Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Things Left Unsaid

What a fun weekend: I picked up a rash, got whacked in the head with a doorknob, suffered a couple bloody noses, and lost a filling. (Filling is already fixed: thank you, my awesome dentist.)

In slightly-less-calamitous news, I picked up another collection, too. It’s smaller, and mostly bodies, so prepping is not going to be the big drama it was last week. But this endless parade of bodies is starting to get tiresome. If I get any more, I may consider selling them by the pound!

Among the newest arrivals, this bee-yoo-ti-full Classic Black Stallion, the 660 "Chocolate Bay" Arabian from about ten years ago. Gorgeous shading, with a dead-matte finish, and minty-mint: definitely a keeper!

Among the other non-Breyer goodies: a few nice chinas, a couple bits of jewelry, some fun minis, and a vintage PEZ dispenser - cheap! I stopped collecting PEZ dispensers a few years ago because the vintage ones were so hard to come by around here. I might just keep him for old times’ sake, but that extra bit of cash could come in handy, considering the amount I’ve forked out over the past couple of weekends.

Now on to a topic I’ve had in the queue for a while now: I know this may some heretical - especially coming from moi, the Princess of Provenance - there are times when some pieces of history may be better left undocumented.

I know all sorts of crazy, unknowable things. Several hobbyists have tried to prod me - in person, and online - into touching on some of the craziest, or more controversial bits of this knowledge. Sometimes I do, inadvertently (it’s not just fillings that fall out of my mouth) but there’s quite a body of information that I’ve chosen not to disclose publicly.

The reasons why a lot of this data are undisclosable vary. A lot of it is like a single piece to a 100-piece puzzle that I don’t have a picture to: it might be valuable, but I just don’t know where it fits or what it fits into. Some of it is of dubious veracity, or is tainted by gossip of a highly personal nature, or has a significant element of wish fulfillment within it.

Another category of information has been rendered untouchable because of the nature of the relationship of the person giving it to me - in other words, by insiders. That information usually has a high degree of veracity to it, but because it was given to me in the strictest confidence, it cannot be discussed in public without damaging that relationship.

(The good thing about this kind of information of this sort is that it eventually makes it way out into the real world. I just have the luxury of knowing about it first. FYI, it’s not usually the kind of information I can capitalize on; my checkbook would be in a lot better shape if I could.)

Some information I have is very much tied to the person giving it to me. As in, I learn the why or the how of something, but it’s the kind of why and how that can’t be disclosed without damaging the reputation of the person or persons involved. A reputation should be yours alone to damage.

And then there’s information that many hobbyists simply refuse to believe. Goodness, there’s a lot of that. I’d say that the majority of topics I’ve chosen not to discuss fall into this category. Certain narratives and certain beliefs have become so ingrained in the hobby, that even providing actual documentation to the contrary doesn’t dislodge them. If I want to lecture to a brick wall, I have family members for that.

(Another thing about the weekend, best left unsaid.)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Body Box Black Stallion

How sad is this - I spent a good hour the other day cleaning up a body box horse. I had a couple dozen other/better horses to work on, but I felt compelled to clean up this little train wreck. I guess I wanted to see how far my mad cleaning skilz could go:

As it just so happens, pretty far. He’s still going back into the body box since (a) he has a chipped ear, (b) several body rubs, and (c) he’s the Traditional Black Stallion mold with those goofy splash dot dapples from the 1990s. He’d have to be minty-mint, in the box, for me to get any serious money for him.

Still, it was kind of a fun exercise, seeing how far I could actually push him into social acceptability. At least now, we he gets ignored in the body box, it won’t be because he’s dirty. It’ll be because he’s a Black Stallion mold. Even I have to admit he’s a bit of a challenge to customize well.

As you may know, I’m not easily squicked by anything, model horse-wise. I love - or at least tolerate willingly - a lot of molds deemed horrible enough to give some hobbyists the vapors. My love of a model is not conditioned on anatomical reality. If some of the parts aren’t exactly where they’re supposed to be, I’m not going to obsess over it too much.

