Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dubious Ideas, Some Revisited

Made my last purchases of the year yesterday; I walked into the local Salvation Army looking for boots, gloves and scarves, and walked out with a Stormy body, a Bay Running Foal body, and an RCMP-licensed Plush Horse that Vita desperately wanted to steal.

(I guess since a couple of her toys from XMAS are still on my "operating table", she thought he was fair game.)

The newest additions to the body box have made me think about a BreyerFest idea I’ve had knocking around my head for a few years now: a Homely Horse Challenge. I’d pick a common and usually unwanted body box filler - like the Running Foal, or the Grazing Mare - and challenge hobbyists to do something creative with it. Realistic, Fantasy, Decorator, doesn’t matter, just as long as it’s still recognizable as that mold. (No melting it into an armature or using just select pieces.)

Alas, sponsoring something like that would involve display space. And prizes. And time to judge things. So, it’s probably not a workable idea right now. I’d definitely love to do it someday, if only to get more hobbyists thinking "inside" the body box, so to speak. You don’t have to start with Pretty or Interesting to end up with Pretty or Interesting.

Speaking of BreyerFest, Reeves put up the first info on 2014’s event - basically a teaser telling us that tickets and more information will be up soon. The only other stuff worth noting at this point is that there are going to be special commemorative programs and other "pre-event" merchandise available to advance ticketholders.


They also mention that the applications for everything will be made available at the same time, including the one for volunteering, if you’re interested.

Since I have to work extra early tomorrow (yes, I know), I wanted to reiterate quickly one more point before I bid the year, the night and the post adieu. Dubious Rare Glossies are dubious.

This time the model in question is a Captain - the Special Run Charcoal Clydesdale Foal made as Raffle piece for the Touring Events, back when Reeves still did such a thing. There were ten pieces made, I believe.

Anyway, there’s one on eBay that looks and sounds … questionable. Especially since it appears to have significant damage to the finish, and not the kind that usually happens to a Factory Gloss Charcoal finish.

I’ve seen lots and lots of models; I can’t say that I’ve seen everything, but I’ve seen more than most. I have seen true Factory Gloss paint jobs with runs, drips, variable thickness in the gloss, fingerprints and the like.

These are the exception, however, not the rule. My tendency is to question questionable Glosses unless I’m able to see them in person, first. That’s just not possible in this case, so bidding on it is not even an issue for me.

(Not that it would be, anyway. Still saving up for that new-ish car…)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

2014 Hobby Resolutions and Stuff

I’m a little out of sorts today, though I’m hesitant to tell you why or how, because I’m not exactly sure if I know why or how.

I’ve related a few stories here - and in my Samplers - of the kind of things that only seem to happen to me. And if you’ve met or talked to me in person, you’ve heard stories stranger still. It’s like I’m a magnet for weirdness.

What happened today was not particularly horse- or model-related, so I’m not going to elaborate on it much further. Except to say that if someone else had told me the same story, I would have accused them of cribbing it from a Hallmark Channel Special.

Anyway, being in the reflective mood that I am, I’ve given some thought to some of my model horse goals and grails for the upcoming year.

First, I think I’ll try to attend at least one local (Michigan or Ohio) live show. My only objectives in that regard are to (a) have fun, and (b) not embarrass myself overmuch. I don’t plan on winning or qualifying anything, and if I do, the possibility of showing at NAN is remote. No time, no space, no money for that.

Second, I’ll try to finish off at least a couple of customs that I’ve had knocking around the craft closet. Most of the ones furthest along are fantasy-type creatures, so it’s unlikely they’ll end up on mine or anyone else's show string. (Though if one turns out the way I hope, I might make more in the future. To sell.)

Third, I’ll be dialing back on the local horse shopping for the first half of the year. My holiday sales went very well, but they just barely made a dent in the "inventory" I acquired via box lots and herd culling. I’m not going to cut back going to the flea market - that’s just crazy talk - but I’ll be making fewer pit stops at toy stores and junk shops, and put an end to the late-night eBay trolling.

Fourth, any extraneous purchases I do make will be focused on old favorites: Traditional Man o’ War, the Pacer, the Western Prancing Horse, older Stablemates. I’ll still keep an eye out for more ephemera, naturally, and might even have some to sell, once the work load dies down a bit in a month or so.

