Monday, September 26, 2022

Real and True

Highlights of the show: my scheduling issue was resolved (so I didn’t have to leave early), I didn’t miss any classes, I got to pet a cat in the parking lot, and I finished piecing a quilt block. 

But I have no big winners to show you because I didn’t have any. 

I did walk away with seven NAN cards and about 25 ribbons, but a lot of them were lower placings in small classes. Not terrible, but not the experience I was hoping to have. 

We all end up having less-than-ideal showing experiences at some time or another, and this was one of mine, alas. I even tanked in the two Collectibility classes I entered: I think that was the point where I mentally checked out and went in whole hog on my sewing project. 

(I usually bring one anyway because I’m the kind of person who has to overprepare for everything, but I rarely have to break it out.)

I probably won’t be live showing again until early next year. Not because of this experience, but because I have too many other things I need to take care of in the next three months, including the health-related issues I’ve been alluding to. And I have to start planning my next great “adventure” later in the Fall (this is something completely different from next year’s Grand Wyoming Excursion. She says mysteriously...) 

I have also been informed that I “need to” show at BreyerFest Live next year, which means I have to ramp up my sales now, because there is no way I can fit both a show string and a ton of sales items in my car simultaneously. 

The selling part is something I’ve been planning on doing anyway; I wanted to get some of the prep done for that this weekend, but the weather and my slightly bummed disposition got in the way.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of a thing I bought a little while ago that’s not what you think it is:

Aside from the fact that the Clydesdale Stallion was not officially a part of the Presentation Collection, he also lacks the USA mold mark, which means he was manufactured no later than 1970, or a year before the official introduction of the program in 1971. 

The base is different, too: it’s beveled along one edge, not all four. 

I’ve seen a few other Breyers floating around with similar bases, and there’s always been a bit of a mystery about their origin and/or authenticity. Personally, I have come around to the idea that these oddly-based models may have been a part of the “Desk Trophies” program offered by Robbins Metal Craft:

http://breyerhistorydiva.blogspot.com/2010/04/charolais-specials-part-ii.html

Robbins was based in Missouri, and a sticker on the bottom of the base indicates that it was made by a company in St. Louis that (I assume) manufactured trophies and such. Hmm.

The only problem here is timeline. The weathervane brochure dates to the mid-1970s, but the Clydesdale itself is pre-1971. If the trophy program ran for five years (or so), these things should be… slightly more common than they actually are, right? Or at least as common as the official Breyer pieces.

Then there’s the possibility that the Clydesdale might have been a promo item relating to the Budweiser Clydesdales, also based in Missouri. Maybe the company that was tapped to do them was later contracted by Robbins? 

I could spend all day spinning crazy theories to explain his existence. But like most things, chances are that the real and true explanation of his existence is going to end up being a very simple and obvious one.   

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Line and Form

Today was not a good day, and I would very much like to crawl under a rock. 

Aside from everything else that’s going on, I thought I’d take my live show paperwork to work to finish it during break and lunch. Not only did that not happen, I didn’t discover until I got home that had left it all at work, so now I won’t be able to work on it at all today at home, either. 

So now I can’t finish it until tomorrow, when I had planned on getting to bed early and catch a couple extra hours of sleep, since I am not going to get much on Saturday because of the scheduling conflict I mentioned before. 

That’s just awesome. And pretty much par for the course this week.

Since I never got around to my Chicago Worldcon report (those notes are also with the live show paperwork. Like I said, not a good day), I want to at least highlight one of the things I bought there: a tiny piece of art I bought from a dealer who had purchased the archives from the estate of Virgil Finlay. 

I wasn’t comfortable buying one of the dealer’s more expensive pieces, but I thought this item – a cover proof from his time illustrating astrology magazines – was both very affordable, and so very, very on point for me, as a horse person attending The Science Fiction Convention in Chicago. The spot colors were also a plus: a very Breyer-esque Blue and Yellow!

I may get it framed some time in the future, but for now it’s just going to reside in my ephemera archives.

Virgil Finlay has always been one of my favorite science-fiction illustrators, and the dream would be to own one of his originals. The dealer had some sketches of horses (not full-on, finished artwork) that were a temptation, but maybe another day, or another lifetime.  