(Just like they’re now doing with the Weather Girl. My only question: gosh, what took them so long to get started?)

But boy, do I ever remember being disappointed when the Traditional Black Stallion mold came out in 1981. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I had definitely imagined something a little grander. He was merely okay.

If Breyer had originally released him as some other horse, in some other color, maybe I would have taken more of a shine to him. He was supposed to be my dream horse, darn it!

I got one anyway because I was (and to a degree, still am) a huge Black Stallion fan, and a couple others in colors I thought looked good on him. Like the Ageless Bronze of the Hyksos, for instance, and the rather pretty Mahogany Bay of the SR Ofir. I’m also a bit intrigued by the odd, multicolored splash spot Appaloosa one, whatever it was supposed to be, though I haven’t gotten around to owning one yet.

A couple years later, they came out with a Classic version of the "The Black" in The Black Stallion Returns Set, and he was a lot closer to my mental picture of him than the Traditional mold. I think I have more of him than I do of the Traditional, including a Test Color for the Sham in the 3345 King of the Wind Set, in a more golden shade of Bay than the Regular Run release.

Time to get back to the "spring cleaning," I guess. The rest of these horses aren’t going to prep and pack themselves.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rare but Worthless

It was kind of warm and humid a couple of nights ago, so I started up my window fan, and then I noticed that The Toad - who resides on the same shelf as the fan - looked especially … shiny. It hadn’t been raining (for a change) so the only obvious source of moisture was from within.

Darn it! Looks like someone’s gonna hafta spend some quality time in the fridge between now and July, because I don’t want to change his name to "Horse Parts."

I was on a roll yesterday; I think I found the body I needed for the Happy Endings Contest, and possibly a component of my Costume Ball entry. (Note: it is not footwear.) My coworkers think it’s a fabulous idea, but I’m worried that their affirmations caused some sort of ripple effect in the Universe, meaning I will get picked to volunteer this year.

The one year that I did, I had to sit out on both the NPOD, and a raffle. (Missing that raffle wasn’t too bad, but missing the Pit? Hated it!) Finally coming up with a faboo costume idea, only to have to sit it out? Oh well, best not to think about it unless I have to.

I’m still working my way through the massive pileup on bodies here in the Cave. I’m waffling on a couple of "keepers" here; a couple of obscure variations that are tickling my fancy. Both are technically rare - as in, not made in large quantities, or for an extended period of time - but both are also considered worthless. One of them being this Rugged Lark, here:

He’s one of the early ones without any mold marks. In pretty good shape, too, just a couple of slight nose rubs. I had been thinking about adding one to my collection for the past few years, if for no other reason that I think rare and unwanted things need to be collected, too.

I never got around to him before now, because mold marks aren't the easiest feature to detect in an online auction. Even when a seller says it isn’t there, it usually is, because the mark is different from the typical Breyer mold marks: instead of the familiar copyright horseshoe, it’s a small flat area with a bit of type, often fainted molded. Easy to miss? Yes, very.

Finding one in a less-virtual venue wasn’t any easier. Nothing marks you for more of an amateur at BreyerFest than flipping a horse over to inspect the mold marks. Telling a seller I’m looking for something else, really, often gets me the rolled eyes and the what-an-idiot look. And if the seller knows who I am, sometimes I’ll get the what-did-I-miss look and the dreadful feeling that price negotiations aren’t going to go very far.

The "rare, but worthless" phenomenon occurs in just about every arena of collecting. When I was still active in comic book collecting, I used to obsess over the minutiae in the Overstreet Guide. (It’s mostly a price guide for vintage comics, but there’s a lot of history in it too, once you learn how to "read" it.)

Anyway, as I’d be plowing through my Overstreet, I’d see the notation of "Very Rare - Less than 10 copies known to exist" from time to time. I’d look at the estimated values, and often as not, there’d be no correlation. There were some genuinely rare, virtually extinct comic books out there that nobody wanted. That would always blow my mind.

