Monday, September 30, 2013

Ceci n'est pas un Press Release

First, let’s get a few PSAs out of the way. The Mid-States Special is up on the Rural King web site, a pretty splash spot Appaloosa Indian Pony named Miigwan:

I think there’s another Mid-States Exclusive, a Classic, but I wasn’t able to find it on their web site.

And for those of you having access issues with Tractor Supply - either there ain’t one in your area, or the hordes have already descended and picked your stores clean, Dillon is also available on the TSC web site.

This suggests that in spite of the seemingly more limited distribution (two per store?) that it might be an open-ended run - or that they reserved a portion of the run for online sales. Either/any way, there you go. (I’m still on the fence. Too much stuff, not enough time, boxes sitting around unopened, etc.)

I’ve also noticed a few newer America’s Mustang/Mesteno sets floating around the farm store circuit - some slightly repackaged older items, and some brand new things. (Note: work takes me to such places. I am not shopping.) I hear there’s a new one with a Bucking Bronco, which might be a must-get for me, since that mysterious set with the Bronco and White Wolf is still mostly MIA.

(Ooh boy, if Reeves ever dropped those en masse on the web site or in the Pit …)

Didn’t get picked for the Web Special Kimbia on the Smarty Jones mold. I thought I had a shot; I didn’t get a chance to review most of the commentary, but the brief skims I did catch were rather…unhappy and dismissive. In a way that suggested there’d be fewer entries than normal.

I haven’t seen too many up for sale in the usual places, last I looked, which (I hope) means that most of the hobbyists who won were ones that were intending on keeping them. Or it really, really tanked. If that’s the case, then it means I might get a chance to buy him after all, in November or December, perhaps?

I have tons to sell in the meantime. I’m hoping that I can finally get around to rounding up the sales herd next week, when work slows down (allegedly). It’s getting way too cramped around here, as you might have noticed from the setups for some of the recent photos. I’ve been on such a time crunch here that only just finished mopping up the last bits of debris from the garage sale, for Heaven’s sake.

(For the record, I haven’t won a single Web Special since I switched to my "one entry only" routine. I have also never been picked from the wait list for anything, ever, including all the Connoisseurs.)

My "grail" arrived yesterday, and it’s even cooler - and more mysterious - than I imagined. It’ll be a little while before you read about it here, since I need to do some follow-up research on it first. All I’ll say for the moment is that it’s something I guarantee that a good 99 percent of you haven’t seen before, either, outside of Breyer PR.

And that 99 percent of you probably wouldn’t want anyway, but you know I’m weird like that.

Next time, something that looks less like a press release from Reeves.

Friday, September 27, 2013


There was a last minute change to my schedule the other day that actually left me with (gasp!) a small window of time to myself. That I promptly used to open up my Kiowa, because I had heard rumors that they were Chalky. (And also because the box was dented in troubling ways, and I needed to know if I had to make time for the phone calls. Fortunately, no.)

Chalky, he is! I cackled with the glee of a comic book super-villain. If it’s one thing that drives Vintage collectors mad, it’s Chalkiness. I doubt it’ll persuade some of the bigger grumblers to change their opinion of him, but you have to gives Reeves a little credit for giving us a little bit more than we expected, right?

As others have pointed out, his paint job is probably the closest and most faithful reproduction of a "Vintage" color since the program began.

The Brown Pinto Indian Pony did come in a Chalky variation; it’s one of the scarcer and more desirable Chalkies, too. I lucked into a Chalky Brown Appaloosa a while back at BreyerFest, but the Pinto one continues to elude me, mostly for financial reasons. The only Chalkies that go for more money are the Proud Arabian/Old Mold Mares, Test Colors and a few Rarities/Oddities. Some of the Family Arabians, too, depending on the mood of the market. 

The Indian Pony Pinto colorway was a scarcely used one as it was - and most of the ones that were not the Indian Pony are extremely hard to come by, like the Ford Pinto Family Arabian Foal. (Another one that eludes me still, in spite of being in the Metro Detroit area and surrounded by auto industry retirees.)

