Monday, April 29, 2013

Crazy Days

Man, another crazy set of days. I just want to go outside and run around the yard like the dog does when she’s in one of her moods. I’m not going to, because the consequences would be inconvenient, at best. I’ve got a lot of work to do in the next several days, and I don’t think they’d let me do it from whatever location they’d send me to if I did.

Anyway, I’ve been given clearance to talk a little about the project I’ve been working on over the past couple of weeks. It’s not related to the Black Family Arabians in any way, so that’s going to have to wait a few more days to be discussed, because the matter I want to talk about today is somewhat time sensitive.

Much debate has been made in hobby circles about what to do with our collections when we are gone, or are past the point of managing and/or enjoying them to their fullest. We fret over the how the dispersal of our plentiful herds will happen, and if it will be done in as careful and meticulous a manner as they were assembled.

I was recently contacted by an old acquaintance who was facing this prospect. She has a rather large and impressive collection, but for a variety of reasons - some related to her health - she decided it was time seriously downsize.

When I mean "seriously" I’m talking about 1000 pieces, give or take.

Ebay, understandably, was not a practical solution to this problem.

The decision was made to send it to an auction house, one that would allow online bidding concurrent with the live auction. The collection would be broken up into discrete lots, and descriptions and notations carefully written to accompany them to assist the auction house. They were familiar with Breyers, and had auctioned some in the past, but nothing of this scale.

The first lots went up, and - well, here’s a link to them and you can observe for yourself:
(Auction house web site direct link. The auction in question is May 10th.)
(Direct link to catalog.)

Things did not go according to plan. This is a hobbyist who took a great deal of care to acquire this collection, and had a very good eye for oddities, variations, or just darn good pieces - in Chicago in the 1980s, so you can just imagine the kinds of stuff she has just from a Breyer standpoint. (There are more than just Breyers involved, but I'm assuming by your presence here that that's what you're looking for.)

Of course, none of this work is visible in the auction listings, which are cursory at best, and oddly focused on the dimensions of boxes, rather than the contents within.

After much phoning and e-mailing, it was decided that I’d come in and help curate the rest of the auctions. This will involve sorting, organizing, matching boxes and sets back together, getting proper descriptions written focusing on the details collectors would actually be interested in, and so on.

In the meantime, the auctions that are running now can’t really be changed, and since I haven’t seen them in person yet, I can’t give you any more details than what I can see myself. All I can say for sure is that there’s good stuff to be had there, and will be in the near future.

I have been given the go ahead to "advertise" these auctions, as they are, from every avenue available to me. This is being done in the hope that it will generate a response enthusiastic enough to catch the auction house’s eye, and perhaps garner a little more respect for the items being auctioned off at a later date.

The ultimate goal of this exercise - other than the dispersal of a collection - is, I hope, to set an example for these kinds of sales and auctions in the future, and allay some very real fears that we all have about the dispensation of our beloved herds.

More on the story, of course, as it develops.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

My New Favorite Thing

I am substantially better than last time, though still not sufficiently up to snuff to tell you why most of what you know about the Black Family Arabians is probably wrong. Next time, really.

In the meantime, here is my new favorite thing in the whole world - a Bentley Sales Company sales list from 1973:

(Click to enlarge. HUGE DISCLAIMER: in case it is unclear, this is a FORTY-year-old price list. NOTHING on here is available for sale anymore, much less at these prices. Strictly being published here for informational/educational purposes only. That’s what the big-huge VOID is for. Got it?)

We have lots of wholesale price lists from that time period - or before - but not a lot of retail price lists, outside of the limited selections available in the Christmas/Holiday catalogs. From what I can remember, the prices here weren’t too far off from what I saw in our local retail establishments.

What’s a wonder to me about this price list is not how low the prices are - that’s a conversation that’s long since lost its probative value to me - but that it managed to survive at all. The Bentley Sales Company was started in 1969, and the earliest flier in my possession I had from them prior to this was from 1977.

Also, it’s another lovely reminder of just how deep "hobby history" really goes: this is a forty-year-old piece of paper. It’s not even the oldest piece of paper in my collection.

