Saturday, July 30, 2011


So, what do I get for trying to make up a month’s worth of neglect in my garden, in the space of two days? Puffy eyes, a runny nose, and itching in unmentionable places.

At least the garden’s looking respectable now. It’ll be a few more days before I can say the same of myself. Stupid allergies!

I finally got the chance to debox my Pecos; I’m usually pretty diligent about that sort of thing, but as I’ve said before, been busy (and of late, itchy.) I think I got a pretty nice one, with good dappling:

He has a couple of very slight scuffs on his left hip, but they blend in with the dappling. And I don’t intend on showing him anyway, so whatever. He was the nicest of the three I had, and I was not displeased with the ones I had to choose from. Most of the flaws I saw were minor, nitpicky things. Nothing to harass the guy at the ticket window about.

I was hoping to bring home a few more Esprits this year, but that didn’t happen. I think everyone was expecting some form of Esprits in the NPOD - the Chestnuts, the Bays, or at the very least the Dapple Grays - but if there were any in there, they were few and far between.

I can understand their hesitation about the Chestnuts causing some commotion in the Pit, but I thought they’d at least have a decent pile of the Dapple Grays in there. Very odd. (Come to think of it, there was very little WEG stuff, period. Where was Snow Globe Mountain?)

From the lay of the land that I got while scoping out the Pit, I did get a sense that they were holding a few things back, so maybe there’s some crazy Grab Bag-style promotion in the not-too-distant future. Not saying there will be, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

I thought I still had a shot at getting a Gloss Pecos at the Costume Contest this year. I briefly considered not going ahead with my entry, due to the previously mentioned engineering problems, but once I saw the one they had in the Silent Auction, I doubled down and got it done. (After a quick trip to Lowe’s, for supplies.)

As I exited the "Dressing Room" in my full Princess Beatrice regalia - yes including The Hat - I was feeling pretty good about myself. One of the ladies at the Raffle Ticket booth actually burst out laughing at the sight of me. Awesome.

Alas, if you look at the picture of the winners, you will not see me among them. After the first two winners were called, it became pretty clear that the judges and I had differing judging criteria. Most of the entries I thought had a legitimate shot also went unplaced.

Admittedly, I was stretching the definition of a "fairytale character" just a bit by doing a real-life person, but no more so than many of the other entrants. Hey, she’s a Princess, she attended what was described as a "fairytale" wedding, and she wore a hat that defied both the laws of physics and common sense. Seemed like a perfect fit to me. Besides, after I found the matching dress at a local Salvation Army, I felt like it was something I had to do.

Next year’s theme is "British Invasion," so if the Costume entries call for your favorite Brit, past or present, Princess Beatrice just might make a return appearance.

(Because despite of entreaties to the contrary, I’m not selling The Hat for charity.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

In Plain Sight

I’m finally getting around to cleaning up my financial paperwork from BreyerFest. Not that I didn’t want to deal with it before, I really had other and better things to do before now. Plus, I had already done a rough estimate of the numbers, and they weren’t all that bad. The only real "overage" in the budget came from a handful of select pieces I found in the Pit - items that I couldn’t pass up, because I definitely could not have afforded them elsewhere.

(Not trying to be deliberately dodgy, but a girl’s gotta keep some secrets, y’know?)

I had already "budgeted" a bit for the Samples in the Pit, so this piece - the subject of a recent discussion on Blab - wasn’t part of that overage:

At first glance, it looks like the Zippo from the 2004 J.C. Penney SR Set, the one with the Strapless and the Amber. Notice anything different about him?

Here’s a hint:

My guy has the Strapless blanket! Or more precisely, the blanket from the 2002 QVC "Artist’s Proof" SR of the Zippo, in chestnut. Neat, eh?

Don’t panic, I didn’t see it at first, either. A little bird told me to be on the lookout for Zippos in the Sample boxes of the Pit this year, and when I saw one, I grabbed it and immediately stashed it in the buy pile. Even if he wasn’t anything special, I figured hey, it’s still a Zippo. I love Zippo! And he comes with a Sample Room/Pit provenance, which is a step up from your garden-variety Special Run.

