Friday, September 28, 2012

Shopping Roundup

I suppose all - or most - of you have found out about the latest Special Run surprise - this one being a Gloss version of Zenyatta’s foal, available on her web site. As of my posting this, there still do appear to be some left out of the 500-piece run:

Like Pavlov’s dogs, I salivated right on cue and bought one, too. Dark, chocolately bays have been my weakness of late - and in gloss? I was doomed.

Speaking of shopping…

While I love road trips (I’ll be taking one very soon!) I don’t take much joy in day-to-day driving. Getting stuck in traffic jams makes me wish that automotive engineers would stop trying to coax more horsepower out of smaller engines and just devote their time to finally inventing teleportation technology, dangnabit.

I had to do way too much driving for work this week; the only thing that made it bearable was that it gave me a chance to go to stores in areas I would not normally travel to. I like to multitask, so getting a little research done on the way to or from work? Excellent.

The first store I got to hit this week was the Tractor Supply, to check out their holiday selections. Like last year, it’s all Regular Runs, Holiday merchandise, and possibly a smattering of farm store stuff (those trailer sets cobbled together from factory leftovers.) I did really dig the Holiday Horse "Buena Noche", but I’ll save my natterings about him for sometime closer to the holidays.

And I finally managed to get a really good look at the Padre there: I still don’t have a Spirit mold in my collection, and all the other releases in that mold have prices outside of my comfort zone. However, his HUGE ZOMBIE EYES scared me away. Reminded me of that one Adventure Time episode. You know the one (or should):

I don’t want a scary-looking horse staring at me while I sleep, either.

While I certainly haven’t been to every Walmart within driving distance of my house, I’ve now been to enough to conclude (for now) that they are only a figment of the Internet. Then again, I didn't see of the Mesteno Mustang SRs in these parts, either, so maybe it’s just a regional thing. (Which doesn’t make a lick of sense to me, since Breyers sell really well everywhere else around here.)

Then, just today, I swung by one of my "local" Tuesday Mornings to check out their latest offerings. Some of them received a small (and unadvertised) shipment of Breyer stock, mostly (but not entirely) discontinued Elvis Collection merchandise.

This store had a couple of Kongs and a couple of Bears; I took a modest fancy in one of the Bears, but I managed to escape without him following me home.

I will admit, it was a close call: my other two Bluegrass Bandits have nonrealistic finishes, and the pretty mahogany undertones they put into what would have been an otherwise nondescript matte black paint job were …intriguing.

Nope. Can’t do it. Gotta save the cash for the road trip. (Yes, it’s model horse-related. And yes, it’s something you’ll all hear about, when it all shakes out. No joke guys, it’s big.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Monsters, Monsters from the Id!

(Caution: This post was composed while being very light-headed from an epic nosebleed. Which is nothing serious, BTW, just a consequence of a childhood’s worth of bad allergies. It’s not my blood pressure. No, really, my blood pressure is actually low.)

(Oh. Reader discretion is advised.

My first reaction to the newest Premier Club release, Brishen, was "Wow, that’s a lot of hair. It’s like Othello and Ethereal had a freaky love child."

(Yes, I know they’re both stallion molds, dearies. That’s what the "freaky" is for.)

I don’t dislike it, not at all, but like a lot of folks I am a bit bummed that it’s yet another Big Hairy Stallion. Nothing wrong with Big Hairy Stallions, per se, but sometimes it feels like the gender diversity of Breyer molds is about equal to that of your average Smurf village.

At one point during the latest epic "future of the hobby" thread on Blab a few weeks ago, the observation that our Sire/Dam lists back in the old days were pretty heavy on the Sires, not so much on the Dams.

Horse-obsessed teen and pre-teen girls bragging about the breeding prowess of the multitude of stallions under their stable’s banner? Boy, mental health professionals could have mined those old newletters for a half-dozen research papers, at least.

Thus giving context to my second reaction to Brishen: "About the only think missing from this package is a unicorn’s horn and a pack of cigarettes".

