Monday, February 28, 2011

Insert Sheets, Pt. I

In case you haven’t heard, the rumor is that some of the leftover Esprits - the Dappled Gray ones, NOT the Chestnuts - are in the Tuesday Morning store sales mix this in this go-round. Not a lot, but some. The thought of a half-priced Esprit is enough to consider amending my budget slightly.

It looks like I’m not going to be anywhere near a Tuesday Morning this Tuesday morning, though, so it doesn’t look like any amending will be necessary. I’ll still be doing a look-see in the afternoon (we do need some new garden trellises) but the store I’ll be hitting gets shopped hard. The other stores are a just a little bit too far out of the way to make it worth my while, with gas prices being what they are. So it looks like I’ll have to wait until BreyerFest before I add an example of the Esprit mold to my collection.

Speaking of that, I just noticed that the deadline for the Early Bird pricing on BreyerFest tickets has been moved up to April 1st this year, instead of the more customary late April date. Good thing I noticed that when I did. I hate putting more money on the CC, but it’ll save me a few bucks in the short term, and hey, there’s always that teeny-tiny possibility of winning one of those Early Bird Raffle horses, right?

Otherwise it’s been pretty quiet on the model horse front here, again. It’s still a good six weeks before the flea market opens, and the pickings at the antique malls and thrift stores have been a little slim. There have been a few items that caught my eye on eBay, but we’ll deal with them if and when they get here.

Work will take me near the main branch of the Detroit Public Library next week, and you know what that means - another research field trip! I’ve just been itching to go, especially since I’ll be tacking the critical 1957-1961 timeframe. We’ve been able to infer quite a bit from the references we already have, but paper confirmation would totally rock my world.

As you all know, my world is sorely in need of some rocking.

A couple of you in the comments wanted some further discussion of one of those rare references we have from that time period - the 1961 Insert Sheets. Since I’m a running a little short on inspiration today, it seems like a good time to provide it.

The 1961 Insert Sheets materialized in the 1990s, and consisted of 4 single-sided duotone sheets, featuring the Fighting Stallion, the Mustang, the Five-Gaiter, and the Modernistic Buck and Doe. The sheets are physically undated and as far as I know, came without any other supplementary materials to help date them.

They are assumed to be from 1961 based on corroborating evidence from contemporaneous mail-order catalogs and magazine ads. They also have greater similarities to the design and color scheme of the 1960 Dealer’s Catalog than the 1963 one.

Back then, Breyer didn’t issue a new Dealer’s Catalog every year: it was just too expensive. They’d print one base catalog, and make additions via separately printed sheets that could be inserted later - either loosely, or stapled in a signature.

This was pretty much Breyer’s standard operating procedure up until the early 1970s, when they finally started printing new (or at least reformatted) catalogs every year. It sometimes makes for some difficulties in dating, especially in the Dealer Catalogs of the late 1960s.

The 1964 Dealer Sheets - featuring the Deer Family, Stretched Morgan, and Belgian - are a little less notorious, mainly because there’s less mystery surrounding them. For one thing, we already knew that these molds appeared in 1964: we have copies of the 1964 Breyer pricelist to prove it.

We don’t have any pricelists for the period of 1959 through 1962, however. (Oh, how I long for them!) That those four sheets appear as a set implies that they were all released within a short period of time from each other. Some of them in that group might have been released earlier than others, but they were all (I assume) available by the time the sheets were printed. And the most logical date for them is 1961.

The scanner is misbehaving, and I’m running a little short on time, so I’ll finish up the insert sheet discussion in my next post.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Rainbows and Rhinestones

That’s it, I’ve had it with the snow! No more! Normally the snow isn’t as big a bother to me as the cold, but we’re running out of places to shove the white stuff. Spring can’t get here soon enough.

I’ve also had it with wading through the online Treasure Hunt discussions. I’m just as happy as the rest of you that it’s an Eberl, but could y’all lay off the exclamation point key? My eyes just can’t process that many randomly punctuated exaltations of glee in such a short period of time.

