Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hello Kitty

Another one of those "didn’t get diddly-squat done" days, but I had a good excuse: I’ve been napping and drinking a lot of fluids, since I feel like I’m on the edge of being unwell. Things are going to get crazy around here in the next few days, and I really don’t have the time to be sick, period. Might as well enact some preemptive measures while I can, right?

I received my Vault Sale package Thursday afternoon, quite literally as I was heading out the door to go to work. I didn’t have time to turn around and drop it off someplace secure in the house (Vita likes to open packages. ‘Nuff said.) So they went on the road with me for a day and a half.

Unopened. Because the roads weren’t optimal, not because I thought anybody would steal them.

The Logan is quite lovely - even prettier than the picture on the web site, though that’s never a shock. Here’s a fresh picture of him, if you haven’t seen a non-stock photo of one yet:

There’s no VIN apparent on either him, or the Kitten.

And oh, the Kitten. He’s gorgeous!

Pearlescent, lots of hand-airbrushed striping, and there are even spark dots on his eyes! If they had ever gotten around to doing a Connoisseur release of the Kitten, this is what it would have looked like. Not the least bit creepy at all!

Well, to be honest, I can see why some people could find the mold a little on the freaky side, especially in large groups. Those big buggy eyes staring at you from that oversized head? It’s funny when your own real-life kitties engage in staring contests with you, but they eventually get bored with it, and move on to other annoying pastimes.

The only Kitten I don’t have is the Tom Foolery. It's not that he’s hard to get; I just keep getting him confused with the Presidential Kitten "Socks", who has a very similar paint job. I also need to upgrade my Siamese, but the story about how I ended up with him is rather amusing, so I’m in no hurry to do so.

That story’s a long one, though, so I’ll have to leave it for another day. Along with how I was kinda-sorta responsible for having the mold re-released back in the 1990s. Later this week, maybe.

Oh, and it appears that my suspicion that a few of the Vault Sale items (Silverado, and Logan) were oversold might be true. So far, nobody’s received any Silverados, and a number of orders for the Logan are also AWOL.

As someone who actually works in the inventory services industry and has worked on hundreds, if not thousands, of inventories (retail and nonretail) I know all the ways an inventory can go bad. Otherwise well-run companies can have some pretty bad inventories. It could be something as simple as a mistyped number, or something as stupid as the boss’s dog eating a thumb drive with all the previous year’s inventory numbers.

And I’m not trying to be a fanny kisser here, but I’d give them a few more days to resolve the problem before we start sharpening the pitchforks. I’m pretty sure they were working with a rather reduced staff last week - and will be for the beginning of this one.

From what I’ve been able to gather, Reeves will be doing a physical inventory this week; whether this was something that was already planned, or a part of the contingency plan to solve the problem at hand, I don’t know. Whatever the reason, it should be resolved by the end of the week - just in time for the next outrage du jour, I'm sure.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Back to Work, Again

Back to work today, more or less - the paying kind, not the around-the-house kind. In the business that I’m in, things don’t get super-crazy until after the first of the year, but because I’m one of the more (ahem) experienced employees in the district, busy season starts a few days early for me. They’re not the most plum assignments, but money’s money, and I have a new car to save up for. 

This year, though, I kind of wish I did have a couple extra days off to finish all the projects I restarted this month. In the midst of cleaning out the craft supply closet yesterday I rediscovered a few more "lost" projects, and not just the ones I was looking for. (Some of those are still missing. Of course.)

Christmas, by the way, was quiet and not unpleasant. Dinner included Rio Grande Pork Roast, Braised Stuffed Flank Steak (aka Bavette Farcie a la Jacques Pepin) and another obscure but tasty gelatin mold/salad. (Mom has a rather large collection of recipes that we joke - only halfheartedly - include ingredients that are now either illegal, or extinct.)

I received money and chocolate, two gifts that are always appropriate, regardless of the season. Vita received several squeaky, crinkly and crunchy things, all now covered in a liberal application of doggy slobber. The beaded Christmas tree was (very) well-received by its recipient.

No new models for me yet; allegedly I am to receive my Logan and Angel today; all the pending charges have now cleared the proper financial instruments. I have also managed, so far, to stay away from the stores and their infernal clearance sales. (One of next year’s resolutions: owning less stuff, period.)

I shouldn’t have bought the Logan and the Angel, even, but they’re exactly the kinds of molds that push my "Buy It Now" button, for better or worse.

The last Kitten was produced in 2003 - Tom Foolery, the XMAS Kitten - and the last Horned Hereford Bull was Buford, a BreyerFest 2000 SR in Gloss Black and White. It’s entirely possible that they had leftover bodies of both of these molds lying around the New Jersey facilities that long. They stopped manufacturing the Proud Arabian Mare in 2002, but they seemed to have a stockpiled enough for them to make an appearance at this year’s Passage to the Pacific Event.

I did read somewhere that the Logans don’t appear to have VIN numbers, which would support that hypothesis. It does make me wonder, though, if we might be seeing the Horned Hereford Bull mold again, perhaps, for BreyerFest. I’d rather be seeing a mule - either the original Balking Mule mold, or Brown Sunshine - in the "nonhorse" role, but I wouldn’t object to another Bull, either.

The reappearance of the Kitten mold is a bit of a puzzle. The only thing I can think of - aside from the fact that they know some of us are crazy enough to buy almost anything - is that it might have been associated in some way with this year’s ASPCA Benefit Set, the one that included the small standing Companion Cat with a very similar paint job.

Ah well, off to bed. I have to try and get myself back to a more "work-compatible" sleep schedule ASAP.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Minority Report

It looks like the there was a particularly vituperative "airing of grievances" on the NAMHSA Yahoo list over the weekend; I won’t call it entertaining, because it’s becoming such a regular and unwelcome thing this time of year. (Like an even less tasty version of fruitcake.)

My opinion on the whys and wherefors probably counts for diddly-squat, since I’m neither a voting member, nor do I attend many shows nowadays.

However, as someone accustomed to being on the outside looking in and someone who is (all too frequently) the voice of the minority on topics in both the real and unreal world (of model horses, silly), I can speak with some authority on that.

There’s a difference between being disagreeable, and "trying to shake things up". One does not need to become the former in order to enact the latter. Sometimes you do - especially when your opponent is being unreasonable or unresponsive - but most of the time you really don’t.

Alas, all too many people in the hobby either do not know the difference, or do not care. Which would not bother me so much, if there were not also hobbyists exploiting that lack of distinction.

Since I am in no mood to talk about it any further, here is a picture that is more in keeping with the more pleasing parts of the season - a French-beaded Christmas Tree!

I made the ornaments and the garland, too; almost everything that went into making it came from my craft stash, except for the wooden base, and a couple extra ounces of seed beads. (FYI: You’ll need at least a half a pound!)

French-beaded plants and flowers aren’t necessarily hard to make, but they are extremely time-consuming. So if you’re contemplating giving them as gifts, whatever you have to pay for them pre-made is probably worth it. Unless you’re daft, cheap, or have a lot of time on your hands in the month of December, like me.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Smash and Grab

So, did we all enjoy our online NPOD last night?

For those few of you who didn’t know, Reeves had a "Vault Sale" at 8 p.m. on Thursday night; the notices for the sale went out around 1 p.m. that day, via e-mail, to all current Collector Club members.

From the description of the sale, it sounded like an online version of the fabled Ninja Pit of Death: "A collection of rare finds, limited editions and more await you behind this door."

I was half expecting some Passage to the Pacific leftovers (Like Thunders, and the Hear Me Roars) and Weather Girl redemption models (she’s been "retired to the vault", you know) and perhaps a surprise glossy or Silver Filigree. None of that showed up, but the following models did:
  • Rubicon $150
  • Silverado $150
  • Moon Warrior $150
  • Auld Lang Syne $175
  • Giselle $250
  • Pamplemousse $70
  • Melange $70
  • Valiant $150
  • Gus $145
  • Chestnut Esprit $300
  • Silver Charm Newsworthy $75
  • Logan - Gloss Red Walking Hereford Bull (40 pieces) $150
  • Angel - Seal Point Tabby Kitten (50 pieces) $150
Not a bad selection! (Well, for most folks. Some people are never happy.)

The last two were Vault exclusives - Logan was a Gloss Red Walking Horned Hereford Bull, and Angel was a Seal Point Tabby Traditional Kitten (aka "The Creepy Meow"). It appears Angel is still available - because hobbyists don’t appreciate the sublime qualities of the Traditional Kitten mold, apparently - but the Bull sold out very, very quickly.