I was distracted by the glare of flashier things, I guess, so I didn’t pay too much attention to him until last week. As I was poking around the Internet, catching up on a little random research, I thought I’d pull up a picture of the Black App Zippo just for kicks - and holy moley! You could have hit me with a plank.

(Note: I have been hit with planks before. So I know of what I speak here. No, you don’t need to know that story, either.)

My first inclination was to label it another one of those "Mystery/Early Bird Pit Specials" that have turned up in the past few years, like the Gloss Summer Solstices and the Fun Foal Appaloosa PAFs. There’s definitely more than one of him out there, and they are all identically painted. Seems like a logical conclusion, right?

I’m not so sure. From what I’ve been able to gather, these guys were not a deliberate attempt to drive us early risers crazy. (Actually, I’m fairly certain of it.) If they were, they would have been grouped together somewhere else, and not mixed in the Sample boxes willy-nilly. They really were just a part of the Sample Room cleanout.

Admittedly, it is a little odd that there would be a small group of identical, but different from the norm Zippos roaming around the Sample Room; I don’t know what the full story is, there. Still, regardless of what they are - Tests, Prepros, mistakes, whatever - because of the circumstances of their sale, they’ve become another "Early Bird Special" by default.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Crackerjack Prizes

I love my hobby, I really do, but I am going to be so grateful when I finally get all this year’s BreyerFest business wrapped up. Then I can kick back, relax, watch a movie, work on a quilt without guilt…

That’s the problem with too many hobbyists: some of them really need another hobby to get away to. Lapidary? Pomiculture? Competitive Eating? Anything that keeps people from making way too big a deal over a minor anatomical discrepancy, or freaking out over another 12 year old trying to scam another way-too-gullible veteran hobbyist is okay in my book.

(Unless it leads to links being posted to YouTube videos of hobbyists eating massive amounts of Oreos. I don’t care that they do broadcast that sort of thing on ESPN: nobody nowhere needs to see that.)

Anyway, next up in the NPOD hit parade, a Traditional Man o’ War:

You already know by now: this is no ordinary Man o’ War. Why yes, it’s a Sample - or possibly, a Test Color - of the QVC Man o’ War. He has the shaded naughty bits of the QVC version, with the additional shading around his muzzle. He’s also initialed, and dated: 2/12/02, to be precise. His halter is handpainted, as opposed to the production run pieces that featured masked ones.

I’m really not sure if he’s a "True" Test, or a Sample. The dating and initialing on the belly sort of pushes it over to the Test side for me, but I’ve seen Samples that were dated and initialed, too. In the absence of additional documentation or confirmation, calling it a Sample is the best I can do. It’s a moot point, since he’s not going anywhere.

Funny thing is, I almost didn’t end up with him, at all. I picked him up right away when I found him in the Pit, briefly considered him, and then put him down. Eh, what use do I have with another QVC Man o’ War? I wandered over to the boxed table, where the Packaging Samples hide. (Did I find some? Of course I did, sillies.)

A few minutes later, a friend handed him back to me. " I thought you might want this." I took it as a Really Big Hint: when a model comes back to you like that, you have to take it home with you. Into the pile he went.

I ignored him until I got back to the hotel, and unpacked my "Pit Pile." As soon as I unwrapped him, I instinctively flipped him over - and flipped out. Dang! Major, major score - for me!

That was sort of the secret of the Samples in the Pit. They were all bagged and bubble wrapped, so while you could make out what they were - look, it’s a Pokerjoe! - the finer details of what made them special had to wait until you unwrapped them. Is it a color variation, a mold variation, or possibly an True Test? You won’t know for sure until you unwrap it!

Sort of like a Crackerjack prize.

Crackerjack? Sounds like the perfect name for him.

Friday, July 22, 2011

An Extra Special Buffalo

Almost caught up with everything here; if you’re expecting an e-mail or PM from me, I'm hoping to catch up on those on Saturday.

