Friday, August 30, 2013

Pearl of Great Price

Well, that could have gone better.

Vita had been feeling unwell for most of the week - feeling restless, throwing up after almost every meal, eating grass, etc. By Thursday night, she was refusing even her most favorite treats, and had us so worried that we ended up in the emergency room of the vet hospital.

(Vita refusing a marshmallow? Unthinkable!)

X-rays ruled out a blockage or tumor; the initial bloodwork suggested pancreatitis, so she’s been at the hospital since then, for fluids, monitoring, more tests.

We visited her earlier tonight and she seems to be doing a lot better. In fact, she wanted to play with the other dogs there more than us. And the vet techs think she is just the sweetest dog ever.

Brat. It’s good to know if we ever need to board her that she’s totally okay with that, which I suspected would be the case. (We don’t call her "Miss Congeniality" for nothing!)

Anyway, it was kind of hard to focus on the garage sale and a medical emergency. I had to rely on another family member to do signage, and that didn’t work out so well. But Saturday is the "big" day at the Peach Festival, so new signs plus and improving Vita equals a better day, right?

Something simple, of course. Another nice Ninja Pit find - not as rare or exclusive as some, but still pretty good:

The Pearly Gray Classic Warmblood, part of the #712070 "Welcome to the World of Breyer Kit" with blanket, backpack, and booklet. A perk of Deluxe Kid’s Club membership that was also distributed at tour and PR events, they only made about 600 of these sets, making it scarcer than both the Tennessee Titan and the Lady C Store Specials.

Alas, for some strange reason a lot hobbyists aren’t all that into the more modern Classics. There’s a perception that they’re more toy-like, and specifically geared towards the younger set: thicker legs, more simplified features, brighter colors.

There are a few more modern molds I’m not all that crazy about: the Morgan Foal is just a little too smooth and angular, and the Morgan Stallion has an almost tubular head and boxy muzzle that bother me.

The Warmblood Stallion, however, is one that I happen to like, a lot. I think he strikes a nice balance: not too artsy-fartsy, but not too toy-ish, either.

The paint job, too: I know some of the newer releases are pearly or metallic to the point of being quasi-Decorators, but this fellow is just pearly enough to pass for freshly washed and groomed - just the effect that I believe Reeves was going for.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Another Hunch Horse

This garage sale is making me fantasize about bonfires. (Apparently me taking charge of the operation = DO ALL THE WORK.)

So FYI: I may be somewhat scarce this week.

As much as I love my Samples, they are problematic for me as a historian. This next model - a Sample for the 2012 BreyerFest Special Run Tunbridge Wells - illustrates these problems perfectly:

I’m not sure why I decided to buy this guy; I wasn’t all that impressed with the release last year, but when I spotted him in the boxes, he was another one of those "hunch" horses: I got a feeling. Having a feeling = having to buy him.

The thing is, I’m still not sure if my hunch has paid off, or not.

He’s definitely a Sample - no VIN number, no BreyerFest stamp. But beyond that, I really don’t know what to think. I haven’t spent that much time acquainting myself with standard, Production Run Tunbridge Wellses to know if I have something beyond that.

I do know that I like the release better, now, but I don’t know if it’s because the Sample in my possession might have a few extra details otherwise missing from the Production pieces, or if it’s a result of me getting to know him better.

But back to the main issue. While it is interesting to examine Sample pieces to understand the design and production process, ultimately that information is tertiary to the average hobbyist’s informational needs.

The first is, of course, what it is: name, number, quantity, type of run (Regular, or Special, and if a Special, for what?) Second is: is it special or valuable in some way? In other words, how does it differ from the norm?

Answering the first kind of question is rarely any trouble at all, and doesn't even require ownership. The second question, on the other hand, often does - or at least more than a passing acquaintance with it. I cannot answer questions of the second type if all I know of a model comes directly - or indirectly - from something that is by definition Not Normal.

That’s one of my pet peeves with Price and Information Guides, model horse or otherwise. The person or persons compiling the guide often/usually have access to items that the general buying public does not, and sometimes these pieces get utilized in these guides as representative examples.

Even if the guide makers take pains to point out the example’s different-ness, a combination of a lack of reading comprehension and wishful thinking often end up defeating the best efforts of the guide makers. Or even anyone posting anything vaguely authoritative online. Look at what happens every single time Reeves posts a Test Color or Auction Piece on Facebook.