I’m glad to hear that Brigitte has expressed an interest in doing more sculpts for Breyer, including (yes!) a Draft Horse Mare and Foal. I’ve wanted another Draft Foal for years. Another Arabian-type mare is great (especially since the Proud Arabian Mare is indefinitely off-limits) but the Breyer lineup is not as bereft of Arabians as it is of Drafts, especially in the Foal department.

I love the Clydesdale Foal as much as the rest of you, but that poor baby could use some time off.

I’m hoping that the "Rainbow" redemption horse is referring to either (a) the use of Color Change paint, or (b) the variety of different colors that will be available, and not a Rainbow Decorator. I’m not a big fan of that paint job. It worked on the "Fruit Stripe" Zebra auction piece a few years back, but all of the other Rainbows I’ve seen since then - Custom, and Test - just don’t do it for me. And that’s coming from a person who does this to Family Arabian Mares:

(Hey, it seemed like the most logical thing to do, when I did it. What else was I going to do with a surplus of rhinestones and FAMs?)

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got to say about that matter, until I can actually see a "Weather Girl" up close and personal.

In other news… yes, I saw that "volunteer opportunity" on the Breyer Facebook page - organizing their sample room and archive. Seems tailor made for me, no?

As much as I want to, I can’t apply.

It’s not the distance between Michigan and New Jersey that’s the problem, it’s the money. I can’t afford to do it. I don’t have any of these things: a full-time job, paid vacation time, a trust fund, a husband, or a sugar daddy. I can only afford to take one big trip a year, and I can just barely do that.

I can’t come up with any clever or funny way of expressing the way I feel, because there’s nothing funny or clever about it. My life is kind of small and sad, and this …is making me feel smaller and sadder.

There are some things rhinestones can’t fix.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Model Horse Metadata

I’m still sore and exhausted from shoveling the consequences of Snowpocalypse II. Ten inches! It took three of us an hour to shovel, scrape and snowblow the driveway yesterday.

And today, despite the snow coming up to her chest, Vita decided to take off after some deer in the yard. (Apparently she now thinks she’s the world’s smallest Deerhound.) Thankfully, the people who finally managed to catch her called the vet’s number on her microchip tag, and the little sociopath is now back home. (The people who caught her thought she was "just the sweetest thing." Ha!)

I’m also sulking about my work situation: basically I’m getting fewer hours (and less money) because I’m doing such a good job at what I’m doing. It’s not manager double-talk - the way the assignments get set up, it’s in the company’s best interest to put the better-skilled people on the shorter assignments, and the less-skilled people on the longer ones. What that means is that in exceptionally busy weeks, less-skilled people get way more hours. Making more per hour doesn’t mean much, when you’re working 10-15 fewer of those hours.

So yeah, not a whole lot of happy in my corner of the world at the moment.

One thing that is making me happy: a big heaping pile of vintage photos I purchased recently. Test colors, live show photos, old photo show pics - all sorts of awesome here, including these:

Yes, those are photographs of the original clay sculpts for the Classic Sagr, Shetan and Johar. Just, wow. I almost feel like I’m touching history!

The bulk of photographs in this archive aren’t quite as impressive. Most of them are reference photos of what we considered the pinnacle of rare and desirable things in the pre-Reeves era: Decorators, Glosses, Horse and Rider sets, early Special Runs, that sort of thing. (Many of these things are still rare, of course, but considerably less desirable in this era of micro runs.)

Back then, information on older models was much, much harder to come by. We didn’t have any books to go by, and early Collector’s Manuals and Dealer Catalogs were almost impossible to find. It was not unusual for those of us with older or more rarely seen pieces to buy, sell and trade photographs of these models to each other for reference.

Even though many of these photographs are no longer technically useful, they’re still valuable - as a document of our efforts of documentation.

