Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Unexpected

Mostly personal (but not overly personal) stuff ahead, a lot of it not Breyer- or History-related, so if you want to skip today and go outside and play in the yard, feel free.

My weekend: taxes, errands, Spring cleaning. Boring but necessary stuff. I did swing a little out of my way yesterday while running errands to check out a few thrift shops and Tuesday Mornings, but I didn’t find anything worth bringing home. I was hopeful, because the weekend before I found a lovely little clutch of Schleichs and stuff in the Grab Bag box at the Salvation Army Store:

The fuzzy flocked thing is going to be turned into a Christmas ornament. Whenever I can find the time, he’ll be all decorated up with rickrack, glitter and tinsel, just like the ones that entranced me at the flea market some time ago. Everything else is dollar table material, for now. (The Mountain Goat is trying very hard to change my mind.)

Although I’m trying very hard to be good, I have been finding myself cruising eBay the past several days, looking up box and body lots. It’s still a few weeks before the flea market season begins here, but my need for a quick and cheap horse fix appears to have kicked in early.

The Vintage Club Mustang is coming this week, true, but what I’m thinking of is the delight of the unexpected. We’re about due for a surprise on the Breyer web site, anyway, aren’t we?

A Spring-themed Classic would be nice. A companion piece to the Flurry from late last year? (Or Classics representing all Four Seasons! I could dig it.)

My work schedule is easing up a little, finally, which means that with a little luck I should have some stuff on MH$P (and possibly elsewhere) by the end of the week. Money isn’t the issue as much as space. Need to make a little room for the newer additions to come.

Much to my disappointment, it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to get to a live show this Spring like I planned. I simply haven’t had the time to select horses and prep the documentation, and I have too much to do now that Spring is more or less here. The BreyerFest show is completely out of the question for a number of reasons (NPOD, space issues, too big, too high-stakes) so it might not be until Fall before I can entertain the notion again.

I have a few health concerns I have to take care of in the next few weeks that are weighing heavily on my mind, also. Tomorrow, for instance, I’m getting a couple of old fillings replaced. If that goes well (and it should) then I have to make some appointments to finally deal with my alopecia.

It’s not life-threatening, but it is humiliating, especially when you’re one of only four people on both sides of the family who has/had it - and everyone else has/had hair so thick it’s like fur. (Even the men!) While I don’t consider myself a vain person, I can’t simply rock the totally naked look, either. My head is too lumpy and unattractive for that, and I don’t want to scare small children and pets.

This condition may be part of the reason why I have so much affection for the Appaloosa Performance Horse mold, and Foundation-bred Appaloosas in general. I know what it’s like to deal with a sparse, unruly mane.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Icon

Other than being "grullo" instead of Chestnut, here’s Gossamer!

Sweet! I’ve already penciled him in on top of my BreyerFest buy list. And if they do a 50/50 Gloss on him, I’m going for two!

As I discussed earlier this month, sometimes when a detailed or realistic paint job is put on a less-than-realistic mold, the effect can be disconcerting. But here, I like how Reeves overcomes that by using a pinto pattern that walks the line between being realistic and fantastic.

A similar effect was achieved on earlier examples of the #766 Arabian Stallion on the Khemosabi mold, that have the high contrast crazy splatter/resist dappling. They toned it down on pieces later in the run, presumably to please the folks who prefer the more realistic, regardless.

I also like the little Vintage nod on the saddle, with the gold dotted trim mimicking the trim seen on some (but not all) of the earlier snap saddles.

As I mentioned before also - and what Reeves gets wrong - is that this is NOT the first BreyerFest Special Run of the Western Horse. The first was the Solid Metallic Gold given out as prizes back in 2003 for the T-Shirt/Costume Contest. I can understand how it might have slipped down the memory hole; it was part of an early contest with lower-than-average participation, they didn’t make a whole lot of them, and they rarely come up for sale.

(‘Twas years before I decided to start participating in that sort of thing.)

I am going to presume that the piece run is going to be significantly larger in this case, though I wouldn’t doubt it’ll be on the lower end of what we’ve been seeing. Models with molded on tack - newer molds or old - don’t sell as well as tack-free ones, no matter how pretty the paint job.