This particular model also came with some condition issues: you probably can’t see them in the photo, but he’s in somewhat rough shape, even for a Sample. One hoof has a large rub, one eartip has been bumped/deformed, and he has a few light scratches. Unless he gets a little work done (not likely, on my schedule) he'll be staying off the show circuit.

I generally consider condition issues to be a good thing with regard to questionable models: what that tells me is that it might have been an actual "working/work in progress" Sample  - something earlier in the design process, rather than later or near-finalized. Something that got passed around and critiqued, and suffered a few indignities along the way.

I have no idea if that's actually the case. I don't know all that much about him at all.

It might just be the mystery of him that's making him so intriguing to me. What this all means is that I now probably have to buy or trade for a Production Run Tunbridge Wells. For research!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Making a Splash

Can you see why I think this Sample of the Retro Release Western Pony is so awesome?

Actual Splash Spots, yes!

I knew Reeves had seriously considered, at one point, going with actual Splash Spots instead of the masked ones: the Sample/Test on the back of the Retro Release box has them. Every time I’d go to a new or more familiar toy store with an ample Breyer selection, I’d always check out the Western Ponies to see if they might have slipped a few in the mix just to mess with us.

(My pony is not That Pony, though.)

Funny thing is, I didn’t notice that this little one was what I was looking for all along until several days after I had gotten home from BreyerFest. There were a number of items I had bought in the Pit that I hadn’t yet opened: it wasn’t that I had so many, but that I thought I’d appreciate them more at a slightly later date. Plus, it's always nice to have a few unopened packages lying around the house for a quick "pick me up" whenever a day's gone south.

This decision was made not long after I did open that Very Special Mariah’s Boon that, as I have already detailed, pretty much sent me over the edge. As much as I love that guy, I didn’t want to take any more chances of being gobsmacked, again. Those of you from Michigan know it’s hard enough driving the length of Ohio with a Michigan license plate; there was no need to complicate the drive home with an even-more-freaked-out-than-average Post-BreyerFest state of mind.

I had a hunch it was, though, and I know better than to question my hunches. Even if it hadn’t turned out as well as I hoped, I also gambled on the recent uptick of interest in "Vintage" collecting taking care of the problem, in short order. I sold a larger than average number of quality Vintage releases and molds in Kentucky this year, and it wasn’t just me: some of my friends also noted the trend.

Among the pieces I sold this year were a number of Appaloosas of the Splash Spot type, and I had several random hobbyists profess their undying love of the old-fashioned sloppy/streaky/random Splash Spotting technique to me, too.

I don’t know if there is any one factor contributing to this newfound interest in Vintage stuff, and old-fashioned techniques in general (Vintage Club, Retro Releases, or - dare I say it - moi?) but I’m glad, regardless.

Perhaps the next time Reeves considers another release in a similar vein, they’ll go all the way next time. We’re totally okay with the streaks and randomness, really.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Justify My Love

Work got out unexpectedly early yesterday, so I spent most of the day puttering around the house in my pajamas, attending to all the odd bits of business that came up last week, including organizing the family garage sale. (Labor Day/Peach Festival weekend, if you’re interested. Model horse stuff available by privately, if you’re in town/need a fix/escaping your family.)

The flea market was a quiet one this week: just an Action Stock Horse Foal body and a nice piece of Aquarium Furniture (it’s a bubbler, too!) I momentarily considered buying a very large and somewhat disturbing outdoor Christmas display: a child-sized sled being pulled by something that vaguely looked like a pony, made out of (I think) random pieces of horsehide.

Yes, it is just as freaky as your imagination is making it. (How much you want to offer if it reappears next week, T?)

In other news, I got picked for a Glossy Lucy. Yay! I hadn’t been picked for many/any drawings lately. So, awesome.

Next up on the photo shoot is this lovely Sample Marwari:

The only significant difference I see between the Sample and the Production model (aside from the lack of a VIN number) is the finish: the Production pieces have the opaque, Semi-Chalky finish Reeves has become very fond of, while this beautiful creature has the standard Semi-Translucent finish we’re more familiar with. It’s hard to detect in photos - especially mine - but it is quite apparent in person.

I had been intending to buy a Marwari at BreyerFest anyway - our local supply has already been heavily picked over - so I was delighted to find this one in the Sample boxes. Some of the Production pieces have more pronounced dappling, but this one’s dapples are more subtle. (Just a notation, not a complaint. I had no preference in that matter.)