The reason for that was simple: the content of those comics was undistinguished. The inherent value of most comics is not a function of rarity, but of significance: the first appearance of a major character or team, the first work of a well-known creator, the first printing of an important or award-winning story. A generic, random issue of Action Comics from the mid-1940s with a low print run is worth a lot in Pristine Mint condition, but nowhere near the same amount of money as even the lowest grades of a copy of Action Comics #1 - the first appearance of Superman.

For a while there, I thought about starting an archive of "rare and worthless" comic books, but before that idea ever got off the ground, the horses dragged me back into their world. But the notion of collecting the rare, but worthless still lingers.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Body, Shelf and Show

Well, that was an odd Sunday. I thought it was going to be a washout - literally, and figuratively. To make a long story short, I ended up buying two entire collections. That’s about 100 models, total.

Yes, you read that right: 100 models. No more worries about not having enough stuff to sell at BreyerFest this year!

(But not one of them is the model I need for my special BreyerFest project. Naturally!)

There were no super-special ZOMG!!1! finds in either collection, though there are definitely some primo pieces here, with a few keepers and upgrades. Most of the stuff is from the 1980s, but there are items from the mid-1960s through the late 1990s. No fancy hobby-specific pieces or special runs, just Regular Run Classics, Traditionals, Animals and Accessories.

Looks like I’ll be spending most of the rest of the week cleaning, cataloging and evaluating everybody (aka "model horse triage": is it body, shelf, or show quality?) Normally that’s my favorite part of the process, but I’ve never had to do it with so many horses all at once. I already feel like I’m behind in my Bfest prep, and then a small town’s worth of sad, dirty and slightly distressed orphans show up on my doorstep demanding my attention. Yaah!

Good news for you guys: cheap horse party in my room at BreyerFest this year! Woot! Most of these guys will be under 20 bucks, and a big chunk of them will be 10 or under. Lots of good starter models or collection builders for beginning hobbyists, or for long-time hobbyists looking to fill a few holes on the shelf. A quick scan doesn’t reveal a lot of obvious show prospects, but I haven’t finished evaluating everyone yet. (Some of the Classics do look very promising.)

Sorry ladies, no pictures of the loot today. Ever have a deranged squirrel get loose in your house and rampage through your basement? (I have; it’s kind of a funny story, actually.) That’s what my office looks like right now. While it has been publicly demonstrated that I am not easily shamed, I draw the line at showing you the current state of the Horse Cave.

(It’s like the Bat Cave, but with more horses, fewer Giant Pennies, and no Batmobile. Sold that off a few years back. Yeah, really. Another funny story ...)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Feeling the Rainbow

Lots of ground to cover today.

First, I "won" a Nympheas! Yay me! (Is it weird that I still get a bit of a thrill whenever I see my name on the Winners List?) I don’t have many Marabellas in the collection; not for a lack of trying, I just never seem to be in the right place at the right time for the right model. So that’s a happy way to start my weekend.

Second, yes, I’ve been brainstorming ideas for the Costume Ball ever since it was announced on the BreyerFest blog a few days ago. The first idea that popped into my head was hilarious, but probably inappropriate, and possibly illegal in the State of Kentucky. (No, the whip is not involved.) I still might do it if I can’t come up with anything else equally awesome. I thought my costume last year bordered on the inappropriate, and everything turned out fine.

Third, well … the Rainbow Weather Girls are out. I’m surprised at how much I like the Translucent Rainbow variation; I wasn’t a huge fan of their previous Rainbow paint jobs, but it really works on the Translucent plastic. Kudos for them for being able to pull it off so successfully.

I like the Pintaloosa ones too. It seems like an odd choice, but I get it - it’s a paint job with a lot of "color." I would not be displeased to get either the Matte or the Glossy version, if only because my Standing Stock Horse Fun Foal needs a Mommy:

Most of the "Herd" seems to think otherwise. Quelle surprise, non? Whatever. Some hobbyists just gotta complain no matter what. A few more realistic colors would be nice, but I’m not going to snipe, carp and moan about it. Or withhold my UPCs and hope for something "better." I’ll send them in when I finally get around to getting the rest of them, and be happy with whatever shows up on the doorstep.

