Friday, May 30, 2014

Pretty is Good!

The basement is still chaos, as is almost everything else in my life right now, but I did take time to open up the Athena that arrived yesterday because dang it, I needed to. You’ll just have to forgive the décor:

In keeping with the Art Historical theme I started with the Aphrodite (whose name is Saskia), I’m calling her Artemisia.

(Yes, that's a Hello Kitty alarm clock in the background. Long story.)

She has a few teeny tiny boo-boos, nothing significant or distracting. Everything else about her is exquisite. I saw some commentary in passing that described her as Connoisseur-level: I would not disagree. When Reeves gets things right, they get things way right.

As far as what happens when things go wrong, I am so not in the mood to go there. Originally I was going to write about bell curves and the amplification effect the Internet has on what we perceive as "acceptable" in the model horse world.

But I keep turning my chair around to take another look at her, and all I can think is Ooh, Pretty Horsie! That's pretty much the only level of discourse I can muster at the moment.

The brief flirtation I had with possibly selling her is gone, completely. Someone else is just going to have to go instead. (But who, and when? Argh.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


The flea market was very full and very busy on Sunday, but I didn’t buy much; ironically, the busier it gets, the less I find. I think it’s because on pretty days like that, the dealers try to bring out stuff tailored to tourists or occasional shoppers, and leave the more specialized things at home.

Though there was a life-sized Pink Panther plushie I briefly agonized over. I totally would have bought him if I had room in the car.

My best find was five yards of vintage homespun fabric for a dollar. (The catch? It smelled like a dirty ashtray.) The only horses I saw were super-common pieces and body-quality stuff, of which I bought a few, because I get anxious if I don't have a certain level of bodies in my body box. 

I was rather shocked at how white the plastic was on these two, especially since they appear to date from the early 1970s. Then I realized: silly, this was just slightly before the Chalky era. They might be some flavor of White they were experimenting with back then that is not the standard Translucent White.

The clean break at the base of the Western Prancing Horse is almost a classic indicator of that. I once bought a box lot with a star-faced Classic Quarter Horse Mare who had both ears cleanly broken off at the base, making that weird girl look even weirder.

Many of the nonstandard plastics of that era had a certain brittleness to them. This was probably due to some slight chemical variations from the name brand Tenite Breyer was used to using. The models themselves are not significantly less durable than those made of the regular plastic, but they are just a tad less flexible. In other words, when you drop them, there’s not much bending, just breaking - and the subsequent ricocheting off of the broken pieces in strange directions.

It also makes the customizing process a little more challenging, since the plastic doesn’t behave the way we are accustomed to. This brittleness reappeared during the "B" mold mark era - ca. 1979-1983 - when Breyer switched over to Cellulose Acetate Propionate, because of availability issues with plain old Cellulose Acetate.

Brittleness can also occur due a lack of plasticizers in the plastic itself - the stuff that gives the plastic its flexibility. This can occur either due to age, or a too much regrind added to the mix. Some of the plasticizers evaporate during the molding process, so reground plastic will have less than fresh, or virgin plastic.

Both of these bodies are most definitely bodies, and I have no time to fix them up before Kentucky, regardless.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Size, Shape, and Scale

Wait a minute, I won an Athena? How did that happen? I only entered once!

Dang, there goes my persecution fantasy, straight out the window. And with a release that seems to be pretty popular, too - until they start arriving on hobbyists’ doorsteps, and the magnifying glasses come out.

(I have not even remotely touched any discussion of the Wyatt, anywhere. It’s been a not-half-bad week for me, and I don’t want to spoil the good mood I'm sailing on into a pretty three-day weekend.)

The only other Ruffian I have is the original release (a lucky half-price-at-Marshall’s find). I did have a BreyerFest SR Heartland at one point, but in a moment of weakness, I sold her to a friend who now adores her.

There haven’t been any other easily available Ruffian releases that have really captured my eye; they’ve done some fabulous Test Color Auction pieces that I wouldn’t mind owning, and the Buckskin one that’s a prize in the Open Show this year?  Sigh.

But a lightly dappled Red Chestnut minimal overo is a very nice consolation prize. No complaints!