I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but the more I see him, the more I like him.

That is probably not the coolest thing to say right now.

As is the current fashion nowadays, I’m supposed to justify my opinion with documentation and proof and stuff. Which I suppose I could do, if I were to show him, but I’ve also just finished reading all those showing/judging/let’s-fix-it-all-good-this-time discussions making the round of the model horse Internet the past few weeks.

I think my horses will be more the stay-at-home types until this latest round of introspection passes. I do think something needs to be done to "fix" some of the perceived problems, but it's not what you might think I think.

Just a few more Fest finds to spotlight, before we return to our usual fare.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Playing Catch Up

I took the day off (for the most part) from blogifying yesterday. Even though I worked fewer hours this week, I was even more tired by the end of it. Some (confidential for now, sorry) stuff came up that complicated things, but I think it was mostly Morpheus playing catching up with me. 

Continuing on that theme…

In case you didn’t already know, there’s a special drawing for Vintage Club members this weekend for 80 pieces of the Special Run Balking Mule Lucy, in Gloss. I don’t know if this represents the portion of the run that wasn’t officially ordered by club members, or just a random number they pulled out of the air. Been putting my entries in, regardless, because ooh, shiny.

The BreyerFest survey forms have also been sent out, via e-mail. I always laugh about "confidentiality" part; I have a fairly distinctive writing voice, so I assume they know it’s me, anyway, and write with that assumption in mind.

There’s a small, blurry, Facebook-derived picture floating around of an alleged new Breyer mold coming out soon, a portrait of Harley D Zip. I didn’t find out about it until the Blab forum topic had reached well over a hundred posts, running the gamut from "OMG I LUV IT!" to "Meh". I think I’ll wait until I see a larger and more official picture before I give it the thumbs up or down. 

I also found a bunch of neat stuff at the flea market last weekend that I never got around to talking about. There were a couple of decent bodies, a Lomonosov Polar Bear Cub, a Limited Edition Royal Doulton Bunnykins figurine, and a book about Draft Horses illustrated by Francis Eustis (going straight to the reference library). The "biggest" finds were a pair of Mastercrafters clocks - one of those mysterious "Quarter Horse Yearling" clocks, and a Swinger with an Onyx case:

I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned it here or not before, but we’re still unsure of the relationship between the QH Yearling and the goldtoned clock above. The clock clearly predates the Yearling: this example has a postal zone, rather than a zip code in the company address listed on the back. Zones were phased out in the 1960s, but the Quarter Horse Yearling didn’t officially debut until 1970.

Breyer’s relationship with Mastercrafters lasted well beyond the Western Horse/Davy Crockett era, but for how long, and in what capacities, we are not sure.

The Yearling clock is an upgrade, but the Swinger is technically "new" for me - I have had several in the Brown Burl case, but none in the Green Onyx before. In my excitement, I didn’t examine the clock as closely as I should have when I negotiated for it: it is still partially disassembled because it required extensive cleaning.

This is a polite way of saying that it was possibly one of the grossest things I have ever bought at the flea market. (Not The Grossest Thing Ever. You really don’t need to know about that. All I can say is that it wasn’t a horse.)

When I got it home and took it out of the bag, I initially thought that the previous owner had lined the bottom of it with felt.

It was not felt.

It was an encrusted layer of dust, dirt, cigarette smoke, and cat hair. Upon closer examination, it looked like something you’d see getting shoveled out of a window on the TV show Hoarders. The saddest part is that I found an address label under the crud indicating that the previous owner had purchased it, reconditioned, from a clock shop not even ten years ago.

Most of the gross is gone, but it still needs more cleaning and repair work. It’s been an interesting restoration challenge, if nothing else.

(Ooh, freaky. I just noticed that they are stopped at exactly the same time, even though I bought them from two different vendors!)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Most Interesting Model Horse in the World

This week will only be slightly better than the last, in terms of sleep/downtime/etc. Nevertheless, I promised you something you won’t forget, and here’s his headshot:

You’re welcome. Here’s the full body shot:

He’s another Friday morning Sample, simply labeled "Mariah’s Boon BF '12". I picked him up initially because, like the Gypsy Vanner, I figured he’d be an easy sell if he merely turned out to be ordinary. (We ended up selling all the other Othello molds we had in our room this year. And we had several.)

He’s not ordinary, obviously. He looks like a Mid-20th Century European Dictator in Juggalo face paint.