(BTW, am I the only one that thought "Where’s Xavier, Cyclops and Phoenix?")

The Silverado sold out very quickly, too - a little too quickly, I think. Looking at the poll numbers on Blab for the number of people claiming that they got either the Bull or the Silverado - 26 Silverados, and 30+ of the 40 Logans accounted for? - well, color me skeptical that all of those orders will actually go through.

Remember what happened with other white-hot super-limited online specials like Silver Snow? Cancelled orders, and not just a couple of them either. That’s what happens when you have several dozen people pushing the order button at the same time. 

(Wasn’t Silverado deemed to be some sort of horrific failure of execution on Reeves’ part when he was released? Why is he suddenly the "it" model, now? Silly collectors.)

I got a shipment notification on my order today - yes, I caved - but I’m not going to count the Logan and the Angel as "mine" until I actually open the box. (According to the notice, this should happen December 27th.) Except for a small handful of overly eager beavers on MH$P, most people seem to be following that same line of thought.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Peeling Turnips

I’ve been trying to lie low, finish old business and all that, but with limited success. I can only sit still and work for so long to work on a project before I have to get up and do something else for a while, even if it is only washing the dishes or taking out the trash.

Or hopping on the Internet for a few minutes. This I really, really need to stop; not because it’s a time-suck (because it is) but because the hobby has gotten really dark over the past week or so.

It’s been going way beyond the usual carping and moaning; I got a couple pages into the griping on Blab about the 2013 BreyerFest Celebration Horse - Lyle Lovett’s Smart And Shiney - before I decided that peeling and chopping turnips was infinitely more preferable than watching hobbyists do the same with Breyer's latest and greatest.

(I’ve been experimenting with things I’ve been finding on the discount produce rack at the local grocery store. With mixed success.)

I don’t know if it’s Seasonal Affective Disorder, or the events in Connecticut contributing to this, but dang, folks. Log off and go self-medicate with hot chocolate or something. (Probably not turnips, unless you're into that sort of thing.)

As for the hue and cry over a lack of imagination (Another Palomino Smart Chic Olena? The horror!) Y’all do realize that when it comes to living, breathing horses, they’re not quite as variegated as our imagination? And that the owner, in most cases, is the one who gets to make the final decision on what mold gets used?

If you got a problem with it, talk to Mr. Lovett about it.

If anything, this makes me somewhat more hopeful about next year’s BreyerFest. I’ve made no secret of my general dislike of country music, but Lyle Lovett is one of the few modern country artists I don't mind so much. And I love the Smart Chic Olena mold, so no complaints from me, there.

Speaking of palomino paint jobs, it appears that the Marwari mold is getting released in just that color in 2013. Looks nice, but I’ll wait until I see one in person before I buy/order, mostly because it'll give me some time to resolve my space issues.

Also included among the 2013 releases will be a Bay Tobiano Brishen; as for the third 2012 Premier mold, I saw or heard no mention of a new release on the Desatado/Criollo mold, yet, but I imagine that will be coming shortly - sometime around the release of the Traditional Totilas mold, I presume? If not, he'll be a safe bet for a BreyerFest release, I think.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Today is a Good Day to be Distracted

Okay, I really need to stop obsessing over the new Star Trek movie.

I won’t bore you with my theories, except to say that if I’m right, then my NaNoWriMo novel is going to look like Trek fanfic in about six months. Which was not my intent. (If anything, it’s DC Universe fanfic. About a really, really obscure character. But, still!)

It’s not the first time this sort of thing has happened to me, either. One novel I’d been working on for years got trumped by a TV show that was almost identical in concept, right down to the main characters’ first names.

(I’ve since retooled it; last year’s NaNo novel was essentially its prequel.)

On the plus side, it has gotten me thinking about this year's novel again, and how to fix it. This is not necessarily a bad thing, except that it interferes with my "trying to devote the month of December to quilting" endeavor.

Which is also coming along fine, but whatever. Back to horses. Lots of new molds and releases to talk about!

The Brishens are shipping, and from the pictures I’ve seen of them online, he’s even more over the top in person. And I like it. Not enough to go out and get myself a Brishen, because that’s not how I roll, but I’ll definitely be looking into acquiring another production piece. (In a suitably over the top color, I presume. A glossy dappled black sabino would be nice!)

The Horse Crazy Stablemates are out now, too - the translucent ones with the glittery manes and tails. They look like gigantic gummy bears, and I love gummy bears. (Just polished off a bag at a screening of The Hobbit today, in fact. Aside from being a prehistoric nerd, it seemed like a really good day to escape, you know?)

Now that, Reeves, is how you bridge into the "My Little Pony" market segment: realistic horses in completely unrealistic colors. Decorators, you see, were just a few decades ahead of their time.

(Ixnay on flocking and plastic eyeballs, though. I don’t care how much those creepy pink and blue flocked Special Runs from the 1980s are going for nowadays. It's been nearly thirty years, and they still give me nightmares.)

The next newest thing that’s out is a Classics Morab Mare mold, named Mariah. Actually, we’ve known about her for a while, but the first physical pieces are just now hitting the market.

From the photos I’ve seen, she’s not bad; I think what’s turning some people off is the plasticky paint job Reeves released her in, which has been a bit of a problem with a lot of their Classics releases, lately. The colors aren’t necessarily unrealistic, but they’re a bit intense and oversaturated. This is fine on the right molds, and in small doses, but probably not the best way to introduce what’s supposed to be a nominally realistic mold.

Some of the criticism is just the usual "Breyer Bashing" by hobbyists who like to assert (or pretend to) their conformational or anatomical bonafides. Once she comes out in a slightly less intense/more realistic color, I think more hobbyists will see her in a more favorable light.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Working the Portfolio

No Arosa for me. Only entered once, so it wasn’t like I was heavily invested in it. What I did invest in was a small collection (12 pieces) that I bought Monday night for less than the cost of an Arosa.

It’s mostly modern stuff, but it’s all quality; with a little luck, I should be able to recoup most of my investment on it by the end of the year, and clear a "profit" on them sometime early next. I might keep one or two out of the lot, but what I’ll do is just put the ones I’m eyeing at the end of the sales queue and see how the culling is going by then.

As for your little bit of genuine Breyer History, here it is:

At first glance, it appears to be a 1975 Mid-Year flier, but the only "new" items on it are the Stablemates Racehorses - Swaps, Silky Sullivan, Native Dancer and Seabiscuit. What I think it actually is is a sale flier - as in, the items in the flier are on sale at a reduced price, compared to the 1975 Wholesale Price List. The net cost of the Traditional Man o’ War, for instance, is quoted at 2.73 each on the Price List, but at 2.41 on this flier.

(Yeah, yeah, I know, if only…)

The "G1" Stablemates were released in three successive waves throughout 1975, with the four racehorse molds being a part of the scheduled "May 1st Releases", hence the dating.

The other part of those releases were the "Morgan Horse Foal" and "Arabian Horse Foal" sets that, for whatever reason, never came to fruition. They appeared on the 1975 price list, and nowhere else - and not on this flier, either. So they were obviously dropped from the release schedule very, very early on - probably not long after the price list was printed and/or distributed in December 1974/January 1975.

The most interesting thing about the flier isn’t the Stablemates, or the sale prices. Take a closer look at the Dapple Gray Shire:

Holy macaroni, she’s glossy! What the heck?

There are a handful of Gloss Dapple Gray Shires floating around; the story goes that about a half dozen of them were found during the Chicago factory cleanout in the mid-1980s. Why they were made was/is a mystery. I vaguely remember Marney saying something about the last bit of leftover gloss being used up, but that might have been her theory, based on the supposition that they were made much later - after the gloss finish was completely discontinued in the early 1980s.

If they were made ca. 1975, that changes things. My crazy, cockamamie theory is that they were made for THIS particular flier. They might not have had any loose/unpackaged Dapple Shires floating around the plant at the time, so they might have had someone in the painting department paint up a few for the shoot. The person painting them might have assumed that they wanted them painted just like the Old Timer. You know, in gloss.

It’s kinda crazy, and I have no direct proof that that’s the case, but it does make a tiny bit of sense, doesn’t it? More plausible than a bucket of unused gloss just lying about the factory for a few years.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Creme of the Crop

Feeling a bit better today. I’ve gotten some of my flexibility and mobility back - I’m not 100 percent yet, but I can at least play with Vita again the way she likes it - rough and dirty.

