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:

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.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Dear Flea Market: The Cowboy Cull

Originally I was just going to whinge about the new Unicorn Stablemates and how I am super annoyed that I will probably just have to order a box of them from somebody just to get some at a halfway decent price, but then I went to the flea market and this happened:

I found an authentic ca. 1950s Breyer Cowboy Cull.

With his hat.

(That was the best part. I didn’t even see it when I picked him up, and the vendor was “Don’t forget his hat!” If he had pulled out the guns or a box, too, you would not be reading this because I would be in the hospital right now still recovering from the shock.)

Seriously, flea market: we need to talk.

I thought we were safely out of range of Chicago for this sort of nonsense to happen.

The closest I’ve heard of such things happening was Lansing and Lansing is, at best, two hours away. We’re close enough to Canada that the occasional Beswick or Royal Doulton piece wanders by, and that I’m totally cool with and grateful for.

You might remember that I found a New Jersey Cull (the Quarter Horse Gelding Splash) here last year, which is why I’m understandably a little freaked out about this.

The rest of the flea market shopping experience was fairly normal. A few body-quality Classics, some craft supplies, a few groceries. I did end up leaving some stuff behind, including a pretty decent Gray Plastic Donkey, because after the Cowboy I was pretty much “I can’t even, anymore.” 

Technically there’s not a huge market for this thing: Culls are a bit of a niche item, and so are the 1950s-era Rigid Riders.

So a niche of a niche is what, exactly? Is it like a nook or cranny?

Since I dwell in that subniche – I own a Test Color Roemer, over a half dozen Black Stretched Morgan variations, and a three-legged Dapple Gray Family Arabian Mare that I’m not even sure I know what she is anymore – it’s a moot point. It’s not going anywhere.

Interesting way to get “model horse holy week” off to a start!

I have to go finish packing now. It is not going well, but I’ll manage.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Worth the Wait

Whoa, yesterday just flew right past me! Like many of you at the moment, I’m pretty much in full panic mode. I’m not sure why; everything is going about as well as can be expected, the car is half-packed, and the various assorted costume bits are coming along just fine.

Habit, I guess? I’m always fearful that I will forget one thing…

Just a couple of Auction lots that can’t pass without comment.

Pearly + Liver Chestnut + Minimal Pinto = this paint job is my everything! A modern reinterpretation of Matte Charcoal, and I’m loving it!

The Gloss Dark Palomino on this Five-Gaiter is pretty sexy too:

Either one of those colors would look good on almost anything. Motor vehicles, Christmas ornaments, household appliances….

I don’t know if the Gaiter will go for particularly big money, though: Five-Gaiters (except for Decorators) are a tough sell right now. Even fairly decent Woodgrains and #53 Gloss Palominos can be had for well under $50.

I’ve been around long enough to see the fortunes rise and fall on most models. Remember when the #465 Khemosabi was all the rage on eBay? When the original release of the AQHA Ideal Quarter Horse, new in box, could guarantee you at least a $150 payout? When a JAH Saddlebred Weanling could set you back $400?

That’s why I try to follow my own tastes and hew closely to my budget. And wait: I literally cannot afford to be impatient.

A good reminder for those of you who might get enraptured by whatever Reeves throws at us next week: unless it’s something you know really is a once-in-a-lifetime chance (like my Gold Charm Man o’ War was) it’s worth it to wait.

Something new and exciting will turn up in a few weeks, or a few months, and suddenly what’s hot will be not. And if you still love it and want it and need it, it’ll be there for you at a better price.

Usually. Not always, but usually.

(This is what I keep telling myself whenever another Stablemate rarity shows up on the open market. Someday you shall be mine, Emperor’s Gold Bar! And it won’t cost me an actual gold bar to acquire you!)

One more comment before I go back to torturing myself with the hot glue gun.

I don’t know where this tidbit of information came from – I am assuming it’s a misinterpretation or misreading of the entry for it in Nancy Young’s Breyer Molds & Models – but there are way more than three Woodgrain Elephants in the world.

Woodgrain Elephants are still pretty rare – not quite as rare, say, as the Woodgrain Polled Hereford Bull or Buffalo, or the Elephant with Howdah, but definitely not something you see everyday.

But it does concern me that that bit of bad information may have had an effect on the outcome of the auction on eBay. (I missed it previously, because I’ve been avoiding eBay the past month or so, because it’s such a huge time suck.)

Well-informed collectors are less likely to overspend.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Homestretch

The flea market’s offerings this week are acceptable:

The boxed Walmart Mustang sets and the Stablemates were pretty… unpleasant to the touch when I found them. They’ve since cleaned up well, but I don’t even want to imagine where they were being stored previous to their arrival at the flea market.

The photos appear to be late 1970s or early 1980s vintage, and professionally framed and mounted. I originally thought the jumper on top of the one was Might Tango, but I think it was just the early morning mugginess that made me think that.

They are super-nice, though; I am still deciding whether or not to drag them to BreyerFest or not; I am at the point where I may have to leave a few things home, and they might not make the cut.

I took a quick look at the program – for the prices and quantities on the Special Runs:

711283 Newmarket - 800 pieces - $65
711284 Inari - 750 pieces - $60
711285 Dark Horse Surprise - 4000 pieces - $85
711286 Dead Heat – 1800 pieces - $70
711287 Straight Bet - 1600 pieces - $60
711288 Julep & Pim - 1700 pieces - $65
711289 Sierra Rose – 1450 pieces - $60
711290 By A Nose - 1400 pieces - $65

1765 Foiled Again - 750 pieces - $55
711311 Lonesome Glory - 750 pieces - $55
711337 Scamper - 750 pieces - $35

711291 Old Ironsides – 1250 pieces - $75
711292 Icabad Crane – 1700 pieces - $70

711293 Born to Run (Classic Deco) – 1500 pieces - $30
711295 Home Straight (Crystal) – 1000 pieces - $45
711338 Winner’s Circle Autograph Horse (Adios) – 2000 pieces - $25
711304 Hands Down (Stablemate Scale) – 3000 pieces - $10
711294 Furlong (Plush) – 1500 pieces - $18

Surprised that they’re doing 1450 pieces on the Proud Arabian Mare Sierra Rose. I mean, we knew a little while ago that she’s the 50/50 Gloss and Matte model, but it’s still seems like a lot for something that’s technically a Vintage mold.

The Elk Inari is at 750 pieces, in line with most of the previous Nonhorse SRs. He’s my primary want, and I’m not too worried about getting him.