Will he sell? I think so. He seems to be polling well among his target audience: hobbyists like me, i.e. history buffs and nostalgic olds.

Hobbyists tend to think of the Palomino Family Arabian Stallion as the one true "Icon" of the Model Horse World, but for the rest of the world, it’s the Palomino Western Horse. It’s true that the more common releases of the Western Horses (and Ponies) can be difficult to market in more standard model horse venues, but that’s definitely not the case everywhere else. I’ve never had an issue, for instance, selling Palomino or Black Pinto Western Horses on eBay.

Among a younger audience and/or those less interested in the history, the reaction was decidedly less warm. There’s a lot of the usual "Why couldn’t that color be on [my favorite new mold from the last five years]?"

Which I find annoying, but then again, I made the mistake of wandering onto the NAMHSA-Discussion Group earlier this week. Even the happy little spring birds chirping outside my bedroom window seem annoying after reading that. (They were arguing over the definition of a word? Exit, Stage Left…)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Frame of Mind

I haven’t been in the right frame of mind to do much speculating about What This Year’s Surprise Model Will Be. The current line of thinking is that it’ll be Lonesome Glory, based on an otherwise unidentified set seen during the latest Exclusive Event.

Except for the first Surprise Model - the old Quarter Horse Gelding - the Surprises we’ve had since then have been on modestly popular newer molds like Flash, Ethereal, and Roxy. Lonesome Glory would fit right in to that lineup.

I don’t have any other information or hunches to convince me, and there are a lot of other molds that would also fit. Two other popular guesses right now are Othello and (naturally) the Silver.

My primary argument against either of those molds is that they’re too popular with the segment of the hobby population that does go to BreyerFest. (What colors are left to put the Silver in is also a viable question to ask.) There’s already an inherent appeal in the Surprise Models - that they’re all very limited releases, but a few are more limited than others - that doesn’t need to be sweetened with the addition of it being a Very Popular Mold Already.

I can easily imagine the chaos that would ensue if either model was. The first words that spring to mind? Gasoline on a bonfire. 

They’d also probably be the only molds that would make me bypass getting one. I’m not a very athletic or agile person, and the weight of all the metaphorical daggers in my back that I’d get from people standing behind me in line might be enough to physically topple me over.

I’m not going to give it much more thought until the first bags get opened. And then act accordingly.

There’s been one line of questioning that I have been actively engaging in over the past couple of days - the identity of the mold in the sneak peek photo they gave us on Friday via the Blog and the Facebook:

By the time most of you read this it will have already been revealed, but the first thing I thought when I saw it was: Western Horse?

It’d be both a daring and logical choice. There have been only a handful of actual Western Horse Special Runs: the 1990 Just About Horses Brown Pinto, the 1995 QVC Palomino Reissue, and the Solid Gold pieces given away in 2003 for the T-Shirt/Costume Contest. Frankly, we’re overdue.

There are a couple of other factors working in its favor. First, a Western Horse would be a logical choice for a BreyerFest that’s all about celebrating an Anniversary. Second, I believe a Vintage Club Western Horse Special - either as a part of the Series, or as a Bonus Model - is a matter of when, not if. It’d make sense from an economic standpoint to drop the mold to make enough for two releases, rather than drop it to just make enough for a more limited (350-500 piece) run.

If it’s something like the San Domingo or Old Timer, and I’m made to look silly by the guess, no matter. But I am so on board with the idea of a Chestnut Frame Overo Western Horse Special Run right now I’m already imagining the names I will give it.

I like Stetson.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sunny Spot

Here’s my pretty little girl:

Makes up for a week full of minor aggravations (Dental Appointments! Missed Deadlines! Traffic Lights Conspiring Against Me! Embarrassing Typos!) There’s some variation in the run, and if you can’t tell from the photo, she’s one of the pearlier ones.

She’s only the second Strapless I have in the collection - the other being the 2007 Volunteer Model Bluegrass, who also has the full braids. So my only quibble is strictly a personal and also minor one: I would have preferred that she had the loose mane and/or tail, because Mold Variations.