(You know - like a typical terrier! So get yer minds out of the gutter.)

I did have a pretty productive week, even if it was spent mostly sitting in front of the teevee. I finished one quilt top, am well on my way towards finishing another, and I figured out what I was doing wrong with my chocolate-covered crème drop recipe.

Oh man, are they awesome. I always suspected the real reason why I was never a big fan of crème drops before was because the store bought ones weren’t fresh enough - and I’m glad to have been proven right. Or maybe not - I can’t stop eating them. Maybe I’ll pawn the surplus on my coworkers at the District Office party on Tuesday ...

The fountain pen auctions ended VERY well. I definitely made the right decision to forego the Buy it Now option. Especially since nothing else sold. (Sigh.) I’ll be listing some new and fresher stuff this week, mostly on MH$P. Money isn’t as big an issue as space right now, so I’ll be more than willing to make a deal on almost anything. I really do need to take the downsizing/herd culling thing seriously, and soon.

When it happens, it's going to be mostly more modern things - you know me and my attachments to  really old and really weird junk. Plus, most of the really old weird junk that I like doesn't sell anyway. (Well, nothing that's more than a month old is selling. But that's nothing new.)

I was going to talk about epistemic closure in the hobby today (can you tell I’ve been cruising the Yahoo Groups archives, again?) but the sugar buzz from the crème drops has put me in too pleasant a mood for that, so here’s a picture of one recent addition to the herd who's not going anywhere:

I like the Cigar mold, but I don’t have a huge number of them because as I've discussed before, they’re shelf-eaters. When I spotted this lovely Sato in the Tuesday Morning about a month ago, though, I was so struck by his shading and detail that he just had to come home with me. I don’t have any place for him right now, but I’m hoping the culling will take care of that problem.

Something more actually history-related next time, promise.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dance Moves

Still hobbling around the house like an old lady. I did manage to run all my errands today, though at several points during the process it did look like I was performing an impromptu dubstep dance routine. Like this, but less cool, and without a DJ:

(What, you thought I listened to that Kid Rock junk, just because we went to the same high school? Feh. Don’t get me started.)

I have also decided that December is going to be a quilting month; if my mobility is going to be limited for the duration, I might as well make the best use of it.

The Winter Web Special is the Missouri Fox Trotter mold in Gloss Gray Blanket Appaloosa with a white mane and tail, named Arosa. Ooh, he’s a tough one for me: I am extremely fond of the Iron Metal Chief mold in general, and the color is very pretty, and reminiscent enough of the St. Louis Blues BreyerFest Raffle model that broke my heart back in 2002.

Nope, gotta control myself. What I really need to do is get back to the ephemera cataloging. I was about 90 percent done with the sorting when the NaNoWriMo happened, so it’ll probably take me a day or two to figure out what I was doing when I semi-abandoned it for the latest attempt at The Great American Novel.

Also, for the record and to clear up any prior confusion, I’ll let you know that it was agreed to that the ephemera was my compensation for my assistance with the sale of the Copenhagen Belgian. It is essentially mine to do with as I please.

As to what will be done with it all, I still haven’t decided. Some of it will be sold on a piece-by-piece basis; there are multiples of certain fliers, for instance, and of early (late 1970s) Just About Horses that simply are not necessary to keep from an historical standpoint.

There are multiples of negatives and transparencies that may or may not be sold; I haven’t been able to determine yet if they are duplicates, or subtly different takes from the same shoot. If they’re different, they stay in the file. If not, they’ll have to go.

I may be contacting Reeves at some point about the dispensation of some of the materials. A lot of it they have, but some of it, I know they don’t. I foresee a conference call or extended e-mail correspondence about it in the near future.

When this future will be I do not know; it probably won’t be until after the start of the New Year. I don’t want to initiate any new business before the old business - financial paperwork, and some ongoing eBay and MH$P sales - is completed. January is also an extremely busy time of the year for the work that I do in the mundane world, so the earliest possible "near future" will be in February.

And speaking of some ongoing business, it appears that a lot of fountain pens that my brother gave me to sell on eBay includes a "rare" and/or desirable piece. I sort of figured it was something good when I got two e-mails about it within an hour of listing it, about relisting it as a "Buy It Now".

Which I didn’t do, because, duh.


It’s reassuring to see that we’re not the only crazy ones out there in collectibles land. Fun too, when it works in your favor.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Paper or Plastic?

Limes were on sale at the grocery store last week, so I decided to make Iced Lime Shortbread Cookies. They definitely needed a day for the lime flavor to infuse: they were good yesterday, but today they’re hide-them-in-the-basement-pantry good.

In other news, I think I injured myself during my marathon writing session. No, it’s not carpal tunnel; I actually take precautions for that. Nope, I pulled a muscle in my ah, hindquarters. Standing and walking, I’m good. It’s the getting in and out of chairs and beds that’s a problem.

Thank goodness I don’t have to get up particularly early for the next week. I do have to get a couple of packages out by tomorrow though, which presents me with an interesting choice. Exhaustion from walking to the post office with two bulky packages in tow, or exhaustion from the strain of getting in and out of my car’s bucket seats? 

Either way, I’ll be burning off those cookie calories.

Another big decision I had to make over the weekend was another variation of the classic conundrum: paper, or plastic?

Actually, it wasn’t that hard of a decision at all: I have a couple dozen models on the floor looking for nonexistent openings on my shelves, and my two sales tubs are full. Any disposable income I have to spend in the next year on the hobby will have to focus on paper (ephemera), not plastic.

I’ll still be going to BreyerFest, subbing to the Vintage Club, and picking up whatever treasures the local fleas and stores present me, but I probably will be seriously cutting back on the extras. Those extras will include Web Specials, special sales and offers, store splurges, or anything that doesn’t have a special personal or historical significance.

While I am very curious to see what the Winter Web Special is this Tuesday, unless it happens to be one of those molds that makes me lose my mind (like a Traditional Man o' War), I’ll probably have to take a pass on it.

To assuage my guilt somewhat, I’ll do my "enter once, and forget about it" strategy, just like with Luna. If I "win" it, I'll deal with the consequences then.

Friday, November 30, 2012

After a Night of Writing, Furiously

So there, ta-dah!

Actually, I’m not that excited about it; basically the story got a little too big to handle too quickly, and like the last time, I ended up dispensing with a lot of plot offstage, this time in some flashbacks and an extended epilogue. And the original beginning I had planned became the end. For now.

I thought it started well, and it’s certainly salvageable. Just…yeah, it's over and done with. I can move on to other projects for a month or two, without the word count guilt.

In celebration, I ate a bunch of curly fries and opened up a couple packages, including my fancy new Prancer:

Nifty! I do find the black reins are a little distracting, the mock overspray a bit silly and overdone, and most Fury/Prancers didn’t come with painted eyewhites (only some of the Black Beauties did).

But unlike the upcoming Retro Release on the Western Pony, this one kinda-sorta looks like something that could have been made back then. Sort of like what a Connoisseur would have looked like if the program existed fifty years ago.

(A Connoisseur Racehorse does make me giggle. I’d probably buy it, too.)

Looking at the snap saddle makes me wish (again) Reeves would institute a spare parts program as a perk of the Collector’s Club or Vintage Club. I think a lot of people would appreciate being able to get replacement hats for their Old Timers, and replacement saddles for their Western Horses/Ponies/Prancers. (And the hats would make excellent keychains. Just saying!)

That’s all you’re getting today: my brain is still totally fried from yesterday’s massive write-a-thon.

I think I’ll go make cookies; I’m thinking something in the shortbread family, but I have a gluten-free chocolate walnut meringue-type thingie that I’ve been itching to try. (Not because I have to, but because I want to. They sound absolutely decadent. I could use a little decadence right now.)  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Another PSA: Fake Glosses

I feel totally yucky today. My back hurts, I have a rash on my hands, I’m absolutely freezing, and I had to work with a couple of real "Debbie Downers" at work yesterday.

(Yeah, I know, the irony.)

The homemade chicken soup I had for lunch helped a little. I’d crawl back to bed if I could, but I have way too much stuff to do today, and no minions to pick up the slack.

You might have heard about yet another Fake Gloss controversy that had been stirring things up on Blab and in the MHHR Yahoo Group. I don’t know enough about the persons or models involved to comment on the specifics of the situation, but there are some good (and repeatable!) points to be made here about the Gloss Finishes in general.

