Sunday, August 29, 2010

What is it with the Shoes?

That last post about Sea Star really took the wind out of me. Here I thought I’d just toss off something short and sweet about an often-overlooked mold, and it just about turned into my magnum opus. The darn thing had footnotes, at one point! Sometime the depth of my knowledge about Breyer minutiae scares me a little.

So after that, I decided to take a day or two off from pondering the mysteries of the Breyer Universe and just noodle around the house. I finished up some minor projects, did a little crafting, and tidied up the office a bit. I did a little retail therapy, too. Most of the pickings were rather modest, with one exception. Behold:

Disco Fairy Shoes!

A pair of rhinestone encrusted clear vinyl slingbacks with plexiglass heels, size 11 - straight off the clearance table of our neighborhood Salvation Army! I’m not normally that big of a shoe maven, but my recent experience has told me that when the Shoe Gods offer up the gift of garish footwear, it’s wise to accept it. I just wasn’t expecting to get started on my Costume Contest entry for next year this early ...

My favorite find this week, though, was a hardcover copy of the book Doodlebug, by Irene Brady. Because it had this interior illustration:

I decided to keep this book for this illustration, alone. More proof of the depths of my depravity, I guess. (Even worse: I think the Western Pony in the illustration isn’t actually a Western Pony, but the Kroll knockoff of the Western Pony. I need to pick up one of those knockoffs to confirm my suspicion, however. I’ve been wanting one anyway, but this sort of underlines and puts and exclamation point to my desire. Just one exclamation point, though.)

This book, like most horse books I find, was originally slated to be tossed into my resale pile. My bookshelves are also near maximum capacity, and I have to be extremely picky about what gets to stay. Like the actual horses, though, I feel obligated to "rescue" them from wherever I happen to find them.

And like the horses (and the pony in this particular book) I sometimes discover that one of my rescues is also a treasure in disguise. At least I can kinda-sorta justify this one as "research material."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

They Can’t All Be Beautiful

You know, sometimes I think hobbyists take the word model in the term "model horse" a little bit too seriously. I’m not talking about anatomical functionality (a topic of which I think a few artists and customizers are a wee bit militant about) but sheer physical attractiveness. Not every horse in the world is beautiful and realistically, not every model horse should be, either.

Which brings to mind poor, homely little Sea Star. He was modeled (admittedly, not well) after one of the Wesley Dennis illustrations done for the interior of the book. You may recognize it, because it eventually replaced the original dust jacket art:

And here’s the original dust jacket, if you haven’t seen it before. (From my collection - it’s a first edition, too!) I like the original cover better, but the "lonely little thing on the beach" probably pulled at the heartstrings more:

His inherent pathetic quality may explain why I’ve had so many of the original release #16 over the years. I’m down to just three right now, but that’s because I weeded out a few variations that I really needed to upgrade anyway.

Variations, you say? Of the more than ordinary Sea Star? Yes, of both mold and markings.

The markings are the easiest to spot: there are multiple versions of his star. The earliest versions have a roughly rectangular shape to them, while later versions have stars with more distinctly defined points - usually four, but sometimes more. Some are large, some are small; the one on the right is a larger one:

I haven’t tracked the relative scarcity of each star variation, so I couldn’t tell you which ones are rarer than others. It’s kind of a moot point anyhow, seeing as there’s never been a huge secondary market for Sea Stars.

On the other hand, I can say that one of the mold variations is actually quite rare: the "Pre-B" version.

Sea Star came out in 1980, right around the time Breyer was experimenting with that funky form of Tenite. Since that Tenite couldn’t be mixed with the original form of Tenite they were using, the molds had the "B" mark added to them to distinguish the new plastic pieces from the old, and prevent regrind accidents.

I had assumed that since he came out shortly after the switchover to the different plastic began, that all the earliest Sea Stars would have come with the B mark. Being a new mold you’d think the B mark would have been integral to the mold from the beginning, correct?

One day, while comparing my multitude of Sea Stars, I noticed that some of them didn’t have the B mark. That’s not really noteworthy in itself, since he was available through 1987, and the B mark was removed from the mold by 1983 or so. What was noteworthy was that there were two different versions without B marks: some had a smooth spot - and one didn’t. The ones with the smooth spot I assumed were the "Post-B" version: the mark was removed, and that spot was just evidence of the repair.