The only issue I have with the mold is that, like the Running Stallion, the Traditional Black Beauty, and Cigar, it doesn’t fit on my shelves very well. It hasn’t stopped me from collecting these molds - the Cigar and the Running Stallion, in particular - but every one I do add to the collection does accentuate certain storage and display issues.

Speaking of size and space issues, let’s get to the promised topic: the Giant Size Foal-Thing. (I think everyone's calling her "Foalzilla" now? I like my name better, but not everyone is going to get the joke.)

Like the Wyatt, I’ve been trying to step away from the online discussions and evaluate it cleanly, without getting caught up in other people’s opinions. Whether other people like it or not shouldn’t be a consideration in the first place, anyway.

The scale of "Foalzilla" doesn’t bother me: it’s 1:6, rather than the standard Traditional 1:9. As others have pointed out, it’s the scale used by military modelers, and there’s been some speculation that the Foal is a precursor to Breyer’s entrée into that very profitable market.

If it’s one thing that Breyer has never been consistent on, it’s scale. Many of the earlier molds were adapted from a variety of sources, and none of them matched each other in scale. They didn’t even start classifying molds by scale until the mid-1970s, shortly after they acquired the leases for the Hagen-Renaker molds.

While the size may just be an artifact of the resin it was adapted from, "Foalzilla" is still approximately the same size as a Traditional Adult Horse. It might look a little weird standing on the shelf next to your other models, but it’s still going to fit.

Another thing worth considering is the economics of it all: Foal molds sell really well. Because they are smaller in size than an Adult, but require almost the same amount of effort to product, I’m guessing that the profit margin on them is considerably slimmer. Making a larger scale Foal mold that you could ask a Traditional Adult price for makes a certain amount of business sense.

If they sell well enough, other molds in this scale may follow. Or not. The hobby has more or less adapted itself to the 1:9 scale, so if there are any further "Supertraditional" releases, they may be tailored to the military model market’s specific needs and wants, and not necessarily our own.

Sometimes a Foal is just a Foal, and not the death of Traditional Scale models.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Wild and Crazy

I’m pretty beat today; most of my free time over the past two days has been spent gardening, and I hurt all over. I haven’t had the time to work on it seriously before, and it shows.

First, a brief recap of the goodies from Sunday:

A Breyer Embajador XI, an adorable Napco Bulldog, and a Beswick Foal!

I already have the Foal, and this one has a slight glaze flake on his ear anyway. The Bulldog is stinking cute - that wrinkly face! - but I’m trying to cut back on my non H-R Chinas due to space reasons. So neither one gets to stay.

The Pluto is a keeper; I’ve been eyeballing them on eBay, but I wasn’t quite willing to pay retail plus postage for one. The paint job is wildly unrealistic, but it just works on him, you know? Most of the other Pluto releases have a certain sameness to them. They’re not unattractive, but their similarity to each other doesn't exactly inspire any passion in my heart.

Some of it is a function of the breed the mold is supposed to represent - most Lipizzaners are some shade of Gray, it’s true - but with a color as variable as Gray can be, you’d think they would at least try to be a bit more daring with it, no? Or even mix it up with an historical color or two, maybe?

It's not like he's the most realistic mold in the line, anyway. He's a portrait of a Foundation stallion, and he doesn't even have boy parts! Why not put a wildly improbable Baroque-styled Black Pinto on him, just for kicks? The polka-dot leopard in this year’s "Let’s Go Riding - English" set is a good start; I would be such a happy camper if I could find one in the Sample boxes this July. (With even more spots, I hope!)

Some Embajadors do have that over-the-top quality; more conservative ones have fewer, more polka-dotty dapples. Lucky for me, I did get one of the wild-and-crazy guys. (Dapples in the tail for the win, yo.) I don't know which one is the scarcer variation; he's not a heavily collected mold in the first place, so I doubt it matters much, price wise.

The China miniatures that I left behind last week also reappeared. Unfortunately my "poker face" slipped, so I had to pay full price for them - no group discount this time! Ah well, the combined price for all 30 some pieces still works in my favor. Except for the keeping-most-of-them-for-myself part.

Many other oddments were purchased, including a sheepskin (for the car), some vintage quilt scraps, a stack of late Victorian magazines with amazing engravings, and a bag of silk ties for a future quilt project.