4000 pieces on the Dark Horse Surprise? That’s a lot! Secretly I am hoping that they split the four colors and two finishes equally – 500 of each, basically – but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to be the case. I have to wait and see on that one.

The 1700 piece run on the Store Special Icabad Crane is also a little nuts. But a good nuts for me: that means he shouldn’t be too difficult to acquire.

The “BreyerFest Special Editions” (the Reissues) might be, though. Only 750 pieces of each of them? Sigh. I know that the Pacer isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but being a significantly lower piece run than most of the other Specials being offered, and being Glossy, I suspect a lot of attendees will get a little mercenary about him.

Everybody else I need to look at in person. I haven’t seen any of the newer Premier Club models in person yet, so I am most curious about seeing Straight Bet and the Julep & Pim.

The Classic Translucent Decorator Born to Run looks mighty pretty too, so that’s another possibility for me. Normally I try to get the Pop-Up Store Stablemates, but if this year’s piece is actually resin, I might reconsider: I am clumsy, and with dog.

Back to prep: reviewing the final draft of the Sampler, and doing my final sort on the sales items. (Something I usually do back in May, but stuff got in the way.)

Saturday, June 30, 2018

More Photos from the Slush Pile

Another random picture day. First up, my really handsome Dapple Gray Proud Arabian Stallion:

He’s an earlier variation, obviously, with two airbrushed hind socks just like the *Witez II variation of the Mahogany Bay. And like my *Witez II, he’s almost perfect – just a slight bit of yellowing, and some tiny hoof and eartip rubs. A bit of light restoration and he’d be showring ready.

Hmm. I guess I should get cracking and finally track down a minty-mint heavily shaded early Alabaster guy to complete the trio, eh?

(My guess is that it’ll be another incidental find like the other two: it’ll happen when it happens.)

Next up is something I scanned a bit ago to talk about the hobby really being an offshoot of science-fiction fandom:

Oldsters among us will recognize the name Dragonquest, as in Linda Leach-Hardy’s Dragonquest Studios. She was a local artist/customizer for me (other side of town, though) so I very occasionally run across some of her old customs at the local flea market.

The last time I did it was actually kind of funny; I was looking the model over, and the seller was trying to impress me with “And it’s signed by the ARTIST!” and I came back with something like “Yeah, I used to hang out with the ARTIST back in the 1980s. I even had her do a commission for me!”

(Hey, it was like 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning. That’s about as sick a burn as I could muster.)

Here’s that wee custom, by the way:

While’s we’re at it, here’s a scan of the first official appearance of Comet, the Super-Horse, because why the heck not:

I think it was in my reference files because I was thinking about doing a Comet custom for the “Fantasy” division of the Customs Contest last year. Which didn’t happen last year, this year, or probably any time soon, because that giant scary pile of unfinished quilts in the laundry room isn’t getting any smaller.

And finally, here’s a fellow I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while, but I never got around to it for some reason. First, a more recent photo of him:

And the original photo of him, from Marney’s Album:

From the style of the original photograph, it’s pretty obvious that he’s a very early Test Color for the Appaloosa Performance Horse. But is he an actual pre-1974 Test for the Appaloosa Performance Horse?

I’d like to think so: even if the evidence is lacking, the timing is right.

It’s kind of interesting that they were experimenting with different types of roaning just as they were phasing out the old style of “Freckle” roaning, isn’t it? I’ll having to write that topic down for future investigation...

Back to (BreyerFest) work.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Just a Few

A Few Spot Appaloosa on the True North mold? You’re killing me!

Aside from the fact I just think Few Spot Appaloosa are kinda neat, I’m also of the opinion that the Appaloosa as a breed has been done no favors by the aggressive quest for color.

Once I get around to customizing again, one of the projects I’m very eager to get to work on is an Appaloosa Performance Horse in a Few Spot Appaloosa, since it’s unlikely that they’ll ever get around to giving us a Regular Run one anytime soon.

As much as we carp about virtually every release nowadays being spotted, the fact of the matter is that’s what sells. Unless the model is exceptional in some other way – glossy, with extra or extra-special detailing, or is a Portrait Model of someone historical/noteworthy – it’s been in Reeves best financial interest to make it as fancy as possible.

And fancy means spots.

Though it is true that many BreyerFest Auction pieces in the past few years have actually been previews of future releases (in other words, truly Tests!) I’m still skeptical of more Few Spot releases in the near future.

They are, by definition, not fancy enough.

There haven’t been many Breyer Few Spot Appaloosas in the past, either. There are the occasional extreme variations of the #115 Appaloosa Western Prancing Horse, and I’ve seen a few older Gloss Gray Appaloosa with spots sparse enough to possibly pass as one (later examples of the Fighting Stallion, for instance.)

But the only intentional Few Spot that immediately comes to mind is the San Domingo Oxydol, who was from about 20 years ago.

(I have one, he just happens to be in storage right now.)

I think they tried to pass off the Dappled Liver Chestnut Running Mare from the 2009 Fun Foals Treasure Hunt as a “solid Appaloosa” too. Which I thought kind of muddled the color genetics lesson the Fun Foals promotion was supposed to be about. (Would it really have been that big a deal to toss a couple of stray spots on her? Mottle her nose a bit? Add a couple of hoof stripes? )
Back to BreyerFest prep…

Monday, June 25, 2018

Splashing Around

Not much to say again, today: yesterday was another washout at the flea market, and most of the week ahead of me will be used to get my BreyerFest paperwork done, because of course I’m behind.

It’s more a matter of finding the time that fussing over content. I’ve managed to make all of my other deadlines for other things throughout the year, so I am feeling surprisingly blasé about it all at this point.

It could also be the Benadryl talking: in lieu of bashing my head against a wall and attempting a Diorama Contest entry this year, I’ve been spending that time making my garden presentable again. It’s something I can look at every day and get some satisfaction out of it without any worries about whether it gets deemed prize worthy.

Things were going great – but apparently I touched something I shouldn’t over the weekend, and now I’m having a rather unpleasant allergic reaction that may require medical intervention in the next 24 hours. (You can actually see the imprint of the offending leaf on my arm!)

Lovely. I just can’t win either way, can I?

On the plus side, I have most of the components of a possible costume entry, so if the paperwork goes well this week, that’ll be what I spend my free time on next week.

Speaking of free time, looking over my schedule for BreyerFest weekend, it doesn’t look like I’ll get much of an opportunity to get any store-related shopping done; all I’m hoping for at this point is to somehow pick up a Gloss Foiled Again and an Ichabad Crane.

Hotel-wise, I have no idea what I’ll seriously be looking for this year. I’ll know it when I see it, I guess. Just like every other year!

