Saturday, June 3, 2023

Black Points

Since I’ve been buying a lot of less desirable Collector’s Club Appreciation Glossies recently (the mule Buckeye is on his way!) the currently crop of Glossies has been less of a temptation, especially since my favorite of the bunch – the Black Brishen Sjoerd – seems to be everyone else’s least-loved. 

Conversely, I am not too keen on the Peptoboomsmal: I tried my best to love him or even like the Dundee/Australian Stock Horse mold –the 2022 Flagship Special Romeo should have been a no-brainer for me, for a couple of reasons – but I am having a hard time warming up to him. 

The other two are also very nice, but they are more in the like, rather than love category: the Morgan is pretty, but also pretty huge, and the Totilas is a bit tippy.  

So I took a pass on the offer this time. Maybe I’ll be able to trade for a Glossy Sjoerd at BreyerFest: I just finished my sales list and it’s definitely an eclectic one. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find someone to trade something for it!

My mind is on a dozen different things today (someone or something literally bent some of my metal garden fenceposts to the ground, and I have no idea how) so I’ll wrap up a couple of talking points from the comments and move on to other topics next time. 

The color on the Vintage Custom Black Stallion was not extensively retouched; if anything, he’s actually a bit darker than I received him, since I had a hard time matching his highlights. Any perceived brightness can be attributed to a fresh application of varnish and outdoor lighting. Like Reeves, photography is not my strongest suit! 

As for my opinion of the final disposition of the Test Color Appaloosa Performance Horse: I am assuming, unless proven otherwise, that the sale was taken private: there are always ways. The conversation about him that appeared shortly afterward may well have contributed to his disappearance. I think the fact that my other purchase – also a Test Color! – happened a few hours later, yet was not canceled actually strengthens this argument. 

A hobbyist who was genuinely concerned about the seller would have also seen the Classic and insisted that one be canceled as well. The fact that they let that one go suggests to me that it was someone who either had no idea it was a Test, or was a “high point” collector with little interest or concern for plain, Chicago-era Classics. (Or regard for what their fellow hobbyists think of them, too.)

Because an odd little Black Stallion with four stockings and gray hooves definitely doesn’t have the same allure as an early BreyerFest Auction Test Color that’s been “missing” for 30 years, or the same potential for a financial return on their investment. 

For the record, I am not a fan of “high point” collectors of any stripe: they tend to throw their money around rather carelessly, distorting the market in the process and make life difficult for collectors of more modest means.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Someone Drops A Shoe

To work off the drama of the past several days, I spent a good chunk of my weekend either customizing or gardening. 

I didn’t get quite as far with the garden as I hoped: it was hotter than the bottom of a skillet outside, and it hasn’t rained in a while so the ground was the consistency of concrete. It’s definitely looking better, though.

I thought I was doing pretty well with a few of the customs I was playing around with, and maybe even close to done. Then I hit them with a little primer to check my progress, and discovered I seriously overestimated my customizing skills. 


But here’s a bit of good news: the vintage Black Stallion custom is finally finished! Just look at this beautiful boy:

I decided to go with a retro, poofy ‘80s-style hairdo. I am also inordinately proud of the base I made for him: most custom bases in the 1980s were rather crude (compared to the horse, anyway) and he deserved something classy to stand on. 

I am heartened by the support I received in the comments over the Performance Horse Affair. I was initially hesitant to come forward with the story, expecting that it might generate some negative feedback. 

But I thought it was important to put it out there, because (a) it was already a topic of discussion (b) it was something I was personally involved in, and (c) it did not have the happy ending people were imagining it did.

I have a feeling the model itself is now radioactive; I rather doubt we’ll be seeing it again anytime soon. If it does turn up again, it’s going to be awkward for everyone. 

Regardless, the best case scenario is that maybe this will lead to the hobby having a more open and thorough discussion about the etiquette and ethics of selling and reselling, instead of it disintegrating into insinuations that we’re price-shaming people by even mentioning money.

