Saturday, December 31, 2016

Picks and Predictions

All those pictures of the Holiday Shermans are making me almost regret not getting one. That’s okay, though, I came home with a decent little haul from the Salvation Army the other day:

I have some interesting things to say about the Stablemates painting kit, but that’s for another day.

I’ve been sort of obsessed with incorporating it into my quilting projects lately, so of course I wasn’t going to turn down a 25-yard spool of giant lime green ric-rac.

The stoneware animals are by a local Michigan artist, and I’m kind of shocked that I bought them as inexpensively as I did, but that’s our local Salvation Army for you. I don’t know if I’m going to keep them yet, or consign them to the sales stash. They are adorable, but the china cabinet’s looking a little crowded.

The blue sari fabric – about three yards – I found the previous week, but I thought I’d include it because “finding a bit of inspiration for the coming year’s BreyerFest” seems to be turning into one of my newer holiday traditions. It’s not quite enough to make a sari (traditionally you need about six) but I do plan on finishing more quilts in the coming year, so an Indian-themed BreyerFest quilt could be a part of that.

Speaking of that, tickets for the event go on sale starting next week, correct?

Generally I’m one of those people who waits until the last minute to buy tickets, depending on the Special Runs offered. Since I’m trying to keep to a tighter budget this year, I might just get it over with and cough up the dough for my one ticket now. And hope if there are any items above and beyond the two allotted to me that I want, they will be unpopular and have plenty of leftovers.

I’ll save myself several months of aggravation and get all of my hopes/dreams/predictions for Special Run items out of the way here and now, too. My predict-o-meter has been somewhat off lately, so take these all with a grain of salt:

The Breyer Elephant mold is of an Indian Elephant, so that’s an obvious choice. The only question here is color; most are assuming either White, or Decorator, but I’d like a fancy Glossy one with lots of shading and detail, and a fancy new Howdah. I’ll be fine with anything, though.

I have no idea what mold the Pop-Up Store Crystal will be, but I’d be surprised if its name is anything other than Koh-i-Noor, for the famous diamond.

Since modern Polo was more or less invented in India, there might be a Polo Pony of some sort. We’ve had a couple of BreyerFest Smarty Polo Ponies lately, so the Classics Polo Pony feels more likely. In a Pinto pattern, if it was my choice to make: that mold has almost always come in either a solid color or some shade of gray.

Something possibly British-themed, to acknowledge India’s history as a British colony. So someone in the Thoroughbred family, maybe?

The famous warhorse Chetak is another potential candidate; he’s described as having a “blue tinge”, which could lend itself to some interesting artistic interpretations.

The Buddha’s horse Kanthaka is another possibility, a White or Aged Gray stallion in Matte or Gloss.

A Baloo and Bagheera set, from Kipling’s The Jungle Book, because someone at Reeves is an unrepentant Disney fan and probably won’t be able to help themselves. I wouldn’t mind this one too much, really, since I really want another Cougar Special Run, and I can always make room for another Bear.

I’d also like to see something that honors the Indian textile industry. If it was me, I would make a two-piece Classics set in pastel colors and decals, one called Paisley, and the other Calico. This wouldn’t be that hard to pull off, since they still have paisley decals from the Bucking Bronco releases a few years back, as well as all the floral motifs from the Blossoms series and Prince of Chintz.

I am also hoping for least one other pony. For no rhyme or reason, I’d like it to be a Galiceno Pony.

Along the same lines, I’d also like to see either a Weather Girl or the pretty new Premier Club Yasmin in some shade of Chestnut (please?)

I won’t offer up any guesses on the Surprise model because other than last year’s Esprit, it’s been almost impossible to predict.

Now to wait and see how wrong I am!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Holiday Shermans

When the “Christmas Surprise” e-mail came through late on December 24, my imagination went into overtime with all of potential ways Reeves could tempt me.

An Elk? A Deer Family? The Zebra? Maybe even another dog, like the Saint Bernard?

Instead, we got a trio of Sherman Morgans:

Since I don’t love the mold as much as others do, and I’m not one to buy to resell, I walked away from the offer with my Paypal account balance intact. A Gold Florentine to match my Silver Filigree Celebration would have been nice, but it being a Gambler’s Choice there was no way I could guarantee it.

(The Silver Filigree Celebration, incidentally, is the only example I have of the revised Sherman Morgan mold; my other three Shermans are all of the original lumpy version with the turd-shaped tail.)

I imagine if he came in a favorite color like the original Freckle Red Roan or the “Silver Dilute Dun” the Web Special Adios Frappe came in, the story would be different. I sometimes hesitate just a bit whenever I see an affordably priced Gloss QVC Special Run of the Justin Morgan, or the Millennium Horse Carpe Diem.

I wouldn’t have hesitated to keep a Silver Charm Celebration either, if I had lucked into one.

It wasn’t all that surprising that the Sherman didn’t sell out by the end of the day: there were 350 of each color, 1050 pieces total, and limited to one per account. That’s a lot of models! I’m not sure he even officially sold out, or they just removed him from the site.

Other than the Grab Bag with the WEG Classics Ruffian in it, I didn’t bite on any of the offers made on the web site this Holiday season. I did put a few items in my shopping cart to see if they qualified for the latest “Free Random Gloss Classic Arabian” offer. They did, and the Free Shipping offer on top of that was tempting.

But still didn’t do it.

One of my hobby resolutions for next year is to get models off the office floor, and that’s going to require another culling of the herd by another five or ten percent. Buying fewer models now will mean fewer models to cull later.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Winter Wonderland and His Hooves

Last week at work, after having to listen to the local radio station that plays Christmas music all day play “Winter Wonderland” for the umpteenth time, I turned to a coworker and said “If they play this song one more time, I swear, someone’s gonna get hurt…”

It’s not that I dislike that song, particularly, but sound repetition drives me crazy.

So what shows up on the Internet this week? Pictures of next year’s Holiday Horse, named (naturally) Winter Wonderland:

The past few Holiday Horses haven’t done much for me. Though I liked the partial Chalky Mulberry Esprit in the Bayberry and Roses set in 2014, the decorations/“costume” it came with screamed “We got such a deal on ribbon this year”. This year’s Woodland Splendor, on the Lonesome Glory, was more my Mother’s style of holiday decorating, not mine.

(Feathers. Always with the feathers…)

But you know what? I love Winter Wonderland. A Pearlescent Palomino Totilas covered in white fake fur and owls? It sounds as absurd as the Holiday Horses that preceded him, but this one somehow works for me. I want to rein in my horse spending a bit more next year, but Winter Wonderland still makes it on my want list.

I especially like the gray hooves, which are a nice Vintage touch. Gray hooves used to be the standard hoof color for Palomino paint jobs, pre-Reeves (ca. 1984/5). There were some exceptions – most notably the Fighting Stallion, Five-Gaiter, and earlier examples of the Rearing Stallion – but if any model was issued in a generic Palomino paint job in the 1970s or 1980s, gray hooves were the norm.

Gray hooves on Palominos were never completely phased out, and they still turn up on releases with solid-colored legs. But tan or pink-hued hooves are now more likely to be seen on legs with socks or stockings.

So that’s why that little touch on Winter Wonderland stood out so much to me.

