Saturday, January 28, 2023

Decision Time

Feeling a little distracted the past few days; I just began planning the OTHER vacation this week in earnest, and the choices are a little overwhelming.

(Anyone know the best way to contact the Pryor Mountain Mustang Center? The tour is a definite “bucket list” to-do!)

And if anyone might be interested in tagging along, now’s definitely the time to speak up. Otherwise, I’ll be hoofing it alone, like I usually do. (Things to consider, if you’re considering: I’m a nonsmoker, a sound sleeper, and I’ll eat almost anything. The only nonnegotiable: I get to choose the music!)

That box of bodies arrived in… a jumble. They were bodies, and I was expecting nothing less, but the one I was going to keep for my personal customizing stash is the only one that’s broken. Only slightly, but enough.

This happens so often to me that I think it must be an immutable law of physics. I’ll still keep it, just because I’m an adventurous and experimental sort and the idea seems worth pursuing. After I finish a few dozen more old projects.

Which is not looking so great, with the current work situation and all. Last weekend’s quilt project is still not done! I have to work today, so this weekend is also not promising...

This year’s Best of BreyerFest Stablemate Set is awesome and the tiny glossy palomino Georg is my favorite, because the only model in that set that I have in its original size is the Opry: 

She is/was one of the best Volunteer Models ever, and there will be no discussion on this matter. I remember so many people being initially disappointed by her – a Vintage mold, in a Vintage color? – but once more people got to see her in person, they fell in love.

In my personal opinion, I think everything should (eventually) come in Gloss Honey Palomino. The matching Clydesdale Stallion and Foal would be a good beginning! (I suppose the original Vintage Club Dandy might do, but I also want something solid. With blue and yellow bobs and ribbons, naturally.)

I am also glad they managed to incorporate the Stablemate Driving Horse into the lineup here, because hello obvious! I love that chunky little mold for some reason; the 2018 One-Day Silver Charm release is probably one of my favorite BreyerFest Stablemates. 

Although I do have a small and cherished collection of Plushies of various sorts and manufactures, I don’t specifically collect BreyerFest Plushies. But with my love of harness racing and Standardbreds, this year’s version Sulky might be something I need:

I have a few days to decide before tickets go on sale. At this point I’m just going to get the one VIP ticket, because that’s all I really need; I’ll worry about what to do with other possible tickets only if/when they happen.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Four Mares

I bought another box lot of bodies, mostly because I was feeling some weird anxiety over the slim pickings now residing in my body box. They were super-duper cheap too, so even with the very modest (mostly single digit) prices I tend to assign to them, I’ll still make a nice little profit at BreyerFest.

As long as I don’t take too many of them for my own personal use. (One, maybe two, tops! I swear!

I still have a ton of stuff (nearly a whole ‘nother bin) I couldn’t bring last year, so now all I’ll “need” to restock for BreyerFest are a few more goodies for my totally decimated Dollar Table. 

I do plan on trying to sell as much as I can before Kentucky (still not sure if the Wyoming excursion is going to be right before, or right after!) but I like having a little bit of something for everyone. 

I put in for the Weather Girl Flamingo but, as I expected, nothing came of it. I have lots of pretty Weather Girls already (my exceptionally nice BreyerFest Jasmine places at every show!), and it would have been nice to add her to the herd, but I’m not going to fret about it. 

Another beautiful girl who’s probably not coming home with me:

But this one is by choice: like a lot of BreyerFest models this year, Othello is another shelf hog. “Tilly” certainly won’t lack for suitors, and at least that clears the mold from Surprise contention. On the other hand, that also means that the Hamilton speculation will get even more out of hand...

Speaking of Saddlebreds, the Crystal is based on the Calliope:

I don’t collect the Crystals – I may have mentioned this before, but I was (literally!) born clumsy, so I try to avoid buying breakable things unless they’re cheap, or already broken. I don’t think I even own a single glass or crystal animal of any kind or brand. I do have a couple of very inexpensive bits of slag glass I have picked up in my travels, though I would hesitate to say that I actually collect it. 

And finally, there’s the latest Test Color, a Bay Pinto Misty:

Oh, you precious creature: the one I want the most, and have the least hope of acquiring. Collectively, vintage Test Color Misties aren’t exceedingly rare, though most of the ones I’ve seen have been solid-colored: Bay, Black, Alabaster, and (my personal favorite!) Dapple Gray. I think there are some Appaloosa-flavored ones out there, too. 

