Thursday, December 31, 2015

Rare Ones

I managed to resist the Breyer web site’s valiant attempt to get me to spend more money, but then on the way home the next day I swung by the toy store, and voila –

Then I get home and this little one was waiting for me:

Let’s talk about some interesting particulars of both of these releases.

The absence of the Palomino AQHA Horse from the individual sales on the Breyer web site – along with the Black – have led many to speculate that the Palomino truly is, as some Breyer reps were telling us early in the year, “The Rare One”.

I am not so sure. I think the absence is partly due to the fact that it was exclusively “The Rare One” for eight months before any of the other colors showed up. Most the Palominos that were made have already been shipped out. And sold – not all, obviously, but most.

I do think the Black is likely the rarest. Either that, or bunches of undistributed ones will be showing up in the usual places otherwise undistributed things go. Along with any “unredeemed” Glosses from the Customer Appreciation Offers, unless they repurpose them somewhere.

(Cringes at the possibility of Gloss Blacks. Oh, dear.)

The colors on the Holly and Ivy are interesting: they’re not the conventional Bright Red and Kelly Green that most of us assumed they would be. They’re more like a Burgundy or Candy Apple Red and Evergreen.

Reeves had been working on perfecting the colors for a while – attendees of the previous Exclusive Event in New Jersey saw some early attempts. It was all pretty much guesswork on their part because there are no verifiable vintage Christmas Decorators to reference.

I momentarily considered trading my Holly for an Ivy, but then I realized (a) I don’t have time for that, and (b) I still want both. Or all: now that they seem to have two of the colors down, I’m hoping we will be seeing the Red Smoke and Green Smoke versions next year?

And what shall we call all of these “new” colors? Again, there’s no documentation to go by that would give us a clue.

I’d really rather not go with Green and Red Filigree. Aside from the fact that a significant portion of the hobby can’t spell “filigree”, I’d prefer we (or Reeves) give these colors names as unique as the original Decorator color names were.

I kind of like a sort of variation of Peppermint/Spearmint. (But not Spearmint as a flavor, personally. Long story.) I think Holly Red and Ivy Green can work too, in the same way we refer to the colorways of the original Buckshot as “Buckshot Blue” and the Appaloosa Performance Horse as some variation of “APH”.

These guys really have to be the last models I buy on a whim for a while, outside of possible thrift store finds, box/collection lots for resale, and any obligated club/trip purchases; I have too many other things committed to my time and money for the front end of next year.

I could probably stand to sell some more stuff, too.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Coin Flips

Shall I remind you again how awesome my Salvation Army is? I found this dress on sale there a couple weeks ago:

Next year’s theme is a Rio-style Carnaval, and my local Salvation Army delivers to me – on sale, even! – a blue and yellow satin dress that looks like it fell out of Carmen Miranda’s closet. Seriously, what were the odds of that happening?

It’s not a completely random thing, finding this dress: this particular store has a reputation for unexpected treasures, and I try to make it a habit to visit once a week or so. But finds like these (see also: Excalibur and Shannon) have made me think a great deal about the difference between chance and luck.

Chance is the outcome of the coin flip: absent any external or interfering factors (like the wind, or a weighted coin) it is completely random.

Luck is what you can make of those coin flips.

Luck can be changed: time or perspective can later reveal a bad flip good, a good flip bad, or inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. But sometimes chance deals us blows – one big one, or series of small ones – that are devastating in ways a little positive thinking can’t completely overcome.

Chance is far more difficult to change. While coin flips do even out over the long run, in the short run you’re going to have runs of very fortunate flips, and runs of very bad ones. Unless you’re a Jedi (unlikely) you can’t change those coin flips, regardless of how or what you think about them.

I spent way too much time over the weekend persuading myself not to participate in this week’s “Collector Appreciation Weekend”. The text of the e-mail suggested that a different set of freebies will be available, and the Roan AQHA Horses appear to be sold out on the web site, hence my indecision.

In the end I didn’t do it, mostly because I hated having completely random chance trying to dictate my happiness. I’ll buy the models I want to buy now because I like them and want them, and not worry about the “friends” they might bring with them.

If I can get a few other things worked out on Tuesday, I might take Reeves up on that discount-plus-free-shipping thing. I’ve been lingering over the new Deer Family release every time I’ve seen one in my travels…

As far as the dress goes, I don’t know if I am going to participate in the costume contest, but at some point during the festivities, I am going to wear it.

(When I showed it to Mom, her first reaction was “You’re wearing that to BreyerFest next year, aren’t you?” Sometimes it’s like she knows me!)

It’ll make me happy, it might make other people happy. I have to keep reminding myself that that should be the end of the discussion.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Holly and Ivy

Sorry for my extended absence; earlier in the week I called an insurance company about what I thought was a minor billing issue. Six hours of multiple phone calls over the period of two days and… it’s still not resolved.

I won’t go into the particulars, except to say that the problem we discovered was so unusual that it was possibly unique. And as far as it can be determined, it was nothing I did, either. There was a tiny crack in the system, and lucky me managed to fall into it.

Sigh. All I can do is hope that they somehow sort it all out by the end of the month. And hope nothing bad happens to me in the meantime.

After dealing with all that, I opened my second surprise box, hoping the Universe would recompense me with an extra special gratuity: no, just a Sorrel. He is very nice (all the AQHA Anniversary Horse colors were), but I am undecided on his eventual fate; I’d rather wait until I am in a better state of mind to make that decision.

On a happier note, Reeves did provide us a Christmas Day Special:

Christmas Deco Flashes Holly and Ivy! Not the mold I was expecting, but a happy little surprise, nonetheless: our first true Christmas Decorators. While I’m hoping for the Green one, because the notion of an intentionally green horse delights me, they are both lovely.

As I expected, they ran it a little different this time: it was a first-come, first-serve Gambler’s Choice of two different colors, 350 pieces of each color, 95 dollars and Postage Paid, even internationally.

There was a little bit of grumbling in some quarters about pretty much every aspect of the offer (wrong colors, wrong molds, wrong timing, not being “rare” enough) with the inevitable prediction that it might not sell out at all, which of course was not the case: I think it took about four hours for it to do that, which was by 3 p.m. Eastern.

Aided by the free shipping to everywhere and people with multiple accounts (I swear, some days I feel like the only person in the hobby who has just one.)

Because there was such an initial rush to purchase, and the information page went away right after, there’s already a lot of misinformation going on about Holly and Ivy that will, as history has taught us, persist for years.

Namely, the quantity: there are 350 of each color, not total. I don’t think this will affect the prices on the secondary market too much, long-term or short-term, but I’d like to get it nipped in the bud. Bad data tends to generate more bad data.

As for another shoe/Special Run dropping in the next several days? Maybe.

Personally, I’d rather it not, since next week is full of work, and appointments, and that insurance issue that still needs to be resolved. But the Universe runs according to its own whims, and not my own.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Me and My Luck

Sorry about the little hiatus there – a busy weekend that involved a lot of cleaning, reorganization and housekeeping. My office now looks moderately presentable, or at least navigable.

I also had a minor panic when I received an e-mail about a refund for an item I ordered as a part of that 100-dollars-gets-you-a-free-horse promotion. After about an hour of fretting about it, I managed to determine which of the two boxes in question involved the refund, and opened it. Whew, I still got my freebie!

I had already heard about the vast majority of the freebies being AQHA Horses, and I thought that I’d be moderately safe, since I only had one of the six and it was a rarer one to boot. So I would have been fine with the Bay, the Black, the Grullo, the Palomino or the Sorrel. I pulled it out, and…

... a Roan again, naturally!

So I tried to spin this into a positive: at least I’ll be able to recoup some of my investment, right?