At this point there are between 500 to 750 BreyerFest Benefit Auction models floating around out there. One of them will be mine someday, I know it. There were a lot of weird, homely and unshowable things in those early auctions: Rugged Larks and Khemosabis and all manner of Classics, to name a few. 

This one would have been the best, most perfect ending of my quest. It was one of my favorite molds (Performance Horse), in one of my favorite colors (Red Roan), from one of the few BreyerFest Auctions I personally attended (1993), at an insanely good price.

Alas, no. But there’s an interesting postscript to the story. 

Here’s the other misidentified model I bought from the same seller the same day for the same price, and (fortunately) the sale wasn’t canceled several hours after the fact:

A nice consolation prize, I suppose, even though I already have another Classic Black Stallion Test Color in the stable. (I know, who gets to say stuff like that? Someone who’s not particularly particular about the Test Colors she buys!)

He feels a bit like a Marney Test to me, but his origins are unknown. The less flashy parts of Marney’s collection were being dispersed by sellers at BreyerFest in 1993 – including boring, solid-colored Test Color Classics, Hess Stock Horses and the like – so it’s entirely possible he was purchased around the same time as the APH. 

Not the happy ending I was hoping for, but I’ll take it. 

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Eight and a Half Hours

A little bird has told me that a recent purchase I made is the source of a great deal of speculation.

Yes, I was the “lucky” soul who managed to score the 1993 BreyerFest Benefit Auction Red Roan Appaloosa Performance Horse on Thursday.

It took me a few seconds to see what I was seeing: that’s no ordinary Appaloosa Performance Horse. Buy It Now? Hella yeah. 

After a couple of tense seconds that felt like hours, the sale went through.

I started hyperventilating. Then I drank a massive amount of Mountain Dew (alcohol was off the table: I had to go to work in a couple of hours) and immediately texted a friend IN ALL CAPS, punctuated by swear words. As one does when someone scores a major grail. 

I’ve achieved a number of Grails in recent years, and the next “big one” I had been aiming for was an early BreyerFest Auction piece. That’s because most of those earlier models were probably actual Test Colors, and on the Vintage molds I prefer. They were what they were, and were not designed specifically to maximize bidding. 

I have also occasionally seen early Auction Tests turn up on eBay (and elsewhere), often misidentified. There was a not implausible hope that I could get lucky someday.

I was at the 1993 Auction; it was one of the few I actually attended, and probably the last where I could have afforded anything. I was in Art School and money was a little scarce, so I did not bid. (Though my BreyerFest roommate that year did.)

Do I remember this specific model from that year? Nope. I don’t remember many Auction Tests, recent and not so: these models slip from my mind, because I know they are not achievable in any way. 

And ultimately, so was this model. 

My ownership ended eight and a half hours later: the sale was canceled around 9 p.m., because “the item was out of stock.” I contacted the seller for more information, and the only explanation I was given was that it was “listed in error”. 

We’ve all had the experience of scoring something fabulous for a song on eBay, only to have the sale canceled a short time later, often when someone tattles after the fact. We’re not the only hobby where that happens, but we’re a small enough community to usually know who the suspects are.

Their story may be true. It may not. All I know is that when this model inevitably reappears, all I’ll be able to do is look away, and think: I owned you, once, for eight and a half hours. 

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Getting Lucky

Something crazy lucky happened today. 

I think. 

More on this story if and when it officially arrives.

In response to a comment in the previous post: I have been a model horse hobbyist since 1978, a comic book reader since before I entered grade school, and have attended all manner of conventions since the mid-1980s. My favorite Golden Age SF author is A.E. Van Vogt, my favorite kaiju is Gamera, and my family has seen every single Star Trek film ever made in the movie theatre. Even the one where Kirk picks a fight with God!

Today is not the day I write my opus about the model horse hobby being a subcategory of Science-Fiction Fandom. But as someone who’s lived the life, and met several others who have done likewise, I’d like to think that I can write it with a measure of both authority and persuasion when I do. 