I’ll be working quite a bit of overtime over the next month or so, so if the Universe happens to be listening, I can totally afford it.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Between Love and Like

You’ll have to forgive me for zoning out a bit today. Work was… extremely challenging this week. This has given me the incentive to finish that quilting project I recently restarted; if I’m lucky and the fingertips hold up, it should be done by Monday. Not very well, but done!

They finished up the Ticket Special reveals this week. First up: another gigantic and slightly tippy model in a gorgeous color? Argh!

Seriously though, I do love this color, and want to see it on more models in the future. I’m just not 100 percent sure I want it on a Shannondell.

(Pauses to imagine it on the Stretched Morgan. And now on the Bell-bottomed Shire. And finally on the Running Mare and Foal. Notice a trend here?) 

The Bristol is also lovely, in a color reminiscent of the 2001 Toys R Us Special Run Valiant, on the Five-Gaiter:

While I am a big fan the mold, I’ve become slightly disengaged from it because of my experience with Peregrine (and my lack of Redmond). I might change my mind, depending on what the display samples look like at BreyerWest.

And finally, my second must-have: Scurry, the Fell Pony Emma in Bay Pinto, who is very reminiscent of the Stablemate Emma in the most recent Blind Bag Assortment that has (so far) only been spotted at Tractor Supply:

I should be okay as long as she’s not the Gloss/Matte Split or the Color Split model (because what they did with Marzipan last year is apparently going to be a thing going forward now?) I suspect the Shannondell may be a stronger candidate for that treatment.

So what I’m getting so far consists of all the various Stablemates, the Store Special Via Lattea, the Lady Phase/SSHF set Surrey and Axle, and the Fell Pony Scurry: all things I love, and not just like. 

I’m not sure what I would get with a second ticket if that happens this year; Peanutine is tempting just because I don’t have as many Brighties as you think I might do, but I may just end up using them as pickup slots for people, if need be. I want things I love, not like, and too many things this year fall in that very gray area.

Contrary to Reeves’s semi-vague wording, there are actually quite a few more models to be “revealed”: an Online Only Traditional, the Individual Store Special Stablemates (online, and in-person), another Best of BreyerFest Stablemate Set, and possibly another Traditional Store Special. And of course, various prize and raffle models…

I am a little bummed there has been no Old Timer, and I’m not quite sure where it would fit in to the remaining reveals, unless – and I would not put it past them – they decided to create yet another class/type of Special Run this year to put him into. As one of their most popular Vintage molds, and one that literally has a harness molded onto it, it would seem rather odd not to include him in some way. 

And it would be a little heartbreaking to have it be another extremely limited item like Jake, the 2002 Hat Contest prize model.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Unpopular Opinions

I suspected the speckly blue thing was the Classic Decorator, and I was not wrong!

He’s neat. I really like the Classic Morgan mold, but I haven’t found one in a color I like yet. All the original Silver Bays I found had significant masking issues, the Red Bay was a little bland, the Decorator Tie Dye model is too goofy for me, and I am reluctant to buy the whole Spanish Mustang(!) Family just to get the Solid Black guy. But Delft… is a maybe. I just wish he were a tiny bit fancier?

Then there’s the Traditional Decorator Nemea:

Nemea is an obvious adaptation of the very well-received Decorator Marwari from the 2018 BreyerFest auction. And proof that some Test Colors from the BreyerFest Benefit Auction are actually Test Colors!

As the Akhal-Teke mold is longer than a football field, he’s also not a priority for me. If I do get another example of the mold in the near future, I’m still hoping that it’s a nicely-shaded Adamek; I still haven’t found “the one” just yet.

I suppose I should address the brouhaha in the comments that broke out while I was busy binge watching art restoration videos and hand quilting. Since my fingertips are now a bit sore from that effort, I’ll try to keep things short and simple here.

Last year’s BreyerFest was Reeves’s first attempt at a true “hybrid” event, and… it showed. As I’ve said many times before, Reeves is not a large company, and the people who work their often have to fill multiple roles. 

Did they stretch themselves out a little too thin last year? Perhaps; on the other hand, since it was their first attempt at a true hybrid event, and they didn’t know what was going to work, and what wouldn’t. Like the online-only events, they will undoubtedly take the lessons that they learned from the first, and apply them to the second.

It’s a pretty safe assumption that there will be some changes, but the scope of the changes – and whether or not they actually “work” – well, we’re not going to know until we’re back in the thick of it again in July, right? 

