Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Right on Schedule

It’s been darn hard to resist the temptation to buy things as it is, but now one of my local independent toy stores is going out of business, and the clearance sale starts Thursday! Argh!

Sigh. They were a Flagship Store, and they sometimes held Breyer Events; I think they actually hosted the last official event Peter Stone attended for Breyer (remember the Mustang Rawhide?) – and one of the first public events for “The Peter Stone Company”.

It’s on the other side of town and I have plenty of other stores to take care of my model horse fix, so there is no need to worry about my long-term shopping needs. But it’s going to be hard to resist this sale, no lie. Especially since I am now considering doing the BreyerFest Customs Contest, and I might need a Carrick body.

I cannot believe I am even thinking about it. It all started about a week ago, when I unboxed the Cortes C I bought for the Customer Appreciation Sale. Here he is:

As I was admiring him and his deepest, darkest chocolate black coat – he’s virtually the same color as that 90 percent cacao chocolate some people think is edible – I suddenly realized that he bore a certain likeness to a racehorse I had a great fondness for back in my racing fangirl days.

It’s someone fairly famous who I am genuinely surprised no one has done a portrait of yet; at least, not that I can recall. It’s a project that’s been on my back-back burner, well behind the other unfinished customs I’ve started over the years … along with all those quilts, and novels, and everything else, too.

But I made a promise to myself to finish unfinished projects this year, and keep new projects to a minimum. I have a difficult enough time getting all of my usual silliness done for BreyerFest: another entry, for another contest? Am I mad?

On the other hand, I did want to seriously start customizing again, and maybe a deadline is the kick in the pants I need to get started.

On the other-other hand, the two potential ideas that I came up with for the Diorama Contest also involve a lot of customizing, and I’ll have at least another extra month to toil on that. (Both involve tack: I will need it.)

Great. Six months away and I’m already stressing out about BreyerFest!

In other words, everything is right on schedule.

(And no, not going to tell you who the portrait is supposed to be. Unless I manage to do it and finish it in time – deal?)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Gray Hoof Midnight Sun

It’s been another long couple of days here, so here’s a treasure I unearthed during the recent collection cleanout (it’s almost done now, thank goodness):

It’s the Gray Hoof variation of the Midnight Sun! He’s not in the best condition, but I’m glad to have him, as he’s a remarkably tough bugger to find. It was the first/original variation of the #60 Midnight Sun release, who debuted in 1972.

The slightly later – and more common – variation of the Midnight Sun has some tan or light brown shading on those hooves and significantly more overspray issues, to the point where they sometimes appear to have short, foggy gray socks.

(You silly kids who think quality control is a recent issue! Pshaw!)

The hooves of the gray-hooved variation of Midnight Sun tend to be neater and cleaner, with my example being a bit on the fuzzier end.

I made the mistake of passing a near mint but somewhat pricey example (for me) at a local antique show; to assuage my guilt, I promised myself that I would buy the next available one I could find, and a couple years later this guy turned up on eBay.

I’d love to upgrade him, but he’s somewhat of a low priority right now; basically it’s another “I’ll buy him when I see him” situation. Since I’m trying to minimize my extracurricular purchases this year, I am not optimistic that it’ll happen any time soon, but I am not one to say never in my neck of the woods.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Another Oddball Stud Spider

Something short today. Work’s been running late this week and my brains feel like mashed potatoes right now.

In spite of my best intentions, I bought a horse this week. You can totally see why:

It’s a Stud Spider with two socks!

Like the #48 Black Morgan, the original Stud Spider release was prone to variations. I’ve seen multiple blanket variations, gray hooves, black hooves, missing stars, and oh goodness, the socks.

Right fore sock, left fore sock, four actual socks, no socks at all? Seen them all before, and own most of them. And now, another! As with the Morgan, an alarming number of Stud Spiders variations have turned up on my doorstep over the years. Few are turned away.

Most variations from the right front sock “norm” were incidental, occurring randomly within day-to-day production. (The four-sock version was allegedly a one-day production error.) They show up in the market with varying frequency; the left front sock variation seems to be the least difficult among them to find.

This two stocking combo is something I haven’t seen – or even had heard of – before. That’s saying something, coming from me.

It’s possible that he was some sort of Chicago factory employee “Take-Home” model. I have good reason to suspect it: it’s from the same Chicago-area seller on eBay who recently sold that oddball Palomino Family Arabian Mare with the Black mane and tail for over $1000.

That particular kind of oddball is actually semi-common: it seems to have been a thing back for employees back then to touch up botched Palominos Culls into quasi-Buckskins. Or even as production salvage jobs: every once and a great while I see a “Bay” Grazing Mare or Foal that suspect started life as a Palomino.