I mean, really. Brishen is like the hobby’s id, made manifest. You know, just like in the movie Forbidden Planet. And not as scary. But the Monster from the Id in the movie was animated by someone from Disney, and Kathleen Moody did work for Disney at one point. So, draw from that whatever you will.

(Okay, that was weird. Even for me.)

Judging from the commentary I’ve seen on the Breyer web site, he seems to be going over fairly well with the same kinds of kids that populated the pages of The Model Horse Shower’s Journal back in the day. Except that most of those kids today like their Big Hairy Stallions with unicorn horns.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that either, but, you know…

(Now going upstairs for a glass of orange juice and a good night’s sleep.)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Crash and Burn

Wonderful. The computer crashed before I had a chance to save the post I was working on for today. Awesome. All that lovely nuance and carefully crafted wordsmithing is now just a pile of unrecoverable bits floating somewhere on the hard drive.

I did make good on my promise to sleep most of my day off away. Aside from the manic work schedule, I think a contracted a bit of whatever unpleasantness was floating around at work. Nothing particularly nasty, it just made me even more tired than I should have had any right to be.

My car was also sick this week, and that was something a little extra sleep couldn’t cure. It’s definitely an incentive to generate a little extra revenue; as long as ol’ Sherman can last another 4 to 6 months, that should be enough time to cultivate a decently-sized down payment - after I’ve finished paying off the bill to keep him running in the first place.

All these model horse commitments I’ve made aren’t going to help, either: aside from Harlequin, there’s also a Lionheart and a Gus on the way, not to mention any Web Specials or other nonsense coming at us over the next few months. (Outside of the Pinto Fury/Prancer, nothing on this year's Discontinue List is begging to be brought home. Thank goodness.)

Like the Mid-States Specials, for instance: a Bay Roan Roxy named "Constellation", and a cute dun Classic Warmblood Mare named "Fawn". Fortunately, there are no Mid-States stores nearby to tempt me. I’m too cheap, and a bit too lazy, to order them online.

(No, seriously. Don’t even think about offering a pick-up or a trade. No room. No money. Not happening.)

There was a bit of a stink on Blab about the fact that a couple of pieces from this year’s Breyerfest auction were rather obviously tests of these two gals. My first reaction was a bit of pride: my intuition about the auction pieces being more "actual test pieces" rather than "factory customs" was right.

My second reaction was Do you people not know what the term "test color" means? It means that they’re testing a color, which also means that they are considering it for production. You shouldn’t be surprised if it does turn up a few months (or years) from now. That is their actual and original function. The fact that they can use them to generate money for charity is just a nice bonus. 

I’d think that finding out your auction piece was a Test Run for an actual production piece would be a huge plus: instead of being some fancy, but ultimately meaningless factory custom, you’d actually have a piece of Breyer History. Like this fella:

Yeah, he’s beat up, dinged up, and on an unfashionable mold, but I wouldn’t trade him for something newer or fancier. He’s quite obviously the test color for the #819 Dan Patch, on the Pacer mold. Why would I?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Well, at least I was somewhere in the ballpark: the fourth Vintage Club release is a Proud Arabian Stallion in Gloss Gray Appaloosa, named Harlequin.

Not exactly what I was expecting, but still cool. And it does look like they absolutely nailed the color this time, with darker gray (not black) legs, and black hooves. The smaller, finer spotting the earliest Gray Appaloosas were known for is also present, a nicely observed point. I don’t have either of the Old Molds (ha!) but I do have a Fighting Stallion of the same vintage with those same sort of spots:

Isn’t he neat? Most Gray Appaloosa Fighters have bigger, sparser and more random spotting patterns, so when of my roommates at an earlier BreyerFest pulled him out of her sales stash, I just had to snag him. He was a little bit pricey (back when) but I thought then - and still do - that he was worth the splurge.

(BTW, it was one of my better roommate years - even if we did break a chair and wasted a lot of toothpaste. And the gossip that year! Good times!)