There’s always hoping that one like that shows up in the Sample boxes, right? (If not, I'll just have to intensify my search for the 2009 Pottery Barn Special in Bay, without seam issues. A tough girl to locate!)

Along with the Matte Sample Gooitzen, whose picture has been taken down from the Breyer web site and replaced with the Gloss one. Who is so Gloss that it’s hard to tell if there are any undertones, shading, dappling or detailing on him beyond the eyes and hooves. Or if he has the gloss "Tinkerbell" sparkling that some of the newer Gloss Special have had lately.

On my computer he looks a little bit blue-grayish, but I haven’t adjusted my monitor in years, so I could be imagining things.

A Super-Glossy Dappled Black Friesian with sparkles would make me a very happy camper. Though I’ll be happy if he’s merely Glossy Enough To Squeak when touched, like the Shire Cheerio.

The only other news of note is that the latest Vintage Club release e-mail has been sent out, for the Red Roan Mustang Diablo. As I’ve seen others mention, he’s one of those releases that you think would have been made already, and years ago.

Then again, the old Freckle Red Roan color has always been rather sparingly used.

A combination of factors have contributed to that. The two biggest ones are (a) the technique has been superseded by more realistic ones, and (b) full body freckles = much messiness and room for error.

I don’t mind that the color is one of the lesser-used ones in Reeves’ painting repertoire; it makes the releases that do come out in this color a bit more special. However, I certainly wouldn't complain about more Stablemates in this color.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Unsellables

I spent most of my waking hours over the weekend organizing the last of the tax paperwork: I sold more, it’s true, but I also bought more, and the difference between what I bought and what I sold is going to be almost identical to last year’s difference.

Funny how that works!

My downfall this year, again, was the retail end: too many store impulse buys. If my schedule continues the way it has been, though, that shouldn’t be much of an issue going forward. (Though I hear rumors of models reappearing at Tuesday Morning. Must. Stay. Away.)

A lot of what I sold was older, lower end items, and quite a bit from the dreaded period from the late 1980s through the mid-1990s: aka, The Age of the Unsellables.

Don’t let the online community fool you: now THAT was the true dark ages of Breyer quality control. Reeves had just taken over production and shipped it to New Jersey - with some, but not all of the Chicago crew. (Just the handful who were willing to move from Chicago to New Jersey.)

Coupled with the fact that Reeves had no idea what it had gotten into - well, it showed. Rough seams, undistinguished paint jobs with masking issues, questionable choices for sculptors, and problems with the plastic itself that later morphed into Shrinkies and Oozies.

Things didn’t seem so bad at the time, because there were some genuine bright spots. The first BreyerFest was in 1990. Models like Breezing Dixie and Precipitado Sin Par were early and moderately successful attempts at more complex paint jobs. Detailed, handpainted eyes and hooves reappeared on certain releases, as did Vintage colors, like Gloss Charcoal on the 1992 release of Memphis Storm.

The darkest parts were the new molds that they gave us: headshakers like Khemosabi and Rugged Lark, and pieces like Roemer and Misty’s Twilight that were more conceptual and "artistic" than realistic. While I didn’t have any problem with more artsy-fartsy molds, the increasingly complex and realistic paint jobs Reeves was putting on them did feel incongruous.

There is room for both approaches, but it’s rather hard to pull off on the same model.

By the end of the decade, however, we had molds like the Silver and the Huckleberry Bey, both of whom are still popular - almost too much so, in Silver’s case. While they may not be up to the almost too rigorous standards of today, consider that only ten years separates them from the likes of Khemo or Rugged Lark. They hardly seem like products of the same company, in retrospect.

Anyway, back to the selling aspect. I haven’t had too much trouble selling "Unsellable" Era models: at the right price, in the right marketplace, you can sell almost anything. I’ve found that New in Box items from that era sell moderately well at low - but not unreasonably so - prices.

For out of box items, it all depends on condition and relative quality - is it a good piece compared to others of the same kind? Is it something that at least has moderate value as a body (Adios, Lady Phase, G1 Stablemates, Love Classics)?

