Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Boxer Day

Cripes, not again. I swear, when I posted this on Christmas Day:
A 40-piece Special Run Wedgewood Blue Pronghorn Antelope? Didn't see that coming. (What I thought might be coming? Either the Elk, or the Boxer.)
I had no idea that they would actually be doing a Boxer a few days later. Here’s Rolly:

He was available only to people who didn't buy Glacier, so I couldn't have gotten him anyway - which is good, because my follow-up doctor's appointment was that afternoon, and it would have bugged the bananas out of me to think I missed it-missed it!

(All is well on that health issue, BTW. It was something rare, unusual, and benign. And now gone for good.)

I like that they offered him only to people who did not order Glacier - that’s a nice way to spread the wealth around a bit. It’s an interesting and potentially viable workaround for future Vault Sales: drag it out during the holiday week when most people have some extra time and/or money, and limit the rarities to one per person.

It’s sort of like "Let’s Make a Deal"! Do I choose the contents of Door Number One, or pass it up for what might be behind Door Number Two?

My only complaint with being excluded from the Rolly sale is that I wasn’t able to directly print out the offer page for my archives, as I usually do.

I’ve seen some people compare these sales to what Peter Stone has been doing, but I think the comparison is a little off. What’s true: they are superpremium models with prices that reflect both the esoteric nature of the mold and paint selections, and the amount of detail that goes into creating them. Like with Ghost Moose’s eyes:

On the other hand, it’s Peter Stone who is duplicating himself, not the other way around. As I’ve mentioned before (most recently, here) Breyer has been doing these "Micro Runs" for years - some as early as the 1960s and 1970s. Surely all of the various prize models over the years - live shows, JAH contests and BreyerFest - also count. (Anything under 100 pieces, or 50? I can’t recall if I defined a piece threshold.)

And as for other differences, there are lots, and entire forums dedicated to arguing about it. The most fundamental difference is in the marketing. Running a boutique operation where every run is either a Micro Run or Factory Custom is basically Peter Stone’s business model. Reeves sells models of every production level and price point to everyone, and their Micro Runs are just one of the ways they market their product to the higher end/more dedicated segment of their customers.

Rolly's neat, and I had been planning on working on gaps in my dog collection next year anyway: looks like another one just opened up! I'll have to do a trade of some sort down the road, because the original $250 price tag would have been a stretch for me, regardless.

If I had the time - or the mind - to do it, I’d call up Reeves and ask if they are just deliberately messing with me now. If you guys are, could you please hold off on the Special Run Elk a few more days?

The bank account is a little low, and I don’t get paid until Friday. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014


The past couple of days have been quite annoying; two issues I thought were resolved apparently are not. There goes most of my finer plans for Monday …

In the meantime I’ve keeping busy taking care of the horsey paperwork; I've done so much buying and selling in the past two months that I’m not sure who stayed and who went. One of the few things that did manage to stick around after my collection buying-and-selling spree: a Gloss Three-Eyed (aka "Monocle") Misty!

The funny thing was that when I first saw her, I thought that she’d be the quickest way for me to recoup my investment in that collection. Then I went to look at my Misty lineup and realized she’s one of the few that I didn't have.

In my defense, there are a lot of distinct production Variations of the Regular Run Misty to keep track of, possibly more than any other individual Regular Run item. The only other ones that had about as much internal variation were some of the Dapple Grays, like the Proud Arabians and the #85 Azteca.

The Gloss Three-eyed Misty is one of the scarcer Misty Variations. Not as scarce as the Chalky, or the hand-airbrushed ones, but tougher than the Gloss 4-eyed one that most collectors consider the apex of collectible Misties.

The price I paid for this one wasn’t too bad - once I sold off everyone else in that collection. (Nice stuff, but nothing I really needed.)

Like the Stretched Morgan and the Running Stallion, Misty isn’t a mold I intended to collect: it chose me. I haven’t gone out of the way to find any of them, I just happened to stumble upon them during my normal search-and-rescue operations, either individually or in collections.

If I’m remembering correctly, it took me a few years before I finally got around to acquiring a regular, run-of-the-mill Misty, too. It’s not that I wasn’t interested, I just figured that she wasn’t going anywhere for a while. Correctly: the original #20 release of the Misty ran for over 30 years - from 1972 through 2006 - and in several different rereleases and sets afterwards.

So it’s no surprise at all that she comes in so many lovely production variations.

It’ll be interesting to see how closely the Gloss Bay Pinto Vintage Club Misty hews to (what I’m presuming will be) the 4-eyed pattern.

Thursday, December 25, 2014


I had checked first thing in the morning for the Reeves "Christmas Surprise" and noticed it was the usual free shipping and discount blady-blah-blah-whatever they had offered before. Since the hobby, in general, had not been overly thrilled with a similar gift last year, it made me wonder if there was still a "surprise" forthcoming.

In the afternoon - after dinner, but before the food coma set in - I thought I’d check it out again, and well hey, guess what shows up:

A 40-piece Special Run Wedgewood Blue Pronghorn Antelope? Didn't see that coming. (What I thought might be coming? Either the Elk, or the Boxer.)

Okey dokey, then. They have (had?) a few other lesser surprises - leftover Kashmirs, for instance - but Glacier definitely met my qualifications for "the kind of surprise I was looking for".

What’s most interesting about the Pronghorn Antelope is his horns are not molded separately - as is the case with most of the horned Traditionals - but are integral to the mold. (The Rocky Mountain Goat is another contemporaneous example with integrated horns.)

We’ve had two previous releases on the Pronghorn Antelope mold: the original release #310 that ran from 1971 through 1976, and the #389, running from 1997 through 2005. There haven’t been a lot of releases on the Pronghorn Antelope because, well, there’s not a lot you can do with a Pronghorn Antelope.

The earlier ones are lighter, have a more "airbrushy" paint quality, and the horns tend to be light gray, veering into charcoal. The later ones are darker, are clearly masked, and have black horns and facial markings. The belly and neck markings are somewhat different, too, with the earlier pieces having a variable number of stripes on his neck, while the newer ones always have three.

Glacier’s markings and shading more closely resemble the original #310 releases, which also tended to have very high belly white.

Other than one well-known Alabaster Test Color, there aren’t a lot of known Tests, Oddities or Variations of the Pronghorns, outside of the normal amount of variation that occurs during production. The later Antelope was produced during the bi-eye era, so some may have that feature, but that’s about it.

Neither one of the earlier Antelopes is particularly difficult to find at a reasonable price, though I doubt that will be the case with Glacier: I’ve already seen three for sale. (I was kind of hoping that people would wait until the day after Christmas before they started doing that.)

For the record, though, I prefer Reeves selling these low-piece-run "weirdities" in straight up sales like this, rather than as purchase raffles like the larger-run Web Specials. It doesn’t eliminate speculators, but it does seem to cut down on the initial rush.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Original States

Before I forget, here’s my Banff:

As others have pointed out, he still has the "B" mold marks on his horns, 30 or so years after that experimentation with different plastic ended. But they did remove the U.S.A. mark in the meantime!

The difference there is that the B mark was originally for internal inventorying purposes (keeping two incompatible plastics from mixing) and may still serve a function in making sure the separately molded horns go in the right slots during production. The USA mark was to comply with import/export laws. Reeves might have run afoul of the government if they hadn’t removed it.

(Speaking of the removal of the USA marks in general, it is so weird for me to see newer hobbyists refer to models with USA marks as "older"! Well, technically, I guess…)

Since the Family Arabian posts have been going over so well, here’s another: how about a look at a matching set of FASes, from that fascinating ca. 1959-1962 collection I bought a little while back?