(BTW, for those of you who may be interested, I may be turning "pro" with the quilting thing in the near future - blogging and pattern making, at the very least. When time allows, of course.)

Next up, what everyone else is talking about: the Giant-Sized Foal-Thing!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Odds and Ends

Right now I happen to be working on a vintage quilt block called Odds and Ends. It’s a little known and challenging pattern involving a lot of little curved and pointed pieces. It’s still in the design stage - a little something to preoccupy the back end of my mind while I deal with some bigger issues on the front end.

Seems like a good day to catch up on some odds and ends of the model horse sort, too.

First, here’s a picture of my Reissue Clydesdale Mare:

So pretty! Very metallic, and not a dapple in sight. (Not that I have an issue with the dappling technique - I don’t - just noting it as a point of distinction.) She has a couple of flaws - a tiny box rub, and an eartip that was obviously chipped, but "cleaned up" and painted over. If I didn’t already know that they were flaws, I wouldn’t recognize them as such.

I like to think they give her character.

I’m a little bummed that my Reissue mold predictions didn’t pan out, other than the Family Arabian Stallion. More proof that I shouldn’t be buying lottery tickets.

Like everyone else, I was flabbergasted to the point of speaking in Doge when I saw the "final" (not really) BreyerFest Special Run, Platinum Star - a grulla overo pinto Latigo with a different mane (from the angle of the photos, I’m not so sure if the tail is different). So Wow! Much Beautiful! Such Happy!

Now I’m wondering if I need to buy ANOTHER ticket, or pray that the Surprise model is something I’m not interested in.

There’s currently a rumor floating around that the model will be similar to the Roxy - performance-friendly, with multiple mane/tail options. This suggests Strapless to me, though we already had her this year as a Web Special with Aphrodite.

I still don’t think they’ll pull a Silver on us. I could see a Silver being tied to whatever surprise raffle-type-thing they apparently have planned to coincide with Saturday’s evening festivities. Not a Silver Filigree, naturally, but a Silver Charm or Solid Silver are viable possibilities. Or something with glitter, like the Ethereal Times Square Special from a few years ago, or the Horse Crazy Stablemates.

All of which I love, and any combination of which I would accept wholeheartedly into my herd.

I’m not going to bet on it, though: the Silver, the possible color combos, or winning one.

BTW, I had another great day at the flea market today! I haven’t had time to unpack the car yet (long story) so it’ll all have to wait until next time.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Hey, It's Smoky!

Feeling a little bit under the weather today; I haven’t had a day off in a while, and I think it’s starting to catch up with me. I did take an extended nap this afternoon, after a quick snack of rice crackers and Vernor’s Ginger Ale, so I’m feeling a bit better now.

Fortunately nothing major - like a last minute Buried Treasure or limited Web Release - happened while I sleeping off whatever came over me this morning. That already happened earlier in the week with the latest batch of Warehouse Finds/Reissues: I came home from work in a less-than-pleasant mood, stayed offline for a while, and when I did log back on - bam! - more Reissues, some of them sold out already.

I did pick up the Missouri Fox Trotter in Palomino, and threw in the Clydesdale Mare I had been mulling over for a while, to make the postage charge more palatable. The original release of the Fox Trotter - Southern Sunrise - was a model I had been interested in acquiring before, but almost all the ones I had seen previous had bland and undistinguished paint jobs with odd pink undertones.

The Reissue looks like it might be more to my liking. The Hagens I found earlier this week were fun and welcome, but nothing beats the New Horse Smell of a freshly unboxed Breyer!

The only Reissue that I missed that bothers me (just a bit) is the Smoky. That was a surprise - both his reissuing, and his popularity. I had not gotten the impression before that he was that much of a "fan favorite" among hobbyists. He’s in an awkward, not-shelf-friendly position, and there haven’t been a huge number of releases of the mold lately.

The most recent was a small group of Florentines raffled off at the Passage to the Pacific Event in California in 2012.

While some of the enthusiasm over his latest release may be more a matter of its scarcity, he does have his fans. I have a couple of friends who are diehard Smoky collectors, and I have a number of them myself: both variations of the original, an unnumbered Ageless Bronze Durango, and the Buckskin Shenandoah without his bald face.