Fortunately for me, most of the items I resell from this era I pick up from my usual haunts, so my emotional and financial investment is not very substantial to start. For what they are and for what I invest in them, I do fine.

There is no model so homely that it cannot be loved by anyone.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Delicate Condition

Vita is fine now, BTW. Me, on the other hand …I worked over 17 hours on Thursday. Combined with dealing with the latest big blizzard, and Vita, my still-slightly-fragile health went off the rails again.

It’s nothing serious - it’s more exhaustion than anything else. I’m feeling just a bit more tired, rambly, and a disconnected from reality than I usually am.

I haven’t had a chance to take a personal look-see at the new Flagship horse Aurelius - a Gloss Flaxen Chestnut Desatado - even though I had an opportunity to do so earlier this week. In the pictures I’ve seen so far he looks very pretty and very promising, but I doubt I’ll be getting one.

It’s nothing against the mold or the color, I need to do a little bit of downsizing before I start buying again, outside of the occasional Web Special and Vintage Club stuff. I haven’t had the time to do that because of work getting in the way. (Time will be made, once I get these minor health issues out of the way.)

Pictures of the two BreyerFest Raffle models are now making their way about the Model Horse world, via hobbyists visiting the Breyer booth at the Road to the Horse Expo in Lexington this weekend. It looks like that us old farts will (sort of) be getting our wish after all: one’s a Pinto Clydesdale Stallion named Walk Down Memory Lane, the other is an Appaloosa Fighting Stallion, named Kick Up Your Heels. Both are Glossy. More widely-available releases would be even better, but it’s nice that they’re going with two "Vintage" molds this year.

(But would I turn down the Early Bird Raffle Alborozo? Heck, no!)

Everyone is rightly going ga-ga over the Fighting Stallion (striped hooves!), but I’d be just as content with the Clydesdale; he’d make a fine husband for my Gloss Palomino Clydesdale Mare. (Does he have mapping? Hard to tell in the photos I’ve seen. If so, also awesome.)

Like everyone else, I’m suspecting that the Store Special Champagne Pinto Bluegrass Bandit Champagne Wishes is replacing the Nonplastic Store Specials, which haven’t exactly been setting sales records. On the web site she’s described thusly:
Champagne Wishes is a Connoisseur Level model with delicate mapping, silver horseshoes and beautifully detailed eyes.
Connoisseur Level? Delicate mapping? Silver horseshoes? Sound like something extra limited and extra expensive to me. Since they specifically dropped the Connoisseur word on us in the description, I’m expecting something in the same range as the program of old: about 350 pieces, somewhere around $150-200.

This is entirely speculation. Since this is a new thing, I could be wrong. All I’m hoping for is that there are at least enough of them around that I have a reasonable shot. I’ve been waiting for a realistic (and somewhat affordable!) release on the Bluegrass Bandit mold that I can’t live without, and I think she’s it.

Plus I was addle-pated from a lack of sleep last year when I ventured into the Pit, and never did get around to buying the also very pretty Black Pinto Store Special Lady C. The prices on her aren’t too high either, but like Aurelius, some downsizing will have to happen first.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Wait, I got picked for an Aphrodite? How did that happen? It has been so long since I’ve won one of these opportunities that I’m not quite sure what to do with myself now. (I’m not counting the Glossy Lucy Mule, since the variables weren’t the same, i.e. it was drawing from a smaller pool of potential winners.)

I see some people are willing to trade their Gris Gris for an Aphrodite; this notion is not unappealing to me.

The "win" also makes up for the past few days, which were of exceeding roughness. I spent a good chunk of Sunday at the vet; Vita’s pancreatitis flared up again. I haven’t been sleeping well, and people at work were working themselves into a lather (again) about the snow today.

I don’t particularly like talking about the weather. But I really don’t like it when people start believing what some random old guy says about the weather while standing in line at CVS. I have plenty enough experience with Random Old Guys at the flea market who also pontificate about the weather to know better.

