Thursday, February 27, 2014

Happy Family

The cold that I thought was a passing thing last week? It must have seen that I had a small lull in my schedule, and came back for an encore. So much for getting anything extra done around the house; the only energy I’ve had for the past couple of days was expended going to the store to buy more Nyquil.

I have not said much about the latest Breyer exclusive event, the Big Easy Bash. There were a few days back when the tickets were being sold that I considered the possibility of going, partly to help a friend out, but mostly because I wanted to visit the factory again. And road trips, I needed another road trip.

It didn’t materialize because we couldn’t get our ducks in a row in time.

Whilst helping out another friend, I was made aware of the existence of a wait list, and my name was put upon it. The closer and closer the date became, the less and less likely that a last minute call was going to happen, so I took progressively less interest in any of the details of the event.

And…if I say any more, you’d probably get annoyed with me, mostly because I’d start rambling about my thoughts about hobby gentrification - and since cold medication does weird things to my head, probably end with me babbling about Bigfoot or the Illuminati.

Anyway, happier thoughts of happier families: here is a picture of my Deer Family. I bought them at the flea market quite some time ago; the wooden bases are not original, of course. They were purchased from a dealer who had obviously bought out the contents of someone’s hunting lodge or trophy room; in addition to the Deer Family, there were multiple antler mounts from the 1960s, most of them not much to brag about.

The Breyer Deer, on the other hand, were. Older, with beautiful shading, no rubs in sight, no USA marks, and every tine on the Buck's rack intact: it was the finest Breyer Deer Family that I found up to and since then.

I decided to keep them on their bases because they were in good shape, and well done. They had done their job in keeping the entire family intact in every sense of the word, so why mess with success, right?

The Deer Family are in the small group of molds that are more popular among the general public than they are in the hobby. Hobbyists prefer two things that the Deer Family are not: horses, and variety. The Family returned in two different tweaked versions of the tan/brown: the #3124 "Whitetail" Family from 1998 through 2004, and the #3125 "Summer Coat" set in 2005. The Fawn was rereleased in some of the Wal-Mart Special Run sets, too. But other than that, what you see above is what you would have gotten - in the 30 plus years the originals were available (ca. 1964-1997).

There are some variations. The Buck is sometimes found in Chalky, and the Fawn is occasionally seen without spots. Items issued during the brief bi-eye era came with bi-eyes. Early models were sold separately, in addition to being sold in sets, and also came with Large or Small Blue Ribbon Stickers. The original box for the #3123 Deer Family set has very appealing graphics. And as I mentioned above, early models came without USA marks. Test colors and oddities are rarer than your average horse mold, but do exist.

So if you are truly a dedicated Breyer Deer collector, you could keep yourself modestly busy for a while tracking all that down.

Even so, I think it’s funny that their names rarely come up when discussing future Nonhorse Special Runs - online, BreyerFest, wherever. A Piebald set would be fairly well-received, especially as a Special Run set for Tractor Supply.

Monday, February 24, 2014


One good thing about the massive amounts of snow in the yard? All that reflected light means it’s been a good time to unyellow horses! The Little Man (Palomino Stock Horse Stallion) that I was considering selling is looking almost nice enough to keep now.

As I’ve mentioned before, older Palomino paint jobs are notoriously fugitive: they change with exposure to heat and/or light. Breyer Palominos tend to turn honey-brownish - often attractively so - while many Hartland Palominos turn lime or chartreuse green. Which, depending on your taste, could also be attractive.

The Yellow Palominos of the 1980s? Apparently not that fugitive. Three months might not be enough to effect a change, true, but so far my Little Man is just as painful to look at now as he was back in December. (Whether this is a good thing or bad thing? You decide!)

A Bay Fighting Stallion I picked up in a box lot a while ago, however, is still an unpleasant shade of Cigarette Orange. My lack of photographic skills, for once, are doing him a great kindness:

He was cheap, is relatively common, and is not in the bestest shape anyway; once a few other projects are out of the way, he may become another restoration test subject.

