Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Back in the Saddle

I've had some modest success on the thrift store circuit over the past few days. No horses worth buying, but I did walk away with a couple of good books, a stack of quilting stencils and a "new" iron. (We go through irons in this house like other people go through disposable pens. Makes no sense to buy them new.)

Actually, it was a bit of a relief that I didn’t find any horses or whatnot. I haven’t had much time to even inventory the sales stuff I got back in December. Plus, I was a bit bummed to find out that the "big ticket" item in that lot turned out to be body quality. I’ll still make money (eventually) but dang it, it’s always something!

Of course, right after I say "they haven’t posted any new news" about BreyerFest, they go and post something on their blog about the live show. Not of direct interest to me, but news, nonetheless.

Although I’ve been something of a critic of the BreyerFest live showing program over the years, I will give Reeves credit for taking the effort to actually promote and recruit that aspect of the hobby, because the hobbyist-based organizations certainly aren’t doing the job.

You got problems with fundraising, volunteering, trust, infrastructure, recruitment and just about everything else, but what’s the big heated debate on NAMHSA-Discussion? How many awards we can give each other at NAN!

Good grief, has anyone in this hobby ever heard the phrase "like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic"? That’s what that is.

It makes all that snide snarking and carping about every move Reeves (or even Peter Stone) makes or doesn’t make seem rather hollow. "Build it, and they will come" is a movie catchphrase, not a legitimate marketing plan.

In other live show related news, there’s actually one of those Liveshow Benefit Program shows (now with Zuni!) within a reasonable driving distance of my house. (Reasonable driving distance = less than three hours one way.)

It actually made me stop and think about attending for about five minutes, until I realized I would not be a very good entrant. Most of my stuff would fall under the banner of collectibility, and well, I could see myself getting into a mess of trouble with that. There’d be the THAT’S NOT GLOSS, THAT’S SEMI-GLOSS, argument, then the THEY MADE MORE THAN 200 BUCKSKIN LADY PHASES, YOU NITWITS discussion, or the THAT’S THE 1988 VERSION OF THE SR, NOT THE 1980 meltdown …

Good grief, I never expected to turn in the model horse world’s version of Rich Morrissey:

(Short version: guy knew everything about comics, and then some. I knew him, slightly, during my APA days. A wonderful font of obscure information, but also sometimes rather intimidating. To me, anyway, a mere dilettante in that field.)

I just got a shipping notice for Commander, so he’s next up on the blog post queue.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Crystal Clarity

I decided to treat my three days off as actual days off. Didn’t get a whole lot done, other than bake some cookies, but I feel a whole lot better. That counts for something, right?

(White Chocolate Macadamia, with coconut and lime. New recipe, and a total keeper.)

Just to clarify my Facebook stance: I am not anti-Facebook. I am non-Facebook. Anyone who has met me in person knows that I am far from antisocial. I just prefer in-person social interaction: it’s harder for people to be fake to you to your actual face. Having a huge bodycount of friends who barely interact with me in a meaningful way? That's what I have model horses for.

And also: I’m not a big fan of the Facebook business model. Privatizing a huge chunk of the Internet, and monetizing people’s personal information on it? No, thanks.

I am far from a Luddite. I was e-mailing people (at work) in the late 1980s, my first computer was a Mac IIsi, and (like so many people) lost a big chunk of myself in the Internet startup boom/bust in the early Aughts.

I only just barely have a cell phone (for emergencies) but that’s mostly because I’ve been phone-phobic most of my life. If I didn’t do a lot of traveling by myself, I might not even have it at all.

Nonconformist? Well, obviously. Anyone who tells me I have to like or do something is going to get some serious pushback.

This probably explains, in part, my indifference to the latest "Equestral Crystalworks" releases Reeves snuck onto their web site recently: miniaturized versions of the Andalusian, the Silver, and Brishen have been added to the line. There’s an extravagantly long thread on Blab where everyone is falling over themselves with how beautiful and awesome they are. If you wish to avoid such effusions, you can go direct to the source:

Am I the only one out in model horse land who’s just not into these things? I am clumsy and break stuff with disturbing ease. I walk into walls, trip over my own feet, and have fallen out of trees, off of bikes, and down several stairwells. If I were any clumsier, I’d qualify for one of those handicap parking stickers.