The first thing I did when I opened him up at the hotel was to start laughing hysterically. Wouldn’t you? The roommates wondered what was up, so I showed them, and then they started laughing hysterically. After the third or fourth young child fled the room in mock (I hope) horror, I spend most of the rest of the evening having way too much fun at the Clarion frightening other small children and threatening household appliances with him.

He deserves a YouTube channel, a web site devoted to his own memes, and possibly a recording contract. He’s so diggidy-dang awesome I want to build a platform to hang around my neck and stroll around the Horse Park with a sign that reads "The Most Interesting Model Horse in the World". Because he is.

His paint job - aside from his face, and some eartip rubs - is absolutely gorgeous. The masking is different from the production pieces, there’s no black in his mane, and his tail is almost completely gray, so I was almost certain he was a Test piece of some sort.

Then I figured out who he was.

Remember the original picture of the Mariah’s Boon model on the Breyer web site? The one with the mapping? Lots of people got all hot and cranky that the mapped piece was taken down and replaced with an unmapped one, because that meant that we weren’t getting any mapping on the Celebration Horses.

A lot of that grouchiness was for show, I’m guessing. People looking for a moral justification to either not attend or not keep their Mariah’s Boon model. They promised us mapping, and now they’re reneging? Those cads!

Reeves has a hard enough time getting 350 mapped pieces to look good, much less 3500 or more. Removing the mapping seemed like a wise move, to me.

They did end up selling the mapped piece during the Silent Auction that year, and for a tidy price, if I remember correctly.

Okay, so who is MY guy, precisely?

He’s the Revised/Reviled one. Here’s the picture, downloaded from the web site:

And here’s a link to the page, where he’s still visible:

I was doing a quick skim of MH$P a few days ago before catching a few rare snores, and clicked on a random Mariah’s Boon sales ad just for kicks. I took a closer look at the photo in the ad - the same one from the web site - and noticed the telltale arched eyebrow, and started laughing all over again.

OMG, It’s Adolf!

You know, it really is a total crapshoot when you buy Samples in the Ninja Pit. They’re wrapped in miles of bubble wrap and packing tape, so you only have a general idea of what you’re buying, and little time or space to reconsider your decisions. You grab, you go.

Sometimes, you get lucky.

Adolf was totally worth sleeping under a tree full of incontinent tree frogs.

And lest you think "Oh, he’s not so bad." Here’s a "Glamour" shot of his blue eye.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Absolutely Fabulous

It’s going to be another short one today: after the week I had at work, even getting out of bed seemed like a stretch. Just as I was about to surrender to sleep again, Vita jumped in bed and gave me a dirty look: nothing like a guilt trip by a dog with a reputation for being a late riser herself. 

The only advantage to not being home most of the week (besides the alibi) is that I appear to have missed some assorted dramas on the Internet. Good.

Let us instead, in this slightly calmer corner of the model horse universe, focus on my current favorite-horse-ever from this year’s NPOD: an Aintree, a 2012 BreyerFest Tent Special on the Cigar mold.

There were lots of Aintrees available in the sales tent this year - like other Tent Specials I have noted, he was one whose overly high piece count didn’t quite match up with the demand.

Aside from the piece count being a little too high, his paint job was prone to paint flaws. The semi-chalky paint finish Reeves decided to go with, while it added a certain depth to the shading, also tended to drips, runs, and puddling. I’ve been seeing similar problems on the Regular Run Palomino Marwari release, too.

The amount of dappling the paint job required was also, in my opinion, too ambitious for something with a 1400 piece run. Though most of the ones I saw were at least passable, the bad ones were truly unforgettable. So much so that I am beginning to regret not buying an Aintree of that caliber that I found in the tent that morning, as well. (You’d think I’d learn by now not to pass by anything that catches my eye, good or bad...)

As you might have guessed by now, this particular Aintree is not one of the leftovers: he is also a Sample. Or more: aside from his lack of BreyerFest stamps and VIN number, his finish is not semi-chalky. His front hooves are also handpainted dark gray, not airbrushed, and his dappling? Absolutely fabulous. It's some of the nicest dappling I’ve seen on any model, Regular Run, Special Run… or Test Run.

It would not surprise me if he did turn out to be more than just a Sample, but an actual Test or Display piece. Aside from a couple of minor (fixable) flaws, this guy is truly live show quality.