Now, back to the Model Horse Nerdery, and the topic of getting lucky: 

I’m not sure how this happened, but I’m taking it! Since I do not consider myself especially lucky, my mind immediately went to several different rationalizations as to why and how I actually got drawn for this opportunity. 

It was only open to VIP ticket holders: okay, there were fewer entries to choose from. That helped.

The fact that it happens on a Wednesday, and a lot of people already have their plans in place and could not accommodate the date: sure, that is definitely a factor.

The cost: yeah, this could be a budget-buster for some folks. Been there, done that: I get it. 

And finally, the cost-benefit analysis: I am not one of these people (obviously!) but if there’s no money to be made at an activity, a lot of hobbyists simply won’t do it. 

I’m a little bit short on extracurricular activities at BreyerFest this year: some of the things I could do I want to save for my future “Redneck Family Roadtrip Redo” either next year or the year after (Derby comes first, and then a still undetermined international location!) And most of the alternate excursions are either not viable schedule-wise or (in at least one instance) ethically questionable.

So the Hillcroft Farm Tour was a perfect fit for me. And I actually get to go!

Whether or not there will be any added “benefits” to the package aside from what’s already been mentioned, I have no clue. This is new territory: this feels more like the farm tours that Reeves used to facilitate at BreyerFest rather than the farm tours that come with Exclusive Event experiences.

But we really have no way of knowing what it will be like, until it happens.

I am going into this experience with that thought in mind. Anything extra that comes out of it is just extra.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Into the Unicorniverse

Had a lovely time at Motor City Comic Con this Saturday, wish you were there. I’d post the only picture I had taken, but I suspect a lot of you may have no idea who Run-DMC is.

(It was a moment and I had to do it. Three Stripe Life!)

It was definitely better attended than last year; there were times on the convention floor when I couldn’t move. I did buy a few things, including this lovely, and very BreyerFest-adjacent piece of art on an authentic piece of papyrus!

I bought a couple similar ones to take to BreyerFest for people who might want a little something extra to go with their Speos; I’m not getting a Speos myself, unless something changes and an extra ticket magically happens. 

I almost bought a lightsaber, too, but I didn’t have enough walking around cash at that point, and that booth was absolutely mobbed anyway. Maybe for Christmas…

I’m also getting the notion that I should cosplay there next year. (More on that another time, if it ever becomes more than a notion.)

Like Worldcon, I was struck by the notion that Reeves would have done well with a booth here (at any comic con, really) selling their Unicorns and other fantasy-affiliated creatures. There’s always been a lot of fandom overlap between general “nerd” culture and “model horse” culture, you might as well make it official!

Speaking of unicorns, when I bought my Blue Roan Brabant the other day, I also bought the “Sparkling Splendor” Deluxe Unicorn Collection, because I guess I needed more Metallic Stablemates Unicorns in my life:

What I love about this set is that they went through the effort of not just naming every Unicorn in the “herd”, but they gave them a little backstory, too: 

Assuming that genetics in Breyer’s Unicorniverse follow the color wheel, I’m guessing that the leader of this particular “herd” is the purple Fireheart “Trifle” and not the silvery Mini Carrick “Esteem”. 

Friday, May 19, 2023

Metallic Bay Adios

That was an unwelcome surprise: I found a giant black spider on the envelope of my BreyerFest tickets as I pulled them out of the mailbox yesterday! I freaked out and immediately dropped all my mail on the ground, because spiders

The last time I had that close of an encounter with a spider, I got bit and thought I’d have to go to the ER. So my reaction was not entirely unjustified.

I am happy to report that both me and the spider survived the incident unscathed, as did the tickets. (No footprints!) The rest of the mail was also fine, including a lot of vintage Wyoming travel brochures I bought off eBay.

In less traumatic news, I was not draw for a Sparrow, but that’s neither a surprise nor a heartbreak. If I want to speak of heartbreak, there’s another Test Color Drawing, for a Metallic Bay Adios:

I wasn’t expecting this, because he’s not particularly flashy or groundbreaking (another Bay Adios, of all things?) but gosh, he is so pretty. I think I need him. 