I had at least one Flocked Unicorn at one point, and possibly more, because Bentley Sales had so many of them they were practically giving them away. I’ve long since sold them (cheaply, and with no regrets) because I have issues with Flockies. Those glassy-eyed stares make me shudder.

There is one rare Smoky that I do truly covet: the mold was used to test the original, funky Blue Roan Appaloosa paint job for the Buckshot mold. I don’t know how many were made - not more than a handful, if the case was typical - and the one piece whose location I do know of is very, very beloved by his owner.

From the reference photo floating around, the Smoky Reissue has more shading than the Regular Run, and more neatly airbrushed socks. The first version of the Smoky that the Reissue duplicates, the one with four stockings and dark gray points, tends to have a lot of overspray issues.

If he’s as nice as the photos make him out to be - and so far, that really has been the case with the Reissues - I’ll hold out hope that a few more turn up at BreyerFest.

If not, life goes on.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Beautiful Things from Scary Boxes

The flea market made everything better yesterday. All the Breyers were boring and body quality; on the plus side, they were cheap. But so were these little guys…

All found loose at the bottom of a shoebox of other miniatures, on a junk table! Mostly vintage Hagen-Renakers, with a few Josefs and Japans mixed in. The ones on the left are probably staying, the ones on the right are probably going. Some might be upgrades. I haven't had the time to sort it all out yet.

(Yes, that’s a Toadstool up in the corner. Mine, mine at last!)

From the releases and the quality of the paint jobs, it appears most of these little ones are from the mid-1970s, or earlier. I’m having a hard time believing what nice shape they're in. Most of them did have Sticky Wax or putty on their bottoms, so I figure that they were well cared for before their brief stint in the Shoebox of Doom.

I did pass on a couple of chipped pieces, which I later found out to be a bad move, since one of them was quite rare. Actual Rare, not eBay Rare. It’s usually the other way around for me, regarding H-Rs: I’ll toss in something extra to round out a box lot, and it almost always turns out to be the one ridiculously scare or desirable thing.

It’s a dealer who’s a semi-regular, so maybe I’ll luck out again next week. It’s not like I "lost out" on a huge amount of money, but it’s going to bug me anyway. The ones that get away always do.

As you can see from the relative size of the left side (keep) compared to the right side (sell), I’m not going to be making bank on this deal. I thought I was, at first, until I started doing the research and realizing that these were not the pieces I assumed I had.

My overall knowledge of Hagens is good, but I don’t have the deep knowledge like I do with Breyers. Whenever I see miniatures at the flea market, I rely on this simple equation to solve most of my problems:

Cute + Cheap + Possibly H-R = Buy It!

Rarely fails.

Then I found this on top of the used book dump bin at the local Salvation Army today, on my way home from work: Big Red of Meadow Stable: Secretariat, the Making of a Champion:

It’s not in the best condition, but it’s a first edition with intact dustjacket. I didn’t realize how scarce this book was until I did a quick search on Google when I got home. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with it now - put it on the shelf with all of my other vintage horse racing books, or go for the bucks on eBay? Money good, but the odds of me finding another in the same or better condition for the same price is nil.

Argh! But a good argh.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Gray Vs. Gray

Today’s pet peeve. This is Gray Appaloosa:

This is Dark Dapple Gray:

Whatever you want to call the color in your live show documentation, pedigree assignments or the privacy of your own home is your own business; model horses have no genotypes.  (Note: the pic skews a bit yellow - scanning references photos here, because the basement is still being painted.)

However, the term "Gray Appaloosa" has a very specific meaning in the model horse world, especially the subsection of it that we are all obsessed with here: Vintage Breyer models.

It’s Gray, with black or dark gray points, and a splash-spotted blanket, usually (but not always) located over the hindquarters. For a period of time in the 1960s, they painted the white blanket around the belly instead of the butt, but still kept the spots there. When they made the switch to Matte Finishes, the spots and the blanket matched up again.

We’re not entirely sure why they started painting them that way; some speculation is that it was originally a mistake, but then it became intentional, or something like that. It’s a separate topic I’ll get around to someday.

