Sunday, October 30, 2011

Clubbing, Pt. II

I didn’t feel like risking hypothermia, so I skipped out on the flea market today: we missed the snow, but still got the cold. There hadn’t been much to see the past few weeks anyway, and I had already blown my wad on Saturday on a couple pairs of work shoes and some quilt supplies at the local Salvation Army.

(Unworn Sanita Professional Clogs, in my size, for nine bucks? Darn right, I’m buying them!)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again and again: collectibles aren’t that good of an investment:

There’s been some discussion of this on Blab already, but since it ties in with previous post about the new Breyer programs, I’ll add my two cents here, rather than there.

The article refers to collectibles that are considered worthless in the secondary market - among them things like Beanie Babies, Norman Rockwell plates, Hess Trucks, Precious Moments, and anything sold by the Franklin Mint.

Why are they worthless? The article itself doesn’t provide a point by point checklist, but it basically boils down marketing: these are mass-produced items that are specifically targeted towards the collector’s market, and marketed (implicitly, or explicitly) as "investment" vehicles.

The only problem is that when it comes time to "cash in" your investment, the buyers aren’t there.

Seems like Breyers could fit into that definition rather neatly, right?

There are certainly a great many Breyer models that are essentially worthless: take a look at the sheer volume of items listed on eBay and MH$P, many of them priced at body-box level. On the flip side, there are also models that have a great deal of value, and have a good chance (I believe) of retaining a good portion of that value in the long term.

In that sense, I think Breyer models have more in common with collectibles like comic books and PEZ dispensers, rather than Beanie Babies and Precious Moments figurines. While the market for more recently minted comic books, PEZ dispensers and Breyer models is not great, it is not without occasional bright spots. The market for vintage pieces? Also not great, but with a little effort and research, you’ll do okay.

So, what distinguishes comic books, PEZ dispensers, and Breyers from the more worthless types of collectibles?

One word: History.

Having a history means that there was some distance between the start of manufacturing and the onset of direct marketing. That means that there’s a body of "stuff" made prior to the active or organized involvement of either the company or of collectors. It’s stuff that has become genuinely rare or hard to get in good condition because it got used up, worn out, and thrown out - as opposed to direct-marketed things that went straight from the factory warehouse to the collector’s attic.

There’s also history in its more intimate sense: did the objects themselves impact life or history in a meaningful way? Both comic books and Breyer models, for instance, contributed significantly to the happiness of countless children. (They were both certainly a part of mine.)

And thirdly, the history itself should also be interesting on its own. Was there mystery, drama, or complicated legal actions in that history? Lost objects, lost opportunities, or a universe of questions worth investigating?

You’re reading a blog devoted to that third type of history, so I think you already knew that.

Will I be joining up with either of the two new Breyer "clubs"? I remain undecided. My mind's been on other things, lately.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Clubbing, Pt. I

I will confess that the most exciting part of the JAH was finding out that there’s going to be a (somewhat) local Fun Day event! Yeah, there aren’t going to be any special models involved, but I just might go out and see it for the fun of it. I got a chance to help out, briefly, in the Craft and Activity Tent at BreyerFest this year, and the energy there was so amazing.

The other thing that I notice up front - wow, there were a lot of typos! You think they’d have put a little extra effort into the proofreading, it being the final issue and all.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand - the "5 New Programs" everyone is getting all hot and bothered about. Well, six, actually, if you count the Breyer Collectors Club, which I’m assuming is going to be an amplified version of the e-mail program they have now, coupled with exclusive subscriber-only content and offers available via the new web site. Sort of like an online version of JAH. Since no printing or physical mailing will be involved, I’m guessing the subscription fees will be nominal or even nonexistent.

The Vintage Collectors Club, and the Premier Collection are subscription-style clubs: sign up, pay up, and models and other stuff are shipped to you on a timely basis for a year. Either program will cost you around $500 a year to belong: $540 for the Vintages ($135 x 4 models) or $525 for the Premiers ($175 x 3 models). The former is for "vintage" mold enthusiasts, while the latter is tailored towards fanciers of more realistic newer molds.