The Charcoal and Palomino Family Arabians didn’t debut until either 1961 or 1962; the 1959-1962 ephemera gap leaves the exact date up to debate. Although Palomino had been a part of the Breyer color palette from the very beginning, Charcoal didn’t debut until ca. 1961, appearing on both the Fighting Stallion and the Rearing Mustang.

Breyer’s Black Pintos prior to 1961 did come with white manes and white/partially white tails. Unlike the Charcoals that followed, the black paint on the Pintos tended to be unshaded, or at the very least undifferentiated (no black or blue undertones).

What’s interesting about the simultaneous appearance of the Palomino and Charcoal (aka Charcoal Palomino, on some early mail-order sheets) is that they both used the same mane stencils/masks. All of the other colors manufactured on the Family Arabians/Old Mold Arabians didn’t need them; the only other masks they did use on the Arabians prior were the facial markings for the Bays.

The near side of the neck is plain, by the way, with none of the extra stenciled tendrils or hairs that show up on other examples. The outline of these stencils did change significantly over the years, especially on the near side; other hobbyists have done a better job of tracking those changes, though.

What I like about these guys - and part of the reason they're sticking around - is that they likely show us the "original state" of the stencils. At least until further research proves otherwise.

You know how that goes.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Mold Marked Fury Prancers

Something short today; I am still recovering from the minor medical procedure I had done on Wednesday. Again, it’s nothing serious: I had to change my sleeping position until the incision heals, and I am not getting a lot of quality sleep time as a result.

I was fortunate to acquire a number of Fury Prancers in one of my recent collection purchases, though space being what it is around here, I wasn’t able to keep any for myself. What was most interesting about them was that most had the circular mold mark. You can just barely see it on this Palomino one:

The Fury Prancer was issued in multiple colors - Palomino, Alabaster, Black Pinto, Palomino Pinto, Black Beauty - from ca. 1956 and probably through 1961, being replaced ca. 1962 by the Western Prancing Horse. (It was also issued in Woodgrain and in Blue, but both of those appear to be special run/special order things with very narrow production windows that didn't cross the mold mark divide, either way.)

Like most molds still in production at the time, it received the circular mold mark ca. 1960.

The #27 TV’s Fury - the solid Black, with 4 socks and a star - isn’t uncommonly found with it; they did make him for at least another five or so years after that, through 1965. But other Prancers in other colors are somewhat more difficult to find, which makes sense: they were made for two years, at most. It’s the two years near the end of their run too, when production quantities already tend to be lower.

While I was a bit bummed that I couldn't hoard them like I wanted to, I took some consolation in the fact that Mold Marked Fury Prancers are not extravagantly more rare than the unmarked ones, and many collectors haven’t turned their attention towards that mold variation - yet.

As more collectors focus on collecting specific molds, colors, or eras, I think mold variations like this will become more significant in terms of collectibility and value. As they already have with the Clydesdale Stallion, and are beginning to do so with the Family Arabians and the Quarter Horse Gelding. 

I wasn’t able to detect any other obvious or subtle mold changes between the pre-mold mark and post-mold mark Fury Prancers, but they didn’t stick around long enough for me to notice, either. Another research topic tossed onto the "look into it later" pile, I guess.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Another Family Arabian Mystery

In the comments about the Palomino "B" mark FAF, commenter Denise noted the existence (in her possession) of non-Palomino Family Arabians with the B mold mark.

When I read that, I had an a-ha! moment: could this be the evidence, at last, for the Walmart Special Run from ca. 1983?

I remember hearing about it in passing not long after it allegedly happened: a Special Run Gray Appaloosa Family Arabian set made specifically for Walmart stores. I didn’t hear or see much about it after the initial rumors; indeed, the only other reference I have for it is in the early Test Color/Special Run Lists compiled by hobbyist Jill Rademacher (now Gutierrez).

This was back when Walmart was still a regional chain, and not the retail juggernaut that it has since become. It wasn’t something I could confirm for myself, because the nearest Walmart was hundreds of miles away.

If they even existed at all, hobby interest in them waned quickly. They were Family Arabians in a previously issued color: that’s the very definition of uninteresting. I assumed that if they did exist, they would have been indistinguishable from later Regular Run Matte Gray Appaloosas, who also had USA mold marks. Those seemed a little more common than I thought they should be for something that ran only a year, anyway, so it seemed plausible.

For a while I tried to determine if there was a subtle or not-so-subtle difference in the paint jobs, but there’s so much natural variability with the Gray Appaloosa color that I quickly gave up.

For many years after their discontinuation from the Regular Run line, Family Arabians of all colors - Matte Alabaster, Bay, Charcoal and Appaloosa - were available on the Bentley Sales Company’s fabled "Discontinued" Lists. They appeared and disappeared on those lists through the late 1970s and up through at least May 1985; the next dated list in my archive is August 1985, and they are all gone.

I used to think that all the Family Arabians on that list were old backstock, and that maybe some of the Gray Appaloosa ones might have been leftovers from that Mystery Walmart Special. But again, there wasn’t any way I could prove it, and like so many other Breyer mysteries, it got tossed into the "look into it later" pile.

It didn’t occur to me that I should have started to look for items with the B mold mark. It was right around the same timeframe. Duh.

With the possible existence of B mold marked non-Palomino Family Arabians, now I have to consider other questions.

If the Walmart Family Arabians did exist, were other colors - maybe all the other previously issued colors - going to be a part of that program?

Were some of the models sold to Bentley Sales (and other mail order houses) basically Reissues made specifically for them - in whole, or in part - during the B Mold Mark Era?

Or were they part of some unrelated program that never launched, only to end up in the warehouse - and then sold to mail-order houses?

Were the non-Palomino B-marked Family Arabians even distributed by mail-order at all, or just Tests and Samples mixed into the detritus that was sold off in the mid-1980s, when the Chicago factory was cleaned out? There were lots of Tests and Oddballs in that stuff, and I could see them slipping out undetected...

Always more questions than answers with these darn Family Arabians!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Fangirl Swooning: 2015 Releases!

First, let me say that I had no idea that Reeves put up a picture of a real live puppy wearing an actual Breyer horse blanket on their Facebook page a few days ago. My only contact with Facebook is checking out the Breyer page about once a week for news and clues. But the original points remain: easy-to-do and cute.

I was going to write about the Banff, because it's Banff. But he's not here yet, and I was in a mood to write now, not later.

Then I thought I’d follow up on Denise’s comment a couple posts back about the other B-marked Foals, because there's an interesting discussion to be had there.

But then Modell Pferde Versand had to post pictures of some of the new 2015 models, and I kinda lost my mind when I noticed who was among them:

My beloved PHB! Yes! And in a somewhat different pattern!

Other hobbyists are more excited about the Pinto Desatado, or the stunning Smarty Jones Polo Pony that was shown on the 2015 Calendar, or over various Classics molds, but you know had to be the Polled Hereford Bull for me.

I was promising myself that I wouldn’t be buying much new stuff the first half of the year. It’s not a lack of money or space, just a matter of wanting to focus on other priorities for a while. But dang it Reeves, there you go making things near and dear to my heart!

I sort of suspected/hoped he’d be back; while it was certainly possible to make the Marshall Special Run from warehoused bodies, they also could have been produced from "test shots" made in the process of prepping the mold for production.

But I sort of discounted that notion, because lately almost all the Nonhorse, non-Companion mold releases have been either Special Run items of significantly larger piece runs, or items made from warehoused bodies.

So yes, I am very, very, very excited that I will soon be able to buy a new Polled Hereford Bull off the shelf without having to resort to ninja moves or Vulcan nerve pinches. (Unless special ones happen to show up in the you-know-where.) It’s nice to see the Cow, Calf and Deer Family making comebacks, too. (Will my hoped for Piebald set finally become a reality?)