One of the many fabulous things I found in the Pit on Friday morning was a Taima - the Connoisseur Tortuga Buffalo - at an exceedingly good price. I didn’t get pulled for one when they came out, and I was way too much of a "Buffalo" myself to pay retail for one. So when the opportunity presented itself Friday morning, into the buy pile he went:

It wasn’t until yesterday, as I was finally starting to unpack the last of my personal stash, that the thought occurred to me: what if, was he, could he be…? He didn’t come with a velvet bag, or a certificate, and he wasn’t numbered. Hmm. So I pulled out my July/August 2010 issue of Just About Horses, and checked.

… all the lumps, bumps, swirls and bubbles match: he IS the very same Sample used to illustrate the announcement in Just About Horses! (The scanner hasn’t been behaving, so you’ll just have to refer to your own copies, folks.)

I actually found myself shaking, for a moment. It has always been a dream of mine to have a photography Sample; I have a few that I suspect might have been, but in this case there is no doubt.

I found myself carrying my newest treasure around the house the rest of the day, holding him up to every available window. In spite of my abundant joy, foremost in my mind were the comments of a couple of fellow hobbyists I shared my find with, who had dismissed him altogether. "Oh, he wasn’t very popular to begin with." "Eh, I thought he was kind of ugly, myself."

Definitely not the responses I was hoping for. Not unexpected, mind you - I’ve lurked on enough boards to know just how catty and judgmental my fellow hobbyists can be - but, yeesh. Way to put a little damper on a momentary bit of happiness.

Look, you don’t have to like the choices other people make when it comes to collecting, but when someone shows you their latest "score", the proper, decorous response is to be happy for them. Especially if they got it for a good price, or through some extremely fortuitous circumstances. They want to share their happiness: for Pete’s sake, let them!

I was already excited to have gotten the Taima for such a good price; now that I know his specialness goes beyond his cheapness - well, I just wanted to share.

(Oh, and FWIW, his name is Basil. After my "Buffalo" Great-Grandfather.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Still cleaning, still sorting. Took a couple more extended naps, too.

The signal-to-noise ratio on BreyerFest rumors and gossip is never great, but this year it was positively abysmal. The "intel" I received prior to Fest was good - right on the money, in many instances, down to specific pieces - but the information getting passed around at the actual event ranged from "kinda off" to "not even on the same planet."

It got so bad at one point that I thought sunspots might have been involved. (There was a full moon. I’ll blame it on that.)

One of the rumors floating around prior to the event was that Samples from the Sample Room cleanout earlier this year would be present. It was not an unreasonable one: not only had they dumped Samples in the Pit in years past, they had made the announcement earlier in the year on their Facebook page, requesting hobbyist help in regards to the Sample Room cleanup.

Anyone paying the least bit of attention could have put it all together.

There’s been some controversy over what distinguishes a "Sample" from a "Test Color." In the case of the pieces in the Tent this year, most of them would be considered "Samples," which are pieces identical to the production run, made prior to full production for minor corrections and approvals. "Sample," basically, is just another term for "Preproduction." (There are some minor differences, I guess. I’m still in no mind to finesse these.)

Prior to the introduction of the VIN numbers, Reeves Samples/Prepros were almost indistinguishable from Regular Run items. Occasionally you’d see some dating and notations on some - "VQS" meaning "Vendor Quality Sample," for instance. Sometimes you’d see some minor change or correction to the piece, added detailing on the hooves or eyes, etc. The kind of little subtleties even most nerds wouldn’t pick up at first glance.

Because the differences are so subtle, provenance is absolutely essential with items like these. Sadly, in the case of many of the Samples thrown into the Pit in prior years, their specialness has been lost to the ages.

Luckily for me, I’ve been pretty anal about keeping most of the loose, free-floating goodies I’ve found in the Pit over the years. That’s because I get picky: I try to stick with molds and colors I already have a fondness for. That way, if it does turn out to be something truly ordinary, it’s no crushing blow. One such example, from this year: a Kennebec Count "Chili"!