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that my favorite of the current crop of Auction Test Colors is the Splash Pinto Valegro:

I was thinking just yesterday that I wanted to see more Splash Pintos, though I was hoping for a more… affordable option. I’ll just have to settle for a Silky Keno or a Pierrot. (Had the latter, and sold it. Not sure why. Just being dumb, I guess.)

The first true Breyer Splash Pinto – one that was specifically designed to look like a Splash – was the Black Pinto Johar in the Eagle and Pow Wow Gift Set from 1995, I beleive? Then followed by the G1 Draft Horse from the JC Penney Christmas Catalog Stablemate Set the following year.

And finally, one additional note: I added a link to Mares in Black to the right.

Due to my work schedule and other commitments, I don’t get to interact with hobbyists face-to-face on a more regular basis. The informal and intimate qualities of podcasts make me feel like I’m overhearing a really great conversation at a live show or in a hallway at BreyerFest.

That’s the only problem I had with the podcasts: I found myself at several points over the first two actually trying to participate in the discussion! As if I didn’t already talk to myself enough…

Friday, June 22, 2018

Clearing Out the Picture Files

I can’t think of anything interesting to say today. So I’ll clear some random pictures off the hard drive. After the recent dusting and reorganizing, I took a few extra pics for the times when words fail. Like today!

Here’s one last “glamour” shot of those Gloss Alabaster Family Arabian Mare and Foal before I decide their fate:

If you don’t remember, this is what they looked like when I got them:

They did turn out pretty darn nice, didn’t they? But I already have a very good set of Gloss Alabasters – with stickers! – and no (physical) room for sentiment, so they’re likely headed to Kentucky in a few weeks.

(You could use this post as part of their provenance, if you’re in the market!)

They’ve been in my bedroom window for the past several months, so I will miss seeing them every day. But I’m sure I can find someone else in need of a sunbath soon.

Here’s a pic of the original Little Bits #9025 Clydesdale, produced from 1984 through 1988, and released in a couple different shades of Bay since then. I’ve been wanting to talk a little bit more about the Little Bits/Paddock Pals, but I haven’t been able to come up with anything interesting or clever to say.

The photo turned out nice, though. Of all the Little Bits molds, the Clydesdale does seem to be the most photogenic, isn’t he? I’m not sure if the front stocking was intentionally masked, or someone’s fingers got in the way.

I bought him when he came out in 1984, so the latter, probably. Quality control was, in spite of rumors to the contrary, not necessarily better back then. Speaking of…

Always makes me smile. I know something like that isn’t likely to slip by QC today; not because it would not be well executed, but newer collectors are more likely to see it as a flaw, and not character. (Not mine, but been offered.)

And finally, since the hobby was all agog a while back over the Family Arabian Mare with the Mahogany Bay Proud Arabian Mare paint job, for equal time here’s a pic of a Test Color Proud Arabian Mare wearing the Family Arabian Mare’s version of the Bay paint job, black hooves and all:

Since this photograph (one of Marney’s, of course) is dated early 1971 – before she was officially released for sale to the public – this probably represents a True Test Color, as opposed to things that were painted just because.

Pretty girl! I wish I knew where she was. Purely out of curiosity: it’s not likely I’d be able to afford her than that Mahogany Bay Family Arabian Mare!

And that’s all for today, folks.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

These Old Racehorses

Nothing at the flea market this weekend, just the usual strays and bodies. As my sales list is already overflowing, the lack of stuff was more of an annoyance than a worry. I couldn’t even muster up any interesting craft supplies, produce, or groceries of questionable provenance to buy…

Another annoyance: people who allegedly got picked off some “wait list” for the Scottsdale Event. You guys and your imaginations!

It’s not like I had the money for it anyway. And if I did, I’d be dropping it on this guy instead:

I was just wondering the other day where the old #36 Racehorse was going to show up at BreyerFest. I had some amusing thoughts that it’d be the Volunteer model or Dark Horse Surprise, but nope. At auction, naturally – and in Gloss Charcoal!

Come on guys, just one more kinda-sorta obtainable release for us old coots who neither lucky, nor made of money? Please? I can’t afford either the Daisy or the Dixie.

I’m not real fussy on color or finish either, but Web Special pricing or under would be great.

Another model making me grit my teeth:

The BF Live Open Show Reserve Hot to Trot. Now there’s not one, but two Pinto Pacers I can’t afford? Just when I was getting so close to completing my Pacer collection?

I know a lot of people aren’t all that excited by him, and wouldn’t hesitate to sell me theirs at the “right” price, but that’s not a game I play. I did not bite when I was offered Marshalls at prices I really could not afford, and the Pacer will be no different.

(I briefly flirted with the idea of showing this year, but financially and logistically I couldn’t make it work.)

For the record, outside of the Praline, the only other Pacers I’m actively looking for are the QVC rerelease of Niatross, a boxed and complete #2446 Sulky Gift Set, and at least one of the Christmas Sulky sets. (I have all the Pacers that came with, but everything else, not so much.)

Of all those, the Christmas Pacer sets will probably be the toughest to acquire; boxed Christmas Catalog releases in general are kind of a thing now (as they should be!) It’s just a matter of unfortunate timing on my part that they happen to be at the end of my want list.

I managed to get all of the other Pacer rarities before they got out of hand, so I may have to bite the bullet at some point if a set comes up any time soon.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Boring, But Competent

Another busy day of stuff and things. Some stuff I wanted to get done this week got done, some of it didn’t, so here’s another exciting Special Run from the 1980s to thrill and amaze you while I vegetate in a corner of my office:

Yeah, it’s no Glossy Appaloosa Halla: it’s the 1986 Bay Stud Spider, who was an early gift with purchase model. (Yup, we had them back then, too.) You had to buy $30 worth of stuff from the mail-order company Your Horse Source to get him.

(That translated back then to about three Traditional Adults, or four Traditional Foals or Classic Racehorses.)

He’s pretty standard for a 1980s Special Run: a flat Red Bay, airbrushed markings, a bit of shading on the nostrils, on a competently executed mold doing nothing in particular.

That really is the definition of boring, isn’t it?

To be honest, we weren’t all that excited back then about him either, but our choices were more limited then – fewer existing molds, fewer releases per year, etc. – and he was technically free.

While he’s no Stetson – or even a Smooth Copper – of all the models I’ve bought and subsequently sold over the years, he’s still here. So that’s saying something about the power of boring-but-competent.

(There’s also a story. Most of my models have stories to them, but this one is rather mortifying and probably best left off the Internet. For now.)