Then the next day Reeves decided to allow people to order Sorrel, Bay, Grullo and Roan directly off the web site, no mysteries involved. While the absence of the Black from the sale may indeed indicate that it is the rarest of the six store-released colors, I think the absence of the Palomino just means that they’ve already shipped all available stock to retailers. It was the rare one before the other rare ones, and it has been available all year.

So now I’ll probably have to hold on to my spare Roan for a while until the market settles. Since I do have most of this week off, I’ll toss pics of him up on my MH$P page on Monday, just in case. (I’d also consider trading him for a Grullo or Palomino.)

All in all, it wasn’t a bad deal; just another case of my funny luck kicking in and making my life a tad more complicated than it needs to be. Basically it is a variation of my Fighting Stallion Problem: finding Woodgrains and Charcoals is easy, but nice plain Matte Alabasters are inexplicably hard.

My other box remains unopened. Whether or not it stays that way until Christmas Eve will depend on how the rest of the week goes.

Oh, and here’s a (spoiler-free) picture I found on Twitter that pretty much sums up my Star Wars experience:

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Not the Surprise I Was Expecting. Still Good!

Well, Wednesday was a surprise – just not the one I expected!

So anyway, here’s what happened. I was feeling my oats a bit on Tuesday, and decided to take a quick cruise of the local Craigslist. I normally don’t have a whole lot of luck there; either I’m too late, or it’s too far away, or prices are in the “You want What for What?” range.

I found an ad, and it was local. And the ad had been posted the day before. The work event that I had to be at on Wednesday was rescheduled for next week, so I had the time.

When I got there, here’s what I found:

Whee! Horsies!

It's a collection of about 90 or so models, mostly Breyer but some Stones and Resins. Most are from the late 1990s and early 2000s, the collection of a former hobbyist who lost interest in the hobby a while ago. The collection has been packed up since then. They are in fairly good shape overall, though some have minor nicks, dings and slight yellowing. The Silver Comet (Polo Pony) is bloated, and a few of the older models probably fall into body box territory.

There don't appear to be a lot of matched sets – it looks like the QVC horses were bought individually, for instance. Many models were bought at BreyerFest in the late 1990s - as the Bold, Excalibur, Rhodonites and Shannon attest.

The Eustis wasn’t technically a part of the sale, though I was told that offers would be considered. He had two chipped ears and a cracked tail, but seemed otherwise lovely.

Off in the upper left of one photo is a small box of tack, some by Elaine Sulser. (That Legionario over there had a broken/missing foot). There were a few boxed items, including a Cream of Tartar, Belgian Toby (without tack) and a Chestnut Pinto Lady Phase. Maybe a Gifted, too, I forget; I was so busy chatting that I forgot to take notes on that little group. The boxes were not in collectible shape, but the horses appear to be.

Yes, that’s an Extreme Justice laying on the table below. Not something I expected to find out here! He seemed fairly nice, but I was too busy chatting it up to take extensive notes on him. You know me, I’m not a huge resin person anyway:

So anyway, the ad is still up on Craigslist – I’m in Southeastern Michigan, to give you a head’s up where to look – and I’m about 25-30 minutes from the seller, if you want me to go take additional pictures or do pick ups for you. The seller is very motivated to get them sold, and the prices were reasonable, and negotiable.

And I know you’re ready to ask the question: Yes, I bought the Excalibur and the Shannon for myself!

(My office doesn’t normally look that bad. No, really! Dog + Holidays + Work, I swear.)

I had been wanting these two for years – the circumstances of the BreyerFests they were distributed at basically prevented me from even really trying to get them. I was on strict orders from my dermatologist to stay out of the sun the year they sold Shannon. And I was delayed for some reason getting to the KHP with the Excalibur; by the time I did get there I was way too far back in the line to make it worth my while, especially since they were having both technical and communication difficulties.

So I chalked these up as two models on my "not likely to get, ever" list. Either the timing, or the prices were never right.

Until today! Yay!

The flaws on these two are fairly minor – nose rub and a burnish mark on the neck of Excalibur, and a couple of pinpoint chips and a slightly bent hind leg on the Shannon. Moot, really, since they aren’t going anywhere.

My two "Surprise" boxes are still sitting on my porch, and have been there since I got home. Whether or not I got anything special is almost moot now, you know?

I attained two grails, and came home with a fun story to tell: anything else I got today will be the candy sprinkles on a chocolate cupcake day.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Spoiler Alerts and Gray Areas

FYI: I’ll be mostly offline for the next few days to avoid spoilers for both Star Wars and the Collector Appreciation Surprises. My surprise(s) are allegedly arriving tomorrow. Can I hold out a week, or will the anticipation drive me mad(der)? We’ll see!

(For the record, I’d be happy with either an AQHA Horse or – yes, even – the Autism Horse. Again, folks, it’s not a horse designed for hobbyists per se, and that’s okay.)

How did I spend a small chunk of my Monday? Determining that I’ll likely be adding Tuesday Morning to my list of places where I can’t/won’t go looking for horses anymore. That was a lot of hard driving to see so very few horses!

My no-shop list also includes auction sites in languages other than English, Facebook, and Ollie’s. And after this year’s washout I’d add Tractor Supply to that list, if it wasn’t for the fact that my local one is located literally next door to the (much more fruitful) Salvation Army.

It’s interesting that the stores most hobbyists find their treasures are precisely the ones where I strike out – and vice versa! (Things might get interesting on that front later this week, incidentally.)

But anyway, getting back to spoilers and such… apparently a blurry photo of next year’s BreyerFest Horse – a gray Mangalarga Marchador by the name of Imperador das Aguas – has “leaked” online. It was possibly a blown up and slightly manipulated version of a thumbnail that can be found on the Breyer web site under your order history, if you ordered BreyerFest tickets this year.

It really is the size of a thumbnail, and even my prodigious Photoshop skills can’t render it into anything presentable without taking generous liberties with it. So I won’t.

There’s been some discussion of the ethics of distributing an image of an item that has not been “officially” released: does this thumbnail constitute an official photo release?

Yes and no. It can be found without resorting to nefarious or dubious means, so it’s not technically illegal to look at it – or point others in the same direction. But from its size and image quality, it’s definitely not meant to be a “best” look.

Whether Reeves meant to do it or not, I don’t know. I guess it could be interpreted as a “soft launch” – in other words, a quiet or discreet releasing of something without any fanfare. And even if not, I’d hardly call the image’s release evidence of some sort of failure on Reeves’s part.

It just is.

What I do find a little dubious are the snap judgments based on the thumbnail. Judging Breyers based on their official photos is dodgy enough, but on an image that’s only 80 x 64 pixels? Anything more than “Gray Horse, Action Pose” is a stretch.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Somewhat Surprised

The “surprise” Reeves promised us was a little anticlimactic, at least initially: a “Collector Appreciation Weekend” offer of one free model worth at least 46.99 – basically a higher-end Traditional – with every online purchase over $100 (on selected merchandise, yadda yadda).

I was kind of wondering if the photograph they were using to promote the surprise had provided us any clues, and apparently it did:

If you look closely at the photo, there’s one of those Sample/Prototype Valegros in it; the production pieces have black bases, not clear ones. The hook that’s been getting some people to bite on this deal? Some of those freebies could be something more. From the e-mail:
Your free model could be a beautiful Traditional model, or it could be a NEW 2016 model, or it could be a GLOSSY finished piece created just for Collector Appreciation Weekend!
Well, that’s one possible way to distribute those leftover Valegros!

While I rather doubt I’ll get anything “good” out of the deal – other than the Roan AQHA Horse, my luck on surprises this year has been not great – I took the plunge and bought a bunch of Stablemates and a couple odds and ends off the Breyer web site that I had been eyeing for a few months now.