(All I know for sure is that more volunteers will be needed, in-person and [probably] online. So if you’re interested, please apply!)

2020 and 2021 were events held under unique and extraordinary circumstances, and it is very, very unlikely that any future BreyerFests will be able to offer the full gamut of Special Runs and other items available at an in-person BreyerFest to online attendees.  

And as others have pointed out, what’s the point of having an in-person event if there is no stuff exclusive to the in-person event?

BreyerFest was originally designed and intended as a live, in-person event: an in-person experience cannot be fully or adequately reproduced online. Reeves’s attempts to duplicate the in-person experience in 2020 – for example, the whole timed ticket fiasco – often ended up causing more heartache than happiness. 

Personally, I think the way forward for them is simply have them be complementary events that happen to share some of the same models (the Celebration Horse, most of the Store Specials) and activities. And have models and activities unique to each experience. 

They’re apparently trying that with some of the Ticket Specials, restricting some of them to in-person participants only. My guess is that they’re also doing this with models that they foresee as being especially popular: they would rather make sure that they have enough of those models for people who made the physical and financial effort to go to Kentucky. 

I would hope that they do offer a little bit more in the way of compensation for online-only guests. As I suggested before, giving them a gloss option on the Store Specials would definitely help. 

But whatever they do, please remember that there are limits to what they can do as a relatively small company. Just a few years ago, the Online Option didn’t even exist: it’s going to be a while before they find the right balance of offerings. 

And remember that there are some people in the hobby – and life, in general – who will literally never be happy with anything, no matter what you do for them or what you offer them. There is usually something else going on under the surface there that no amount of pretty horses can fill. 

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Full of Surprises

I signed up for BVG Live again this year, and if I can find anyone to take me up on it, I might make a weekend of it. Anyone want to go antiquing and axe throwing with me? 

I’ll probably stick to just two divisions this year: OF Mini and Collectability. I managed to do three last year, but I think it was just a tad too much, and I wanted to focus on Minis this time around anyway.

As for guesses on the BreyerFest “Stagecoach Surprise”, stagecoach horses were just coincidentally one of things we were talking about at our dinner table at Ponies & Palm Trees. 

(We were quite a distance from the Reeves table, so I doubt they heard any of it. The decision on the mold and colors would have been made by then so it would have been moot, regardless.)

Contrary to popular opinion and Hollywood, stagecoach horses tended to be sturdy “Working Western” types – think Quarter Horses, Mustangs, Morgans and some of the less refined Thoroughbred lines – and not Drafts. Occasionally you’d have “fancier” breeds utilized for customers willing to pay extra for the privilege. 

Most stagecoaches traveled at a trot or fast walk, so a lot of the molds hobbyists are suggesting – like Wyatt or Ruffian – would seem a little out of place or character in front of a stagecoach.

So what does that leave as possible candidates? Quite a few molds, actually.

Most likely candidates: Bobby Jo, Geronimo, Smart Chic Olena, Forever Saige, and Desatado.

Less likely candidates: Clock Saddlebred, Brown Sunshine, Ranch Horse, the no-feather version of Gypsy Vanner/Brishen, Idocus and Carrick.

Less likely candidates, but Vintage: San Domingo, Adios, Misty’s Twilight, Indian Pony.

I’m kind of liking the idea of this being a Vintage mold like San Domingo or Adios: they are both modestly popular molds with strong fanbases that still have a number of color options that can be explored. And it would fit in with the Vintage vibe I’m getting from the lineup so far this year.

Personally, I think it’d be something like the SCO, Geronimo, or Saige. I think the Ranch Horse mold would be a perfect fit, but he might not be quite new or popular enough to pull it off. Desatado would also fit the type well, but he seems a little bit too… feisty to be pulling a coach? I’m always up for a new Carrick, but he might be a little too refined.

Anyway, that’s my opinion on the matter, and all the thought I’m going to give to it. I’m not sure if I’m going to take a gamble on the Surprise model this year, with my budget and all.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Old Timey Goodness

As someone who eats candy professionally (yes, really!), I may be legally obligated to buy Peanutine:

I had never heard of “peanutine” before, but I guess it is the peanut brittle variation of Saltine Toffee? Interesting. 

In reality, I’m not too crazy about peanut brittle per se – if you need to know, I am currently obsessed with the maple sugar candy I got for Christmas – and I am trying to behave myself this year, so I’ll take a wait and see approach on him. I mean, he’s cute, and I’m glad it’s not another bull, but I was hoping for something just a tiny bit more “outside the box” for a cart-pulling nonhorse, like a Goat or a Dog mold. 

