Tuesday, October 16, 2018

And Now, A Nonadventure!

It’s October and all I want to do is hibernate! Alas, I have no time for that silliness.

Speaking of silliness, I suppose I should tell you about my desperate and ultimately failed attempt at trying to get on Antiques Roadshow earlier this year. To bring Breyers, or horses, or frankly anything other than rusty old Civil War guns and pawn shop guitars to the masses…

One of their shooting locations this year was less than 20 minutes (!) from the house, so I applied for free tickets.

Didn’t get drawn for them. I was not expecting to, but still annoying, and disappointing.

Then they made more tickets available. Didn’t get drawn for those, either.

Then they offered “free” tickets if you made a donation to the local PBS station. That was a no-go from the start, since the amount they were asking as a suitable donation was greater than my BreyerFest budget.

Then they offered tickets to people who could write a compelling enough essay about an object that they wanted to bring. There were a significant number of tickets available (150, I think?) and I can write things.

Surely I could thwart my lack of luck with the power of my words! So I did write ups on three horse-related items.

First, the large, hand-colored photograph I have of Midnight Sun. Aside from the strangeness of an obvious relic from Harlinsdale Farm turning up in a flea market in Michigan, I thought it’d also make for an excellent segue into educating the public about the ongoing efforts to save the breed from the scourge of the Big Lick. And I could bring a Breyer Midnight Sun as part of the package!

Nope.

Second, on the letter I have written by Wild Horse Annie to Marguerite Henry talking about the newly-released Breyer Hobo (among other things). One equine legend writing to another equine legend about a third equine legend (Breyer, ahem). Aside from the sheer uniqueness of the letter, I could also have brought along a Classic Hobo and possibly other Marguerite Henry-inspired models for illustrative purposes.

Nope on that one, too.

Third, I wrote about the horse-themed photo album I found a couple years ago, featuring photos of the previous owner’s horses, his trip to Cheyenne Frontier Days (in 1946!), carefully annotated photos from a day at the racetrack in June 1942, all that good stuff. And there was a photograph in the album of a WWII-era Navy baseball team that might have included Yogi Berra, too.

If they weren’t interested in any of the horse stuff, surely the baseball angle would have drawn them in, right? I mean, after guitars and Civil War relics, there seems to be baseball stuff in every episode of Antiques Roadshow, am I right?

Nope. Strike three.

Sorry guys, but apparently they didn’t find me or my stuff interesting enough. This I found a little more devastating than losing a random lottery-type thing: I expect to lose random lotteries, but I pride myself on being at least minimally interesting to almost everybody!

I suppose if I had something horse-related that was also Detroit-related, like Seabiscuit (who started his “comeback” here) or Man o’ War (the Match Race against Sir Barton was just across the river, in Windsor), or The Lone Ranger (which originated in Detroit), or a verifiable piece of a local carousel, because Detroit’s Golden Age corresponded almost exactly with the Golden Age of Carousels, and there were probably more wooden carousels here per capita than any other place on Earth, y’all.
 
But I didn’t have any of that. So like most my other attempts to bring attention to the hobby to the masses, I found myself sitting home. Again.

So many people in the hobby try to hide their interest in the hobby from the public eye. Ironically, I do everything short of tap-dancing down I-75 in a hot pink tutu during rush hour, and I see nary a shrug in my direction.

Sigh. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Good Enough

It just occurred to me that the two items I ordered late last week – the Vintage Club Weather Girl Grace, and the Stablemates Club Finn – are both Gambler’s Choice items. I just paid out a decent chunk of money and I have no idea what I’ll be getting.

Out of the 12 different possible combinations (three of the Grace, four of the Finn) that is.

And you know what? I’m fine with that. I grew up during the “picture box” era of Breyer collecting – pre-1985 – and most of the time you had no idea what you’d actually be getting inside that box. It wasn’t just a solid, opaque cardboard box either: they were shrinkwrapped too!

(Handpicking? Hah!)

Breyer was in something of an experimental phase with retail packaging in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Prior to then, toy stores generally kept out display pieces, and you had to ask the clerk to bring you your selection from their backstock.

By the end of the 1970s, most stores – toys or otherwise – had switched to a self-service mode as a cost-saving measure, which necessitated a move to more decorative and informative packaging.

The history of Breyer packaging is, of course, much more complicated than that, but I don’t have the time or the mind to deal with the intricacies today. Another day, perhaps.

Aside from the packaging issues, a lot of the time you couldn’t trust the catalogs or manuals, either. Case in point: the Stock Horse Stallions from the 1981 Dealer’s Catalog:


Well, okay, I am still a little mad about that one: I want that minimally-marked Black Pinto San Domingo, dangnabit! I probably have a slightly better chance of acquiring one of the numerous Stock Horse Stallions Tests, like this one:


Seriously, there’s like a bajillion different Black Pinto Stock Horse Stallions out there, and I like them all better than the pinto we actually got, but that just might be a “wanting what you can’t have” thing. Or that I’m always up for another Test Color or Oddity, no matter the mold or color. I already have two Stock Horse Stallion Tests, and don’t really need another.

But back to the original point: everyone has gotten very spoiled since the advent of display boxes. We can be picky now, instead of later!

However, the ability to be pickier isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially if we find ourselves becoming so picky that nothing less than perfection is good enough. And since perfection is an arbitrary and abstract concept, what happens is that eventually, no model is ever good enough.

The perfect is the enemy of the good. 

I’m not saying y’all should accept a substandard model, but sometimes, life is easier and a lot less stressful if we just accept that everything comes occasional ding or flaw, whether we like it or not.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Web Site Remodel

I haven’t been online enough to judge the Breyer Horses web site redesign (too much offline nonsense to deal with at the moment. Life, man.) I pretty much just reactivated my account per their e-mail instructions, and did a little bit of poking around to make sure they didn’t hide any Super-Secret-Special-Runs anywhere.

I do like it visually – it’s a much cleaner, cohesive and professional-looking design, to say the least. The previous site design gave off a “generic toy company” vibe, while this design is more “slightly upscale aspirational equestrian lifestyle brand”.

Which makes sense, since they recently changed their company slogan from the almost meaningless “Let Your Imagination Play” to “A Horse Of My Very Own”. Their mission statement, under the Discover Breyer tab on the index page:

Ever since our first model horse was created in 1950, Breyer has been committed to making the World’s Finest Model Horses. Fans believe that when they hold a Breyer horse in their hands, it’s like entering the world of real horses.   
Our goal is build on the historical legacy of the brand, and bring the inspiration of horses to as many people as possible. As we do this, every expression of the brand, across our products, content, and experiences, is a touchpoint that connects us to that inspiration. 

That’s what I’ve been saying for years; I think I’ve expressed some variations of these sentiments on previous BreyerFest Volunteer Applications, because (duh) that’s what I sincerely believe.

(Though I prefer to think that the new-ish people in charge did their homework and came up with the concept independently, and that I was but one voice of many.)

I don’t have a place for the living-breathing kind of horses in my life – and likely never will – and Breyer Horses are the closest equivalent. Better in some ways, since I don’t have to worry about additional expenses (vet bills, boarding) and, if need be, I can walk away from them for a while and not have to worry about their physical or emotional upkeep.

(Leaving Vita alone for half the day is terrifying enough!)

Whether the site is easier to use or navigate I haven’t really had a chance to determine yet. I suspect there are some bugs that still need to be worked out; there always are.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The "It" Color

Things have been so crazy here for so long that a lot of recent – and not so recent – purchases have come (and sometimes, gone!) without comment. Since my horse purchases have been, and will continue to be more or less on hiatus for the next couple of months, let’s begin to rectify that with this beauty, a Mint in Box Pottery Barn Strapless I bought over a year ago (ulp!):


I ended up paying about market value for her, which is something I do on rare occasions – mostly when I feel that the “good deal” I was hoping for is not likely coming. I justify it by rationalizing that I get enough good deals throughout the year so I can afford an occasional full-retail splurge.