First - and this might come as a bit of a shocker, from me - is that the absence of a Certificate of Authenticity is not necessarily the red flag. Some of the earlier modern Glossies - and some of the random glosses that appear on the shelves, from time to time - don’t have them. And faking a certificate of that sort is easier than faking a Gloss Finish.

That’s not to say they don’t have any value. If a model came with one to begin with, I’d certainly be looking for it, and negotiate accordingly based on its appearance - or absence. It adds to the provenance, which is always a net positive, financially and historically.

Second, as to whether or not an average collector can be fooled by an aftermarket gloss finish: Yes, most definitely. Remember, it’s only the incompetent forgers who get caught. The problem is that incompetent forgers make up the majority, so most hobbyists make the assumption that fakes should be completely obvious in person.

They are not. Any good art historian can tell you that even the best collections have a few questionable items in it. I have a few models myself that I definitely consider iffy. But I’ve also seen models that looked very iffy that were unassailably authentic. There’s a lot of room for error, and even the best of us get fooled from time to time. It happens. There's no shame in making the occasional mistake.

That being said, there are a number of hobbyists - not just newbies, but people who’ve been around a while too, and should know better - who genuinely can’t see even very obvious fakes. Sometimes it’s in self-interest: they paid a lot of money for something, or their reputation would be on the line if it was discovered that they were easily fooled. So whatever issues that might be there get rationalized away.

A lot of the time, though, it’s a matter of them genuinely not knowing what a real gloss looks like. There have been instances when someone’s brought me a "Rare!" Gloss to examine, and they were painfully, obviously faked. As in chunks of newspaper or hair embedded in the gloss, large strange drips in places they shouldn’t be, or deep unnatural yellowing of the gloss itself.

Pointing them out always leads to inevitable mutterings of "I didn’t see that" or "Isn’t that how a gloss is supposed to look?" 

Until Reeves gets its act together and finds a suitable method for minimizing counterfeit glosses (Decals under the gloss? Sparkles in the gloss? A special numbering system?) all we can do is educate ourselves - and others.

Glosses, like Black Test Colors, should always be held to a more rigorous standard of proof.

I understand the temptation, but seriously guys and gals, you know this already: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

My Life is Weird

In spite of all the nonsense and lack of time, I’m still only a few hundred words off the pace of the novel. Not bad. Of course, the office is a complete and total wreck at this point:

My "Black Friday" was pretty quiet. Went to the craft store, got a can of primer with a half off coupon; then I went to the local Salvation Army, bought a few odds and ends (including one of those Traditional-scale Ertl horses) also with the assistance of a coupon.

That was it. I like to save my "standing in line with a crazed mob for hours, in inclement weather" mojo for BreyerFest.

Oh, and I did buy the Pinto Prancer via Reeves’s online Black Friday sale, on Wednesday. I was going to get a Ravel, too, but I turned around, looked at the floor of my office (see above), and decided that was probably not a good idea. But even with the shipping, the Prancer came out ten dollars cheaper than one I could buy locally, so I went for it.

He’s small. I’ll manage to find a place for him somewhere.

I’ve been trying to list things on MHSP and eBay to compensate - and in advance of a possible grail purchase - but I suppose it’ll all depend on how the weekend goes. I already have a few commons up on MHSP - the kind of stuff that’s good for gifting non-hobby or potential-hobby friends. (Hint, hint.)

In addition to all the other stuff I have planned this weekend - like writing, cleaning up the office, finishing up a few stray holiday projects - I also have to "authenticate" (well, more like evaluate and give an opinion on) another potential Breyer rarity this weekend. Unlike the Belgian, this one is coming to meet me, rather than the other way around.

And unlike the Belgian, this one is not going to blow people’s minds in quite the same way, if he is authentic.

I just contemplated that thought a moment longer. How is it that I’m feeling almost blasé about seeing what might be another Chicago-era Test Color/Oddity?

It is on a mold that I am slightly obsessed with, and is something one normally doesn’t see Tests/Oddities on. But I can live without, if need be. I mean, I’m good in the "Chicago-era Test Color/Oddity department".

My life is weird.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Black and White and Red All Over (Again)

I got all caught up on the novel yesterday, but I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with everything else, so I’m probably going to fall a bit behind again. Ah, well.

Lots of news in the Breyer world this week. First up, another Red Pegasus (or Red "Pegassus") has shown up on eBay. It's just as authentic as all of the other Red Pegasusses that have shown up on eBay. Which means, NOT AT ALL.

Sheesh, sometime I feel like I should have a PSA about them, like they do with Smoke Detector batteries, health screenings, or the ones that tell kids not to take candy from strangers.

Listen to your crazy auntie in the basement: bidding on a Red Pegasus is the equivalent of taking candy from strangers.

Just don’t do it, folks.

Some people are anyways, just like they have with all the previous ones, some of whom will absolutely insist on its authenticity, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, and what do I know anyway, because I’m just poor, and jealous, and I don't work for Reeves, or judge or show, and am so unsophisticated that I like to put catsup on my steak …

Fine, whatever.

Next, the Vintage Club is now up for renewal, and the winner of the vote to choose a piece for next year is - the Matte Smoke Five-Gaiter?

Didn’t see that coming. All that online sturm und drang about how matte finishes weren’t vintage enough, and the vote somehow goes to the one selection out of the four that’s NOT glossy?

I kind of figured that the people making the most noise online were the ones who had the weakest understanding of what "vintage" actually meant, but that the voting actually showed some support for that theory is sort of funny.

Still hoping that the Gloss Dapple Gray Man o’ War shows up someplace, though. I want one something bad.

Reeves has also announced a "Live Show Benefit Program" to promote and encourage live showing, especially among youth participants, with a special model - a Black Appaloosa Spirit, named Zuni - as a raffle prize.

Lots of people are jumping up and down at the thought of it, but folks, they’ve tried this before: the Black Proud Arabian Mares from the mid-1980s were also part of a similar program. It’s not something new.

All the rules and stipulations that go along with the program are, though: the show application includes an entire single-spaced page of them, hoping to counter most of the problems that occurred with its previous incarnations and implementations.

The only problem I see with it - aside from the policing - is how they’re going to select the 30-35 qualifying shows. They want to distribute them as fairly an evenly as possible, in terms of geography.

This is an admirable goal, but as anyone whose been in this hobby for more than a couple of weeks knows, some areas have way more shows than others. Plus, they have to go through the additional hoop of being NAMHSA approved.

It’s probably not encouragement enough to get me back into live showing (yet), but I’m not the target audience. I do think the model is super-neat, but that may be because I have been eyeing the Spirit mold lately.

(As I explained before, though, the only one that’s currently in my price range - the Padre - kind of creeps me out. So no Spirits for me, for now.)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Making Up Stories in My Head Again

Here I thought I was doing extra awesome on the novel today - nearly 2000 words, only a couple hundred short of where I "need" to be - and then I realized I forgot something.

The blog, again. Silly me.

So, here’s a picture of another recent indulgence:

A pretty nice Palomino Western Prancing Horse, with sticker. I’d been on the lookout for years for just the "right" one to add to the herd. I was pretty sure he wasn’t it, either, but the price was, and there was something to him, I dunno, that told me it was necessary to buy him anyway.

Once I opened the box, it only took a few minutes to figure out why: he had the USA mold mark.

With the small Blue Ribbon Sticker, too.

According to my research, this shouldn’t happen: small stickers should only appear on models manufactured from ca. 1966 to ca. 1968, and the larger stickers - the ones with the names - should only appear on models manufactured from ca. 1969 through ca. 1970.

The USA mark was added to many (though not all) Breyer molds sometime around 1970, so any model with a USA mark would have a large Blue Ribbon Sticker, if at all.

For the most part, the chronology appears to be holding up. In the occasions when I it has not, it was either a matter of transposition - a sticker had been transplanted from another model - or it was one of those models or finishes where there’s still a lot of fuzziness about the dates. The Family Arabian Foals, for instance, were apparently re-released in Gloss in the later 1960s.

(Why exactly, we’re not sure. ‘Nother story, anyway.)

Looking at the lists I’ve compiled, I did notice some oddities. Some stickers that should, theoretically, be showing up weren’t.

Take the Bucking Bronco: has anyone actually seen a Bucking Bronco with a large version of the Blue Ribbon Sticker? Both the Black and the Bay were manufactured during the necessary time period. The Rearing Stallion, who is more or less the same scale as the Bucking Bronco, came with both versions of the sticker.

