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.