She’ll be released from her box soon; I didn’t have the time or space to do so previously. The box in rough shape, anyway, and unlike the other two Pottery Barn releases – the Classic Johar in Chestnut Appaloosa, and the Best in Show Thoroughbred in Black – she won’t lose her identity or much value once she is set free.

Not that resale value is very high on my list of concerns. It’s not. In fact, focusing on potential resale value is one of the few ways I think collectors and hobbyists can go seriously astray. But now is not the time to revisit that topic…

It’s interesting to me that this purchase – like so many that I’ve made in the past – was unintentionally prescient. As both I and others have pointed out, 2018 has definitely been the “Year of the Bay” as far as Breyers are concerned.

For me, too. The majority of my non-retail purchases at BreyerFest were Bay, and the only current release I am (somewhat) actively looking for is the Walmart 4-piece set, primarily for that beautiful Bay Django.

I’d like to buy an LV Integrity on the Yasmin mold, too, but I’m trying to save that one for any potential gift-with-purchase offers they may spring on us near the end of the year.

It’ll be interesting to see what becomes the next “It” color. I’m secretly hoping for something old-fashioned or Decoratory. Honey Palomino? Gloss Pink-eyed Albino? Resist Dapple Gray?

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Animal Print Decorators

I love Okapis, so I kind of dig the premiere model in the Wild Animal Series, Kehinde:


The Wildlife Animal Series is an obvious replacement to the annually-released Big Cat Series, which had run its course – and out of “Big Cats” to depict (even though it’s technically not a “Big Cat”, I was kind of hoping they’d manage to work a Caracal into the mix.)

Like the Big Cats Series, which was inspired by the 2012 Passage to the Pacific Stablemate Hear Me Roar, the kernel of the idea for the Wild Animal Series was undoubtedly another Exclusive Event model, the 2011 Sunshine Celebration Everglades on the Nokota Horse mold.

I thought he was kind of neat, but he was definitely a polarizing release: either you loved him, or you hated him. Another animal-themed Traditional release a year later, the Passage to the Pacific’s Fighting Stallion Star of India, left me cold. I liked the general concept, and wanted to love the model, but the execution just didn’t work for me at all.

I am assuming that, like the Big Cat Series, this new series will be an annual one, with releases timed for early Fall. The theme is sufficiently vague enough to allow for a wide range of releases: pretty much any animal print you can think of, from birds to snakes to fish…

… though it seems pretty obvious (or should be) that the next release should/will be a Giraffe on the Forever Saige mold. Technically her neck isn’t as long or out of proportion as a lot of people say it is, but the pose itself is very giraffe-like, so I wouldn’t necessarily object.

Though I’d love to see a Blue Jay-themed Silver/Pegasus, an Oryx on the Unicorn version of Yasmin (obviously!) or a Koi Fish anything.

Kehinde is a really unusual concept, well-executed, and I certainly wouldn’t mind adding one to my herd. Props to the designer Karen Williams for making me seriously want a release on a mold (the Clock Saddlebred) that I am not predisposed to liking in the first place!

But my office is still a mess and I still haven’t gotten around to finishing up my BreyerFest paperwork, so I am okay with not getting one: I am all about minimizing my workload this Fall. I will probably just put in my obligatory single entry and see what happens.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Latigo Dun It and Collecting Philosophies

Since I had a twenty minute window of free time Saturday, I went to the toy store to look at the Alejandros. 

The dappling was not optimal on the examples I had to choose from, so he was easier to walk away from than I expected. 

I’m not a stickler for perfect dapples – you know me, I’ll even buy models with really bad dappling just because it amuses me so – but on this particular release I think being fussy is probably the right choice for me. 

But you know who had almost perfect dappling, gorgeous shading and color? A Latigo Dun It, one who looked very much like his “press” photo:


I’m certainly not immune to the Smart Chic Olena mold’s charms, and Reeves is in the habit of finding the most fabulous paint jobs to put on him. Yet he wasn’t on my must-buy list before, until I saw this one in this store…

Isn’t it funny when you walk into a store expecting to buy one thing, and find yourself smitten with something else? 

I’ve always considered myself something of an “organic” collector – my collection grows in response to whatever I find in my shopping environment, and not necessarily out of a specific list of wants or needs – but it is always a shock when a model sort of throws itself at me like that. 

Which is sort of the point of adopting that type of collecting philosophy in the first place. I’d much rather see every model as a possibility – even ones I hadn’t seriously considered before. 

Whenever I’ve just going to look for a very narrow range of molds or colors, or only pieces I would deem “perfect”, I feel like I’m setting myself up for more disappointments than not. And life is full of enough disappointments, you know? 

It was more a matter of time than money or desire that made me leave the Latigo Dun It behind: it was a quick look at the clock and the sudden realization that my 20-minute window of free time was so over. The store was busy (other people were pretty happy with their Alejandros!) and I really had no time to stand in line.   

It’s still a possibility he’ll come home with me, eventually. If someone else hasn’t already snapped him up by the time I can swing by next.

(Looks at schedule, wonders when that is. Sigh.)

Friday, September 28, 2018

2018 TSC Roundup

Briefly stopped by the local Tractor Supply earlier this week, and got a good look at all the 2018 Special Runs: the Jasper, the Boone, and the Classics Mustang set featuring the Charging Mesteno and the Frolicking Foal.

The Jasper (Desatado) was very nice, but still didn’t impress me enough to buy one. I don’t think Glossiness or Chalkiness would have changed my opinion: it’s the mold, not the color.

I liked the Boone (Cody) more than I thought I would: the color was softer and lighter than I imagined – almost a Perlino Dun – and I liked the Pinto masking on him better than on his big brother Salpicado. They did a very rough-edged style of masking on the Salpicado that I assume was an attempt to simulate the feathery edges you see on some sabinos, but I don’t think it was entirely successful.

The Mustang set intrigues me. The Charging Mesteno mold hasn’t seen much use at all – I think the last time we saw him was nearly ten years ago, on one of the Walmart Mustang sets – and I honestly don’t know why he has been so scarce since.

I can kind of understand why the lumpy-bumpy “Old Man” Mesteno hasn’t been put back into production since his initial release in 1996, but the only thing I could see being an impediment for the Charging Mesteno mold is, like the Nokota Horse, the size and shape of the mold might make it difficult to package him?

I do like his color; it’s very similar to (though not the same as) the Balking Mule Test Color that appeared in my dreams early this week. I also love that they used the Snowcap Appaloosa pattern on the Frolicking Foal: you know me and my fondness for the “less attractive” Appaloosas!

Though I was surprised – and quite pleased – that the Few Spot True North was the second highest moneymaker at the BreyerFest benefit auction this year. It’s reassuring to know that my tastes aren’t quite as “out there” as I assumed, and that the auction results may improve the odds of a more available/affordable release in the future.

There was also another Django in their latest batch of Mystery Stablemates at this TSC too, but since I’m having a hard time selling stuff I already have in the stash, I didn’t feel like I could justify bringing home another to resell. I’ll let someone else have the job of that surprise.

I didn’t bring anybody else home either. The usual excuses: time and money.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Painted Ribbons

Breyer has never been consistent about painting molded-on ribbons and bobs, so the latest hobby perturbance over Alejandro’s unpainted ribbons has floated past me.

Earlier examples of the original Cantering Welsh Pony had painted ribbons; later ones generally did not, and even later releases have been all over the map. Most of the new molds released in the late 1970s and early 1980s that featured braiding – like Halla, and the Classic USET horses – also didn’t come with painted braids, outside of a few possible Samples and Tests.

The Classic Polo Pony rarely got the painted ribbon treatment – I believe the 1994 Show Special Silver Comet is the only Production Run release that did – and the Clydesdale Stallion’s forelock ribbon is also only occasionally painted. (And only after Nancy Young pointed out the fact that it was even there at all!)

It’s not like it’s something new with the Brishen mold, either: of the three previous releases featuring the fancy plaited “down” mane, only the BreyerFest 2013 Laredo release has handpainted ribbons. Tesoro de Oro and Dag Dia didn’t get them.