But anyway. If you are ever in the possession of a Dark Dapple Gray model - the only two true Vintage ones being the Running Mare and Foal - refer to them as such. If you call them Gray Appaloosa, collectors of a certain stripe (like me) are going to think Gray Appaloosa, not Dark Dapple Gray.

Yes, they have spots on the butt too - sort of. But for whatever crazy reason Breyer decided to call that color "Dark Dapple Gray" - to distinguish it from all of the other versions of Dapple Gray. Some of which are just as distinct and identifiable variations of Dapple Gray too, but never merited a special name. It's another one of those (probably) unsolvable Breyer mysteries.

If any true vintage Gray Appaloosa Running Mares and Foals do show up - Matte or Gloss - it would not be pretty. (Except to the seller, maybe.) 

There’s plenty enough confusion in the model horse world over color as it is, and we don’t need to add to it, even if we don't really mean to. Just do a little research, and call it what it was called when it was issued.

If there’s any potential for accidental misidentification (like a words-only saleslist, or verbally) just add a few qualifiers to your description. The #36 Racehorse is a good example: it was referred to as a "Bay" in the original Breyer documentation, even though it’s really Chestnut. Use air quotes, or call it Chestnut/Bay, or Bay/Chestnut. (Or perennial eBay favorite: Brown!)

(Hmm. A true Honey Bay Racehorse would be nice.)

First antique show of the season tomorrow, yay! It's an outdoor one, so I hope it doesn't rain. Time for bed!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Silver Nuggets

Just a drive by today. I have to get up at an unheavenly hour tomorrow for work. Good gravy, I hate going to bed before the sun sets!

Looks like it’s a busy week for BreyerFest News.

BreyerFest tickets are finally shipping, and they’ve replaced the Saturday Concert Thing with a "Gala of Horses" show instead. The Beatles impersonators were a clever idea for the British theme, and worked, but last year’s concert? It seemed like a bit of a stretch to me.

(Let us not speak of this year's "Tonka Fun Zone". I love a dump truck as much as the next girl, but really?)

I was kind of hoping for a special, silverplated and boxed Stablemate for this year’s Anniversary - as a complement to the original 25th Anniversary G1 Saddlebred from 1975. (Which I don’t have. Someday, maybe. Sigh.) They went with Silvery Stablemates as the One-Day models, instead: a Silver Filigree G2 Morgan, a Silver Charm G3 Arabian, a Silver Appaloosa G3 Jumper, and a Silver Tobiano Pinto G3 Stock Horse.

I don’t have time to fiddle with the PhotoShop today, so here’s just my favorite, the Pinto Stock Horse, named Glimmer:

The rest can be seen via this link: You have to click on any of the Single Day icons to view them in all their glory.

It’s interesting, by the way, that they’re selling tickets by the day, rather than as a generic anyday pass. They have been having issues recently with running out of the One-Day Stablemates well before the end of the event, so perhaps this is a part of the solution?

Since the legions of Stablemates completists buying up complete sets are a significant part of the problem, one of my solutions would be to package a few hundred complete sets and sell them during the event - in the Tent Store, or the Anniversary Shop. Those would be pieces in addition to whatever piece count they deem necessary for One-Day purchasers and walk-ups.

I mean really, it’s not hard to sell off excess Stablemates. If all else fails, they could just convert whatever excess there is into keychains or Christmas ornaments, right?

I’d love a complete set myself, but I think I’ll take a pass this year and save some for the last-minute attendees instead.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

What Is, and What Is Not

Almost finished with that ginormous quilt top that’s been occupying my random bits of free time this week. I could have finished it today if I pushed it, but I didn’t because that’s when mistakes get made. One of the caveats of working with vintage materials is that you can’t just go out and buy another piece at the store if you get a little too scissor-happy.

(Measure twice, cut once: sound advice for both carpentry, and quilting.)

Once it’s done, it’ll be nothing but model horse related stuff from here through July. First trip to the dirt mall tomorrow, if the weather holds!

I’m not looking for anything in particular this year, other than the usual: anything good, cheap, or interesting. I learned a long time ago that if I went to the flea market with a set shopping list, I’d be going home disappointed more often than not.