Depending on how the finances look once I take care of a few bills today, I might go for another shot and get the rest of the Stablemates I want and the “lobster butt” Zodiac horse that amuses me so.
If nothing else, I get a bunch of stuff I wanted to get eventually anyway, and I will have a nice little stockpile of Stablemates that may come in handy next July, if a certain project comes to fruition.

The hyper-caffeinated real-time thread on Blab was an hysterical and fun way to spend a big chunk of my Friday afternoon, too. (No more Chewy Sweet Tarts for me, ooh boy….)

To heighten the surprise, I’ll wait until XMAS Eve before I open these box/boxes. I suspect a lot of hobbyists may go that route as well, so it may be a while before we know what gets distributed.

Oh, and I would not be surprised if there is at least one more surprise waiting in the wings. Remember, we had three last year, in addition to the Silver Filigree Ashquar: Banff, Glacier and Rolly.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Tack Masking

And my selection was…

The Traditional Foiled Again! Upon closer inspection, the Performance Horse Indian Pony had a couple of bothersome smudges in his spots, while this Foiled Again had the neatest and cleanest halter I’ve seen on the multiple examples I’ve inspected over the past couple of months. Pretty shading, too, with no obvious flaws.

I don’t know what this brings my Pacer total up to. About twenty, maybe? I lose track of how many variations of the original #46 I have. (Five?) The Pacer is one of the few molds where I give my completist tendencies free rein.

I think I’m only missing the two Niatrosses (QVC and Regular Run), the Slate Gray, Before the Wind and of course (Le Sigh) Praline. I waffle back and fourth over the necessity of collecting every possible sock and halter color combo of the Dark Chestnut. I’d like to upgrade my Sulky Set, eventually, and I have to decide if I really need another Strike Out (the one I have might be a Sample, still not sure).

I don’t have any true Tests or Oddities of the Pacer; they’re not particularly rare or unusual, I just haven’t had the good fortune of running across one in my price range. I do have a Test for the Dan Patch, but it’s on the Quarter Horse Gelding mold.

While on the whole the switch from metal masking to laser die-cut stickers has been a net positive, one of the setbacks has been the loss of the tack masking, in favor of handpainting.

Theoretically this should have been a good thing (no overspray) but molded-on tack tends to be small and elaborate, and mistakes are difficult to correct when you’re working with paint that dries in seconds.

With small quantity Special Runs it’s not too big an issue, but with a Regular Run like the Dark Bay Foiled Again and his Bright Yellow halter, it’s been a problem.

You all know that I am rather forgiving when it comes to small flaws. But seriously: I am lucky enough to live in an area where it’s actually possible to handpick. and it still took me until nearly the middle of December to find a Foiled Again I was happy to take home with me.

Monday, December 7, 2015


There are some models that are determined to elude your grasp, and I just going to have to accept that the Mini Falhófnir is one of them. My Vintage Club Bravo came in the interim, and he will have to sate my Stablemates fix, for now:

I was a little concerned that they might not attempt the muscle line shading on this little guy, but it’s there. Yay! Now that the painters have had a little practice with that color, here’s hoping we’ll be more Glossy Line Shaded Alabasters in the near future.

It’s definitely one of the more underused of the “vintage” colors, and it’s hard to think of a model that wouldn’t look good in it, in any scale.

It can be a hard mental hurdle for a lot of hobbyists to overcome, but having a few “uncatchables” on your want list is not a bad thing. It would be very boring for me, personally, if every model I ever wanted just fell into my lap. The chase is part of the fun!

And it’s so very satisfying when you do finally snag one your elusive little buggers, especially if it’s at a fraction of its price when it was hot and/or new.

Speaking of gloss light gray goodness, apparently there are some Glossy Icelandic Elskas floating around. I’ve been fortunate enough to see quite a few Elskas locally, but nary a one in Gloss. I’m guessing that the Gloss percentage for the run is significantly lower than it has been for other more recent releases with random Glossies, like the Bay Giselle and Gilen set from a couple years back. (I saw another one in a store not that long ago, actually!)

I wouldn’t mind finding her, but I’m not going to go out of my way looking for her, either. If she’s as rare as I suspect she is, I really don’t have enough time in the day. Especially when I have to deal with this mayhem-generating monster:

Yesterday she got into a goodie bag stashed in my bedroom – necessitating an emergency run to the vet – and today she’s been hellbent on taking down the Christmas tree one ornament at a time. After all that, then she has the audacity to still be this adorable when she naps.

Anyway, I do want to get myself one more “store-bought” horse for the year, but I’m eyeing something a little more mundane like a Foiled Again, a Glitterati, or that pretty Indian Pony Performance Horse with the nice dappling who’s been giving me That Look the last few times I visited him at one of my local toy store haunts.

He’s not the Chalky variation – another one of my uncatchables – but he is pretty, affordable, available, and one of my favorite molds. Not seeing any downsides there.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Cheetahs and Memories

I’ve had this picture for a couple of months now, and I’ve been wanting to post it here, but I haven’t quite found the right angle. But now I think I have, so here you go:

Yes, it’s an old taxidermy mount of a cheetah. Wearing a hat.

So, what does this have to do with Breyers or Breyer History, other than being an indirect reference to the Cheetah in the Chris Hess Wilderness Animal Series?

More than you might think.

Those of you who know me well (or better) know that I have a wealth of stories to tell – some about my family, some about the strange things that only seem to happen to me (a potential blog in and of itself), and quite a few about the hobby.

I alluded to one such story – about the Cheetah, above – in a post from about a year ago about the Solid Black Morgan:

Whenever I do tell the extended story of the weirdest things I’ve ever found at the flea market, the Cheetah usually comes up, partly because of the fabulous punchline: Oh, and by the way, it was wearing a hat.

It never fails to get at least an eyeroll from my audience.

It wasn’t until I was doing a search for something else entirely that I ran across a photo of the fabled beast. It really is him, and not something just like him, though I suppose with my track record that wouldn’t be out of the question, either…

Anyway, I knew it was real, but everyone else has just assumed that it had to be real because (1) it’s me doing the talking, and (2) the story is just too strange for it not to be real. There was no actual proof that this thing ever existed, except in my stories.

This is actually a significant problem in the model horse hobby. Because of the Breyer’s lackluster recordkeeping, and significant gaps in our ephemera stockpiles (especially for the 1959-1962 era) we tend to rely a great deal on stories that have been handed down, told and retold.

While there does tend to be a kernel of truth in many of these stories, there’s often no actual proof, other than the believability of the narrator and whether or not it fits the narrative we’ve already constructed.

That’s why I continue to look for evidence of things that we “know” to be true – because, in actuality, it might not be. Memory is a funny thing, and not 100 percent reliable, especially as the moment the memory was made rolls further away into the past.

That Cheetah is pretty much the way I remembered it though. Which is both reassuring, and disturbing.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Cyber Monday Foofaraw

I was out most of the day on work and work-related business, so I missed all the Breyer Cyber Monday web site crashing drama. And the Mini Falhófnir.

That one I am a bit bummed about, since I missed out on the handful that were in the NPOD in July, too. Always just beyond my reach, annoying little Fluffernutter….

Breyer straight up confessed that the crash was due to unexpectedly high traffic, which was undoubtedly influenced by the Sonny-Banff-Ashquar triple play on Black Friday. Nothing like few thousand hobbyists, constantly refreshing the site, to test (and discover) the limits of your server capacity.

There’s some speculation that there were going to be more limited SR drops on Monday, but were cancelled after the Stablemate Falhófnirs because of the technical issues. It wouldn’t surprise me if that was the case.