Why some models get the painted ribbon treatment and some do not nowadays is complicated, and not entirely cost-related. If cost was the sole factor, we wouldn’t see painted ribbons on $4.00 Walmart Stablemates like the recent G2 Saddlebred release in the Mystery Surprise series:


With the Walmart Stablemates I suspect it’s a matter of quantity and bulk pricing – Walmart sells tons of Stablemates! – and creating the appearance of value. Adding detailing to small, incidental items like Stablemates increases the likelihood of impulse sales. More sales? More money!

By the way, painted ribbons on Stablemates releases are a relatively recent phenomenon, all around. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that the G1 Saddlebred finally got them, in the Sears and JC Penneys Stablemates Assortments available through their respective Christmas catalogs – over twenty years after the mold debuted in 1975! Considering the execution, however, they probably should have waited a bit longer.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Horse Dreams

From the pictures that are appearing online, Bogeyman does look slimy – in the good way, I mean.

Which is what I figured. While Breyer’s pictures have gotten better lately, it’s still a safe bet that most items will look better in person than they do online.

So if it is still available the next time I need to place an order, one just might end up in my cart.

I think it is indicative of the lack of time I’ve had for horses that my dreams are starting to compensate: I had a “found horse” dream last night! You know, the kind of dream where you find the models of your dreams, for free or cheap?

I don’t get them very often, presumably because in the environment I reside in, model horses aren’t all that uncommon: I find them all the time, even when I am not looking. I go shopping for shoes and work pants, and end up coming home with a box of horses!

In this dream I found a loose box of one-dollar toys in a thrift store, and it was full of equine randomness: everything from Stablemates to Traditionals, from New in Box to Body quality, and even a couple of Test Colors!

The two Test Colors, incidentally, were an airbrushed Black Pinto Traditional Ruffian – similar to the Vintage Club Tanner release – and a Splash Spot Red Chestnut Semi-Leopard Appaloosa Balking Mule.

Neither of these molds, colors, or mold-color combos are high on my list of wants or desires, so it’s interesting that those were the models that my subconscious conjured up for me. Not a Wedgewood Blue Polled Hereford Bull? Not a Matte Neon Yellow Palomino Traditional Man o’ War?

My first reaction within the dream was – and this should come as no surprise at all – that I couldn’t wait to get home and do some research on them!

And then clean them up, because they were a bit dinged up, having resided in a mixed box of jumbled toys and all.

Horses in my horse dreams are rarely mint condition, but I think that’s because I take a lot of pleasure in fixing up foundlings – especially rarities! So that part definitely rang true, as something I would dream about.

It will be super-duper weird if either one of those ideas turns into something real in the next several months. If it does, and it’s something affordable (IOW: not an actual Test Color or Auction Model) then I might be obligated to buy it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Research Reminder

Still AWOL for the time being.

In the meantime, since I get these requests on a fairly regular basis, I just wanted to remind you that it’s not necessary to ask my permission to use anything on this site for your documentation or research needs.

All that I ask is that you note where you got your data from. Just like you did the last time you wrote a research paper!

I can’t guarantee that the judge will take my word as final: I’ve gotten into some… interesting arguments with some of my fellow hobbyists over the years about some of the finer (and not so fine) points of Breyer History.

Also, there are a number of posts that probably no longer as accurate as they should be, and should be updated with new or fresher research.

Time, of course, is the issue here: I’m still struggling to schedule time for things like showering and sleeping, and this situation isn’t going to change until at least the middle of October.

Plus there are over 1000 posts and nearly a million words to filter through. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Well, maybe a personal assistant might, but I can’t afford one of those. And while her spelling skills are top notch, Vita’s reading comprehension aren’t.  

If you absolutely need to get the most up-to-date data, I’ll accommodate when and where I can. Might take a couple of days for me to see your request. And a couple of days to answer after that, depending on my state of mind.

Keep having fun while I’m away!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Hartlands, Again?

By the time I entered the hobby in the late 1970s, Hartlands had already been out of production for several years. They were never formally a part of my childhood, though once I discovered Tinymites and Barkies, those did become as crucial a part of my early hobbyhood as Stablemates did.

Because just like Stablemates they were cute, little, and affordable!

My Hartland collection has expanded and contracted multiple times over the years, almost entirely dependent on incidental flea market and thrift store finds.

I still have all of my Tinymites and Barkies, but the rest of the Hartland collection now takes up about half a shelf in the display collection in the bedroom. Other than a few minor grails – a Blue Roan Polo Pony, the Pearl 11-inch Arabian, a couple of stray Barkies I’m still missing – I doubt it will expand much further.

My opinion on the latest attempt to revive Hartlands? (What is this now, the third, fourth or fifth attempt?)

The past is a nice place to visit, but you don’t want to live there.

This has nothing to do with their style: you all know I’ve never been a stickler for anatomical or conformational fidelity. I’d be all for adding more models in the Hartland style to the hobby world.

If the latest attempt happens to include new molds in the Hartland style – either entirely new sculptures, ones that had been planned in previous revivals, or even older unreleased designs, like these mysterious and tantalizing fellows – I’d be all for it:




(These photos are from Marney’s files, naturally, included in a small group taken during a trip to Hartland Collectables in the 1980s. There were no notations on these photos, so I have no additional information to give about them or their whereabouts.)

But if it’s going to be just another attempt to market older molds, I just don’t foresee it being viable.

Toy companies – like any companies, really – require innovation to thrive. Marketing and nostalgia can only take you so far: new molds, new products, new colors, and new ways of thinking are all necessary components for long-term success and viability.

I think most of us have harbored the fantasy of having a model horse company of our own, running it the way we think it should be run.

Even I had this fantasy for a brief while: I worked at a plastic-injection molding plant for several years, and they were going through a phase where they wanted to create proprietary toy products of their own.

My suggestions were largely for naught, because the owner was in the habit of ignoring the input of people who weren’t also members of his immediate family. (If that. The company is long gone, unsurprisingly.)

I still get twinges of this fantasy, usually when I find myself perusing the toy horse selection at the dollar store. Could you imagine if those companies invested just a few dollars more into development of slightly more horselike molds? And what impact cheap, decent, and widely available bodies for customizing could have on the hobby?

Friday, September 14, 2018

Interesting Failures vs. Boring Successes

I like Bogeyman, but I don’t know if I love him yet:


It doesn’t help that I took my car in for a little deferred maintenance and found out that the repairs are going to be a little more expensive than I anticipated. (A part that normally never breaks, broke. Michigan roads!) So there is no fun-money in the budget for little things like Bogeyman.

Heck, I had to walk away from a stack of Nevermores earlier this week, and I just about had a panic attack over that one, because that one really does tickle my fancy. (Sigh.)

If you did a personality test to determine my likes, dislikes and preferences and designed a Halloween Horse to meet all the criteria, the end result just might be Nevermore. I think the only thing that’s missing is that it doesn’t Glow in the Dark!

But back to Bogeyman.

I think he’ll be neater in person than the photograph lets on – the ad copy hints at a “pearly base” to her color. If they apply it liberally to the drippy parts, I can see it reasonably reproducing the look of slime.

If that is the case, I might just pinch a few pennies and get one after all.

If not, hey, I’ll still give them points for trying something different. I’d rather buy an interesting failure than a boring success.

The Tractor Supply Special Run Traditionals – a Red Dun Pinto Cody named Boone and a Shaded Bay Desatado named Jasper – will also be a pass for me this year, too.

Of the two, I find the Jasper the more intriguing.

Some models are just harder to love than others. For a lot of hobbyists, it’s a structural or anatomical issue that puts a model on their hard-to-love list, but for me it tends to be aesthetic ones.

I’m just not a big fan of the Desatado as a sculpture, so much so that I still haven’t found one to join my herd. All the ones that I have managed to acquire I’ve ended up selling a few weeks or months later.

The only one I’ve really loved? It had to be last year’s Saturday Raffle Model Rana. Of course. Not winning most raffle horses ranges from annoying to mildly or moderately disappointing: not winning Rana actually hurt.

