Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Online Experience: Now With Sampler!

This year’s Sampler is done and… it was an interesting experience. On the plus side, the software upgrades forced me to finally clean up the Sampler’s master file, so future issues will have… fewer issues, going forward.

Anyway, the link to the PDF for the 2020 Sampler is on the right; that box will be a permanent feature here as I slowly convert and upload as many older Samplers as I can. I still have the files for everything up to 2001, but some of them are either in Adobe PageMaker, or may involve fonts that don’t exist anymore, so I’ll probably end up having to scan a bunch of stuff anyway.

It’ll be a couple days before I have physical copies of this year’s Sampler available because I ran out of both paper and toner, and I have no plans of venturing any farther than the local gas station through Sunday afternoon.

I’ve already bought all my snacks, so I am good to go! (Frozen pizza, frozen lemonade, taffy, and a fine selection of cheese and crackers from the British Isles!)

If you want a physical copy of the Sampler, feel free to shoot me an e-mail so I can put you on the list. That way when I am ready to print, I will have a good idea of how many copies to run and how many envelopes I need to buy and/or dig out of storage.

Heck, if you’re local and you just want to stop on by, you can also send me an e-mail - I won’t be far from the computer all weekend so my responses may almost be in real time! However, since the weather here is being BreyerFest-like (upper 80s, with high potential for horizontal rain), I may occasionally be wandering outside to simulate that particular aspect of the convention experience.

I also bought a few horses Wednesday afternoon and left them in my car (I park under a tree, they’ll be fine!) and will open them later in the weekend. My purchases included some Surprise Stablemates, a pretty nice Favory Ariella set, and the Harley; there’s a story to tell about the Harley, but I’ll do that another day when I’m feeling a little less scattered.

As far as additional shopping goes, other than my Ticket SRs, all I will probably buy this weekend will be the Classic Greenman, the Stablemates (though I agree on everyone about the price on the “Best of BreyerFest” set - yikes!) and (gosh, I hope) an NPOD box. I do have my eye on a couple of things on eBay; I haven’t been shopping on there in a few months, so I need to do a bit of poking around to see if I can uncover any hidden treasures.

I am not putting any faith in the Raffles. I don’t think I’ll even watch that part of the festivities. They will e-mail me if I actually happen to win anything, right? Yeah, that’s what I’ll do.

I don’t know if I’ll watch the auctions or not. If I had the money (I don’t!) I’d bid on either that pretty-pretty Gloss Pinto Shetland Pony or the Very Metal Purple Nevermore, but both are now well over what I’m willing to pay already.

I do like how they tried to have an auction piece from every decade of Breyer History. Props to whomever painted that Stock Horse Stallion - I don’t think he’s ever looked better!

I never got around to getting any of my sales items up because I don’t have that much to sell right now. I never felt a pressing need regardless, since I don’t have either a hotel bill or travel expenses to worry about covering, and the bank account are in good shape.

As for the rest of my plans… I’ll probably be winging it, like everyone else. I’ll get up early, put on my Purple Breyer Spirit Jersey, pull the snacks from the fridge in the basement and see what the heck happens.

(I also wish I could have had more active involvement in all this, but... well, let us not go there this weekend. Focus on happy thoughts and pretty ponies.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Final Thoughts on the Photo Show

I think I ended up with somewhere around 175 pictures uploaded for the show? I was getting kind of tired and cranky and the end of the process and every time I tried to take a count I got a different number, and then finally decided it didn’t matter because I hit my goal more or less and I needed to focus on putting out other fires.

(Like the Sampler. That I appear to be significantly rewriting again because I can’t help myself.)

A few final observations on the Virtual BreyerFest Open Show, at least until the judging begins/happens (I’ll probably wait until the end of judging before I look at any of the results, just to keep my anxiety and/or personal outrage levels to a minimum.)

First, I was not expecting it to be quite that competitive, especially since the prizes are basically one-tenth the value of actual In-Person BreyerFest Live. This is not necessarily a bad thing: back in the old days of Live Showing (for me, the 1980s), the best we could hope for was usually a trophy and a fancy rosette. The competition was still pretty tough, especially in this part of the country.

(I still have all those rosettes, FWIW.)

So the possibility that others were also doing it purely for the love of the game is kind of heartening. Then again, the lack of reading comprehension skills I’ve witnessed on Breyer’s social media outlets does make me wonder what the expectations are as far as prizes go…

(... and also leaves me wondering what the Kentucky Horse Park is going to do with all those angry BreyerFest fans who will be turning up on Friday anyway.)

My dreams are modest, and small: I am psyched at the possibility of getting a padded envelope of assorted flats!

Second, my photography skills did definitely improve over time, but I still don’t enjoy the process. I have no idea if the exercise will translate into better pictures here either, because most of the time I don’t have the patience for it. I was especially proud of how the picture for my Man of the Hour turned out, though:

It just… perfectly captures what he looks like, why I think he’s special, and why others should love him, too. That’s everything I could hope for in a photo show picture, basically.