I briefly considered that he might have been the photography piece, the one used on the web site and other promotional materials, but the shading doesn’t quite match up with the one photo off the web site. Just because he doesn’t match up doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not what I think he might be: as I’ve been trying to drum into everyone’s heads for a while now, Samples and Test Colors are not necessarily unique.

Being unique also does not necessarily enhance the value of a Sample or Test, either. The style or quality of the paint job, the popularity or desirability of the mold, the suitability of the color to the mold can (and often do) plays a bigger part in a model’s perceived value, versus quantity made.

Regardless of his technical status, I love him. Not as much as the next model I’ll be showing you, but once you see HIM, you’ll understand why.

(And those of you who know who I'm talking about, already do.)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Hot, or Not?

I did not think it possible to work 40 hours in the space of two and a half days. It sort of felt like BreyerFest, but with more air conditioning and fewer horses.

(Still haven't decided if this was a good thing, or a bad thing.)

So, there’s also this guy:

The box says "#430018 Arabian - bay" but he looks like a Huckleberry Bey. Sort of.

The color and finish is a little off from most Regular Run Huck Beys that we’ve seen. Those tend to have more contrast between their lighter and darker areas, way more black on their bodies in general, and are a little more brown than red, too.

While any one of these Ninja Pit Hucks wouldn’t look out of place in a random assortment of Huckleberry Beys produced over the years, collectively the Hucks in the sales tent all sort of looked…different, but in the same way. And they weren’t called Hucks.

So I bought one just to be safe, because I sold off my Huck Bey a few years ago, and have sort of been regretting that decision of late.

There were four other models of this type in the tent, as well:

430002 Old Timer - palomino
430008 Draft Horse - bay (Bell-bottomed Shire)
430009 Clydesdale - bay (Clydesdale Mare)
430013 Belgian - bay roan (aka "Trait du Nord")

(Rough reference only: I didn’t see any examples of the Belgian/Trait du Nord personally, and only saw the Shire in passing, so the labels/descriptors are likely off on those two.)

Anyway, they all looked like recent - or not so recent, in the case of the Shire - Regular Run items in new packaging, with Special Run style numbers. So the initial assumption was that that’s what they were: repackaged Regular Run leftovers, knocking around the warehouse.

But what were they, really? A new type of Store Special? A cancelled Special for an event or store? A part of the WEG reissue program/idea that wasn’t fully implemented?

The one that’s been getting the most currency is that they were repurposed leftover (whiteware) bodies from previous recent Regular and Special Runs, and not intended to be true "Special Runs". There was some second or third-hand information being passed around on Blab that this is more or less what a Reeves employee told them.

While I am not generally inclined to believe anything a Reeves employee says at face value, especially second hand, this makes some sense. The Old Timers = leftover Gus bodies. The Shires = leftovers from last year’s Cheerio Special Run. Huck Bey = leftovers from the Color Crazy Redemption Horse and/or upcoming Collectors Club SR Enchanted.

Belgian and Clydesdale Mare = I just happen to think they have a metric ton of those bodies lying around, for some weird reason, as they’ve been showing up for sale as "whiteware" in the Sales Pit for a few years now. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

I’ve heard one report that a VIN number was found on at least one of these models, though I haven’t had the chance to open up mine to see if this is true. If that’s the case, it bolsters the argument that they were very recently made, and not (just) leftovers.

The quantities are unknown: there were definitely more of the Clydesdale Mare and Huck Bey, and fewer of the Belgian and Shire. Although some were seen in the first wave of Ninja Pit action, they did replenish the stock in the store from time to time, and I was able to pick up my Huck late Sunday morning.

The only one of the others I really regret missing is the Old Timer, who was without hat or blinkers. As I’ve got a small collection of blinkerless Old Timer culls going now, it feels incomplete without its Palomino "kid brother".

If Reeves’ intent was to simply pass them off as Regular Runs, they need to study the minds of us collectors a little more closely: new number + new box + new paint job (even if it’s an "old" one) = new release.

Or maybe they do know, and it’s some sort of reverse psychology/Jedi Mind Trick/11th Dimensional Chess they’re all playing on us.  If so, mission accomplished.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Revenge of Lisa Frank

Just took a look at my work schedule this coming week: yikes! If you think I’m hard to get a hold of now…

By request, I’ll hold off on the Mystery Regular Run Reissues and focus on that beautiful boy from the group shot:

Like a good portion of those goodies, he’s a Sample: there is no VIN number that I can see. As I haven’t seen enough of the Gypsy Vanners live and in person, I cannot tell if he is in any other way different from the standard ones you’ll find on the shelf, other than his slightly better than average painting and masking.