The one without that spot, without the B, but with its original sculptured roughness? It has to be a "Pre-B" version!

Just how scarce are these "Pre-B" Sea Stars? It’s hard to say; It’s another one of those topics I haven’t followed up on. The only alleged "Pre-B" I have is the one that I got for Christmas in 1980, and I have no idea how long he had been sitting on the store shelf or in the warehouse prior.

It’s possible that they could have molded the first batch of Sea Stars with the last bit of regular Tenite before they completely switched over to the other stuff. A little bit of plastic can go a long way when you’re molding something as small as Sea Star.

But I’m not so sure that’s what happened.

What’s complicating the matter is that I think the Sea Star mold, for whatever reason, was either temporarily shelved or delayed. Why do I say that? Even though the Sea Star was officially released in 1980, his original box is copyrighted 1978. I could understand a year earlier, perhaps to capitalize on the gift-giving seasons, but two?

What happened? Copyright problem? Mold issues? Cash flow? Or was it just a really elaborate typo?

If the Sea Star was originally planned for 1978, it raises the possibility that these "Pre-B" versions had been molded as early as 1978, and sat in the Breyer warehouse prior to its official release in 1980. Those first batches would have hit the shelves first, followed shortly after by newly molded, "B" marked pieces.

Now there’s a strange, sad image in my head: barrels and barrels of abandoned, unpainted Sea Stars, sitting in some disused corner of the Breyer warehouse. Ah, almost too much to bear! If only I had a time machine to know for sure.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Airbrushed Stormy?

Something short today: I had some scheduling conflicts over the weekend, again.

I see that another airbrushed Misty was confirmed; I spotted it in a group lot on eBay last week and suspected it was so, but the dental issue put a kibosh on me bidding on it. (The final price wasn’t too bad, actually, but still out of my budget range.)

I misspoke slightly when the topic was brought up again on Blab; these airbrushed Mistys (Misties?) could be any one of a number of things. If they’re test colors, then a quantity of 5 to 7 pieces would be a reasonable and logical assumption: that’s what a typical test run of that era ran. They could also be salesman’s samples made prior to production and prior to the creation of the painting mask: unfortunately, I have no idea how many salesman’s samples were made on average back then.

The third possibility is that they were early production pieces made prior to the creation of the painting mask. This is what happened with Jasper, the Market Hog, and the early Diamondot Buccaneers.

The "early production piece" idea seems unlikely, though, when you consider how complex Misty’s pattern is: this isn’t just one big, smooth spot or random dabs of black paint! Hand-airbrushing a pinto pattern of Misty’s complexity seems really, really unlikely in a high production environment. A few dozen pieces, maybe, but a couple hundred - or thousands? I don’t think so!

So whatever her origins might be, she's going to be rare, regardless.

Now, what about Stormy? Did she come in an airbrushed version? She did on her original white box from 1977:

And in the 1977 Dealer’s Catalog, too (obviously the same photo, uncropped):

The Stormy seen in the group shot in the Collector’s Manual appears to be the same piece, but it’s a little too small for me to be 100 percent sure.

That means there has to be at least one hand-airbrushed Stormy out there. I haven’t seen any "in the wild," though. The one I got for Christmas back in 1977 isn’t, and neither is the one that came in the box I scanned, above.

I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a few being out there; there was a Stormy on eBay a couple of years ago that looked like it might have been, but the bidding got a little too hot and heavy for me to find out first hand. Now that I’m prowling eBay seriously again (just for research purposes, naturally) maybe I’ll spot another.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I Hate My Teef!

Don’t be alarmed if you see me listing a lot of items for sale on MH$P in the next few days; I have a rather large dental bill coming due soon, and while I can pay it, I’d rather not pull money from the savings account to do it.

But I’m not selling the Glossy All Glory. Selling it would just about cover the cost of the bill, free and clear, but that’s not something I’m even going to contemplate. I don’t enter contests like that for the money. I do it for the satisfaction of accomplishing something. Period. The money will just have to come from somewhere else.