Fifth, I hope to finally finish inventorying and processing those ephemera lots I’ve acquired over the past couple of years. There’s a lot there I want to share with you all here.

And finally, I was to do something real wild and crazy for BreyerFest next year. I have no idea yet what that would be at this point, though. Ninja Flash Mob? Early Friday Morning Picnic at the Horse Park? Impromptu Dance Party in the hallways of the CHIN? Treasure Hunts involving MiniWhinnies in indiscreet locations?

That’s all for today. Still need to finish decompressing.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Classic

Decided to take the Eve off from blogging. The Hyacinth took a little bit more effort than I expected, but turned out pretty nice. I’m definitely doing something simpler next time, though. Crocuses sound good.

Santa came with a new and easily adjustable quilt frame (yay!), some fancy chocolates and some cash. No models under the tree this year - bought for or by me - unless you count this guy I picked up on sale a few weeks back, when I needed a quick horse fix:

I have changed my mind and decided that I like the "Best in Show" Quarter Horse better than the Thoroughbred. His head still weirds me out a little - spooky eyewhites, gah! - but he has more personality and "presence" than the Thoroughbred, who now feels a little generic in comparison. The Bay Roan paint job doesn’t hurt, either!  

I was a bit bummed out by the Breyer Christmas Present, which turned out to be a "20 percent off (almost) everything on the web site" Sale. This was not surprising, but they’re gonna have to cough up some actual Christmas Decorator type things one of these years. The Red and Green kind, not just Silver Filigree. It doesn’t have to be free or cheap. Heck, I’d settle for some Breyer-branded swag, like a bandana, scarf or potholder.

I’d never lose my scarf at work ever again. ("Did someone lose a scarf…oh, never mind. It's Andrea's.")

I’ve already decided on my New Year’s Resolution for next year, aside from the usual nonsense (lose weight-exercise more-read more good books-etc.): finish all my old craft projects before I begin anything new, including quilt projects dating back from the previous millennium. I made outstanding progress back in November with the quilts, and I’d like to keep the momentum going.

Especially now that I have a quilt frame I can actually use that doesn’t also take up half a room.

That's all for today. Tomorrow’s my last day off before I have to go back to work, and I really want to get that quilt frame up and functional. I have to sew up all the Christmas toys Vita has already destroyed, too. "Ballistic nylon"? Yeah, right!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Spot Check

Reeves really shouldn’t have sent all those special offer e-mails this week, getting my hopes up and stuff. Though I am tempted to buy the Totilas with the strange and awkward base, just because so many people are making fun of it.

That usually translates into highly desirable oddball item in a few years. There’s always the slight possibility that what we see might not be what we get, too.

I’ve been good so far and I haven’t used the Western Horseman Discount code yet, so I shall consider it.

The week was not completely model-free. I found two inexpensive bodies and a Goebel Wachtmeister cat at the local Salvation Army, and this beauty on eBay:

Not the glossy, black and white speckled thing I was hoping for, but an almost no-spot Appaloosa Western Prancing Horse? That's nothing to sneeze at!

He’s definitely all Original Finish: I see no tampering or spot removal. He just … doesn’t have that many spots. Sometimes you'll see a model with significantly more spots or freckles on one side compared to the other, but his other side is almost as spotless as this one.

The vast majority of Appaloosa Western Prancing Horses are way more spotted than this, with some edging into fleabitten or roan territory. Pieces with bigger and fewer spots are less common, but pieces with almost no spots are rarest of all.

I haven’t seen any yet with no spots that weren’t tampered with in some way, though.

This means I now have FIVE Appaloosa Western Prancing Horses. I’m not sure if this means I have either reached or exceeded my quota yet. My original intent was to upgrade my Buckskin; I have one who is adequate, but better is better. The latest prospect shot out of my price range (darn sticker, again), so this fellah became my consolation prize.

In case you were wondering, he does have those two "spots" in his unspeakable area.