One thing I’ve found aggravating about some of the more recent Vintage-styled releases is that while they get the general concepts correct, the littlest details often go wrong.

Hoof color has been one of those littlest details. For instance, for some strange reason Reeves can’t grok the idea that Gloss Honey Bays usually came with Black hooves, not Gray ones. The Vintage Club Honey Bay Cantering Welsh Pony, for instance:

Yeah, yeah, I know that several Matte Bays from the 1960s and 1970s came with Gray hooves, like the Grazing Mare and Foal and the Stretched Morgan. But Glosses were almost always Black, darn it!

But they do seem to grasp the overall picture of Vintage Palomino paint jobs, and Winter Wonderland is more evidence of that. (Yes, I am still hoping for a Vintage Club SR in Neon Yellow Matte Palomino.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Libra Duchess

One of the pieces from the Grab Bag that I am definitely keeping is the Zodiac Series Libra, on the Duchess mold:

I think I received an especially well shaded one, and the pink undertones (not visible in any of the promotional pictures that I can recall) are both a nice aesthetic touch and a subtle nod to the nature of the sign itself – balancing out a cool color with a warm one, and a “masculine” color with a “feminine” one.

I’m also keeping her because I was reviewing my collecting goals for the coming year, and I had just about settled on it being the Duchess mold.

I loved her pinto release in the Gato y Mancha set at BreyerFest this year, which in turn spurred my unsuccessful (so far) attempt to acquire the infamous Wildlife Adventure set with the Pink Camo blanket and Baby Gorilla.

The Duchess mold should be just challenging enough to keep me interested and motivated, without taking up too much of either my shelf space or money.  

The only possible frustration I’m seeing is that outside of one release (the #663 Buckskin “Thoroughbred Cross”, ca. 2006-2008) the Duchess mold has almost always been packaged as a part of a set. With the exception of things like the Zodiac Series pieces (that I will probably end up with a complete set of anyway, over time) I’m the kind of person who prefers to keep sets as sets.

Generally that wouldn’t be too much of a problem, except that some of the sets Duchess came in (especially those from the Walmart Mustangs Series) also came with popular and very desirable bits like the Wolf or some of the more modern Classics Foal molds.

My initial searches turned up a lot of sad, stray and stranded Duchesses, and that makes me only want her more.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Highlander Haflinger

I’m feeling so sorry for the Highland Pony release on the old Haflinger mold:

She really does have a lovely paintjob, but as I feared, it wasn’t enough to rescue her from being discontinued for next year – along with fellow “Best of British” series alums the Welsh Cob (on the Llanarth True Briton), the Shetland Pony and the Connemara Pony Newsworthy.

It wasn’t a surprise, though; in spite of the fact that there have been quite a few “collectible” Haflingers issued over the years, it has generated very little love for the mold among hobbyists in general.

The original 156 Haflinger comes in multiple – though minor – variations, mostly involving the shade of Chestnut it comes in, and markings. (This release can, on very rare occasions, be found with airbrushed stockings.)

Of the rarities, there’s the Gloss variation of the #1483 Highland Pony, made for the 2012 BreyerFest Youth/Child Shows, the Gloss Apricot Dun prize model for the 2005 BreyerFest Sceptre Contest, and the slightly modified reissue of the RDA Strikey (sans “brand”) made for the 2010 WEG in Kentucky.

Even though all of those releases were under 50 pieces – and there were only 18 made of the WEG Haflinger! – the most desirable Haflinger of them all is still the 1997 Christmas release of Snowball:

Snowball is popular because outside of being the first in the ongoing series of Holiday Horses, the release was cut short due to production issues with the tack. They disappeared rather quickly in stores, which cause a bit of a run on them right from the get-go; judging from the recent sales on eBay, demand still seems pretty solid nearly 20 years on.

Like the Highland Pony, Snowball came a Chalky finish, albeit without the extensive shading or dappling. Snowball wasn’t unique: many Alabasters from that time period came in a Chalky or semi-Chalky finish, like the Black Stallion release Equus.

In Snowball’s case, that bright white finish wasn’t merely an aesthetic choice, but a practical one. The matte and opaque Chalky finish would help keep them from turning into… yellow(ed) Snowballs.

I haven’t made a decision yet on keeping this pony; I’m already keeping several pieces from that Grab Bag, and I don’t really want to add more. Even if I did decide to let it go now, busy season is coming up at work, and I won’t have much time to do much selling.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The 500 Club

I had no trouble filling up my shopping cart to get a Glossy Cosette offered on that “Collector Appreciation Day” earlier this week, but I didn’t go through with it. Partly it was because I managed to score something wonderful in my Grab Bag Box:

Any of the four Classics issued for the 2014 WEG would have been fine – the Chestnut Johar, the Bay Frolicking Quarter Horse Stallion, the Black Warmblood Mare, and the Alabaster Classics Ruffian – and all four have shown up in the #1 Grab Bag Assortments.

As my favorite among the four, however, the Ruffian one was something I was actively pursuing at BreyerFest this year. Having her show up on my doorstep helped make up for some of the bad fortune/timing I’ve been having with eBay auctions over the past week.

(I wasn’t quite as lucky with the Sherman Morgan in the lot: just another “normal” Silver Filigree there.)

Both the Glossy Cosette and the 2014 WEG Classics were issued in runs of 500 pieces. Nowadays collectors consider 500-piece Special Runs to be relatively common – heck, anything over 100 pieces, really – but quantity alone is rarely the sole determinant of rarity or value.

I’ve had a number of Classic Arabians on my sales list the past couple of years, but outside of body-box quality pieces, they’ve been a tough sell. The collectors who grew up with them (like yours truly) already have them, and newer collectors aren’t all that into them.

That’s the reason why I took a pass on the original Cosette: there is no sense of urgency. The Matte version has been available to the general public on the Breyer web site for a while now, manufactured in a quantity sufficiently large enough that they were able to gloss 500 of them for the offer. She seems almost as common and familiar as any other Regular Run item.

The way the Gloss Cosette offer was structured – you had to buy a hundred dollars of qualifying items – meant that there will be leftovers. They will turn up elsewhere, maybe even in future Grab Bags that will also come with a bunch of discounted stuff I already wanted!

Like the 2014 WEG Classics. But even though those items were also issued in runs of 500, on molds that are also modestly but not wildly popular, there’s definitely a sense that those models are more desirable – or at least harder to come by – than the Classic Arabian releases, Matte or Gloss, will ever be.

The 2014 WEG Classics were distributed at the event in France, and then disappeared (warehoused, apparently!) You could get them from some sellers overseas, but the shipping was prohibitive for many of us. Some of the WEG Stablemates did make it over here, but the Classics largely did not.

Now that they’re finally letting some of them go in the Grab Bags, and presumably in other places or in other offers or situations, the perceived rarity of the WEG Classics may change. Hobbyists will get blasé about them, too, and then move on to the next newest or hottest thing.

I’ll just keep buying and keeping what I like, rare or not.  

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Fell Pony Emma

I’m just having the hardest time focusing on anything right now. I don’t know if it’s a consequence of the weather or this cold that’s been aggravating me for the past several days, but I’m beginning to get really annoyed by my inability to get anything done.