And so too, the Western Prancing Horse. Five of the six early Western Prancing Horses (all but the Black Pinto) were manufactured throughout the entire "Blue Ribbon" era, ca. 1966-ca.1970. But I have yet to see any Western Prancing Horses with the large version of the Blue Ribbon Stickers.

It’s possible it’s a sampling error; stickers are fragile, and I certainly haven’t seen every Breyer model in the world, though it feels like it sometimes. But I've been compiling this data for years now. I may now have to concede that the sticker timeline might be slightly more complicated than I thought it was. Some models that could have made the transition to larger stickers may not have.

Why that was we’ll never know for sure, but there are a couple of plausible theories. Some of these molds might have been lower or slower sellers, for whom another sticker order might have been a waste of time and money. With the Western Prancer, it might have been a space issue: it would have been something of a challenge to fit the words "Western Prancing Horse" legibly on a sticker less than an inch in diameter.

It’s possible that this guy is just another case of transposition, and my brain is just concocting fabulous scenarios to make him more interesting to me. But it still hasn’t changed the fact that I haven’t seen a Western Prancing Horse with a large Blue Ribbon Sticker. Anyone out there who can prove me wrong?

(And if you can, is he for sale?)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Back to Reality

No worries: I took a couple days "off" this week to decompress from the Belgian business. One of those days was pressed upon me unwillingly, due to another particularly unpleasant migraine, that I am going to assume was brought on by the crazy week that preceded it.

(All better now. Well, mostly better. Still not caught up on the danged novel.)

I will admit that, at several points during the process, I was sorely tempted to do some sort of back door deal for the Belgian. I imagined building a fancy shrine or pedestal to put him on, like some spectacular ancient artifact in a history museum. Then, if anybody deigned come to my house to view my collection, the highlight of the tour would be me drawing the curtain back to behold this mystery that they dare not speak of…

Mine, mine, all mine. My precious.

Then reality slapped me in the face and brought me out of my Decorator-induced stupor. They had some small inkling that it was worth something. Not only that, this was no ordinary storage locker or Grandma’s Attic find: the history still clung to it, like cobwebs.

No, this was too big a thing to never share. As much as I wanted it (I’m the Breyer History Diva, not the Breyer History Nun) there was no way I could take advantage of this situation. It wasn’t about me feeling guilty (mostly), but of me valuing the story more than the model itself.

If I took advantage of the situation, I would not have been able to share the story - or even have gotten as much of the story that I have. The stories are so much more important to me.

I mean, I love the horses, I really do. But if it comes down to it, I am always going to choose the history over the horse, the knowing over the owning. (Which explains some of the more peculiar things in my collection. Three-legged Test Color FAMs, cigarette humidors, jewelry trays, some spectacularly ill-conceived clocks….)

I made that choice years and years ago, when I first entered the hobby, and stumbled around, trying to find my niche in it.

I couldn’t have them all, I couldn’t afford them all, I couldn’t know it all (as much as I tried) or do it all. Then I decided to follow my natural inclination - histories, and stories - and my niche found me.

Sound so corny, but it’s true. There are nearly 500 blog posts here, it must be so.

Are there more big finds out there, with even bigger stories attached to them?

To put it as simply an succinctly as possible: Yes.

I couldn't tell you when or where, though. And even if I could, sometimes I can't. For now.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Getting It All Done

I am just having the hardest time finding the time and motivation for this year’s NaNoWriMo novel. Even though I technically have what most people would consider to be an ungodly amount of free time on my hands (because of the slow work season), it isn’t, actually.

It’s all nonfrivolous work, none of that "alphabetizing canned vegetables in the pantry" stuff that desperate writers turn to when the words don’t work. It includes, among other things, taking care of a high-maintenance dog, helping a coworker build a web site, helping with the Copenhagen Belgian auction, trying to get my own auctions listed, last minute work assignments, fighting the crowds at the last big rummage sale of the season, sorting and inventorying that paperwork…

Even so, I’m not that far behind - maybe half a day’s quota off. And I really don’t even have to leave the house the next couple of days if I don’t have to, so catching up - or getting ahead of myself - is theoretically possible.

A picture’s worth a thousand words, as the old saw goes, so I offer to everyone a photograph from the archives that truly lives up to it - and which is providing me with some unexpected motivation, as well:

It’s a photo from May 1977, of Chris Hess working in the shop. It’s probably partially "staged" - it was part of a group of photographs taken for the Spring 1977 issue of Just About Horses - but still, take a closer look at everything going on here.

The lumpy blob in his hands is that of the Benji, being prepared for the moldmaking process; on the table and off to the side is a Charolais Bull, possibly being used as a reference point for the Standing Black Angus Bull, which would come out the following year. Multiple photographs and other reference materials cover the table - some for the Black Angus, obviously, but also for the Stud Spider, another late 1977/early 1978 release.

Other photographs in the set show him fiddling around with the molded halves of Stud Spider, and of another project he was working on at the time, which was apparently repairing a crack in the Longhorn Bull mold. Other molds that were making their debut around this time - but not seen in this set of photos - included Tiffany, San Domingo, the Galiceno, and the Rough Coat Stock Horse Foal.

And he had the nearly completely sculpts of the Legionario and the Andalusian Family ready for approvals by January 1978.

"Get" the picture now? The man was busy!

You can understand, then, when it raises my hackles just a tad to see hobbyists dismiss Chris Hess’s work as lightly as they do. In the space of a year and a half, he casted or sculpted nearly a dozen molds, largely by himself, many of which are still staples in the Breyer line today.

Every time I’ve found myself getting discouraged by my work load over the past several days, I look at that picture and think: Get it done, get it done. Find the time, and just get it done.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

In Other News

Is there more to the story of the Copenhagen Belgian?

Yes, but it’ll have to wait until next week. Partly to see what happens with the auction, partly because I’m way behind on everything else, but also because there’s plenty of other model horse news that needs to be attended to.

First, most of you know by now - or should know - that Reeves released/dumped a bunch of warehouse overstock at Tuesday Morning stores and the TJ Maxx/Marshalls chain in the past two weeks. The assortment there included Weather Girls, more Elvis items, Prince Jesters, Satos, Kongs, Stablemates sets, some of the creepy doll sets, the Breast Cancer Bluegrass Bandits, Kripton Senis, Cedrics …

You get the picture. Lots of good stuff.

When I did finally manage to escape my house earlier this week (I think it was Monday night? I can’t remember. NaNoWriMo is melting my brain, again.) I somehow ended up at a couple of Tuesday Mornings. Fortunately I managed to walk away with only a pretty nice Gathering Storm (the 2011 Online Collector’s Choice Big Ben) and a gorgeously shaded Sato, both of whom are currently chilling in the car until the coast is clear.

(Yes, dear readers, I also plead guilty to the "sneaking new horses in the house and pretending they were here all along" ruse.  I did sell a couple things this week, so that sort of makes it okay, right? Right?)

I tried finding a Priefert’s Kong that pleased me enough to take home, but they all either had minor flaws I couldn’t stop staring at, or had paint jobs that were a little too flat black for my tastes.

There were also no Weather Girls in my neck of the woods - all snapped up early, I presume. I was sort of hoping to get another Palomino Weather Girl as an accompaniment to the sample one I picked up at BreyerFest this year, but it looks like that will have to wait.

The second bit of news: yes, I was aware of the Heavy/Resin-filled/Home Decorating Show Breyers that turned up on eBay over the course of the past month. I was even an underbidder on a couple of them, but as you know by now, I was not one of the winners.

That’s what happens when your bank accounts are significantly closer to zero than your competition. Being distracted by the whole Blue Belgian business didn’t help, either. (A most pleasing distraction, at least.)

Make no mistake, it definitely stung - quite a bit, to be honest. I happened to be volunteering at BreyerFest the year that the Home Decorating Show leftovers were sold in the Pit. And with my first shift being first thing Friday morning. At the Help/Information Desk.

Yeah, I had to watch everybody else walk past me into the Ninja Pit.

Torture? You bet. It was the only possible way volunteering could have been made unpleasant for me, outside of being made to dance around in the Pal O’Mine suit. (That year was not good for me for a variety of reasons. The absence of the NPOD shopping experience was a relatively low on the list of grievances, believe it or not.)

With the prices that a couple of those pieces brought - and the added attention - it seems even more unlikely that I’ll be able to smooth that particularly rough-edged memory from my mind.

Not that all of them can, or should be. How else would the world know of pearls?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dropping the Other Shoe

The Copenhagen Belgian is only half of the story. The other half?