I'll be cutting it short today to work on this year’s Christmas Beading Project. A life-sized Hyacinth:


FYI: No, I can’t read Russian. I’m following the pictures, and winging the rest. Not because I’m being hardcore, but because all the best online beaded flower patterns are in Russian. So far, so good; three buds down, 21 more to go…

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Edge Case

I used to fantasize about what the homeliest, least desirable Special Run in the world could be. At one point, I thought a Metallic Lime Green Khemosabi with Magenta points could be it.

What would most hobbyists do, presented with a model like that - something really rare, but also really homely? Especially if the quantity was very low, and the price was very high? What desire would win out?

You’d be able to find at least a handful of people to buy such a thing, because some people would buy anything, some people would buy it for sheer absurdity of it, and some people actually even like Khemo. (He does have a nice head and neck.) Even so, I couldn’t see more than a handful selling, because Metallic Lime Green Khemosabi, yo.

At least, that was what I thought until this week.

Naturally I thought I’d at least have a shot at the Marshall. It’s a Polled Hereford Bull: not many people collect those, beyond the standard one (and in very rare cases, the Woodgrain as two.) It’s Gloss Splash Spot Black Pintaloosa: again, not all that popular a color combo, especially on a Bull, for Heaven’s sake. And the price was a heady (though not completely unreasonable) $225, $75 more than the last super-scarce Bull SRs, last year’s Vault Sale Logan and Colton.

He’s as close as Reeves has ever gotten to actually issuing a Metallic Lime Green Khemosabi.

Alas, in spite of my best efforts - and those of several others entering for me - there will be no Marshall at my doorstep by Christmas. My little herd of Polled Hereford Bulls shall be leaderless. I’m not even going to entertain thoughts of wait lists.

I briefly considered buying one second hand, but the prices I’ve seen so far are far out of the range of what I’m willing to pay. The price I paid for my half dozen PHBs, combined, doesn’t add up to the minimum bid most Marshalls are starting at. And I certainly haven’t seen many willing to trade it for anything.

I’m trying to take solace in the whole affair by looking at it as a lab experiment of my hypothetical Lime Green Khemosabi in action. Actually, a better term for this is "edge case": as something pushed so far out to the edges of known or acceptable parameters of its particular case that it challenges what those parameters actually are.

Looking at the fact that there were over a dozen Marshalls up for sale less than 24 hours after the notifications went out, I think I now know the answer to the question of the Lime Green Khemo: Money beats weird and homely.

I think it is interesting that in recent cases when items similar to this have been offered on a "first-come, first-served" basis, the likelihood of immediate reselling appears to be less than when it is offered on a raffle basis. There were immediate resells of Logan, Colton, and Ghost but not half of their 40 piece runs. Most of the people who did buy them kept them, or sold them discreetly (i.e. not on eBay or MHSP), or at least not immediately.

And in the case of the Christmas Kitten "Angel", it actually took a few days to sell out at all.

I think this is because the primary (though not sole) motivation of buyers in online direct sale situations is its emotional value: a desire for the object in and of itself.

In the case of raffles - online and offline - many people look at them strictly in terms of financial value: whether they really want the item or not is irrelevant. All that matters is that it has value to other people. The cost to enter these raffles is nil, financially and emotionally.

There has always been a market for Bulls in general, and that may be skewing the numbers slightly. Yet I had heard no hue and cry for a PHB SR, and most everyone thinks it funny when I tell them that one of my "Design a Test Color" fantasy models is a Wedgewood Blue PHB. (The other being the FAS Yellow Man o’ War.)

Some Marshalls have resold, and will resell. But then, what of the rest? Will the prices die down to a more reasonable level?

I'm not so sure I could buy even if it did, but I will refrain from saying anything further. I’ve cried the few tears I allow myself for such things, and made some Christmas cookies. And even though I am not a particularly religious person, I will pray also that the next weird-ugly-rare SR is not a FAS Yellow Man o’ War.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

No Ordinary Bay

Yes, I am aware of the Web Special Polled Hereford Bull Marshall; as I told a friend of mine, it’s almost as if Reeves designed a Special Run specifically to punk me. (Glossy Black? Splash Spot Appaloosa? On the Polled Hereford Bull?) Throw in a $100 Gas Gift Card and a box of fancy chocolates, and that's all the Christmas gifting I need right there.