I do have a little bit of guilt about that: he does have footpads, no USA mark, fully modeled and shaded boy parts, and has some pretty nice shading overall. I’d be perfectly amenable to selling him as is to someone who’d look past his relatively minor imperfections. (Postage plus a nominal amount to cover fees and stuff?)

Speaking of, I noticed on the Breyer Calendar of Events that they actually listed - in addition to the usual Fun Days and Live Shows - a Swap Meet! Alas, it was in Missouri, so it’s not something I would have been able to attend, being in Michigan and having to work.

I do like that Reeves is tacitly supporting something like this. Not everyone wants - or is able - to show, and many don’t have the financial means (or fortitude!) for bigger events like BreyerFest. Sometimes all we want to do is hang out with our fellow oddballs and talk horses.

Heck, that’s a huge chunk of the appeal of BreyerFest. The shopping is great, but confabbing with a bunch of people who sort of "get me"? Priceless.

Sure hope it’s something that catches on. I don’t see why it couldn’t, since it’d involve far less prep than a live show: just some space, some tables, and some refreshments. I wish I could do another one in these parts, but I’m not sure it’d be feasible with my schedule.

I’d be more than willing to pitch in, though! Especially on the refreshments part. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Potholes and Things

The week was looking up by Wednesday: the sun was shining, the snow was melting, my mild cold abating, Spring Training was underway, I was just about caught up with sleep - and I even solved a quilt design problem that had been vexing me for several months now.

Thursday morning? I had the pleasure (not) of meeting the largest pothole in Macomb County. I suppose I should be lucky that all I got was a flat tire and a bent wheel: I swear it was about the size of a dinosaur excavation site. I didn’t see it until it was too late to swerve because it was 5 a.m. and full of water.

Florian is now fine, but after what I had to go through to get him there, my thoughts are not of the organized sort. I am most definitely not leaving the Pajama Perimeter tomorrow.

Since I never gave y’all a formal introduction, Florian is a 2011 Jetta Sport Wagen, with an all black interior and exterior. Unlike Drama Queen Sherman, Florian is like a calm and considerate boyfriend. If he were an actual person, he’d wear black turtlenecks, work from home as a Web Designer, and own a couple of Weimaraners and a bossy and overly affectionate Corgi.

Enough of my overly detailed interior life…

I went back to the Salvation Army - all the Grand Champions were gone, with the exception of one with a missing leg. There were a few more Horse Shaped Objects added to the dump bin mix, but only if you defined the word Horse very loosely. (Like those rubbery horse things from Dollar Tree.)

I did not win a Web Special Greek Goddess Hera. Not-winning didn’t bother me all that much until the Pothole Incident. If any week deserved a pony at the end of it, it was this one. The flea market can’t reopen soon enough.

I like the newest BreyerFest release, a Bay Semi-Leopard Appaloosa on the Carrick mold, named Bonne Fête (Happy Birthday). He reminds me a lot of the Beswick Appaloosa, and I’ve always wanted (and could never afford) one, so he could be a happy substitute - depending on who else makes the lineup. The color looks great on him; a lot of people seem to agree.

I also enjoyed the photo of Carson Kressley on the Breyer Facebook page, holding what appears to be a Glossy Gooitzen. I don’t know if that means that they’ll all be Glossy, or that it’s a special piece just for Carson, or what. If they’re going to be Glossy, that means the Costume Contest prizes might be Matte - or something else entirely. (Silver Filigree? Ooh, pretty!)

I didn’t look too deeply into the commentary to investigate, as I suspected it was going to turn into another "Why Can’t We Have Another New Mold Instead" round table. In spite of the fact that new mold introductions on Celebration Models are the exception, not the rule.

Something happens once or twice or a few times at BreyerFest, and suddenly it becomes an inviolate rule. They had an impromptu Free Raffle for the Small Poodles at the 1997 BreyerFest, for instance, and it took two or three years of hobbyists loitering at the Horse Park before it sank in that it was just a one off thing, not an ongoing thing. (I admit fully to loitering the first year after; it’s not like we had a whole lot else to do back then, anyway.)

I like a little unpredictability. Keeps everyone on their toes. A little, mind you, not total chaos. Had my fill of that over the past two days, thank you.