That somewhere else is… my BreyerFest leftovers. Not a lot of excitement there - some nice pieces, but nothing that’ll generate a lot of cash quickly. One good Chalky, some decent reference material leftovers, a few okay bodies, some TRU Specials and not very recent regular runs. Sigh. Maybe I’ll get lucky at the flea market this weekend. (Yeah, that’s it, let’s think positive!)

Actually, I don’t mind dwelling in the "bottom" of the OF Breyer market. There’s a whole lot less chance for fraud there. Sure, I’ve had my share of scammers - like the lady who faked a near-death experience to get out of paying for a measly $17 horse on eBay - but nothing that’s risen to the level of out-and-out grifting. Which I think might have been going on with that whole Glossy Prize Nokota nonsense being discussed on Blab recently.

The thread, if you want to read it: Glossy Nokota Transaction Gone Bad

And if you can't or don’t want to read it, the summary: very young girl with obvious limited knowledge of the hobby and of Glossy Prize Models attempted to scam several hobbyists, simultaneously, with both real Glosses she scammed from other hobbyists, and with Fakes. Possibly in collusion with her father, whose attempts at recompense may or may not have been intentionally ill-worded.

Every once and a while I’m going to "get lucky" and find something pretty sweet that I can make a lot of moolah on, but the lower end of the market is my bread and butter. Five dollars here, twenty dollars there: it doesn’t seem like much, but I make it up in volume. I did pretty well at BreyerFest this year with my sales - the best sales in several years, in fact - and I don’t think I sold any individual item for more than 50 dollars. I managed to cover most of my expenses, and if it wasn’t for my dental issues, the remainder of those expenses would have been paid off by next month.

While I’d like to get as much money as I can for whatever I find in the secondary market, I’d rather just take a smaller cut and rotate the stock out. Nothing irritates me more than seeing some of the same horses listed over and over on eBay or MH$P. The word "shopworn" comes to mind: not the physical damage done to merchandise while it sits on the shelf unsold, but to the perception of the item in the marketplace. Some shoppers may start getting the impression that there must be something wrong with it if it hasn’t sold yet - above and beyond the price, which is the usual reason a good model doesn’t sell in a timely manner.

I’d rather take a smaller profit or sell it at a loss. If someone else wants to try and get the rest of the value out of it, they can be my guest.

On a more personal note, I’d like to note the passing of one of our "part-time" kitties. His "house name" was Jasmine, but we called him Sumo, for rather obvious reasons:

Teeny head, big body! (With an adorable, tiny kitten voice to match.) He and his little brother Hoover technically lived next door with the neighbors, but spent so much time in our yard - either hanging out on the porch, or cruising for vermin in the garden - that we always referred to them as our "part-time" cats. (Our neighborhood is fairly secluded with low traffic, but they never ventured very far. There was no need: the squirrels and chipmunks were fat and plentiful.)

He was the most lovable cat in the history of cats. If you were outside for more than five minutes, you’d be greeted with either a vigorous leg rub or a head butt that would just about knock you over from the 20 pounds of weight behind it.

I had been so wrapped up in my own issues that I hadn’t noticed the lack of recent personal appearances, and the neighbors hadn’t been super social lately. I’d seen Hoover sunning himself on the driveway, and just assumed all was well. I knew he had been getting up in years - 15 or 16 years old or so - and was not as nimble as he once was, and just assumed for those reasons that he had been made a permanent indoor kitty.

Goodbye, my happy Sumo. May the squirrels and chipmunks be fatter and even more plentiful in the afterlife.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Alas, this weekend’s trip to the flea market did not improve my mood. In spite of the nice weather and lack of competing local events, most of the regulars didn’t show up. And those that did were the crazy ones - not "will show up in a snowstorm" crazy, but "I bury my money in a coffee can in the backyard" crazy. Not a single Breyer, Hartland or H-R in sight, either. Bah!

On the positive side, I did manage to score some interesting new research materials, and track down a couple of new leads. I hope to have a little spare time next week to work on them; the rest of the family wants to take a field trip down to the library where some of material is located, coincidentally. (Not so odd: the main branch of the Detroit Public Library is pretty awesome, actually, and right across the street from the Detroit Institute of Arts. Which is one of the greatest public art museums in the world, people. Totally worth the trip, even if you’re not interested in model horses.)