I’m pretty sure he is a Sample, but I’ll still love him if he ain’t. You know me and the Kennebec mold.

Still trying to decide on a name, though. I keep thinking I should name him after a Red Hot Chili Pepper, but he looks more like a Bono to me...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Rode Hard, Put Away Wet

Did y’all miss me?

Sorry about the lack of posts; as I’m sure you’ve guessed, I was a little busy last week. I barely had time to sleep, much less type. I think I got … maybe 20 hours of sleep total from Tuesday through Sunday?

Which would explain why I slept in until 2 p.m. today. I’ve only just now finished unloading the truck, and have only made the most minimal efforts to unpack. I gave myself an extra day off work to recover, and I’m taking advantage of it. My only plans for today were to lounge around the house and eat as much ice cream as I can stand. (Check, and check.)

I have lots of stuff to show everyone, so I’m hoping (but not promising) to make daily posts this week to cover the craziness in full. I had a blast, for the most part, though there were a few things, as always, to complain about.

Unlike the folks elsewhere on the Internet, the hotel will not be one of my complaints. There were some annoyances, but it is what it is, and expecting drastic physical improvements in less than a year seems a little bit too much to ask. Seriously: it’s a ginormous complex on a half dozen levels, built nearly fifty years ago, in multiple stages, on the side of a hill, in a high traffic area. It’s going to take a while to get the job done, is what I’m saying. Next year, we can talk.

(Besides, some of the condition issues are part of the ambiance, by now.)

Anyhoo, today y’all get to see one of the many fabulous things I got to bring home with me - one of the few things I did unpack, just because he’s so special to me: my volunteer model!

A bay ("lavender") roan Silver, named Nottingham. I believe his model number was 711430; I wrote it down somewhere, but it’s on something I haven’t unpacked yet. I think there were 137 pieces produced, more or less. (Yeah, I know, another roan. Good thing I love them so!)

Contrary to popular opinion, I do not hate the Silver mold: I am just annoyed by his overuse. The only other ones I have in my collection currently are the gloss bay Valentino (because he’s beautiful) and the Skullduggery (because I love the Halloween horses.) I’d like a few others - especially the Silver Filigree, or the Hobo - but I’m not in any hurry. I think there were a few Pegasus Silvers in the NPOD this year, but I wasn’t especially motivated to toss one in my buy pile.

No worries: my NPOD pile was still plenty big, and plenty good, but we’ll get to that later in the week. I have to still unpack it all, y’know.

(And before I forget: h/t to "Tumnus" for the upgrade. You are also awesome.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


You have no idea how angry I am at Blogger right now. The reasons why this post is so late are only partially due to the fact that I was on the road and otherwise indisposed with BreyerFest type things. I'll just ... leave it. I'm too tired to get any more righteous than that.

Checked into the CHIN about 5:30 p.m. The room is still a bit of a wreck, but that's because I've already spent way too much time socializing. (Dudes - Linda Walter is just down the hall!) I'm in Room 331, if you're looking for me, or The Toad, or a little souvenir of your trip.

(Have I mentioned before that I have a ton of stuff to sell?)

The hotel is ... different. So far it looks like mostly cosmetic changes - new carpets, new linens, new faces, that sort of thing. Which I mostly like, except for the wall color: it's baby poop brown! I'm sure it looked great on the paint chip, but y'all know what the lighting is like around here.

The carpeting in the conference all area leaves a bit to be desired, too. (Swirly red, yellow and blue? Must have been on sale.) I think they upgraded their wireless service - it seems much, much faster than in previous years.

I suppose most of you have seen - or heard about - the Appaloosa Proud Arabian Mare and Foal set in the Benefit Auction. The way Breyer worded the post on their Facebook page has convinced some people that these models are vintage Test from the Sample Room.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again - and again: there are no vintage, pre-1985 Test Colors in the Reeves Sample Room. The "vintage" they are referring to is the color, and possibly the molds themselves. The detailing and color aren't consistent with the period that a lot of people are convinced these models came out of (the early 1970s.) The dappling is too fine, and the detailing just a little too good for even the best paint jobs of that era.