So today I’ll take it easy on the blog front and just pause to admire a recent acquisition, the Chasing the Chesapeake Special Run Emma, Black-Eyed Susan:

She was the only one of the Event SRs that made me panic a little bit; all the Special Runs were lovely, but I felt a burning need to bring the little Emma home.

I probably should not have worried. She had the highest piece count (76) outside of the Mason, and most were hoping for the popular Brishen Sagamore Rye (60) or the scarce Shire Testudo (50). If I was going to get one of the not-a-Masons, it was going to be her. With my luck, though, nothing is ever a guarantee...

The mold only came out about a year ago, so there’s not really much to say about it from an historical perspective.

Just about the only little tidbit I can add is that a Sample of the original black Carltonlima Emma was used as a table decoration in the Tailgating Tent at the Chesapeake Event. She was looking pretty rough, so I doubt most even gave her a second look. (Except me, because I am me.)

It seems obvious to me now that, duh, that’s what some of the Samples knocking around the Reeves office end up doing: they become table decorations for events, public and private. So keep that in mind the next time they post pictures of a party or event that they participated in.

(I’m still pining for one of those Cremello Belgians they used as centerpieces at some equestrian book event a few years back. Old Goliaths from the warehouse, or something else? Argh!)

She’s small, shaggy and adorable, so I doubt I’ll be able to keep my little Emma collection complete for long. While I think it’s more likely we’ll see the Galiceno Pony instead of the Emma as a BreyerFest SR next year, India was a British colony. I’m pretty sure there’s going to be at least one British-themed piece to commemorate that.

And Emma is a very British little (Fell) Pony.

So, maybe.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Winter Surprises

No Olaf for me – I didn’t even have a choice in the matter, since I got home from work about 15-20 minutes after they sold out. If it had been the day before (when I was home earlier than usual) or the day after (my day off) the situation might have been different.

Or if they had announced it when they had usually announced these sort of things – early afternoons or evenings…

…but if there’s been anything consistent about these December Surprises, it’s their complete inconsistency. We’ve had Giveaways (the War Horse), Vault Sales, Christmas Day Sales, Boxing Day Sales, Micro Runs, 350-piece Purchase Raffles, 350-piece Direct Purchase items, Gambler’s Choices, Christmas Decos, Black Friday Surprises and Gifts with Purchase Offers.

I take some consolation in having mixed feelings about the release itself.

To deal with some of my space issues here, I had sold off a couple Longhorns, and I am considering letting go of a couple more. He really is one of the shelf-hoggiest of shelf hogs, and I’d like to devote that space to other Nonhorse molds I’m currently more interested in – namely, the Dogs and the Deer Family. So he was not a must-have for me.

It seemed like an odd mold choice, too, as the Longhorn Bull isn’t something I’d associate with either cooler climes or Holiday themes. The name grates me a little, but that’s strictly a personal thing – whomever it is on Team Breyer that’s a big fan of the Disney references, I wish they’d give it a rest.

On the plus side, the money I might have spent on Olaf I got to spend on something else – a Grab Bag! I wasn’t going to buy one, initially – my sales inventory is almost at a manageable level here, finally, and I didn’t want to risk adding to it so soon. But one of the Grab Bags (#1) had the newer Deer Family, the Eve and Claus Mare and Foal set, and some of the leftover WEG 2014 Special Run Classics, and since those were all things I had been actively eyeing before, it was a no-brainer.

And I get another shot at a Silver Sherman Morgan too. (Third time’s the Charm? Literally, maybe?)

The color on the Olaf pretty though – I think I’ve made it abundantly clear this year that I do love me some Gloss Alabaster – and the fact that it is a 350-piece run, and not a 40-piece one is oddly encouraging. That means if I find some shelf space, and one at an affordable price (IOW: not too far off the issue price) six months or a year down the road, it might be doable.

I am curious if Olaf was made from bodies leftover from the 2007 BreyerFest Special Run Alamo – as I suspect the 2009 Lone Star Experience Wranglers were – or if this is a precursor to either another Special Run or Regular Run Longhorn in the near future.

Time will tell, I guess.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

My Alabaster Cantering Welsh Pony

I’ve been trying to get caught up in my paperwork, but with little success; every time I pick up a horse to examine it, I end up losing valuable time just staring at the darn thing. One that’s been particularly hard to get past has been my Alabaster Vintage Club Cantering Welsh Pony My Girl:

When they were first announced, I was hoping to get the Palomino, but I have to say that I am exceedingly pleased that I received the Alabaster instead. In fact, she’s been such a distraction in my office that I’ve had to pack her back in her box and tuck her away from my sometimes less-than-dainty fingers.

The only minor quibble I had with her – and the original reason I was hesitant to deem the Alabaster my first choice – was that she didn’t have much in the way of body shading as the original White and Alabaster releases did, especially examples from the early 1960s. Even last year’s now highly-coveted Bonus Vintage Club Stablemate Bravo had some!

But when I opened her up, that lack of body shading was forgiven. In fact, she reminded me a lot of the Semi-Chalky Alabaster Running Mare I picked up last year, who has also become another fast favorite of mine. (Her yellowy parts whitened up real nice in the window, by the way!)

In every other respect they nailed the color, other than the name of the color on the box itself. As I explained earlier this year (first in the Sampler, then here) it should have been “White”.

I only finally figured that little nugget of trivia out this year – that the term “Gloss Alabaster” is a recent invention, and that in the 1960s those models were almost always labeled “White” – so that mistake, as it were, is easily forgiven.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

In a Name

Calm down, everyone: Tuesday’s special offer on Breyer’s web site was just overstock of last year’s Tractor Supply Special Jesse, given the more generic name “Palomino Quarter Horse”. Everything else appears to be exactly the same, even the issue number:

They did the same thing with the 2012 Mid-States Special Run Bay Roan Roxy Constellations, too, if you recall.

I briefly thought of ordering one – the handful of Jesses that I found around here were underwhelming – considering the possibility that there might be some of the Chalky variation ones in the overstock.

But then they sold out, and that temptation went away. More money for the potential surprises of December, I guess!

These re-releases are a nice offer for people who don’t have these participating retailers near them, or who wouldn’t dare brave the Breyer Sales Tent/NPOD for one either (where these kinds of overstocks often go).

I don’t have any Mid-States retailers within a reasonable driving distance, for instance; if I hadn’t already acquired a Constellation, I might have taken up the offer on the web site.

(Ironically, mine is a Sample from the NPOD!)

But historically speaking, this is little more than an interesting footnote, kind of like this one:

Yes, in some – but not all – early Breyer ephemera, the Running Mare and Foal were also known as the Running Arabian Mare and Foal. (This particular snippet is from the 1964 Price List.)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Coco, Coeur de Lion, Swaps et al

Whew – made it through the holiday weekend without buying anything model horse hobby related! (I did buy some sewing supplies. Vita has acquired a taste for my leather thimbles, grr.)

Though those Web Special Classics, especially the Coeur de Lion, definitely gave me a lot to think about. And now he appears to be sold out, so that definitely helps…

With the Terrang Coeur de Lion, the Stablemates Club Thoroughbred Mare Coco, the 2017 Vintage Club releases of both the Classic Quarter Horse Family and the Stablemates Standing and Lying Down Foals, and that Classic Swaps Poll they had us voting on back in July, it’s fairly obvious that these aren’t all warehoused bodies, but totally new production.