(After the raffle I went back to the Clarion and walked into three successive rooms with occupants who had won Ranas. If there had seen one more Rana, something else would have ended up as hurt or broken as my soul.)

But I have been an absolute sucker for a well-done Bay paint job, something you probably could have guessed from the number of them I brought home with me from BreyerFest this year.

Hmm. Maybe I’ll put it on my Christmas Wish List and let Santa make the call.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Alejandro

I just realized that I kinda-sorta collect the Brishen mold. I have an NPOD Sample of the Bay Pinto Gypsy Vanner, the BreyerFest Store Specials Dag Dia and Albion, and probably soon the Brick and Mortar Special Alejandro, even though I know I shouldn’t:



The name reminds me of Lady Gaga’s video of the same name that I won’t link to here, because its Evita-meets-Steve-Rude’s-Nexus vibe is not quite family-friendly enough for this blog.

Although I don’t think it was intentional, they did name one of their Special Runs (Astru) after a Hungarian Black Metal band, too. It makes me wonder what they’re actually listening to in the offices in New Jersey.

But anyway…

His color, for those of you not up on your horse color genetics, is Mulberry Gray, a relatively rare color in Breyer’s repertoire. There have been some Tests like the Moody Andalusian from 2016, and the Original and Reissue of the Legionario III #880 Medieval Knight. The #1498 Lusitano on the Esprit mold was called Red Roan, but is technically Mulberry Gray, as well.

The mold has some conformational issues, but I think Reeves has done a remarkable job in designing paintjobs that highlight the mold’s strength as a more fantastical creature in the spirit of Esprit and Ethereal.

I’ve described the Pinto Gypsy Vanner as a Lisa Frank-style horse, Novelisto D and Dag Dia as personifications of Lightness and Darkness.

Alejandro? His mane and tail make him look like he’s literally on fire.

And I can’t look away: in fact, I think I love it.

There are already a few too many Rarities and Glossies with the Brishen mold and all its variants to make actively collecting the mold impractical.

To be realistic, it really isn’t practical for me to buy any horses at all right now, other than the occasional stray Stablemate. If I happen to find him sometime this week or next, during my travels, I will get him.

But that’s a big if.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Stablemates, Unicorns, Tractor Supply, Etc.

The store where they were acquired is a bit out of the way of my usual travels, but I just happened to be in the neighborhood about a week ago and thought, why the heck not?


Apparently some of the Unicorn Stablemates Glow – regrind from the Glow in the Dark sets, obviously – but these two aren’t among them. I’m fine with just having them.

The store – not one I’d normally consider a sales hotbed – received not one, but two cases of the Paint Kits. That tells me that either it’s an open stock item, or an early launch of a Regular Run item. The 5000-series numbering on these sets leads me to believe that these are (or will be) Regular Run items.

However, items made for Tractor Supply – Regular Run, or Special Run – tend to come with either extended VIN numbers on their bellies and/or Made in China stickers, subtle differences that mean little to someone merely looking for a nice horse to add to the herd, but mean yet another subtle variation for the completist to track down.

This means that the Copper Florentine Djangos turning up at TSC are – or could be – interpreted as a separate entity from the actual Chase piece in the standard Mystery Box assortment. If you are so inclined.

As for the upset some are feeling over the declining prices of Copper Florentine Djangos because of the appearance of the TSC Djangos, there’s the reason why I can’t justify spending more than 20-30 on any given Stablemate.

Because aside from a handful of Special Runs (like Hermes) and Promotional items, most Stablemates aren’t numerically rare: most piece runs are in the thousands, or at least the high hundreds.

It’s perceived rarity, rather than actual numerical rarity, that’s driving the Stablemates market, especially now. When you’re told that that only one in four Mystery Boxes has a Copper Florentine Chase piece, that sounds pretty rare, right?

Here’s the kicker: we don’t know how many boxes have actually been produced.

Some hobbyists have been trying to parse the numbers based on the shipping boxes they come in from China – the ones that say “XXX of XXX boxes” – but that’s not necessarily accurate either. That “96” number that’s been batted around could be per shipment, and we have no way of knowing how many shipments.

They sell an ungodly amount of Stablemates, y’all. It could be lots.

Even without the appearance of the TSC Djangos, the price on the Copper Florentines was bound to fluctuate lower, eventually, as more boxes of Mystery Stablemates were distributed.

Because of Tractor Supply, it just happened sooner, rather than later.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Scanners Live in Vain

What the local annual book sale lacked in quantity (for me) it made up for in quality. Among the finds are the 1950 translation of the definitive book about German Shepherds written by the guy who invented the breed, a 1984 edition of the FEI rulebook for Driving(!), and a First Edition-First Printing of Misty of Chincoteague from 1947:


My original Misty of Chincoteague was a 1948 edition that had seen better days, so I was super happy to find an upgrade that was not only in better condition, but was a first-first, too!

Take that, annoying book scanner people!

For those of you unfamiliar with shopping at charity used book sales, there’s a certain class of resellers who use handheld scanners or phone apps to determine if books are worth buying for resale.

They tend to be indiscriminate in their purchases, and focused on more modern books that have scanable barcodes or ISBN numbers. Unless a sale specifically bans them in the first day or hours, they will absolutely overrun the place.

I don’t have an issue with them having an online bookselling business, because I do as well, but a lot of these people are such amateurs.

I showed up an hour late for the sale – aside from the bad traffic, I also had to make a run to the bank, because my Salvation Army shopping spree earlier in the week left me without any fun money at all. Yet I still managed to score some pretty valuable books that were essentially invisible to the scanner people, who were too focused on what their scanners were telling them.

Is there a model horse lesson to be learned from this story?

Of course there is: a tool can’t replace knowledge or experience. A tool is often incapable of distinguishing the subtle nuances that differentiate the valuable from the valueless. This applies to either books, or Breyers.

A Matte Palomino Family Arabian Stallion in ordinary condition? Probably body box material. A mint-in-box Chalky Palomino Family Arabian Stallion with all his paperwork and receipts? That’s a major score!

You want to succeed at collecting? A tool can only take you so far. Work on building the database you carry inside your head.

My other edition of Misty will be going in my BreyerFest book stash (which was absolutely decimated this year) along with a couple of the others. The Fury book is going into my reference library, unless they reissue the Fury mold for BreyerFest next year. (I hope!)

The GSD book will be put online in the near future, because vintage dog reference books have been a really good niche market for me. Just as it was for horse racing, the Metro Detroit area used to be quite a hotbed for dog breeders!

Friday, August 31, 2018

They Find You

Another thing that was entirely predictable: after telling myself and the world that I’m trying to cut back on buying horsey stuff for the duration, I find a box lot of 1970s-era body quality models at the Salvation Army literally the next day:


It really does seem like I plan this sort of thing! But I swear to Vita that I didn’t.

The first thought I had when I found them was “When I stop looking for horses, the horses come looking for me.” (For what it’s worth, I was there looking for clothes and shoes for work. I swear.)

The worst part, though, was when the cashier made the comment “Boy, these horses are selling like hotcakes!”

OMG, there were more? 

Anyway, as you can see, they’re mostly models from the mid- to late 1970s, or basically my prime horse-crazy years. These were the kinds of models I then aspired to owning – in better condition, of course.

Their previous owner once thought very highly of them too – many of these horses have glossed hooves, and the Bay Proud Arabian Foal was at one point decapitated (accidentally, I presume) but repaired.

Most of the models from this era had extended production runs, and all of the models here are definitely body quality, so the likelihood that I missed something awesome is rather slim.

The only thing that really bothers me is that there might have missed some cool variations: while  collectively quite common, models from that time period have a reputation for variations. Things like random socks, funky dappling, and dramatic body shading can turn a body quality model into a shelf sitter right quick.

I try to comfort myself with the thought that at the time I got there and the day of the week I went shopping, any of the other models that sold before I arrived went to the grandparents of horse-crazy preteens.

And if those models help inspire a love of Breyer models from that era with the younger set, I’m all for it.