That I, as yet, have not broken any bones is a miracle and wonder to all, including me.

Miniaturized Breyers, made out of glass? No freaking way, man. My H-Rs make me nervous enough, and most of them are locked up in china cabinets.

Yeah, I’ve had my share of plastic-Breyer-related injuries over the years, but this is someone who once injured herself while reading. If it's in the house, tripping and falling is an eventuality. The fewer (potentially) sharp things, the better.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Certain Lack of Intensity

I’m still not quite up to snuff yet, but I have (what I hope will be) a three-day weekend coming up that should finally give me the chance to reset the internal clock back to Andrea Standard Time.

(Note: AST is about two hours behind any time zone I actually happen to find myself in. But, ironically, I also have a reputation for being early. Not sure how that works, but when it does, it does.)

And getting back to doing normal-person-type things, like going to the bank, opening my mail, and returning phone calls in a timely manner. I did manage to catch up on the e-mails a bit earlier this week, though. (More to follow, if you’re still waiting.)

Shopping, too. I’ve been off my regular thrift/antique/toy store/eBay circuit for nearly a month now, and it’s making me antsy. The positive buzz I’m seeing about the new Palomino Marwari release has me especially curious to see that one "in the flesh". I don’t have a need to buy one right now; I’m good with just looking.

I haven’t been putting much conscious thought into BreyerFest preparations, even though my dream time seems to be obsessed with it - to the point where it might actually be the thing interfering with my efforts to get back to a normal schedule. (OMG I FORGOT MY WALLET. Wake up, cuss to myself, roll over and try to go back to sleep. DID I PACK MY SALE CHINAS? Wake up, again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Urgh.)

I think part of it is because there really hasn’t been all that much new news about it since the info dump at the beginning of the month, and because, duh, that whole country music thing. I’m just not that into it, no matter how hard I try.

And I’m now thinking that maybe I shouldn’t.

There have been some moments over the past couple of weeks where I’ve seriously entertained the notion of doing a completely stress-free BreyerFest this year: no contests, no competitions, no embarrassing and quixotic quests for the rarest or finest. Just pick up the horses, sell stuff out of the room, and socialize.

That’s what we’re all ultimately down there for anyway, right?

And frankly, I’m sort of tired of trying to figure out what it is that judges are looking for. What amuses me and what amuses them are clearly not simpatico, and I probably should just learn to live with it.

The most shocking part is now that I’m thinking that the NPOD might even be a stretch. I know it’s mostly just hot air at this point, but the uptick of interest in the NPOD this year from newbies is starting to unnerve me a bit. That some of them think it’s actually worth skipping out on whatever happens at the hotel on the Thursday night before.

Look, I’m not saying this entirely out of self-interest, but it’s not. Thursday night is probably my favorite time of BreyerFest: the hotel is a beehive of activity and gossip. That's where I get to experience that rare and wonderful sense of truly belonging to something. Even if I don't get myself something, I always get something out of it.

Sitting in a line, in the dark, on the cement, for hours on end, on the chance that you might find something rare and awesome? It’s not as glamorous as it sounds. Sure, you get to do some socializing and gossiping, but with a rather small subset of people, many of whom would be more than willing to impale your foot with a sharpened spork if it means the difference between getting - or not getting - a Silver Filigree Alborozo.

It can be awesome, if you’re prepared for it, and you’re in the right frame of mind. In fact, I’d recommend everyone try it at least once. But I think most first-timers would have better BreyerFest experience if they stuck to the hotel on Thursday night. Like any other high-risk investment, your chances in the Ninja Pit comes with a rather high rate of failure. Not the best way to start out an epic experience for most folks, I think.

And also: if I do decide to go ninja this year, I’m bringing the bullwhip.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Luxury Of ...

My schedule is finally returning to (what I would consider) manageable and/or normal.