The ephemera.

How significant is the estate’s stash? Well, it’s taken me a couple of weeks so far to clean, sort, separate and inventory (so far!) what amounts to a filing cabinet’s worth of papers. I am not exaggerating when I say that I’m seeing things I’ve never seen before, like this backer card for Tiffany:

I always wondered if they were going to sell Tiffany separately, like they did with Benji. Looks like they were planning to!

Most of these papers are from the 1970s and 1980s, and the stuff that’s here is just amazing. Like this photograph from Bob Koberg and Chris Hess’s trip to the Garrison Ranch in January 1978, to get the final approvals for Legionario and the Andalusian Family:

(You all should know who Chris Hess is. Bob Koberg was Breyer’s Sales Manager back then.)

There are fliers, photographs, negatives, transparencies, original artwork, ad slicks, comps…and more. It’s like a dream come true for a history nut like me. Considering the extremely ephemeral nature of some of this ephemera, I’m amazed that it even survived at all.

As of this writing, the dispensation of it is still being worked out. Naturally, I’d like to keep as much of this archive as intact as possible, for the sake of research - and hobby history.

However, while there is a great deal of unique material here, there’s also quite a bit of duplication. I know that there will definitely be some significant interest among my fellow Breyer historians and ephemera dorks in acquiring some of these items for their own personal archives.

But like I said, that’s still being worked out. Selling paper is a slightly different game than selling models. Do we sell them in lots, or on an individual basis? On MH$P, or via eBay?

And if the decision is made to sell them, rather than auction them off, how do we determine value of things that literally have no market history to go by? These are the issues that have been keeping me up nights.

To clarify on the monetary issues: I am not making any money off of this "deal", other than having first dibs on the archive materials, which will all end up in a university archive anyway (eventually).

To make this extra clear: all money from the auctions and/or sales of the models and duplicate ephemera will be going to the estate, not to me.

Let’s be open and honest here: there have been some similar situations in the past (i.e. estates of exceeding interest and value to hobbyists) that were not necessarily handled in the most transparent or equitable way.

In light of the historical significance of the items in this estate, I’ve tried my darndest to make sure everyone involved - both the estate, and hobbyists/buyers - are treated fairly as possible. I made the seller aware of the standards of packaging hobbyists expect - and warned him of the behaviors he was likely to be on the receiving end of.

While I’m fairly certain my conduct was not perfect, I’m hoping that dispersals of future estates are handled more fairly, by example. Just because life’s not fair doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to make hobby life more so.

I will also be up front and say that I did confide in two fellow hobbyists about the contents of the estate from the get-go, and also swore them to the highest secrecy. Neither one of them has received any compensation or favors, other than serving as an outlet for my screamy, exclamation-point-riddled e-mails. If they want to purchase anything from the estate, they’ll have to go through the same channels as everyone else (and me! Darn tooting I’ll be bidding!)

It’s their decision whether or not to out themselves.

Some of my coworkers also heard about all this as it was going down, but the vast majority of them had no idea what I was talking about in the first place. Some of them are vaguely aware of Breyers as a product, but all they know of the hobby is that I go to "my convention" every year and dress up in crazy outfits.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

That One!

Didn’t I tell you it was worth the wait?

Yes, the Copenhagen Belgian is THAT THING - or part of that thing - that I’ve been keeping a secret for the past two months.

Of course he’s real. I’ve seen him in person. I even have pictures of myself with him, though I’m not going to share them with y’all because - well, because I’m not wearing a silly hat or wig in any of them. You should know the rules by now.

I was contacted by the proxy seller - the person selling it on behalf of the estate - at the beginning of September. Let me tell you, that was one of the most mindblowing e-mails I have ever gotten as a consequence of this blog. (And I’ve gotten some pretty wild things in my in box, let me tell you.)

I pretty much started hyperventilating the minute I clicked open the pictures. I also got up out of my chair and started running around my office screaming like a ninny. And swearing.

I mean, seriously, wouldn’t have you? One of the Great Mysteries of Breyer History was found.

This model is legendary. Hobbyists have been wondering about it since it first appeared in Just About Horses back in 1980: Was it a test color? A really rare special run? Something made specifically for a particular client, like the Ford Pinto Family Arabians? Nobody knew.

Well, now I know - and momentarily, all of you will, too.

From my examination of him, and based on the dialog I’ve had with the seller and the estate - I am fairly certain that he’s a vintage test color. The exact date of his manufacture is unknown, but the color and quality of his paint job suggests to me that he is from the 1960s. The color and finish is identical to that of the "regular run" Decorators of the 1960s.

He’s also in darn fine condition, too, with just a few minor issues: slightly yellowed, of course, and faded pinking. Maybe a tiny scuff or two, nothing out of the ordinary for something of this vintage.

Who and how did this estate come by this fabulous treasure? In the interest of discretion - and at the request of the estate - all I can say in public forums such as this (or Blab, or anywhere else) is that it is from the estate of someone formerly associated with the Breyer Molding Company. It was given as a gift - and compensation - for work done on behalf of the company.

You’ve also noticed that the seller has several other models listed, too. These are also a part of the estate, and while not as scream-worthy as the Belgian, they are not without interest to my fellow Breyer historians: I’m pretty sure that many - if not most of them - are early photography samples. Most of them from this photo shoot:

(The 1978 Dealer Catalog/Collector’s Manual, in case you’re blanking.)

I have a sneaking suspicion that the Benjis might be Tests or Preproduction pieces, but again, I wasn’t able to determine that conclusively.

I’ll tell you why I have that suspicion in my next installment, tomorrow. In the meantime, I’ll be fielding your questions on Blab, and Haynet, because they’re a little more suited to the discussion format than the comments section here.

(Note: both the proxy seller and the estate will be lurking, but I’ve been more or less authorized to answer any questions you may have about it.)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

No, Not That One

I’ve had a rough couple of days, so I changed my Nanowrimo subject to something a little more conventional (for Nanowrimo): a science-fiction novel about two genetically-engineered super-soldiers.

The big plus to this project is that it gives me the opportunity to destroy things on an epic scale, with absolutely no real-world consequences. I threw 100 people out of an airplane in the very first chapter. It felt good.

(I’m not a total fiend. Some of them survive.)

I’ll get around to writing my model horse biography, eventually. It just didn’t have enough chaos in it to meet my current therapeutic needs. (On the other hand, there’s no argument with a parrot.)

In other news, both my Lionheart and a little something I bought on eBay recently arrived. Alas, I haven’t had the time to unwrap them yet - I’ve barely been home or awake the past couple of days to do it. Been too busy catching up on other business, and trying to get a little ahead of myself on the novel ahead of the big Sunday Afternoon craziness.

(I also have company coming over. For some completely unrelated business.)

So I suppose some of you have seen that Wedgewood Blue Longhorn Bull on eBay. No, it’s not related in any way to the mysteries I’ve been hinting about, but let’s just say that there are definitely some commonalities.

One thing that’s not surprising about the Bull is that it exists at all: I was always very skeptical about the "They only made two!" story. Almost the small special runs I am aware of from the 1960s came in quantities of five - or more.

I’d love to have him, but there’s no way I can afford him. I’ll just have to hope number four turns up somewhere in the vicinity of my backyard.

And if number five comes along for the ride, all the better. Just to be clear on the point I made in my last post: I have nothing against anyone capitalizing on "free range" finds: if you happen to find a matched set of Wedgewood Blue Fighting Stallions for five buckaroos apiece at the flea market, by all means go for it. I do it all the time. How else do you think I can even afford this gig, on my budget?

It’s just when hobbyists take advantage of items specifically targeted and directly marketed towards other hobbyists is where the squick comes in for me. Remember the stink that came up when those Alpines went up for sale on eBay while people were still desperately trying to get a phone call through to Reeves?

That’s what I’m talking about.

See y’all soon.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Shiny Object to Distract You

Another less substantial one today - nothing to do with Halloween, it’s just my work schedule messing with my non-work schedule, again. Because contrary to what some of yous may believe, what I do here isn’t work. Work pays the bills, blogging doesn’t.

(Not a complaint, just a mere statement of fact.)

Our weather, mercifully, has been not awful. Not good, but a mere shadow of a shadow that hit the East Coast this week.

The only troubling thing I experienced was watching a transformer explode about a mile down the dark and sleet-covered road I was travelling for work yesterday morning. It was already being repaired when I drove back via the same route about nine hours later.