Although the mold itself isn’t wildly popular among hobbyists, the Polled Hereford Bull is a pretty good seller in the nonhobbyist market. I’ve never had a problem selling any duplicates for a decent price when I've had to. So I think he’ll be a good seller for Reeves, too.

The other model among this initial group that will be on my must buy list - after the Polo Pony, I hope - will be the Autism Awareness Model, on the Quarter Horse Yearling mold. It’s not the mold, or the color, but the cause: my older cousin Todd is autistic. He was one of the first autistic kids to be mainstreamed into the public school system in Michigan, graduating in 1980.

So yeah, that's something that I'm more than happy to support. (FYI: Todd's more of a cat person than a horse person.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Poodle Cuts

Let me tell you, yesterday was a day. It started out great - yes, there is a Banff on the way to my house! But it ended with me having a partially shaved head for the duration. What I thought was going to be a minor medical procedure involving a short-term comb over will now be less minor, and may involve at least a month of creative headcoverings.

(Long story. Really, it’s nothing serious, just unsightly and inconvenient.)

Anyway, Banff has made me think about other potential animal Special Runs in the not-too-distant future. Although the Special Runs for next year’s BreyerFest are likely already set, outside of a few details, I’m hoping that the Big Poodle (aka the "French Poodle", as it was identified in its earliest ephemera appearances) is among them. Either as the designated nonhorse Special Run, or something in the souvenir-heavy store off to the side:

With a dog coat, because a commemorative BreyerFest dog coat would be adorable, and a nice nod to Vintage collectors who avidly seek out the scarce felt-coated Poodles of Christmas Catalogs Past. They gave us a collar for the 2003 BreyerFest Boxer Duke, so why not? It wouldn’t take much effort to adapt a horse blanket pattern to fit.

The Big Poodle mold has been out of commission since 1973. The biggest factor in the mold’s retirement was the mold itself: because of the complexity of the head and legs and its heavily curled coat, it takes a lot of plastic to mold one. The irregular, deeply cut surface of the mold also leads to other molding issues, including mold flow lines and short shots.

A lot of plastic, and a lot of potential waste: for the number of pieces that were selling in a given year, he was getting a little too expensive to manufacture. That was also at the beginning of the Chalky Era, so that had to have been a factor as well. Shooting Cellulose Acetate of variable color, quality and origin into a mold with some manufacturing challenges? Yeah, time to let him go.

In the early days, Breyer mitigated some of those cost problems by cutting the cost the only other way possible: the paint job. The earliest Poodles were barely painted at all, outside of a little detailing on the face and the collar. Even the Black ones: the earliest Black Poodles were molded out of solid black plastic that necessitated, at most, a bit of gloss.

Like my example, above. Who is also without a mold mark; the mold was in production for three years before the circular mold mark debuted, so it’s not uncommon to find him without one. (Its absence also makes price negotiations at nonretail establishments a little easier.)

The Matte "Silver" Gray Poodle that replaced the Black and the White in the late 1960s wasn’t much more sophisticated; he had shading, but the curls in the coat did most of the work there. The Woodgrain was somewhat more complicated, but the market for Woodgrains was a bit different: they could, and did, charge more for them.

It’s been over 40 years. We’ve seen the revival of molds like the Racehorse and the Fury Prancer, the return of Decorators, the introduction of Translucents, and the release of items as exotic as a Glossy White Moose with blue eyes and a Silver Filigree Buffalo.

A Poodle for a French-themed BreyerFest? Not the least bit exotic. Nay, it seems like a perfectly logical choice, to me.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Tailing Off on the FAF

Wrapping up/prepping up the last few pieces I intend to sell for the next couple of months, outside of stray relist items. There’s a slim chance I might purchase another collection soon - newer stuff, no Special Runs - but even if that comes to pass, I won’t have the time to prep and sell until at least March.

I have just about run out of all my accumulated packing materials anyway. (Empty space in the garage, hurray!)

I have been picking up a few pieces here and there, mostly via the local network of Salvation Army stores. Last Wednesday was a particularly memorable day - dealer promo cars, Elastolins, old German model train supplies and Aurora model kits from the 1960s! - but earlier in the week I was also very pleased to find this little fellow:

As soon as I saw his broken tail, I was positive that he was a "B Mold Mark" Era Foal, and he was:

The Cellulose Acetate variant that they went with during that era was a bit less flexible than the standard CA, and tail breaks are a common consequence of that.

I bought him because he was cheap, I felt sorry for him, and for research. From what I’ve been seeing online, it looks like I need to restart my Family Arabian Foal research program, and get all those mold variations straightened out. Not just for my sanity, but also to help satisfy the curiosity of my fellow hobbyists.

That he has the B mark helps fix his date - ca. 1979-1982/3 - and the state of the mold at that time. So he's going to stick around a while, as I make my way through all my FAFs again, point by point.

I’m somewhat less interested in retooling that occurred after that because it’s less necessary. The release dates for later (post-Palomino) releases are well-known, and any mold changes we’d find there would just be corroboration. I imagine there might be interest in discovering if there were any changes during the brief runs of the late 1980s/1990s Family Foals, but I already have enough on my plate as it is. I have to draw the line somewhere.

And there aren’t mold changes since 1997 that we know about, since FAF mold’s last release was the #995 Dark Chestnut Julian, during the brief "Bi-eye" Era.

The Mare has been missing since then too, but the Stallion still makes appearances. The most recent ones have been the Gold Charm Pinto Web SR back in 2009, the Chestnut Azhar in 2008-2009, and the recent Warehouse Reissue of Azhar.

While neither the Mare nor the Foal have the same fan base as the Stallion, with all the Reissues and Vintage-style releases that have been coming out lately, it’d be nice to see the whole family released together again one more time. Something either Glossy or Decoratory would be nice.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Banff and Other Not Brown Buffaloes

Well, there’s that last crazy-weird-awesome special of the year I feared: a Silver Filigree Buffalo?!

I want to be ridiculously excited about Banff, but after what happened with the Polled Hereford Bull Marshall, I have to temper my excitement just a bit. Even if the piece run this time is 300, not 40.

It’s true, according to the e-mail Reeves sent, that most previous Buffalos have been some shade of brown. Even the two nominal Decorators - the Connoisseur Tortoiseshell Taima, and the Ranchcraft Woodgrain - were brownish.

The only established releases in not-brown (outside of Test Colors) were in white, or nearly so: the #380 Tatanka from 1992-1993, and a very low piece special run made possibly as a tie-in or promotional item for Dino De Laurentiis’s 1977 film The White Buffalo.

If the posters and online reviews are any indication, it’s basically Jaws in the Old West - starring Charles Bronson and an animatronic Buffalo. Sounds like my kind of film!

These older special runs are grayer - almost Smoke - and don’t have the red handprint that the Tatanka has.

There may have been a Post Production Special Run of the Tatanka made in 1995, to commemorate the birth of a real white buffalo in 1994. The details about that SR are a little sketchy; all we know for sure is that they don’t have handprints either, and are probably hand-numbered.

The Tatankas used to be one of those hot must-have items that regularly commanded three-figures on the secondary market. He’s still pricey (for a Buffalo) but not unreasonable for a scarce nonhorse mold. The two handprint-free SRs, early and late, I can’t judge: they are so scarce that I can’t remember even seeing one for sale recently.

As for the alleged "Bronze Glo" Buffaloes - Bronze-colored Buffaloes that may have been a part of a paint test/experiment in the 1970s - I am about as skeptical as I am of the Mobil Red Pegasi. While a few of them may indeed be the real thing, some (if not most) are not.

I’ve seen too many "Bronze Glo" models claimed to be real for all of them to be real, unless it was one very large bucket of paint that Peter Stone and Chris Hess were playing with that day in the factory. Stranger things have happened, but fakes (innocent and intentional) happen, too.

