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 Falh√≥fnirs 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.