The Vintage Collectors Club is limited to 500 subscribers, but the Premier Collection makes no mention of an upper limit. They’re also a little vague on whether or not pieces will be made available to non-subscribers at a higher price, or a later date. They use phrases like "Only members are guaranteed a reservation for all three pieces" and "Members also receive priority in shipping" in the copy.

The Breyer Blossoms thingie is described as a year-long "continuity program", which appears to be just like a subscription club, but with Classics-scale molds, no extra stuff, and with the ability to option out of the program after purchasing just four pieces. Items in the program can also be purchased separately (if you just want your birth month flower, I guess) at a higher price. I'm assuming they'll go with different themes every year: the Zodiac, Holidays, etc.

The Equestral Crystalworks are miniature crystal versions of Traditional molds, available exclusively through the new web site, starting in January. No subscription, prepayments or any of that required. (It’s a little unclear whether or not you have to sign up for the Breyer Collectors Club just to buy stuff on the web site.)

The Breeds of the World series are smaller-scale resins (in-between Classics and Little Bits/Paddock Pals) and will be available either via the web site or via retailers. In other words, they’re just Regular Run items that don’t require you signing up for anything at all.

I’ll comment more on the individual programs next time; I still haven’t had a chance to go through the magazine as thoroughly as I’d like. Company came over, there was some drama with the dog, carpets got cleaned …

Monday, October 24, 2011

BreyerWest, Mostly

My JAH arrived today. I haven’t finished rifling through it yet, though from what I’ve read so far, my suspicions about the content of the online discussions seem to be right - as in, a lot of the information being discussed isn’t.

So there’s going to be two more Web Specials by the end of the year - one on a favorite mold (a Decorator Nokota Horse) and another in a favorite color (Silver Filigree Weather Girl)? I wouldn’t mind either, but I suspect I will be getting neither. Nothing to do with my finances - where there’s a will, there’s a way and all that - it’s just that my luck with the Web Special program hasn’t been so good lately.

I don’t even want to imagine what the aftermarket prices on a Silver Filigree Weather Girl are going to be. The prices I’m seeing on the BreyerWest Volunteer Glossies are scary enough.

So they put a different tail on the Roxy mold, for Fontana? Hmm. I wasn’t super-keen on the original tail, but it did reflect the character of the horse it was modeled after. A different tail might be more in line with what’s in fashion in the show ring, but I tend to prefer models that have a more specific - as opposed to a more generic - character to them.

I’d have to see one in person before I pass judgment. It might be a while; with all of the other programs and Special Runs coming up in the next couple of months, it doesn’t seem likely that I’ll be picking up one of the leftovers. (I’m assuming there were - I haven’t heard otherwise, but I might not have been looking in the right places.)

In other BreyerWest news, Reeves cut back on the show awards, and gave out plain old unglossed Regular Run models to Sectional Champs and Reserves - the horror! (Glosses were still awarded to the Overall Champs and Reserves.) Needless to say, that ticked off a few showers, who evidently thought they were entitled to such things; their kvetching about it apparently helped sour the mood of everyone within earshot.

All I can say is that it’s about time they cut back on those awards; all they’ve done is drawn out the worst in some hobbyists, who have done some very devious things in the past to win. This change is something I’ve been advocating for years, and it looks like a lot of other hobbyists are coming around to my line of thinking, too.

The only mistake they made was in not announcing the change in the program earlier. The way the awards were advertised - as "special Breyer awards" - left a little too much open to interpretation.

Whether this is a preview of downgraded awards to come at BreyerFest, I don’t know. Still, I think something should be done. If not Regular Runs, then something else.

For instance, I wouldn’t mind a modified version of the current program, but with an identical range of prizes awarded at all three shows, rather than three different sets of awards. Sure, that would "up" the piece count on all of the awards, making them slightly less rare and/or valuable, but they’d still have the cachet of being exclusive to the show. A program like that might have the additional benefit of cutting down on the de facto proxy showing a bit.

Or how about coupons redeemable for Breyer merchandise, like Green Stamps. One more Sectional Reserve, and I can get an Equestral Crystal horse! (LOL - could you imagine the little booklet they’d have to include in the show packet for that?)

As you can tell, I've obviously had way too much sugar today. Darn Lemon-Walnut Zucchini Muffins.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

More for the Archive

My copy of the last issue of JAH hasn’t arrived yet, so I’m loath to discuss anything contained therein until it does. I get the sense that there’s a lot of misinformation getting mixed in with the online discussion of it, and I don’t want to unwittingly perpetuate or validate any of it.