Even though they made about a 1000 pieces of him, he’s not all that common to find – partly because he is boring, and also because I suspect the full complement of 1000 pieces might not have been made/sold, either.

Larger piece runs like that were usually reserved for bigger mail-order operations like Sears and JC Penneys, for JAH Subscriber SRs, or as an item that was available to multiple mail-order companies simultaneously. A thousand pieces for a modest mail-order operation out of Wyoming? It might have been a challenge.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Spotty Halla

Like everyone else, I am completely smitten with the Live Auction Appaloosa Halla:

The auction piece was created on one of the handful of pre-Bolya Halla bodies Reeves still had in the warehouse. Halla, in this form, is essentially extinct: the way the mold was altered means it isn’t coming back to its original form.

It’s theoretically possible to recreate Halla by doing a 3-D scan of an original – either the original sculpt if it is out there somewhere, or of an earlier plastic one.

Possible, but not likely: although the real-life Halla is still considered a legend in Germany, and the Hess mold is a dead-on portrait of her, a new Halla would have be an entirely new mold.

Newer collectors prefer newer molds, and the money that it takes to develop a new mold is probably a better long-term investment than re-creating an old mold that had only a modest fan base to begin with.

Speaking of Appaloosas, here’s a picture of my “Old Mold” Appaloosa Stallion, which is basically the Family Arabian Stallion without the full mold stamp: some have a fragmentary copyright horseshoe, some have none. This one has a fragmentary mold mark:

Since the Family Arabian Foal had enough mold changes over the years that we can almost date them to the year, I thought I’d try to do the same with the Family Arabian Stallion.

I gave up, eventually. There are definitely lots of subtle changes beyond the mold mark, and his boy parts definitely got reworked in the 1970s and beyond, but they weren’t enough to create a year-by-year timeline.

You could more accurately date the Stallions by their paintjobs. You don’t need to see a picture of the mold mark area to know this guy is early: the hip blanket and finely speckled spots already tell you that. It’s the same coloring/patterning you see on the Old Mold Mare and Foals, and can be seen in early examples of the Family Mare and Foal, too.

I’m not sure exactly when it switched over to the splashier and more irregular spots and the white belly stripe, other than it happened pretty early. This speckled variation isn’t necessarily rare – most Family Arabians of any type and stripe just aren’t – but it’s definitely the scarcer of the two Gloss Gray Appaloosa variations.

The fragility of the gray paint does make it difficult to find them in good or better condition. Other than a factory smudge, this guy is near-perfect, which is why this handsome fella one of my favorites among my Family Arabians.

Sunday, June 10, 2018


While I am a little annoyed I didn’t get picked for the Scottsdale Stampede Event, it’s pretty far down the list of things that upset me this week. It was a long shot that I’d be able to attend in the first place, and done largely to help out a friend anyway.

(Not that I wouldn’t be excited to go, but it did push me over the finish line to enter.)

Moving on, because I have to. (Though secretly hoping that people trying to “sell” their “plus one” slots for more than cost + fees get bit somehow. Because tacky.)

Anyway, the more exciting news is that Reeves is apparently going whole hog with the Mini Me thing, with the Alborozo and the Magnolia resin getting the Brishen Stablematizing treatment in a Midyear Stablemates Mystery Assortment type thing.

I don’t know the details of the contracts that covered the creations of the original sculptures in the first place – and any possible limitations that may stem from them – so I couldn’t tell you who or what to expect next.

Two of the three “Stablematized” Traditional-scale models – the Brishen, and the Alborozo – had been released in a shrunken form previously as Crystals. This suggests that’s the place we might need to look for clues to future “new” Stablemates releases.

So will we be seeing the Nokota Horse, Silver, Traditional Moody Andalusian, Zippo Pine Bar, Esprit, Croi Damsha, Bobby Jo, or Cleveland Bay next? I’d be on board with most of those.

I know there are some people out there thinking this means the Traditional Alborozo might be making a return.

Ugh. Guys. Seriously. Stop it!

That ship has not only passed, it’s been torpedoed, sunk, and is now residing somewhere in the Marianas Trench. Be happy that you will now have a (possibly) unlimited supply of somewhat-less-expensive mini Alborozos to collect, customize, and fondle to your heart’s content.

Personally, I can’t get overly excited for the Stablemates Alborozo, or at least with the initial Unicorn releases. It looks like he’s going to be the chase piece in the set, just as the Django was for the current Mystery Horse Surprise Assortment, so the likelihood of me stumbling on one (either common or rare) is going to be very unlikely.

Incidentally, I still can’t believe the totally insane prices on that Copper Florentine Django. I spent significantly less for my Black G1 Quarter Horse Stallion Pancho – and more recently, both my Mint in Box Stablemates Stable Set and Mint in Box Wooden Stablemates Stable combined.

And here I thought focusing on Stablemates would totally be the affordable way to go this year. Nope!

Programming note: I am going to continue to be a bit scarce for the next week or so as I attempt to wrap up some personal and professional business. Don’t set the Internet on fire while I’m out.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

High Anxiety

Got the Silver Filigree Callahan I wanted, yay!

The detailing on the tail ribbon is amazing, and other than a few tiny bits of roughness in the gloss that can be felt, but not seen, I have no complaints about the Callahan itself.

But seriously, Reeves, we need to talk about the box.

I had heard that a higher percentage of boxes for the Callahans were arriving in less-than-optimal condition. While I have had my share of bumped and bruised boxes over the years, I haven’t had all that much to complain about.

But alas, not today. Fortunately my Callahan was fine; nevertheless, the only anxiety I should have felt today in opening the box should have been about what color I was getting, not how many pieces the model might have been broken into.

Do better, guys. 


This is what happens when I skip a day at the flea market:

I stop at the Salvation Army on the way home from work the next day and buy a ton of G3 My Little Ponies. And I don’t even collect them!

The cashier who rang me up gave me some serious side-eye, so I told her “they’ll make great party favors!”

In reality, I bought them for the BreyerFest stash – not that I need any more stuff, necessarily, but I do need the right kind of stuff, and I had a pretty good response the last time I brought some.

I did feel a little bit guilty about buying them, not really knowing that market or collecting that item per se. The tiny bit of research I did today didn’t indicate anything particularly rare in the lot of 19, but I’m not aiming to make a big profit, regardless.

I tend to see stuff like this as a way to bank some trip money ahead of time. Other people start a vacation savings account for their trip: I buy models to sell, even if it’s only a slight profit. Those slight profits tend to give me a better return on my investment than a bank savings account, too.