It’s still within living memory, it’s true, but that memory is slowly getting swamped by the Internet, and its endless desire for newness and variety. The latest "hot thing" is replaced by the next "hot thing" sometimes within a matter of weeks.

Time moved so much slower, it seems, back then. "Special Runs" were a rarity, and Regular Run models lasting less than two or three years were very unusual.

1973 was also what I call the "Year of the Implosion": lots and lots of molds, models and colors disappeared at the end of it - and some of them haven’t been seen since, like the German Shepherd and the Large Poodle.

Some of it was motivated, undoubtedly, by the Cellulose Acetate shortage (especially the Poodle), but a bigger part of it was simply a desire to modernize the line. So it was time to say goodbye to most of the Family Arabians, the last of the Woodgrains, and other slower-selling odds and ends like the Kitten.

And to say hello to newly-created in-house molds like the Performance Horse, El Pastor, and the Charolais Bull, and newly-leased molds from Hagen-Renaker, comprising most of the Classics and (then) all of the Stablemates lines. Just for starters.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Oh, The Things I See

Something short and rambly today, since I haven’t gotten any appreciable sleep since, oh, Sunday? (Scheduling issues, again. Not just me, but everybody.)

The special project/secret mission/road trip is kinda on hold for a week. Don’t worry, it’s still a go, and you’ll get all the details about it, in good time. A few weeks ago telling myself that I was ready for a new adventure. Silly me, not expecting the Universe to actually honor one of my wishes, for once…

I am aware of the Chalky Dapple Gray Shire on eBay, and I might have some interesting news to share about that particular topic in the not-too-distant future.

Yes, I’ve seen those prototypes on eBay, too. The sound you hear in the background is my check book laughing at me. Not enough money + slow computer + even slower Internet connection = no prototypes for you!

I have also seen those New Jersey cull lots. Culls, I have plenty of, so those I am not muttering to myself about.

I am a bit shocked at some of the prices they’re bringing, since I can remember being able to buy ‘em for 5-6 bucks back in the good old days, when they were little more than remaking fodder. We laughed - really, we did - at the thought that people would pay a lot for them in the future.

Not because we thought they were worthless, but because they were so plentiful at the time, and cheap. We did assume that they were going to go up. Mostly because we had been told that Reeves would put a tighter cap on factory escapees. Fewer culls = increased rarity, and all that jazz.

So funny, I know. I’ve heard the stories, too - about the New Jersey dumpsters being trashpicked, and truckloads of bodies being "rerouted" to the flea market, and not the landfill. The only thing that truly stopped that from happening was moving production overseas. And not having too many crazy hobbyists living within a reasonable driving distance of China.

In spite of that, I do think there’s probably an upper limit to the pricing on culls: there still are a lot of them out there - in and out of collector hands. They’re not everybody’s cup of tea, either. They were discarded for a reason: otherwise unpainted horses with some paint spritzed or splashed on it are not always very attractive.

Most hobbyists like their horses "finished" in some way - even if it’s just a pure, solid color or a faux "stone" or "fantasy" finish.

With that thought in mind, here is a picture that gives you a hint of what I’ll be talking about next time. It’s a topic I touched briefly on Blab, but I’ll elaborate on it here in greater detail, after a night or two of more restful sleep:

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Funny Story, Because We Need It

I’m currently in the middle of making cookies (dough’s chilling in the fridge) because it was that kind of week. The kind that really needs no explanation.

As this week has demonstrated, every day you wake up, everything you think you know about the world could be completely turned on its head. It was the "every day, for a week" part that finally made me retreat to the kitchen.

(Raspberry Jam Thumbprints. New recipe, looks good. Taking them to work Monday morning, because it looks like a rough week ahead too, and cookies always help.)

The next "big thing" that I’m working on will have to wait a little longer to be revealed, since it now appears that a road trip might be involved. All I can say about it at this point is that it is (a) model horse related, (b) involves some hobby history type stuff, and (c) more people will be able to participate.

And also: no Decorator Belgian will be involved. I think.

Some follow up posts about will also be involved, but more about the philosophical issues related to it than the actual history-and-minutiae part. But there might be some of that, too; I’m just not sure about the status of the whole situation either, at this point.