Something more cheerful and history-filled, next time.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

More on the Woodgrain Revival

Feeling just slightly under the weather (probably due to the weather) so here’s a scan I wanted to include in my discussion about the new Woodgrain Clock Saddlebred. It’s from a note from Marney Walerius to Peter Stone, attached to a flier for the 1976 Model Horse Congress, and it gives you an indication of just how long the Woodgrain Revival has been in the making:

1976: that’s just three years after the Woodgrain Fighting Stallion was discontinued, in 1973. Positively microscopic in Breyer time.

Woodgrain Proud Arabian Stallion? Gah! I know he’s no fan favorite, but I can’t even imagine what would happen to the Internet if he (a) did exist, and (b) showed up on eBay or MH$P. (And the Mares and Foals, if they were properly vetted and documented? The very nature of time and space itself might be altered.)

I am somewhat doubtful of his existence, since actual Woodgrain Test Colors are exceedingly rare - modern or vintage. This makes sense, since the Woodgraining process is messy, toxic and is a few degrees more difficult to execute than your standard paint job.

And no, seriously, I have no idea about his whereabouts, or if he was even made at all. All I knew prior to this note is that the notion of bringing back Woodgrains had been in discussion for a very long time; I just didn’t realize it had begun almost from the day they were discontinued in the first place.

Or that a Proud Arabian Stallion may have been involved. It makes sense, though, since Test Colors of other Old Mold colors appear to have been made on the Mare prior to her rerelease in the 1970s, including this beauty from Marney’s photo album:

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Another Thriftshop Treasure

Every time I swing by the local Salvation Army, another treasure pops up. This time - an Old Mold Bay Stallion!

Considering his condition, treasure is probably pushing it a bit, but it felt nice rescuing him from a dump bin of not-so-gently-used toys. There were a few older Grand Champions in that bin as well, but as my knowledge of them is woefully inadequate, I figured it’d be best to leave them for someone who is more knowledgeable to sort them all out.

(I get the same slightly anxious feeling whenever I find a box of older MLPs or Lesney Matchbox Cars. There’s probably something good in here, but I don’t have even a glimmer of a clue, and I’d feel slightly guilty for taking the opportunity away from someone who does…)

There was no evidence of the Mare or Foal to be found, though. This didn’t surprise me, as while I’ve had a fair bit of luck locating the Alabasters locally, the Bays continue to elude me.

Other local hobbyists have found them, so it’s not a situation where they weren’t available here. It’s not an issue of rarity, either, as you all know I’ve found things that make Bay Old Mold Mares and Foals look mundane.

It might just be one of those weird sampling errors - like how I’m more likely to find Charcoal Fighting Stallions than Liver Chestnut Quarter Horse Yearlings. It doesn’t mean that the Fighters are more common than the Yearlings, per se, just that that’s how my personal luck runs. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does lead to some strange internal monologues.

("Another Charcoal Fighting Stallion? Oh, bother…")

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to find whatever I do find. But given the choice, I’d rather find stuff that I want than stuff that I have to sell to get what I want. If only to save myself a step or two.

The Bay Old Molds are definitely more rare than the Alabasters, that is true. The Alabasters had the advantage of coming out first, and therefore being in production longer, though were not sure exactly how much longer. (And production quantities? No idea!) The Bays also seem to be a bit more desirable among hobbyists, but I’m not sure if that’s because Alabasters are seen as easier to get, or the Bays are considered more attractive.

I actually find the Alabasters a little bit more attractive, personally, because I’ve seen some Alabasters with astounding shading that almost rival their Hagen-Renaker ancestors.

As I already have a somewhat nicer Old Mold Stallion in Bay in the herd, this guy is going on the saleslist, though I’m not sure where. His condition - and general lack of demand for the mold - tell me he’s strictly body box material. But he is an Old Mold, technically, and not beyond salvaging.

It’ll be a few more weeks before I start up selling again, so I have some time to think about it.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Blue Chips

It’s going to be a bit rambly today; dealing with more paperwork. I’m also trying to get a head start on my taxes this year because hokey smokes, I had no idea I sold so much stuff last year!