We got spoiled on the multiple variants on the Hucks and Fun Foals: hobbyists seem to have forgotten that the first couple of Treasure Hunts didn’t have a lot of variations within them, and there wasn’t a huge amount of complaining at the time that there should have been more.

(Well, some: no subject in the hobby ever goes uncomplained about.)

It’s nice that Reeves seems to be going with a simultaneous and random release of multiple variations, something I wish they had done last year with the Othello Treasure Hunt. Allegedly there are going to be four variations total; whether the Gloss and Matte Pintaloosas count as one or two, I don’t know. If they’re going to go with variations on the "color" theme, I’m supposing there’s going to be a "Color Change" painted piece in the mix somewhere.

A Color Change Pintaloosa, maybe? Oh yeah, I’d totally dig that!

Peace Out.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Connecting the Dots

One of these days, when I finally have the time to do it properly, I’m going to write down the stories of how I acquired each and every one of my Test Colors, if and when they need to be dispersed. I went through a great deal of time and effort to acquire some of those things, and I wouldn’t want their stories - and the added value that comes with them - lost to time.

Documentation for early Test Colors is second or third hand, if it exists at all. You might get lucky and run across a photo or an article in an old newsletter somewhere, but most of the time, these things come to us bereft of their history. Or come with a history so distorted, it loses all value as history.

Which is why one of the most interesting - and valuable - things I found in my most recently acquired archive was a copy of one Marney’s legendary sales lists - one with Test Colors on it! Some of those Test Colors I recognize from her photo album - and a few of them are so famous, you’d recognize them, too.

I won’t regale you with what Test Colors they were, or the prices she listed them at. That would be mean, painful and kind of pointless, and lead to a lot of unnecessarily tense online debates and scary live show death stares.

(C’mon, we’ve all done a variation of "Let me express my jealousy over how much you paid for My Holy Grail by silently giving you the Evil Eye for the entire show." It can’t just be me, right?)

What I can tell you is that some of the prices she listed them at were cheaper, in many instances, than the regular run items that were also on this saleslist. A Gloss Charcoal Mustang, for example, would have cost you as much as the most expensive Test Color listed.

There were a couple of reasons why this was.

First and foremost, this was the pre-Internet era: vintage, mint regular runs like Appaloosa Fighting Stallions, Old Mold Mares and such were not as "easy" to come by as they are today. Our selection of molds and colors was also more limited, thus making what did come onto the market, consequently, more valuable.

Second, the Test Color market was different back then. Having a Test Color was just as much a status symbol then, as now, but since most of the tests came through Marney, Marney dictated the prices and availability. And she kept those prices relatively modest - not too far out of line with the going rate for high-end vintage OFs.

They’d still cost you, but you didn’t necessarily have to be a high roller to afford one. And she was cool with time payments, too, if you couldn’t pay it all up front. (She was actually cool with me taking a Test Color home from Model Horse Congress and paying for it later. No, really!)

Another piece of documentation that came with this archive was a letter, from one collector to another, discussing one of the Test Colors on that list (from other documentation that came in the archive, and my own, I’m fairly certain that it’s the same model in question.) Anyway, what struck me was the incredibly roundabout way she talked about it:
I knew a girl that lived right down the street from the Breyer factory, when it use[d] to be in Illinois. She was able to walk right in the factory and pick up some of the test colors that they were throwing out. Since then, this girl has died and the factory has moved to Illinois.
Gosh, so much wrongness there, and I’m not talking about the typos. It’s unclear whether the seller confessed to, or provided the additional information in the form of that sales list to the potential buyer, or the person just happened to put the pieces together later on.

In either case, I don’t think there was any malice or deceit intended. I think it makes an excellent illustration, though, of the kind of information loss that can happen within a single generation of ownership.

Write your stuff down, folks!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


The weather is not cooperating, again. Wet, wet, wet - the ground is positively gooey at this point. No flooding yet, but I wouldn’t rule it out if it keeps going the way it’s going. Sigh. At least I had the foresight to get a little indoor rummaging in before the weekend:

The Westies will probably go on the saleslist (the Sherratt & Simpson one is really tempting), but I’m keeping the little Moomin plate. I couldn’t believe I found it at the Salvation Army for 49 cents! A heavily-trafficked one in a hoity-toity neighborhood, no less! The fools!