I will say I am quite amused by the "access to copies of vintage Breyer memorabilia" they’ll allegedly be including as a perk of the Vintage Collector’s Club membership. Really? Guys, I’ve seen what you got, I’m not that impressed.

(Admittedly, it is me we’re talking about here: I have an original flier for the Money Manager hanging on my wall.)

Speaking of, I picked up a couple more things for the archive yesterday - at the local Salvation Army, of course. First, a copy of the novelization of For the Love of Benji, the film that the notorious Benji and Tiffany Gift Set was based on:

The movie itself did okay on its own - my paperback is a 25th printing - but the success of the film didn’t translate into success for Breyer: they got stuck with a warehouse full of unsold Gift Sets. Some them eventually ended up in the possession of the Bentley Sales Company, who in turn sold them directly to collectors, well into the 1980s.

Second, a copy of The Pony Champions, the sequel to A Pony for Keeps:

I didn’t think anything of it at first; I just reflexively tossed it into my buy pile, like I do with every other horse-themed book I find. Books sell pretty well for me at BreyerFest, and at the prices I pick them up at, I really can’t go wrong with that approach.

Anyway, I didn’t realize what it was until I was inventorying it later in the day, and noticed the names that the names seemed awfully familiar. Of course, the picture on page 12 also helped:

That’s an Old Timer, Ruffian "Lula," Misty, and the A Pony for Keeps Gift Set on the shelf, and a Trakehner "Abdullah" in the window!

And as if that wasn’t enough to convince me to add it to my archive, the fact that the book was also signed by the author didn’t hurt.

I’ve found other signed books here, too; it’s probably a consequence of the location. This is the same "better than the average" Salvation Army where I found the Kaiser Goose Girl a little while back. Is it any wonder that it’s become a regular stop in my rounds?

(Ironically, I’ve never found any actual Breyer merchandise at that location. Hartlands, H-Rs, and miscellaneous china pieces? No problemo. Actual Breyers? Not a one.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Other Rare Pluto

BreyerWest is on the other side of the country, and I am kinda broke, so the fact that it slipped my mind until about yesterday isn’t shocking. I do have a few relatives out that way I could have tapped for a pickup on Fortuna, but I really have to stick to my budget, now that work has officially entered the "slow" season.

I’m currently hemming and hawing on what to do next - another seasonal job, or ramp up the Internet biz? The former would be better for the budget, but the latter is long overdue and may eventually provide a small, year-round income stream. One more thing to think about…

Here is an example of another mold we’ve rarely seen in recent years - the Traditional Lipizzaner Pluto:

This one is the Pluto made specifically for "The Wonderful World of Horses" touring show, in early 1997. The show had been selling the Pluto for several years before it was discontinued, and I assume that Reeves continued to produce them for the show for some time after.

How do I know that this piece is from early 1997? Aside from the 1997 Collector’s Manual it came with, he has factory bi-eyes - a feature that didn’t start appearing until late 1996, and was discontinued by the end of March, 1997. The original #475 Pluto was discontinued at the end of 1995.

The sticker on the upper left hand corner of the box also identifies it as an "Exclusive 28th Anniversary Edition for The WONDERFUL WORLD OF HORSES Starring the ‘World Famous’ Royal Lipizzaner Stallions" (the funky punctuation and capitalization theirs, not mine.)

However, the box label reads "#475 Pluto, The Lipizzaner" - in other words, identical to the Regular Run - so I’d probably classify it more as a "Post Production Run" than a Special Run: a Regular Run item made after its discontinuation, per a standing order from a good (i.e. paying) customer.

Regardless of his status, you don’t see these guys too often; the vast majority of whatever quantity was made were sold as souvenirs to attendees of the show, and not specifically to hobbyists. Hobbyists walking past the sales booths wouldn’t have thought of them as anything other than ho-hum Regular Run Plutos.

Outside of his box, I doubt many would recognize him as anything other than the Regular Run. You’d think that the bi-eyes would be a big "tell," but a lot of collectors seem to be a bit fuzzy on their significance. That’s part of the reason why he’s one of the handful of models I still keep in its original box. If it ever comes to me having to sell him, I want to make sure there’s no mistaking him for a standard #475.