As with anything claimed to be exceedingly rare, caveat emptor.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sonny and His Sticker

My Sonny arrived on Friday:

Cute! And if the prices I’ve been seeing are any indication, I am not alone in this assessment.

The only thing that weirds me out a little is the scale. A little bit of that is about the dappling - that’s always been an issue with Stablemates - but mostly it’s the sticker. Was the scale of it off? If we scaled up both the Drafter and the sticker proportionately, until the sticker was the same size as the bigger "name" stickers used on the Traditionals, what size would Sonny be?

So I did the math: turns out that Sonny would be about Classics-scale, a little over six inches tall. So, not too bad.

There were two Classics-scale models that did receive Blue Ribbon Stickers during the Blue Ribbon Sticker Era of the late 1960s: the Bucking Bronco and the Rearing Stallion. The Bronco only received the small "number-only" version of the sticker, but Rearing Stallions can be found with either the bigger "named" stickers or the smaller "number-only" ones.

Back then, though, models weren’t broken out into scales. That didn’t happen until the mid-1970s, when the Hagen-Renaker molds were introduced. Even then, it took a while for those two molds to be reclassified as Classics, and not just diminutive Traditionals.

Physically, the smallest model of the Blue Ribbon Sticker Era to receive stickers wasn’t a Foal: it was the Bear Cub. Stickered Bear Cubs are not commonly found, but that’s because it's hard to keep a sticker stuck on a model with such a heavily textured coat. Other models with heavily textured coats tended to lose their stickers over time for the very same reason. (Good luck finding a Polled Hereford Bull with one!)

This isn’t the first time that stickers have been put on Stablemates, though. Shortly after the Stablemates molds were shipped to China in the early 1990s, they tried putting little gold "Made in China" stickers on the releases that followed.

That didn’t last long, either. I don’t know if the reason was a change in import regulations, or the fact that the stickum on the sticker didn’t stick very well. Annoying little buggers, regardless, and so far they haven’t merited much attention from hobbyists.

Well, back to tending my saleslist. I do have a few of my "better" items up on MH$P now, and will have a few more up by the end of Monday. Not sure exactly when; I’ll be in and out of the house all day with packing and shipping (busy sales weekend!) I’m crossing my fingers that Reeves doesn’t pull any crazy Cyber Monday surprises on us...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Dating with Family Arabians

A nice, quiet and peaceful Turkey Day. The rest of the extended weekend will be spent taking care of paperwork and trying to get as much stuff up on MH$P and the like by Monday. If I can manage it, I might even have a special offer up here.

(I am also trying to get one particularly aggravating quilt project done by then, so again, no promises made.)

One interesting aspect of collection buying is that collections tend to be time capsules: most of pieces in a given collection will have been purchased within a narrow span of time. The more pieces you have, the more accurate the dating can be.

The second collection I purchased was datable from 1959 to 1962, a time period I consider one of the most fascinating for Breyer History. A ton of new and more realistic molds were coming in, and the less realistic molds were being phased out. Less emphasis was being put on acquiring entertainment licenses, and more on creating generic pieces with (presumably) fewer production restrictions. And there were more horse molds being introduced, period: in the 1950s, the number of horse and nonhorse molds were often at or near parity.

It’s also one of the lesser-documented eras: aside from some mail-order company sheets, the ca. 1960 Dealer Catalog and 1961 Inserts, and some XMAS catalogs pages, there’s not a lot to go on. Price lists are in short supply, so release dates from that era are difficult to pinpoint. Most of what we know - or think we know - is built on a fragile web of references.

This is why things like the existence of frequent mold variations on the Family Arabian Foal can be so invaluable: it’s one of the few ways we supplement the slender paper trail.

This collection had several Family Arabians in it, of every color. Alas, there were no belly-stamped Foals, but some curled-eartip ones. Except for this Gloss Palomino:

It has the fatter and flatter ears typical of the majority of Family Foals from the 1960s. Here’s a comparison with an Appaloosa Foal from the same collection, with the curled eartips:

I have not been able to track down any Charcoal or Palomino Family Foals with the curled eartips. The few bits of ephemera we have from 1959-1962 suggest that the Palomino and Charcoal Family Arabians didn’t debut until 1961 or even 1962. If the eartip mold changes occurred prior to the release of the Palomino and Charcoal Family Arabians, that would explain the absence (or extreme rarity) of curled eartip versions of them.

Exactly when? That, we still can’t pinpoint. Just a probable sequence.

Anyway, the fact that virtually all of the other models in this collection are datable to this time period also suggests that this Foal - and his entire family, who came with - are likely to be extremely early releases of the Palomino Family Arabians, if not among the earliest.

They were in very, very nice condition compared to the other Family Arabians in the group, which means they were either highly prized, lightly played with, or both. They are so nice I haven't decided yet if they are staying, or going.

That the Palominos could have been highly prized should not be a surprise. Let’s not forget that at the time they were likely purchased, the Palominos were a shiny new novelty. No one had any idea they’d eventually become common to the point of ubiquity.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Red Shift

Just to show you that the Five-Gaiter thing wasn’t me being a pill about condition, here’s a box lot baby I do intend to keep:

A poor three-legged Bay Old Mold Foal! Minus the missing leg, he’s in not bad condition - it’s just the typical ear-nose-hoof rubs and stuff. Since I have had a notoriously hard time finding Old Mold Mares and Foals in any other color than Alabaster, a three-legged Bay Foal is a treasure. He can keep my ragged, 50 cent Gloss Alabaster Fighter company!

As mentioned in the comments last post, I am not sure if early Breyer Bays were subject to color shifting like the Palominos. It’s possible, but I haven’t seen enough early New-in-Box Gloss Bays to compare against more "weathered" Bays, nor have I seen any early Bays where the color was noticeably different from one side to the next that could be indicative of prolonged exposure to the sun, heat or other environmental factors.

It’s definitely an issue with Hartland Bays - like many Hartland Palominos, the red base in the paint fades, leaving the models a distinct shade of green (Olive for the Bay; Chartreuse for the Palominos).

The red shift/red fade does happen with some early Breyers, but tends to be limited to those models that came with pinking of the eyes, ears, muzzle and hooves. Since it is limited to accent areas - and the absence of the pinking tends to be so complete - the lack of pinking is sometimes labeled as a variation or production error.

It’s also not that much of a dealbreaker; while we’d prefer the pinking to remain intact, most hobbyists are not going to turn noses up on an otherwise flawless model without it.

There is some color-shifting going on with Shrinkies, to be sure. Chestnuts turn peachy-pink, and Bays turn to Buckskin. But that’s a slightly different process there - a chemical reaction that is primarily a result of a breakdown of the plastic itself, and not a consequence of environmental issues. (Though excessive sunlight, heat and humidity certainly don’t help!)

Whatever other color shifting may be occurring with some Breyer paint jobs, nevertheless I haven’t seen anything green that didn’t start out green in the first place, either by design (Little Bits Unicorns, some of the Classics Blossoms) or by default (Dappled Green Bay Sham).

There’s been some recent speculation that the reason why Reeves hasn’t released any new "Christmas" Decorators may be due to the issues with color shifting or fading, especially with the color Red. Indeed, it could be the reason why the mythical Christmas Decorators might not have made it past the testing phase back in the 1960s.

But here we are speaking of a hypothetical of a hypothetical: we don’t have any confirmed examples of Christmas Decorators in the first place.

Oh, and re: other posts on the topic of fugitive paint, the most recent - I think - was the one last year about the 2013 Volunteer Clydesdale Mare. I really need to index these posts better…

Friday, November 21, 2014

Orange is the New Palomino

So crazy here right now - the second collection came in this morning and I’ve been busy cleaning and sorting ever since. Then they changed my work schedule at the last minute, so that leisurely weekend of horse cleaning I was anticipating vanished!

