Tuesday, October 16, 2018

And Now, A Nonadventure!

It’s October and all I want to do is hibernate! Alas, I have no time for that silliness.

Speaking of silliness, I suppose I should tell you about my desperate and ultimately failed attempt at trying to get on Antiques Roadshow earlier this year. To bring Breyers, or horses, or frankly anything other than rusty old Civil War guns and pawn shop guitars to the masses…

One of their shooting locations this year was less than 20 minutes (!) from the house, so I applied for free tickets.

Didn’t get drawn for them. I was not expecting to, but still annoying, and disappointing.

Then they made more tickets available. Didn’t get drawn for those, either.

Then they offered “free” tickets if you made a donation to the local PBS station. That was a no-go from the start, since the amount they were asking as a suitable donation was greater than my BreyerFest budget.

Then they offered tickets to people who could write a compelling enough essay about an object that they wanted to bring. There were a significant number of tickets available (150, I think?) and I can write things.

Surely I could thwart my lack of luck with the power of my words! So I did write ups on three horse-related items.

First, the large, hand-colored photograph I have of Midnight Sun. Aside from the strangeness of an obvious relic from Harlinsdale Farm turning up in a flea market in Michigan, I thought it’d also make for an excellent segue into educating the public about the ongoing efforts to save the breed from the scourge of the Big Lick. And I could bring a Breyer Midnight Sun as part of the package!


Second, on the letter I have written by Wild Horse Annie to Marguerite Henry talking about the newly-released Breyer Hobo (among other things). One equine legend writing to another equine legend about a third equine legend (Breyer, ahem). Aside from the sheer uniqueness of the letter, I could also have brought along a Classic Hobo and possibly other Marguerite Henry-inspired models for illustrative purposes.

Nope on that one, too.

Third, I wrote about the horse-themed photo album I found a couple years ago, featuring photos of the previous owner’s horses, his trip to Cheyenne Frontier Days (in 1946!), carefully annotated photos from a day at the racetrack in June 1942, all that good stuff. And there was a photograph in the album of a WWII-era Navy baseball team that might have included Yogi Berra, too.

If they weren’t interested in any of the horse stuff, surely the baseball angle would have drawn them in, right? I mean, after guitars and Civil War relics, there seems to be baseball stuff in every episode of Antiques Roadshow, am I right?

Nope. Strike three.

Sorry guys, but apparently they didn’t find me or my stuff interesting enough. This I found a little more devastating than losing a random lottery-type thing: I expect to lose random lotteries, but I pride myself on being at least minimally interesting to almost everybody!

I suppose if I had something horse-related that was also Detroit-related, like Seabiscuit (who started his “comeback” here) or Man o’ War (the Match Race against Sir Barton was just across the river, in Windsor), or The Lone Ranger (which originated in Detroit), or a verifiable piece of a local carousel, because Detroit’s Golden Age corresponded almost exactly with the Golden Age of Carousels, and there were probably more wooden carousels here per capita than any other place on Earth, y’all.
But I didn’t have any of that. So like most my other attempts to bring attention to the hobby to the masses, I found myself sitting home. Again.

So many people in the hobby try to hide their interest in the hobby from the public eye. Ironically, I do everything short of tap-dancing down I-75 in a hot pink tutu during rush hour, and I see nary a shrug in my direction.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Good Enough

It just occurred to me that the two items I ordered late last week – the Vintage Club Weather Girl Grace, and the Stablemates Club Finn – are both Gambler’s Choice items. I just paid out a decent chunk of money and I have no idea what I’ll be getting.

Out of the 12 different possible combinations (three of the Grace, four of the Finn) that is.

And you know what? I’m fine with that. I grew up during the “picture box” era of Breyer collecting – pre-1985 – and most of the time you had no idea what you’d actually be getting inside that box. It wasn’t just a solid, opaque cardboard box either: they were shrinkwrapped too!

(Handpicking? Hah!)

Breyer was in something of an experimental phase with retail packaging in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Prior to then, toy stores generally kept out display pieces, and you had to ask the clerk to bring you your selection from their backstock.

By the end of the 1970s, most stores – toys or otherwise – had switched to a self-service mode as a cost-saving measure, which necessitated a move to more decorative and informative packaging.

The history of Breyer packaging is, of course, much more complicated than that, but I don’t have the time or the mind to deal with the intricacies today. Another day, perhaps.

Aside from the packaging issues, a lot of the time you couldn’t trust the catalogs or manuals, either. Case in point: the Stock Horse Stallions from the 1981 Dealer’s Catalog:

Well, okay, I am still a little mad about that one: I want that minimally-marked Black Pinto San Domingo, dangnabit! I probably have a slightly better chance of acquiring one of the numerous Stock Horse Stallions Tests, like this one:

Seriously, there’s like a bajillion different Black Pinto Stock Horse Stallions out there, and I like them all better than the pinto we actually got, but that just might be a “wanting what you can’t have” thing. Or that I’m always up for another Test Color or Oddity, no matter the mold or color. I already have two Stock Horse Stallion Tests, and don’t really need another.