I’ve always interpreted this color a little bit differently than other hobbyists: I don’t see it as an attempt at creating more realistic Pinto paint job. They were already doing that with the Yellow Mount who, with his elaborately masked markings, came out the same year the Indian Pony did (1970).

It wasn’t a case of "let’s try two new techniques and see what sells better", either, but two different artistic approaches. With Yellow Mount, they were attempting a realistic portrait. With the Indian Pony, they were going for something more painterly and impressionistic. The mold - and presumably, the initial colors - was based off the works of the artist Charles M. Russell, who is specifically called out by name in the earliest press release mentioning the Indian Pony.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, there should be room enough it the hobby for all lovers of equine art - not just those who favor the most strictly realistic ones.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Scaling the Mountain

We’re getting to that point in the flea market season where I’m now beginning to regard the models I’ve left behind as my touring collection; I've even named a few. All I bought this past weekend was some produce, a few china miniatures, and a clutch of empty and unused Testor’s 1/2 ounce paint bottles. Because they cost almost nothing, and reminded of the artist Joseph Cornell.

(In case you were wondering, they are just a tad too small to squeeze most MiniWhinnies in.)

I swung over to the nearest Tractor Supply on the way home, but it didn’t look like they had fully set up their Holiday Stuff yet. Even though some people are apparently already listing them at - and getting! - some crazy prices on eBay, I have no worries. I somehow managed, in the chaos of last week, to secure a Grail of mine so scarce that I had some years ago deemed it nonexistent.

To dampen that joy, I also discovered the whereabouts of a more recent Grail. That one will most definitely not be coming to live with me, now or probably ever.

The former item you’ll hear about in due time; the latter you will not. Not here. (All I will say? It’s not about the money involved.)

Now, onto the matter at hand - the Secret of the Reissues. It turns out that the bodies involved in creating them weren’t just leftovers from recent Regular Runs and Special Runs: based on their mold marks, they’re older than that. The Clydesdale Mare still has her original mold mark, for instance, and the Shires still have the U.S.A. imprint. So it’s possible that these bodies may be pre-China leftovers.

The problem is that Reeves hasn’t been real consistent with altering these mold marks, and with multi-year production gaps, it’s almost impossible to pinpoint the exact year when each mold was altered. The portion of the discussion on Blab where people were trying to determine the Clydesdale Mare’s mold mark change has since been deleted, due to the hacking incident; I think it was narrowed down to somewhere between 2003 (Lanark’s Rosebud) and 2007 (the Picture Perfect Black Pinto Spotted Draft).

(Don’t quote me on that, though. My memory of large portions of last week is extremely hazy.)

It’s been one of those topics that I’ve had on the back burner just a little too long; since late 2003, when I first noticed the alterations on some of the Early Releases for 2004. And some did not: I swear I saw examples of the Cantering Welsh Pony release Party Shoes - the one in Palomino with high whites - with the old mold mark as well as the new, sitting on the shelf together at a local toy store.

(Some of Reeves’ PR photos of Party Shoes show a model with a U.S.A. mark, for what that’s worth.)

The relatively low number of Clydesdale Mare Reissues compared to the others was also thus made explainable: it wasn’t just that they shipped/sold more at BreyerFest, they also used bodies from that same stash to make this year’s Volunteer Clydesdale SR. Same old mold mark!

I can’t recall if it was determined that the Betsy Ross (2007 BF Prize model) or Palisades (2012 Passage to the Pacific SR) were also pulled from the stash, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they were.

The Del Mar - a 2009 SR release - definitely was not. It amuses me to think that while Reeves may have had a small mountain of Clydesdale Mare sitting in a warehouse in New Jersey, they were molding and manufacturing entirely new ones half a whole away.

What this all means is that I’m now seriously considering ordering the Reissue Clyde Mare. Dang it! Someone really needs to invent a 27 hour day.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Crawling Out of Lurk Mode

Since I was either not home, or not awake when I was this week, I missed most of the big Blab Outage drama. Which is just as well, since I’ve been - and will continue to be - in lurk mode there a while longer. (Work, other commitments, some commenters I’d rather not deal with right now…)

Reeves sure has been busy cranking out these new releases while I was away; three more have appeared since I posted last.