And it was kind of relaxing to clean them up and sort them out in between doing less pleasant things yesterday; I haven’t had much “grooming time” with the Breyers lately, other that the Memorial Day Weekend Dusting Project that for reasons I will not go into was not relaxing in the least.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Callahan, and Waiting It Out

I didn’t buy Fletcher, or Griffin, or Starlet, and I managed to bypass Koh-i-Noor the second time he was offered, too. But the Callahan? He finally broke me:

Bought one so fast I forgot to pull down the web site images and data! Oops!

My excuses, this time: I had some money in the PayPal account, and I still didn’t have a Classic Head Down Shire B here yet. All the versions of that mold that I do like I can’t afford at the moment, and since I like all three of the colors they were offering, it seemed like the logical thing to do.

However, I sold my Pamplemousse a while ago, and I was never drawn for a Silverado; since I do still have my Silver Snow, that’s the Mini Me I’m hoping for.

I’m with a lot of people here: I do kind of wish Reeves would slow down the pace of all these offers. 2018 is beginning to feel a bit like 1984/5 – another time period where we were being barraged with one Special Run after another.

It was both harder, and easier back then. It was harder, because we had neither social media nor the Internet to keep us informed. You had to rely on your own hobby network – and monthly hobbyist newsletters – to find out about the Special Runs in the first place.

There were not quite as many mail-order retailers as you might think, so there’d be a good chance you might already be on the mailing list of a company who had, or was going to get, a Special Run soon. News and the mail traveled more slowly then: whether you got the sales list on time, or even found out about these Special Runs in time was the bigger worry.

It was easier back then because even though the piece runs were smaller – sometimes significantly so – it’d still take a few weeks or months for most things to sell out. You had the luxury of time – not a lot, but enough to take a deep breath.

The hobby was smaller back then, too. Less competition!

We had our profit-takers and flippers, too, but the problem wasn’t as widespread. There were some examples of quick sellouts, demand that vastly exceeded supply, and a couple of instances of people buying multiples for resale that profoundly warped the market.

Prices for some of the in-demand SRs remained high for while, but the Internet quickly cured that. There are still some – like the Buckskin Adios, or the 1984 G1 Stablemate Draft Horses – that command the big bucks, but most SRs of years past aren’t all that expensive or difficult to find anymore.

And that’s going to be the case with these newer ones, too, no matter how popular a mold may be now. Some go up and stay up, but most go down eventually. Or at least become less hotly contested.

If you couldn’t get one, and can’t afford the aftermarket now, just wait it out a bit. Something new will come along, and people will sell something old to buy something new.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Liver Chestnut Scratching Foal Oddity

On the left is your standard, garden-variety #169 Liver Chestnut Scratching Foal, a relatively scarce vintage model who was only in production from 1970 through 1971. This release used to be hard to come by, but then the Internet and eBay happened, so not as much anymore.

They still sell for decent price – especially ones with good shading and detail, or with original boxes and stickers – but the big money in the Scratching Foal game is with either Test Colors or some of the scarcer Fun Foal variations like the Black, Dark Gray, or Blue Roan.

But who is the Foal on the right? I’m not sure! It’s either a Test Color that just happens to be very similar to the Liver Chestnut, or it’s a Liver Chestnut with a factory overhaul, and lots of extra dark shading and added black points.

There were a lot of Special Runs in the 1980s that were basically just updates of previous Regular Runs; the first ones that come to mind are two of the Montgomery Ward Christmas SRs: the Dapple Gray Shire from 1982-1983, and the Alabaster Old Timer from 1983.

There were subtle differences that distinguished those SRs from their Regular Run antecedents: the newer Shires tended to have fewer and more random dapples, and the newer Old Timers didn’t have the heavy gray body shading that the original #200 was known for.

So this subtly different Liver Chestnut Scratching Foal could have been a Test for a similar Special Run that didn’t happen.

The other theory is that – like some other Oddities that have popped up in recent years (the Palomino Family Arabian Mares with black points, et al) – it might have been something that a painter enhanced at the factory, either as a gift or for their own amusement.

There’s also the possibility that it was a Cull that Marney or one of her cohorts salvaged at the Chicago factory: it came out of a collection in Illinois within a reasonable driving distance of Chicago, with other oddities that obviously came straight from the factory. And touching up salvageable Culls with a bit of black paint was very much a Marney thing!

One this is certain, though: it’s not a Test Color for the original release of the Scratching Foal. The earliest Scratching Foals – including my Liver Chestnut one, above left – don’t have a USA mold mark, but my new dark and lovely one does.

Test Colors on the Scratching Foal are a bit hard to come by; the closest I came before was a Cull that I purchased off eBay from the family of a former Breyer contractor, also in the Chicago area.

The funniest thing about this situation was that I was making a few additions and changes to my BreyerFest want list, and the Scratching Foal was one of the molds I wanted to focus on this year!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Alabaster Foundation Stallion

Although I did “win” a Rialto, I had to give him up for a multitude of reasons; seeing just how lovely he is from the in-hand pictures is making me wince even more than I usually do and I probably should just stop looking at those pictures, already.

(I’m hoping karma doesn’t bite me in the butt over that decision to pass, but I’m the kind of person who has to have contingency plans for my contingency plans, so… yeah, probably.)

I was tasked with dusting over the weekend (long story) and as I was finishing up very late last night, I paused to consider this pretty little SR from years past:

It’s the Special Run Alabaster Foundation Stallion, from 1985. About 700 pieces were made for the mail-order company Horses International in Arizona, though some were also sold elsewhere.

In terms of color, shading, quantities, distribution pattern et al, this model was typical of Special Runs sold in the 1980s. These were the kinds of Special Runs we got back then, and were happy to get them!

(Shakes fist at passing cloud.)

He pales in comparison to recent releases like Rialto – whose glossy, roany, elaborately masked paint job and hand-painted eyes would have blown our minds in 1985. Most customs didn’t have that level of detail back then!

Of course, the Rialto costs over a dozen times what the Alabaster Foundation Stallion cost – then, and now. (The original price for the Alabaster was $12.50, not including postage.)

That Foundation Stallion is not easy to find nowadays, but only because no one is looking for someone like him. I have known the feeling all too well, lately….

The Alabaster Foundation Stallion falls into that hole of undesirability a lot of Special Runs from the 1980s now do: a little too common to be considered rare, with a paint job considered too bland/boring to modern tastes, on an older mold that’s not all that popular at the moment.

He’s no Rialto, but I still love him.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Brown Rin Tin Tin Variation

On the left is a standard issue #64 Rin Tin Tin from the 1950s or 1960s. On the right is the re-release #327 “German Shepherd” from the early 1970s.  But who’s the mostly-brown guy in the middle?