Anyway, most of these guys will be heading to the body sales box. The Galiceno is tempting and I’ve seen a couple of really neat Fantasy customs on the Classic Andalusian Stallion, but I don’t have time to finish the customs I’ve already started, much less start more. Then again, by the time I have time to start selling things again, my creative calendar might be clear too.

In the meantime, my extended weekend will be spent cleaning the house, the office and the garden. Finishing at least one quilting project would be great too, if I can manage.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Getting My Circadian Rhythm Back

Effective this week, there will be a change in my work schedule that may or may not affect my posting schedule here.

I’ll also be curtailing my online sales activity, and probably not doing much shopping beyond obligate club purchases and incidental finds. (Which is kind of a bummer, since many of the Duchess pieces I “need” decided to show up on eBay this past week.)

There’s some remodeling going on here and stuff is still everywhere, and will likely be for the next couple of months. To be honest, it’s stressing me out more than it should. No need to add anything more to the pile of things that already can’t be dealt with.

(I can’t believe I once harbored thoughts of being a “completist”. Silly me.)

As I’ve intimated here before and elsewhere, there are some things I want (and need!) to accomplish by the end of the year, and this change to my schedule will help with that.

One of those things will involve monetizing the blog, eventually and slightly. I want to have some merchandise – the usual t-shirts and swag, but also want to make some reference and research materials available for purchase. (A Sampler Omnibus, Marney’s photo album, some article collections, etc.

I’m also thinking about starting a Patreon account, but that notion is strictly in its exploratory phase right now.

So, long story short, if my postings get a little haywire over the next few weeks – multiple postings over several days, or no postings for nearly a week – don’t panic. At the latest, I’m hoping everything will be straightened out by the end of October.

And then you will (i hope) get more of me on a more regular basis. For better or worse!

In the meantime, here’s a not-random picture of a Test Color; I was looking up something else entirely, and ran across what might be Marney’s original reference picture for that Test Color Mahogany Bay Stock Horse Stallion I purchased from The Horse You Want at BreyerFest few years back:


I cannot remember if I posted this or not, but in my slightly addlepated state I think it is neat to see it again, whether it is the first or second time.

(His name was Darrell.)

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Fine Apparel

I haven’t gotten around to these yet, I might as well now…


Yup, the Breyer socks that I coveted. I ordered them as an extra on top of an order I placed, but the rest of the order was canceled, so I ended up getting a box with just… socks.

Normally the arrival of new novelty socks in the house is something to be celebrated, but I’m actually a bit bummed because the whole point of my waiting to get the socks was to add them to an order to mitigate the postage costs.

In spite of my best efforts, I still ended up paying for postage on a box with nothing but socks in it. Fooey!

On the other hand, I suppose I could just wear them as an ensemble with one of my Volunteer T-shirts to offset the cost:


Let me tell you, I was probably just a little more excited about the t-shirts than was necessary. Gosh, this is what real conventions do! I haven’t gotten around to putting one into my regular t-shirt rotation at work, but I’m sure I will at some point.

The first Breyer “wearables”, of course, were the Bolo Ties of the 1970s, sculpted by Bob Scriver – yes, the same man who later brought us Buckshot. Incidentally, I recently I found the online listing of Scriver’s personal archive, and the references to Breyer materials related to the Bolo Ties intrigue me. If I ever make it out to that part of the country, I will have to plan a visit:

http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv34613

After that, there was that odd belt buckle offer in the Winter 1979 issue of Just About Horses that was more of a Peter Stone vanity/side project than a Breyer thing, and then… nothing much for years.


It has always surprised me that Breyer – even after the acquisition by Reeves – was not quick to capitalize on the hobbyist desire for branded apparel.

It even took them a while to get the ball really rolling on BreyerFest swag. I was unimpressed by the earliest BreyerFest shirts, and ended up making my own for a couple of years.

Aside from the design challenge it presented, I kind of wanted to make the point that it didn’t take all that much extra effort to come up with something special.

The problem has long since been solved, except for the sizing – in previous years they didn’t make enough of the larger sizes, and this year they probably made too many.

(FYI: I’m hoping to have a shop for the blog – with my own shirts and swag! – by the end of the year. But more on my plans for the rest of the year, next time.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Hands Down

Another day, another Walmart, another full and unrifled-through box of Surprise Mini Whinnies. I guess someone is trying to tell me I picked a wrong time to put a hold on collecting Mini Whinnies, huh?

I’ll probably regret not getting them later on. Ah, well.

Here’s something I didn’t regret or pass up: the BreyerFest Pop-Up Store Stablemate Special Run Hands Down, who was an easy pick up for me on Sunday.


Usually the Pop-Up Store Stablemate release either sells out, or sells well, but there was a substantial pile of them when I finally got a chance to peruse what remained on Sunday (no Tervis Tumbers, rats!)

I was pretty happy to discover that it was injection-molded plastic, and not something more breakable. I think that apprehension – and the fact that the mold has molded on tack – probably led to the more modest sales this year.

I liked him a lot more in person than I thought I would! It is neat that in spite of its origins as an ornament, the item also stand pretty well on its own – a nod, perhaps, to the original Breyer Robin Hood set from the 1950s, where the rider itself is also (quite cleverly) designed to stand on its own.

Although there have been several resin and china molds released with molded-on tack in recent years, the last “new” free-standing injection-molded Traditional molds were the Pacer and Man o’ War in the mid-1960s.

These earlier items with molded-on tack – especially the Western Horse, Pony, Prancer, and the Old Timer – still continue to be made, and in many cases are often among Breyer’s better-selling items!

But alas, not among hobbyists: we prefer removable tack to the molded-on variety. That’s why newer molds with molded-on tack tend to be items that are specifically designed to be admired from afar or on a tree, rather than something you’d see in a show ring.

The Hands Down is something slightly different from BreyerFest Stablemates releases of the past: he wasn’t really designed for the hobbyist, but for the more casual attendees, or the hobby-curious.

To mixed results, obviously.

It was kind of an experimental year all-around for BreyerFest; it’ll be interesting to see what they decide to keep, and what they decide to discard. Will we go back to a more standard Stablemate release next year, or continue with the more souvenir-like items like Hands Down?

I’m fine, either way.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Inevitable

Well, that was completely expected.

Technically it wasn’t officially “gone” when I went back late the next day – someone apparently called earlier and put the Alborozo (and only the Alborozo!) on hold.

I’m more annoyed than mad, though; I had to deal with an insanely long road trip for work that day and that made a call and/or pickup arrangements extremely impractical anyway.

But mostly I am a little puzzled by all the fight put up for an item that there’s no guarantee of being limited or exclusive? All over a modest mark-up, at that?

I did feel sorry for all of the other Painting Kits left behind, especially the mini Magnolia – I’ve spent a lifetime finishing in second place, so I know how it feels to think the spotlight is yours at last, and… nope.

For the record, I did see some of the Stablemates Alborozo Unicorns at BreyerFest. However, I didn’t have the chance to give them the careful, in-the-round inspection I wanted: BreyerFest just isn’t the time or place for careful inspection, or introspection.

So now I’ll have to wait a little longer, until everyone else gets this nonsense out of their system, and local suppliers finally get some of those Unicorn Surprise Box Assortments on their shelves.

Maybe.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of my Palomino Dead Heat:


I had decidedly, initially, to pass it by; I love the Ruffian mold, but it’s longer than an extremely relaxed housecat, and shelf space is already at a premium here.

But after the inevitable disappointments of (a) no Glosses, (b) no Prizes and (c) no Raffle models I went and got one sooner, rather than later. It didn’t hurt that it was the American Pharoah version of the mold, as well – short-tailed, with the boy bits – and since I haven’t gotten around to getting one of those yet, I could totally justify it.

I wasn’t thrilled that they decided to start the sale on the Special Run Leftovers at the very same time as the Sunday Raffle; by the time the Raffle was over, everything but the Dead Heat and the Newmarket was gone.

It was inevitable with shifting the Sunday Raffle past the last ticket time on Sunday that there’d be a conflict; it wasn’t a problem for me this year since I had already gotten everything I “needed” earlier anyway. I’ll just have to remember to plan accordingly next year, just in case.  