(Oh yes, I know what Moomins are. You should know by now not to be surprised that I do.)

Since I’m not a big fan of being rained on, I took a break from gardening and finally started working on the BreyerFest stuff. The sales items have been priced and tagged, the paperwork templates have been prepped, and the jotting down of random ideas for the Sampler has begun.

I’ve also determined that nothing in my body box will be suitable for my contest entry. (Of course.) I took a spin over to one of the local stores earlier this week, to price items I may have to buy for it (at retail - the horror!) I was already in the neighborhood for work, figured I might as well take a look-see.

I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I did spend a lot of time admiring that adorable ASPCA set - the one with the Liver Chestnut Ranch Horse, Lab mix and Lynxpoint Kitty. I managed to resist the temptation, but it did get me to thinking about the Sham.

I am going to assume that most of you know that when the Sham was first sculpted, plans were made to also include his feline companion, Grimalkin, to scale. It didn’t work out - it just wasn’t feasible or cost-effective to produce a cat mold that small back then - but one of the prototype kitties did make it into some of the promo materials, including here in the 1984 Dealer Catalog:

Grimalkin was one of the first things that sprung to mind when the Companion Animals were released in 1999. I’ve been waiting for a rerelease of the original Sham, with Grimalkin, ever since.

Yeah, they came out with a "new" Sham in 2005, on the Huckleberry Bey mold. He’s nice and all, but I’d still like to see a release of the set as he was meant to be - on the original mold, in a true golden bay, with his little kitty compadre.

I don’t know why Breyer decided to go with such a funky red hue on Sham back then, when author Marguerite Henry had gone in such detail about the "golden" qualities of Sham’s coat. A couple dozen Golden Bay Shams were eventually made, mostly to appease Sham’s sculptor, Rich Rudish. And several test color examples, including this one I picked up on eBay some time ago:

There seem to be quite a few of these "test" Golden Bays out there, but as I’ve discussed before, a lot of them are the product of wishful thinking than fact.

Friday, May 13, 2011

No, I’m not starting a Devo cover band, either.

So yeah, I bought a bullwhip at the flea market the other day.

Why? The notion of using it as a crowd control device at BreyerFest may have played a factor, but mostly it was because it was there, it was cheap, and the thought of owning it amused me. (If nothing else, it'll make for a very ... interesting chew toy for the dog.)

I pretty much have the same philosophy when it comes to buying horses. I’m not the kind of hobbyist with a tightly defined want list: if something is cheap, and available, I’ll consider it. If it also amuses me in some way, I will buy it. End of story.

That would explain why I bought another Lady Roxana over the weekend. She was in the same collection as the Toadster, though in considerably better condition. I also bought her beau Sham, just because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time:

I’m not sure I’ll be keeping them - I don’t really need another Lady Roxana and the Sham, like every other Sham I’ve ever owned, has issues. Considerably fewer issues than most of the ones I’ve owned in the past, but enough to make me question his "keeper" status.

You know how there are some models you keep trying to upgrade, but in the end all you end up doing is trading out one set of bothersome flaws for another? That’s how it is with me and the original release of Sham. I have no idea how many Shams I’ve gone through over the years, but it’s been a lot. Like, running out of fingers and having to take off my shoes and socks to count, a lot.

What’s funny is that I’m not even looking for one of those "Perfect Commons" I talked about a few weeks back. I just want a presentable, garden-variety piece of arm candy for my original Lady Roxana, who’s mint and lovely and totally deserves it. And I just can’t find one.

There are probably a couple of things working against me here. The first is that most Shams were made in the mid- to late 1980s, an era known for its quality control issues. The second is my horse-buying philosophy: when you limit yourself to what you can find at the lowest possible price, the selection your have to choose from isn’t going to be primo.