(The weather was unpleasant today, indeed, but apocalyptic? No.)

Anyway, here’s a picture of a more pleasant and believable (and less opinionated!) Random Old Guy from Marney’s album:

It is not Dune, the Collector’s Edition model from 2000. It’s a Test Color either made or found by Marney, presumably some time in the late 1980s. (The photo itself is not dated, but is of a style similar to those from that era.) He predates Dune by ten to fifteen years, or more.

It’s doubtful Reeves was aware of the existence of this Test Color before making Dune. Both likely stemmed from the same logical and obvious notion: Why don’t we put an "Old Mold" color on the "New Mold" Arabian Stallion?

The fact that a Test Color did later become a Production Run doesn’t diminish the fact that this Test Color is still a Test Color. Perhaps not so good for the monetary fortunes of the person who now owns this guy, and who now must explain for eternity to anyone who sees it that what they think they see is not what they actually see.

But that’s one of the risks you take in buying a Test Color. And partly why so many of the Test Colors that I own are pieces that were once unique and special snowflakes, but now are not. I’m perfectly content with that - in fact, I prefer it. I like to think of every model I own as being unique and special, whether they’re a Regular Run, Special Run, Test Color or Oddity.

Ask me about any Random Old Guy or Gal in my collection, no matter how common, and you’re going to get a pretty detailed backstory about why he/she/it is special regardless.

Hmm, interesting. I just realized that the Proud Arabian Stallion has been issued - or proposed - on every original "Old Mold" color except Gloss Shaded Alabaster. Gloss Honey Bay "Dune", the Vintage Club Gray Appaloosa "Harlequin", and the possible Woodgrain Test Color piece/s from the mid-1970s. (Charcoal and Palomino didn’t get released on the Family Arabians until 1961, at the earliest.)

I’m wondering if they think that its similarity to the Regular Run Matte Alabaster might cause a Gloss release to be not that well-received? Silly Reeves - give him the same details as the Retro Release Racehorse I proposed recently, and he’ll be plenty different - and plenty popular.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Ugly Horse Cooties

I feel sorry for Morganglanz. I’m tempted to buy a Big Easy Bash Gris Gris; I have money in the Paypal account, and they’re not going for much more than the issue price ($165.00). I already have a tiny cohort of Exclusive Event models he could join - one I received as a gift, two from the NPOD - so he wouldn’t seem totally out of place.

He wouldn’t necessarily be the designated "rare" Morganglanz of the herd, either. That honor would go to this sample/test shot piece I bought at BreyerFest a few years back:

The black bits aren’t paint, they’re plastic - likely from some partially painted regrind. If they were testing/tweaking the mold settings, it would have been a waste to use fresh plastic that would have ended up in the regrind bin anyway.

This is also why some hobbyists find "ordinary" plastic underneath Basecoat Chalkies. They’re just not scratching/cutting in the right places to find the color swirls.

There was some discussion at the event about "remodeling" molds like the Cantering Welsh Pony and the Performance Horse. This I didn’t quite understand. Why rework already modestly popular molds, when you have homely wallflower Morganglanz sitting in the corner, unloved and scarcely used?

He doesn’t have a big or fanatical fan base that would get overly dramatic over any alleged improvements either, as I’m sure would be the case with the Cantering Welsh. (That they’re even suggesting that idea on that mold, frankly, is heretical. Ne pas toucher le CWP!)

And he’s really not all that homely - a new tail and some buffing/surface polishing of the mold, like the Trakehner, would go a long way towards ridding him of his "Ugly Horse Cooties". Here’s a quick silhouette of him in his original state:

Here he is with a different tail (one I did in 5-10 minutes - thus the lack of finesse):

Dress that up in some nice clothes - a simple yet sophisticated Dun Pinto like last year's Surprise Roxy - and I’m fairly certain that you wouldn’t have seen half the run on eBay or MH$P.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Grand Wood Carving Man o' War

I’m feeling much better, and Vita - sensing the opportunity - reverted back to her old, bad ways. So far this week she’s eaten my toothbrush, stole my cough drops, knocked over the kitchen trash can (multiple times) and pooped in the house.