Heck if I know!

Normally I’d just chalk him up as a later variation of the original Rin Tin Tin, with looser, less defined markings. The #64 Rin Tin Tin ran for about ten years (from ca. 1956 through 1965), and variations are not unusual in production runs that long.

My fellow on the left is the most common variant – dark saddle and tail, white chest, face and tail tip – but I’ve seen him lighter and darker, with more shading and less, with pink tongues and red. I’ve even seen a Chalky one!

The thing is that this brown one was being sold as a part of a collection that was obviously from a collector active in the Chicago area during the Chicago era (pre-1985).

Whenever something a little unusual is found under those circumstances, it makes you wonder if there’s more than meets the eye. Test Color? Oddity? Employee Take-Home?

I know there’s at least one Matte Brown German Shepherd floating around; the 1972 and 1973 Collector’s Manuals show a photograph of a light brown one, and one was listed in Marney’s estate sale in 1992 (though the list doesn’t specify if it was Matte or Gloss).

In spite of the fact that Breyer was phasing out Gloss finishes by then, they still continued to experiment with them on Test Colors in the early 1970s.

So it’s possible that there’s something more than meets the eye with my newest Rin Tin Tin.

Most likely not, though; too many of us automatically assume that whenever we run across something we haven’t seen before, it must automatically be something rare, or unusual. Sometimes it’s just something we haven’t run across before – nothing more, nothing less.

He does make a nice trio with my other two though, doesn’t he?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Finding the Reasons Why

Another box of horses at the flea market, yay!

There are a couple of salvageable pieces in there (one of the Chestnut Merrylegs is drop-dead gorgeous) and one is being pulled for a possible project idea I have, but the rest are headed for the Body Box section of my sales list.

One reason I love finding boxes full of horses isn’t just because of the group discounts or the sheer thrill of discovery, but the story in the lot itself.

Every model may be a memory, but a collection tells a story.

Two identical Merrylegs (the one from the Slumber Party Gift Set) and two complete 2010 WEG Three-Horse Sets? This was the collection of two young siblings, not one. But did they actually go to the World Equestrian Games, or did a relative bring them back from a trip?

That they ended up at the flea market, selling for not much more than a song, could mean so many different things. Perhaps like most horse-crazy girls, they grew out of it, or thought they did. Maybe they finally got “real” horses of their own, and had no time (or money!) for imitations? Or… boys?

Those are the most common explanations. I was too excited to find a Box of Cheap Horses to stick around and find out the real reason why. It was a blustery day and I hadn’t slept well the night before, so once struck the proverbial pay dirt, I took the horses and ran.

The WEG Classics are a bit on the scarce side, so I feel bad about tossing the majority of them into the Body Box; while they’re not terrible, the demand for most of the more modern Classics molds – even scarce releases – is not high enough to merit an effort to restore on my part. One of the Gray Best-in-Show Thoroughbreds looks like he might clean up, though:

He’s very appealing in this color, and I do not have an example of this mold in the herd just yet; I missed out on the American Pharoahs on the short-tailed version when they were clearance out at Tuesday Morning last year.

This fellow might do. I’ll have to think about it. (It’s the pink hooves. They slay me.)

Here’s one thing I don’t have to think much about: some of these bodies are going up on MHSP by the end of the week. Since it’s still a couple of months until Kentucky, and the flea market season has just gotten underway, it’s probably best that I thin the box out a bit before it gets any further out of hand.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Catching Up Is Hard To Do

I was on the road and dealing with some work-related issues most of the week (and a dentist appointment, blerg) so I missed most of the hubbub about the Rialto:

Being on the Totilas mold, there was some concern he was a follow-up “consolation prize” Special Run to the Koh-i-Noor, but it turned out he was just another piece in the America the Beautiful Series.

I like him a lot, and if I happen to be drawn for one I’ll be more than happy to add him to the herd. I won’t be heartbroken if I’m not though, because after watching some of the behaviors that went on with the distribution of Koh-i-Noor, I’m fine with just walking away from the mold for a little while.

Much as I had to do with the Esprit mold.

It’s interesting that the distribution of the Koh-i-Noor variations seems to be relatively even – the three sock version seems to be a little less common than the two, four, and no sock versions, but not excessively so.

I don’t quite understand what everybody’s fascination with the no-sock version is, but as I’m not really in the market for one, it’s more of an academic question for me. Was it the assumption that he’d be the “rare” one driving it, or the fact that it represented the opposite end of the scale from the four-stocking one: All vs. Nothing?

The first item in the BreyerFest Garland Pop-Up Shops has popped up, and I have to give kudos to the photographer:

His hair is so metal! Love it. I have a few Breyer Plushes, and I wouldn’t mind a few more, but Vita assumes all plushes that enter the house are her property… and let’s just say she destroys what she loves.

It’s worth noting that this is the second item – after Newmarket – to feature jockey silks as the main decorative element. So my initial assumption wasn’t entirely wrong.

Since I’ve decided to forego the customizing this year to catch up on the sewing projects, and purchasing them secondhand is not going to happen, I have (almost) no opinion of the Best Customs Contest prizes. It is nice to see another Bobby Jo in a non-chestnut-based color scheme, though!

The entry period for the Scottsdale Stampede Event is coming up, and I am still undecided about entering; I am hoping to have a definitive answer by the end of next week.

Also and obviously, I did not “win” the Test Color Black Stallion. I keep telling myself that it’s for the best: if I ever do, I’d probably keel over from the shock. Not because of the winning, but because of the bill…

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Chris Hess Flier

I had a really rough day today. Actually, the whole week has been suboptimal.

Imagine baking a cake just to be nice, and it turns out great, but nobody in the house wants to eat it? For no particular reason, either?

That’s the kind of week I’ve been having. The worst part? The cake isn’t even metaphorical.

(If there’s anyone within driving distance of my house, I have free Applesauce Spice Cake to give away. Not joking.)

Anyway, rather than bore you with any more details of my I-just-can’t-even kind of week, I’ll present a transcription of the flier from the 1996 Breakfast with Peter Stone held at the Holiday Inn-North on July 27, 1996.

I transcribed it a while ago, as I was getting a number of requests for more biographical information about Chris Hess. It seemed to make more sense to just publish the text from the flier than to quote and paraphrase it. Scanning it wouldn't have made it as searchable as text, either.

There’s much more to his story, of course. But this will help put a little bit more of his life and legacy on the Internet:

Welcome to 
“A Tribute to Christian Hess”

Christian Hess was a handy man to have around. According to his son Chris, Christian could repair anything and everything. Combine those talented hands with a love for art, and it’s not surprising that you’ll have someone who sculpted hundreds of horses and animals that continue to delight collectors today.