I also liked how this sassy little brat’s photo turned out:

I don’t particularly have high hopes for either, but I’ll find out Friday, I guess.

Third, I think this show might be persuading me to take my customizing more seriously, more than the Customs Contest ever could. I know the entrants here are not necessarily representative of the competition in a more normal setting, but I think I could be competitive and successful here, so that’s something I’ll definitely take into consideration when this week’s drama is all over.

Which brings me to my final point. I know it’s something that’s an uncomfortable subject for many in the hobby, so I’ll just put it the most gentle and euphemistic way possible: the show also bolstered my opinion that the upper end of the model horse economy is, in a number of ways, probably unsustainable in the long term.

I am glad that I have the resources that I do to be able to even compete, but I can definitely see why others get discouraged, especially in Collectibility classes. It makes me an all the more enthusiastic proponent of live shows that completely negate the Collectibility factor altogether and just focus on breed assignment and research.

Anyone who has access to a library or the Internet, and some spare time, can do that. And that’s one of the things that drew me in and kept me in the hobby all these years: I’ll probably never be able to afford the upkeep of a real horse, but by golly, with a little hard work and mad research skills I should still be able to show the plastic versions!

(And I’d still get to do tons of research which is, you know, what I am all about.)

Friday, July 3, 2020

Glamour Shots

So far I’ve uploaded about 100 pictures, which means that I’ve met the bare minimum of entries that will leave me satisfied; another 50 more and I’ll be happy. That goal is entirely within reach as long as I don’t do too much fooling around over the weekend.

Here’s another rejected entry, a glamour shot of my Showcase Collection Grazing Mare. Apparently I have way more rare packaging than I realized, and condition-wise she doesn’t quite make the cut anyway.

And looking over the entries in that particular class, it’s only confirmed my suspicion that - taken as a group, rather than model by model - they are not as rare as other lesser-known packaging experiments, like the 1984 Olympic USET packaging:

I was super tempted when a sealed Halla from that assortment showed up on eBay a few weeks back, but I managed to maintain my cool - and my PayPal balance! I already had a Morganglanz one anyway - opened, of course - which certainly helped with my fortitude.

(Also not one of the ones I entered in that class, by the way, because seriously, it’s a Morganglanz. I love the homely guy, but even I know his limitations. )

Working on my entries for this show has been… and interesting experience, but I’ll be glad when it’s all over. As I said before, I’m shooting for ten placings: anything more than that is gravy.

I don’t know if this will quite count as my “official” attempt at showing at BreyerFest, or another thing entirely, especially since any wins in this show won’t necessarily count against you for the next. (Not counting on that being a concern, though.)

I can also say that I can now see why some people complain about money being a factor. As someone who thought she could compete in some of those classes, I’m just taking a deep breath, taking the best pictures I can, documenting the heck out of things (my thing!), and hoping for the best.

I mean, what else can I do? I don’t have the resources to do otherwise. Part of the reason this blog exists is help and inspire those of you in the same boat.

Besides, I think I’ve set myself for very modest expectations: even ten tenth place finishes would be fine. Weirdly coincidental if that happened to be the case, but fine.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Lucky Enough

My brain is melting, the cursed deer are eating my beautiful Purple Ammi Flowers, and my office looks like a tornado hit it.

Since the cause of most of this is the BreyerFest Photo Show that’s basically taken over my life this week, I’ll entertain you with one of the photos that didn’t make the cut because I had too many entries for that particular class, and someone had to go:

Yes, the Mother Lode. While I was very lucky to manage to actually get one - because history nerd me went back to the web site after the initial rush and subsequent crash to download the documentation anyway, and it just happened to be moments after the web store rebooted and restocked - alas, it was only merely the 80-piece Solid Gold Buckskin, not the 10-piece Appaloosa or Pinto.

Which should have been absolutely fine, since I was completely not expecting to get anything at all. I was so shocked my order went through that I called Reeves the next day to confirm that it actually happened.

And yet… not lucky enough.

At least three times now - starting with this offer, and continuing with the latest two Christmas Day Surprises - somehow someone ended up with not just one, but two of the super-rare variations.

If it had just happened once, I’d chalk it up to random luck and all that. Random means random, and sometimes some people really do get all the luck.

But after it happened with the last two Santa Surprises too, it makes me wonder (a) what the heck is going on and (b) how can I get in on this action?

It also reminds me of the 2009 BreyerFest Surprise Models - you know, the Quarter Horse Geldings in Silver Filigree, Gloss Charcoal and Smoke - where someone screwed up and all of the ultra-rare surprises ended up… in the same time slot.

Which was great for folks in that time slot… and not so much for everyone else.

(And I, among the latter - and who completely accidentally “predicted” them several months prior. Oh, the pain….)

Still, I am very happy to even have gotten a Mother Lode at all, even if the whole experience was slightly bittersweet.

As was the acquisition of several of best/rarest horses, as the photo show is also illustrating to me. (Broke a tooth, broke a foot, locked myself out of the car on the way back home from BreyerFest, nightmare roommate experiences… the universe sure has a weird way of making me pay for “winning” things!)