The second week of the chaos wouldn’t have been so bad if just about everyone in the district hadn’t come down with some sort of nastiness or another: for a while there I thought I was, literally, going to be the last person left standing.

(A rather high percentage of people I work with, alas, do not believe in things like coats, gloves, hand sanitizers or vaccinations. And don’t even get me started on dental hygiene! Sigh.)

It’s going to take at least a couple days to get my circadian rhythms back to normal, though, so it might be a few more days yet before y’all start hearing from me on an individual basis.

Thankfully, nothing particularly model-horse newsworthy appeared to have happened over the past several days, other than the notice about the Vintage Club Commander shipping. (Note to self: add "need to pay for this ASAP" on list of things-to-do.)

Just because he wasn’t my first choice/voting choice doesn’t mean that I am any less enthused about the prospect of his arrival. I am not one of those mold snobs that only prefers a handful of models, or the sculpts of just one or two mold designers.

There are certain molds and sculptors I like more - or less - than others, but I don’t go out of my way to insult them, or browbeat the aficionados of molds on my "less favored" list. (Well, maybe the Silver, a little. Nearly 30 releases in 10 years? Enough already!)

I’m sure several of you can immediately call to mind certain individuals who seem to have made it their hobby life’s work. They think they are being clever, when in fact they come off as "mean girls".

I’m not saying that they necessarily mean girls in real life - I know for a fact that many of them are not. But so much of who you are is defined by how and by what you choose to express yourself about on the Internet that what you are in "real life" is becoming almost irrelevant nowadays.

(Another reason why I don’t "do" Facebook: I’d like to think of my friends and cohobbyists as something greater - or better - than the sum of the thoughts they express there.)

Some Breyer models are not designed specifically for you, or by you. Some of us have had that luxury, but most of us will not. Buy what you like, don't buy what you don't like. There's no need to stress out over what other people like. Or dislike.

(Yes, I struggle with that, too. We all do.)

I have a fair number of Five-Gaiters. Not a lot of the rare and/or desirable ones - none of the Decorators, no Woodgrain, Alabasters or Tests. Not even an Albino/Alabaster, or a decent Palomino. (Partially melted. Long story!) But I am rather fond of my early, semi-gloss Sorrel with the gigantic eyewhites. Such a purty boy!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Not Being Myself

Missed me? I missed me, too. Schedule issues are continuing to be a problem, though in a slightly different way than before. Alas, I’m going to be (relatively) incommunicado for a few days more.

If you have received an e-mail from me in the past few days, whatever it was, it wasn’t me. It appears that my Google account was spoofed. I’ve already taken all the necessary steps to remedy the problem, with the tiny bit of spare time I had at my disposal today. (Yesterday’s two hour window of "free time" was hogged up by the dog, who insisted on some intense "warm lap" therapy. I’ve missed you too, Vee.)

I probably won’t be able to (genuinely) respond to anyone’s specific questions until the weekend, at the earliest, so anything you get from me before then is also probably not me.

And on top of all that, it looks like I’ll have to add "new desktop computer" to my list of things I’ll be needing to buy in the next few months. There’s been a lot of whining and screeching emanating from my office lately, and for once it ain’t coming from me. 

But, enough of my troubles. Here’s a little gift to assuage the tiny bit of suffering I have inflicted upon you, albeit accidentally: the flier for the 1976 Re-release of the Donkey and Elephant.

It seems silly in retrospect, but for several years the hobby community was a bit mystified by these models. We knew they were from 1976 - the date was on the box - and that they must have had something to do with 1976 being an election year. But that was about it.

The reason why is obvious: we weren’t the target market for them. 1976 was not only an election year, it was also the Nation’s Bicentennial: it seemed like an excellent opportunity to re-market a couple of old regulars for a slightly different clientele - those wanting to express their patriotism via the purchasing of tastefully (or not) themed tchotchkes.

I have a few duplicates of these fliers from the newly acquired archive, but as you might have guessed, it’s going to be a while before I get around to doing something about them.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


I worked nearly 19 hours total on Friday, and nearly 40 over the course of three days. Tired does not even begin to describe how I feel right now. ("Gelatinous" might work.)