Clearly something changed in regards to the Hagen-Renaker leases.

How so, exactly, I am not privy to. And you know what? I’m fine with that. The official story will come out eventually. The primary focus of my research is investigating the mysteries Reeves cannot answer for lack of time, resources, or even (gasp!) interest.

And even though they were the models I grew up with, truth be told I am not as wedded to the Hagen-Renaker molds as many hobbyists are.

I’m not ever giving up my Classic Racehorses or G1 Stablemates, heck no! But given the wider range of choices we now have in regards to Classics and Stablemates, the Hagen-Renaker molds are not always going to be my first choice.

While I may have hesitated on the Terrang mold Coeur de Lion, I’m definitely not skipping out on whatever Classics Swaps won the popular vote for release next year. I think Swaps was one of Maureen Love’s masterpieces, and he looks great in every color they put him in. Yes, even that totally weird gray one in the 1990s where they gave him rubber-cemented Chubari Spots:

Friday, November 25, 2016

Traditional Man o' War Cull

Because I apparently can’t help myself, I bought another oddball Man o’ War, too:

This one, unlike the other oddball Man o’ War I purchased earlier this year (the one missing the gold trim on his halter), is quite clearly a Cull. His halter is completely unpainted, his hooves are unfinished (no gray/charcoal overpainting) and his eyes, alas, his eyes:

That big eyeball splotch is what obviously got him tossed into the Cull Bin. All of his other failings – a seam split on his neck, the mildew dappling and most of the scuffs – happened later on in life.

The trimming flaw on top of his noseband was not atypical for the era (mid 1970s) either, but it wouldn’t have been a disqualifier. I’ve seen trimming flaws far worse than that on models from the 1970s that somehow made it through production and onto toy store shelves. Once painted, most average consumers (nonhobbyists) wouldn’t have given it much thought.

That was also the era where I “cut my teeth” as a collector, which goes a long way in explaining why it takes something pretty egregious before I get Reeves on the phone to request a replacement for anything.

So this means that I’ve officially added six Traditional Man o’ Wars to my herd in the past year – four variants/oddities of the original #47 release in addition to the Gold Charm Raffle piece and the Vintage Club Storm.

There were several more that passed through here in box and body lots that for one reason or another – no provenance, no distinguishing features, not pretty enough – didn’t pass muster.

Next year is the 100th anniversary of his birth, so you’d think it’d be logical to assume that we might see another possible Man o’ War release soon. But then again, this is the same company that gave us three Drafts SRs for the Chasing the Chesapeake Event, so maybe I shouldn’t pin my hopes on logic.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Another Mustang Oddity

From another grungy box lot arises yet another weird Buckskin Mustang I feel compelled to keep….

He’s another one of those plastic oddities from the early 1970s – the surface physically feels like chalk, the plastic looks bright white in places, and he has some paint flaking characteristic of an Opaque White Plastic Chalky.

But he isn’t a White Plastic Chalky – he’s not opaque enough. And he’s not simply an exceptionally white model that hasn’t yellowed one iota from the day it was pulled from the mold, because he doesn’t have the translucency of standard, garden-variety Tenite, either.

(Most exceptionally white vintage models, I believe, were molded from fresh Tenite that was completely unadulterated by any regrind. The more regrind there is in the mix, the faster and more deeply a model will yellow.)

No, this fellow is something in between.

He was found in a collection with a couple of genuine Basecoat Chalkies and at least one other piece that might be of the same “stuff” (that one’s still grungy, so I can’t tell yet).

So he fits in with my earlier hypothesis, which is that at some point during the Chalky era, Breyer started mixing the Opaque White Chalky plastic with the standard Semi-Translucent White plastic to get this – kind of plastic I still struggle to find a proper name for. (Milky White? Bright White? Partial Chalky?)

So now I find myself in the possession of not one, but two oddball Buckskin Mustangs from the 1970s. Of all the crazy things you can find in box lots....

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Things You Wish For

I’ve resisted the siren call of the Breyer Black Friday Pre-Sale so far. I already had a Charlie and a Bravo, and the only other thing calling my name – the Deer Family – is a Regular Run item I can wait on.

In the ongoing end-of-year hubbub I forgot to mention that I got the Gambler’s Choice Reiner that I wanted – the Brindle! Yay!

Getting what I want doesn’t happen nearly as often as I’d like (my recent eBay bidding history is testament to that!) so he’s been sitting just under my monitor here as a reminder that every once and a while, you do get what you wish for.  

Since I am not in a very talkative mood today – partly because my fingers are sore from all the quilting I’ve been trying to catch up on this week – here’s another picture of another piece that was something wished for:

Yes, this is a Connoisseur Thrillseeker. Sort of: it’s actually from a group of unnumbered Thrillseekers that were found in the Ninja Pit a few years ago. I grabbed one, but in the ensuing melee, another Ninja pilfered it from my buy pile while my back was turned.

I still did okay that year – that was the year of the Stablemates Hermes, I believe – but it did sting a bit nonetheless. I had won the first Connoisseur Mosaic, and had hopes of winning the last, Thrillseeker, but that didn’t happen.

To make a long and complicated story short, I obviously and eventually did end up with one!

Since I still don’t have a “normal” Thrillseeker for comparison, I don’t know if there are any subtle or significant differences between the NPOD Thrillseeker and the numbered Thrillseekers, beyond the numbering.

They were probably overruns, but a few years later some equally mysterious Smart and Shineys – with no VINs, a different backstamp and slightly different shading and markings – were also made available in the NPOD.

Those pieces were very obviously a different item from the standard Smart and Shineys that were distributed at BreyerFest in 2013. Which is why I can’t yet shake the nagging possibility that these Thrillseekers might have been something similar. I mean, technically, I guess...

So this is why I still have a Thrillseeker on my want list.

Such is the case of getting what you want, or what you think you want: you just end up moving on to wanting something else.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Here’s my CollectA collection:

CollectAs are available around here – of course they are! But the stores they are in are a little bit out of my way, and by the time I make there, whatever horses they had are usually long gone. I did get lucky last year and spotted this Australian Stock Horse Stallion that my fellow local hobbyists obviously missed.

Rumor has it – well, it’s not really a rumor, more like a fact waiting for an official Press Release or Statement – that Reeves is acquiring CollectA. From the just-released Just About Horses:
In 2017, we will be introducing two exciting new collections. The first is a new range of realistic and authentic horse and animal sculptures. This delightful collection will be created in durable vinyl with family-friendly price points to introduce young children to the joys of collection. The second collection, is, well …. under lock and key until February! We’ll keep you posted!
Some are saying this is just Reeves buying up the competition. While it is true that the Breyer brand itself does lose some business to the likes of Schleich (and Papo, and Safari, and Bullyland…) I see it more as Reeves deciding to compete directly in this particular segment of the model horse market.

It also didn’t hurt that, you know, some of the CollectA horse sculpts – by artist Deborah McDermott – are pretty darn nice, too.

As far as collecting/documenting goes, I’ll be treating the pre-Reeves CollectA items the same way I treat the Hagen-Renaker molds and the Creata Micros: basically, as separate but related entities.