A small programming note - and unrelated to my personal issues with the concept of time - the big "reveal" will be Sunday night, not Saturday. Nothing nefarious going on, really: it was always scheduled for Sunday. It wasn’t until a day or so ago that all parties involved realized that this Sunday was the fourth, not the third. (My excuse: the way my work schedule is, it’s just better/less stressful for me not to look more than two or three days ahead.)

Like everyone else, I got my Glossy Zenyatta Foal, too. Oh my goodness, he’s beautiful:

There’s some variation in the run - some lighter, some darker - and mine’s on the darker side. My certificate says he’s #259 out of 500, but according to the letter included in the box, they were sent out randomly, and not according to order number. As I talked about before - and more experienced hobbyists know - the numbering doesn’t really "mean" anything anyway, outside of the personal meaning any number has for anyone.

Speaking of that letter, Zenyatta’s people did a beautiful job of marketing and packaging the little fellow - not just a letter, packing slip and receipt, but a "Certificate of Authenticity" that doubles as a "Birth Certificate", and a lovely little Thank You/Business Card.

Ah, if only every super-special were so carefully packaged and tailored to hobbyists. We all love our little bits of paper, don’t we?

Even if I hadn’t gotten him this week, I would have known it from all the Foals popping up, well, everywhere. I know I shouldn’t be surprised by it, at all, but it still grates a little.

I’m old school when it comes to very limited or exclusive Special Runs, always will be, I think. My first thought whenever I stumble across one early enough to take advantage of it is: Do I Really Want One? My second thought is Does Anyone I Know Want One?

If the answer is No to both questions, I generally pass, unless it’s so super-cheap that it’s worth the effort to resell. That’s generally the case when I stumble across something at the flea market, though there have been plenty of instances where I’ve let even those good deals go, just because it wasn’t worth the hassle.

I’ll let someone else have the pleasure of a good deal - or the aggravation of trying to resell it.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Novel Idea

I’m feeling a little bit better today. I figured out what I was doing wrong with a recipe I’ve been experimenting with (I wasn’t following it to the letter. Duh.) I found a few more auctions to fantasize about on eBay (for a week, until I inevitably lose them.) And I’m just about ready to wrap up (what wasn’t supposed to be such) a tedious sewing project.

I’ll probably spend most of the next day or two cleaning up some paperwork, prepping some stuff to sell, and working a bit more on that secret thing.

In fact, I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with a few more not-too-obvious clues for you all about it. Here’s what I was able to come up with:
  • I can almost guarantee that it’s going to be something that a big chunk of the online model horse community will be talking about for some time to come. The chunk that’s obsessed with Breyer History, that is.
  • Oh, and it happens to be something I’ve talked about here before, in passing. Not very helpful, especially since that’s nearly 500 posts you’d have to wade through.
In other tangential/self-referential news, I think I might have come up with a sufficiently motivational writing project for November. In light of the events of the past couple of months, this particular notion keeps floating to the surface of my mind: writing a hobby history of myself.

It’ll contain all the crazy stories that I couldn’t otherwise tell here - or the ones I haven’t quite told in full. It’s not necessarily a novel, per se, but some of the stuff I’ve experienced sounds almost fictional - some of you who have seen what I’ve done (and what’s been done to me) know what I’m talking about.

Some of what I want to write down is also potentially libelous, involving people who are no longer with us, either physically or in the hobby proper. So the notion that I could profit from this history in some way - either by self-publishing it, or tailoring it for the larger memoir/autobiographical market - isn’t something I’m even considering at this point. I just want to write it down for the record, so the stories themselves don’t get lost to the ages. Its purpose, more or less, is to basically become another volume to add to my archives.

I don’t necessarily think of myself as a "BNP" in the hobby, or someone who necessarily needs to write an autobiography. Actually, I think everyone at some point should write their own hobby biography - if, for nothing else, to explain to their friends and family why this thing we do means so much to us in the first place.

I just happen to have way more - and way crazier - stories than most. 50,000 words worth, at least.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Lumpy, Bumpy, Scratched and Dinged

Looks like the Lionhearts have shipped this week after all. Which is fine by me, since I lost big on an auction I was bidding on today anyway. I sliced my finger open yesterday while walking the Vita Monster, and I deserve a pony for my suffering, darn it!

(Finger got caught up in the leash just as the Fuzzy Little Ball of Rage happened to spot vermin running across someone’s yard. She's usually pretty good about not taking off like that on her walks; the cooler weather does put a bit of pep in her step, though.)

I didn’t win a Luna, either. I only entered for her once, so it wasn’t like I was heavily invested in winning. Would have been nice, but we have the "Winter"/Black Friday/Cyber Monday Web Special to look forward to in a few weeks, right? (Who shall wear the lovely Silver Filigree coat this year?)

Reeves put up the "official" sneak peeks of some of the 2013 releases yesterday, too, confirming my suspicions about the Vintage Western Pony. Sigh. I’m sure she’ll be quite pretty in person, but the only thing "vintage" about this release is the fact that it’s a Western Pony. She looks more like a glossed 1990s release, almost a "Mini Me" of the Western Horse Royal Te.

If they wanted "Vintage Appaloosa" they could have gone with the Western Prancing Horse Black Splash Spot Leopard, the Performance Horse Roan Semi-Leopard, or even a Glossy Gray Whatever a la the Fighting Stallion or Traditional Mustang (provided they get away from the polka dots that plagued the Harlequins, of course.)

It just feels like Reeves is conceding to the "Glossy = Vintage!" people. Fooey.

You think I’m being a whiner? The online commentary about the Northern Dancer release makes me look like an amateur: you’d think that Reeves just committed a marketing disaster on the same level of "New Coke".

I really do not understand the antagonism in some circles of the hobby over the John Henry mold. Other than the lumpiness - which has been largely remedied - the only great sin I see with the mold is the uninspiring paint jobs he’s come in: Bay, Bay, more Bay, Bay Pinto, Bay Roan. Bleh. (The ELCR releases on Red Dun and Gray did break the pattern a bit, but the point holds: the dude's got a rather limited wardrobe.)

To be fair, some of those Bays are pretty nice. I’m still trying to track down - for a reasonable price - an early "Brindle" Bay John Henry. All the ones I find are either beat to heck, or out of my price range. It didn’t help that he was also a rather unexpectedly popular mold among the younger set at BreyerFest this year. Don’t know why that was, it just was.

(Though nobody saw fit to make an offer on my rather nice Cincinnati. Their loss!)

As with most new Thoroughbred releases, we’re being bombarded with the usual arguments about how This Very Important Race Horse needs - no, DEMANDS! - an entirely new mold of his/her/its own. Anything less is a travesty of justice, yadda yadda blah blah. 

Look, I’m not arguing that a few more nice Thoroughbred molds wouldn’t be appreciated, but we go through this discussion Every. Darn. Time. If Reeves had to create a new mold for every latest and greatest legend in the racing world, they’d be doing nothing but Thoroughbred molds.

I don’t know about you, but I'd rather they get hopping on a new Draft Foal, a more correct Akhal-Teke, and a few more Ponies of the British Sort, first.

On a positive note, I do like the Sergeant Reckless on the Galiceno. That mold deserves more releases, and the chestnut paint job  - what can be seen of it - looks appealing. Might have to make some room on the shelves for that one.

And the sparkly, translucent Stablemates are so full of win, it hurts. Now that’s the kind of "girly" stuff even this self-confessed tomboy can squeal about.

Monday, October 22, 2012

More Whining, and a Test Color

The fact that it is October has finally caught up to me. As some of you may know, October is historically not a good month for me mood wise. The top secret project I’m working on helped carry me through most of the month, but the doldrums finally arrived.

Gotta push myself through it, as always. (A head’s up: there’s going to be some moodiness ahead.)

I’ve been skimming through the Passage to the Pacific stuff, but my heart isn’t all that into it. There are lots of reasons why, and it being October is only one of them.

I’ve expressed this sentiment before, but it bears repeating: a hobby (any activity worth pursuing, really) grows from the bottom up, not the top down.

I’ve always thought - and continue to believe - that the hobby is best served when everyone feels like they can participate, regardless of their income or experience levels.

You can vary your level of participation at an event like BreyerFest, for instance, in ways you cannot at the Exclusive Events. BreyerFest is in a fixed location, with dates planned well in advance, with lower Special Run prices, and requires little advanced planning required for a casual attendee.

These Exclusive Events? Nuh-uh.