Behold, I have finally crossed that final threshold: I’m now collecting research materials about research materials. It’s not just research, it’s metadata!

(Is it time for me to go to bed now? Yes, yes it is.)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

2011 Treasure Hunt?

I think the frenzy surrounding the 2011 Treasure Hunt mold has the potential for ending very, very badly.

Normally I’m all for speculating on new releases, but I’ve seen this particular movie before. People start throwing out all these crazy ideas. A few of them really, really catch on, sometimes with no rhyme or reason (remember the nonsense about the White Moose?) Some people enter the discussion half way through, convinced that they missed something important, and start asking the same unanswered questions that were posed at the beginning. This generates several pages more of content-free commentary.

Lacking anything better to say, someone tries to be cute and throws in some "clever" innuendo about a horse’s reproductive anatomy, or references to a private joke that no one else either understands, or wants to. The conversation usually ends in a flurry of exclamation points, typos, and random bits of punctuation.

When the rumored release appears, disappointment always ensues. Doesn’t matter if it was a concept that was "all that" a couple of years ago, it’s not what The Herd WANTS NOW. After the initial rush of excitement, the mold is declared unworthy, and is followed by the unnecessary random bashing of previous mold releases. (Though in the absence of a model to pick on, they seem to have gotten a jumpstart on that part, already.)

Sorry for the crankiness: I went through twenty aggravating pages of discussion about it on Blab, wherein I discovered that the "ignore" function doesn’t work all that well, since everyone is almost obsessively quoting the one and only person I want to ignore.

(Yep, just one person. I didn’t want to do it in the first place; even the most obnoxious, wrong-headed person in the world can make some worthwhile input. But not this one. Look, this hobby is my happy place - I have enough difficult and high maintenance people to deal with everyday in the "ordinary world." )

(BTW, all you guys here are golden.)

I have nothing to contribute to the Treasure Hunt discussion, itself. The thought of another Eberl mold puts a smile on my face, but I’m not going to have a tantrum if it isn’t. If it is a new mold, of course I’ll get myself one - more, if they’re to my liking - but I don’t know if it’ll be enough for me to participate in the actual Treasure Hunt itself. You know, it's the whole "no money" thing getting in the way again.

As for what I’m spending my teeny hobby budget on nowadays, that’s up next.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More Anniversaries

When I made my offhanded crack about Robocop the other day, I had no idea there were people out there that actually wanted to build a Robocop statue in Detroit. Must have been something in the ether.

And silly, too - the Robocop movies weren’t even filmed in Detroit. Like a lot of movies and TV about Detroit, unfortunately. (They once shot a TV movie about Motown Records in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh?!)

It’s something that’s changed for the better recently, thank goodness. If anything changes the country’s attitude about the city, it’ll be in seeing the area as it actually is - good, bad and ugly - rather than the lazy, cartoon caricature that the media falls back on. Trust me, we know all too well how bad things can be around here. Rubbing our faces in it is not helpful.

There are a couple of horse-related Detroit topics I’ll get around to, one of these days, but in the meantime I’ll kick that soapbox back into the corner.

When I was going over some of the documentation the other day for the post on the Western Prancing Horse, it got me to thinking about some of the other early Breyer releases. This year - 2011 - represents the Golden Anniversary of at least three molds: the Five-Gaiter, the Mustang, and the Fighting Stallion.

The Modernistic Buck and Doe also premiered in 1961, but as it’s likely that those molds were purchased by Breyer secondhand, it doesn’t seem quite right to put it in the same "graduating class" as the Gaiter, Mustang, and Fighter. There are a few hints that the Fighter might have debuted prior to 1961, too, but since he appears in that same batch of pages we now assume to be the 1961 catalog insert sheets, we’ll just go with that date for now.