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Stablemate-o-palooza

So this is what I get for not trying too hard:


The Appaloosa Django came with my Stablemates Club order; in addition to the Glow-in-the-Dark set I finally decided on to capitalize on the weekend Stablemates sale, I tossed in a couple of Mystery Stablemates Bags just for the heck of it, too. I hadn’t purchased any yet locally – mostly because I haven’t found any to purchase – so it was going to be a win-win regardless of who showed up in those bags.

Then I stopped at a Walmart on the way home from work yesterday; Back-to-School sales are in full swing, and I really needed a new lunch bag for work…

After that, I swung by the toy department: the Pink Icelandic was long-gone of course, but everyone else in the Series 2 Mystery Box was still available, and I wanted them anyway – especially the Fleabitten Gray Dungaree. The Liver Chestnut G2 Saddlebred is lovely too, which came as a surprise; the photos I’ve been seeing of him online do not do it justice.

There was also a fresh, full box of the Mini Whinnies Surprises, but after a couple of minutes of poking around, I decided I had had my fun and let someone else have the pleasure of a lucky find.

This particular Walmart did not have the 4-piece Stablemates Set with the Bay Django and Dun Tushar, but at least a half-dozen of the older 4-piece Stablemates Set and a couple of the Classics Unicorns. Since I’m not all that into Unicorns at the moment, and that SM set is basically a renumbered “Reissue” of the Horse Crazy Set I already have, I took a pass on all of them.

Then this afternoon I went to the local Salvation Army to look for some new pants for work; I stopped in at the local Tractor Supply next door, and they had just put out their Mystery Stablemates a few minutes before.

I found the shelf label for the Stablemates Paint Kits, but they weren’t out yet, so I guess I’ll be making a return trip to the store tomorrow after work – that is, if someone else doesn’t get there first.

Since the secret to my success in Stablemates hunting appears to depend on my lack of worry, I’m not going to worry about that, either. And I’ll be fine, regardless!

I have a funny feeling those Paint Kits will not be a TSC-only exclusive, anyway. I just want to see the mini Alborozo and mini Magnolia in person, dangnabit.

I have to get up at an entirely unreasonable hour for work tomorrow, so that’s all for today, folks.

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Pursuit

Since I took a big step today in alleviating the incredibly high stress levels I’ve been experiencing for the past few months, I decided to buy an off-the-shelf horse or two to celebrate. I was originally going to go with an LV Integrity, on the Yasmin mold, but I came home with some Stablemates instead:


The shading on the Icelandic is amazing; he has a few minor production boo-boos that’ll preclude me from showing him, but my primary objective today was Ooo, Pretty Horsies and he fits the bill.

The G2 Thoroughbred was chosen because I particularly like his spots. All of the others had bigger and cleaner spots, and his randomly-sized freckles really stood out in contrast. I also liked the fact that he is not actually black but either a very, very dark gray or roaning black.

Another thing I’ll be doing to alleviate the stress this week? Not doing a darn thing to follow up or pursue any of the latest crazy/rare/obscure Stablemates floating around. Because now apparently, there are some at Tractor Supply too?

Cripes. 

There are ten – yes, ten – Tractor Supply Stores within an hour’s driving distance to me, including one that’s just down the road. But I am not going to go make any special effort to get to any of them in pursuit of the Copper Florentine Django, the Unicorn Alborozo paint kit, or anything else.

I don’t want to feel like I’m being forced to buy anything because they might be even more unaffordable later than they are now. In every other nonmonetary term – time, money, and headspace – they’re already unaffordable.

If I happen to be in the vicinity, or driving by in pursuit of something else, of course I’ll stop in and take a look. But I don’t have the resources for anything more than that.

I have more immediate things to worry about. Like how I managed to lose my keys inside my car for a half-hour last week. (I know the past couple of weeks have been rough on my psyche, but seriously?)

If I want some new horses, you’ll find me over in the Regular Run aisle, doing some handpicking.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Raleigh, Etc.

This week was about on par with last week in terms of stress, drama and overall chaos. (But I did finally get my nachos!)

I managed to visit most of the local Walmarts within my usual driving area this week, but most of the stores were either just getting ready to do their reset, or weren’t even considering it yet when I visited. Since my schedule over the next couple of weeks is straight-up crazy, that’s probably the end of my local Walmart Stablemates search.

Bah! I picked such a bad year to focus on Stablemates!

At least the Stablemates Club Raleigh will be coming this way shortly:


Did you know that the Saddlebred was the first of the 16 original Hagen-Renaker molds adapted to plastic? That’s why it appears first in the Stablemates numbering sequence: the original releases were the #5001 Dapple Gray, and the #5002 Bay.

It’s also the only G1 Stablemates mold that is its own mold: all of the others are paired up with another Stablemate, to make it more cost-efficient to run. I believe his solitary nature is because they used the Saddlebred as their test piece before they went ahead and produced the other 15 molds.

Thus explaining the lack of detailing between the mold’s ears.

This is also why the mold was probably used to make the 25th Anniversary Silver-plated Promotional piece that makes everybody so crazy whenever it shows up on the Internet. Someday one of you kind shall be mine, G1 Silver Saddlebred!

(I have this strangely detailed fantasy that I’ll be rummaging around in someone’s old jewelry box at the flea market, and find one tangled up in a knot of funky rhinestone-encrusted owl necklaces from the 1970s. I’ve found things in stranger circumstances, so it could happen...)

Since they’re running a Stablemates sale this weekend, I might toss in a few others in my order just for the heck of it. After making it through the past two weeks, I think I deserve a few.

I wanted to wait until the end of the year – and the possible return of the Free Holiday Gloss Promotion – to buy all the newer ones en masse off the web site. But I recently added everything up I wanted, and there appears to be more than enough to fill up a couple of potential orders. So which ones will I buy first?

At the moment I’m leaning towards the 8-piece Blister Card Assortment; while I love them all actually, I really could use that Icelandic and Appaloosa Dungaree:

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Bay, Bay and Bay

If Monday was any indication of what’s to come, it looks like this week is shaping up to be a sequel to last week.

However, I decided to take some of that this-only-seems-to-happen-to-me stress out on one of my hapless customizing projects (that Mesteno’s Mother mold I blathered about a while back) so it’s nothing but pretty ponies for the rest of the post, yay!

Specifically, three Bay Western Prancing Horses:


The older “Sorrel” variation of the #114 Bay Western Prancer, the later “Bay” variation of the same release, and the Tractor Supply release of Annie Oakley’s Prince.

The Sorrel was one of my very first in-hobby purchases, and I was positively giddy when I got him: he was my first model with eyewhites, and one of the first models I purchased that was older than me!

The Bay Bay was a CHIN purchase. I was looking around the hotel hoping to upgrade my Buckskin WPH; I thought I had a potential candidate, but didn’t pass closer inspection. Then I found the Bay Bay variation, so I bought him and called it a day.

The Prince was an NPOD find. He’s not a true Sample or anything interesting like that, just a bubble-wrapped warehouse leftover I found when I was wandering about the NPOD sometime over the weekend. I had been half-heartedly looking for on eBay, but the prices were scaring me off.

Unlike other Sorrel variations of the 1960s Bays (like the Fighting Stallion, and the Family Arabians) it appears that the Sorrel Western Prancing Horse is actually rather plentiful and common.

The Bay Bay – distinguished from the Sorrel by the reddish cast to his body, and a Black mane and tail – was made for at least a year or two before he was discontinued at the end of 1971, as my example doesn’t have the USA mold mark.

As far as I know, the #114 Bay release – either the Sorrel Bay or the Bay Bay – never had any kind of black paint on the hooves or legs. Saddles for the Bay, unlike some of the other vintage Western Prancer releases, could be either Tan or Gray.

I think I’m all Bayed out now. Unless something shows up with a sticker or box. Not likely, but you never know with me.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Horse You Need

The week started with such promise – one of my regular dealers at the flea market told me he had a large collection for me to look at, I thought I had some of the BreyerFest One-Day Stablemates coming my way, nachos were on the menu this week, I found some extra large socks on clearance at Meijer…

And somehow at the end of it, all I had to show for it was a bruised middle finger.