But as my time is short (again!) today, I’ll just stick to what I originally had planned: that minor variation that has recently captivated me. Here he is!

The Bay Stock Horse Stallion - with gray hooves. Terribly exciting, isn’t it? (Feel free to roll your eyes.)

The Back Story: earlier this year, an auction for a similar Bay Stock Horse Stallion entranced me. I had been vaguely aware of the variation, but I hadn't really paid much time or attention to it, until I saw THAT one. I was amazed what a difference gray hooves made in "dressing up" an otherwise pedestrian Bay.

The hooves on the earlier one were so dramatically light that it did not go unnoticed by others. I don’t think I ended up even being the first underbidder on that auction. The price wasn’t super crazy, but it seemed expensive for a Stock Horse Stallion who wasn’t a Test Color or super-scarce Special Run.

Since then I had been looking for another, with varying degrees of intensity. The very few that I did find were either overpriced or in subpar condition. I spotted this guy in a modestly priced group lot; his hooves aren’t as light or as neatly painted as the one who obsessed me previously, but the price and condition were right.

The gray-hooved version is a later, rather than an earlier variation. The earliest Bay Stock Horse Stallions had the B mold mark, and this one has a smooth, buffed area where that mark used to be. I have no idea if the gray hooves were just one of those things they did just for the heck of it, or it was an "end of the run" variation they did to boost sales.

I haven’t spotted this variation in any Breyer ephemera; all the ones I’ve seen so far have had solid black legs, all the way down. I haven’t had a lot of time recently to do deeper research, so I may well be wrong.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Equal Time for the Palomino

In the interest of fairness, here is my Palomino Quarter Horse Yearling - with a Blue Ribbon Sticker!

She has the USA mark, so she’s probably slightly later than the Liver Chestnut one. (1970 was the year that the USA marks were introduced for most - but not all - existing Breyer molds.)

Stickers on Quarter Horse Yearlings are uncommon, because the mold was introduced in 1970, which I believe to be the last year for the Blue Ribbon Sticker program. Other molds and releases introduced that year are also somewhat uncommon with stickers, including the Indian Ponies, Yellow Mount, the Scratching Foal, and the Dall Sheep.

(There was a really nice stickered Dall Sheep on eBay a couple weeks ago, in fact, but he was just a little bit out of my price range. Darn it all!)

If I am recalling correctly, this Yearling was purchased in a group lot with several other rarities, so whether or not she was a bargain is a matter of debate. I am happy to have her, whatever her "real price" was.

I suppose in the market as it is now, I might make that money back, but I rarely seem to make a profit on box lots like some people do. The storage tub of Hartlands I found earlier this year was the exception, not the rule. (I still have a few odds and ends left from that lot I need to sort and price out!)

I’ve listed genuinely rare items that sold for body prices, and I’ve listed perfectly ordinary things that generated crazy bidding wars. It usually averages out in the end, but it does make me wonder sometimes if the effort I spend in preparing my sales items is mostly for naught.

(Other than the cleaning. I find that personally therapeutic, regardless of the return on investment.)

That’s why I tend to take a somewhat measured approach to box lots. Either they have to be cheap enough that I can at least break even selling them as bodies, or there has to be one or more items in the lot that are collection must-haves - AND I can still get most of my money back selling the rest at body-level prices.

I just bought a nice little box lot earlier last week that fell into the latter category. Most of you will laugh when you see what it was that motivated me to buy it.

Monday, December 9, 2013

That Liver Chestnut QH Yearling Variation

There was unwelcome company and an unexpectedly busy start to the work week, so I have little time for more than a drive by today. So here’s a picture of a well-known, but rarely seen older Variation:

The Two Sock Version of the #101 Liver Chestnut Quarter Horse Yearling. This was the original version of the paint job, released in 1970; consequently most, if not all, of them will not have the U.S.A. mold mark.

Most of the earlier Breyer ephemera that features the Liver Chestnut Yearling shows the two sock version. The Palomino - released the same year - did not come in an equivalent variation; if it did, I have not seen one. She always came, and was shown, with four socks.

