, named Jacy:

(FYI: Neither one is technically available, yet. They are just on the TSC web site to get us all stirred up, obviously.)

Hobbyists tend to forget that the model-horse-buying public consists of more than just active hobbyists, and what the rest of the world likes and what we like rarely align.

Lakota is clearly designed with the rest of the model-horse-buying public in mind.

I see two big markets for Lakota. The first: someone who might feel nostalgic for the less sophisticated Breyers of their youth – he might not be popular now, but the original #89 Black Beauty had a pretty respectable ten-year run through most of the 1980s. The second: someone (young or old) who just wants a pretty palomino horse to gallop on their shelves, and for whom strict realism or accuracy is not that big a thing.

Jacy is a little more tailored to the active hobbyist market: a new mold fresh off a moderately well-received BreyerFest release, in a modest and realistic color. (The other widely available Geronimo is the Patinated Copper Decorator Bandera – an acquired taste, no disagreement there.)

If I were to buy one – this Fall is looking to be a bit of an expensive one for me, so the TSC SRs are a definitely not a priority here – the Lakota would get the nod. It’s not that I’m necessarily a huge fan of the mold (who is the very definition of a shelf hog) but the color looks lovely on him.

Like one of the 2010 Tractor Supply Specials – Templeton Thompson’s Jane, a solid Chestnut on the Stock Horse Mare mold – I fear I may be smitten once I see him. Darn it, Tractor Supply, why do you have to be right next door to the local Salvation Army store....

Friday, August 25, 2017


The past few weeks have been relatively quiet on the flea market/thrift shop circuit; just a few odds and ends, a magnificently garish late 1960s/early 1970s quilt top (with frog-themed fabric!) and these guys:

A Walker-Renaker Elephant and the 1999 Sears Wishbook Mustang. Both are damaged; the Mustang will be heading for the body box, but the Elephant will fit right in with my small, ragtag group of busted-up flea market Walker-Renaker rescues.

I’ve been good about holding off on retail horse purchases – yes, I (painfully) had to pass on the BreyerFest Leftover Kaalee – but the upcoming Brick and Mortar Special, a Liver Chestnut Loose-maned Shannondell named Markus, might break my resolve.

I really adore my BreyerFest Vahana; he’s going to be one of my “office horses”, once I get it reorganized. I don’t think he’d mind having a shaggy friend to hang out with!

If I happen to be near one of my local Flagship stores come mid-September I’ll probably pick one up, but I’m not going to go out of my way to get him. That seems like a reasonable compromise, yes?

Incidentally, this year at BreyerFest I helped out in the Hands-On Hobby booth, and I actually got to spend quite a bit of time with Shannondell’s “mom” Karen Gerhardt, who gave a sculpting demonstration on Friday and Saturday.

I showed up early on Friday to finish setting up my history display, and she had shown up early as well, so there were the two of us hobby “lifers” just hanging out backstage together at BreyerFest, no big…

It was a lovely, quiet moment before the chaos began.

History dork me was super-excited to see that she had brought the original cast of the Shannondell, too. I got to hear her talk about his creation and history, and issues with the casting/moldmaking process.

The best part was that Karen seemed genuinely (and rather adorably) surprised when I told her how popular the mold was, and how certain I was that Vahana was going sell out every time slot.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Forgotten Things

I’ve set out a huge task for myself this week – cleaning up the office! – so the next few posts will probably be a bit on the short side, as I hack my way through mountains of models and paperwork.  

Today I’ll wrap a couple more bits of nearly forgotten BreyerFest business... 

First, here are some of the lovely little tokens given to me at ‘Fest this year. The Latin textbook (yes, I collect such things) was from Linda Walter. For my fellow old farts out there, yes, she’s THAT Linda Walter:

Second, here’s a nice little CHIN find that I was surprised to find late Saturday night:

It’s an early No-Star version of the El Pastor! He was pretty cheap, too. He’s very similar to the Ratliff Farm Special Run Paso Fino issued ca. 1987 – the color on the SR is a little more brown than red, and it is missing the USA mold mark. 

Another important difference: the Ratliff Paso Finos still command decent prices, whenever they do come up for sale. (There were only 100 of them, so it’s not often.) While the fortunes of the No-Star variation of the standard El Pastor have apparently fallen considerably. To the point where I could get one for not much more than body price – at BreyerFest!

I would have thought that – in a year with an El Pastor prize model (Diorama prize Sona) – a relatively rare El Pastor like this would have gotten noticed and snapped up before I noticed him.

Then again, it does seem to take a while for the market to catch up – it took about a year for interest in the Western Prancing Horses to begin to rise, in the wake of the Vintage Club Lucky release. 

So I’ll just chalk this up as me getting ahead of the curve, again

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Burbank Color

My Fylkir arrived earlier this week. The Appaloosa!

Once upon a time I had a notion that the Stablemates Icelandic mold would be something that I’d actively collect. I haven’t gotten the 2013 One-Day Stablemate Indigo yet, but that was more a matter of timing and priorities, rather than money.

Then Reeves had to go and make him the Gambler’s Choice mold for the Stablemates Club this year.

I was absolutely fine with all four of Fylkir’s colors, but I was hoping that I’d get one of the “more desirable” ones, primarily to save myself some money. Alas, it appears – at least in the short term – that the Appaloosa is the least popular of the four colors.

That’s kind of a bummer, but I do have some big expenses coming up soon anyway, so I’ll chalk it up as the Universe’s way telling me the disposable parts of my income need to go elsewhere.

One thing I find interesting about the Appaloosa Fylkir is that it’s another appearance – second in a year, in fact – of the Burbank colorway: a dark-headed Bay Roan Appaloosa with a masked spotted hip blanket, first popularized on the Exclusive Event Nokota Horse release in 2008.

Earlier this year, we saw it again on the Collector’s Club Exclusive on the Classics Swaps mold, as one of the three available colors on Scotty. That I did not buy because (grumble-mumble) they didn’t make my favorite out of the quartet – the Dun – we voted on.

(Hmm. My favorite of the four Gambler’s Choice Diesels last year was the Gloss Brindle, who also ended up being the least popular of that set. I sense a trend…)

Anyway, it’s kind of neat to see a color “born” like this, especially since it arose out of a Special Run that was not that well received when he was released. Though I think that was due more to his relatively large run size for an Exclusive Event item, rather than any aesthetic issues.

I wonder who’ll be the next to wear it?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Vintage Custom Ruffian!

The fine folks behind VCMEC will be very proud of my latest acquisition:

Another vintage Judy Renee Pope custom!

Because the flea market has been so bountiful lately – and the possibility of a large and expensive purchase looming in the horizon – I’ve had to be stricter than average regarding my pony budget. But when I spotted this pretty little thing on eBay a couple weeks ago, I had to relent.

She’s in much better shape than the auction photos let on; I was worried that she might need to be rehaired, and custom-quality mohair is not an easy or cheap thing to find nowadays. Just a little bit of styling, and a few minor touch ups, and she’ll be shelf-ready in no time.

(Show ready? We’ll see.)

Incidentally, because of my work schedule I haven’t made much progress on my own customs; most of my free time has been spent in car pools, which is much more amenable to quilting than it is to customizing.

Here’s the Ponies body, next to his inspiration – a G2 Warmblood that I customized for the Diorama contest a million years ago:

My roommates that year can testify that I did 90 percent of the work on that little guy in the hotel room the week of BreyerFest, using the barest minimum of art supplies. Now to see what I can do with more time and better supplies….