I wish they’d get this scheduling issue resolved once and for all. I appreciate the hours and the overtime, but cramming them all in at the end of the week is not cool, especially since it leads entire days off being slept away.

Other than briefly skimming the Internet for breaking news, I haven’t had a whole lot of computer time to myself over those three days. I think that was for the best, considering the lack of sleep put me in a rather, ah, combative state of mind. Didn’t want to start any fights that I’d have to walk away from. What’d be the fun in that?

I did see that Reeves announced what I’m assuming will be the Vintage Club’s "Exclusive Offer" model: the Stretched Morgan in the Performance Horse colorway, named Halo. Yep, the same guy in last year’s group shot photo who was the source of much commentary and speculation.

Some hobbyists are claiming that it’s the second release in the 2013 Vintage Club series, but the wording of the e-mail - that he’s a "Club Exclusive", not a "Release"  - suggests otherwise, to me.

Besides, the two clues given for the second release - "Solid" and "Four on the floor" - don’t quite jibe: there’s nothing about Halo that could be described as "Solid", unless it is a retro/1970s reference to the level of his coolness:

I haven’t given much thought to those clues, by the way. They’re just too vague for me to work with. "Four on the floor" seems to be referencing a standing model (of which there are dozens) and "Solid" could be referring to a solid colorway (likewise).

The first thing that pops in my head is Adios, especially since when I hear "Four on the floor" I think of manual transmissions, street racing and horsepower. A subtle reference to race cars = a subtle reference to racehorses?

Interesting. There’s a Glossy Charcoal Adios, Dapple Gray Man o’ War, and a Gloss Alabaster Quarter Horse Gelding in that group shot: all solid colors, all racehorses. (Okay, the QHG is a bit of a stretch, considering his body type. Close enough.)

I wouldn’t object to any of those guys.

That’s really about the extent of my thinking on the subject, though. Of the three, I think the Charcoal Adios is probably the strongest candidate. A very popular mold, in a very popular vintage color.

Not unlike Halo.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Well, Obviously

My work scheduling issue has been somewhat remedied, if me basically not being home for the rest of the week is "remedied". This is good for my checking account, by not so good for blogging. Or writing. Or sleeping.

(See the timestamp on this posting?)

This is fine, to a degree. The current tone of chatter on the Internet is starting to annoy me again, and this gives me a completely legitimate excuse to be antisocial.

On the other hand, I do actually have some serious model horse business to attend to, and it’s not going to get done any time soon. I need to wrap up my 2012 paperwork, get some color copies made for someone’s collectibility documentation, unpack the big box lot of horses I got in a few weeks ago and get ‘em prepped for sale, and finish the ephemera inventory.

That last task is especially bothering me. The last few scraps - the ones that have so far defied categorization - have been mocking me every time I walk past them in my office downstairs. I’ve been promising myself for the past two weeks that it’d be that "next thing" I’d get wrapped up, but you know how life is, one darn thing after another…

The one advantage to having those unidentifiable bits sitting out and staring me in the face is that it’s helped me finally identify some of them. Take this Glossy 8 x 10 photograph, which seemed so familiar:

It is, of course, the photograph on the original packaging for the Wooden Corral, from late 1982:

Since much of the material I had been sorting was packaging-related stuff from the late 1970s and early 1980s, this sort of thing should have been, I don't know, a little more obvious to me.

It didn’t occur to me until after I had been thinking about the Corral in reference to yet another project I really need to work on. I pulled up the picture above from my files, and all I could mutter to myself was "Boy, do I feel dumb".

As I’ve explained before, this is how history tends to work: most discoveries aren’t about undiscovered objects, they're about previously unrecognized data.

In the grand scheme of things it’s not all that big a deal: big whoop, I found out that I have the original photograph used for the Corral packaging. While it may not be much even in the context of this tiny little sliver of history we obsess over, it’s not nothing, either. It's another tiny piece of the puzzle of Breyer History, now recognized.