Some of it may have been a response to getting a haircut on Monday; everyone tells her how pretty she is, and it goes straight to her head. (Seriously, she knows. Her groomer used to show Wire Fox Terriers, and is always cooing to her what beautiful little dog she is.) You know how some pretty girls are, think they can get away with anything.

The schedule for the rest of the week got weird, so I can’t do anything much longer than post a picture today. It’s an interesting one, though:

While it’s fairly well-known that the #36 Racehorse is based on the Grand Wood Carving sculpture of Whirlaway, it’s less known that the #47 Man o’ War is also based on a Grand Wood Carving sculpture.

I haven’t been fortunate enough to locate myself a Whirlaway, but this Man o’ War turned up on eBay a few years back, and I was delighted to be the winning bidder at a not-unreasonable price. Although mass-produced, technically, they were expensive new and are not easy to come by now.

The only other horse I’ve seen for sale, in person, was in an antique shop in Lexington. (It was an Alsab!) I’ve seen several more on the Internet, but not at prices I feel comfortable paying. If I do locate another, it’s going to be a happy accident and not a planned one. 

Some other time - when I have more time - I’ll talk about the relationship between Grand Wood Carving sculptures, Breyer Woodgrains, and Chris Hess. I want to do a little more research on the subject, too.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sweetest Thing

This cold is kicking me in the pants so hard it’s leaving shoeprints. I normally don’t miss a lot of work for illness - because I don’t get sick enough to merit it, usually - but I had to go home at lunch on Friday. We were already short-staffed, but I barely had enough energy to drive home, much less work another four hours.

Massive amounts of juice, soup and sleep have made me marginally functional today; I’ll see how I feel in the morning before deciding if a trip to the doctor is necessary. (Some credit is also due to the tender care of "Nurse" Vita, who barely left my side all weekend. Such a good girl, Vita!)

Understandably, I haven’t been online too much; I skimmed some of the Big Easy Bash stuff lightly, mostly out of professional interest. Anything more than that would not have been beneficial to my mental state anyway. (While I know on some level that I could have a free pass to the Sample Room any time I wanted to, probably, it’s 12 hours away and not something I can do on a whim. Sigh.)

It appears that the Gooitzen Celebration Models for BreyerFest WILL be Glossy. That’s a nice touch; there were a few years - 2001 through 2003 - where they sort of experimented with high semi-gloss finishes (Atlantis Bay V, RSV Inolvidable, Gladwin Lucky Gray Lady), but all of the others before and since have been Matte.

That still leaves us with the question of what they are going to do for Costume Prize models; I wouldn’t mind the Matte, but I know I’m outnumbered on that. (For now!) It’s not going to change my mind on whether or not I’m participating this year or not: I will, unequivocally. I am having some difficulty finding the components I need for my concept, however. (No hints, sorry. Some secrets have to stay that way.)

The only other bit of news that caught my eye was that there was a #36 Racehorse in the Special Run mix at the event - a Gloss Dapple Gray Pinto one? - and wonder of wonders, people were really digging him/her.

It could just be the combo of pretty paint job + limited quantities doing its job there, but it gives me hope that they might indeed pull off a Retro Release of one in the near future. The mold doesn’t have the panache of the Fury/Prancer or the classic "Old School" look of the Western Pony, so I had discounted the possibility before. The poor sweet thing barely has any personality at all, though I thought Reeves did an able job of giving it some with the 1997 Just About Horses Special Phantom.

If the Powers-That-Be are considering a Retro Release, may I recommend a Shaded Alabaster/Albino? Not only would it be a suitably Retro paint job that we haven't seen yet, linear muscle shading like the Old Molds and earlier Albino Five-Gaiters and Mustangs had would also compensate for the Racehorse mold’s lack of anatomical specificity. Lipliner would be a no-brainer, of course - a little smile to brighten the blankest of Breyer faces! 

Released in quantities sufficiently large that I can actually afford one would be nice, too. This latest Special - like the last (Gatsby’s Daisy, in 2000), is most definitely going to stay out of my price range.