As to what Reeves is going to do with CollectA, I don’t know. I know many things that Reeves might be surprised that I know, but this is something I have not be made privy to, through either official or unofficial channels.

My guess is that the line will continue more or less as before, with some rebranding, relabeling, and somewhat different paint jobs on the horses, at least (in terms of both style and color).

It’s going to make for some…interesting diorama entries at BreyerFest this year, I think.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Gray and Silver Linings

Ah, so many new lovelies being thrown our way this week!

The Silver Filigree this year is Bobbi Jo, which was a bit of a surprise for me; I was expecting someone fluffier, like the Icelandic:

Reeves keeps up with its tradition of stylistic inconsistency with Avalanche who, unlike the past few “lacey dappled” Holiday Silver Filigrees, is more of the “plated and polka-dotted” variety, best represented by the 2003 BreyerFest Raffle Proud Arabian Stallion Saturday Night Fever (and Foal Born to Run):

I still have a feeling we’re going to see the Icelandic in some form this season, though. As a Christmas surprise, maybe? The Holly and Ivy went over fairly well last year, so I am fully expecting something popping sometime around the actual Christmas holiday.

While the issue of mold popularity with the Silver Filigrees is a moot one – I can think of very few molds that wouldn’t sell out, if released in Silver Filigree – the Bobbi Jo mold has become insanely popular over the past year. My single token entry for Avalanche will probably have even less of a chance of hitting its mark than it normally does. But I’m fine with that.

Then there was the Crystal and Crispin, the Holiday Mare and Foal set on the Grazing Mare and Foal:

So I guess “Holiday Mare and Foal Sets” are really are an official thing now, on top of all the other Holiday/Fall/End of the Year Specials?

If I have any money to spare for one of these sets by the end of the year, it’s still likely to go to last year’s Thoroughbred Mare and Suckling Foal “Eve and Claus” first. Nothing against the Grazing Mare and Foal, I just have a personal preference for Roans over Grays. Usually.

And finally the Brick and Mortar SR Glorioso shipped to stores this week, too:

I saw some in one of my local stores on Wednesday, and for the first time in a while, an off-the-shelf model knocked my socks off! Though to be honest, I had a pretty rough time at work that day and anything with four legs and a tail was a welcome sight…

But seriously, Glorioso is easily my favorite of all the Fall releases so far. The initial photos – Reeves’ and other hobbyists’ – didn’t did anything for me one way or another, and while I do like the Andalusian mold, it’s not an must-have for me. (Other than the lavender-tinted variation of the original release. Someday, someday.)

Until I saw him in person: the Grulla color is well-executed – shimmery and silvery without being too metallic – and it looks great on him. I would have bought one then and there if I could, but other obligations are awaiting my next paycheck.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Breyer Promoted Smoking?

I’d thought that I had already discussed this topic here, but it appears I am mistaken. So here’s a slight rewrite of the article I wrote in my 2003 MGR Sampler about the Breyer Cigarette Host.

I don’t have color copies of the original photos: the Host itself is translucent tortoishell, the box it came in was light brown, and the cigarette labels are metallic gold. Also, the auction I refer to in the article was in November, 2002.

At the time I also assumed that the Cigarette Host predated the Money Manager, but they may well have been released simultaneously.

After the government contracts dried up after WWII, the Breyer Molding Company struggled to find proprietary products to supplement its business. One of these products they experimented with was the Cigarette Host, a miniature cigarette case/humidor. Resembling a miniature filing cabinet, and molded of swirly, imitation tortoiseshell, it was meant to hold an assortment of cigarettes. Each of the four drawers had pull tabs where labels of your favorite brands could be placed.

As you might have guessed, it didn’t sell well. It was neither particularly useful – each drawer could barely hold a dozen cigarettes – nor unique. Just like ashtrays, plastic cigarette cases were given away by local businesses as advertising novelties. Why buy a cigarette case at the dime store when your local bank or auto dealership was giving them away for free?

In an effort to recoup their investment – and to break into the emerging postwar toy market – the Cigarette Host was retooled and sold as a toy bank: the My Own Money Manager. The Money Manager, available in either “Flag Red” or “Forest Green”, met with marginally more success; it can be seen in early Breyer advertising, usually alongside the Western Horse. It even merited a full-page ad in the March 1952 issue of Playthings (tucked behind the Western Horse ad, of course.)

Once Breyer discovered the awesome selling power of plastic horses, however, the Money Manager was also doomed. An educational toy bank (with a booklet on the principles of money management!) simply can’t compete with a toy horse (with removable saddle!) I mean really, if you were an eight year old, wouldn’t the choice be obvious?

While we have plenty of documentary material about the Money Manager, the only evidence we had that the Cigarette Host actually existed (outside of Peter Stone’s brain) was the 1950 Sears Wishbook, where it was listed next to the Money Manager. (Yes, a child’s toy bank was listed next to a cigarette case: this was 1950, remember?) And that’s as far as our knowledge of this bit of history went, because no one actually owned an example.

Until now.

A Cigarette Host turned up in the one place where everything has (or will eventually) end up: eBay. It was listed, not illogically, in the Tobacciana category (smoking memorabilia). It was in the original box, complete with labels. I had to have it – not just for its historical value or rarity, but for an unbeatable collector’s class entry. (Test Colors? Decorators? Bah!) Luckily, I was the lone bidder, and it was mine for the princely sum of $1.99 – exactly 30 cents more than its original selling price in the Wishbook.

I was amazed to find it as small as it was advertised: just a little over 4 inches square. The most amazing thing to me was the fact that was embossed – not with the familiar round Breyer seal, but with the words BREYER MOLDING CO., CHICAGO, ILL., PAT PENDING, MADE IN U.S.A. (I haven’t had time to dig up the alleged patent, just yet.)

Further physical examination of the piece also reveals other reasons why the Cigarette Host wasn’t the success Breyer hoped it would be: it appears to be a rather complicated piece to assemble, and was probably not very profitable to make. And from the amount of warping and shrinking visible in my example (the drawers cannot be opened), we can guess another reason why we haven’t seen many (or any) others: after a few years of use, most of them probably ended up in the trash.

The most interesting thing about the Cigarette Host is how much it actually has in common with the plastic equines, aside from a common heritage. Both products promote two well-known products of Kentucky (horses and tobacco); they encourage addictive behaviors that drain your pocketbook; and in large quantities, are probably bad for you (in completely different ways, of course.) Unfortunately for us, they haven’t invented the “Breyer Patch” yet.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Brown Pinto Western Pony Slip-On Saddle?

Here’s the other interesting piece in that recent box lot purchase, a Brown Pinto Western Pony:

It’s the later, more Palomino version as opposed to the earlier and more Chestnut ones. This variation had been another low-priority want for me, and I was hoping that it would come in a box lot, eventually.

And she did! She has a few flaws, but nothing I can’t live with.

The second interesting thing about her is the saddle. Normally Brown Pinto Western Ponies come with the “Snap-Cinch” saddles, like my earlier example here:

Since the Brown Pinto Pony was discontinued at about the same time that the Slip-On saddles were introduced (ca. 1966), I always assumed that the Brown Pintos never came with the Slip-Ons.

However, this came out of the same lot as the Western Prancing Horse with the Gray Transitional Saddle, so it’s entirely possible that this was another case of saddle switching.