You see a lot of variation on that release’s paint job, but the fine speckling is definitely on the scarcer side. It’s not something you even see in any of the earliest Breyer ephemera, either, including the 1961 insert pages.

They did get one little detail on Harlequin wrong, though: he has eyewhites, and most Gray Appaloosas back then didn’t. They do show up from time to time - I’ve seen a couple of the Appaloosa Mustangs sporting ‘em - but it’s very unusual, and the prices I’ve seen on those pieces tend to reflect that.

(You know, Reeves, you could solve most of this little issues if you just put me on retainer. A conference call once a month and a test color or two a year? That’d work for me.)

But man, what is it with all of the snarky, backhanded dumping on the Salt and Pepper sets that’s cropping up in the online commentary all of a sudden? The reaction to the set was mostly positive when it came out, aside from the silly argument over color, but now the grouchiness is starting to dominate. Weird.

Must be the change of seasons; everyone at work was on the cranky side, too, even the usually more even-tempered folks. (Me? Too tired to muster up rage about anything. I am so looking forward to my day off on Saturday!)

Sunday, September 16, 2012


I did a little office cleaning yesterday; it feels good to be able to set something on my desk without worrying about something else falling off. And look what I found in the process!

 It’s the warranty certificate that came with that crazy Lucky Ranger Mastercrafters Clock I picked up a couple years ago:

(The discussion of that clock, if you missed it the first time:

The certificate was crumpled up in the bottom of the box when I found it, so I put it in the nearest, biggest and heaviest book I could find to press it flat. And then promptly forgot where it was until yesterday.

(That sort of thing happens just frequently enough that it only moderately bothers me now. I've found that worrying about it doesn’t make the process of finding it go any faster. Whatever I’m looking for always turns up eventually.)

It’s basically the same certificate/warranty that came with most Mastercrafters clocks of the era, if you’re lucky enough to find one. It’s not my most obscure bit of Breyer ephemera (oh, where do I even begin?) but it’s definitely up there.

Now if I could only find that one strippy quilt project I’ve been wanting to work on…

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"By Popular Demand"

The past few days have been crazy stressful, again. The work schedule’s been changing on a daily basis, I’m still working on that Very Important Hobby Matter, and I had a dentist’s appointment today. (I get to keep ‘em another six months, yay!)

Due to the time crunch, I had to put away most of the bodies I was "playing" with. I haven’t lost the need to get all funky and creative, I’ve just moved back to sewing and quilting: when you have to do most of your crafting in your car, sewing is much more practicable than Dremeling. (No, I don’t need to know if there’s an attachment for that.)

One of my newer additions here - part of my latest box lot purchase - is this pretty solid-faced variation of the #105 Chestnut Cantering Welsh Pony:

Even though I seem to have an insanely large number of Cantering Welshies, this is the first solid-faced Chestnut I’ve had the pleasure of owning.

I don’t know why I didn’t see the need for having one before; I remember being very, very obsessed with getting the original bald-faced version of the Chestnut when it was discontinued in 1976. That was a couple of years before I became involved in the hobby, and the only way I could obtain such a rare and valuable creature was to harass my parents into dragging me to every toy store within a reasonable driving distance to our house.

(FYI: Mission accomplished.)

In 1979 Breyer brought her back, "by popular demand". It wasn’t all that unusual a maneuver in the 1970s; the scuttlebutt I heard was that it was done, primarily, to get rid of warehouse backstock. If the initial sales were good enough, they would put the item back into full production.

Such was the case with the Cantering Welsh: not only are most of the later pieces painted differently than the earlier ones - with solid faces and no ribbons - they also sport the "B" mold mark, common on molds from the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The solid-faced Cantering Welsh Ponies are somewhat less common than the bald-faced ones: the bald-faced pieces were available from 1971 through 1976, while the solid-faced ones were available from 1979 through 1981. There’s not a huge difference in the price between the two of them, though, since the demand for the mold isn’t what it used to be.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Newest Member of the Body Box Gang

The two clues for the next Vintage Club release are "Family matters" and "Showcased".  Neither one seems very helpful.