Trying to think of happier thoughts…

The flea market opens tomorrow! It’s going to be cold as heck, but as long as it isn’t windy and isn’t snowing, I’ll be there. Don’t care if I’ll find anything, though a body or two would be nice. Maybe some minis, too.

In honor of "opening day", I’ll relate that funny story about the Hagen-Renaker Cutting Horse. It’s not directly Breyer-related, but I think many of you will relate, nonetheless. It’s a little long, but it’s got a great finish.

I don’t go out of my way to collect H-Rs or chinas of any kind, but if the opportunity arises, I’m going to take it. (A nearly perfect Glossy Brown Heather, for ten bucks? SOLD!) Alas, the area I live in was once populated by some China-collecting hobby titans so those opportunities, until recently, were relatively rare.

One day, about twenty years ago, a very peculiar character came to the flea market. If you’ve heard or read my stories before about my flea marketing adventures, you know that it takes a certain level of oddness to stand out in the crowds that hang out in my particular haunts.

Anyway, this lady had a large assortment of vintage china pieces from the 1950s and 1960s on her table, including some Hagen-Renakers. Everything was in various states of disrepair - minor things like glaze flakes, major things like leg breaks - and contained in those little plastic containers that bakeries use to house cake and pie slices. And all the really noticeable damage? Touched up, very sloppily, with what looked like housepaint.

Yeah, really.

I managed to buy a few H-R dogs from her, including the beautiful Weimaraner Blue Boy. She explained to me that she had a gift shop back then, and that Hagen-Renakers were "very good quality", and "very expensive, at the time". Sensing my opportunity, I mentioned to her that I mainly collected horses. "Oh, I have some of those too. They’re all broken, though."

She then described that she had one with a Cowboy on it, and that’s when I almost lost my cool. Dang, she’s got a Cutter. I still hadn’t acquired any Monrovia H-R horses at that point, and good gravy, a Cutting Horse and Cowboy was almost within my reach!

I told her that one sounded especially neat, and I would love to have it.

"It has a broken leg, though. You wouldn’t want the broken ones."

I know, it didn't make a lick of sense, since I had just bought a bunch of broken dogs from her. I guess she thought the housepaint and rubber cement she used counted as "professional restoration" or something.

I then proceeded to explain to her that I didn’t care. I’d take whatever she had, broken or not. Didn’t even have to have all the parts or anything. I just liked horses.

She then told me she had plastic ones, too. From a business trip she took to New York City, once.

You think I almost lost it before? That’s when I had to bite my tongue to keep myself from hyperventilating. "Oh, I’d be interested in those, too."

It took me a while to convince her I was serious. Her clearly exasperated husband was in the background, shaking his head and muttering to himself. From the contents - and condition - of the van they traveled in, they had a lot of stuff to get rid of. (This was well before the TV shows about hoarders, but I was already familiar with the type.)

She promised to get back in contact with me. I haunted the flea market for weeks afterwards, but it was a considerable length of time before I saw them again.

I was excited when I did, though the length of time that had passed had disturbed me, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that (a) she barely remembered me, and (b) then told me that she had sold the entire collection for a considerable sum to someone else.

I was too mad to continue shopping, so I went straight home after that.

All that effort, and someone else profited.
I had my suspicions who, but what could I do? I had done everything I could have done. She had taken a sampling of her nonhorse H-Rs to another flea market, and someone else had the same conversation I did. They just happened to catch her during a more lucid - or more desperate - moment, and succeeded where I had failed.

It still bugged me for years because … well, because. I don’t think I need to explain that to you guys. Most of you have been down that road.

Anyway, several years later, I was ferrying another local hobbyist down to BreyerFest with me. She needed a ride, and I liked the company. She was a little bit more of a Chinahead than me, but I know enough about "Clinkies" to hold my own on the topic. The commute was wonderful: the hours flew by like minutes, and involved a hilarious stop at the "World’s Most Redneck McDonald’s", but that’s whole 'nother story.