Kind of emblematic of how the whole week went, I suppose.

(I wasn’t doing anything untoward with the finger, it was just me being clumsy and injuring myself in my usual unique ways. The lack of nachos hurt more, to be honest.)

I ended up buying myself a pony a couple of days ago in hopes of assuaging the whole darn week away. He’s not out of the box yet because that’s another story we don’t want to get into today:


I’ve been eyeing this guy for a while, and I had a coupon. I have a soft spot for the homely little Standing Stock Horse Foal, and I found his Splash Spot Semi-Leopard Appaloosa well-executed and very appealing. He’ll look real nice next to my Fun Foals Pintaloosa SSHF, once I figure out where that little guy went.

(Sigh. The current state of my office is largely not my fault, but again, this is not a story we want to get into.)

However, his most important feature was also his most obvious: he was available.

Collecting isn’t always about what you want, but what is accessible. You can’t collect things you can’t get your hands on.

Sure, I’d love to own more Glossy Prize models, or some of those Walmart Exclusive Stablemates, or more Woodgrains, or any vintage Decorators. But barring lucky finds these are all fairly unlikely, at least in the near future.

Weeks like this remind me that I need to stop stressing myself out over items I can’t get in the first place. If they happen, they happen. If they don’t, there are other horses in the pasture.

Rocky was almost immediately available, and when and where I needed him.

To paraphrase a few well-known songs, if you can’t buy the horses you want, buy the horses you need.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Dark Horses

It’s about diggity-dang time they released the Dark Horse Surprise numbers!

Palomino Splash: 1050 Matte/175 Gloss (1225 total)
Appaloosa: 850 Matte/175 Gloss (1025 total)
Bay Tobiano Pinto: 575 Matte/175 Gloss (750 total)
Flaming Decorator: 425 Matte/175 Gloss (600 total)
Black: 225 Matte/175 Gloss (400 total)

The Black is definitely the rarest, and the Splash Palomino the most common. No surprises there.

But I thought – based on online and event sales – that the Bay Pinto was going to be the second rarest.

Apparently the large number of Decorators I saw for sale wasn’t a result of sheer numbers, but a lack of interest/appeal in the color itself, primarily among younger collectors – much like the original 1960s Decorators!

In fact, if I heard any complaints at all about the Surprise model this year, it was from younger collectors bemoaning the fact that they pulled the Decorator. It was very clearly designed to appeal to a rather different clientele from the typical BreyerFest attendee – ones more interested in horsepower, rather than horse power.

It’ll be interesting to see if, like the original vintage Decos, that translates into increased interest (and prices) in the color in the future.

It’s been my experience that younger collectors seem to prefer the Tobiano Pintos; add into the mix the fact that the Smarty Jones hasn’t come in a lot of pintos in general (with the most accessible being the still-pretty-tough-to-get 2007 Collector’s Choice Windtalker in Grulla Overo) and it makes some sense that any kids that snagged one likely kept it.

I would have been fine with the Deco if I had gotten one – you know I love Translucents – but I am glad I ended up with my two favorites: the Black and the Palomino Splash!


Just a few weeks ago I was pining for more Splash Pintos, and the one in the Dark Horse Surprise is beautifully executed: if he had been a standalone Special Run this year, I would have likely bought him!

And well, I’ve been a longtime champion of Solid Black paintjobs for years. When I went over to the Silent Auction Booth to ogle the complete set of Glossies Friday afternoon, two thoughts immediately crossed my mind:

“Ooh, the Black one’s my favorite!”

“He’s probably the rare one. I always pick the rare one.”

I guess my only (slight) criticism of the Dark Horse Surprise was the predictability: a lot of people pegged it as the Smarty Jones early on. I was hoping that Reeves would throw us a curveball and give us something offbeat or a little more Quarter/Stock Horsey.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Times

I had a particularly bad migraine yesterday and I’m still feeling a bit nauseous, so just a bit of commentary about that article in The New York Times.

If you haven’t read it yet, I’d recommend it; it’s actually rather decent:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/26/style/horse-girls-breyerfest.html

I especially liked this paragraph – it makes BreyerFest sound so exotic and alluring:
If Breyerfest is the horse girl’s bacchanal, the nearby Clarion Hotel is its open bar, from which the ecstasy of material excess flows like wine. Throughout Breyerfest, the hotel transforms into a kind of Kowloon Walled City, in which dealers cram their rooms floor to ceiling with shelves of model horses and open their doors to the madding crowd.
If I wasn’t already a lifer, I’d be penciling BreyerFest into my 2019 itinerary right now!

Also, had I known The New York Times was milling about, I would have made the effort to get quoted! While it’s not necessarily something I’ve been looking to add to my “bucket list”, it would have made a nice bullet point on the Curriculum Vitae.

(I’ve been quoted in newspapers before, but nothing on that big of a stage.)

Although the hobby has gotten a lot of press over the years, most of it has been via regional newspapers and specialty periodicals (like Western Horseman); national press like this is a little out of the ordinary.

For the most part, this article was pretty respectful and with little in the way of the “Let’s ogle the oddballs!” framing that hobbies and other unique subcultures tend to get put into.

I do have a few other quibbles with the article, though.

The impression that the hobby itself is of more recent vintage, and generated by Breyer itself is frustrating. I know why they framed it this way – this is at its core a puff/promotional piece for Reeves – but no, not even.

This little hobby of ours has been around long enough that it’s become multigenerational. There were newsletters, live shows, and organizing bodies within the hobby proper over fifty years ago. It was hobbyists who were pestering Breyer to get more involved: that the industry exists as it does is largely in response to us!

BreyerFest is also essentially just an outgrowth of an earlier event – Model Horse Congress – that was originally organized by hobbyists for a couple of decades prior.

That Reeves gets to dictate how we get seen by the larger world is partly our fault; we’ve spent way too much time quibbling over incidental things and awarding each other prizes, rather than promoting the activity itself.

But I am in no mood to argue those points all over again. It’s time for this old “horse lady” to get herself to bed for the flea market tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Hats

Let’s talk about the Celebration Horse a little bit today.

The initial promotional photos for him were not that promising. It didn’t particularly matter to me, since I appear to be going through a Carrick phase.

But oh my goodness, the two I picked up are super, particularly this one:


Gorgeous shading, nice finishwork, and is that just a hint of Blue Interference paint in his finish, giving him a delightful sheen?

I figured they’d be incorporating that Blue Interference paint on a nominally “realistic” paint job in the near future, but putting it on a release I was already predisposed to like? Nice!

I haven’t taken most of my more recent Celebration Horses out of their boxes – partly out of laziness, and partly out of self-preservation – but I think this one will be having a coming out party pretty soon.

You can’t really see in the photograph, but he’s live show quality, or darn well near it.

It would have been even lovelier to add a Gloss one to my equine family, but that was not meant to be.

My Costume Contest entry this year was made from recycled bits of previous costumes and materials I got on sale, or for cheap through the local thrift store circuit. One yard of felt from the local Salvation Army Store, some glue sticks and a Dollar Tree sun hat =


(Too tired right now to drag out the matching Winner’s Blanket!)

In other words, I wasn’t terribly invested in it, emotionally or financially. But it turned out pretty nice regardless, and considering the judging for this thing seems to be pretty random, I thought I had as good a shot as anyone.

Aside from the fact that the scheduling issues have still not been resolved, and either the time or the location of it has to change – it was, as I mentioned before, the lack of prize equity that I found most troubling.

I believe the prize breakdown was 26 kids got prizes, as opposed to 10 adults? I was there and saw the disparity first hand, but I did not realize the gap was so huge.

I know why they do it: it’s supposed to encourage kids and families with young kids to participate.

But I think it’s starting to have the same effect the Gloss Prize Models did at the Children’s Show, and the Diorama Contest’s under-10 category: it’s becoming an incentive for some parents to use their children as proxies.