As far as what those surprises could be or when they will be dropping in the near future, your guesses are as good as mine. Though I am hoping/expecting at least two things: something related to the AQHA Anniversary horse (maybe those notorious “… and more!” horses?) and at least one more holiday oddball release, like a Zebra, Elk or Khemosabi.

And why not Khemo? Last year’s BreyerFest Silent Auction Decorator Set was fairly well-received, after the initial foofaraw died down; surely a few dozen Silver Filigree or Silver Charm Khemosabis could generate similar enthusiasm, with the same crowd at least.

Might make for an interesting experiment too, to test the limits of what speculators would buy. Much like what happened with the Boxer Rolly last year, but on an even more daring scale: there are some hobbyists who do collect the Dog molds, but Khemo? That is a much smaller pool.

It always shocks some hobbyists to hear this, but it’s true: some molds are far more popular with the public than with hobbyists. The Khemosabi mold, like the Bassett Hound and Lady Roxana, is much more popular outside of the hobby than in it.

It’s not that we have better or more discriminating tastes, it’s that different markets are looking for different things, plain and simple.

Not better. Not worse. Just different.

I wish more hobbyists would pause to think about that before piling on the latest releases.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Awesome Alabasters II: Classic Lipizzans

Long story, but I ended up working on Black Friday, so I managed to get through the biggest shopping day of the year (for normal people) without spending money on anything other than lunch and gas.

Nothing on the Breyer web site has tempted me to buy yet – I already had both a Sonny and a Banff, and I’m waiting for just the right release on the Ashquar. But there’s an entire day yet, and a couple of the Zodiac horses are tempting me, if not the entire set.

The week was not horse-free, as I did make a nice little upgrade with the beautifully shaded Classic Lipizzan in the foreground here:

My previous Lipizzan (in the background) is no slouch in the shading and detail department – and had, in fact, been an upgrade himself – but I just couldn’t pass up the new guy. He has so much shading on his neck and shoulders that he could almost pass for a Smoke.

Most of the Regular Run #620 Lipizzans I meet are fairly tame, usually running very light to nearly white, but every once and a while you’ll run into more generously shaded ones. Ventral stripes and extensive shading around the eyes and muzzle are typical features of these fancier examples.

I haven’t tracked the Lipizzans as closely as the other contemporaneous Classics – namely, the Love Racehorses – to see if there was a progression of the paintjob from dark to light, and when that could have happened.

There were no significant mold changes during the mold initial run from 1975 through 1980, and catalog and promo shots from that era aren’t especially helpful, either. All of the catalog examples are on the lighter side, and almost annoyingly consistent, which in itself is a little unusual for the 1970s.

The variation in the early Lipizzans could just as well have been random and dependent on whoever was assigned to painting booth that day. Or even what the painter had for lunch.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Anomalous Chalky Alabaster Running Mare

Since the minor research projects I’ve been working on this week aren’t yet ready for prime time, here’s a picture of an oddity I picked up a little while back in a box lot. A strange chalky Alabaster Running Mare:

Believe it or not, she was in significantly worse condition when I found her; there’s still plenty of room for improvement, but I haven’t had the time to do much else than add her to the herd whitening in the window. She’s presentable enough for our purposes today, though.

Chalky Alabaster Running Mares are part of the “Anomalous” group of Chalkies, ones either not made during the Chalky Era (1973-1975) or of more recent (Reeves) origins. The Alabaster Running Mare was discontinued in 1970, and the mold mark on this old lady is absent her USA mark, which means that my example is not an early 1970s Reissue (aka Post Production Special Run) either.

What’s even weirder about her is that her Chalkiness is uneven; where she’s yellowish in the picture is where the Chalkiness is thinnest – or in the case of the lower part of the left hind leg, nonexistent. It’s not a matter of wear and tear, since the gray shading on the mane, tail, head and hooves is not equally “worn away”. It’s most noticeable in her tail, in fact, which appears to be half Chalky and half not-Chalky underneath the gray paint!

Weird, very weird.

At first I thought maybe the opaque white areas were an unusually smooth and even form of precipitate – typically a crusty layer of powdery residue that can form on the surface over time, usually in areas that were aggressively cleaned (buffed and smoothed down with acetone) at the factory, but I don’t think that’s the case.

Is it milkiness, maybe? The thing about milkiness though, is that it’s translucent, not opaque. And usually sits on top of any other paint, not underneath it.

What it looks like to me is that Breyer might have taken a model that was inconsistently white for whatever reason (due to contaminated regrind or differently-colored acetate batches?) and lightly sprayed it with white paint to smooth the color out. It’s only with the passage of time that the unevenness becomes obvious.

The Alabaster Running Mare is a relatively rare Chalky, and I haven’t seen any others in person to judge if mine falls within the norm, or is even more anomalous than I thought.

(FYI: Yes, her mouth was sawed open by a previous owner.)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Looking Forward

Successful weekend: partially snowed in, in possession of a nicely-funded Paypal account, on a payday weekend, with multiple “special offer” e-mails streaming in from Reeves – and I didn’t buy anything!

That level of resolve probably won’t last the week, since I just spotted an inexpensive upgrade on eBay earlier today. It’s one of THOSE kind of things: if I don’t bid on it, I know I’ll be thinking about it – and regretting it – for months.

Another model I’m considering, but shouldn’t: the Premier Club Forever Saige. The previous two releases for 2015 were also beautiful – we’re all eager to see an Hermosa and Corazon Special Run at next year’s BreyerFest, right? – but there’s just something about Saige’s face that I find very endearing.

I guess because it reminds me a bit of Vita’s face in her rebellious-but-playful moments. Her hair is a bit weird and there are some angles that make her look ungraceful, but these are problems both Vita and I can totally relate to.

She is also very reminiscent of the original Traditional Mustang: the elevated head and neck, the relative position of her legs, a wild mane and thick, somewhat short tail. I can’t recall if I’ve covered the topic here before, but I have some interesting theories about the sculptural antecedents of the original Mustang. Another topic, for another time.

Judging from the number of them for sale online, I think I can hold out until BreyerFest to pick up a Forever Saige from the inevitable stash of leftovers that will be found in the NPOD.

Because I’ve been good about my budget, I haven’t gotten a copy of the new 2016 Breyer Calendar yet either, but it apparently contains some sneak peeks of other new horses coming our way next year – including a lovely Black Weather Girl, a portrait of Rhapsody in Black:

I had completely forgotten that next year would mark the end of the Weather Girl mold’s five-year exile to the “vault”. I was expecting her to return in a more conventional Bay, Chestnut or Gray, but another Black is good, too!

If you’re not a fan of Black, no worries: I would not be surprised to see Weather Girl multiple times in multiple releases next year: as a Web Special, a Flagship/Store Special, or maybe even a little something at BreyerFest.

Though I still want to see her in the original Breyer Old Mold/Family Arabian Colors: Gloss Alabaster, Gloss Honey Bay, Gray Appaloosa and Woodgrain.

I should stop pushing so hard for that idea; when I do get my wish for a favorite mold or mold/color combo, it often results in releases that remain out of my reach. Not always, but enough.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Vanilla, Valegro and Emma

I’ve been casually recompiling my want list – on a notepad next to the keyboard – and I was struck the other day at how random it was. AA Omner and the Black Pinto Picture Perfect Clyde Mare. The Black Stallion “Majestic Arabian” and the Bay Western Prancer “Prince”. Flim Flam and Galiceno Ponies.

Old and new, fancy and plain, “showable” and not. Those sorts of things.

Since most of my spare cash needs to be allocated elsewhere right now, it makes sense that I’m being drawn to what are, for the most part, cheaper and more readily available models. We all need a “horse fix” every once and a while, all the better if it happens to be inexpensive and easily obtainable!