First, let me congratulate Vita’s distant cousin for winning Westminster yesterday.
"Her personality is she loves to kiss people and she connects with everybody," Rangel said.
That’s Vita, too.

As far as whether I’d recommend this breed to anyone, it depends. Aside from being adorable and incredibly personable, she’s also high-energy, bossy and a demanding little attention hog who likes taking long walks in blizzards. Like a cat, she only cuddles when she wants to cuddle, and sleeps where she darn well pleases. Which we all like (except for the blizzard part) but we can completely understand why some would not.

Anyway, back to horses.

When I opened up the e-mail for the Vintage Club Mr. Chips earlier this week, my first reaction was "Should I go ‘Ouch’ or ‘Moo’?"(My second reaction was "Time to start selling more stuff!")

Boy, Reeves has been throwing a lot of stuff at us awfully early this year.

My fondness toward the original Pony of the Americas release is well-known, so I will probably be getting him in spite of his slightly higher than expected price tag. I have a feeling that he may follow the same trajectory of another Web Special - the Rose Gray Smarty Jones release Riley - and become more popular and desirable after the fact.

I think a few too many people in the hobby gamble that way, though, and the problem with gambling is that most people lose, in the end. (Confession: I did eventually sell my Glossy Riley for a slight profit last year. My shelf space is limited, and it came down to either him or my Daytona, and I liked Daytona’s matte chocolatey Bay a little better.)

I could well be wrong with my assumption, and I’m okay with that. I’ll be buying him because I like him, not because I’m betting on any potential financial rewards down the road. That’s just the butter to my bread, if it happens.

It’s been said before, multiple times, because it’s true: you can’t go wrong buying what you like.

I have no opinion on the BreyerFest Special Run Andalusian Jubilee, in Gloss Silver Bay. I can say that I wasn’t all that impressed with the initial photos of Special Run Andalusian Galahad in 2005 either, but now he’s one of my office desktop horses.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Has to be something short today; another last minute schedule change, plus I need to get some long overdue non-horsey paperwork done and out the door by Monday.

As for the not remembering that there was another Woodgrain Stablemate keychain, I blame that on the schedule. I’ve had to write a lot on the run, without my source materials at hand, and often without my minimum daily requirement of sleep. (Barring any last minute changes, the next two weeks look significantly better. Whew.)

Plus, keeping track of Stablemates is hard. I used to be so on top of them, until the G2s arrived.

In compensation for my error, here is a picture of my Pancho, one of the few truly rare Stablemates that graces my collection:

Prior to its "discovery" in the 1990s, I had heard rumors of a Black Quarter Horse Stallion, but chalked it up to either cases of mistaken identity, or small batch painting errors. Sometimes small batches of Stablemates were painted the wrong color, but since they were otherwise fine and saleable, they’d be packaged and distributed anyway.

(The two I remember hearing about were Silky Sullivan in Black, and Swaps in Bay.)

Hobbyists were justifiably a little skeptical of the Panchos: a previously unknown early Special Run Stablemate, in Black? When I came into possession of one, though, there really wasn’t any doubt about the authenticity. The little details - mold flow lines, flashing, and the quality of the overspray - told the tale.

As always, and in person inspection beats photographs, every time. The only saving grace of the initial controversy, for me, was that it allowed me to secure one for a not unreasonable price.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Return of Woodgrains?

The new Woodgrain release Mú Wén Ma, on the Clock Saddlebred mold, took me by almost complete surprise. We’ve been promised new Woodgrains for so many years now - with so little payoff - that I tended to dismiss all rumor of them. When I saw the sneak peek in the JAH Annual, I blew that off as just another tease.

The only production Woodgrain that we’ve had since 1973 - the year a lot of stuff went away, and never came back - was the 1999 Special Run BreyerFest G2 Clydesdale keychain Stablemate. Even he was a little bit off, something I attribute largely to the scale. It's hard to get good graining on something that small.