Some of his artwork was on display in the Korshak Collection room at Worldcon – in addition to works by Frank R. Paul, Hannes Bok, Emsh, the Brothers Hildebrandt, and so many others – but the piece that really caught my eye there was Stanley Meltzoff’s cover illustration for the paperback edition of Robert Heinlein’s The Green Hills of Earth. It had a beautiful, painterly quality to it that reproduction just cannot capture. If there was one painting in that room I could have stolen, it would have been that!

(Just being in that room was one of the many highlights of Worldcon.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Shape and Texture

Not a great weekend, but I did get most of the quilt batt stuff sorted out and a very preliminary showstring put together. Just a few additions, a few subtractions, and nothing fancy-fancy or exotic: as much fun as it is, I don’t have time for the documentation that would involve. 

Plus I found out last week that we’re all on mandatory overtime at work for the time being, which means it’s not even a matter of finding the time. There is no extra time to be had! 

I did have a few moments over the weekend to open up a few packages that have arrived over the past several weeks (don’t get me started!), including an extremely affordable Blue Christmas Zebra! 

I don’t have the complete set yet, because (as I hope you all know by now) I am a very patient cheapskate. Because the Coal is completely off the table for obvious reasons, all I need now are the Green and the Gold. (I know he is not perfect, but neither am I, so it all works out.)

(I’d like a Cave of Lascaux, too, but I’m not holding my breath on that one either.)

Another recent arrival was a little more pricey, but it was about that time of year for me to buy my one really expensive thing, and this was it: 

Although the #971 Horned Hereford Bull was manufactured in Woodgrain through 1964, he is not particularly easy to find. I suspect that his production run numbers were low because the rough texture of his coat made him difficult to paint; the only other Breyer model with a similarly bumpy surface that made it into Regular Run production was the Large Poodle, who ran – probably not coincidentally! – the same years as the Bull. 

Other models with textured surfaces that eventually came out in Woodgrain – including the Polled Hereford Bull, the Buffalo, the Elephant and the Donkey – were all likely Special Run items of extremely limited quantities.

(I’m not 100 percent sure on the Elephant, but let’s not get into that discussion today.)

The Poodle is slightly easier to find, and cheaper too, but that’s because there are fewer Breyer Dog collectors than there are Bull collectors. And those Bull collectors are why I’ll probably never be able to complete my Walking Horned Hereford collection: there ain’t no way I am ever paying $1500 for a Bunyan, full stop…

Saturday, September 17, 2022

The Entropy of the Season

Not dead, but a rough week nonetheless.

Whatever was in my eye is no longer in it, but the eye doctor diagnosed me with something else that may require a second opinion.

(I’d rather not talk about it right now, except to say that I ended up having a panic attack in the examination room.)

But dealing with that potential problem will have to wait at least a week, as I have literally DONE NOTHING FOR NEXT WEEK’S LIVE SHOW YET. So my weekend will largely consist of me slapdashing my showstring together.

For funsies I might do some quilt prep too, because it’s that time of the year and I derive some small pleasure basting things together. (My small, valiant effort to battle the entropy inherent in the season, I guess.)

I did buy a Maelstrom from the Halloween Sale, because after the week I had, I deserved a Metallic Green Desatado that Glows in the Dark. I threw in a couple of Spooky Surprise Blind Bag Stablemates, even though I know there’s a high likelihood of me getting two identical ones and I’m in no mood to negotiate trades. I’ll just throw the inevitable duplicate in the sales pile and call it a day.

(Bleh.)

On a more cheerful note, I am oddly more optimistic about Breyer’s chances at the Toy Hall of Fame this year. It was pretty weird to have nonhobby people asking me if I had heard the news about Breyer being nominated!

I went online and saw that Breyer was actually called out by name – and even featured in the title! – of several stories about the nominees this week. We didn’t quite get the same treatment last year, which leads me to think that the news people and/or museum publicists think that we’re a stronger contender?

It’s interesting that the announcement of this year’s winners will occur on November 10th, the day before the Ponies & Palm Trees Exclusive Event in Florida. It’ll make for an interesting (and possibly more drunken?) weekend if it does happen…

(FYI: Stay away from the Absinthe, guys!)

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

The Inherent Danger of Shiny Objects

The past four days have been an absolute nightmare that ended with me in Urgent Care this morning with an eye problem. 

This is an entirely separate problem from the exhaustion thing, which had led to me spending most of my interrupted weekend in bed, which then led to my back giving out and even more time in bed because I couldn’t get out of it.