I wonder if Reeves has anything planned for this special occasion? The problem here is that all three (or five) of the molds have already appeared in metallic gold paint jobs - as Decorators. You can’t simply go the "pinto" route the way they did with the Family Arabian Stallion, either, since the Fighting Stallion has come in not one, but two different Golden Charm Pinto paint jobs - the 1998 Volunteer Special, and The Ginger Horse Special Run Atlas.

Mixing it up might work: do pintos for the Gaiter and the Mustang, but an appaloosa for the Fighter. A semi-leopard Florentine with gold splash spots would be killer! I might break out the credit card for that.

If they do go web-based with this concept they better (a) up the piece counts and (b) post them when they say they’re going to post them, and not a minute or three earlier. It’d be great if they could somehow create a filter to weed out the people who really were buying them for their own collections (or a friend), but we’re still a few decades away from computer algorithms that sophisticated.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Making a Fashion Statement

The past few days have been remarkably pleasant.

The weather finally broke, making the daily doggie duties a little less frightful; I even saw a pair of bluebirds during our walk yesterday afternoon. I also sold a few horses (yay, money!), finished those two malingering sewing projects, baked those scones, caught up on my sleep, and bought a few packets of flower seeds, just because.

(Nothing fancy or exotic: Zinnia, Columbine, Coleus and Hare’s Tail.)

I finished up the last crunchy bits of my 2010 paperwork, too; I thought I was done with it, but there was still a little bit of printing, hole punching and collating to be done. And now it is.

Today’s model horsey thoughts turn to my favorite Stud Spider variation, the one with four stockings:

There are a lot of different variations of the Stud Spider - left sock, right sock, no socks, differences in the blanket masking - but the four stocking version is probably the most distinctive. More casual collectors sometimes fail to appreciate the charms of the more subtle variations of this release, but this fellow is a little harder to overlook. Isn’t it something that the simple addition of three more stockings can make him look like another release, entirely?

But he’s not - rumor has it that he was the result of a little mix up in the factory, way back when. Exactly when, I do not know: mine came with his original brown picture box from the early 1980s, so if I had to hazard a guess, it’d be a little bit earlier in his modestly long run (late 1977 through 1989) than later.

I bought mine on eBay a few years back - I paid a little bit more for him than I wanted to, but I had missed out on a couple of them prior, and by then I had become a little obsessed with it. The price wasn’t really all that much - a little more than retail, I think - but I’m someone who does most of her horse shopping at the dirt mall. Anything more than "body price" feels like a rip off!

(Which makes that disturbingly popular "$1000 horse" thread on Blab right now completely alien to me. I had no idea that conspicuous consumption had become acceptable again.)

I’ve seen a few more since then, including one I bought for a friend at BreyerFest last year, but he’s definitely on the uncommon side. He’s more uncommon than many better known variations on more popular models. I’m sure he’ll catch on eventually; I’m just glad I got mine before he’s become fashionable.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Finishing the Tack Discussion

There’s nothing like a dental appointment to mess with your head. Everything was more or less okay, and my dentist is a peach, but a family history of really bad teeth makes even routine cleanings more stressful than commuting in a blizzard.

I haven’t been paying much attention to the news and rumors concerning the fate of Just About Horses. (See above.) I’m not crazy about the notion of another model horse magazine going away. While a significant chunk of the model horse world is online, the bigger portion of it isn’t, and cutting off another line of communication with the offline world is not a good thing for the long-term health of the hobby.

I’ve already filled my quota of unhappy and unpleasant thoughts for the week, so it’s not something I want to dwell on today. Let’s finally finish up that molded-on tack discussion I started a few centuries ago, instead.

There is at least one Breyer mold with molded-on tack that was not directly derived from another manufacturer’s mold: the Western Prancing Horse. It is derivative, but of another Breyer mold - the Fury/Prancer. (I’m pretty sure the Fury/Prancer wasn’t derived from another manufacturer’s mold, though like most of Breyer history, one can never be 100 percent sure.)