(FYI: that’s a bit of protective foam paper behind him, to prevent box staining.)

I found mine on eBay in late 1999 - not long after they were made. He was a little on the pricey side but well worth it, I think, since I so rarely see them for sale. He’s scarcer than the Spiegel Pluto, at any rate. (That I don’t have. Sigh.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Equus Non Grata

I didn’t go to the flea market today. Work didn’t go well the night before (everyone was at each other’s throats, for some reason), the weather was iffy (overcast, drizzly), and I didn’t feel all that awesome to begin with (an unfortunate choice of snack foods, I think.)

I need to get cracking (again) on the stuff I already have to sell, anyway. Life sort of got in the way of me putting things up on eBay, so it looks like I’ll be starting up the MH$P sales again. Like before, nothing impressive, just the usual middle-of-the-road shelf sitters and collection fillers.

Everything sells eventually, but some models are harder to sell than others. One mold that’s become an incredibly difficult sell of late is the Midnight Sun:

For obvious reasons, of course: in light of the recent attention being paid to the continuing practice of soring in the TWH show community, the mold itself has become (justifiably) something of a pariah. Few hobbyists dare to sneak any into their showstrings nowadays, lest they get labeled as condoning the practice.

We haven’t seen a new release on in the Midnight Sun mold since 2002, and I rather doubt we ever will, again.

Other molds have fallen "out of fashion" before, such as the Appaloosa Performance Horse and the Quarter Horse Gelding, but that was due more to shifting tastes than the increasing awareness of abusive showing practices.

I suppose one could still sneak Midnight Suns in under collectibility; an historical entry would require way more ‘splaining’ that it’d be worth. Especially since the true historical type of Tennessee Walking Horse is closer to the Bluegrass Bandit or even the G3 Tennessee Walker than the Midnight Sun mold - which itself doesn’t even really depict Midnight Sun!

And again, the mere existence of such an entry would also bring up the insinuations of acceptance on the shower’s part.

In some ways, the situation with the Midnight Sun mold has become somewhat analogous to the situation that exists with some of the more offensive forms of African-American memorabilia. Should they be preserved purely as a matter of historical interest, or should they be shunned - or even destroyed outright - to actively discourage that line of thinking from ever arising again?

As someone who considers herself something of an historian, I fall somewhere in the murky middle. Blotting out any part of our history may feel right or good, but it rarely works. Even if you manage to eliminate it entirely, it still leaves a hole, and a hole can be as problematic as the thing that once filled it.

I suspect what will actually happen to the Midnight Sun molds will be more of a continuing diminishment - of both interest, and of controversy - to the point of it becoming an embarrassing footnote. Most of the releases of the Midnight Sun, save for the 1984 Model Horse Congress SR, are plentiful enough that a spike in interest due to rarity will probably never become an issue. (Unless hobbyists get all crazy and start using their spare Midnight Suns as kindling.)

I have a small number of Midnight Suns in my collection - mostly variations of the original release, in black - and I have no intention of tossing them in the nearest bonfire. They’re a part of the historical record, for better or worse. I won’t go out of my way to acquire more, unless they happen to fall into my lap somehow, or have some historical significance (i.e. a Marney Test.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Just Thinking

There were easily five times the vendors at the flea market this week compared to last, but there wasn’t a darn thing worth buying, at least not at a price anyone was asking. ($27.50 for a Gloss Palomino FAM? I don’t think so!) I’m sure a lot of the vendors were counting on a higher proportion of market visitors being tourists on their way to a cider mill, rather than the locals looking for a deal.

I bought a few groceries and sundries I needed to buy, and left. (A toothbrush, dog treats, potato chips, and a bag of green peppers, almost too beautiful to eat. Yes, the potato chips were a "necessity." You don’t need to know why.)

The fact that I had to pay the second half of the dental bill this week was also weighing on my mind. I wasn’t going to have a whole lot of "walking around" money for the rest of the week, and I didn’t want to fritter it away on stuff that was going to sit on my sales list for months.