Christian Hess was born in Chicago in 1918. After studying art at the Art Institute of Chicago, Christian began a career as a commercial artist. He started as a wood carver, creating decorations for buildings, and eventually turned his talents to mold making. According to Chris, his father made more than 100 molds for Breyer, his first being the Western Horse #57 in 1950. Some accounts have that number as high as 118 including traditional, classic and Little Bits models. His last piece was Secretariat in 1987.

Christian also made over 50 other animals and figures for other companies, including the children’s riding toy known as the “Wonder Horse”, Santa Claus figures, art and advertising pieces. Christian was the sculptor and mold maker responsible for many of those familiar plastic pink yard flamingos.

Christian was married to Elizabeth for 55 years. They have 4 children, Barbara, Christian, Pamela and Lisa, and are the proud grandparents of 10 and great-grandparents of 4. Chris, who worked with his father in their company from 1963 to 1988, describes him as hard working and conscientious, always thinking about his business. Chris says his father hated to go on vacation because he didn’t like to be away from the business for very long!

Though Chris died in 1988, his art lives on in the models he produced. His sculpture “Trouble” is the basis for the first model of the new Peter Stone Collection.

(Note: there are some obvious errors and typos in the text itself, but they have been left as-is.)

Sunday, May 13, 2018


A last minute change to the schedule left me with an unexpected but welcome day off. So I did a couple of my favorite, non-horsey things: baked a cake and organized stuff! On the way to the store for supplies for both, I stopped at the Salvation Army and found some horse goodies anyway:

An Ertl, and a Traditional Spirit and Rain! That makes up for the lack of ponies at the flea market the past two weeks.

I don’t have either the Spirit or the Rain in the collection yet, but since both go for crazy-good money on eBay in almost any condition, and I could really use that money right now, it’s off to Internet for the both of them once some paperwork is done…

I haven’t had many of the Spirits in my possession over the years – just a BreyerFest Special Run Ringmaster briefly, purchased for a friend who couldn’t attend that year – and I have to say that now I’ve been able to examine him in greater detail, I’m actually even more impressed by him.

Aside from the cartoony head and the slightly exaggerated proportions on his lower legs, he’s remarkably realistic for a model horse adapted from a cartoon – and he is also, as they say in the animation biz – very “on model”. That’s a pretty remarkable feat!

As I’ve stated several times before, I’m not all that bothered by the “eyebrow thing”: it’s an affectation that the animators used to make animating the horse’s expressions easier, and a (probable) necessary requirement for the license.

That the hobby, in general, has latched on to them as a perpetual source of griping (like dappling, urgh) is another mildly worrying reminder of the hobby’s tendency toward groupthink.

I already have a Rain – the 2007 BreyerFest Special Run Lady Liberty – and I’d like to add a Traditional Spirit in some form to the herd eventually. However, the two Spirit releases I like most – the 2004 BreyerFest Raffle Horse El Corazon, and the 2013 Live Show Benefit Raffle Zuni – are unaffordable.

I wanted to like the Padre; he was a really pretty shade of Bay, and an affordable and long-running Regular Run. But his big black undetailed eyes were a bridge too spooky for me, and a strange contrast to the care that went into the rest of his paint job.

He’s too popular a mold on his own to be tied up with the Spirit license in perpetuity, so I’m sure they’re be a release more to my liking (and my budget) eventually.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Breyer Hat Trick

Just a few notes here before we get to the meat of things today.

First: if your receive a model directly from Reeves that is wrapped in big-bubble bubble wrap, it’s a good indication that the model in question was painted (or in the case of the Koh-i-Noors, repainted) in New Jersey.

I think this fact has been covered here and in other places before, but as it does not yet seem to be common knowledge, it’s still worth noting.

Second: while it is true that the Traditional Black Stallion has not had a lot of Test Colors (he’s just not THAT popular a mold to merit a lot of experimentation) the e-mail for the latest Test Color Purchase Raffle is wrong about another thing: the mold was introduced in 1981, not 1984.

Sham came out in 1984 – and he did come in a remotely similar color as the 1994 West Coast Jamboree model – so maybe that’s where the mistake originated?

I’m not a huge fan of the Black Stallion mold, but the paint job on this Test piece is so beautifully shaded! Chestnuts can be a bit muddy if they are not executed well, but happily that is not the case with this fellow. I’d try to find some way to keep him, if the opportunity arises.  

I was pulling some research data for my BreyerFest paperwork – not going as well as I hoped, but I am still being buffeted by many distractions – and I can’t believe I missed the other significance of two of the Stablemate One-Day releases, the Ruffian and the Man o’ War:

Prior to the announcement of this year’s One-Day Stablemates, the most recent real-life horse who had the honor of completing a Breyer “hat trick” – appearing as a portrait model in all three of the major plastic scales (Traditional, Classic, and Stablemate) – was American Pharoah.

And prior to him? Seabiscuit and War Admiral.

Notice a trend?

Lots of other nonfictional horses have been released multiple times on different molds and in different scales, but having three releases of the same horse in three different scales is actually pretty rare.

That’s because Non-Traditional scale portrait models, outside of racehorses, are scarce in general.

(Fictional ones are a whole other beast.)

Off the top of my head, the only portrait Stablemates I can think of that aren’t racehorses are the Valegro, and most of the BreyerFest 20th Anniversary Stablemates Commemorative set.

Considering how popular the Stablemates scale models have been lately (Stablemates Club, the Spirit releases, Mystery releases et al), you’d think Reeves would push for more Stablemate portrait model releases, but I can also understand the perspective of the horse’s owner: bigger (Traditional) is better!

Monday, May 7, 2018

BreyerFest Blues

With the Koh-i-Noors hitting the streets, it’s probably best that I limit my already-limited lurking time on eBay. I’ve had a lot on my mind the past week or so, and possibly more to come this week; I really don’t have time to add the possibility of unkind thoughts into the mix.

Happier thoughts I will entertain: I think I actually love all four of the One-Day Stablemates! The “Silver Charm” one, most of all:

Pearly, fleabitten, on a mold I’ve been digging, on a horse I actually had the pleasure of seeing during BreyerFest, just the day after he arrived at Three Chimneys? Yes, please!

(My brother is almost as bad a photographer as I am, so the photographs of our meeting will remain unpublished.)

The standard procedure over the past several years has been to offer an assortment of molds in a variety of patterns and colors, often only linked together by their theme-oriented names.