"Showcased" may be referring to the Showcase Collection from the early 1970s, a packaging scheme that included pretty much every equine Breyer being manufactured at the time. And while the first thing that comes to mind with the word "family" is "Family Arabians", it could also refer to the Clydesdale Family (for Dandy?) or the Running Family (for Salt and Pepper?)

See. Unhelpful. Since the Running Stallion was one of the voting choices for next year, and the last release was a two-piece,  I’m leaning towards the Family Arabians, possibly in a straight up Decorator color like Copenhagen or Wedgewood Blue.

The Family Arabians also happened to come in their own unique packaging in the late 1960s. Collectors call it the touchability box, but I wouldn’t put it past Reeves to conflate it with the clear plastic Showcase boxes.

I almost completely missed the mark last time, so make of my guess what you will.

Not much at the flea market again this weekend, but I did rescue this poor old guy, who cost me little more than some couch cushion money:

Chipped ears, nail polished hooves, and lots of rubs in the gray. (But oddly, still snowy white!) He had also apparently been around more than a few flea markets before he hit mine, since the sticker had been on him so long it had left a stain.

Roughed up, used up and left behind? I know the feeling, buddy.

I was going to toss him on my saleslist, but then I decided he’s seen enough of the road. I don’t already have a Gloss Alabaster Fighter, either. I did, once, but stupid me sold it for some reason I can’t remember.

Hobbyists get all bent out of shape hunting down the Sorrels and the Glossy Bays, but forget that the #31 Gloss Alabaster Fighting Stallion is almost as rare: it was only in production (roughly) from 1960/61 through 1962, and replaced in 1963 with the #30 Matte White. For years it was assumed that the Gloss Alabaster was just the early variation of the Matte White, until enough early ephemera (including the 1961 Catalog Insert pages) surfaced to establish that they were, in fact, two separate releases.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Little Bits and Pieces

This is going to be another short one today, folks. I just got caught up in an extremely interesting - and rather involving - model horse matter that’s been sucking up all of my free time over the past couple of days.

(For a number of different reasons, I cannot share any details about it right now. Trust me, though, it’ll be worth the wait.)

The box lot that I got this week was fun! I haven’t completely finished processing it yet, due to the matter above. Another one of the problems I’m encountering is that I thought I’d only be keeping maybe three or four items out of the lot, but that number has now grown to six or seven. (Of course!)

The primary reason I bought the lot is because I’m now going through another one of my Little Bits phases, and the lot had a few that I didn’t, including this lovely little "Rose Chestnut" Morgan, from the Christmas 1989 Parade of Breeds Set:

I do have a complete 1989 set, but it came with a regular run #9050 Light Flaxen Chestnut/Dark Palomino Morgan, rather than the Rose Chestnut one. Those sort of substitutions were not an uncommon thing back then, though it’s unclear in this case if it was accidental or intentional. 

I’m particularly interested in the Little Bits packaging, especially the early carded items. They went through a number of subtle changes over the years, and darn it, I need to figure that chronology out.

Carded Little Bits were also high on my BreyerFest buy list this year, but like the Yellow Mount, I never really got around to seriously looking for them. There were a couple of carded pieces in the lot, but I still have a number of pieces to acquire before I can draw any conclusions.

I can say, though, that I find Richard Lewis’s line art for the Little Bit Unicorn oddly adorable:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

This, That and The Future

Another dry, dull day at the flea market. Box day at the book sale wasn’t a whole lot better: I’ll probably break even, at best. I did pick up some good reading material, though, and upgrade a few old favorites to hardcover status. (Fevre Dream, woot!)

All is not lost on the horse front: I do have a rather large box that’s currently sitting in my office, mostly unpacked. At the price I got it at, it’ll probably be mostly bodies. I don’t care, because the body box is looking pretty bare, too.

(BTW, I am having way too much fun with my pathetic leftover bodies. They’re still pathetic, just in more interesting ways.)