The Two Sock Liver Chestnut Variation was not released that way for long, and is a relatively rare bird. It took me several years to find this particularly lovely example at one of the earlier BreyerFests. I wouldn’t mind upgrading to one with a Blue Ribbon Sticker, but with the prices stickered models have been commanding recently, that’s probably not likely.

If I recall correctly, this little girl was pretty affordable. Although quite rare, this variation is lightly collected because Quarter Horse Yearlings as a whole aren’t very popular, outside of the occasional Test Color, Chalky or Stickered example. Oh, and the Presentation Series pieces, of course. There was a really neat Chicago Era Matte Alabaster Test one on eBay a little while back I found quite fetching, but alas, a lot of other people did too. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

The First Unicorn

There’s another new Special Run on the Breyer web site - a set of Classic Unicorns with sparkly pink blankets, named Bella and Mozart:


No word or clue on the quantity count, since Breyer put a 12 piece order limit on it. (No "typing in a ridiculously high number to see how many it will put in my cart" gambit.) I’m intrigued: the price is good, and it’s the Classics Hansel and Gretel Pony molds that I adore. But I really am trying to limit my purchases until the end of the year.

I’m not all that into Unicorns, either, though I’ve been working on this one old Breyer Unicorn rehab project for forever:

He was in my body box for a couple of years. I can understand why: he was beat up, bent up, had a broken leg, and he’s the Running Stallion, whose creative anatomy is too much for even me to bear most of the time - though I have a rather astounding number of examples in my collection.

I don’t go out of my way to find Running Stallions: they find me. I even have a Salesman’s Sample in Bay, somewhere in storage; he’s not substantially different than a standard production run Bay, but he was cheap and came with a really good provenance, so who was I to say no?

Believe it or not, the #210 Running Unicorn was Breyer’s first official "fantasy" horse - one that wasn’t just painted an unrealistic color, but actually came with the extra accoutrements. In the Running Stallion’s case, these were a beard and a horn.

I wasn’t entirely thrilled by his release in 1982; I liked the idea of having a "real" Breyer Unicorn, but did it have to be the long and tipsy Running Stallion, who enjoyed wreaking havoc on my shelves with impromptu games of dominoes?

That was my first priority when I decided to tinker with the Body Box Unicorn: make him stable enough to stand up even to one of Vita’s full-on stampedes. Since then he’s sort of been my go-to project whenever I have leftover epoxy that I do not want to throw away. (Today that came from a repair of one of Mom’s many thrift store lamps. No, there were no horses on it.)

I don’t know where I’m going with him, artistically, other than not painting him some shade of gray or white. I’m not going to do much to him structurally, other than working on his legs a little bit more, and maybe his muzzle. Like most of my other custom projects, he’s not going anywhere, so the only person he has to please is me.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Neat, or Messy?

I bought myself a little something when I went out Black Friday shopping on Friday - literally:

A Regular Run Stablemates G4 Driving Horse as a Knabstrupper! There was just something about his chunkiness and the black polka dots that said "take me home", so I did.

Another reason why I picked him up was because all the examples that I’d seen before had more random and irregular spots more typical of the standard splash spot technique, while this fellow (and the two friends he was hanging with on the clip strip) had the more carefully painted/placed spots. They are similar - but a little better executed, I think - to the spots seen on the Vintage Club Harlequin last year.

The recent Vintage Club Stablemates release of Jackson has a few of these "placed" spots mixed in with the smaller splashier ones. They are black, as opposed to dark gray/charcoal; if you take a look online, you’ll notice that the black spots on each Jackson are more or less in the same place.

I can understand why Reeves would want to perfect this technique: it would result in fewer spots in unfortunate places. This is especially important on smaller scale models like Stablemates, where a single bad spot could obliterate or distort a fine but essential detail, like an eyeball.

Yet I hope that this technique merely becomes another tool in the paint kit, and not the standard. As cute as this Knabstrupper is, he’s still a little too reminiscent of early hobby repaint jobs for comfort. The ones we did without benefit of reference photos and stuff, because our imaginations were better, anyway! (That’s what I told myself.)

What this means, of course, is that when I go to the store tomorrow, I’m gonna have to cruise past the toy aisles and see if I can get myself another Knabstrupper. The messier one, this time, because a Gallant needs his Goofus.