I thought this guy might have been "the one" when I bought him, but nope: closer examination revealed a paint skip, molding flaws, box rub. He does have nice color and the wheat ear mark working in his favor, though. I’ll have to give it a little more thought.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Finally, a good weekend! I was so excited about the magnificent weather, I had to suppress the urge to rip off my coat and run around the market grounds screaming for joy. Instead, I opted to go with giddily mumbling to myself, and buying random crazy stuff like bullwhips and auto shop name patches.

(I’m not kidding about buying the bullwhip. Next time, kids, next time.)

All told, I bought nearly a dozen horses: a few bodies, some decent vintage Regular Runs, and one okay Chalky - an Appaloosa Yearling with chipped ears. Nothing spectacular, but it did scratch that itch. I left a ton of stuff behind, too, including a few things I probably shouldn't have, but I was feeling good, and wanted share the joy with some of my fellow hobbyists.

Some of you have already met one of my "keepers", but he’s too good - or perhaps, too bad - not to share with the rest of the world. Meet my lovely little Toad:

At first I thought he had been the victim of a fire or some other sort of household incident, but when I picked him up and got a good whiff of him, I realized he was no accident victim: he was a Shrinky. Possibly the worst Shrinky I’ve ever seen. He’s not just shrunken, discolored, smelly and cracked, he’s lumpy: Lumpy and warty, like a toad!

Hence, his name.

I’ve seen some pretty messed up Shrinkies in my time, but this guy’s right up there with the worst of them. I’ve never seen lumpiness on a Shrinky like that before. Was it a consequence of the plasticizer pooling on the surface of the plastic? Was a "good" batch of plastic mixed in with a "bad" batch, with the lumps representing the unshrunken "good" bits?

I found him in a fairly large (60 piece) collection of contemporary (late 1980s-early 1990s: i.e. The Shrinky Era) pieces, most of them in good or better condition. There were a few other Shrinkies in the herd, but most of them were just smaller, smellier, and a little discolored - nowhere near the same horrifying level of deformity of my little Toad.

Some folks on Blab have speculated that something must have happened to Toad to make him this way, but I’m not so sure of that. It could be that like some people, he "lost" the genetic lottery, and just happened to get made out of a particularly bad batch of plastic, at a time known for that sort of thing.

He’s not oozing or weeping, at least not anymore, though I am hesitant to give him the "taste" test. I already suspect I got a contact high the other day from handling him so much. It’s not like I need to confirm what is already very obvious to my eyes, and nose. (Did I forget to mention that you can smell him a couple rooms away? That boy is pungent!)

Oh yes, he’ll be coming to BreyerFest this year; I’m thinking about setting up a little "kissing booth" for the Toadster and run some sort of fairytale-style promotion. "Kiss the Toad, and get a prize?" Hmm.

(Too bad I already have a great idea for the "Happy Endings" contest, because he’d make a great - and super easy - "Frog Prince" entry. Just set him up next to an unshrunken Rocky, with "Before Kiss" and "After Kiss" signs, and voila!)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Rehabilitating Khemo

In other less than important news, I had my first official "BreyerFest Nightmare" for the year. Remember those dreams you used to (or maybe still do) have about high school? Showing up for class to discover that there’s a huge test you didn’t study for, a term paper due you knew nothing about, or suddenly realizing that you’re naked?

Yeah, like that, except with forgotten horses, money and reservations instead of tests and term papers. There’s been the occasional BreyerFest dream with missing clothes, but those don’t seem to elicit the same amount of terror as forgetting to bring my paperwork or not setting my alarm clock for the NPOD.

What it means, though, is that I really need to get my act together re: BreyerFest. All I’ve done so far is a preliminary sketch of what I’m going to do for the Happy Ending Contest. I guess I know what I’m doing this weekend! (Depending on the weather, of course.)

Since I still haven’t processed the new archival stuff yet, I’ll have to resort to another show and tell. Since the Lady Roxana went over so well, we’ll go with another less-than-lovely: Khemosabi! And not just any Khemo, but the #766 Arabian Stallion, in a most peculiar variation of an allegedly realistic color: Dappled Rose Gray.