(“If we put black points on this we can totally pass this off as a Bay, right?”)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Hot and Cold

Rather than catch up on real work last week, I spent it pouring over all the newly posted BreyerFest details. Fantasizing about the baking heat of Kentucky in July is one of the few things that’s gotten me through these past two brutally bone-chilling weeks!

For even the more experienced among us, it might be worth your time to do likewise: there have been a lot of little changes to BreyerFest this year, some more consequential than others.

Among them: the live show is no longer a NAN qualifier, access to the upstairs lounge of the Covered Arena is now something you have to pay for, all the workshops have moved to the museum basement, the Special Runs will be distributed in their own tent, event hours on Sunday have been extended to 4 p.m., and some volunteers will be free-range docents called “BreyerFest Ambassadors.”

(Does that job come with a fancy hat and sash? Inquiring minds need to know!)

One thing that hasn’t changed is that there’s still going to be Store Specials. Here’s a picture of the first Store Special, a portrait of Icabad Crane on the True North mold:

This is the first release on the True North mold that will be relatively cheap and accessible to the average collector. The first True North was available by Premier Club subscription only, and the other two – last year’s Custom Contest Masala, and Sunday Raffle Horse Rangoli – were both extremely limited and things that had to be either won, or purchased at high cost.

Piece counts on Store Specials have ranged from 500 (most of the earlier ones, including the 2006 Peruvian Paso Magnifico) to 1250 (2016’s Dag Dia), with 750 pieces being the median – roughly the same quantity as Premier Club releases.

The accessibility of BreyerFest Store Specials has been a mixed bag over the years, however, and how high or low the piece counts are is usually moot. Some have been popular and heavily fought over (2014’s Novelisto D: with 750 pieces issued) and some have not (2011’s Halla/Bolya Dusty: also 750 pieces issued).

I am guessing that because it’s the first True North that most of us will be able to afford, and the mold itself has been well-received generally, demand will be high.

Reeves should know all this, and plan accordingly.

I hope.

Wanting is different from needing, and I haven’t decided whether or not I actually need the Icabad Crane or not. I suppose it’ll all depend on how nice that red bay color translates into a production run piece, what my budget looks like by then – and what else they may have in store for us.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


Sigh. They are using the Traditional Man o’ War as the Early Bird Raffle model for BreyerFest this year. Pardon me while I briefly “hulk out” and rage around the less breakable parts of my office:

While I’ve always assumed my Traditional Man o’ War collection would be forever incomplete, I thought there would at least be no additions to my list of impediments. I hoped/assumed there would be a Man o’ War SR for the upcoming BreyerFest, but that it’d be something a bit more accessible like a Store Special, Volunteer model, or Pop-Up Store thing.

There are – or were, prior to today – only two true rarities left on my Man o’ War list.

The first is the Presentation Series Man o’ War. Like all of the Presentation Series pieces, he is scarce and pricey. But I don’t consider him necessarily out of reach: Presentation pieces were sold to the public, so a slender possibility of finding one “in the wild” does exist.

I’ve found other trophy-mounted Breyers before, though no true Presentation pieces yet. Horse racing memorabilia is relatively common around here (remember the jockey helmet I found back in October?) When the occasional Presentation piece shows up, it’s usually Adios: the other Presentation racehorse!

So, there’s hope.

The second rarity is the original Matte Dapple Gray Man o’ War, who was either a small Special Run or a set of similar-looking Test Colors that originated with Marney Walerius in some fashion, in the early 1970s.

That one seems significantly less likely, especially if an example should ever show up on eBay, or via some other venue frequented by model horse peoples. It’s a release that achieved an almost legendary status, and there are not a lot of them (probably five?) around. That’s usually a recipe for a four-figure selling price.

But I have acquired older Breyer items of roughly equal rarity, sometimes in the most unexpected of places or circumstances, for cheap. Or relatively cheap.

Like the Quarter Horse Gelding Splash cull I found at the local flea market last year. That one still boggles my mind! Why are you here? This is not New Jersey.

But this release Riddle… either I win one, or it is not going to happen. It’s that simple, and that painful.

It’s too well publicized an item (literally, the first Special Run announced, after the Celebration Horse Brass Hat) for it to ever be a cheap find, or circumstantial one.

I’m not the kind of person who pays a four-figure price for anything. It’s not a matter of being capable, but of principle: I think of my models more as repositories of memories and stories than of a financial investment.

Spending a lot of money on something makes me see something as more of an investment than a memory or story. I have a hard time doing that for a mold that means as much to me as the Man o’ War.

Well, at least it isn’t the Diorama Prize. If that was the case, there’d definitely be something freshly broken in my office.