So we were in the middle of Ohio, regaling each other with some of our most interesting flea market adventures, when she started talking about this time that she picked up some H-Rs from this really weird old lady. With a totally trashed van, and the models were touched up with gloppy paint…

My jaw dropped. I turned to her and said. "Oh. My. God. You have my Cutter!"

I told her my story.

Then we laughed. Because it turned out, she did.

She hadn’t been one of my "suspects" and enough time had passed that the story had become more wistful than painful. And now it had become hilariously absurd.

As "big" as the hobby gets, it’s still so very small and intimate. It was a lovely reminder of that.

So, now you know why that Cutting Horse was so big a deal to me.

I picked up the Steer that goes with it a few years ago, so I know I’m gonna catch up with one sooner or later. I doubt the ending will be half as funny as the rest of the story, but who knows? The world could go all upside down tomorrow, again. I'll just have to roll with it, and see where it takes me.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

More BreyerFest 2013 Releases

I did get the Vintage Club "Ephemera Extra" the other day: it IS the 1961 Duotone Catalog Insert pages that most of you should be at least vaguely familiar with. And which was used as one of the illos in my original article.

I’ll work around it. As for any further commentary on the Extra itself, I’ll leave to private communications. (Nothing racy, just unduly speculative.)

Reeves also released photos of three more BreyerFest releases - a Decorator Blue Bandana Bucking Bronco named Rock-a-Billy for the Boots & Bling Store, a Decorator Blue Overo Pinto Lady Phase named Twill, and a "new" Moody Iberian Horse named Laredo, who’s pretty over the top - even for a Moody. He’s apparently a reworked Brishen, with multiple swapped out parts, so he's only partly new.

I’ll reserve my final judgement on him (as always) until I see one in person. There are a few photos of a sample from Equine Affaire last weekend, but they’re taken at a weird and difficult to judge from angle.

I’m also going to assume - until the artist issues a statement otherwise - that the increasing over-the-topness may be a Reeves directive/suggestion, and not artistic derangement/degredation, as some people seem to be suggesting.

Wild, crazy horses with big hair sell better - not to us, maybe, but definitely to the rest of the world. Anatomical realism? Not as much as we might think, outside the live showing niche.

As for as much attention as they lavish on us, we have to be reminded of this simple fact: we are not the center of Reeves’ universe, or at least as much they are of ours.

The front leg does bother me a bit, but I think it’s more because I’m used to Breyer molds having abnormally short raised forelegs, like the Western Prancing Horse, the Running Stallion, the Belgian... It’s almost like an artistic marker/tic for Chris Hess’s work, the more I think about it. It makes me wonder if it was also related to any molding issues.

I suspect that Laredo’s funky foreleg may be the victim of a similar problem, though from the opposite direction: instead of erring on the side of caution, I have a feeling that Reeves is pushing the molding technology a little bit too close to the edge of what’s possible.

I do like his hair. And the paint job is very pretty. Like some commenters have been saying, I think some of the people making yucky faces over him now may be swooning over him in the future, once they get to know him.

Or not. He’s not really designed for "us", anyway.

Twill was the one who finally pushed me over the line in ordering another BreyerFest ticket, though. Not because I’m a huge Lady Phase fan, but because she’s painted to resemble denim - like the Fighting Stallion centerpiece for the original "Denim and Diamonds" Exclusive Event in Texas.

With overo pinto marking that look like (to me!) holes ripped into those jeans. Which, duh, obviously means something to me, in light of recent events: if I manage to snag one, she is so going to be called "Vita’s Fault". (She was a bad girl again, yesterday, though not for me.)

Lest you think we’re running out of surprises, other models we can still speculate about include: the Stablemates One-Days, the Live Show prizes, the second day Raffle horse, the Volunteer Model, all of the Auction pieces, and possibly a few more Store Specials.

And who’s going to be the Glossy/Matte Half and Half SR. Because if they’re doing a Gambler’s Choice model, they’re doing a Half and Half. (My current bet? The Haflinger Buckaroo.)

Next up: another "secret" project, you say?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Rest of the APH Story

You know, you can get a lot of work done if you’re pretty much stuck to a chair all day, in front of a computer that doesn’t like playing YouTube videos. My knees look worse, feel better, and bending is still a challenge.