(The dental bill turned out to be a little less than I anticipated, so I did splurge on a dollar’s worth of books at the Salvation Army yesterday. I may never get around to reading James Joyce’s Ulysses, but it does "class up" my bookshelves while it waits.)

My minding of the pennies probably explains my muted reaction to Pamplemousse’s arrival on Tuesday, too. He seems like such an extravagance now.

He looks good in Dappled Light Palomino Sabino, but I already knew that: I got to admire/fondle the sample piece up close and personal at BreyerFest in the Hobby Information Booth. Mine has just enough small flaws to make me consider returning him, though I’m not sure I want to bother waiting for a replacement. I will have to give it some thought.

Stopped by the local Tractor Supply on the way home today to check out the holiday selection; just because I’m not in a buying mood doesn’t mean I can’t look, right? Plus, I thought the sight of this year’s Holiday Horse might perk my mood up a bit.

It did. The teeny-tiny bells sewn into the costume just slay me: they manage to look simultaneously adorable, and ridiculous! The "Winter Belle" model itself, sans decorative ovenmitt, seems quite nice - definitely not the same as the red bay #950 Dover release from 1996-1997: the finish is slightly metallic, with an opaque base.

I might pick one up if there are any left after said holiday. Just like everything else this time of year, I’ll have to think about it.

I won’t have to worry about allocating my cash for anyone else this holiday season: it doesn’t appear that there are going to be any store-specific SRs for TSC this year, just the usual XMAS assortment and some regular runs, like Chub, Valentine and Heartbreaker, and the ASPCA Benefit Set. I’m okay with that, especially after last year’s glut of SRs.

I have a suspicion we’ll be getting at least one holiday-themed SR via the Web Special program in the next month or so. Considering my recent luck on those, I’m not even going to think about it until I absolutely have to.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rin Tin Tin

Did you hear about the new book about Rin Tin Tin? It’s Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, by Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief. I was doing a little research on the book itself (to wit: was it worth putting on my holiday gift list?) when I ran across this text on the author’s website:
When I was very young, my grandfather kept a Rin Tin Tin figurine sitting on his desk. I wanted desperately to play with it, and even more desperately I wanted to have a German shepherd dog of my own, a dog just like the star of "The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin", which debuted on television in 1954. I knew nothing about Rin Tin Tin other than that he was the perfect dog, and that he was a character on television. When by chance I learned that Rin Tin Tin was a real dog, not just a television character—a real dog with a real life that was extraordinary—I was drawn into the story and eventually to the idea of writing this book.

So I’m guessing that you’re thinking what I’m thinking - that’s the Breyer figurine she’s talking about! I guess the book is worth my time, though I will have to wait until Christmas or thereabouts before I get my hands on a copy. (No room in the budget for fun stuff until then!)

You’d think it’d be logical for Reeves to re-release the Rin Tin Tin figurine, wouldn’t it? You have a well-reviewed biography by a noted author, who just mentions in passing that a Rin Tin Tin figurine partially inspired her to write the book in the first place?

Nice idea, but I’m not counting on it. For one, he’s a dog, not a horse. While Reeves has not been averse to re-releasing the older dog molds, they’re not big sellers. They’ve seemed particularly averse to re-releasing the Rin Tin Tin mold: we haven’t seen it since 1973, when they discontinued the #327 German Shepherd after a brief two-year-ish run. (Like the Proud Arabian Mare, he was prereleased in late 1971 to/for hobbyists.)

His absence is something of a mystery to me, since the German Shepherd has consistently been one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States, far outpacing both the Collie and the Saint Bernard in terms of registrations.

Yet both the Lassie/Collie and the Saint Bernard molds have seen a couple of re-releases in the not-too-distant past! Hmm. (Also puzzling: Wire Fox Terriers are only 97th on the list? Our little brat certainly doesn't act like it.)

Second: just because I think it’s such an obvious idea doesn’t mean Reeves does. I thought a Pancreatic Cancer benefit horse was a far better - and more appropriate - idea than a Breast Cancer benefit horse (hello, Patrick Swayze!) but the more conventional idea won out.