Gloss Prize Models tend to baseline at $500 on the secondary market. That’s a pretty big incentive, especially if the odds are in their favor.

I’ve been luckier than most and I have actually won a couple of prizes, and for that I’m grateful. And I’m definitely not hurting for treasures: my local flea markets are pretty sweet, and I definitely have a knack for finding things at BreyerFest or online that nobody else does.

BreyerFest is a constant work in progress, and things will change.

And so am I, and so will I.

For the better, for the worse, or just for the sake of change.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Derpy Winner

By request, the Classic Ruffian with the derpy markings:


Classic Chicago factory quality control, ca. 1977! Close enough is good enough, am I right?

She’s super-dark with nice shading, too – a bit of light restoration and she’d probably be live show quality. Depending on the judges sense of humor.

Though I do have a small collection of unusual early Love Classic Racehorse variations, she was not something I was necessarily looking for. I did find that lovely variation of the Palomino earlier in the year, but like that girl, this was more a purchase of opportunity.

I heard reports that many of the Icabad Cranes had markings that were similarly askew, but I didn’t see anything particularly eyebrow-raising when I went to pick mine out Saturday afternoon.

And if there was, I might have actually gone with it anyway. Unless it’s something that’s really distracting – or clearly impossible – it’s something I regard more as a neat variation than a true flaw.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Hallway Beer

This isn’t going to make a lot of sense to most of you, but I just want to preface what I write today with the news that the thing that I was so excited about this week… did not pan out.

I’m not going to lie: finishing in second place your whole life is positively soulcrushing; this is why I take things like the various contests, competitions and random draws at BreyerFest and online so seriously.

The handful of times I’ve actually succeeded in winning something there – even if it was a totally random draw I had no control over whatsoever – it’s given me a sense of accomplishment and success that I don’t get on a regular basis in the mundane world.

I’ll recover because I have to, but I’d rather not have to, at all.

(In the meantime, anyone out there want a copy of my résumé?)

Moving on to slightly happier thoughts, here’s this year’s Volunteer Model, whose name is apparently Churchill:


As I explained not all that long ago, I only have a handful of other Othellos, all of them special in some way: the Silver Snow, the BreyerFest Mariah’s Boon, and my Juggathello (my freakish Mariah’s Boon Sample with the spooky eyes and little dictator moustache).

I wouldn’t mind more, but the Othello mold is one of those handful of molds that make hobbyists kind of crazy. With so many of them in the unaffordable or unattainable range, it’s probably wiser to wait for models to find me, rather than vice versa.

The Volunteer Models have been trending towards Connoisseur-level paint jobs on newer and/or more popular molds. Back when they still put Volunteer Models in the Benefit Auction, I even thought this Othello might have been one:

http://www.identifyyourbreyer.com/images/reddunovero.jpg

It used to be that the sheer scarcity of the Volunteer Model was what made it worth the risk of sunburn, blisters and the occasional verbal abuse. But as the size of the event has grown – and the need for volunteers – they obviously had to switch up their strategy to encourage hobbyists to apply.

And it seems to be working!

Aside from the fact that his paint job is amazing – Sooty Dappled Buckskin, man – I loved that the selection of Othello got a lot of younger hobbyists asking questions about volunteering.
My Churchill, of course, is not going anywhere. He’s even got a name, already: Hallway Beer.

I suppose now’s a good time to talk about it. In a suitably sanitized fashion.

During the course of BreyerFest – on Wednesday night, maybe? – I found an unopened can of Modelo in one of the hallways of the Clarion. I picked it up and popped in the fridge, figuring that somebody at some point would have something to celebrate, right?

Well, that obviously did not happen.

Saturday night, we drank it anyway. It was a free can of beer, and aside from our lack of success at almost everything we tried this year, we still managed to have a good time with friends.

(Two seconds after I took the above photograph, the sign fell down, Othello fell down, and now I have to do some research on restoration artists. Life, you suck.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

All The Things

Almost done unpacking, Here is The Haul:

  • Brass Hats (2)
  • Hands Down Stablemate (2)
  • Icabad Crane
  • Gloss Foiled Again
  • Chestnut Liam (still boxed)
  • Newmarket (still bagged)
  • Dead Heat – Palomino (still bagged)
  • Matte Sierra Rose
  • Inari
  • Matte Palomino Splash Surprise Smarty
  • Matte Black Surprise Smarty
  • Annie Oakley’s Prince (NPOD Warehouse Leftover)
  • Bay Western Prancing Horse (True Bay variation)
  • #606 Classic Ruffian, extra dark with derpy markings
Not shown: the Volunteer Model Othello, who is being admired upstairs. I’ll talk about him more next time, along with some of the others. The can of beer is an interesting story, though a borderline NSFW one.

No Prizes, no Glosses, no Raffles, no outstanding rarities other than the Matte Black Surprise Smarty. I did get the two Dark Horse Surprises I wanted the most – the Splash and the Black – though either one of them being Glossy would have been nice change of pace for me.

I haven’t gotten a Gloss Surprise since the Stoneleigh Surprise in 2012 – back when they were actually rare-rare. (The “easier” something becomes to acquire, the less likely I am actually able to acquire it. Go figure.)

I got pretty much everything I wanted, except for the Gloss part. And the Riddle part. I didn’t get a chance to do much room shopping, either, though that’s probably for the best.

And I wasn’t cool with the way the Costume Contest prizes were allocated.

I could handle not winning: I was resigned to that the moment Breyer took my picture. (Always the Pinup, never the Prizewinner…) But the fact that the Adult Individual category had the largest number of entries, but the fewest number of prizes awarded, did not seem entirely… equitable?

I am not sure if I’ll be participating in any of the contests next year. (It’s not entirely about the lack of winning. I just need a break.) Though since next year’s theme is “Horse Heroes” I might just walk around the KHP wearing a cape just for the heck of it.

(Again: the fact that I posted the picture of Comet the Super-Horse a short time ago was entirely coincidental. I might know things, but not all the things.)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Tale of Two Doggies

This was supposed to publish on July 12th - it was scheduled to anyway, but apparently blogspot thought otherwise, and the hotel wifi was spotty and I did not have time to check. See you all tomorrow.

Back in the old days of Breyer History Research, we didn’t have enough information to pinpoint the precise year many models debuted.

The original Breyer Master List that they sent out to collectors who asked for it listed two different dates 1958, and 1963 – as the starting date for the majority of early Breyer models: basically, all those seen in either the 1958 Price List, or the 1963 Dealer’s Catalog.

Those were the only two pieces of reference material we had back then that had any actual dates ascribed to them.

We’ve since made significant progress, and significant corrections. But the bad data of the past still crops up from time to time: the two that rub me the wrong way especially are the 1956 date ascribed to the Old Mold Mare and Foal (nope, 1958!), and 1958 for the Boxer (actually, 1953!)

Although we still have significant gaps in our knowledge base, we’re getting to the point where we can not just pinpoint the year a mold was released, but the month! Like the Davy Crockett: it’s listed as one of the “New Toys on parade” in the August 1955 issue of Toys and Novelties magazine:


(A month before Hartland’s version, by the way…)

Both Lassie and Rin Tin Tin made their “official” debuts at the 1956 Toy Fair, but I don’t think they were released simultaneously: I think Lassie was ready to go at least a couple of months before Rinty was.

The announcement of Breyer acquiring the license for Lassie was announced in the August 1955 issue of Toys and Novelties magazine, and a picture of the Lassie appears in the January 1956 issue.


Breyer is not listed as a licensee of Rin Tin Tin in the August 1955 issue, and his first official announcement as a Breyer product at all is in the March 1956 issue, in an ad placed by Krenzien, Krenzien & Dunlap, Breyer’s Midwest Sales Representatives.


In addition to all that, a few years ago someone in the Chicago area found a Lassie at an estate sale painted just like Rin Tin Tin – along with several other unusual pieces in a collection of someone who obviously had a professional connection to Breyer in the mid to late 1950s.

Exactly when the Rinty was available I still don’t know yet; my files may be good, but not that good. Yet.