The pose is reversed, and the breastcollar is missing from the WPH, but everything else - saddle, chain reins, attitude, scale and (some) colors - seems to indicate that Breyer intended the WPH to be an upgrade of the Fury/Prancer mold. The timing seems right, too: the individual, non-Fury Prancers were discontinued in either 1961 or 1962, and the WPH probably debuted in 1962.

Another interesting difference is his saddle: it’s a slip-on. As far as I know, the Western Prancing Horse never came with a snap-on saddle, like the Western Horse and Pony did until 1966/7. It was a slip-on from day one.

That’s not to say there haven’t been rumors of other Prancing Horse saddles. I’ve heard a few - and saw a photo of an alleged one. I wouldn’t be surprised if was real. I could see Breyer using a temporary replacement saddle while they were working out some last-minute kinks in the mold, maybe. Or making a last minute change, and a few samples of the prototypes just happened to sneak out.

Or… almost anything, really. This speculative saddle could simply be the creation of some accessories mixed up at a yard sale, and my own wishful thinking. (A Chalky Smoke Western Prancing Horse was my second model after the Traditional Man o’ War, so I my love for the mold runs a little deeper than most.)

Until something more concrete surfaces (a MIB example, vintage photographs, company ephemera, etc.) it’s going to stay in the rumor file.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Here We Go, Again

A sellout in less than five minutes for Be Mine? Looks like the online ordering mode for Web Specials might not be the solution we were hoping for. At least it’s taking the scalpers a couple of hours longer to get them to eBay this time around.

It was kinda nice though, sitting out this round. Even if I really had little choice in the matter.

I totally skipped out on all the Super Bowl brouhaha, too. We don’t "do" football postseasons around here. When your hometown team is the Detroit Lions, well, you know…

I did watch a couple of the commercials. The Chrysler one with Eminem was spot on: no talking smack about the "D," if you ain’t from around here! (They did anyway - I couldn’t believe that folks on some of the forums I lurk were claiming that the shots of Detroit in the commercial were "Photoshopped" to make Detroit look better than it is. Dudes, seriously, "Robocop" was a movie.)

Other than that, I had a nice, quiet weekend. Tried - and failed - to make some cookies (ate the leftover dough.) Finished up a couple of old quilt projects, and figured out how to draft another (a complicated Grandmother’s Fan variation.) I haven’t paid much attention to the horses, other than some board lurking.

I did make one recent acquisition I’ll talk about in much greater detail in a week or so; I want to spend a little more quality time with it before I post anything about it. (And the follow up to the molded-on tack discussion. I haven't forgotten, I just keep getting sidetracked!)

For no reason whatsoever, here’s a picture of one of my oldest and dearest test colors, a Classic Black Ruffian:

I got her at Model Horse Congress in 1986; Bentley Sales Company was having a silent auction for her at their sales booth. My winning bid was $40 - not a huge sum today but back then, and for me, that was a considerable chunk of change.

Yes, I was truly, madly and deeply in love with her. Still am, even if she isn’t all that different from a regular run Ruffian of the same vintage.

In comparison, the Special Run light flaxen chestnut Proud Arabian Mare that the Bentleys sold at Congress the year before went for $11.99. (I should have taken a picture of the box they were literally dumped in. Scary! Thank goodness they were totally cool with handpicking.)

If you did some digging in their factory-fresh dump bins, you could have lucked out and got some tests and recent SRs for even less - $6.00 Traditionals, $3.00 Classics, and $1.00 Stablemates. Most of them were a little dinged - they were straight from the factory, wrapped in a plastic bag and literally tossed in a box - so you really couldn’t complain.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Be (Not) Mine

My car and I both managed to survive the blizzard Tuesday night physically intact, but I’m still a little unnerved by the experience. It’s probably (quite) a bit of a stretch to call what I’m experiencing PTSD, but getting out of bed and out to work the past two days has definitely been more unpleasant than it normally is.