Slightly later examples are less challenging to the eyes. Toning him down, I think, was a mistake. Everyone - from the top down - is very, very aware of the mold’s shortcomings. Putting an ordinary paint job on him doesn’t camouflage them. If you're going to release a new Khemo to the world, you might as well - as the saying goes - "go big, or go home."

As far as what exactly went wrong with the mold itself - well, it was the confluence of many, many bad things. You had a sculptor who wasn’t quite up to the task, inadequate or inappropriate reference materials, issues with the moldmaking process itself, and Heaven knows what else. (Gypsy curse? Bad Chinese food? Zombies?)

He did not turn out how anyone hoped, or intended.

There was discussion by the powers that be, early on, about remedying some of the mold’s aesthetic issues, but I think the decision was ultimately made to just … let it go. Hardcore hobbyists may have found him laughable, pathetic and sad, but the general buying public was much more forgiving: the original release of the mold as Khemosabi ran for a fairly respectable six years. No need to fix something that the rest of the world didn’t think was broken.

And a few years later, after he was originally discontinued in 1995, there was a surprisingly robust run on the original Khemo on eBay. Fan of the flesh-and-blood Khemosabi started snapping up the plastic versions at a healthy clip, for increasingly robust price tags: $100+ price tags on NIB examples were not unusual.

There’s only been one other release of this mold, as the 2003 Christmas Horse "Silent Night." His paint job wasn’t any great shakes - a light, fleabitten gray - but his snazzy green and gold outfit, dripping with tassels, made up for the lack of drama.

I’m sure there are a few test color Khemosabis floating around out there, though I haven’t seen or heard of any. I wouldn’t turn one down, if I was offered. (Everything - even Khemo - looks better in Gloss Charcoal or Silver Filigree, right?)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Old and Cranky

I’ve been in a bit of a funk for the past couple of days. Aside from a rough work schedule that completely messed up my sleep cycle, it rained - almost on cue - on Sunday morning. Grr. Nearly a month’s worth of flea marketing, lost. It’s nice that I’ve gotten so much work on the garden done, because it did need it. But darn it, I seriously need a cheap pony fix!

I did pick up a halfway decent archive/reference lot on eBay last week; lots of duplicate material (finally, something to sell!) but some previously unowned stuff, too. I haven’t had a chance to go through the "new" material in detail yet, but I’m pretty sure there’s a couple of future blog posts in there somewhere.

(What always cracks me up whenever I sort through one of these archives is when I find some of my own material in it. Duh - don’t need an extra copy of THAT!)

Because I am lazy, tired, cranky and just not into it today, here’s another semi-obscure Special Run for your enjoyment, on a rather appropriate mold: Old Timer!

It’s the Special Run Alabaster Old Timer, from the 1983 Montgomery Wards Christmas Catalog. Most hobbyists just assume he’s a reissue of the Regular Run #200 Alabaster Old Timer, which ran from 1966 through 1976. When compared to a Regular Run - here, my Old Timer cull - the difference becomes quite obvious:

Older Alabaster Old Timers have body shading, while the SR does not. Older Old Timers have so much, sometimes, that it seems wrong to call them Alabasters. It’s more like a softer, paler version of the "Slate Gray" color that first appeared on the #191 Bucking Bronco, who also debuted in 1966. (A coincidence?)

(The hats are different, too, I know - later hats don’t come with a painted hatband. But they’re not that reliable an indicator of oldness, since they are so easy to lose, switch or replace.)

Earlier Gloss Alabaster paint jobs, on models such as the Five-Gaiter, Mustang, and Old Molds, did come with variable amounts of gray shading, but rarely as extensive and consistent as the #200 Old Timers. Other contemporary Matte Alabaster paint jobs were all over the map: the Family Arabians rarely showed much shading, but the earliest releases of the Proud Arabians did. The slightly later Classic Andalusian Stallion and Lipizzan varied from model to model and year to year (with earlier pieces tending towards the more dramatic). But Classic Johars tended to be pretty tame.

In short, it’s hard to say whether the color on the SR Old Timer meant to be different from the original, or was just a consequence of the time period it was manufactured in. More the latter than the former, I'm guessing.