But back to the original point: everyone has gotten very spoiled since the advent of display boxes. We can be picky now, instead of later!

However, the ability to be pickier isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially if we find ourselves becoming so picky that nothing less than perfection is good enough. And since perfection is an arbitrary and abstract concept, what happens is that eventually, no model is ever good enough.

The perfect is the enemy of the good. 

I’m not saying y’all should accept a substandard model, but sometimes, life is easier and a lot less stressful if we just accept that everything comes occasional ding or flaw, whether we like it or not.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Web Site Remodel

I haven’t been online enough to judge the Breyer Horses web site redesign (too much offline nonsense to deal with at the moment. Life, man.) I pretty much just reactivated my account per their e-mail instructions, and did a little bit of poking around to make sure they didn’t hide any Super-Secret-Special-Runs anywhere.

I do like it visually – it’s a much cleaner, cohesive and professional-looking design, to say the least. The previous site design gave off a “generic toy company” vibe, while this design is more “slightly upscale aspirational equestrian lifestyle brand”.

Which makes sense, since they recently changed their company slogan from the almost meaningless “Let Your Imagination Play” to “A Horse Of My Very Own”. Their mission statement, under the Discover Breyer tab on the index page:

Ever since our first model horse was created in 1950, Breyer has been committed to making the World’s Finest Model Horses. Fans believe that when they hold a Breyer horse in their hands, it’s like entering the world of real horses.   
Our goal is build on the historical legacy of the brand, and bring the inspiration of horses to as many people as possible. As we do this, every expression of the brand, across our products, content, and experiences, is a touchpoint that connects us to that inspiration. 

That’s what I’ve been saying for years; I think I’ve expressed some variations of these sentiments on previous BreyerFest Volunteer Applications, because (duh) that’s what I sincerely believe.

(Though I prefer to think that the new-ish people in charge did their homework and came up with the concept independently, and that I was but one voice of many.)

I don’t have a place for the living-breathing kind of horses in my life – and likely never will – and Breyer Horses are the closest equivalent. Better in some ways, since I don’t have to worry about additional expenses (vet bills, boarding) and, if need be, I can walk away from them for a while and not have to worry about their physical or emotional upkeep.

(Leaving Vita alone for half the day is terrifying enough!)

Whether the site is easier to use or navigate I haven’t really had a chance to determine yet. I suspect there are some bugs that still need to be worked out; there always are.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The "It" Color

Things have been so crazy here for so long that a lot of recent – and not so recent – purchases have come (and sometimes, gone!) without comment. Since my horse purchases have been, and will continue to be more or less on hiatus for the next couple of months, let’s begin to rectify that with this beauty, a Mint in Box Pottery Barn Strapless I bought over a year ago (ulp!):

I ended up paying about market value for her, which is something I do on rare occasions – mostly when I feel that the “good deal” I was hoping for is not likely coming. I justify it by rationalizing that I get enough good deals throughout the year so I can afford an occasional full-retail splurge.

She’ll be released from her box soon; I didn’t have the time or space to do so previously. The box in rough shape, anyway, and unlike the other two Pottery Barn releases – the Classic Johar in Chestnut Appaloosa, and the Best in Show Thoroughbred in Black – she won’t lose her identity or much value once she is set free.

Not that resale value is very high on my list of concerns. It’s not. In fact, focusing on potential resale value is one of the few ways I think collectors and hobbyists can go seriously astray. But now is not the time to revisit that topic…

It’s interesting to me that this purchase – like so many that I’ve made in the past – was unintentionally prescient. As both I and others have pointed out, 2018 has definitely been the “Year of the Bay” as far as Breyers are concerned.

For me, too. The majority of my non-retail purchases at BreyerFest were Bay, and the only current release I am (somewhat) actively looking for is the Walmart 4-piece set, primarily for that beautiful Bay Django.

I’d like to buy an LV Integrity on the Yasmin mold, too, but I’m trying to save that one for any potential gift-with-purchase offers they may spring on us near the end of the year.

It’ll be interesting to see what becomes the next “It” color. I’m secretly hoping for something old-fashioned or Decoratory. Honey Palomino? Gloss Pink-eyed Albino? Resist Dapple Gray?

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Animal Print Decorators

I love Okapis, so I kind of dig the premiere model in the Wild Animal Series, Kehinde:

The Wildlife Animal Series is an obvious replacement to the annually-released Big Cat Series, which had run its course – and out of “Big Cats” to depict (even though it’s technically not a “Big Cat”, I was kind of hoping they’d manage to work a Caracal into the mix.)

Like the Big Cats Series, which was inspired by the 2012 Passage to the Pacific Stablemate Hear Me Roar, the kernel of the idea for the Wild Animal Series was undoubtedly another Exclusive Event model, the 2011 Sunshine Celebration Everglades on the Nokota Horse mold.

I thought he was kind of neat, but he was definitely a polarizing release: either you loved him, or you hated him. Another animal-themed Traditional release a year later, the Passage to the Pacific’s Fighting Stallion Star of India, left me cold. I liked the general concept, and wanted to love the model, but the execution just didn’t work for me at all.