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get some of the better stuff on MH$P by Sunday afternoon, at least. No promises on that.

Both collections came with Palomino Five-Gaiters, both in similar condition (a little beat, but restorable), but completely different in one important respect: Color!

The Honey Palomino one is obviously older, and the Orange one much newer; he’s so "new" that he comes with a USA mark.

The Palomino Five-Gaiter was in production through 1971, and the USA mark was introduced ca. 1970, so one with a USA mark in itself isn’t all that unusual. A scarce and somewhat undercollected variation perhaps - like so many late-in-their-run variations - but not RARE rare. 

The variation in the color is noteworthy, however. As I’ve mentioned before, early Palominos didn’t start out "Honey", they turned that way. The Honey Palomino one above started out life pretty much the same color as his younger brother.

Breyer eventually switched the formula for the Palomino to something less fugitive (less likely to change color) in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Exactly when is unknown, but it’s obvious it had to have been by 1971. That Orange Five-Gaiter has gone through pretty much the same rough-and-tumble life as the Honey one, minus about a decade's worth of time.

But he’s at least 40 years old - and without a hint of browning.

You can see the same phenomenon with the #22 Palomino Pinto Shetland Pony, too. Later Matte and Semi-Gloss examples from the early 1970s are just as bright and cheerful a shade of orange as the one Five-Gaiter, above. I’ve owned enough of those Shetlands - boxed and unboxed, and in every condition from LSQ to body - to conclude that the lack of a color shift is not anomalous, or due to any special handling. The paint was just different by then.

Sadly, I won’t be able to keep either Gaiter; I’ve been looking for a nice one for years, but the timing isn’t right for either one of these pretty boys. Not sure when either of them will be ready for the sales list, though.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Here’s something you don’t see everyday:

No, really! Though it’s what you don’t see in this particular photo that makes all the difference. This Palomino Family Arabian Foal has a USA mark:

(Sorry for the blur. There’s no easy or dignified way of taking a picture of that area!)

Unlike most of the Breyer molds that did receive it ca. 1970, the FAF’s USA mark vanished very quickly, probably within a year of receiving it. Why? I’m not sure. It’s possible that the FAF mold went in for another round of maintenance not long after the USA mark was added, and the mark was lost in the aftermath.

Although the placement of the circular Breyer mold mark itself - aka "the copyright horseshoe" - on that leg does not change (once it migrated there!) its orientation has, suggesting that that particular area of the mold had some maintenance issues before. (Want to lose several hours of time? Got dig up all the FAFs in your house and check out which direction the "C" in the mold mark is pointing.)

Perhaps in the process of revamping that area that time, they put back the circular mold mark but forgot about the USA part, since it was probably a separate mold stamp.

Although all five of the Matte colors the Foals were in production ca. 1970 - Palomino, Alabaster, Bay, Charcoal, and Appaloosa - I have only seen the Appaloosa and the Palomino with USA marks. Recently someone on Model Horse Blab reported that they had a Ranchcraft Woodgrain FAF Lamp with a USA mark, but I haven’t seen it personally to confirm. Seems fairly plausible, though, since some of their Woodgrain Running Mare and Foal Lamps have USA marks too.

We have lots of circumstantial evidence suggesting that many (if not most) of the Lamp Woodgrains were items made specifically for Dunning Industries after all but the Fighter were officially discontinued. Until at least 1970, it seems. But we’re getting a little off track here.

Mold variations are sort of a funny thing in this hobby; unlike most color variations, earlier mold variations tend to hide in plain sight. They don’t get noticed until someone finally stands up and shouts "Hey, look!" And suddenly it becomes another Thing to look for. Much like what is now just starting to happen with the early "Supermuscular" Quarter Horse Geldings.

And remember this: this is the Family Arabian Foal, a model as common as dandelions in an ill-kept lawn. They are plentiful, ubiquitous, and practically invisible. Seen, but not noticed. No one expects much from the Family Arabian Foal.

So here is my shout out, for you variation hunters, lovers of Foal molds, or of Family Arabians in particular: these Family Arabian Foals with USA marks are something you might want to add to your want lists, before the rest of the hobby catches on. Take a second look. Expect a little bit more.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

If It’s Not One SR Set, It’s Another

In the meantime, Reeves released another Special Run Mare and Foal set to go with the other Special Run set released earlier in the week.

While I do appreciate the effort they are putting into trying to appeal to every taste and budget (Classics, or Traditionals? Realistic, or Fantastic?) it sure makes it harder for those of us hoping to make a little extra cash this time of year. Who has time to shop the secondary market when they’re bombarding us with so many new and pretty things?

Of the two sets - the Classic Palomino Unicorns Glitter and Gem, or the Traditional Running Mare and Foal Vixen and Blitzen - I slightly prefer the Traditional set. It’s not a matter of color or scale preference here, it’s the homespun blankets that do it for me. How adorable are they? 

I have a big bag of homespun scraps I’ve been just itching to make into blankets. Time hasn’t been in good supply this year, so that project has been put on hold indefinitely; I’m hoping I might be able to whip up some itty-bitty Stablemates scale ones by BreyerFest next year, at least. Either as fun giveaway items, or as something cute and inexpensive for those of us on a tight budget.

But anyway, yeah, if I had the money right now, I’d be buying the Running Mare and Foal set. I don’t, so I can’t. The spare cash is tied up in a couple of small collections I just purchased, and until I sort and piece them out, buying stuff strictly to please myself isn’t on the agenda.

(Items from those collections are being listed in all the usual places, as they are cleaned and prepped.)

The 75 dollar price tag - a sticking point with many hobbyists on this set - doesn’t seem out of line with me. You’re getting two models and two blankets, plus a free 2015 calendar if you haven’t already redeemed that offer. (Then again, I don’t have a Chamonix burning a hole in my bank account, either!)

They’re making 1000 sets, and the Running Mare and Foal isn’t all that "in" with the in crowd, so I can afford to wait on them. There doesn’t appear to be a specified amount on the Unicorns, but most of the Classics SRs seem to be in that piece range, too (except maybe Mischief Night?) so again, not too much of a worry.

The Running Mare and Foal have come in a ton of releases in their 50+ year history, but Vixen and Blitzen are only the third release in a pinto - the first being the Liver Chestnut Pintos #848 and #849 back in 1991-1993, and the second being the Vintage Club Black Pinto Salt and Pepper.

There have been a couple of Appaloosas on each mold, some funky and unique "solid" colors like the Dark Dapple Gray, and they were among the five molds used in the original Decorator Series in the 1960s, too. So it's not like the releases have lacked for variety or imagination.

Just pintos, for some reason.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Roany Roys

Chamonix for me? Of course not, silly. Silver Filigrees never take the easy way to this house! Eh, I should be selling more than buying anyway (speaking of, anyone need a Bowland?) As for the latest newest Web SRs - a Running Mare and Foal set in pinto - we'll get to them next time.

As expected, the photograph of the BreyerFest Roy is much better seen on paper than it is via an out of focus cell phone pic: shaded Bay, with lighter-colored feathering, dark gray hooves, a slightly sunbleached mane, tri-colored eyes, and light overspray-style roaning. I think hobbyists will be surprised in a good way - once they look at it for what it is, and not for what they wish it was.  

This is not the first time they’ve put a Roan paint job on Roy, but it is the first time that it could pass for a Roan without qualification.

The first attempt was the first non-Roy release: the #837 Belgian Brabant, introduced in 1991, the year after Roy was discontinued. He’s commonly described as a Dun; like most of the other models in the Catalogs and Manuals at the time, he had no official color description.