First up was the Vintage Club Special Stablemate - a G3 Jumper in Gloss Gray Splash Spot Appaloosa, named Jackson. While you might have noticed that I’m big on the word play, his name - a riff on the Jumping Horses’s original nickname "Stonewall" - made me groan a little. 

The prototype/PR picture shows actual Splash Spots, not the painted dots of the Harlequin, which I hope is certainly the case with the actual release. I was rather depressed reading some of the commentary about him on the Breyer web site; not at the implied (and increasingly tiresome) sniping about the Kiowa paint job, but over the fact that a not small number of hobbyists are completely unaware of the existence of the 1995 Raffle Model Mystique.

Not the Most Popular Raffle Model out there, but also not that obscure. If you’re going to commit to collecting Vintage colors or releases, you ought to know your history, a little.

After a brief hiatus, the Tractor Supply Holiday Special Runs have returned; this year’s model is the old Traditional Mustang/Diablo in a Matte Resist Dapple Gray/Blue Roan Appaloosa with masked blanket and spots, named Dillon. He reminds me a lot of the recent Mid-States Special of Thunderbolt, on the Foundation Stallion mold. I like the TSC SR a little better, just because the dappling is so over the top.

I don’t know if I’ll be picking that one up yet; I still haven’t gotten around to dealing with the overflow caused by the BreyerFest purchases. The nearest TSC is literally just a few minutes away, so it won’t be a hardship to go take a look-see, anyway. Maybe tomorrow, while I'm running my errands.

There’s also a new Web Special drawing this weekend, for a Decorator Smarty Jones painted like a King Cheetah, named Kimbia. Apparently he’s the first of a new Web series of "Big Cat" releases.

My first reaction was "What the…?" as I’m generally not the kind of person who buys those sort of Decorators. Unless it’s really cleverly done or detailed, my eyes glaze over; while I don’t buy many customs, when I do I tend to go more for interesting (and realistic) reinterpretations of older molds.

A Silver repainted/sculpted into a Pegacorn? Blah. A Five-Gaiter turned into a Friesian? Now you have my attention!

The more I looked at his picture, though, the more I liked Kimbia. The paint job appears to be well-designed, and it really suits the mold. I won’t be heartbroken if I don’t get him - again, the space issues - but if I do happen to get picked, I won’t be putting him up for sale before most folks have opened their "Congratulations!" e-mails.

I’ll get around to discussing the Reissues - and some of the more interesting developments and discoveries about them - in my next post.

Time to go back to bed.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Man of Irony

My schedule has not been pleasant the past few days; my efforts to remedy it only made it worse, apparently. Sigh. Sometimes winning isn’t even on the table.

I’ll just have to slog through it. I came THISCLOSE to nabbing one of those already-discounted Walmart Special Runs today, because it was definitely a "needs a pony" day, until I remembered I had a still-unopened box from Reeves sitting in the office. That I will open the first thing in the morning, because tired now.

Here’s what might be one of the last NPOD items from this year’s BreyerFest that I will feature here. (I still have a couple other non-NPOD things I want to talk about, but I haven’t had the time to do the necessary background work on ‘em. Don’t worry, they’re worth it.)

Once you see who it is, longtime readers will understand my hesitation in talking about this particular horse:

Yeah, I got a Sample Traditional Totilas. Really. One of the actual, (and somewhat) verifiable early run pieces. Oh, the irony. I even named him "Man of Irony". (I can’t believe that a lot of hobbyists don’t even name their models, by the way. Didn’t realize that naming all my horses was so old school!)

I haven’t had much experience with the Production pieces yet to know if there are any significant differences/deviations on display here, other than the usual lack of VIN Numbers/marks. I can’t imagine that there would be, considering that the paint job is nearly solid black. He’s not quite as inky-black as a vintage 1970s paint job like Midnight Sun or the Black Foundation Stallion, but it’s close enough.