So anyway, back to the Performance Horse stuff. There’s not a lot more that needs to be said, but it still needs to be, nevertheless.

As I casually mentioned before, the earliest releases of the Appaloosa Performance Horse were true Basecoat Chalkies. This makes sense: he was introduced in 1974, right in the middle of the "Chalky Era", roughly 1973-1975. As a new mold in a daring and complicated new paint job, demand and production were both undoubtedly high.

Consequently, of all the documented Chalkies from that time period, the Appaloosa Performance Horse is among the commonest and easiest to find. A nice one will still set you back somewhere in the $25-50 range, but he’s not as pricey as a Misty, or most of the non-Palomino Family Arabians.

It took me a while to finally acquire even an ordinary Appaloosa Performance Horse. It wasn’t for a lack of desire: for some reason, Santa never seemed to see his name on my Christmas List. I suspected that Dad - who took a bit of a personal interest in that particular bit of holiday shopping - was not all that into Appaloosas, instead picking items from where our tastes overlapped: Draft Horses, and Racehorses.

(Draft Horses because his Grandfather had Belgians on his farm, and Racehorses because he idolized Native Dancer, as a kid.)

There is surprisingly little variation seen in the Performance Horse’s paint job, outside of the Chalky/Nonchalky thing: some are a little lighter, and some a little darker, but that’s about it. There are some Performance Horses without the two "topline" spots - the one near the base of the tail, and near the withers. These two spots weren’t masked like the other spots, and had to be added on slightly later in production - and sometimes got missed in the process.

I don’t have one of those variations, yet. He’s been a low-priority want, for a while. It’s one of those things where I keep hoping I’ll find one locally, but most of the APH variations I’ve found recently have been of the Chalky type.

It’s one of those rare instances where finding a Chalky is more annoying than exciting: darn it, have that one already. I never pass them up: they do make a profitable little addition to the sales list, especially nowadays.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dinged and Scuffed

I took the Vita Monster for a walk earlier this afternoon, and we had an incident at the park with a bird that left me with two extremely scuffed and bloodied knees. So I’m now hobbling around the house in a moderate bit of pain. It’s not quite bad enough for hospitalization, but it’s bad enough that I don’t plan on leaving the house - and possibly, this chair - for the rest of the evening.

I don’t have to go back to work until Sunday afternoon, so no work will be lost. I did lose my favorite pair of jeans in the incident, though. (Not literally - they’re just unwearable now.)

So it’s just some housekeeping today.

I was stupid and procrastinated, so there is also no live show for me this weekend. To compensate, I took some of my frustration out on my body box. It’s also serving as an outlet for my archiving woes: I've been attempting to archive some of my recently acquired ephemera, but it’s going dreadfully slow. Props to the librarians and historians who actually do that work for a living, and not (only) for fun. You guys rock.

Someone has noticed the Modernistic Buck in the recent post about the Mules. I do plan on (someday, soon, I hope) rewriting and serializing the article about the Modernistic Buck and Doe that I did for my Sampler a few years back. It’s definitely the kind of information that needs to be here, especially now that Reeves is sending out a copy of the Buck and Doe’s "catalog" page as one of the Vintage Club extras.

I haven’t gotten mine yet, so I don’t know if it’s the one I already have in my collection, or something altogether different. The "no reproducing this on pain of death" disclaimer that was on the last ephemera freebie is also supposedly printed on it, so that might present some interesting legal issues if it is one of the same images I used in the article.

Speaking of Vintage Club business, it looks like I might be returning my Halo. Everything is awesome about him, except for one thing: they forgot to paint his eyeballs. I’m just as big a fan of variations as the rest of you, but frankly, his Zombie Death Stare is starting to weird me out. Maybe if I ask real nice they’ll throw in some eyewhites for free? The original APH didn’t have them, but the original releases of the APH were also (mostly) Chalky, and the Halo is not.

It’s only flaw I can see in him, which is a nutpicky one at best. Other than the Zombie Death Stare. (Hmm. Though that could work for a name...)

I’ll finish up with the APH stuff next time, when I’m able to bend at the knees again.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

APH: Back to the Source

Scheduling problems, again. Everything I need to get done this week (work and nonwork) is taking too darn long to do.