According to one internal Reeves document I have ca. 1992 (contemporaneous with his production) he was described as a Bay Roan. That’s how I thought of him back then, when I gave him any thought at all: another not-entirely-successful attempt at more realistic roaning.

A few years later, in 1996, they tried a slightly different style of Roan Roy, this one named Sebastian (#953). Slightly different is being a bit charitable; heck, calling him weird would not be out of bounds. How else would you describe a horse with a blue-gray mane, tail and body, and dark chestnut lower face and legs? As a Chimera, maybe?

Either they had some very interesting reference photos to go by, or there was some miscommunication somewhere - the same level of "the telephone game" that gave us a Buckshot Blue Roan Belgian back when.

(Hey, now there’s another vintage color revival I can get behind!)

Anyway, as for the people making yuck faces over Roy - young or old - just treat him the same way you treated the Glossy Black Goffert this year. There are tons of options to choose from. Sell them cheap-cheap, donate them to charity, hand them off to the passing tourists at the Park, chop ‘em up as bodies (it’s a Eustis sculpt - surely there’s something worth salvaging there), paint them orange and use them as high-concept jack o’ lanterns…

Or better yet - use them to upsell the hobby to others (like my National Model Horse Day idea)!

Roy’s ideally suited for the job. His thick limbs and pleasant demeanor make him an excellent first horse for kids. Lots of nonhobby folks (especially older guys!) love Draft Horses in general, out of fond memories of the family farm, beer hitches in local parades, or draft horse pulls at the fair. That it represents a rare breed (Ardennes) with a fascinating and ancient history would appeal to people interested in either history, or maintaining livestock diversity.

And it’s a BreyerFest Celebration Horse, so he’d make a good advertisement for the event, and the hobby itself.

See? Every model horse can have a value and purpose! Even Roy.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Purple Lipizzan

The one nice thing about getting just one Just About Horses per year, instead of four? Only having to scroll through the "Where’s My JAH?" discussion once a year!

It's not that I am unsympathetic. We live in a semi-rural area where they’re constantly reworking the mail routes, so we go through periods where the local system is hyper-efficient, and periods when carrier pigeons seem to be a safer bet. I learned a long time ago to not freak out about not getting my JAH until it was at least a month past its expected due date.

And it would almost never fail: the missing issue would show up the day after I called - or even that afternoon! Often in one of those "Oops, we’re sorry your mail got mangled" baggies.

Anyway, mine came on Saturday, in good shape. Of all the interesting things worth talking about, the one thing that excited me the most was this guy:

The return of the Classics Lipizzan, in the Zodiac Collection. The Classics Lipizzan mold has been out of production since 2004, when he was released in another variation of the Pegasus (#3365 Mystical Pegasus). More importantly, though, the last time he was released as a straight-up horse - no wings, horns or other additional appendages - was in the early to mid-1990s, as a Special Run item for the Wonderful World of Horses Tour.

So he’s been out of production for at least a decade - an eternity in Breyer-time; I don’t think any of the others had been out of circulation that long. Even some of the Hagen-Renaker molds weren’t put into mothballs until 2005.

Sure, he’s Bourbon Street Purple (sorta, I think) and part of a series representing the Zodiac, but those are minor details.

Actually, I really like the Bourbon Street Purple color scheme, too. It’s just that I’ve been pining for a realistic color on the Classics Lippy mold that’s not another aged gray/alabaster, something either rare (Bay/Black/Chestnut) or historical (Appaloosa/Dun). Oh well, close enough!

Most of the other molds being used in the Zodiac series are being - or have recently been - used in production runs, which makes me wonder if we’ll be seeing him again, soon. As I mentioned in my initial discussion about the BreyerFest Western Horse Gossamer, it’s economically impractical to drop a mold for production just for a single, low-run special run item.

I do think the Zodiac series will sell better than the Blossoms series. The two negatives I heard/saw most often in response to the Blossoms series were the limited selection of molds used (only three) and the literal-almost-to-the-point-of-tackiness rendering of the floral decals.

In the Zodiac series, each sign is represented by a unique mold: no duplicates here. And instead of fancy decals, Zodiac signs rendered as hip brands, against Semi-Decorator/Decorator paint jobs. They're almost tasteful.

I don't have a problem with either tasteful or tacky, but I can definitely see that as a consideration in the homes of hobbyists fortunate enough to be able to integrate their collection into their decor.

Aside from the Lipizzan, the Bucking Bronco/Aries and the Warmblood Stallion/Taurus (my sign!) may be coming home with me. More, depending on how they look in person.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


Nailed it! The next Web Special, Chamonix:

Silver Filigree Ashquar! Interesting little detail worth noting: the hooves are a different color than the ears and muzzle. Silver Filigrees haven’t been consistent on that point: just as often as not, the head and hoof colors match - most recently on the BreyerFest Silver Filigree Misty.

I’ll be entering every day - my Mont Tremblant needs a boyfriend - but doubt I’ll get him. As with most low-run Silver Filigrees, speculating will likely be an issue with this one. I won’t be heartbroken if I don’t get pulled for one. It’s not like he was a Kitten, a Khemosabi, a Polled Hereford Bull or a Traditional Man o’ War.

(Again, I want to reiterate: it was an educated guess, not the result of any insider intel. I’m just a little better than most at reading the signs. Making a ton of predictions also helps.)

In other news, per the Just About Horses that are just starting to show up, I was also partially right about the imminent reappearance of the Western Horse: there’s a shiny Appaloosa one named Glitterati being offered next year to celebrate the Western Horse’s 65th anniversary.

I thought the mold would show up in the Vintage Club first, but I am on board with this as well. Plus, I think he’d make an excellent model to use for a hobby outreach campaign.

Organizing a "National Model Horse Day" campaign has been in the back of my mind ever since a coworker mentioned National Clown Week back in August. (Yes, she's a professional clown. Not scary at all, either!) If clowns get a week, surely this great hobby of ours is worthy of a day, right? I wouldn't have to be Breyer-specific or anything like that, just a day to publicly celebrate and advocate for the hobby that gives us so much pleasure.

"National Model Horse Day: Because everyone does deserve a pony!"

Okay, off my soapbox now.

The BreyerFest Celebration Horse will be a Bay Roan Ardennes, on the Roy mold. Most of us were expecting something Drafty - likely a Percheron - so an Ardennes is a pleasant surprise. I don’t have my copy of the JAH yet to judge the quality of the paint job, but I’ve been hearing good things.

It’s nice to see more warm fuzzies about the selection of the Roy mold than I expected on Blab. He’s not one of my favorite molds, personally, but I’ve always believed it was partly because he’s had such a bland lineup of paint jobs over the years. The recent BreyerFest Special Run Radar showed just how much a pretty paint job can mend. 

But I’m sure we’ll be hearing plenty to the contrary, too. I find it so baffling that some hobbyists are willing to bail on the event based on a the very first release - sort of like bailing on a concert because you don’t like the opening act. While we’ve had both beauties and clinkers over the years, the event hasn’t been exclusively about the "Celebration Horse" for years.

And finally, it seems like the Maureen Love article in the JAH is mostly a tease, and noncommittal on the return of the Hagen-Renaker molds. I’ll have to wait and read it myself to see if I can discern anything more from it.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Horse for Nerds

Another recent arrival, a gift from a friend during a recent transaction:

I don’t have the original release of Champion to compare, but he appears to be pinker, with more "airbrushy" socks, pinker hooves, and less yellow in the mane and tail than most of the originals I’ve seen online, though not outside the range of production variation.

None of that is really necessary to distinguish him from the original, since he does have completely different reins - silver, and without the handgun bits - and I’m presuming a VIN number too, since I haven’t taken him out of his box yet.

(Oh, I will - it’s just not safe do so in these parts yet.)