I am assuming that, like the Big Cat Series, this new series will be an annual one, with releases timed for early Fall. The theme is sufficiently vague enough to allow for a wide range of releases: pretty much any animal print you can think of, from birds to snakes to fish…

… though it seems pretty obvious (or should be) that the next release should/will be a Giraffe on the Forever Saige mold. Technically her neck isn’t as long or out of proportion as a lot of people say it is, but the pose itself is very giraffe-like, so I wouldn’t necessarily object.

Though I’d love to see a Blue Jay-themed Silver/Pegasus, an Oryx on the Unicorn version of Yasmin (obviously!) or a Koi Fish anything.

Kehinde is a really unusual concept, well-executed, and I certainly wouldn’t mind adding one to my herd. Props to the designer Karen Williams for making me seriously want a release on a mold (the Clock Saddlebred) that I am not predisposed to liking in the first place!

But my office is still a mess and I still haven’t gotten around to finishing up my BreyerFest paperwork, so I am okay with not getting one: I am all about minimizing my workload this Fall. I will probably just put in my obligatory single entry and see what happens.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Latigo Dun It and Collecting Philosophies

Since I had a twenty minute window of free time Saturday, I went to the toy store to look at the Alejandros. 

The dappling was not optimal on the examples I had to choose from, so he was easier to walk away from than I expected. 

I’m not a stickler for perfect dapples – you know me, I’ll even buy models with really bad dappling just because it amuses me so – but on this particular release I think being fussy is probably the right choice for me. 

But you know who had almost perfect dappling, gorgeous shading and color? A Latigo Dun It, one who looked very much like his “press” photo:

I’m certainly not immune to the Smart Chic Olena mold’s charms, and Reeves is in the habit of finding the most fabulous paint jobs to put on him. Yet he wasn’t on my must-buy list before, until I saw this one in this store…

Isn’t it funny when you walk into a store expecting to buy one thing, and find yourself smitten with something else? 

I’ve always considered myself something of an “organic” collector – my collection grows in response to whatever I find in my shopping environment, and not necessarily out of a specific list of wants or needs – but it is always a shock when a model sort of throws itself at me like that. 

Which is sort of the point of adopting that type of collecting philosophy in the first place. I’d much rather see every model as a possibility – even ones I hadn’t seriously considered before. 

Whenever I’ve just going to look for a very narrow range of molds or colors, or only pieces I would deem “perfect”, I feel like I’m setting myself up for more disappointments than not. And life is full of enough disappointments, you know? 

It was more a matter of time than money or desire that made me leave the Latigo Dun It behind: it was a quick look at the clock and the sudden realization that my 20-minute window of free time was so over. The store was busy (other people were pretty happy with their Alejandros!) and I really had no time to stand in line.   

It’s still a possibility he’ll come home with me, eventually. If someone else hasn’t already snapped him up by the time I can swing by next.

(Looks at schedule, wonders when that is. Sigh.)

Friday, September 28, 2018

2018 TSC Roundup

Briefly stopped by the local Tractor Supply earlier this week, and got a good look at all the 2018 Special Runs: the Jasper, the Boone, and the Classics Mustang set featuring the Charging Mesteno and the Frolicking Foal.

The Jasper (Desatado) was very nice, but still didn’t impress me enough to buy one. I don’t think Glossiness or Chalkiness would have changed my opinion: it’s the mold, not the color.

I liked the Boone (Cody) more than I thought I would: the color was softer and lighter than I imagined – almost a Perlino Dun – and I liked the Pinto masking on him better than on his big brother Salpicado. They did a very rough-edged style of masking on the Salpicado that I assume was an attempt to simulate the feathery edges you see on some sabinos, but I don’t think it was entirely successful.

The Mustang set intrigues me. The Charging Mesteno mold hasn’t seen much use at all – I think the last time we saw him was nearly ten years ago, on one of the Walmart Mustang sets – and I honestly don’t know why he has been so scarce since.

I can kind of understand why the lumpy-bumpy “Old Man” Mesteno hasn’t been put back into production since his initial release in 1996, but the only thing I could see being an impediment for the Charging Mesteno mold is, like the Nokota Horse, the size and shape of the mold might make it difficult to package him?

I do like his color; it’s very similar to (though not the same as) the Balking Mule Test Color that appeared in my dreams early this week. I also love that they used the Snowcap Appaloosa pattern on the Frolicking Foal: you know me and my fondness for the “less attractive” Appaloosas!

Though I was surprised – and quite pleased – that the Few Spot True North was the second highest moneymaker at the BreyerFest benefit auction this year. It’s reassuring to know that my tastes aren’t quite as “out there” as I assumed, and that the auction results may improve the odds of a more available/affordable release in the future.

There was also another Django in their latest batch of Mystery Stablemates at this TSC too, but since I’m having a hard time selling stuff I already have in the stash, I didn’t feel like I could justify bringing home another to resell. I’ll let someone else have the job of that surprise.

I didn’t bring anybody else home either. The usual excuses: time and money.