This caught me a bit off-guard: I’m trying to wrack my brain, but I think this is the first instance of actual portrait models being used as One-Day Stablemates?

I do like how, in spite of the fact that they are all technically portrait models of famous racehorses, they managed to sneak a Decorator into their little lineup: the Lexington is essentially a Mini-Me of the Big Lex resin from 2010:

They’re certainly getting their money’s worth with the blue paint this year, aren’t they? I find the other blue BreyerFest Special Run Newmarket interesting:

I figured they’d do some sort of “Jockey Silks” Decorator to go along with this year’s theme, but I thought it’d be something that showed up at the Pop-Up Store, maybe on the Best In Show Thoroughbred mold. I am not entirely sold on Newmarket, at least not yet: while I am not as put off by it as many others are, I think it’s one I’m going to need an in-person inspection of before I make a final decision.

(I am also slightly annoyed that they did not go with a more typey Morgan Special Run to honor the role of the Morgan Horse in the development of the Standardbred. But I am an extremely peripheral character when it comes to product development, alas.)

I already know that the complete set of One-Day Stablemates is on my short list; size/space is not going to be an issue, but the budget might be. The only one I am slightly cool to is the Ruffian: the Glossy Bay-Black coloring is great – one of my favorite colors, truly – but the ears on the G3 Thoroughbred mold are a bit too long for my liking.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Partial Overpaint Special Runs

Man, I wanted Koh-i-Noor so bad, but the budget is definitely said nope:

Aside from the free postage, I do like that they added the extra incentive of variations: most will have 4 stockings, but some will have fewer, or none at all!

I’ve been wanting them to do the intentional variation thing for a while now. One of the weaknesses of shipping the bulk of painting to China is that it’s resulted in a almost boring consistency: with strict quotas to meet and Station Samples to match, significant variations like missing (or added) markings are even more of a rarity.

This is, of course, not the first time that Breyer has added some paint touch-ups to overstock and repurposed them as a Special Run. (Beyond Gloss, obviously.) One of the most famous – and one of my favorites! – was the “Golden Bay” Trakehner, made from leftover 1987 Just About Horses Special Run Chestnut Trakehners:

Approximately 467 pieces were made as a Special Run for Small World, who also received an even smaller run (97 pieces) of the 1985/6 JAH Special Run Dapple Gray Cantering Welsh Pony with gold ribbons painted over the original red that year.

A third Partial Overpaint Special Run occurred in 1989, when Black Horse Ranch had a 146-piece run of the 1988 JAH Special Running Stallion, with added black manes and tails.

The Cantering Welsh is almost impossible to find nowadays – there are less than 100 pieces, and it’s the Cantering Welsh Pony.

The BHR Running Stallion is moderately hard: although it’s relatively scarce by nature of its low piece run, prices haven’t been too outrageous when they do come on the market. While his paint job is quite lovely, especially for a late 1980s release, the similarity to the original #129 Bay probably suppresses his value a bit on the secondary market.

With the continuing popularity of the Vintage Club Decorator Gambler’s Choice Sailors, however, that may change. (I haven’t seen enough of the BHRs on the market recently to judge.)

But Koh-i-Noor? I don’t know. The Christmas release that he was leftover from was pretty popular on its own, but 750 pieces feels like a fairly large run compared to other Partial Overpaint SRs.

I see two different possible scenarios happening.

The first is that the stated fact that there are 750 pieces total of this run is going to skew the market. While it won’t necessarily affect the buying habits of most active-hobby hobbyists (who realize 750 is kind of, well, a lot), it will affect more casual collectors, who will see it as A Big Deal. Thus the prices will remain artificially elevated for a while.

(Remember the first JAH Special, the Saddlebred Weanling? Same situation. Prices are still a little too darn high for her, IMHO.)

The same kind of thinking significantly boosted sales of Reeves’s “Limited Edition” models of the 1980s and 1990s, well beyond that of the Regular Run models issued the same year. I remember getting into a super-awkward discussion years ago with a casual collector/dealer at the flea market who insisted that her mint-in-box #833 Dream Weaver was really, really rare because it was a “Limited Edition”!

The second (and more likely) is that – like other similar offers that had random rare variations – the rarities will almost all end up being resold very quickly and at some ridiculous prices, then the bulk of the “ordinary” four-stockinged ones will end up on the secondary market pretty quickly also, and at a minimal mark-up.

I have other things to worry about right now, so whether I get a Koh-i-Noor sooner – or later – is not a looming concern.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Being Little

No new models (or other flea market goodies) to report over the weekend. The weather was still miserable cold, and since much of the “company” that arrived on Saturday had not yet departed by Sunday, it seemed like a good idea to sleep in and catch up on my TV time.

I do not know what’s up with the conflicting One-Day Stablemates clues, either. And personally, it doesn’t matter too much to me what molds they end up being, new or old.

Sure, the G1s would have been nice, and I’m not completely discounting them reappearing in some form just yet. But we old farts have to remember that most of those molds are well over 50 years old at this point. Regardless of their physical state, they are both chronologically and stylistically old.

While it is true that longtime and long-term collectors buy a ton of them, One-Day Stablemates are primarily designed for the more casual attendees. Those kinds of attendees prefer newer and trendier molds, whether they are anatomically or conformationally correct or not.

I have become somewhat fond of the sensible, no-nonsense G4 Driving Horse mold of late anyway, so if that really is one of the four, I won’t be disappointed! (The color/finish combo they go with on him is probably moot. Gloss would be nice: he hasn’t had any official Gloss releases, yet.)

Since we’re on the topic of Stablemates, here’s a picture of my Stablemates Club Aiden, with a Pocket Box Cats pack I haven’t opened yet. Taxes took a bigger bite out of my budget than I realized, so those spiffy socks I’ve been aching for will have to wait a bit longer:

His paint job is amazing – something that wouldn’t have been possible on Stablemates even a few years ago – and of course, the box is so cute.

But gosh, this mold seems so tiny, especially when compared to other recent Stablemates releases. It’s almost like he’s his own separate scale.

Now, none of the Stablemates across the different generations are perfectly to the claimed 1:32 scale – either internally to each generation, or across generations. Consistency is hard to achieve when you use multiple sculptors and multiple mold makers over the course of several decades.

But the Valegro/Aiden mold feels so small, I’m finding it a little off putting. My brain wants to “read” him as a pony, but it’s obvious that he’s not meant to be a pony.

I’m not bothered enough to resell him, though: Stablemates of almost any kind, outside of duplicates, rarely leave my orbit. Being little does have its advantages, I guess!