The only things making me hesitate writing it off that way is the fact that this is, indeed, an earlier and more neatly painted version of the Western Pony Slip-On Saddle – and that the saddle itself fits the model snugly.

As anyone who has tried to replace a saddle on a Western Horse/Pony/Prancer knows, it’s not as simple as taking a saddle off one and putting it on another. Every model is very slightly different, even ones within the same production run. After a while, the saddles that come with the model – especially if they are left on the model indefinitely – will conform to the subtle contours of the model that it is on.

It could very well be that the saddle switch happened very early on, and my musings are moot. The only way we’ll ever be able to confirm that it did happen at the factory is to find a Mint in (Unopened) Box Brown Pinto Western Pony with the Slip-On.

While this is not an impossibility (says the girl who has a Mint In Box Breyer Cigarette Host ca. 1950!) the best I can do for now is note it as a possibility in my files.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

October (Model Horse) Surprises

Gah! So many goodies out right now – Gideon, Coeur de Lion, the Premier Club Shagya Arabian (a Shagya at last!) and now this bizarre Test Color Clydesdale Mare THAT I LOVE:

It looks like the kind of Test Color my nine year old self would have designed! If my parents had been rich, and they had had the “Design Your Own Test Color” back then.

Alas, I blew my wad on the trip and I really need new tires, so most of these end-of-year items won’t be coming home with me. The upcoming Silver Filigree will probably be off the table, too, whoever it may be.

I’ll make an exception for the Mare of course, and possibly for the Nonhorse piece, especially if it’s one of the molds I think/hope it will be, like a Zebra, Elk, Deer Family Set or Saint Bernard. Though both the Mare and the Nonhorse are unlikely anyway, since I haven’t been getting drawn for those kinds of things lately.

(I’ll cuss if it’s the Saint Bernard – that’s one collection I had some hopes of keeping complete.)

Most of my purchases for the rest of the year will be of this type, all inexpensive recent Salvation Army finds:

The white kitty with the black tail tip is my favorite. I have no idea who made it – I’m guessing it’s Russian or Eastern European, since it came with the striped Art Deco Cat, made by Hollohaza in Hungary.

And box lots, too. Here’s one of those pieces from that lot I was so excited about last week:

Yes, that’s another “Transitional” saddle, this time a gray to match my tan.

On yet another Western Prancing Horse, that both baffles and amuses me.

It is funny that the two Transitional saddles I now own – and a third that I almost purchased, locally – were all found on the Western Prancing Horse. Funny because this is a saddle that was designed for the Western Horse, and that’s where most of the rest of the hobby finds theirs, when they do.

While it’s possible that some Western Prancers were released with Transitional saddles, because that’s just the weird kind of stuff that happened back in the Chicago days, I’m going to chalk up my personal experience to a sampling error.

In this case, it was in a lot that came with some spare pieces, so I’m going to assume this is a case of parts getting switched around and/or lost.

I can also partly attribute it to the fact that I’m one of those handful of collectors who actively collects Western Prancing Horses. Even though my collection is technically “complete”, I always give them an extra look when I’m cruising the Internet. Sometimes, I am rewarded.

Mostly with oddball Black Leopard Appaloosa variations … and now, apparently, rare saddles.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Chesapeake, Part III

Then we were off to the Fair Hill Training Center. We were told along the way that Michael Matz might not be available due to a last minute commitment – one of the fillies he was training had qualified for rather prestigious race on Saturday – so I found myself momentarily disappointed.

Just go with it, it will be fine. It’s all good.

Until the Blue Bus got to the Vintage Farms facilities, and he walked out to greet us.

Now I have to tell you that I am not normally the kind of person who gets autographs. It was never my thing to begin with, and watching Peter Stone sign entire collections at some of the early Signing Parties soured me a bit on the practice.

I own many signed models and other things, but very few of them I sought out a signature for: most were already signed when I found them. (In fact, I found a signed biography of Ingmar Bergman at the Salvation Army just a couple weeks ago! By the author, not by Bergman himself, though…)

But after he had taken us through a tour of his facilities, and graciously answered all our questions, I took out my Jet Run and to have him signed. I was shaking like a leaf, grinning like an idiot, and all I could remember was the sounds of camera shutters clicking...

For most of the attendees, the elevated treadmill, the vibrating therapy stall or even the rather posh dinner (Prime Rib! Crab Cakes! Huge Dessert Table!) in the massive tent at the Fair Hill International were the big highlights of the day, but it was all secondary to feeling like a dorky teenaged horse girl again.

(Honestly, I kind of feel like that every day, but now there’s actual photographic documentation.)

Saturday saw us return to the Fair Hill International. I tried on expensive boots, drank champagne, hung out with my friends, and then got way too excited at lunch when I realized that several of the table displays in the tailgating tent were, in fact, Sample models. Why hadn’t I noticed this before? Gah!

At that point I decided to break away from everyone and everything and finally walk the course on my own. It was not just to clear my head; since I had enjoyed the process of building my diorama for BreyerFest so much this year, I have been thinking about adding performance dioramas to my already-too-long list of craft activities. It was the perfect opportunity to do some research in the field.

A friend wanted to do a group entry for the costume contest – a nurse attending an Ninja Pit survivor – and since it was funny and didn’t involve a huge amount of time or money, it seemed like the right thing to do. (Handy pro-tip: did you can make very realistic-looking blood with Hawaiian Punch drink mix? Bonus: you can lick your wounds!)

We didn’t win – when we found ourselves momentarily delayed because of a life-sized horse skeleton in one of the hotel elevators, I sort of figured we’d be out of the running – but we still managed to have a good time with it, got some laughs and photos out of it too, and even a hug from the Grim Reaper herself.

(If you know something of my family history, you’d know that the Grim Reaper and I tend to run into each other in October. So it was a lovely and poignant moment for me that something was given, rather than taken, at this meeting.)

Neither one of us nor my roommates won a centerpiece model either, but my traveling companion at the next table did, much to her shock and awe. So I’d at least be traveling halfway home with one. (This was a step up from Chicago, where one of my roommates one a centerpiece. So next time, maybe?)

We sauntered downstairs on Sunday morning for the Special Run distribution and discovered, unbelievably, that according to the number that was drawn, I was second in line. I had my pick of any model I wanted.

This was literally beyond my best-case scenario, which was being close enough to to the front to get one Not-A-Mason, so I felt…kind of gobsmacked. I couldn’t remember the last time I was near the front of the line for anything model-horse-related. (2010 NPOD line, I think?)

So I got to choose what I really wanted – the Fell Pony Black-Eyed Susan, and the Missouri Fox Trotter Raven – though to help one of my roommates out, I bought the Sagamore Rye for her and exchanged later. I was honestly quite surprised at his popularity; he did look great in Bay Roan, but I wasn’t aware that the Brishen mold had become that much of a rock star.

The drive home was also an adventure: we stopped at a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican place and I tried – and enjoyed! – the lengua, though I wasn’t adventurous enough to buy the chicharrones big enough to wear as hats. I did get myself some tamales for the road and some dulce de leche for dessert, though.

(I ate entirely too much on this trip!)