Though to be honest, he doesn’t really need all that shading and stuff to look awesome: we saw that in the resin prototype last year, and the translation to plastic hasn’t dimmed his luster any, in my eyes.

The reality is that most actual real horses don’t have all that much of what we would consider "shading". It’s more of a hobby contrivance/aesthetic choice that’s a consequence of the source material: instead of painting a model to replicate actual physical reality, most of the time we’re trying to replicate the reality we see in photographs.

It’s a contrivance that’s become almost a show ring necessity, though. Unless you provide copious documentation, solidly colored horses with minimal shading - no matter how expertly done - don’t generally get the same attention or placings that an identical but much more dramatically shaded model will. 

I have models with insane amounts of shading that I love. I have models with no shading at all that I love also. It all depends on the quality of the model, the appropriateness of the paint job, and the memories attached to it. 

The pegged foreleg on my Totilas is bent inward slightly (a fixturing issue?) so he’s going to need a little corrective shoeing when I can squeeze some time out of something.

Not this week, that's for sure. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

It Ain't Easy Being a Fangirl

Whatever had gotten into me has now gotten out of me. I suspect the shrimp I had the night before may have been involved.

Lots of news in the meantime…

The Reissues are starting to ship - and appear on eBay. A buyer is free to do with a model whatever they please, once they buy it, but I’m still going to find it tacky when that something is reselling it at a significant markup when it’s still available from the retailer.

A little bit of a markup, in acknowledgement of your error in thinking it might have been different or more rare than it turned out to be? Or as a fee for the service of dealing with the sometimes quixotic nature of the Breyer web site? Sure. Hoping to profit on your customers not doing their homework? Squicky. 

(PSA: Everybody except Huck is still available on the Breyer web site, folks. In plain sight.)

The RCMP Horse is now available for pre-orders, and is shipping by the beginning of October. He also appears to be more of a Dark Mahogany (a la the Adios release "Mesa") with a glossy ("clipped"?) maple leaf on his behind. For those of you ready to kvetch about the model having too much white for a RCMP Horse, the RCMP Foundation has apparently given its seal of approval to the release.

Also shipping in October - and even more exciting pour moi - is a sweet Appaloosa Performance Horse in Dappled Buckskin Appaloosa, with every sixth one being extra special in some way. (It’s a little unclear if Being Chalky or Having Indian Markings is the special feature. Or both.) This explains the happy reappearance of the mold at the benefit auction in Kentucky this year.

I want them all - whatever they are and in Glossy, if it comes to that. (Those of you attending the NPOD next year better secure your holy relics now, because if I see any extra special ones lurking in the Sample boxes, that’s all that’s going to protect you.)

Judging from the reaction I’ve been seeing on Blab, so do lots of other people. Warms my heart that I’m not the only APH lover out there.

Not so close to my heart: the reaction from The Usual Suspects about the latest Vintage Club release, which is (as I expected) the Jumping Horse "Kiowa" in Indian Pony-style Chestnut Pinto, with Indian markings. If you’ve seen the number of them up for pre-sell, you know what I mean.

I know I sometimes come across as a Breyer Fangirl (not without some justification!) but you know I’m also not above snarking molds and releases either. I have preferences for color, mold and scale, but I consider myself one of those increasingly rare creatures: a Generalist. I like a little bit of everything. I am a Breyer collector, not just a Glossy Breyer Collector or a Stablemates Collector or even an APH Collector.

I have no snark to offer about the Kiowa. I like him a lot. I love the color, especially - a rarely seen and rarely used one that would look good on a lot of molds, I believe. (Want badly, right now: the APH in Indian Pony Chestnut Pinto).

I like the Jumping Horse, even though I don’t have that many: size and shelf space are the biggest issues there. One of these days, when the price and time are right, I am definitely picking up the State Line Tack Special Run "Jumping Jupiter", and that funky Semi-Gloss Dark Dapple Gray 1997 Sears Christmas Special Run.