I haven’t picked up the original release yet because all of the ones I found around here had issues, mostly with the reins, which were usually broken or mangled in some unique and interesting way. The last official release on the WPH - the 2004 Tractor Supply Special Run Bay, as Annie Oakley’s "Prince" - had similar issues with the reins, and was really quite hard to come by in these parts besides.

That struck me as odd, because the Western Prancing Horse always seemed to be more of a "model horse nerd’s" horse. He doesn’t have the vintage cachet that the Western Horse, Western Pony, and Fury Prancer do, and his molded tack and saddle make it difficult to update him to more modern tastes. I just assumed that like the original Champion - who had a healthy five-year run - the Hollywood/Western tie-in did most of the work selling him. That's what makes the John Wayne horse Dollor, on the Smart Chic Olena mold, so pricey in the secondary market.

("Nerd" is defined here as someone who not ashamed to love something not because of, or in spite of, but regardless of its popularity with the general public.)

I haven’t seen too many of the Reissue Champions floating around secondhand yet, either, which means he’s likely selling to hobbyists who want him for him, not for what they can get for/with him. He has his fans, but it's more like a fanbase for a beloved Character Actor (like "Cuddles" Sakall) than an A-List Movie Star (like Cary Grant).

Once I get some of the inventory issues sorted out around here, I’ll be on the hunt for the handful of WPHs I don’t have in the herd, including an upgraded Chalky Palomino, the black Vigilante, Prince, and of course the original release of the Champion. The Gloss Bay Pinto is not even on the radar.

A vintage Test Color would be nice, but they’re rather scarce on that mold. Even back then, I guess, he wasn’t all that cool. Ah, well, fine by me!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Love, Love, Love?

First they promised us the G1 Draft Horse as the Gift Stablemate for the 2014 Vintage Club. That was easy to rationalize: all the Warehouse finds were from previously molded - and warehoused - bodies. You can fit hundreds of Stablemates in a single storage drum, easy-peasy.

Then they offered us Cosette - the Classic Arabian Mare in Chestnut Pinto. Another Hagen-Renaker mold. An apparently open-ended run, too - though limited to two per customer - but still available on the Breyer web site as of my writing this. Well, maybe that one could have been warehoused too, but I was beginning to have my doubts.

Then they sent us a picture of the cover of the soon-to-be-mailed Just About Horses Annual:

Ooh, a new chestnut Carrick! The Zodiac Collection that they hinted at a while back? I’m cool with that. Fan-niversary - is that what they’re calling the next Exclusive Event, or is it just another themed anniversary promotion? Interesting; whatever it is, I hope the Western Horse is involved. The Maureen Love Story

Whoa, wait a minute. Does that mean what we think it means? 

Then we received notice about the offerings for next year’s Vintage Club:

Oh Good Heavens, a Gloss Palomino Pinto Proud Arabian Mare? I suppose we’ll all find out in a few weeks, as the Annuals make their way out into the world, the circumstances behind the return of the Hagen-Renaker molds. For now, or for good?

Rats, just when I thought it was safe to start upgrading my Proud Arabians!

While everyone is squealing in delight over the Proud Arabian Mare’s return, the model that made me melt into a puddle was the Quarter Horse Gelding. In Black Splash Spot Leopard Appaloosa, like the Western Prancing Horse? Oh, goodness.

The full lineup, in case you haven't heard:
  • Black Splash Spot Leopard Quarter Horse Gelding
  • Gloss Red Bay Pinto 4-eyed Misty and Stormy
  • Gambler’s Choice Decorator Running Stallions
  • Gloss Palomino Pinto Proud Arabian Mare - Yellow Mount pattern
  • Bonus Model: Dark Dapple Gray Loose Mane Cleveland Bay, aka "Murphy"
  • Gift Stablemate: Gloss Alabaster G3 Rearing Andalusian
Interesting that they’re doing a Gambler’s Choice on the Running Stallion; presumably for the benefit of those lucky ones among us who have vintage Running Mares and Foals in need of a match. I thought they'd go with a Gloss/Matte Gambler's Choice first, since there was precedent for that back in the 1960s and 1970s, when they transitioned from mostly Gloss to mostly Matte finishes.

So signing up for the Vintage Club this coming year gets you a rare and lovely PAM, and a super-scarce (125 piece) Decorator? Sounds like a pretty good deal to me!

There goes my hard-earned Paypal balance.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

All About the Timing

First, another Test Color from the picture files. I only wish I had this one!

Black Traditional Man o’ War with star, gray hooves and a black halter. There are actually quite a few of them floating around - at least four that I know about, according to my reference materials. This does not include other Black Tests in different marking configurations, or the unpainted Solid Black Plastic ones that came later (I think). I have no idea how many of those were made.

Those selfsame reference materials indicate he was a later Test from the 1980s. The better known Dapple Grays were from the 1970s.

I don’t know who owned this one when the picture was taken, or where he ended up; there was nothing on the back of the photo to help out.

The fact that there is more than one out there gives me a tiny bit of hope that I might acquire one someday. I've come real close on the Black Plastic ones, but my timing was a bit off both times. (Yes, I know, I already have a Test Color Man o’ War. I’ll stop whining now.)

I’ve been distracted with some inventory-type business this week, so the rest of this is just general light housekeeping.

I didn’t get drawn for the Gloss Mr. Chips, which is something I was expecting to happen. The coin flips on almost everything from traffic lights to eBay auctions haven’t gone my way for weeks. Not that big a deal, really, just mildly annoying.

There’s another drawing this week, too, for the Mischief Night Hobo. I was fortunate enough to get one while he was still to be gotten, so I’m not worrying about it. I am curious why the drawing is on Halloween, and not on Mischief/Devil’s/Angel’s Night itself; I guess the reference is just obscure enough that they didn’t want cause any more annoyance or confusion.

Modell Pferde Versand apparently have/had the leftover 2014 WEG models:

So if you start seeing them turn up in quantity and in the usual places, that’s why. No, I didn’t order any - yet. I’m still trying to focus more on selling than buying until the end of the year, though the Universe seems to be conspiring against me on that point.

How so? After dropping off a couple of packages at the post office yesterday, for instance, I had a hunch and swung by the local antique mall across the street. And just look who was waiting for me:

A Hagen-Renaker Harry with his original name sticker. Leave him behind? I don’t think so! He has a broken leg and the mold detail is a little soft, but I don’t care - he’s my first DW H-R in I can’t remember when. A nice way to end to the shopping season!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Cheap is Good, But Free is Even Better!

First, here’s a link to the blog post illuminating the genesis of the Sarah Mink’s Croi Damsha; it’s definitely worth the read, for a number of reasons:

There may be a Stallion and Foal to match in the not too distant future. Wouldn’t that be lovely? More about that another time - let’s get back to the history!

I found the thing I was looking for - an early design for the original Stablemates packaging. The scan has been tweaked a bit to improve legibility, because the acetate was a bit yellowed and covered with bits of crusted stickum:

It’s not quite what I remembered - I thought it was more specific about the offer, but it isn't. I don’t have the reverse, so I don’t know what they had planned, if anything.

But goodness - if there had been a "Buy [this many] Stablemates, get a [special?] Stablemates Free!" offer, I would have been all over that like my brother was with the original Kenner Boba Fett action figure.

Worse, maybe, if it had involved some super-scarce exclusive one and not just some random Stablemate from the warehouse. Though an ordinary Regular Run Stablemate would have been good, too, as long I could have specified which one.

Back in those dark pre-Internet days, that would have been almost as powerful a draw as something rare and exclusive.

If your local stores didn’t get certain items or colors, you didn’t have a lot of recourse. I remember that the Stablemate Foals were especially hard to get around here - only one local store (a Circus World!) got some in, but they were long gone by the time we visited again.