In the meantime, here’s another little dip into the deeper end of my archives. It’s a real-life photo of the racehorse Terrang. I’ve published it before in my Sampler a couple years back, but it’s worth reprinting here. You don’t see photos of the actual horse very often - I haven’t found any other, but it’s been a while since I went looking.

This photo (credited to Allen F. Brewer, Jr.) is from the book American Race Horses 1957, published by the American Thoroughbred Breeders Association. This book is chock full of all sorts of Thoroughbredy goodness: you’ve got Gallant Man, Round Table, Bold Ruler - and look, Silky Sullivan as a two year old!

(Photo credit also to Allen F. Brewer, Jr. The caption reads "Already his was a come-from-behind style.")

Terrang’s half-brother Swaps makes an appearance, too, in the lengthy entry on Iron Liege, whose famous Sports Illustrated birth photo is the frontispiece. When Sports Illustrated was launched, one of their publicity stunts was to follow the career of a foal for three years, up to the Kentucky Derby. (Boy, did they get lucky!)

Three of the five Love Thoroughbreds in one book - it’s no surprise that this book has become a treasured part of my archives. (It’s also special because it was Dad who happened to spot it in a pile of books at the flea market. He was a big horseracing fan back in the 1950s, when he was a kid.)

Terrang’s not so well known today, at least on the level of a Man o’ War, Swaps or even Kelso. That’s too bad, because Terrang had a very respectable career as a handicapper and stud. I won’t go into the finer details of all that; his Wikipedia page is a decent place to start:

The 1950s were truly one of the great golden ages of the sport, and over time many very good horses have lost some of space in the spotlight to the great ones. Thank goodness Hagen-Renaker - and later, Breyer - saw fit to bring him back a little of his lost glory.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The POA Pippin

I’m feeling completely antisocial today - a week’s worth of unpleasant news, allergies and insomnia will do that to you. So you’re getting another spotlight on another Fest purchase. This one is the 2009 UK Special Pippin:

I found him in the Pit, in a box with a "Racing Legends" backer and absent the "UK Special" sticker. He was correctly labeled on the front and back of the box, so I’m just going to assume that it was either a mistake that was set aside, or something cobbled together from spare box parts lying around.

It could have been a box sample of some sort, too. I’ve seen a few of those in the Pit before, and I’ve even bought a couple for my own collection. Unlike the Pippin, the boxes were rather obviously something out of the ordinary, and the models contained within were not exceptional in and of themselves.

This Pippin though - man, he’s beautiful. Immaculate too, except for a slightly bent front leg, which probably occurred during his brief stay in the truck while waited for my line ticket time. It’s an easy fix, whenever I get around to it. I’m still not crazy about that tail, but the rest of him? He just about demanded to be taken out of the box!

I have no idea if he’s representative of the entire run, since he was the only example of his kind I found in the Pit, and I never bothered to look at others at the Park or the hotel. I suppose I’ll have to look into the possibility of him being a sample or test or something, eventually.

I have set the box aside, with all its various ties and trimmings, just in case there might be more to the story. It’s not something I’d normally do: I’m about as anti-MIB as they come. I try to keep a representative sample of every kind of box and packaging, but unless there’s something rare or significant there, most of the modern boxes get trashed. They’re not very sturdy, and they’re just about useless for storage. I cut off all the relevant pieces, peel off the stickers, and then we have a parting of the ways.

I haven’t taken my All Glories out of their boxes yet, either. It has nothing to do with any added value the box might bring to the model. I just really, really like the look of the box - the color scheme, the graphics, the whole "package." Kudo to the designer or designers responsible for it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Let it Rain

Now I’m not only not getting anything done, I think I’m regressing. This time it’s genuinely the puppy’s fault: I had to baby sit her yesterday, and in the space of two minutes, she came close to destroying our basement as we know it. All because she absolutely, positively had to chew on the quilt I was working on - and that I now have to partially disassemble and repair, among other things.

Little stinker is lucky she’s cute. Happy thoughts, think happy thoughts…

Here’s a happy thought - a Lady Liberty I picked up in the Pit this year:

I’ve really taken a shine to the Rain mold recently. People don’t realize just how hard it is to adapt a two-dimensional animated character into a three-dimensional one. I’m not talking about the popular trend of making cartoons into live action films, a la Garfield, Scooby Doo, or Yogi Bear: frankly, I think virtually all those attempts to make cartoons "realistic" or set in the real world fail from the get go. By trying to make them realistic, they do not look like the characters they’re meant to represent.