Instead of weighing in on the pros and cons of Halo, I will focus on the inspiration for him, the original Appaloosa Performance Horse:

The APH was born out of Breyer’s experimentation in the late 1960s and early 1970s with more realistic paint jobs, per collector request. This experimentation also gave rise to the "Resist" Dapple Grays, more precise masking techniques, and (believe it or not) the now-beloved "Freckle" Red Roans.

Unlike the rest, the Performance Horse’s paint job was uniquely his own: it wasn’t seen on an Regular Run or Special Run release until last year’s Vintage Club Stablemates Eagle - and now, on Halo.

There are a small number of Test Colors with this paint job, most famously the Proud Arabian Stallion that is the grail model of so many. A Classic Quarter Horse Mare showed up on eBay a few years ago, and I know of an Adios in private hands. There may be others, too: it was a complicated paint job for its time, and it undoubtedly took some time to perfect.

(In case you were wondering: I don’t have a photo of that Adios, but he’s just as beautiful as you can imagine. And no, it’s neither mine, nor is it for sale. He just is.)

I know I’ve seen in some parts a bit of eyebrow-raising over the use of the Stretched Morgan mold with this color, since it is obviously not a traditional (or even untraditional) Morgan Horse color.

I tend to look at it from an historical perspective: Breyer was never one to let breed standards get in the way of pairing up molds and colors. Palomino Arabians? Not a problem. Have a Standardbred stand in for a Paint Horse? Also, not a problem.

And any light skimming of the live horse classifieds (and live show documentation) will reveal plenty of seemingly inappropriate or bizarre real-life outcrosses, planned or otherwise. Mostly otherwise, but you know some breeders and their "designer" crosses. (Not saying that I approve, just that they, like the APH Adios, do exist.)

So a wild Appaloosa paint job on a Morgan mold is entirely consistent with the Vintage Club aesthetic, and not a huge hurdle for the live shower to overcome. Though I’d be fine with an APH-colored release on just about anything, really. Belgian, Pacer, Lady Roxana …

While it is often said that a good horse can come in any color, in the model horse world the truism is slightly different: a good color can sell on any horse. Well, almost any: I can’t imagine a huge market for an APH-colored Lady Roxana, other than me. (She’d look fabulous next to my imaginary FAS Yellow Man o' War! And my not-imaginary FAMs. Yes, I have more than one.)

Since work ran rather late today - and I’ll be heading out the door again here in a few minutes - I’ll finish up my thoughts on the Appaloosa Performance Horse mold, and color, next time.

Friday, April 5, 2013

My Three Mules

My day did not start out as well as I hoped.

I had planned to go to a somewhat-local estate sale that had horse-shaped objects, but morning came with a migraine that did not subside until about noon. (You’ve elude me yet again, Hagen-Renaker Cutter! You can’t keep running from me forever.)

(Long story. Funny one, though.)

When I was feeling good enough to get out of bed and get some other work done, I logged onto the Internet to catch up on the news, and found out about the passing of both Roger Ebert and Carmine Infantino. (I never met Roger Ebert, but I did meet Carmine Infantino once. Another long and funny story.)

I seriously thought about crawling back to bed and just forgetting about the day entirely, but then I realized I’d be leaving you guys hanging for yet another day on the Balking Mules. So here they are, in situ:

I used to have quite a few variations of everything in my herd, but I was running out of room real quick, so I pared them down to ones that (a) I really, really liked, (b) had some historical significance, or (c) came with an interesting backstory. The Mules, obviously, fell under (c).

And a little bit of (b), too. Like most Breyer models in the 1960s and through most of the 1970s, they were designed to come in both "lighter" and "darker" colors, to minimize culls. The lighter-colored ones would get painted first during a production run, and any that were messed up would get painted over with the darker paint job, if possible.

The painter that I talked to - one who had worked at the Chicago factory from the early days, forward - told me that the Balking Mules "lighter" and "darker" colors were going to be Chestnut and Seal Brown. She didn’t know why they switched the Chestnut to Bay, especially since the colors were not all that different.