Back to work, again. Then another nap. Then more work.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Chewy's Tale

Another short today: just because I’m not technically working doesn’t mean I’m not busy. Plus I’m feeling a little bit of outrage fatigue over, well, everything, and I definitely need to take a break from all that.

So here’s a picture of my Siamese Kitten, the one with the funny story:

His name is "Chewy" because at some point in his life, he was used as a chew toy. It’s not all that bad, really - most of the gnawing occurred on the tail, so careful placement on the shelf renders it out of sight/out of mind, most of the time.

Several years ago I got a wild notion to take a civil service exam. Quite a few people were taking the exam - several hundred, if I’m recalling correctly - so the location of the exam was moved to a local convention center.

At the very same time - in fact, I think it was the day before - someone’s pet lion had allegedly escaped, and had been spotted wandering around the grounds near this center.

I had found it very amusing, initially, because cougars and panthers are something of an urban legend in the metro Detroit area. Every few years, there’s somebody on the news claiming they saw a panther in the woods near their house. Whenever photos or video of said creature are produced, it’s almost always either a case of mistaken identity - someone’s lost Black Lab, or an overfed housecat - or a blurry, unrecognizable smudge.

This time, however, it was no urban legend, or at least it didn’t seem so at the time. I don’t think the lion was ever located, or even confirmed to exist at all. When I got up to go to the convention center that morning, though, we were all still operating under a reasonable suspicion that it might very well be out there.

There was a small outdoor flea market that also operated on the grounds, just coincidentally on the same day of the exam. It’s not one that I went to on a regular basis, because it was a bit out of my way, and not as big (or good!) as my favorite local haunt.

One of the things that annoys me about my local flea market is that some of the dealers there tend to talk big, but flee at the slightest hint of hardship. ("I see a cloud! It’s going to RAIN!") and here were these guys - not a huge group, but a decent number - casually conducting business in spite of the fleetingly small but real threat of a BIG CAT ATTACK.

Ballsy, man. How could I not give them my business?

There were a few things there, but the only thing I found worth buying was the Siamese Kitten. He was in much worse shape even than he appears above - really yellow, and really dirty, like he had been stored in someone’s garage for the past 25 years - but he was only a dollar. It also amused me that of all the things I found at that flea market, at that particularly weird moment of time, was a Breyer Cat!

He cleaned up modestly well, and in spite of running across nicer and less chewed up versions since then, none of them have come with as awesome a rescue story as my Chewy’s. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sitting It Out

Due to some glitch in the inventory company’s own inventory system, I find myself sitting at home for a couple of days this week, without work. During the busiest time of the year, when there’s literally work to be had all day and every day, and everyone (else) is complaining about the massive amounts of overtime they're putting in.

Normally I’d raise a stink because, hello, I don’t get paid to sit at home: no work, no pay. But I decided to turn this liability into an asset, and get some other work done in the meantime.

(Model horse related, mostly.)

The "Consolation" Special Run Bull Colton does appear to be being made specifically to cover the oversells on the Logans at the Vault Sale. I’m not sure if they’re going to make just enough to cover the oversell orders, or exactly the same amount as Logan, or what.

On Reeves’s inventory issues and the Vault Sale, I will speak no further. Not because I have nothing more to say, but because of diminishing returns. There’s no point in making an argument once everyone’s made up their minds.

The other big news this week is that all the BreyerFest 2013 stuff has hit the Breyer web site in a big way. A bunch of different Specials were announced, including a Desatado in Dun, a pretty chestnut pinto Haflinger, and another pinto Nokota Horse (as the Early Bird Special).

One of the Raffle models is the Traditional Totilas in a Star Dapple Gray, which makes about as much sense to the "Denim & Diamonds" theme as the Early Bird Special Stretched Morgan did to last year’s "British Invasion". The paint job looks a little weird, but it's also a not-good photograph of a test piece, so I'm not fretting over it.

