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.