(BTW, I just happen to have a pretty nice Appaloosa Performance Horse for sale in my room. You know, if you're looking for one.)

None of the leftover goodies that were in the Chicago facility prior to the sale in late 1984 ever made it to New Jersey. Whatever was faound was either sold to Marney, or to the Bentley Sales Company, who sold them at live shows in the mid-1980s. I know so, because I bought a lot of Tests and Oddities from them. (Remember the Classic Quarter Horse Mares and Foal in Five-Gaiter Sorrel? Bentley Sales.)

And also, I was in the Sample Room way back in 1992, and I didn't see anything that qualified as vintage back then. The stuff that was in there then that's still in there now probably qualifies as vintage, today. (Hey, I've been up since 5 a.m, so you're just going to have to cut me some slack on the grammar.)

It's unlikely that Reeves would be buying vintage Tests, either, especially something like that pair. I wouldn't doubt that Reeves may be discreetly acquiring some vintage pieces here and there, but if they were buying vintage Tests, that's something we'd be hearing about.

It's obvious that this pair is meant ot complement the Proud Arabian Stallion in the Appaloosa Performance Horse colorway - only one of the most well-know, and coveted, of all vintage Tests. Yeah, I've mentioned him here a couple of times, but he's famous enough for the Powers That Be at Reeves to have discovered him on their own without any help from me.

You know, it's funny, but there really aren't a whole lot of "famous" or even "notorious" Test Colors. You'd think with them being unique or distinctive, that they'd be naturally more memorable. But, they're not.

The ones you own personally are memorable to you, of course, but Test Colors other people own? Not really. I've seen several hundred Test Colors over the years, but I can't think of more than a half dozen that I covet. Of those, I think only one or two of them anyone else would have even heard of. (Those would be BreyerFest Auction pieces.)

It's getting late, and I really need to clean off the bed and get some quality sleep time in, while I can.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Random BreyerFest Stuff, and a Test Color

I think I might have solved my little engineering problem; now to see if I can finish that project before I leave on Tuesday (for reasons I won’t go into here, it would not be practical to finish it in the hotel.)

I’ve been looking over the BreyerFest program just like everyone else, trying to "finalize" my selections. I’m really warming up to the Once Upon a Time, the bay appaloosa Show Jumping Warmblood; I liked him before, but the additional incentive of his relatively low piece count is definitely upping my interest. I have three line tickets this year, so I just might be able to slot him in somewhere.

I may still need to get a Store Special Dusty for a friend of mine, but I doubt I’ll be getting one for myself. I’m still not feeling it for him, which considering my current space issues, is probably for the best. I can’t participate in the Sunday Raffle this year, which is fine by me, since I seem to be in the minority when it comes to the Cleveland Bay King Arthur model. He’s pretty, but not a heartbreaker.

I would love, love, love to get a Perrault - I think I’ve become just a little obsessed with that crazy silver splash spot appaloosa El Pastor. He’s just so … out there. His color scheme reminds me a little of a piece I picked up recently, a possible Test Color for the Shetland Pony Pine:

(Yes, it’s a newtoymens piece, hence my pointed use of the word "possible.")

The only significant difference between this guy and a regular run Pine? A very lightly grayed mane and tail. It’s not noticeable on its own, but side by side with a standard issue Pine, it’s fairly obvious:

I know most folks love those fancy auction Tests, but these more subtle ones are more fascinating to me: it’s as if you can see the design process in action. More shading - or less? Light mane, or dark? What if we switch the markings around a bit?

Speaking of auction Tests, it’s shaping up to be an especially fine crop this year, isn’t it? It’s nice to see that they’re trying to come up with some new ideas for the Zebra mold, and that Esprit is a clever "update" on the old Gray Appaloosa Mustang’s color.

It’s the glossy dappled sooty palomino pinto Stretched Morgan in the Fest program that stopped me cold, though: I submitted a dappled sooty palomino Morgan as a Collector’s Choice piece at least once or twice before. Nuts!