When I found him in the sample boxes, I figured he was a fairly safe bet: even if I didn’t like him, he’d be an easy sell, judging from the reaction I’ve been seeing to him online. Like selling an Othello or Silver easy.

If you know me, I’m not particularly girly. I drive a station wagon, own a Wire Fox Terrier, and have feet the size of small oven roasters. I do have a decent sized shoe closet and can clean up admirably when the need arises, but most of the time I’m a jeans + comic-book-themed t-shirt kind of girl.

But this Vanner. Jeez.

This has to be the most gosh-darned-girly-in-a-Lisa-Frank-kind-of-way model horse ever. He needs to have a base made out of clouds, rainbows and glitter, and be ridden by a shirtless Legolas holding a bucket of pastel-colored puppies and kittens. And silhouetted against a diecut, holographic sky full of rhinestones-encrusted butterflies.

I am smitten.

His doppelganger, the BreyerFest Laredo, did not inspire the same reaction when I finally saw him in the round. His color was beautiful, and I liked his braided/plaited/beribboned mane, but I had a hard time getting past his strange legs. His proportions reminded me of those oversized toy horses sold as accessories to Barbie and all her frenemies.

Maybe he’ll grown on me a little more as time goes by. I’ll have that time: there were some leftovers on Sunday at BreyerFest. Not as many as you might think - although he did sell fairly well, it was difficult to judge just how well, because they made way more of him than any other BreyerFest SR other than the CC Shuffles: 1500 pieces. By comparison, the Sucesion & Le Fire set Naomi and Wynonna had a 1200 piece run.

They could have sold as many or more of Laredo as the Naomi and Wynonna set, and still have a couple hundred pieces left over. (NOTE: For speculation purposes only. I have no idea exactly how many Laredos did sell.)

Just like the Black Appaloosa Hackney Special a few years back, that was adjudged a failure. The story’s a little more complicated than that.

Oh great, now I’m imagining the Vanner in a Silver Dapple Pintaloosa paintjob. Glossy, of course. Or maybe a Glow-in-the-Dark Overo with masking in the shape of fairies, flowers and hummingbirds.

Gag. I think I need to go watch some movies with car crashes, explosions and killer robots now. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013


I must be going through one of my periodic personal system crashes; in addition to the back pain, nausea and allergic reactions, I spent most of Wednesday incapacitated by the Worst. Migraine. Ever.

My ears are still ringing somewhat, but at least I can stand up and walk a (more or less) straight line. And food tastes like food again!

This next model I am featuring may seem like an odd choice, considering all of the things I picked up in the "Ninja Pit of Death" this year. It’s a Sample Black Beauty, from one of this year’s Walmart "Sunshine Meadows" Special Run sets:

There had to have been at least one example of each of these sets in the Sample Boxes. I grabbed the one that I wanted, and left the rest behind for the more dedicated Classics collectors among us, because I know how you guys are. (Though I wouldn’t have turned down the Silver Bay Keen if I had seen him, either.)

The reason why I'm spotlighting him: in case you haven’t already heard, those Special Run sets are now being distributed throughout Walmarts in the United States, and not just in select stores in the Upper Midwest. Every Walmart I’ve stopped at in the past two weeks has had a selection - some more complete than others.

(NOTE: I am in Southeast Lower Michigan. The Shelby Township store at 23 Mile Road and Van Dyke store had the biggest and best, if you’re on the prowl.)

It was hard to resist the urge to grab a shopping cart, shove everything off the shelves into said cart, and make a mad dash to the cash registers at the first store I stopped at. It was only a couple days after I had gotten back from Kentucky, so I think I was still in Ninja shopping mode at that point.

What stopped me was that I remembered that I still hadn’t entirely dealt with the "Breyercano" eruption in my office yet:

(Note: this is only about half of it - excluding the pickups, Stablemates, and various still-unbagged ticket line items. Sigh. I was so bad this year. But according to my very rough calculations, apparently on budget! Woo-hoo!)

There were even some boxed Walmart sets in the Pit, too, but they got lost in the shuffle, for the most part. We were all too distracted by other boxed items, including those mysterious "Are they or aren’t they?" Regular Run models with Special Run rumbers that baffled us all weekend. (You might have already spied a Huck in the photo above: more on those, next time.)