We get so caught up in the models of the moment – this week, the Silver Filigree Croi Damsha Sugarloaf – that we sometimes miss the beauty in older or more common pieces. The ones that end up littering sales lists and eBay, begging for takers.

This is just a roundabout way of saying that I’m skipping out on the Sugarloaf drawing. She’s lovely, but there will be more new lovelies coming in the near future – including the new Fell Pony Carltonlima Emma, who’ll probably be one of my 2016 obsessions. She is being shipped and sold in the UK first, like Valegro and Banks Vanilla.

Pictures of in-hand models here:

So cute, so little, so fluffy! She’s like a jazzed up, modern take on the Haflinger Pony, whom she is just a tad bit smaller than.

Banks Vanilla is the first Regular Run release of the Croi Damsha mold, in Matte Alabaster: all three previous Production Runs were Club-limited or Special Runs. Though search engines queries for that one are going to be rather frustrating, and possibly dangerous to your New Year’s-related weight loss resolutions. (If ever there was reason for an ice cream cross-promotion, this model is it!)

I find the Banks Vanilla is very appealing, by the way; I know a lot of people are complaining that the paint job is “too plain”. But I like how it hearkens back to the soft Matte Alabaster paint jobs of the 1970s.

Frankly, I’d like to see more plainer paint jobs than the fancier ones, if only because there’s less room for error, and more room for variation. I also think the sculpting on the mold is strong enough that a lot of shading is more of a bonus than a necessity.

As is the case in every other new release, it’s wisest to wait and see before passing final judgment.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hobby Ambassador

The end of the flea market season went down rather quietly around here; my last “official” find was this rather dilapidated puppy:

Poor thing wears his expression honestly! Even though the Basset Hound is on the short list of molds that nobody customizes, ever, I have a general policy of leaving no cheap bodies behind.

While the Companion Animal canines are frequent visitors to the customizer’s table, most of the Traditional Dog molds are not. Every once in a great while I’ll see someone do something wild and crazy with a Boxer or a Poodle because they are so darn plentiful, but most “conditionally challenged” Dogs usually end up getting passed along to the nearest yard/garage/tag sale, or made into the crafty sort of something that you’d find on Etsy.

This is not a bad thing. Any vector it takes to get more people interested in the models is a good thing.

The Basset Hound mold, actually, is one of those molds that has always served as sort of a hobby ambassador anyway. His likeness to the Hush Puppies mascot – and occasional use as one – has made him a familiar and comforting figurine to many outside of our hobby who would normally not give Breyers or the hobby a second thought.

(“They made that, too?” Oh, the conversations I’ve had…)

Originally I was just going to let my new addition be a part of my “Body Box Gang” – an assortment of sorry-looking creatures I’ve rescued over the years – but in light of the recent events in Paris, I think I might actually move him to my “Peculiar Customs in Progress” table.

The Basset Hound is a French breed, after all; you might remember that I was mildly annoyed earlier this year that he was not included in the BreyerFest Vive Le France Special Run lineup, but that’s another thing I’m trying to let go.

Though with Reeves, one never knows. Nobody in the hobby was expecting a Wedgewood Blue Antelope for Christmas last year, either. (That Boxer was another story. Sort of.)

Regardless: I think Claude would look rather dashing with a saucy little beret, oui? I might have some time off next week, so maybe then...

Friday, November 13, 2015

That's Going to Hurt...

Well, I made the mistake of clicking on some auctions on eBay. I noticed another Black AQHA horse listed, and I was mildly interested to see where it was found, or at least the location of the seller.

You guessed it: the next town over.

Argh! I sure hope it wasn’t the same store I bought my Roan. Oh well, it’s not like I had a ton of time or money to spend on that search anyway. Let it go Andi, let it go…

I am heartened by the outpouring of affection here for the Thoroughbred Mare and Foal set. I was starting to feel a bit lonely, since most of the comments I’ve been seeing online about it had been to express a preference for Grazing set or a Sucesion and Le Fire one instead.

I am also delighted – though a bit annoyed – that their blankets feature another horsey-themed fabric that I wish I had access to for, you know, quilting purposes.

I told myself I couldn’t start any new quilt projects until I finished a few of the several dozen already in progress here. But I would make an exception if I had some of those Breyer-themed fabrics. Heck, I’d make a Breyer-themed quilt for the BreyerFest silent auction in exchange for a few bolts of these fabrics. (Hint, hint.)

But back to the Thoroughbred Mare and Foal. The original #3155 ran for over a decade, and variations are plentiful. It’s one of the slightly commoner items to find in Chalky, which makes sense, since it was introduced right at the beginning of the Chalky Era in 1973.

Most of these Chalkies are basecoated white, but some were painted directly on the gray plastic, giving their coats darker and richer undertones than average. A number of models – most notably the Elephant, the Donkey, the Black Stretched Morgan and El Pastor – also came in this unusual “Semi-Chalky” variation.

While the Mare is usually found in what I like to call “Breyer Bay” – with a black mane and tail, but no black shading on the legs – it does very rarely come in a more standard Bay, similar to the contemporaneous Justin Morgan.

I saw one earlier this year on eBay, in fact, but it was while I was searching completed auctions. If I remember correctly, she went cheap, too. (Another ouch!)

I don’t know if it was an early or late variation, a painting batch error like the 4-stocking Stud Spiders, or something utterly random. I haven’t had any in my hands or in my possession to inspect for clues.

I haven’t been actively looking for one, like I do some other variations, but she’s definitely on my radar. On the same level, I guess, as the No-Star Halla or the Appaloosa Performance Horse without his dorsal spots.

Now to go look at pictures of kittens on the Internet, because it’s that kind of day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

More Roany Rarities

I was in possession of a well-rested morning and coupons, so on Saturday I went in search of others to add to my tiny AQHA collection. I had no hopes of a Black, but I thought I at least had a shot at Palomino. The mold looks nice in that color, and if the Roan had not happened, he would have been the one I would have been aiming for.

Nope. In spite of the fact that I’m within driving distance of more stores that carry Breyers than some entire time zones possess, I never saw anything other than Chestnut and Bay.

I will have to be content with my Roan, and hope I find another rarity accidentally, as I usually do.

Or buy the Blue Roan Warehouse Reissue, when (a) I get some inventory issues worked out here, and (b) there’s a sale of some sort. Numerically, he’s probably as rare – or moreso – than any of the Anniversary Rarities, and he’s sitting right there on the web site, waiting. And he’s a roan; I have a hard time passing by a pretty roan.

Speaking of, I am rather infatuated by the latest Web Site Special – the Thoroughbred Mare and Foal Eve and Claus, in Chestnut Roan:

I can’t right now because it’s a bit pricey (not unreasonably) and I want to build a little bit of a war chest in case of Rare Holiday Special Run Animal Emergency. The previous Holiday Mare and Foal Set – the Running Mare and Foal Vixen and Blitzen – still hasn’t sold out yet, so I’m not in any hurry, though I do think that the piece count on Eve and Claus may be lower.

The Thoroughbred Mare and Foal set has always been one of those sets that polls better among the general public than with hobbyists. The original Mare and Foal Set #3155 ran for over ten years (1973-1984) and the #3367 Cupid and Arrow set ran for about seven (2002-2008).

Most of the other Regular Run sets sold well enough to be kept in production longer than the current two-year average, and the Sears Wishbook Bay Pintos set was popular enough to run in two consecutive catalogs, in 1982 and 1983.

The most recent Special Run was the Gloss Palomino Key Largo and Key West, for the 2011 Sunshine Celebration, though I feel a bit uncomfortable calling any four-piece Special Run an actual Special Run.

So anyway, here’s my thinking on this new Holiday set: it’s either being made with bodies left over from the Cupid and Arrow run, or is a precursor of another set coming in the near future.