Was it last year, or the year before, that someone on Blab (or elsewhere?) thought that some of the auction pieces were coming out of rejected Collector’s Choice submissions? They might have been on to something there. It would make sense, too, especially if they noticed a lot of suggestions for a certain mold or color: they must figure if the interest is there, so will the money.

I have no idea what the Volunteer model will be; doesn’t matter to me, really, since I’m not the kind of person who sells such things. A Peruvian Paso or Flash would be spiffy, but I’d be happy with a FAM or Lady Roxana.

Back to work!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Live Showing is Hard Work

BreyerFest Updates: Project A is almost done; all that needs to be done is the decorating, which should take maybe an hour or two; just waiting for the darn thing to dry. Project B isn’t looking so hot; everything is done, except the most important part. I’ll have to do a little more running around tomorrow to see if I can improvise another solution, because I refuse to give up at this point.

Note to self: I’m doing all this for fun, right?

That reminds me of some pictures I received in that archive I purchased a few months back. There were plenty of shiny, happy people in this one group of pictures from the Motor City All Halter Live Shows in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But others? Not so much.

(First, let me say that I’m not making fun of anybody in the following photos. Heaven knows we’ve all taking less than flattering pictures in the past. Most of my Elementary School photographs come to mind. Sixth grade, in particular.)

It just struck me funny that in this large group of pictures taken to commemorate a fun, enjoyable event, the camera managed to catch more than a few of those fleeting moments where the thought "Why am I doing this again?" was probably foremost in our minds.

If it had just been one or two pics, I wouldn’t have noticed it so much - or, at all - but seeing them all grouped together just made laugh. Mostly out of recognition: late Saturday night at BreyerFest, anyone? Doesn’t matter how much fun we’ve had, we all look like we could use a few stiff drinks and a nap.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Two Lovely Ladies

Pretty quiet day at the flea market today. Plenty of things worth buying, including a ten-foot-tall unicycle(!) But all I left with was a bag of bagels and a good reading copy (with dustjacket) of Mistress Masham’s Repose, an odd little obscurity by T.H. White, whom most of you may know as the author of The Once and Future King.

I’ve now reached the point in my BreyerFest prep where everything is either going wrong, or falling apart. My scanner died, the dog ate (yes, ATE) my new umbrella, the humidity is like 3000 percent and wreaking absolute havoc on all my assorted projects, and I just paid way more than I wanted to on some new glasses that probably won’t be ready in time for the trip.

Oh, and one of our lovely neighbors has been setting off fireworks - loud, prolonged, and probably illegally obtained - for the past week. Vita doesn’t like them. Really, really doesn’t like them. Kind of hard to get any work done when the dog’s barking her fool head off every night for a week.

(She’s normally not the much of a barker either. It really is just that bad.)

So yeah, I’m a little cranky tonight.

There was a brief discussion about the "Sorrel" Classic Quarter Horse Mares over on Blab, so I thought I’d share mine here. I found these two lovely ladies in the Bentley Sales Dump Bins during my first trip to Model Horse Congress back in 1985:

I found a matching Foal the following year:

My mares did not come out of the six-piece special run batch the other known Sorrel QH Mares came out of. First, they’re not Chalky; second, their markings are quite a bit different from the Chalky ones, and from each other; and third, the rough quality of their seams seems to indicate that my girls were, more than likely, not SRs but actual preproduction Test Colors.

The mares were my first true Test Colors, if I’m remembering correctly. Test Colors weren’t super-hard to get back then, but funding (then, as now) was a bit of a problem. These two mares were mixed in with all the other bodies that Bentley Sales was allowed to take out of the factory to sell, following the sale to Reeves, and were priced like bodies.

As you can see from the photos, they really are body quality, so you’ll never see them competing for anything except shelf space.

If they went through the bother of testing both the Mare and the Foal, the Stallion has to be out there somewhere, right? I was kind of hoping that I’d find the matching Stallion at my third Model Horse Congress, but that didn’t happen. Either he wasn’t in the boxes, or someone else got to him before I did.