(Have you seen any of the Yogi Bear movie stuff yet? Classic nightmare fuel, if you ask me. Those eyes! Argh!)

That’s because cartoons aren’t meant to be - or should aspire to be - realistic. It’s not a lesser medium, it’s a different medium with different goals and aesthetics. Realism isn’t a big part of the equation.

It’s important to point out that realism and three-dimensionality are two different things. Cartoons have been dealing with the issue of three-dimensionality since the silent era - both from a merchandising standpoint, and within the cartoons themselves (stop-motion, multiplane cameras, dioramas, live footage, or rotoscoping.) The most successful attempts at incorporating three-dimensionality into cartoons are the ones that don’t sacrifice the character’s inherent cartooniness.

Good, successful examples of that can be found in vintage ViewMaster reels. Here’s an interesting, older discussion about them:

The person responsible for creating the beautiful sculpts featured in those reels was Martha Armstrong-Hand. Some of you might recognize the name, because at one time she sculpted for Hagen-Renaker, working on both more realistic items (such at the DW Persian Cat "Starlite" and her kittens) and on more cartoony ones (such as the Disney licenses.)

I don’t think it’s a coincidence, either, that Kathleen did work for Disney, too, in their Imagineering department. In the translation to 3D, Rain’s cartooniness has not been compromised. I created some line art of the Rain mold a few years ago as illustration fodder for my Sampler, and was amazed at how well it translated back into being a two-dimensional character:

That’s why I find the Rain mold so fascinating. She’s not the least bit realistic, but I find her a more accurate, and more satisfying rendition of the character than the more "realistic" attempts made on the Classic and Stablemates Scale pieces.

We’ve only seen her in her original release (in both a standard plastic, and "chalky" version) and as Lady Liberty, and her overtly nonrealistic nature probably limits her potential for a lot of releases in the future. Though with next year’s BreyerFest theme being "FairyTails," I could easily see her making a very lovely Unicorn. (In an equally nonrealistic color, naturally. None of this white or pearly-pastelly nonsense!)

Before I go back to repairing the damage done to the basement, yes, I am aware of my picture being on Breyer’s Facebook page. I kinda figured it would happen, considering the photographer specifically stopped me and asked to take it.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lucky Ranger Clock

Ever have one of those weekends where you don’t manage to get a darn thing done?

Yeah, it was one of those. Evil discovered my quilt frame - and the unfinished quilt in it - and, well, it looks like I’ll have to finish that project now, before she does. (As for what she did in retaliation for taking away her favorite new toy - the less said, the better.)

Slow day at the flea market; it would have been decent pickings for most folks, but since I have a rather scary-looking credit card statement arriving in my mailbox this week, I decided to be picky. There was an interesting clock - not a MasterCrafters one, but possibly related - but the dealer seemed more interested in conversating than in selling, so my money went elsewhere. I can only hope his own credit card statement will motivate him to be a little more customer-friendly next week.

Before I forget completely, let’s finish up the conversation we began just before BreyerFest, with the mysterious MasterCrafters Lucky Ranger Clock. This one, in case you’ve forgotten:

So, what’s up with THAT?

I don’t know.

When I first ran across the reference for this clock, on a list of trademarked MasterCrafters names, I assumed that it referred somehow to a clock similar to the Davy Crockett one - with a Lucky Ranger mounted on it, instead of a Davy. The link in question:

Since I had never seen such a clock, I assumed it was either very, very rare, or possibly never put into production. Then I found the clock in question: the case is obviously Breyer-molded, but the horse and rider part? It’s a cast pot metal pendulum, in the shape of a bucking bronco and rider.

Obviously, there has to be some sort of connection between the Breyer Lucky Ranger and the MasterCrafters Lucky Ranger. It’s just too much of a coincidence not to be! The real question is what that connection was.

First off, I don’t think there was any sort of legal or financial dispute over it, or at least one acrimonious enough to end the working relationship between the two companies, as it did with MasterCrafters and Hartland. According to Peter Stone (via Nancy Young, of course), Breyer was still manufacturing cases for MasterCrafters when he formally started working for Breyer in the mid-1960s.