It won’t matter to me, though if they turn out to be either Moderately Rare or Only Slightly Scarcer Than Average. I ike them, regardless.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The First and The Last of Legionario III

I am very tired today (not model horse related) so even though there’s been a lot of Breyer-related news the past few days, I’ll just do a brief update of my last post on the latest on Legionario variations.

Here is a picture I probably should have included last time, comparing my newest Legionario acquisition with my oldest one:

Quite the difference, eh? The Legionario in the foreground was an eBay purchase who came in a 1978 Sears Wishbook Shipper box, which means he was a pre-catalog release.

Early Legionarios didn’t all look this amazing – my childhood Legionario was acquired fairly early in the run, too, but he looks a little more like Dorsal Stripe Guy than Mr. Fabulous. Except with pinked hooves and no dorsal.

And no rubs: while he might not be as flashy or distinctive as these two, my childhood Legionario (who is currently in storage, the pity) is in immaculate condition. These two fellahs above, alas, are a long way from seeing the showring.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Legionario's Dorsal Stripe

Apparently a Black AQHA Anniversary Horse was spotted on eBay today(?) (Long day at work, feeling kinda fuzzy still.) If that’s the case, then the timing is rather interesting: the Grullas started turning up at the beginning of September, and the Roans at the beginning of October.

I wonder if that means the “…and more” will be turning up at the beginning of December?

I knew I should have stopped at the toy store on the way home today, darn it. Gotta hand it to Reeves, for making me so excited about a mold that rarely elicited more than a shrug from me before. Now I’m actually pausing to look at Poco Buenos and Jet Decks on eBay!

Anyway, in slightly less exciting news, my latest vintage box lot turned out to be mostly bodies. The paint jobs were fine – just the usual yellowing and grime – but most of their mouths were sawed open.

Ugh. I never went that extreme with my model horse modifications as a kid, other than some unfortunate experimentation with nail polish remover. (One of these body-boxers is a keeper, and once I get her cleaned up enough to show you, you will see why.)

A few of the models in the lot were spared the hacksaw, including a sweet Legionario III – with a dorsal stripe! I’ve owned a lot of Legionarios, older and newer, and I think this is the first one I’ve ever had with a prominent dorsal.

The original Legionario release ran for over twelve years, from late 1978 (via mail order, primarily the Bentleys) through 1990, and an extended run gives you a lot of variations, from Nearly-Smoke to Virtually-White.

The earlier ones tend to be more shaded and airbrushy, with a pinkish tint to the hooves and muzzle; later ones were lighter, whiter and neater, with less pinking. The dorsal stripe is a relatively uncommon feature that probably came in very late in the model’s production run, per Young’s Breyer Molds & Models.

He still needs a bit of cleaning and whitening, along with the rest of his friends. Unlike most of the rest of them, he’ll be sticking around.

Here’s an interesting equation to ponder: Spanish Breed + Parade Horse + Carnivale theme = possible BreyerFest 2016 Special Run item? This mold would make an excellent Surprise model candidate, especially since most of his previous releases have been solid or some shade of gray, and rarely glossy.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Black Appaloosa Surprise

It’s going to be a pretty picture day, because I’m still recovering from an unpleasant bit of something or other that’s left me dead tired all week; we had company over yesterday, which also didn’t help.

Anyway, here’s the pretty picture: it’s a cull!

Of the Black Appaloosa Running Stallion. A pretty nice one, too; whatever it was that caused him to remain unfinished is not obvious to me. He even stands really well, unusual for such a notoriously tippy mold.

Sometimes it wasn’t anything at all: things would get missed during the production process, especially on models where the finishing details could be subtle, such as the black(er) eyes and gray(er) hooves of an Appaloosa Running Stallion.

If it was noticed, it still might have been the end of the day, or end of the week, a quota had to be made, or an order had to pushed out of the door. Something like this could have been boxed, shrink-wrapped and sent on his merry way, with nothing illicit about his escape.

From his shading, spotting and coloring I’d guess he was a mid-1970s model, from the “White Picture Box” era (ca. 1973-1978). Every Traditional and Classic model back then was, essentially, a surprise model: sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes weird.

This guy was a gift from a friend, at BreyerFest, as a small way of helping me through some of the rough patches this year. She had no idea (or at best, only a faint inkling) of the special place the Black Appaloosa Running Stallion has in my heart. I bought one at the Kentucky Horse Park gift shop during my very first visit there – in 1979!

I still have him (of course) in addition to an early one with a Blue Ribbon Sticker and no USA mark I found at BreyerFest many years later. Interesting: that means all three of my Black Appaloosa Running Stallions (and none of the dozens of others that have passed through my hands, over the years) were acquired in or around the Kentucky Horse Park.

The only slightly bittersweet note to the newest one’s arrival was the revelation of his origins: sometimes a mystery is more powerful and meaningful without a subsequent revelation.

(I wanted to attribute his arrival to Ninjas. Or Fairies. Or the Elevator Gnomes. Maybe I will, the next time the story gets told.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sugarloaf and the Gray Areas

When I heard that the Christmas Silver Filigree might have been leaked on eBay, and that its name was Sugarloaf, this is the first thing that came to my mind:

A nineteenth century quilt block pattern! (You know, I do have a bit of leftover “Silver Filigree” fabric I made for my BreyerFest hat last year, hmmm.)

Anyway, it was getting to that time of year where we speculate about the year-end special runs Reeves dumps on us, including the Silver Filigree. Although there’s a possibility that this “Sugarloaf” might be a rejected concept, it fits all of the usual parameters: it’s a relatively popular and very new mold with big hair.

(The Icelandic is a possibility, too, but with mold’s release as the Flagship Special Elska, it seems a little less likely.)

There’s been some discussion about the ethics of buying models like these (the vendor also has a translucent lavender Traditional Running Mare) that appear to be prototypes/samples of models yet to be.

It’s one thing to buy prototypes/samples of models that already exist or have (at least) been announced; models that clearly appear to be of things yet to be … are out of my personal comfort zone.

I’ve bought things of questionable provenance – both intentionally, and unintentionally. I bought several models from the notorious “newtoymens” dealer on eBay (though none of the super-pricey ones: out of my league entirely there) and I also purchased the Sample of the Pottery Barn Kennebec Count.

One of my rationales for buying them was that at least they were being sold after-the-fact: they weren’t revealing any special secrets or upcoming releases. While there were rumors of where these models were coming from, there had been no official confirmation, either.

The Kennebec Count was a liminal case: rumors had been going around that the Special had been planned, but canceled; a short time after the Sample appeared on eBay, it was officially released.

Everyone’s comfort zones in these ethical gray areas are different – and not necessarily wrong. We’re not really sure what the situation is at the factories in China that are allowing these pieces to come to market. They could have been gifts or compensation of some sort. And what constitutes ethical behavior in China – especially regarding knockoffs and antiquities – is another issue entirely.

There’s also the possibility that Reeves has already given the security issue some thought, and determined that either the positives (publicity) outweigh the negatives (element of surprise). Since it’s also something that happens with other toys and collectibles manufacturers there, they might have considered this risk a part of doing business in that part of the world.

That’s all speculation: I don’t know.

All I do know is that I’m more excited at the possibility of Traditional scale Horse Crazy release (which is what I’m assuming the Running Mare thingie is/might be) than the Sugarloaf, oddly enough.

I'm all for more Silver Filigrees, but how long has it been since we’ve had a Traditional Translucent production run, anyway? It feels like forever. The entire Running “family” would be wonderful candidates for that kind of treatment.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Exceptional and Ordinary

The most recent arrivals are not as dirty as the first, but also a bit on the boring side; these are among the nicest of the bunch:

Yep, a Bay Running Foal and a Palomino Rearing Stallion, neither one high on anyone’s want list. Both are standard issue models from the early 1970s: not Chalky, with no molding or painting anomalies.