Everything seemed fine by Monday morning, I thought. 

Then I woke up with something in my eye Monday evening right before I went to work, and it’s still there.

I just woke up a couple hours ago and it’s quite apparent that whatever they tried to do at Urgent Care did not work, so even further medical intervention may be necessary on Wednesday or Thursday if the situation does not resolve itself on its own by then.

So needless to say, model horse stuff is on the backburner until this is fixed. It’s more irritating than painful, but I’ve had it with my week of sickness and anything involving my eyes makes me nervous and I don’t have the patience to deal with this anymore. 

I have a live show in a week and a half and I haven’t even printed out anything to start assembling my show string. I was just going to treat it as a “fun show” anyway, but it’s like the Universe is attempting to make even that low bar a challenge.

Why can’t I have just a little bit of fun without dire consequences? Must karma always bite me in the butt? 

Here’s a little bit of actual model horse content to keep you entertained while medical professionals prepare to drop more mysterious liquids into my eyes:

It’s the Stardust I had Peter Beagle sign! As far as I could tell, I was the only person who brought a Unicorn to be signed, which surprised me a bit because if you were at Worldcon itself, you would have noticed that it was very… unicorn-flavored. Reeves probably could have done well with a table full of Unicorns in the vendor area. 

 

(FYI: Unicorns taste like cake batter. I recommend the Kroger Unicorn Oreo Knockoffs!)

I chose the Stardust because he was the most readily available Breyer Unicorn that I had, and he’s one of my favorites anyway, with his darling little space pants. Photographs were taken of the occasion (not of, or by me.) I also told Mr. Beagle that he had many fans in the model horse community and that we’d love to see him someday if he’s willing and able. 

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Burmese

So much for my grand plans for the week: my body completely crashed and burned on me Thursday morning after work, and I’m still not anywhere near functional. 

I mean, I knew it was coming – there’s no way I was going to party that hard without consequences! – but I was kind of hoping to put it off until the weekend, when I could afford the time.

In lieu of Worldcon bits and pieces today, I suppose it’s appropriate to say a little something to mark the passing of the world’s most famous hobbyist this week. 

I won’t bore you, again, about the time I met Queen Elizabeth’s lady-in-waiting at BreyerFest; you can use The Google Machine if you want to re-read it. I do want to say a little bit, though, about the first Breyer Special Run created specifically to honor one of her horses, Burmese:

You don’t see or hear much about this 1990 German Export Special Run nowadays because it’s a rather boring and unremarkable thing: a solid, unshaded Black paint job on a Traditional Secretariat, a mold few people love or collect. 

Only 500 pieces were made – which was pretty typical for a special run of that era – and for a brief moment after they were released there was a market for them. There weren’t a lot of special runs getting made around that time, and this one was initially available only through European dealers, which made it a hot commodity among U.S. collectors for a while.

You don’t see many of them for sale today. Some of it can be chalked up to the passage of time: it was released over 30 years ago, and there have only been a million or two special runs released since then. 

Burmese was also a product of its time: as a consequence of its shift in production from Chicago to New Jersey, they lost a lot of the talented employees that made Breyer what it was. Reeves was primarily a distributor, not a manufacturer, and they could ill-afford those losses.

While many of the models that were released during this time were (and are) beloved by the collectors who discovered the hobby during that era, those of us who came before (and after) are a little more sanguine about them. 

Everything and everybody goes through a rough patch or two in their lives, and if the models Reeves released during this time period were the worst of theirs, I think weathered it well.

(Let us not speak of Shrinkies.)

Will Burmese see a renaissance of interest now, in light of Her Majesty’s passing? Perhaps. Mine is not going anywhere: I am rather fond of the Secretariat mold for a variety of sentimental reasons, and I am not the kind of person who sees my collection purely in monetary terms.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

A Very Brief Report From Your Ambassador to Another Planet

Here is the extremely condensed summary of my Chicon 8 report, in the style of Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman:

  • Made friends.
  • Forged alliances. 
  • Plotted the destruction of my enemies.
  • Partied like a rockstar. 

I had a wonderful time, and I wish (more of) you could have made it. A bigger and better report of the trip will be posted in a couple of days, after my ears stop ringing and the laundry gets washed.

(And also: I will neither confirm nor deny that there may be video of me dancing somewhere on the Internet.)