As we were driving through the Amish countryside, having just eaten some authentic Mexican food, passing by Mammoth Jacks and snotty little ponies, talking of Model Horses and Quilting and Comicons, a little voice in the back of my head whispered to me.

You pulled it off, kid. This wasn’t just good, it was almost perfect.

You jumped off that cliff, and you nailed the dive.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Chesapeake, Part II

Originally I was going to write about the Chesapeake trip as I’ve done with all my previous trips: as an epic Odyssey where model horses are the treasures, conquests, and victories sought.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that that was the wrong approach: this trip was more about the experience, than any victories that would come along the way. Any models I acquired would be secondary. Completing the trip unharmed (physically, mentally, financially) was the only true victory I sought.

And find it, I did.

I did that by letting go: of expectations, of preconceived notions, of obsessively detailed to-do lists. Other than doing the things that I absolutely had to do ahead of time, I did very little to prepare for the trip.

It typically takes me a couple of months to get ready for BreyerFest, but for Chesapeake it basically took me an afternoon: a couple of phone calls, a trip to the bank, a trip to the dollar store for some snacks, and then toss some clothes (and my Jet Run) in a suitcase.

And I was off.

After taking Vita for a 45-minute walk, of course: she knew I was going on a trip, and demanded the last few minutes of my time before I left be all about her. After the walk – where she spent most of it glancing back at me and smiling that not at-all-innocent smile of hers – I gave her the carrot and the handful of marshmallows she usually demands in tribute, and then I was off.


The drive itself was relatively uneventful, though a little bit slower than anticipated. I arrived in Pittsburgh about an hour later than I wanted, hitching a ride with a fellow hobbyist from there forward. It’s not very often that I have traveling companions for my horse trips, and I always forget how much fun – and how quickly the time flies! – when I have someone to talk horses with.

We arrived at the hotel sometime around 9:30 p.m., and settled in to our respective rooms for the night.

We were a little disconcerted the following morning at check-in, when we received our event packets and discovered that they did it to us again: there was another 144-piece run among the Special Runs being offered on Sunday, a Palomino Pinto Goffert named Mason. Oh goodness, not again, I thought…

The selections that were offered – outside of the Fell Pony Black-eyed Susan, that I think everyone was sort of expecting – did seem rather odd too, especially for the nature of the event. Three Pinto Drafts, a Pony and a Missouri Fox Trotter?

We were visiting the Fair Hill Training Center and the Fair Hill International: I was kind of hoping for at least one Warmblood or Thoroughbred in the bunch, aside from the Chesapeake model herself, and the little G3 Thoroughbred Cecil we had just received.

Like everything else on the trip, I decided to let go of my trepidations about the models and just go with it. I liked Mason better than last year’s Four Stars, and since I have found almost all my other Gofferts wanting in some way (and sent them to other homes), coming home with this one wouldn’t have been a heartbreaker.

It wasn’t about the models, it was about the journey, right?

And for the inevitable second Goffert that was probably in my future? Well, I did have an upcoming dental appointment I could pay off with it, I guess… though I really did hope I could at least get the Fell Pony. She might have been the plainest – and most “common” of the bunch after Mason – but the heart wants what the heart wants, you know?

I’d worry about it when the time came. Turns out that like everything else on this trip, I didn’t have to worry about it at all, but we’ll get to that next time…

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Dixon, et al

You know what the one really great thing about Breyer Events – Exclusive or otherwise – is? You can pick up some really amazing deals and/or hidden gems in the chaos that follows, as everyone occupies themselves with the redistribution of the Special Runs involved.

I’m not talking about the really rare or spectacular pieces (Dapple Black Belgian and Chalky Misties will never be cheap!), but the stuff that makes you go: hey, wait a minute, is that what I think it is?

That’s what I’m hoping is the case with my latest online box lot purchase over the weekend, though it will not be until the coming weekend that I know for sure.

I have high hopes because as you know, my last box lot turned out really well for me – that one included the Gray Appaloosa variation of the Azteca, and my cherished No-Star Halla. But you know what was the funniest thing about the lot with the Halla in it?

It came out of Wilmington, Delware.

No, really, I managed to score a rare Halla out of Wilmington a little over a month before they distributed another rare Halla in Wilmington – as the Centerpiece Prize Dixon, at Chasing the Chesapeake.

I have to trust that it was a complete coincidence, and just another instance of the Universe messing with my head.

I knew that wasn’t going to win a Dixon the moment I saw it – because I had already won a rare Halla – but I did get to ride home part of the way with one. (That part of the story, and more, will be coming later this week, I swear.)

I’d like to take a few minutes to clear up some slight misinformation floating around about this release, as well. First, the Halla mold isn’t completely “destroyed” – it still exists in its Bolya form and is currently available as the Warehouse Find Thoroughbred, a reissue of the #1310 Prancer from The Saddle Club series:

Second, while I am fairly certain that Dixon is indeed the last official production run on the original braided version of the Halla mold, it would not surprise me if we could still see a few Test Colors down the line. It seems a little too coincidental (though not impossible) that they would have had exactly the twenty pieces they needed to make as centerpieces.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

More on the Swirly Keychains

My work schedule is still not compatible with a social life, so the trip report will have to wait a little bit longer. In the meantime, though, I’d like to clarify a little bit of misinformation that seems to be making the rounds regarding this guy, and others like him:

He’s a piece from the 2003 BreyerFest Mod Squad set – and yes, by some strange coincidence (you know, the kind that only seems to happen to me) he’s the very same swirly Stablemates Keychain whose picture I linked to in my recent discussion on swirly- and solid-colored plastic Stablemates. He was one of the trivia prizes on the Blue Bus, and I won him.

I didn’t know he was the specific prize for that question, they just reached into the bag of goodies and randomly handed him to me.

As far as I know, most of the Stablemates given away as trivia prizes for this year’s Exclusive Event were leftovers of previous Keychain Special Runs and giveaways, with the best of them being the Glossy 2013 Toy Fair Highland Pony.

I am not aware of any of them being the Test Swirlies that had been given away at previous Events. Those were somewhat different than regular Keychains in that they either had no actual keychain parts attached, or just the hook.

I didn’t see every single one out of the forty or so that were distributed over the four buses, so there might have been something especially special, but I think – with the current crazy prices for Diesel – that they would have revealed themselves by now.

That being said, it is true that the Mod Squad Keychains are a little harder to find than other Special Run keychains made in similar quantities. I know some were sold in the NPOD later, but I wasn’t sure that was the entire remainder.

That was back when the BreyerFest Keychains were finally fading out as a thing, and they were beginning to get left behind for physically and metaphorically bigger Special Runs. I skipped out on that set that year because I didn’t think it’d be difficult to get them later on. (Ha!)

Makes me wonder just how many of these leftover Keychains they still have knocking around the warehouse. Now that might make for a fun giveaway or warehouse sale for Stablemates Club members….

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Chesapeake, Part I

I’m still mentally – and physically – unpacking from last weekend, and with my work schedule it’ll probably be a few more days still before both tasks are anywhere near completed. As will be the full trip report, as well; but in the meantime, here’s what I brought home:

I was actually the second in line in my ticket time, so unlike the last Event, I found myself with the enviable option of being able to get whatever I wanted…

… and I chose the models that I liked (the Fell Pony, and the Fox Trotter) instead of the ones that would be easiest and quickest to resell (the Bell-bottomed Shire and the Brishen). Technically I did buy the Brishen, but I did it to help out one of my roommates who would have been just out of purchasing distance of him, and we swapped later.