(Y’all might also remember my heartbreak/meltdown/pity party over not winning the Best of British Contest last year, with the Fleabitten and Dappled "Sterling" as the prize. Not my best moment, but I'll own it.)

Just remember: a few years ago, the notion that a Special Run on the Appaloosa Performance Horse could be as warmly received as it is now was considered risible.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Moody Molds in Basic Black

Vita is basically back to being her usual pain in the butt self. We finally figured out the secret of getting her to stop making her "yucky" face at dinner time: chicken broth. She hasn’t been begging so much at the table, either, which we think is because she now thinks she’s already getting table food. (To be honest, it almost is.)

Looks like it’s my turn to be sick today: my back hurts, I’m nauseous, and I have a migraine. I have tomorrow off, so I can (I hope) sleep most of my aches and pains away. (I’m blaming any typos today, most justifiably, on the migraines.)

Reeves finally got around to mentioning some of the Reissues on their Facebook page - four days after they appeared on the web site, and three days after I mentioned them here. Who needs Facebook when you got me, right?

(A big portion of the hobby, still, and a couple of friends who have completely abandoned me. Didn’t they all get the memo that Facebook is like totally uncool now? I heard it on the radio, so it must be true.)

There are also a couple of (apparently) unauthorized photos of some 2014 releases floating about the Internet, including one of a Black Big Ben as an Royal Canadian Mounted Police Horse. He looks great in "basic black", but then again, most Moody molds do: whatever their anatomical or stylistic issues, you can’t deny they all have beautiful silhouettes - and black paint jobs do a good job of accentuating them.

I don’t have a lot of Big Bens in my collection - not for a lack of trying, but most of the ones I really love I can’t afford. Like the 2005 FEI Gift Model in Dark Bay, the 2006 Volunteer model in Gloss Dark Bay/Brown Sabino, Nautical, 1998 BreyerFest Copenhagen Serengeti…

I didn’t have an original Big Ben until recently, and I’m not so sure he’s an "original" either:

He’s another one of those things I found in the Sample boxes at BreyerFest. At first I thought he was a Sample for the WEG Reissue of the Big Ben, but now I’m not so sure. He could have been an ordinary, later run Big Ben that someone bought or brought into the offices, for whatever reason. Other vintage (sometimes, pre-Reeves!) models have made their way into the Sample boxes before, so it's not as far-fetched an idea as it seems.

I don’t have either the WEG Reissue or an off-the-shelf original, so I can’t verify his status one way or another.

Regardless of what he is, I like him and he’s staying.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Reissues Reissued

Another head’s up for those out of the loop: the much-talked-about BreyerFest Store Reissues have just made their reappearance - for sale, on the Breyer web site. They’re under the Traditional link, at a price slightly lower than they were in the store: $29.99, instead of $35.00.

The Huck’s already sold out, but the other four are still available, including the accessory-free Palomino Old Timer everyone was swooning over. (And yes, my chorus line of blinkerless Old Timers is now up to three! Huzzah!)

I kind of figured this would happen, though I thought it would happen a little closer to the holidays, maybe as a Black Friday Special.

More surprising still is that there were so few of the Huck Beys available; I don’t know if it’s because they produced fewer of them, if there was greater demand, or if they sold the bulk of them at BreyerFest.

Since they were still selling the Hucks on Sunday at BreyerFest, I’m sure it’s part of the equation somehow. On the other hand, they had - and still have - tons of Clydesdale Mares, too. More confirmation for my theory that there are/were several skids of Clyde Mare bodies loitering in the warehouse, mayhaps?

(Now imagining a huge army of Clydesdale Mare variations. Oddly, mostly in shades of Black. Ooh, now there's an idea: Black Horses for Black Friday! An entire family of Clydesdale in Solid Black with tan/brown hooves, like the original Special Run Family Arabians!)

(Wow, I'm way more tired than I thought. Rough day at work, but still...)