If you went to the event and had a good time, good for you. Just be mindful that most of the hobby will never, ever have the time or resources to attend even one of those events. It’s not going to happen for me unless (a) it’s within a reasonable driving distance of my house, or (b) Reeves pays for it.

Which both seem extremely unlikely, at this point. (Though I might add that a tour of my house and my collection might be an attraction for some. Heck, if any of you are in the neighborhood, drop me a line and I’ll do it anyway. Just give me an hour or so to clean up the place.)

And as a reward for putting up with more of my whining, here’s another picture from Marney’s photo album:

Ooh, pretty! I'd definitely take him over the Peacock Fighter any day. More proof, too, that a statement like "don’t trust Black Test Colors" must always come with caveats.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Patching Together

That big project I’m working on is melting my brain, I swear.  I thought I’d take a little breather from it and catch up a bit on my sewing, until I realized what was up next in my quilting queue:

Points, curves AND insets? I might as well be painting a Reverse Dappled Palomino Roan Pintaloosa, sheesh.

(FYI: it’s a variation of a Depression Era pattern called "Imperial Fan". I found a pile of pieces and some templates at the bottom of a box of scraps, and in a not-rare-enough moment of insanity, I thought it’d be a fun reconstruction project. Yeah. No.)

Lots of news to catch up on. Let’s roll.

The talk is now that the Walmart Special Runs that have been turning up in some stores might be some sort of test, or just a regional release. All I know for sure is that very few people have been able to find them, and they’re not in my neck of the woods either.

There are two OTHER Classics Special Run sets turning up at some Mid-States stores that appear to be a continuation of the old Walmart Mesteno/ Mustang series. They’ve been shipping old Walmart overstock of their Mestenos to the "farm store circuit" for a few years now, so I’m guessing that means that's where the series will now carry on; these newest releases have the new Breyer logo, so it’s definitely not older overstock. Unless it is a test/regional thing, too. 

There are no Mid-States nearby, but I do have a local/regional farm store chain nearby that does get a very nice selection of Breyers in around the holidays, so this will be added incentive to stop in the next time I drive by. You know, just in case there are some enhancements to the selection.

(All I REALLY want is that "unreleased" set with the light gray Bronco and the white Wolf. Like everyone else)

The Traditional Totilas mold is being delayed until the beginning of the year. It appears to be more of a legal/technical issue, than one of production. It’s only a few more weeks of waiting, anyway.

The Lionheart Esprits are also delayed, but no explanation (or hints of) have been offered. It’s annoying, but my budget’s doing its end of the year tightening, so I’m okay with that, too.

Pictures of some of the 2013 releases are now floating about, including a new Classic mold, a new release on the Smart Chic Olena, a Vintage release on the Western Pony, and some glittery (!) Stablemates.

(Yay, glittery Stablemates!)

I’m going to wait until there are better pictures of the 2013 releases before I do any detailed commentary on them. I’m happy to see that the Vintage release of the Gloss Bay Pinto Fury this year did well enough to merit continuing the series, but the color they appear to have chosen for the Western Pony - Flaxen Chestnut Appaloosa, with detailed out hooves, mane and tail - strikes me as a little more Modern than Vintage.

I hope the splash spots are a little on the sloppy side, like the old splash spots were.

I’ve been periodically skimming the discussion on the Passage to the Pacific. Once I got a gander at some of the pictures of the SRs - including a Black Tobiano Pinto Galiceno, and another PAM, for crying out loud - I checked myself out of that discussion. The freakouts on MH$P are going to be bad enough to witness.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Can’t Help Myself

So the new Web Special, Luna, glows in the dark? I am intrigued, but since my money is going to be tied up doing other things, I won’t be entering for her. Much.

(Only once. Because the possibility of entering a contest and winning on just one entry appeals to me.)

The concept seems a bit muddled, though, somewhere in the foggy middle ground between "Halloween" and "Fall". That does sort of bother me, a little bit, my fondness for glowy things aside.

Because I just can’t help myself, here are a few more extremely vague clues about the business that's been keeping me up the past couple of nights (and more to come).
  • Things were seen that I had not seen before. (Take a moment to think about the things I have, and the things I’ve seen.)
  • Conversely, things were seen that almost everyone has seen before. ("Everyone" being defined as the kind of people who frequent this joint.)  
  • Although I may "profit" from this venture in the long run, I will not be making any money off of it.
  • All shall be revealed the night of November 3rd.
Back to work!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mystery Date

I just got back from my little road trip. ‘Twas just as awesome as I had hoped.

I can’t tell y’all anything about it just yet. It’s a busy week in the hobby anyway, with the California thing, the Web Special thing, and the Lionheart thing, so I’m sure you’ll find plenty enough to keep yourselves entertained in the meantime.

However, in the spirit of Breyer’s sneak peaks, I’ll give you a teeny-tiny taste of what’s to come:


Saturday, October 13, 2012


I am elbow-deep in paperwork and prep that I need to get done by Sunday for the road trip, so it’s another pretty pony drive by today. This one is a Daytona that I picked up in the NPOD last year:

There were a few other pieces from the Sunshine Celebration that were also made available in the Pit that year, but by the time I made it to that particular corner, Daytona was the last one available.

Not that I’m complaining: he’s beautiful. I am so in love with dark seal bays right now it’s not funny - to the point where I’ve been lingering a little too long over pictures of the Heartland High Tech Hackney, even though I know I shouldn’t.

BTW, don’t get your knickers in a twist over the availability of these models: it seems pretty clear to me that they were a part of the infamous "Sample Room Cleanout" that occurred earlier that year. They were all priced at event retail, too: none of us lucky enough to stumble on these treasures got a "deal" on them. (Other than not having to pay the aftermarket mark-up.)

He - and I’m assuming, all the others - had the same mold marks and backstamps and VIN numbers that the regular production pieces did, so it seems that they may have been pulled from the production run to be used as photography/display/promotional Samples. Normally Samples are made - and shipped - ahead of production, but it may have been a case where they were crunched for time, or felt it wasn’t necessary, adding an extra model or two to everyone’s production run instead (or pulling from the spoilage).

Whether or not there are "true" samples (sans VIN numbers) of said models floating about, I do not know. Probably.

Regardless, this is a classic case where provenance is important.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Long and Winding Roads

FYI - My upcoming road trip (this weekend!) isn’t to Sweden:

There aren’t a lot of Gurdons in the world; in fact, it’s a rare enough name that the chances are fairly high that we’re all related to each other somehow, though I don’t know this guy intersects with our family tree. Our branch appears to be from a little town in Hungary called Borzavár:ár

(Allegedly we’re related to royalty, but if you go back far enough, everyone is. Moot anyway, since there’s nothing left to inherit. Another fun family rumor: either a great, or great-great grandfather was in the Austro-Hungarian cavalry. So maybe I might have inherited something after all.)

Dang it, though, there goes my dream of being the first Gurdon to win a Nobel Prize. Guess I better get cracking on being the second. (Why must I forever be Alydar to someone else’s Affirmed? Bah!)

Maybe I can be the first to win the prize in Literature? I could live with that. I’m now undecided about participating in NaNoWriMo this year, BTW; I have plenty of ideas, but time is definitely going to be an issue.

I suppose I should put a little something model-related in this post, yes? Other than the road trip thingie, my mind hasn’t been on the horses much the past few days. I’ve been checking in and out on Blab, but it seems to be going through another one of those phases where five or six people are posting a lot of giggly nothing every day. I’ll admit I don’t have much of a life, but yeesh. guys. Go bake a cake or rake some leaves, why don’t ya?

I am intrigued, but not overly excited, about the upcoming Web Special, which appears to be something Decorator-y, though it’s not clear what the "theme" is quite yet. Purple, Silver and Blue equals what, exactly? Halloween? Fall? The Presidential Election?

I need to move more horses out, not in. I’m currently on the fence about this fellow, for instance:

This year's pretty porcelain Store Special Killarney!

I only just opened him up this week. In the ensuing hubbub, I sort of forgot he was even here; it also didn’t help that I was a little afraid of him, with me being clumsy and him being porcelain. He’s actually really cute, and I lurve his big ol’ Roman schnozz. I’d certainly be open to having him translated to plastic: he strikes me almost as a more handsome and up-to-date revision of Morganglanz.

Too bad his lackluster sales at BreyerFest probably put a kibosh on that. I think it was the paint job more than anything else: if they had put some minimal pinto markings or a blanket on his behind, fewer would have been left behind.