It could be that Reeves got caught a bit flat-footed about the book; I only found out about it a couple months ago myself. It’s not too late to time a re-release of the mold with the inevitable paperback release of the book sometime next year, though. Could be a nice addition to one of their various "horse and book" series, like the Breyer Horse Collection. (One of the lamest names for a series ever, BTW. Isn’t every series basically a "Breyer horse collection"?)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Well Played

It should have been a nice day. The weather was perfect, I got to sleep in, Tigers beat the Yankees …

Then I woke up, stubbed That Toe again, lost my last quilting thimble, and discovered a little "present" the dog left behind in the chair (before I sat down in it, at least.) I also got yelled at by several people for things I either didn’t do, or had no control over.

Oh, and I also forgot to mention that the last dream I had before I woke up this morning was a rerun. It wasn’t even one of those that you wouldn’t mind having again - one where you remember how to fly, or fall into a giant vat of Stablemates, or something. It was boring, predictable, and no fun at all.

When even your dreams fail you, you know you’re in for a rough day.

I haven’t gotten my Pamplemousse yet, either. Not that I was expecting it today, but seeing the huge glut of them on eBay and MH$P just made me realize that I’m probably going to miss the window of opportunity for unloading mine in a timely manner. I had kinda-sorta come to the conclusion last week that I had to let mine go - no profit, really, just cost plus postage - but apparently so had everyone else.

(I had intended on keeping him, but the money situation is tight and not going to get better in the short term. Last one in, first one out, etc.)

I should have realized that there was going to be a glut of Pamplemousses. We’ve seen this story before, too: remember the "Limited Edition" series of models that began in 1987 with Precipitado Sin Par? These "Limited Editions" were limited not by quantity, but by time: basically, to the number of pieces ordered in a production year.

Many hobbyists - and most casual collectors - made the assumption that the "Limited Editions" implied future scarcity. I mean, if they were only going to make them for a year, then it’s going to be way more rare than some Regular Run item that runs for a couple years or more, right?

Nope. What actually happened was that Reeves ended up making way more of those Limited Edition models than they did of many of their Regular Runs, based on that assumption of future scarcity. Several thousand more, in fact, if the numbers from an internal document I have from 1992 are true (and I have no reason to believe they are not.) Consequently, most of these Limited Editions aren’t terribly hard to find.

I suspect the same thing is happening with the Pamplemousse: I would not be surprised if Reeves sold significantly more pieces of their final JAH Special than they did of several of the more recent releases. It didn’t hurt that they put it out on a very popular mold, in an attractive color, and upped the potential order quantity to two.

It’s a win-win for Reeves: they sell more models, and won’t get stuck with a lot of warehouse overstock. (There will be some - via bounced checks, expired credit cards, and the leftovers reserved to cover damaged items - but not a lot.) The extras that many hobbyists ordered for resale become the responsibility of the buyer to redistribute, effectively making these buyers micro-dealers.

Nice trick, Reeves. Well played.

I only ordered one, and it’s no big catastrophe if I have to keep him. I’ll just have to find something else to sell in the meantime, until the market absorbs all of the extras.

I think it will; as I’ve said, he’s a popular mold in an attractive color. He may not be as "limited" in quantity as other JAH Specials, but he’ll definitely be more limited than most other Othello releases. Not only that, he does have the cachet of being the last official JAH Special, and that means a little something, too.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Minding the Gaps

The flea market was uncharacteristically depressing. The weather was nice, if a bit cold, but a big chunk of the dealers didn’t bother to show up. Many of those that did were very territorial about their preferred spaces, so that led to a lot of unnecessarily large gaps between them. The whole place looked and felt like a ghost town.

There were a few horses there, but nothing worth buying. All I picked up were some groceries and a couple of inexpensive sterling silver rings. (I’m wearing one right now. I generally go through life fairly unadorned, but it slipped on my finger like it had always been there. Pretty little thing, too - looks like a hobby casting.)

There was a fairly big antique show the week before, which explained that week’s low turnout, but this week? Yeah, it’s October - big yuck - but even so, the turnout is usually better than that.

The restoration projects from the week before went okay. The Gem Twist cleaned up real nice; I wouldn’t call him "live show quality," but he’s definitely not going to shame anybody’s shelf. I was a little concerned about his yellowing, since I hadn’t seen - or dealt with - a yellowed Gem Twist before.