Since I’m a wee bit short on time again today, I’d like to direct you to a Very Important Discussion going on over at the Blab that you should be paying attention to, or at least driving by:

It was a spin off of a discussion involving the Peter Stone Company’s business practices. (To which I can only say: he’s not going to change anything if you keep throwing gobs of money at him. It’s that simple, people.)

The thread’s title is self-explanatory: The future of playing with imaginary horses. It began as a discussion about the YouTube kids, and whether or not they can - or will - integrate into the greater hobby community. It’s turned into a little bit more than that: a bit of history, a bit of philosophy, some grandstanding, and (perhaps a few too many) personal anecdotes.

I know some of you have an aversion to the place, but honestly, it’s the only place where hobbyists can actually have some serious public discussion about topics like this. Facebook makes people dumb, and is populated by people who are either physically, or mentally, about 12 years old. The Breyer web site forums suffer from the same problem as the Facebook page does, and are barely moderated. The Yahoo Groups are moribund little echo chambers, and the format of blogs simply isn’t designed for it.

I try to stay away from politics here, mostly because it’s irrelevant, but the same point I make whenever I discuss politics also applies to all matters relating to the hobby: if you choose not to participate, you have little right to complain. It’s the people who participate in the process who get to make - or change - the rules.

I’ve pretty much stated my piece over there already (I’m AMG there, if that’s not immediately obvious) though I might throw a few more logs on the fire yet, if and when I can.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Not Dun Questing

The book sale was surprisingly low key this year. The overall selection was good, but there weren’t a lot of horse-themed books to be had. I might go back on Monday for the box sale anyway, because they did have lots of vintage astronomy books, another odd and unprofitable obsession of mine.

(I also really like old Botany textbooks, and Latin Grammars. Mostly for the really beautiful illustrations.)

Oh, and just to let you know, I’ve finally made a decision on who gets to be my next official one True Grail, now that I’ve found the Man o’ War of my dreams.

It’s Yellow Mount.

I’ve had many Yellow Mounts over the years, but none of them ever worked out for me. The color wouldn’t be quite right, or there would be condition issues, or the masking would be just a bit too fuzzy for my tastes.

The earliest variation, with the blue ribbon sticker, dorsal stripe, and pinkish hooves would be ideal, of course, but they’re way more difficult to come by than the early Man o’ Wars. It’s been years since I’ve seen one like that up for sale, and the price it went for was definitely not to my liking.

I’d settle for a Presentation Series piece, or a nice Chalky, or even a late example with no forearm spot and dark greyish hooves. I suspect I’ll end up with most of them, by the time the quest runs its course.

All it means in the short term is that I’ll be spending a little extra time ogling Yellow Mount-infested listings on eBay and MH$P. I did have him on my want list for BreyerFest this year, but I was tapped out - of enthusiasm, and money - fairly early.

As I noted above, the earliest Yellow Mounts had dorsal stripes - a subtle acknowledgement of the fact that the real Yellow Mount was actually Red Dun, not Chestnut. Breyer called him a "Chestnut Paint’ right from the get go, though. From the 1970 Collector’s Manual, the year he debuted:

I don’t know if this was a simple mistake, or if Breyer "simplified" the color for the general market. Yeah, the really horse-crazy kids would know what a Red Dun is, but an average consumer has a hard enough time telling a Bay from a Chestnut. It had only been a couple years earlier that Breyer itself had even figured out the difference!

It’s not that big a deal nowadays - in fact, trying to upsell an older mold with an exotic color is all the rage these days. (Remember the "Silver Dapple Dilute Dun" on a more recent release of the Adios, Frappe? Of course you do!)

The Yellow Mount lost his dorsal stripe early on - like so many other early decorating changes, a matter of cost. What’s interesting, though, is that while the Yellow Mounts eventually morphed into a somewhat standard Chestnut, a lot of Breyer Chestnut paint jobs of the 1970s looked more like Red Dun than Chestnut, particularly the Stablemates ones:

Go figure.