Personally I think the Lucky Ranger connection, combined with an extended work history, suggests that the relationship between Breyer and MasterCrafters was more than merely one of custom molder to client. It may have been collaborative, as well.

A more collaborative relationship, for example, might explain the similarities between the metallic gold/bronze high relief wall clock and the Quarter Horse Yearling. Were the early "Bronze Glo" experiments also related to it?

It might help explain the origins of the Davy Crockett clock, too. Could the Davy Crockett figurine another MasterCrafters commission, "sold back" to Breyer in an arrangement like the original Western Horse?

It's an intriguing possibility.

From what little information I've been able to gather about this specific clock, it is rare, even by MasterCrafters standards. I think the bizarre design is mostly to blame for that: a log cabin, surrounded by cactus, on top of a horseshoe, framing a scene of the Oregon Trail, propped up with metal fencing? You almost get the feeling this thing was cobbled together with spare parts.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Little, Big

Just admiring my "Small Poodle" Cotton Candy today. The one box/bin they had of ‘em sold out quickly in Pit this year - not a surprise, since they had them marked down to $15, from the original $40:

I had been wanting a Small Poodle for a while, but the chances of picking up one of the earlier releases - either a preproduction/test piece, or one of the Raffle pieces from several BreyerFests back - was slim to none. I didn’t get Cotton Candy last year, because I was a little too focused on nabbing a few of the Surprise Quarter Horse Geldings. Considering how many were left over, it was a no-brainer that she’d be showing up in the Pit this year.

There’s not really much to know about the Small Poodle; nobody, including Reeves, even knew she existed until the 1990s, when a collector found a couple of pieces (one blue, one pink) in the possession of a former sales representative. Reeves had the mold all along; they just didn’t bother to notice the two Poodle molds they had were for two completely different items.

In their defense, not many people had probably bothered to look at the Poodle molds in a very, very long time. The Big Poodle - the doorstop-heavy, Rosenthal-based piece - had been out of production since the early 1970s. He was discontinued right at the beginning of the Chalky/Oil Crisis era, partly because of his weight: all those deep curls consumed a lot of plastic. Why waste good plastic on a couple of low-turnover Dogs, when you could make a half dozen (better selling) Foals from the same amount of material?

When the Small Poodle was made is unknown; we can’t be any more specific than sometime between 1953 (the Boxer) and 1957 (the Big Poodle.) I’m guessing a little earlier in that range - 1954 or 1955 - rather than later, just based on the style of the sculpting. The narrow muzzle and dainty feet are very reminiscent of the Lassie mold that we know was sculpted in early to mid-1955.

Why the Small Poodle mold didn't catch on with the buyers at Toy Fair is unknown. Breakage from the tail might have been a concern: models were packed lightly and if not loosely in their shipping boxes back then. Another possibility is that the lack of a merchandising tie-in: Lassie and Rin Tin Tin were well-known, established media properties, and the Poodle was just … a Poodle. Nice, but nothing special.

I think that was the biggest problem with the Small Poodle mold: she was nothing special. I wouldn’t call her boring, but perhaps a little too quiet and well-behaved - for a Poodle. (Oh yes, I’ve been owned by a few in my time.) The "Spaghetti Poodles" that were a hot decorative item of the time - and the market Breyer was evidently targeting with this item - were also anything but. They were encrusted with rhinestones, feathers, eyeglasses, glitter, fake fur, playing musical instruments, or dressed up in crazy little outfits.

(Not a Poodle, but you get the idea. Don't ask me why I own this thing. I just do.)

While the Large Poodle never received anything dressier than a felt dog coat (for the Poodle Sewing Kit release in the 1957 Sears Wishbook) he was bigger, louder and more energetic mold than our dainty little miss here. He stayed in production longer than Rin Tin Tin and Lassie, too, though that might just be because of lapsed licensing agreements, rather than sales figures.

The Small Poodle, on the other hand, disappeared for forty years. There has to be at least a few other early pieces floating around out there, though. You just don’t run a mold for only two pieces. There’s what, at least 6 to 12 In Between Mares out there, right? There should be at least that many vintage Small Poodles somewhere.