There’s going to be another SR "satellite" store, too: one of the Specials available in it will be a Bucking Bronco in a quasi-buckskin color with kerchief-style decals on it. It’s very similar to the Home Decorating Show Paisley Rearing Horses that broke my heart a couple months back. I love the Bucking Bronco mold, so heck yeah, it's on my must-buy list.

The two Store Specials were also announced: a Black Tobiano Pinto Bluegrass Bandit named Lady C, and a pinto Brighty named Tennessee Titan. Titan is similar, but not identical to the still-incredibly-desirable 2005 Fest Special Run Oliver. Judging from the reaction I’ve been seeing to the Brighty, I’m guessing we’re in for another very quick sellout. (Keeping mine, if I get a hold of one.)

They also announced the themes and rules to the contests, and honestly, I just can’t get all that worked up about either one of them right now. I am utterly indifferent to the charms of most country music. I’m more Motown than Hoedown: I like some of the old-timey stuff, bluegrass, yodeling cowboys and stuff like that, but most modern stuff makes my eyes glaze over.

If I can come up with something, I’ll do it, but I just can’t get as emotionally involved as I did last year, where I ended up flaming out rather painfully. (When other people win with your same ideas - not once, but twice in the same year - yeah, you do tend to take it rather personally.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Unresolved Issues

This year’s crop of resolutions includes: buying less stuff (horses and otherwise), eating less sugar, being a little more efficient with my use of time, answering my e-mails/messages in a more timely manner, and reading more.

I’d also like to get caught up on the quilts. I had no idea I started somewhere between 30 and 40 new projects in the past year and half! (They’re not all bed-sized, but when you hit the double-digit mark, size is moot, y’know?)

Since we’re on the subject of unexpectedly bad inventories, today is apparently manure-hits-wind-generating-machine day at Reeves. They just didn’t oversell the Silverados, they oversold them by a lot, judging from the number of cancellations I am hearing about. (A lot of other things were oversold, too, but apparently not quite to the same degree.)

It just occurred to me today that there was a portent of these inventory problems back in July: remember what happened with the 2012 BreyerFest Celebration Horse, Mariah’s Boon? They oversold him, too - the first time ever that that sort of thing ever happened.

Doesn’t look so anomalous, now. (And on another Othello, too!)

I am not belittling anyone’s anger at the situation - anyone who knows me personally knows I can be pretty righteous in defense of my compatriots, even some of the more aggravating ones - but this is one of those rare cases where I do kinda-sorta understand why Reeves is behaving the way that it is.

I’m not saying that the way they are handling it is completely acceptable, or that anyone’s anger is unjustified, but that my personal indignation is tempered by the fact that I’ve seen it happen all too many times before.

Inventorying? It’s my job.

(Have there been instances where I’ve inventoried Breyers? Yes. Very distracting! As are shoes and books. And craft supplies.)

Nobody "loves" doing it, but it’s a necessary part of being in the retail business. If you don’t have the right stock to sell - or too much, or too little - you’ll lose customers, and money. Lose enough of them, and you lose the business, too. End of story.

I have wondered, on many occasions, how Reeves measures their own inventory - is it by overall financial value, or by the value per unit?

From my observation of and participation in the Tent Sale/NPOD at BreyerFest, it appears to me that they may be measuring it financially, rather than by SKU (Stock Keeping Unit). It’s not that they don’t keep track the SKUs sold, it’s that keeping track of the specific items isn’t as important as keeping track of the amount of money their inventory generates as a whole.

In the end, money is money, regardless of the way you count it, but some methods are better than others - depending on the type of stuff you sell, how you sell it, and who you sell it to. Obviously, whatever system Reeves has been using, they need to fix it. ASAP.

(And if they happen to need any assistance in that matter, I’d be more than happy to help, too!)

It appears that Reeves is contacting the customers on the oversold list for Logan and are offering them another SR Bull instead - same mold, in a somewhat different color, named Colton. It’s unclear if this was something that they made to fix the problem, or was another special item for another event, past or present.

The question then becomes - what becomes of the leftovers of this consolation SR? Gah! I don’t need to be thinking about that right now. I need to take a nap before my next two inventories, that’s what.