It’s not likely that I’ll be buying the latest Web Special "Be Mine", a Huck Bey in a Decoratory red roan with little white hearts. I love red roans, and he’d be a perfect complement to my Polaris, but there’s no room in the budget for such foolishness right now. (It was a much more painful decision when I opted against sending in my card in for the Connoisseur Kandinsky, actually.)

I haven’t even snuck a peak at any of the discussions about him anywhere, yet - not that it would change my opinion one way or another, I’m just not in the mood to deal with the exceptionally annoying crop of commentators (new and old) now populating the model horse world.

I supposed most of you heard about the box that went for over a grand on eBay. A touchability box, not unlike the one I wrote about in one of my earliest posts, in March of 2009:

Needless to say, I found that a bit unnerving, too, in a slightly different way. I thought I overspent when I bought my touchability box some years back, and what I dropped on mine was considerably less than four figures. Heck, it was considerably less than three - and the horse came with!

I’m still trying to sort out my thoughts and feelings about it. Being all frazzled from the snow is not helping.

Since I’m not in a very talkative mood today, I’ll throw in a couple of pictures of test colors for you to ogle at instead. (I don’t own either one - just the pictures.) Here’s an exceptionally pretty dapple gray Misty:

And an old favorite - a Black Quarter Horse Gelding, with eyewhites:

I had a chance to buy this fellah, way back when, and didn’t. I won’t make the mistake of passing him by a second time.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snowpocalypse Now

I can’t believe I have to go in to work tonight - on Snowpocalypse Eve. My boss just called and told me I didn’t have to work in the morning, which is sort of meaningless, since I’ll probably still be working from the night before. Or on my way home, if I’m lucky…

For no particular reason, I was thinking about the Classic Lipizzan mold today. It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen him last - in 2003 and 2004, as the 3365 Mystical Pegasus. And even longer since we’ve seen him as an actual Lipizzan, the last being a shaded Alabaster Special Run made for the touring show "The Wonderful World of Horses," in the 1990s (starting in 1993, and running until …well, I don’t know. Through most of the 1990s, at least. It was one of those open-ended Specials.)

This guy's the regular run #620, with better-than-average shading. Early ones tended to have extra facial shading and more pronounced ventral stripes. The two later SR Alabasters - the 1992 German SR, and the touring show SR - had grayer hooves, and more body shading.

Most of his releases have been of the fantastical type - either as Pegasi, or Unicorns - in various shades of Black, White or (inexplicably) Blue. I’m not a huge fan of the fantasy horses, but I do like the Lipizzan mold, so I have most of them. But not all: y’all know I don’t do flockies. I have not been, and never will be, in the market for one of those creepy flocked blue things from the 1985 J. C. Penney’s Christmas Catalog. (They disturb me so much I prefer to not even acknowledge their existence, most days. Glass eyes = Always a bad idea, Custom or OF.)

There’s a possibility that we’ll see the mold again at BreyerFest, if his prior history is any indication. They’ve already announced an SR Unicorn, so there has to be an SR Pegasus in the mix somewhere, and he’s the most logical candidate.

I’m okay with that, as long as they do something a little more original with his coloring - a wild Dark Dappled Gray (like the Traditional Pluto release of Embajador IX) would look pretty neat, as would a Charcoal or (swoon!) Silver Filigree. Anything Decoratory will do, just as long as they don’t fall back on their "Pastel Alabaster" cliché.

If I had the preference, I’d rather have him back as a plain old Lipizzan, again - no wings, no horns, no unnatural colors. He doesn’t have to be some shade of Aged Gray or Alabaster, either: there are all sorts of historical colors to choose from - Pintos, Appaloosas, Duns - but I’d be cool with a Dark Dappled Gray, too.

What I’m really pining for is a simple, straight up Bay. I’m not asking for anything fancy - a little bit of white, a little pangare, a hint of shimmer - all the usual details they pack on a standard OF paint job nowadays. I just hope that if they do make one - for BreyerFest, or any other occasion - they are not quite as rare as the real thing.