I think - I hope - it’s only a matter of time until another one shows up.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

BreyerFest 2010 Wrapup

An unremarkable day at the flea market this Sunday: quite a few vintage Hartlands, a smattering of Breyer bodies, and some common H-R minis. All I really bought was some old paper - vintage craft magazines, and a huge stack of early NASA promotional brochures, ca. 1958-1964. Astronomy and early space flight are another minor interest of mine; I don’t go out of my way to collect any of that stuff per se, but I pick it up if I find it. The graphics tend to be quite beautiful, too, including this little gem:

Speaking of paper, I’m almost finished sorting out my BreyerFest ephemera finds - I sort of had to, considering that Evil has finally figured out how stairs work, and my office doesn’t have a door. ("No honey, Escondido is NOT a chew toy!") I’ll probably be posting a few things on MH$P soon, including a small number of late 1970s-early 1980s Dealer Catalogs. (Managed to do a little upgrading!)

Just a few more thoughts on this year’s BreyerFest, before I resume the straight up history-talking again.

There were some minor improvements - the Bag Check line and Store Special limits, for example - but overall, BreyerFest this year seemed more disorganized that average. Was it a change in personnel, a result of restrictions imposed by the park because of the WEG, or some unknown financial considerations that threw everything off kilter?

As always, I found the judging for the Custom Contest - the "Look-A-Like" Contest, this year - baffling. Looking at the entries left on the table, and comparing them to the winners, didn’t make much sense to me. I was relieved to overhear that I wasn’t the only one who thought that way. Hey, I knew my entry was a bit of a long shot - a Classic Foal painted metallic black, mounted on a base with a PhotoShopped poster of "The Maltese Foalcon" - but all the ones I thought were legitimate contenders also went unplaced. (Lest you think it sour grapes, I found 2009’s winners equally mystifying, and I didn’t even manage to muster an entry that year.)

The Costume Contest could have been handled much, much better, too. Some of the chaos surrounding that event was due to the short notice, but there was no excuse making everyone wait … and wait … and wait around for judging to begin. And then making us parade around the ring, after telling us we’d have a "red carpet" to walk on. And then not announcing the winners until after the raffle, after most of the audience had left for dinner or the hotel. It takes a little of the excitement of winning away when most of your audience disappears. (Isn’t playing to the audience sort of the whole point of dressing up like a celebrity?)

The way food was handled this year was also an issue for me. There was no opening night reception at the HIN on Thursday, and only a smattering of snacks - cookies, lemonade, popcorn - Saturday night. Served on the floor of the Covered Arena. (Seriously?) I know there have been issues with the food in the past; I haven’t had many complaints about it, but I’m evidently not the gourmand everyone else in the hobby thinks they are.

(Lest you think I was raised with an unrefined palate, my Mother’s main creative outlet is gourmet cooking; she has as many - if not more - binders of clipped recipes as I have of reference materials. She knows how to use ‘em, too. On the menu today: Chicken Cacciatore!)

I had no significant condition issues with my Tent Ticket models, other than slightly bent legs on my Child Star/Stage Mom set. It would have been nice if we had had the opportunity to look at the selections Thursday night; that’s when I usually make my final selections. The uncertainty was unnerving.

I briefly considered going with the Color Change Huck Technicolor, but opted for my original second choice instead, which was the Red Carpet Royalty Goffert. His subtly dappled paint job would have won him greater acclaim - and better sales - if he had had a chance to show off the night before, I think.

I was not pleased at the number of people who were obviously buying the Giselle/Gilen set to customize. What, you can’t wait for a more reasonably priced, and less collectible version to come out in a few months? Yeesh. That sort of thing always leaves a bad taste in my mouth, especially when the models being customized are already limited, and in high demand. It feels like a thumb in the nose of us mere OF collectors, y’know?

Loved the Volunteer Model this year, an iridescent red chestnut Missouri Fox Trotter. A favorite color, on a favorite mold? That one's gonna hurt for a while.

Next year’s reservation’s been made; I’m a little uncertain about next years theme of "Fairytails:" I’m in the minority when it comes to the frou-frou princess-y Unicorn and Pegasus thing. (Am I the only one in the world who wasn’t all that excited about the Dragon Horse Merlin Raffle a few years ago?)