They are, however, in excellent condition with positively superb shading and coloring. If you’re looking for a quality example of either piece, these are about as nice as they get.

They have that velvety matte finish typical of non-Chalky models from that era too, which is understandably hard to find in mint condition. I’m almost too afraid to touch them, less they pick up a stray burnish mark or two that would mar that appealing softness.

Models like this – simultaneously Exceptional and Ordinary – can be a tough sell, especially online. If hobbyists are going to spend extra for a “premium” example of a common model, they’re not going to go halfway: they’re going to go for the works. That means stickers, boxes, signatures, and unusual (Chalky, Pearly, Glossy) finishes.

Models that are just happen to be really nice…are sort of the silver medalists of the model horse world. You’re going to take it if you can get it, of course, but forever second to the real winner who might be just over the horizon.

So I’ll reserve these guys for either BreyerFest or a live show/swap meet situation, where hobbyists can see just how nice they are in person – and who may not be so willing to cough up the sometimes-insane prices the “Superpremium” models can bring.

(Same thing happens in comic books: the price cliff between “Mint” and “Fine” is a steep one, even if the aesthetic or technical differences are minimal.)

Keeping these two for myself doesn’t seem likely: I have a nice Rearing Stallion in Palomino already, and as far as the Running Foal goes, I’d really rather find one that’s a better match for my semi-gloss Mare with eyewhites.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


The one actual nice piece from that box of horrors: a mostly lovely Woodgrain Five-Gaiter!

Woodgrains are almost as hard to find as Blue and Gold Decorators in my part of the world, which I find odd; near as I can figure, retailers either didn’t sell them in this area, or buyers weren’t interested. Any time I bring home a Woodgrain that isn’t a Family Arabian or Fighting Stallion, it’s usually cause enough for dancing. Or cake.

I described this Five-Gaiter as mostly lovely: he does have condition issues. Some are the usual minor condition problems that show up with most vintage models found “in the wild”: eartip rubs, hoof rubs, a few high point nicks and dings. Nothing significant or out of the ordinary.

He also has two factory condition issues. The first you can’t really make out in the photos, but his graining coat is slightly pixilated. Basically, that paint/stain was either a little too wet, or the conditions in the factory were just a little bit too humid, causing the paint to bead.

It’s not the same thing as the bubbling that sometimes occurs on Woodgrains, but it is probably related somehow. I’m not planning on testing the theory: I plan on keeping him cool, clean and dry as long as he’s an occupant of this house.

His other problem is a little more amusing:

He has matching butt dimples! More precisely, these are sink marks: indentations in molded plastic that sometimes occur in thick-walled or solid areas of plastic, primarily due to uneven cooling rates. Basically, the plastic starts to cool before that section of the mold is completely filled, pulling it away from the mold wall.

Sink marks are not an uncommon thing to find in Breyer models, especially in the 1970s; just about every Proud Arabian Mare that I ever owned had them on their hooves. Sink marks this big – and matching! – are a little less common.

Both sides of the mold are molded simultaneously, so the fact that they “match” shouldn’t surprise: each side has a similar wall thickness, and experienced the same amount of heat, pressure, and so on. It’s the degree and the placement of those sink marks that surprises, and amuses.

Many naughty euphemisms come to mind. I’ll be good and leave those to your imagination.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


The first big box lot is in the house and it was…challenging. Everything was dirty, one horse was partially filled with sand (!) and many of them are a very entertaining and/or distressing shade of yellow. This Alabaster Family Mare and Foal set is a perfect illustration of what I was dealing with here:

The snowy-white FAF next to them is there for comparison: he was a previous restoration project who turned out almost perfect. (His muzzle is unretouched – it really came that way, that gray!)

At this point, I’m not sure if I even want to do any work on this pair. In fact, I’m seriously considering keeping them “as-is” (dust and all) for any demonstrations I may be called in to do in the future: they are such perfect examples of the grungiest Breyers can be.

They are textbook candidates for restoration, too: in excellent condition, underneath the yellow and the grime. (Aroma-free, too. Thank goodness.)

I don’t even see many significant rubs or scuffs in the gray areas, which is very unusual for Breyer Alabasters of this age. For some peculiar reason, Breyer often painted the gray areas of their Alabasters after glossing and not before, leaving them unprotected and very susceptible to rubs.

Cleaning those gray areas is one of the biggest Breyer restoration challenges: a little bit too much pressure with a cotton swab or toothbrush, and you can kiss that beautiful shading goodbye!

One technique I’ve found that keeps additional damage to a minimum is a variation of “power washing”: warm water, mixed with either a high-quality dishsoap (like Dawn) or a degreaser like Lestoil, repeatedly applied with a squirt bottle at close range.

I usually do it on a towel or in a shallow pan to contain the mess, rubbing and blotting only when absolutely necessary, if at all. I managed to clean a very dirty Horse-Over Clock this way, keeping the super-delicate “patinated” mane and tail intact.

I love doing this kind of restoration work – making the once beautiful, beautiful again – but that box lot took a lot out of me. I sure hope the next batch is a little less intense.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Top of the Heap

One of the things that I bought that I was hoping was awesome? It’s awesome!

Mint in box Chalky Clydesdale Stallion with the original 1974 Collector’s Manual – and bag! I think I can say that I’ve reached the top of the upgrade heap with this guy.

The funny thing is that he’s not my first MIB Chalky; my first was a Chestnut Belgian – which I bought primarily because he looked like a pretty nice MIB Belgian, not because I hoped he was a Chalky. I thought he might be, but at the price I was getting him at it didn’t matter. That he was was just a bonus.

The Clydesdale I did buy under the assumption that he was – which is not something I do very often, because judging Chalkies by slightly blurry online photos is an always-iffy proposition. I shelled out the little bit extra cash (for me) because I figured he was at least a semi-safe bet: in every other regard, he was a premium, high-end piece.

This is where the market is now going with Vintage pieces, anyway: the more bells and whistles, the better. White Picture Box? Check. Original Collector's Manual? Check. Original Bag? Check. Near mint condition? Check. 

Chalky? BINGO!

Even the roughest of Chalkies will always have a value – just as beat-up, coverless copies of key Golden Age comic books still have a greater-than-nominal value. But as with many collectibles from the modern era, better is better.  

Model horse collectors aren’t big on the concept of “patina”, outside of exceptions that fall either into the category of amusing (the heavily bloated, the heavily yellowed, or the disturbingly warped) or the exceptionally precious (Decorators, Test Colors, our childhood carpet herds).

It’s always funny whenever an antiquer tries to sell a body-quality Breyer that way. Luckily for me, it doesn’t happen too much around here any more; if it does, it’s usually someone new to the area who has not yet been schooled by the locals.

Now to dig out the Chalky Clydesdale I upgraded from – who is not too shabby himself, but Mint In Box he’s not.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Not the Horse You Were Looking For

The dental work was today, so I’m definitely not in the mood for anything long-winded. (All went well. Thank goodness!)

Here’s a picture of a Mysterious Black Breyer, though not the one you were expecting to see today:

It’s that Black Little Bits Thoroughbreds in Tenite, one of the gift bag treasures that baffled and confused attendees of the Sweet Home Chicago Event. The general consensus is that they are leftover Cobalts from the #1025 Cobalt and Veronica set, issued from 1995 through 1998. Another batch of about 40 were given to showers at the Meows and Minis show held the same weekend.

It’s not something I’ve investigated further – too many other boiling pots of water to attend to, alas – but it does stoke my desire to investigate the deeper mysteries of the Reeves warehouse. A place that had, apparently, at least 250 or so 17-year-old Tenite Little Bits sitting in a box somewhere.