As you might have guessed from the photos you’ve seen me post here, I’ve done all right for myself. But relying on luck and the local markets for the bulk of my collection (and being cheap) has also led to some rather distinct gaps in the collection.

Please note: this is not a "want list" type of post. I’m just clearing up misconceptions some of you might have regarding what is and is not in my collection, and to partially explain the range of topics and items I cover here.

As I noted before, I don’t have a lot of Woodgrains. They’re just not that plentiful around here, outside of the Fighting Stallion. It took me until the 1990s to start finding the Family Arabians, even. I don’t know if it’s a regional thing, or just bad luck. I’m not averse to buying them on eBay, when the price has been right.

I have no vintage Decorators (Woodgrains are Decorators, technically, but you know what I mean). A handful of them have been found in this area, but I have not been the one to find them. It’s unlikely that I will in the near future, either, given the current hyperinflated prices they’re bringing.

While I have a complete set of Old Mold Stallions, the only Old Mold Mare and Foal I have are the Alabasters. The Bays have been found around here, so I think it’s just bad luck/timing in this case, again. The prices on the Bays on the open market - even the ordinary non-Chalky ones - are too rich for my blood.

I have no Presentation Series pieces. I’ve come close a few times - there used to be a number of Standardbred farms just north of here, and Presentation Adioses are not an uncommonly found thing. Again, I’m not the one who finds them.

There are not a lot of Flockies in the collection, but that’s because I find most Breyer-issued Flockies to be kinda creepy. The few that I’ve found over the years tend to go straight to the saleslist, to fund less creepy things.

I have a healthy collection of vintage Chalkies, but that’s because I was collecting them before they were cool. They turn up with decent frequency around here, too, oddly enough.

My Stablemates collection is complete only to about the mid-1990s. (Well, nearly: I don’t have the Poop Paperweight or the Silver Anniversary Saddlebred.) I missed a couple of the Christmas sets, and I haven’t had the energy to keep up with the seemingly thousands of releases issued since then. I would if I could, but so many releases! Gah!

All the Connoisseur models I have were ones that I "won" - with the exception of the Buffalo Taima, who was the Photography Sample in Just About Horses. (Yes, via NPOD.) I wouldn’t be averse to buying or trading for others ones that I like on the open market, but all the ones I want are on the pricier end, alas.

I do have a lot of Test Colors, or models that are Possibly Test Colors. Some were straight from the source (Chicago collectors, Model Horse Congress, Marney, etc.) and some were lucky finds on eBay. I have no Test Colors from any Benefit Auctions. I did attend a few of the BreyerFest ones before the prices shot out of my league, but I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity then, because dumb.

I have only three Volunteer models, because I’ve only volunteered three times. Technically I volunteered a fourth time - sort of, before there were Volunteer Specials. I wasn’t uncompensated: I did get a couple extra Celebration models that year. (It was the Mustang Turbo). Not Glossy or anything, just regular models, long since sold.

I have only one Glossy Prize Model: the All Glory, from the 2010 BreyerFest Costume Contest. I don’t show at live shows where they are generally awarded, and while my other Costume Contest entries have been very memorable, the Powers That Be have not thought them prize worthy.

I have one other Contest Prize: the 2008 Pinto Bouncer Seren, for my Belgian Chocolate Belgian entry. I entered faithfully for years before and afterwards, without success and with only some annoyance until the 2012 Contest made me cry. I might try this year, if I can find the time to execute it.

One raffle model is in my possession: the 2000 Dapple Gray Morgan Showboat. I won him with my usual ten dollars worth of tickets. I haven’t come remotely close, before or since.

I haven’t been to any of the numerous Exclusive Events, at the factory or elsewhere. There are a bunch of reasons why, most of them having to do with time and money. I have a few models from these events, but they came to me via other routes.

I went to the factory once, back in 1992. I haven’t seen the inside of the facilities since then. I only brought back memories, and some papers. No models, though there were many lovelies sitting on desktops, even then. (Matte Alabaster Five-Gaiter, where are you now?)

That’s it, I think. My luck - where luck is the deciding factor - has been about average. Patience and perseverance have been bigger factors in my success, however you measure it.