The next Special Run – the Mare and Foal Set Surrey and Axle – might be my first must-buy of the ticket lineup, but not for the reason you might think:

If you could look at my notes for this year’s Sampler sitting on my desk right now, you’d see that the very first article I planned to write for it was (will be!) about the Standing Stock Horse Foal. 

This sort of thing usually happens after I publish an article, not before. So either Reeves and I are on the same wavelength, or some strange time travel thing just took place that I am only now finding out about.

The poor little guy doesn’t get a lot of love, but from an historical standpoint, he’s way more interesting than most collectors realize. I just wasn’t expecting to see a BreyerFest SR of him like, ever: he’s not exactly the flashiest foal mold on the block. He’s kind of like a blank canvas of a mold: how interesting he is is entirely dependent on how interesting his paint job is. 

Which is this case, is quite.

I certainly won’t turn down a few-spot Lady Phase with the package, either. I’m definitely not understanding all the online Lady Phase hate, though. When did she become “one of the ugly ones”? Heretics!

While you could argue that she’s occasionally been overused, she is never not beautiful. 

The next thing you know, you’ll be telling me that Iced Oatmeal Raisin is not, in fact, the best cookie in the world. 

Anyway, I am glad that my intuition about the turn towards “vintage” has been proven somewhat right. And has piqued my interest. Will the Old Timer be turning up soon? I’d definitely be on board with that…

And then they dropped the next Store Special, which was the Troubadour I was expecting, in a colorway I was also (more or less) expecting:

Lovely, but I’m a little reluctant about him for one simple reason: I don’t have a lot of space to spare right now, and he’s one hecking chonk of a model. And I am still holding out for an affordable Stretched Morgan Special Run, as unlikely as that now seems to be. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Old School

Oops, I bought something! That’s okay, it’s only a Stablemate:

When I went to drop off the sewing machine for service, there happened to be a Dollar General in the same shopping center, and as luck would have it, the one variation I needed to complete my set (for now) was there. So there’s one silver lining to the sewing machine drama!

After epically trying – and failing – to quilt a project on my backup sewing machine, I gave up and decided to focus on repairing that vintage Black Stallion custom that’s been sitting on my craft table for a year and a half. Here’s what I have so far:

I still need to finish the touchups – especially on his left side – and redo the ear I repaired: it’s too big and the style just doesn’t match the rest of the model. The base needs more work, too: I have to build up one side a little to stabilize the model better, fill in a few of the divots, and find a suitable piece of wood to mount it on.

And after all that, I’ll spray him with a matte varnish, regloss his eyes and hooves, and hair him up. I think I’ll give him a slightly fuller tail than he had before, to balance him out visually. The varnishing will have to wait until the weather warms up, though, so he might be on hold after the next round of touchups.

Restoring him has been an interesting challenge. It was tempting to modernize him, but I decided to keep him as original as possible. I stuck to the basic acrylic color palette we were all working with back in the 1980s, as well as the same painting techniques, which were a combination of wet and dry brushwork and “fingerpainting” for blending. 

I did add a little extra shading to his muzzle, though: it was a flat Raw Umber and looked a little odd compared to the rest of him. 

I know some people have attempted to go “old school” with their customs, in an offshoot of the NaMoPaiMo thing, but a lot of those efforts still look too modern for me. Not that the actual vintage product is better or worse, it just looks and feels different.

I think a lot of it is due to the fact that I was doing customs way back then, when all we had to work with was stuff like “Plastic Wood”, that funky green plumber’s epoxy, and whatever selection of acrylic paints and brushes the local department store happened to have in their “art” department. So I know how much struggle went into even the simplest of customs back then.

Even though it might look somewhat primitive in comparison to the work being done today, some of the artwork that was achieved under these circumstances was still pretty remarkable. I think modern customizers could learn a lot by going truly “old school”, with nothing much more than some basic acrylic paints, brushes, mohair and a pre-1985 mold (preferably a Hess!)

I’ll give you all a pass on the modern epoxies. As someone who actually had to work with Plastic Wood back in the day, that’s a step too far back even for me!

I still have no idea who created this fellow. I thought I was just going to fix him up to sell him, but I think he’ll be sticking around a while, especially since I seem to be acquiring quite the vintage custom showstring now.