As far as the exact quantities, and purpose, that’s still a mystery. The next few days are going to be fairly hectic in my neck of the woods, so I’ll have to leave it to others to suss out that information.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Love my Lucys

I don’t get quite as excited about variations on more modern releases as I do about older releases. Part of it is my bias towards older models, but some of this variation-parsing also strikes me as an effort by some to either justify collecting multiples of certain releases, or to make their models even more special than someone else’s.

Which I am okay and (sometimes) totally on board with this impulse as a collector. As a historian, though, I see it as another shortcut to madness.

By necessity, I have to stick to more notable (or noticeable) variations, rather than document the entire spectrum. If something appears to be especially attractive or unusual compared to the norm, I'll make note of it, but generally those kinds of variations are of such specialized interest that the likelihood of an average enthusiast noticing it is very low.

(I tend to exit out of most conversations, for instance, that involve the phrase "semi-gloss variation". Mostly because everyone’s definition is so different, and so nebulous, that it’s as meaningless as the word "RARE" in an eBay listing. But I digress.)

The modern impulse to seek even the subtlest variations also stems from the fact that there’s a lot less variation than there used to be in Breyer models, too. Newer releases are more consistent - to the point that I’ve had a few hobbyists tell me with an absolutely straight face that all Breyers are painted completely by machines now - but it's more a matter of bland sameness thumbing a ride with consistency.

There’s still some minor variation built into the more modern masking techniques. When you think about it, there has to be: it’s a relatively thin and fragile adhesive masking material that’s being placed on an irregular and three-dimensional surface.

Most of these variations are minor - a slightly different cut edge, or a spot or marking placed a little higher or lower than it’s supposed to be. But sometimes…well, take a look a the speckled behinds of my two Lucys and see why even I took notice of this:

I was going to keep both of them because Gloss and Matte, duh, but that their butt spots are so different is a nice plus. Their stickers are on opposite shoulders too, but that's just a post-production thing. I don't usually note sticker placement at all, unless it's in some really weird spot like the middle of a forehead or stuck to a model's private parts.

(Regarding the latter: I see it all the time, and it never fails to be amuse me.)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Better, Better, Every Day Better

Blood tests confirmed that it was pancreatitis. Vita came home Sunday night, and is doing better.

The first night was a bit rough - she was still kinda grumpy, and a bit off her feed. Today she has her appetite and most of her attitude back, but the new diet is not particularly to her liking, except for the chopped bits of cooked chicken breast.

It’s a lighter work schedule for most of us this week, so we should be able to monitor the little invalid’s needs as necessary.

The garage sale went okay. We sold a lot of the bigger stuff, and made enough to justify the effort. The handful of Breyer bodies that I put out, of course, sold first. I didn’t go to the flea market on Sunday partly because I didn’t want to see them again so soon. It’s not that I overly care about the markup, but the events of the past week have definitely put me in a less charitable state of mind than I usually am about such things.

When I went up to the local grocery store to get some last minute ingredients for dinner, for instance, I found myself yelling unprintable things at the participants of one of the floats getting ready for the Peach Festival parade. (The float was sponsored by a local organization I have had issues with in the past - both its mission, and its members.)

But, on to more positive thoughts.

My Glossy Lucy should be arriving tomorrow. Yay!

I made some neat new additions to the research library recently - including an original 1972 Dealer Catalog. The price was right, it filled a big hole in the archive, and I had just enough money in the Paypal account to take care of it.

(Crummy picture = scanner kaput. Yes, I checked to see if my hand-airbrushed Misty was a match for the one on the cover. It is not.)

Once I wrap up some other business (all that’s been left hanging due to the events of the previous month) my next big project will be to whip my files and archives back into shape and get back to doing some serious research, because dorky me really does miss it.

There’s the collection culling, too, though all the stories I’ve been reading about the rash of nonpaying bidders and buyers is making it less and less of a priority at the moment. I don’t foresee myself making a huge number of new additions in the next few months, anyway, other than (possibly) more ephemera. The garage sale has given me enough room to handle the overflow for the time being, too.

That’s it for today. As I mentioned above, my real-world work week is light, so I’m hoping for a more productive online week ahead of me.