Adios was a pretty popular guy in the 1970s and 1980s with both the general public and hobbyists: not only was he a portrait model twice over (Adios and Yellow Mount), he was also one of the more anatomically correct models of the era, and tended to show pretty well. Everyone had at least one Adios mold in their showstring!

Consequently, bodies were plentiful at the factory, which resulted a number of Test Colors and Oddities. You experiment with what’s available to you, after all…. 

The most desirable of these Oddball Adioses at the time, of course, were the Black ones. 

Contrary to hobby belief, the Black Adios was never formally considered a Special Run of any sort: they existed in a fuzzy gray area somewhere in between Test Color, Factory Custom and Gift/Prize Model. 

Some of them were painted by Marney as gifts to hobbyists who were lucky enough to get a factory tour: Black was the easiest color of all to paint, and since it covered a multitude of decorative sins, it was also a good way to use up some of the Culls in the regrind bin.

But she also painted up (or rescued?) some for resale. I remember seeing at least a couple in the Test Color boxes she casually placed on some empty show tables at Model Horse Congress in 1985, the ones that made everyone in attendance go into full meltdown mode.   

I was never lucky enough to get a Black Adios, though I came pretty close: our local hobbyist group was planning a trip to visit the Chicago factory in mid to late 1984, but the tour got canceled at the last minute, probably due to the pending sale to Reeves International. 

Considering how much of a legend the Black Adios has become nowadays, I think I have a better shot at getting the Metallic Bay one. 

Technically, I do have a Test Color Adios, or at least I think he is (yeah, it is one of those things) but I’ll cover him another time, when I actually have a little more to spare.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Vacation Plans

Another cleanup day here. First, a couple of customs I’ve been fiddling with:

My problem when it comes to ambitious customs like the Mesteno’s Mother is that I never know when to stop. Will she fall to the same fate as many of my other experiments, like the Quarter Horse Gelding I tried to turn into a Suffolk Punch? I have no idea.

The Classic Quarter Horse Mare – who was that bad, but earnestly done custom I found at a Salvation Army years ago – required less work to get to this stage, but I’ve been doing an insane amount of tiny tweaks on her. Most of them to fix mistakes the original customizer made (like floppy ears, and divots in her butt!)

Second I couldn’t muster up a lot of enthusiasm for the latest Birds of a Feather Web Special Sparrow. I mean, she’s pretty, but there have been a lot of pricey and hard-to-obtain Croi Damsha releases lately, and a Chevaliere doesn’t look likely either. I will not be troubled much if I don’t get her.  

(Though it looks like prices on the Christmas Spice Drops have been dropping, and the Green and Red ones I prefer are the less desirable ones, hmm….)

Most of my free time has been spent getting caught up with my vacation prep – Kentucky and Wyoming will be back-to-back, incidentally, though I’m still working on some of the particulars. 

I decided to go ahead and do a couple of Collector’s Classes at BreyerFest Live. I will probably regret it – I am not a big spender, nor is my luck particularly keen – but since the opportunity is there, and judging at that show is notoriously quirky, it was worth the modest entry fees. 

(Believe it or not, even back in “The Good Old Days”, I never actually won a Collector’s Class. It was all about the Decorators and Glossies back then, and I did not have much of either.)

My BreyerFest sales list is being challenging because, in spite of the fact that I haven’t really bought all that much in the past year, I still have way too much to fit in the car again. I sold so much stuff last year, how is that even possible? 

While I am at it, I might as well tell you my vacation plans for next year, since it’s also horse-related and there’s a slim chance someone out there might be able to help with this one:

I want to go to the Kentucky Derby. 

I’ve never been (no, really!) and it being the 150th Anniversary, well, just makes me want to go even more. Ticket sales are going to be insane, I know, and my odds of winning a chance to buy tickets are about as likely as me winning a Test Color Web Raffles. (Which has been never, so far.)

But I owe it to myself to at least try.