Because I fully expected and planned on getting one or two of the high piece run item (again) I now find myself in the position of having to decide what else to sell to make up the small financial shortfall that came with actually getting what I wanted.

(Whatever I decide will probably go up on MH$P, as my schedule allows.)

I was still bummed that Reeves obviously didn’t learn its lesson from last time regarding the Four Stars: a significant number of attendees (up to one-third!) should not be put in a position of having no choice at all in their selection of Special Runs.

It was mitigated a little bit this year, in that apparently 24 of the 144 piece run Goffert Masons are Geldings rather than Stallions – an (allegedly?) unplanned for mold variation.

If they insist on doing another larger run again, they really need to do something along that line to soften the blow: gloss half the run, have some variability in the color or markings, or include a mold variation of some sort (hair or gender).

That way even if you have to get two, one of them still might be a rare kind of wonderful. And there’s the possibility that – if existence of a surprise is made known ahead of time – more people near the front of the line might be tempted to take a chance on it, and thus move and improve the selection down the line.

For what it’s worth, I actually liked the Mason. I’ve bought several Gofferts in the past, yet all but my Celebration models have consequently been found wanting, and sold. I am not sure that would have been the case here.

The next Event is in the Spring of 2018; it’s too early to tell if I am going, or if I can go, but I’ll cover that in the actual trip report.

And I would be remiss to not call out the awesome team of fellow hobbyists that helped make this trip possible and wonderful: Erin, Marcy, Ellen and Jennifer!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Short History of Alabaster: Part II

For some reason this did not drop as scheduled on Saturday. So here is the conclusion, four days late....

I don’t think it was a popularity issue that doomed the “new” White paint job, but a manufacturing one: it was hard color to maintain consistency from model to model and the gray paint, applied over (not under) the Matte topcoat, rubbed off easily.

Confusing? Yes, very.

Honestly, this color confusion shouldn’t really be too surprising: we are talking about a company that had a hard time distinguishing between Bay and Chestnut. Having all these different names for a color as allegedly uncomplicated as White? Just par for the course.

Some argument could be made that Alabaster was in itself just another one of Breyer’s “Decorator” colors, albeit its simplest and most subtle. Like Smoke and Charcoal, Alabaster is not a term that was used in the real horse world to any significant degree, and bears only a coincidental resemblance to colors horses actually come in.

Matte finishes were still relatively uncommon at the time and used then primarily as a sealing topcoat for Woodgrains. The term might have been invented to help call out what was then something unusual and distinctive. Or as I’ve speculated with the color Charcoal, the term may have come from an offhand reference in a book or magazine.

Another point in favor of labeling Alabaster a Decorator color is that the term Smoke – another quasi-realistic color – debuted on the Running Mare and Foal at exactly the same time as Alabaster, and was even paired and marketed with it in deliberately mismatched Mare and Foal sets.

Then there is the matter of Gloss Alabaster: believe it or not, this term never comes up in early Breyer ephemera. It appears to be a hobbyist creation: through the 1960s and until Gloss finishes were phased out, Breyer always referred to Gloss Alabasters as White.

There were a number of reasons why white-colored horses, in all their names and forms, became a staple in the Breyer line through the 1960s and 1970s.

First and foremost: yes, they were a little cheaper to manufacture. They required fewer painting steps, and less paint. There was also less production waste. In an era where multiple simultaneous releases of a mold were the norm, it was common practice to set aside lighter-colored culls to repaint with a darker color later, rather than discarding or regrinding them.

But white was one of the most popular horse colors with the general public too, partly fueled by pop culture figures like The Lone Ranger’s Silver and Hopalong Cassidy’s Topper.

Although derided in recent years as a cheap, plain, and (at times) a downright lazy color to paint, careful examination reveals that too is not as simple as it seems. The simplicity of the color itself is a deceit: unlike other paint jobs, there’s no place for a minor decorating or molding flaw to hide.

In effect, we see the mold as the moldmaker sees it: no more, no less. That so many molds still succeed and delight is a testament to the craftsmen who helped bring them to life in the first place.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Short History of Alabaster: Part I

Since I am going to either be away, or occupied with other things through the weekend, I will be queuing up the article I wrote about the history of Alabaster for this year’s Sampler.

Even though Breyer’s history began with a white Western Horse, the term “Alabaster” – the word hobbyists most commonly use to describe white-colored Breyer horses – did not appear in any official Breyer ephemera until ca. 1962.

My recent research has determined the reason why: “Alabaster” was created as a descriptor not just of a color, but a finish. In short, Matte White = Alabaster.

The history of Breyer’s plainest and most basic color, however, is far more complicated than that.

The earliest white-colored Breyer horses of the 1950s were literally White, in both form and name. Models like the Western Horse, Western Pony and Fury Prancer were uniformly described in the ephemera of the time as White: and they were, save for a few touches of gray shading on the hooves and head.

It wasn’t until 1958 that models with more extensive gray shading arrived, in the form of the Old Mold Mare and Foal (and a year later, on the Stallion). While the paint job on the Old Mold Family was very similar to the color we think of as Alabaster (gray manes, tails and body shading) they still weren’t labeled that way. The early ephemera still referred to them as White.

Other white-colored models began to show up shortly after but they were not labeled Alabaster, either. The Shetland Pony, with her gray mane and tail and pink hooves and muzzle, was still White. The Mustang and Five-Gaiter were described as Albino, presumably because the earliest pieces were issued with dark pink eyes, not black ones.

It wasn’t until ca. 1962 that the term “Alabaster” finally appeared in print, to describe the brand new Running Mare and Foal, and a revamped White Fighting Stallion.

What did these three releases have in common? The Running Mare and Foal and the re-released Fighting Stallion all came in a Matte finish. They were followed shortly afterwards by the Rearing Stallion (1965) and Running Stallion (1968), both Matte, and “Alabaster”.

It wasn’t until 1969 that the Family Arabians and the Shetland Pony – among the last remaining glossy White pieces in the Breyer line – were officially labeled Alabasters in existing ephemera. This is almost exactly the same time that Breyer officially began phasing out gloss.

1968 Pricelist:

1969 Pricelist:

I do not think this was a coincidence. Especially since the third white release in the line at the time – the Western Pony – remained glossy. And was still labeled as White.

There seems to be quite a bit of evidence that Breyer was being careful and nuanced when it came to their color terminology in the late 1960s and early 1970s, especially with their expanding repertoire of gray-based colors. One that expanded further with the release of the matte Dapple Gray paint job on the Proud Arabian Stallion in 1971.

To complicate matters even more, the term White was still being used. In spite of the fact that neither the Old Timer (released in 1966) nor the Indian Pony (released in 1970) ever came in a Gloss Finish, they were both consistently described in catalogs and other price lists as White well into the 1970s.

What I think was going on there was that a decision was made to turn that particular descriptor into a term for a matte white finish with heavy, almost Smoke-like body shading.

This “new” White didn’t last long: all subsequent “white” releases in the 1970s and 1980s were labeled Alabaster, regardless of the amount of gray shading they came with.