There are a lot of explanations for why Woodgrains were not brought back in any meaningful way until now. A few of the more commonly passed around ones include:
  • The technique involved some fairly nasty substances, some now banned/heavily regulated.
  • The only people who knew how to do it well retired or passed away.
  • The technique was too time consuming and/or expensive to be profitable.
  • Collectors and hobbyists wanted more realistic colors and finishes.
  • The painters who did know how to do it basically told off anyone who suggested the idea "Nope, not going to do those anymore. Can’t make us."
…and so on. Like most decisions, I’m guessing it was a little bit of all of that. I am partial to the one involving the painting department, back in the day, giving Peter Stone dirty looks and shooing him away.

("This isn’t about the Woodgrains again, is it? I thought we all agree we weren’t doing any more Woodgrains. Now either paint something, or go away.")

The mold isn’t my favorite - the Clock Saddlebred mold just doesn’t ring my bells like it does for a lot of hobbyists - but from the pieces and PR photos I’ve seen, he does look very promising. I might have to add him to the list of things to consider buying at BreyerFest.

It makes me optimistic for a Woodgrain Vintage Club release, too. My choice for this? Easy - the Clydesdale Mare and Foal. It'd be like a beefier version of the Family Arabians!

The Clydesdale Stallion in Woodgrain isn’t one of the harder vintage Woodgrains to find, so unlike the Vintage Club Gray Appaloosa Proud Arabian Stallion Harlequin, most collectors would be able to complete that family without a lot of undue strain to their time or money.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Chilling Out

The schedule for February looks better - so far. Not the weather, though; I think we ran out of places to put the snow on Saturday. With no temperatures above freezing for at least another week, and more snow coming in a few days, I am sorely tempted to build a luge run in the yard.

We live on nearly an acre, on the side of a hill, so it's not as far-fetched as you might think. But, you know, the time thing.

Surprisingly, I decided against pre-ordering the Rajah. Not that I didn’t like him and/or want him, but I made a commitment to downsize the first half of the year, and I’m sticking to it. It’s already taking me days - or weeks - to open the handful of items I’ve already bought. Doesn't seem quite right to commit to another, even if it wouldn't arrive for another five months.

With my schedule the way it was, I completely got out of the habit of eBay surfing, so I also (almost) completely missed the hubbub of crazy Decorator bidding wars. All I will say on the matter are the same things I usually say in such matters:
  1. High prices on high-end items are in no way a reflection of a recovering economy - anymore than the prices of Van Goghs or Rembrandts are;
  2. Collectibles still aren’t that good an investment.
You can make money on collectibles, but it requires far more work than taking a picture and putting it on eBay. Do your research. Cultivate your sources. Buy for the long term as well as the short term. Don’t get too sentimental to things you intend to sell, but don’t buy strictly to flip, either.

If you don’t like what you are selling, on some level, buyers are going to pick up on that.

I did open some other boxes of horses recently, besides the Levi. I’ve decided to set free most of the BreyerFest Reissues. I’ll keep one boxed - the Huck Bey, most likely - just because I like to have representative samples of different box styles. The first one I’ve opened up is the Bay Shire:

Aside from the VIN number, there are a number of differences between the Reissue and the original 1998-1999 Regular Run release. The shading is different - the reissues have darker faces, are more red bay than buckskin, and the hoof paint is less noticeable/prominent than the original.

All of those differences do fall within the normal range of variation for the original release, though - I know, because I’ve shopped for her in the past. But they do seem consistent enough within the Reissue run itself to least merit noting.

The most obvious difference, though, is that the finish is more satiny and less matte, bordering on the semi-gloss. The surface of the mold also appears to have been either buffed/retooled slightly, as I suspect the Trakehner was.

It has already been established, however, that the Reissues are largely (if not entirely) painted on older molded stock. This means either the retooling took place earlier than I noticed before (this would not be surprising) or there was a little extra effort put into cleaning and buffing of the older stock. 

My Smoke ‘n Mirrors and Monarch - 2003 releases and the last Bell-bottomed Shires prior to the BreyerFest Cheerio, in 2012 - are currently in storage, so I cannot check either way. A quick online photo survey has been inconclusive.

Argh! This is going to bug me. I need to find some dorky thing to watch on the TV to chill out now.