So similar, in fact, that sometimes it’s difficult to determine where a "dark" variation of a Bay ends and a "light" variation of a Seal Brown begins.

Every once and a while I'll run across Mules that are on the very light end of the Bay spectrum, and make me wonder if that particular painter had anything to do with it. Probably not, but it’s still fun to imagine her tweaking somebody’s nose at the factory about that decision.

It didn’t occur to me to ask her what kind of Chestnut the Balking Mule was supposed to be. Flaxen Chestnut, like the Belgian? "Chocolate Milk" Sorrel, like the Five-Gaiter? Or more Red Chestnut, like the Man o’ War?

A few years later, we did get a Special Run of the Mule in the Five-Gaiter Sorrel color, as a part of the Black Horse Ranch set. That I have, along with all of the other Balking Mules, save for the Gloss Charcoal (never got around to it) and the Raffle Model Cactus (didn’t win, can’t afford.) No test colors, either, but considering that the mold was out of production for over twenty years, their scarcity shouldn't be too surprising.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Easter was a bit of a bust, here: chaos, burnt food, and the dog being naughty. Then I had to get to get up for work today at 2:30 a.m. - something I don’t normally do unless horses are involved, and they weren’t. (Tomorrow, maybe.)

Halo did arrive today, but I only just opened the Moose Ghost yesterday, so I think I can wait a day or two, to enjoy him all by his lonesome. He really is as nice as everyone says he is, with just a hint of that iridescent sparkle in the gloss they’ve been experimenting with since last BreyerFest (on the Mariah’s Boon, and the Bell-bottomed Shire Cheerio.)

My BreyerFest ticket also arrived late last week. So far, so good: no ticket trade needed, yet. Unless I find something fabulous and inspiring at the flea market this year, I am forgoing the costume contest this year: the rule changes are still a bit too vague for my liking, and I’d rather minimize the exhaustion and inevitable heartbreak if I can.

I’ve also only committed to one ticket so far: I just finished last year’s inventory paperwork, and well, ouch. Fortunately, most of the models I’m interested in so far aren’t time ticket specific: the Store Special Pinto Brighty, the Other Store Special Bucking Bronco, and the actual Celebration model (Smart Chic, FTW!) I might cough up cash for another ticket depending on the finances, mostly to double my chances of getting one of the Surprise/Gambler’s Choice models, whatever it is.

Because my mind is spinning all sorts of elaborate fantasies about it at this point. (Not sharing, because I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up for nothing.)

And speaking of surprises…they announced the actual Vintage Club Exclusive/Made to Order model today: "Lucy", a Balking Mule in a loud dun appaloosa who (not coincidentally?) looks a lot like one of the first BreyerFest Gambler’s Choice models, the 2009 Quarter Horse Gelding in Appaloosa. The first thing that popped into my mind, however, when I saw her was this cover:

The Fall 1979 issue of Just About Horses - the first one with a full-color cover! (A brief bio of the Balking Mule mold is featured inside.) Kind of an obscure vintage nod, but a clever one. I like it.

So much for the tight reins on my budget. At least the price is not too unreasonable, at $99.95.

The Balking Mule mold and I have an interesting history. It took me YEARS to finally acquire the vintage ones for my collection. In the pre-Internet days, before you could swipe one off of eBay for slightly more than body price, Balking Mules were not easy to come by, and not cheap.

They weren’t completely out of my budget range, but I was determined to find one locally - like I had most of my other "rare" models. It became a thing for me. I wasn’t going to buy one "retail" if I didn’t have to.

I had to wait a very, very long time. I bought the Black Horse Ranch Special Run ones in 1994, and they were awesome, but they weren’t Vintage. Back then.

And then - no joke - I found four in the space of two months, three of them in the same weekend: one at an antique show, and two from a local dealer who I had given some reference material to, and had helped with pricing some of the models from his personal collection.

He later told me that when he found them, he knew he had to save them for me. As a favor for helping him sell off his collection.

I still have those three, because they really were worth the wait. (I also because I overspent a little bit, because of that danged principle!) I justified keeping a second Bay one because it was a variation: so light, it looked like a chestnut.

More on them, next time.