What other kind of crazy stuff do you guys still have in there? (And do you need any assistance inventorying said stuff?)

As for the other Mysterious Black Breyer, Reeves has more or less confirmed (via Facebook, bleh) that the Black AQHA horse does/will exist, and that these new colors (Grulla, Roan, Black) are “rarities” and not just a fresh set of colors for the second half of the year.

It’d be nice if Reeves could also float us some general numbers or percentages so we could gauge just how excited we are supposed to be when we find these rarities – on a scale of “Hey, cool!” to “OMG” to “Spontaneously Combust”?

Though I don’t think it’d be likely before the end of the year, if they even do, just to save retailers the grief. Roan is one of my favorite colors, so my gauge is a bit north of “OMG”, regardless.

Coincidentally, I happened to stop by the same store on the way home from work yesterday – to take another look at the remaining Elskas, I told myself – but no other Horses of Unusual Color were to be found.

That’s actually a bit of a relief, since I just bought a couple of box lots for resale this week that took up that little bit of slack I had in the budget. (Not entirely for resale, I hope, if a couple of hunches prove right.)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Two More Small Additions

I decided to take a pass on the Kasper and Jack Halloween Foals; aside from trying to stay focused on budgetary issues, the more I looked at them, the less appealing I found them. To be honest, they just didn’t look that well-designed to me.

If I’m going to buy any Glow-in-the-Dark Halloween horses this year, it’ll be the Fighting Stallion Ichabod, with the cute little Appaloosa skull spots. Or last year’s Goffert Night Mare, covered in vampiric imagery that bordered on the genuinely creepy.

I did make a couple of small additions to the herd this week, though:

The now-no-longer elusive G4 Stablemates Andalusian and Bucking Bronco! I picked this pair up at a Jesse-free Tractor Supply, and found even more at a Meijer; the Meijer had the Mystery Foal Surprise sets also, but I’ll be taking a pass on those through the end of the year.

(Gotta save up for whatever surprises they’re going to throw our way this holiday season – now that it looks like I might be able to afford some of it.)

Remember when so many of us were worried earlier in the year, when the initial shipment of these two pretties sold out in an eyeblink? They’re still showing up as “Unavailable” on the web site, but judging from the number of pieces now turning up on eBay, Reeves must have allotted the latest batch to retailer orders first.

They don’t appear on the Discontinued list for 2015, so if they’re still not in your neck of the woods yet, I wouldn’t worry about it. Stablemates releases, generally, seem to have a longer shelf life, outside of Special Runs and mistakes like the Play Mat Palomino:

Who has reappeared this year, incidentally, in a slightly altered form:

While most recent switches of medium have been from Nonplastic to Plastic – like the Classics Amelia (formerly Tally Ho) and Liam (formerly Sir Buckingham) – the Stablemates, again, have been a bit of an exception to the rule. There have been a number of plastic-first Stablemates showing up in Nonplastics forms later, like the BreyerFest Specials in the early 2000s, and the “International Miniature Collection” from 2004-2005.

I’d rather see the Play Mat Palomino in plastic again, but it’s reassuring to know the mold hasn’t been completely forgotten.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

More About the Roan...and the "More"

Aside from the Roan AQHA horse, the week wrapped up with a lot of other good news and happy finds.

For instance, the dental work I need will be far less extensive – and less expensive – than I anticipated. Yes!

On the way home from the dentist I stopped at the local Salvation Army and found eight yards of matching vintage feedsack fabric that is perfect for that quilt rehab project I picked up at the flea market about a month ago – and drastically cheaper than the stuff I was pricing on eBay.

But back to the Topic du Jour: The Roan.

I know some of us are upset with Reeves and how they have been handling the release of information about the AQHA release, going as far as accusing them of various nefarious things up to and including deliberate deceit.

Well, yes and no.

As I’ve explained before, there are real horse/model horse people who work at Reeves, and there are the proverbial people who can’t distinguish Chestnut from Bay. It’s pretty clear to me that many of the responses I’ve seen posted and reposted were more from the latter than the former.

But it is true that they are not being terribly consistent with the release of information – and possibly using that inconsistency to stoke our enthusiasm. For instance, the text on the web site reads thus:

Breyer's American Quarter Horse is an assortment of beautiful colors: sorrel, bay, palomino, roan and dun.

The social media responses have been largely variations of the same theme; when asked what colors the release will be coming in, the following text appears to be cut-and-pasted in:
  1. Sorrel
  2. Bay
  3. Palomino
  4. Roan and Dun
(This is what’s made many hobbyists assume that Reeves couldn’t tell the difference between Roan and Dun.)

On the promotional page for the AQHA Foundation, we get a slightly different story:

Breyer is proud to honor the AQHA’s 75th anniversary milestone with this very special limited edition model. Featuring custom packaging and a silver logo on the belly, each model is airbrushed by hand in a variety of colors. Just as in the real horse world, the Breyer AQHA horses are most commonly found in sorrel and bay, but you might also be rewarded with a palomino, bay roan, grullo, black or more! Models are shipped randomly so you'll receive a wonderful surprise and a beautiful model and you'll feel great about your support of the Foundation.

Wait a minute: “…black or more!” Gah!

Anyway, it’s clear that Reeves does know the difference between Roan and Dun; the numbered color categories text above is, I believe, how they categorize/assort them for shipping: X number of #1, Y number of #2, and so on, with #4 being the “any and all other colors, including Roan and Dun”.

I like how the Foundation page text also states clearly what I’ve been assuming all along: the color release proportions will be similar to that in real-world Quarter Horses: lots of Bays and Chestnuts, some Palominos, and a smattering of everything else.

For the record, I have no idea what the actual production numbers are, or will be, for each color. I think the Grulla, Roan, and the (currently hypothetical) Black will still be relatively rare, because they are relatively rare in Quarter Horses in real life.

The Grullas seem a little more common right now, but that could just be an artifact of knowing where to mine for them: Tractor Supply stores. I found my Roan at a small, locally-owned hobby store; if that’s where the Roans (and “more”) are being targeted for release, finding them will be inherently a little harder.

It’s too soon to tell, however, based on such a small sample size. It would make sense if they did send the rarest of the rarities to stores like that, rewarding loyal and independent stores with higher demand items both to encourage foot traffic and drive more holiday and year-end sales.

As for what “more” entails, I have no idea if, when, what: Buckskin, Dappled Gray, Perlino Dun, Cremello, Silver Dapple and Dunalino are just some of the viable and still previously unused options for this mold.

I think that the Black ones, if they do exist, may be like the Black Fun Foals - factory repainted pieces of colors that are still in stock by the end of the year (Bays, Chestnuts?) My theory is that the Black will be the rarest - like the Fun Foals!

Or end up being casually tossed into the Ninja Pit next year to destroy us all.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Roan AQHA Horse

Well, just take a look at what I just found at the toy store on the way home, not even two hours ago - and what made me break my promise not to buy anything through the end of the year!

Yes, that's a BAY ROAN 75th Anniversary AQHA Horse. That everyone was sure didn't exist because of the cryptic nonanswers Reeves was dishing out on social media.

For the record, there are a lot of horse and model horse people who do work there. It's just that they are not always the ones to answer the questions.

I was still so excited after I bought him that I carried him with both hands to the 7-11 next door to buy a celebratory Big Gulp.

He already has a name, by the way - Roan Where You Want To! Because I am a dork.

The store had also just unpacked its Elskas, too, but I was too excited about the Roan to look at them clearly, so I took a pass on them.

This was one of the colors I was hoping for, so it was a very happy ending to a very crazy week.

Two scoops in one week!