The original release of Gem Twist came in an odd, semi-chalky finish that Reeves experimented with for a few years; they used a very flat, matte white paint as a basecoat, and applied some light shading over top of it. The original release of the Pluto mold came with a similar paint job, and a sprinkling of other Regular Runs and Special Runs have since then. Unlike earlier - and later - white basecoats, the paint isn’t used as a base to apply another color over top of it: it clearly being used as the primary component of the intended color.

I hadn’t seen - and never expected - a model that’s been painted white to turn yellow. Whatever the cause, a light and quick bleach bath got rid of most of the dinginess. The ease of his cleanup leads me to believe that it was just a very fine layer of grime (Air pollution? Ciggie smoke?), and not something inherent in the paint or plastic.

The speckled Fighting Stallion is still a work in progress. Most of the stains are gone, but some of the more persistent ones remain. On top of that, his extended time in the "dunk tank" has led to an unfortunate side effect: he now has a significant amount of water trapped inside him.

Many hobbyists become a little overly concerned about the lack of an obvious vent hole in their models. They needn’t be, especially with their more vintage pieces. Small splits and separations often occur along the seam lines - usually along the mane, between the ears, or under the tail - and they serve the same function as an intentional vent hole, which is to minimize the possibility of bloating and deformation.

In many cases, these seam splits are so slight, they’re basically invisible to the naked eye - until the model gets submerged in water, and a telltale trail of bubbles appears.

I left the Fighter to soak in the bleach bath overnight, so I didn’t notice where the bubbles were coming from - and I still don't know. The split is apparently small enough to allow water to seep in, but not seep out. So now he has a good 3 or 4 ounces of water sloshing around his insides. Amusing, but also annoying: I never thought he’d rise above being body box fodder, but now that he’s got a half cup or so of bleach water trapped inside, even that’s unlikely.

Just swell. Sigh.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Just A Thing

That was not one of my better weeks. I’ve spent most of today catching up on sleep, and finishing everything I started - and couldn’t finish - during the week. It’s also been cold, wet, and it just turned October. Not exactly conducive to my motivation.

It has come to my attention that the Susecion and Le Fire molds are now something of A Thing: pricey, in demand, and generally pretty hard to get. I hadn’t noticed before because I already had one nice set - the QVC Palominos from 2002 - and hadn’t been in the market for others:

Picked them up for a good price at the flea market a few years back. Not minty-mint, but good enough; I missed out on most of the 2002 QVC Special Runs back when they were released, and I wasn’t about to pay "retail" for them. A couple of small rubs, I can live with.

I had thought the prices on that particular set were just a reflection of the relative scarcity of a lot of the 2002 QVC SRs. Many of them weren’t well publicized, and the piece counts were fairly low (for back then.) Some of them you hardly ever see for sale now; the re-release of the Traditional Man o’ War immediately springs to mind.

Anyway, like I said, I hadn’t been in the market for a set, hence my not-noticing. I have nothing against the molds personally. I just don’t have the space for any more, and other molds have been deemed of higher priority.

Any mention them in certain circles, though, seems to inspire near-apoplectic fits of rage over their anatomical inadequacies (like the crazy face on the mare, and the muley ears on the foal). It’s a rage that seems a little out of proportion to whatever crimes against anatomy they seem to be committing. When I look at them, all I really notice is the tender moment of maternal intimacy.

As to what’s inspiring the high prices, in spite of the hobby’s general dismissal of these molds, I’m not entirely sure. It could be any number of factors - the rather small number of releases, the limited quantity of many of those releases, or the fact that the mold’s been out of circulation for a couple of years now.

I suspect that my initial reaction - the "Aw, that’s kind of sweet" - may be a big factor, too. Nothing sells like cute and sweet. (Don’t be hiding your My Little Ponies in the closet. I know they’re there.)

It could be that it’s "just a thing": all of a sudden something that wasn’t particular popular or noteworthy before then becomes The Thing to have. It happens on eBay all the time. Remember when you could sell a Khemosabi for $100+? Or when there was that unexplainable run on Black Appaloosa Running Stallions? And let’s not forget those other hot items du jour: the original releases of Spirit and Rain.

For hobbyists who do happen to be in the market for a Sucesion and Le Fire set, my only advice to you is to wait it out. In another six months to a year, there might be (no, will be) some other Thing.