And head’s up, guys: because of the photo show thing, I am going to be even scarcer than usual for the next couple of days. The uploading process is less complicated that I thought it would be, but as per usual, I’m obsessing over documentation because that is what I do.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Basic Black Donkey

Well, I just retook about 75 percent of the pictures I originally took for the photo show, in addition to taking a whole bunch more.

So that was an interesting couple of days. (And yes, I’m much happier with the new photos, which is reason I retook them in the first place.)

I’m aiming for about 150 pictures/entries total, but I’ll be happy with at least 100. I’ll see where I end up by the end of the day today, and spend the rest of the week tweaking photos (mostly recropping and cleaning up backgrounds) and wrapping up documentation and stuff like that.

With 318 other entrants and some classes having potentially 600(!) entries, all I am hoping for is about ten placings - not actual wins, just ribbons. Anything above and beyond that will be… above and beyond my expectations.

I have a few hopefuls, but it’s never the ones I expect to do well that do well. I have heard the stories about the sometimes… unusual placements that go on.

The Anniversary Stablemates are out and the Chase pieces are - a Platinum Brishen and a Copenhagenish Indian Pony, with the Indian Pony being the apparent Super-chase piece.

That’s a bit of a curveball. The Platinum thing not so much - the 70th anniversary is a Platinum one, so I was expecting something of that color to show up somewhere - but the lack of Alborozos is surprising. Either they’re saving it for something else later on, or they’re just messing with our heads as far as packaging goes.

I haven’t gotten around to ordering a box yet, and I’m not in any rush to do so. My mind has been on other things, of course.

Since I’m photographing stuff, here’s another thing pulled from the stash that I don’t think I’ve featured recently, if at all: my near-Black Donkey!

This mold, as many of you know and love about it, comes in an insane number of unique variations, and the near-Black is one of the scarcer ones. My records say I picked her up at BreyerFest in 2006 for not a lot of money, though I can’t remember the particular details of this transaction.

Considering how popular extreme variations are right now, and Donkeys of all types in general, I doubt she would be as inexpensive today.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Crash, Burn, Reboot and Taima

My brother thought he was being helpful updating my computer for Virtual BreyerFest, and now I no longer have Microsoft Office on my main computer right now. Great, another problem to deal with…

It also puts a kibosh on the diorama thing I was doing. Long story, won’t go into it: basically if everything had gone according to plan, it would have been done on time, but dealing with this mess (and others) means that I won’t.

I don’t have the time to stress out about it. I could theoretically get it done on time, but I would rather finish tit at my own pace and for my own pleasure; if I rush it, it will not turn out the way I want it to anyway.

I’ll just have to refocus/redouble my efforts on the photo show instead. (Ha!)

I also plan on redoing some of my previous non winning entries, strictly as art/display pieces. Since I’ve invested a great deal of time and energy into them already, I might as well finish the job, because there’s too much of me in them to simply throw them out.

(This is also an issue with me and customizing: by the time I’m done with one I’m too darn invested in it to part with it.)

I wasn’t too keen on doing the video portion of it anyway: while I don’t have any anxieties about speaking in public or appearing on camera, I do not like “watching” myself. That part feels very, very wrong to me.

Which is also why I haven’t done anything on YouTube yet, though I suppose at some point it is going to be inevitable.

Anyway, here’s some compensation for my rantings today: here’s my Sample/Prototype Taima, and his photograph from the Just About Horses issue he was featured in back in 2010.

I purchased him in the NPOD a while back when getting Samples and other such goodies involved secret handshakes and passwords. Later on, I had a hunch and decided to check out his original offering in Just About Horses and… the spots matched!

I would have been happy even if he wasn’t, because I have a fondness for the mold, being part “Buffalo” myself.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Three Body Problem

By popular request, here’s the other two Quarter Horse Gelding variations. Since I don’t have the time to dig out my Buckskins, a Gloss Bay and Special Run Matte Bay will have to do:

The only immediately noticeable difference between the Variation Two and Variation Three is the very obvious tummy tuck on Variation Three.

As far as when the third variation occurred, I am less certain. Because of the lack of notable production variations and few newer releases of the mold during the time period in question – other than the #97 Appaloosa Gelding in 1971 – it’s difficult to pinpoint the change the way we could with the second.

All I can say for certain is that it was done before 1980, or when the Appaloosa Gelding was discontinued.

And to be honest, pinpointing the change has been a low priority because (until this week) outside of me I didn’t think there was that much interest in the mold to actively pursue.

(And while I have a lot of Appaloosa Gelding variations, it is true, but just how many do I need?)

Because the tummy tuck can be difficult to see if it’s not photographed properly (it can kind of disappear if taken at a slightly elevated angle) it’s also something that benefits from the in-hand field research BreyerFest provides, and that’s not happening this year, obviously.

Speaking of that, gotta get back to my BreyerFest prep.

While everything is going fine in the general sense, this weekend has reminded me just how much I really, really do not enjoy photography. Like painting, I can be more than competent at it if I try, but it just really stresses me out when I do.