The Stablemate assortment at the Kmart across the street didn’t have any either - either they sold quickly, or didn’t get them in the first place. My parents had to physically drag me away from that display because I wouldn't leave until I found them.

I did, eventually - they were one of the first things I bought from The Bentley Sales Company, shortly after "discovering" the hobby a few years later. I bought the Chestnut ones, along with the Dapple Gray Saddlebred and Chestnut Morgan Stallion, off one of their Discontinued Sales Lists.

I would have gladly sent in several proofs-of-purchase for any one of them.

Again, I have a hard time imagining a BOGO-style offer would be feasible in the here and now, due to cost. The closest thing we have now are the Stablemates that come with the Vintage and Premier Club memberships, and with the Exclusive Events.

It’d be nice if they could extend it to a program that doesn’t involve massive outlays of cash, though. Because again, part of the appeal of Stablemates is that they’re cheap. And free is the best kind of cheap!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Still Waiting for the Other Shoe

Well, that didn’t take long: Glossy Vintage Club Mr. Chips, yo.

The piece count this time is 95; Lucy’s was 80, so it seems safe to say that they’re making 500 pieces of these Vintage Club Bonus models anyway, and just glossing the unsold remainder. That they sold fewer of the Mr. Chips than the Lucy makes sense, since only his paint job could be classified as Vintage. 

Since it’s technically a Vintage Club exclusive, I’m a bit hesitant to put it in the same category as Frosty, Cosette, Mischief, the Warehouse Specials, the Two Foal Set, et al. What I’m think of will be something available to more people, and it’ll make a significant portion of the hobby lose it.

I know what you're thinking, but the Premier Club Croi Damsha doesn’t count either. I am a little surprised at the intensity of the drama leading up to her (presumed) unveiling this week, especially since the only thing we didn’t know about that was the specifics. (Me, the Vintage Models Forever person, almost joined the Premier Club last year because of it. My loss!)

Anyway. Here’s another BreyerFest addition I haven’t talked about yet, the little Pink Appaloosa Stablemate Birthday Cake:

I’m not normally a big fan of the color pink, but my first reaction to seeing it in person was Oh, I could just eat you up!

Like almost everything else in the Anniversary Store, Birthday Cake sold out too, in spite of having a 2000 piece run. (I received mine through the kind graces of a friend, since my schedule and circumstances kept me from even attempting the Anniversary Store).

I’m assuming that the experiment succeeded, and this means we’ll be seeing another Commemorative/Souvenir Stablemate next year - I hope with either a bigger piece count, or a stricter limit enforced on purchases.

There’s been some talk among hobbyists about a Stablemates-of-the-Month Club: namely, why don't we have one yet? The demand is certainly there for one. The primary prohibitive factor there is cost: once you factor in postage, packaging, promotion and manufacturing, the price per month would end up being $12-15 each.

This is not out of line for what the BreyerFest One-Day Stablemates go for, but for hobbyists used to getting individually carded Stablemates for four bucks, retail? It might be a bridge too far. Part of the addictive nature of Stablemates is that they’re cheap: forty bucks can get you one nice Traditional Horse - but 10 Stablemates! More, if you do your homework. (Y'all know about the Ollie's sale, right?)

Double the price, and some are going to hesitate. That Birthday Cake sold out as quickly as it did was partly because she was only five bucks, not ten.

There are creative ways of getting around the cost problem. They could double them up (like the Classics Foals), sell them quarterly in sets rather than monthly, charge a one-time flat fee for a year’s subscription, or set up various BOGO offers (Buy One SR, Get One RR Free!)

Actually, I think they did consider doing something like that when Stablemates were first introduced, if I’m remembering right. I’ll have to go digging for the evidence later this week.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


I never did get around to introducing you to the Silver Filigree Misty I got during the Great Post-BreyerFest Silver Rush:

I call her Crinkles, because she reminds me of the aluminum foil that both my Grandmothers saved and reused until it crinkled to bits. Oddly, the white plastic underneath the silver paint seems shinier and more sparkly than the silver itself, but I think it’s an effect of the textured surface than any trick of the paint.

With all the Special Runs they’ve been throwing at us willy-nilly this Fall, it makes me wonder if we’re getting at least one more: this time, another Silver Filigree. Silver Filigrees are not quite a Holiday Web Special tradition, but it’s happened enough that collectors can be forgiven somewhat for thinking it is:
2008: Othello - Silver Snow
2010: Esprit - Alpine
2011: Weather Girl - Mont Tremblant
2013: Brishen - Aspen
It’s interesting to note that these molds were all relatively "new" when their corresponding Silver Filigree Special Run was released. Yes, I considered the Othello "new" then: while the mold existed in Nonplastic form much earlier, the mold made its Plastic debut in 2007 with the popular Christmas Horse Wintersong.

The most likely candidates for a possible Silver Filigree Special would be newer molds like Latigo, Ashquar, or Carrick. However, Carrick is a Tractor Supply Special (Travis); Ashquar is a Flagship Special (Sahran); and Latigo was just announced as a Collectors Club 2015 Web Exclusive (in Palomino Pinto, named Tallulah).

As we’ve seen with the Goffert and Carrick molds this year, though, Reeves isn’t squeamish about putting out multiple unrelated Special Runs from the same mold in rapid succession. For some reason Ashquar seems like the most likely candidate among the most recent mold releases; he’s only had the one release (Sahran) since his debut last year.

But we’re speaking of hypotheticals; I haven’t heard anything concrete. In fact, I haven’t heard anything at all about anything, but I haven't been online much lately. It may well be that Reeves might think we are Silver Charmed and Filligreed out after BreyerFest, and is currently plotting something else.

Or nothing at all.

Actually, I’d love to take a breather and not have to worry about any more Specials of any kind for the rest of the year. Silver Filigrees or otherwise.

Don't think that'll happen, though.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The First Black Stretched Morgan Variation

First, there's another web exclusive - this time, a set of Classics Foals, with blankets, named Poncho and Champ. Smart move: these are exactly the kinds of models that younger hobbyists were looking for at BreyerFest this year; I could have sold the Classics Foals I did have many times over. It’s nice to see Reeves is doing its market research homework.

Anyway, time to finish up the series on Black Morgans, with this fellow:

If an average collector has any Variations of the Black Morgan, it’s the first: bald-faced, four stockings, and black hooves. They made him for a while this way - most of the 1960s, near as I can figure; the earliest ones had handpainted eyewhites. The black hooves eventually became gray hooves, then in 1970 the bald face was replaced with a star.

You wouldn’t have known that to look at the catalog photos, though: they used stock photos of the Bald-Faced Variations in Dealer Catalogs and Collector’s Manuals through 1975. They did use a correct Star-Faced photo on the white photo/picture boxes that debuted in 1973.

That disparity I attribute to a case of being cheap rather than inattentive, lazy, or incompetent.

There are no special stories or memories associated with the Stretched Morgan featured above. I’ve gone through a number of models in this Variation, never quite finding the "right" one; I had to purchase this better-than-average example at a local antique market - at an antique market price. (More than I usually pay, but still less than what most hobbyists pay retail). That’s it.

Because my collection is at a certain size and density, any model that doesn’t come with the perfect combination of beauty and backstory is potentially up for resale - as is the case with this model. I still have plenty of other Black Stretched Morgans to keep me company, in addition to all the others I've already mentioned here: my original (visually ordinary) one, a nice gray-hoof Baldy, and the Gray Plastic one.

As for variations I don’t have in the collection yet, I wouldn’t mind locating a Short Sock Variation - a later variant with socks that barely clear the pasterns - but I’m in no rush. I figure that one will make its way to me when it’s good and ready. They always have.