Sunday, January 31, 2016

Cinza and Company

Taking it easy today; the travails of January are over, and a certain financial issue I’ve been grappling with all this month is about to be resolved. I celebrated by buying myself a (very cheap!) horse, but he’s part of an ongoing research project so you probably won’t be seeing or hearing about him for a while.

(Nothing particularly rare, just nerdish. You ought to know me by now.)

So let us discuss the Raffle Model Cinza, on the Valegro mold:

I was expecting a Valegro release for this year’s BreyerFest, but I thought it’d be something a little more conservative – solid-colored, and possibly Glossy. But a Grulla Blanket Appaloosa? Nice!

Although it is labeled a “grullo blanket Appaloosa”, I tend to think of this color (and all its recent permutations) as the updated version of Breyer’s vintage “Gray Appaloosa” paintjob. Another of which is coming soon on the Stablemates Club release Primrose:

There has been a great deal of speculation about the origins of the Breyer color Charcoal; my working theory is that it was likely based on photo references of a Silver Dapple or Sooty Palomino horse that was captioned as a “Charcoal Palomino”.

But what about the “Gray Appaloosa” concept? Where did it come from?

The first Gray Appaloosas appeared in 1959 – on the Old Mold Stallion, Mare and Foal – and variations of the paint job later appeared on the Fighting Stallion and Mustang. It appeared at least a year, or maybe two, before Charcoal was introduced.

My guess would be that, not unlike the Charcoal, it was based on a photo of either a Blue Roan or Grulla Blanket Appaloosa that was labeled “Gray Appaloosa”. Because then, as now, most people tend to focus on phenotype (what something looks like) than genotype (what something is genetically).

It was probably via Western Horseman magazine: Breyer seemed to get a lot of its ideas from Western Horseman back then, and even used it as one of their primary promotional outlets in the years before the introduction of Just About Horses.

Although it has never had the same allure as the Charcoal, it continued to pop up over the years, most notably on the Stock Horse Family in the 1980s (Special Runs on the Stallion, Mare and Action Foal; and as a Regular Run on the Standing Foal) and most recently in a few Vintage Club releases. My personal favorite, though, continues to be the 1984 Appaloosa Performance Horse SR from JC Penney:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Different Kind of Cat

The Store Special of Diablo DC, a Matte Light Dapple Gray on the Desatado mold isn’t all that surprising – I think most of us were expecting a Desatado release in the mix somewhere. Reeves refers to the Desatado mold as the “Criollo Horse”, and this year’s event is South American-themed.

I’ve passed on or passed along every Desatado that’s come across my path so far, so I’ll have to wait and see on this one before I make a decision. The Matte Alabaster finish is definitely a plus!

(Scroll down to January 22nd. Discussion of beautiful Raffle Model Cinza will be for another day.)

I was just thinking about what this year’s Nonhorse Special Run could be. While it’s likely to be – yet again – another Bull mold of some sort, I continue to hold out hope that Reeves is thinking outside of the box. Yes, I’m hoping for a different “Big Cat” Special Run for Fest this year: perhaps a Jaguar on the Cougar mold?

The Cougar mold has already been released as a BreyerFest Special Run once before, as part of the 750-piece 2002 Set “Bandit and Kohana”, with the now very, very popular Wolf mold. The Cougar mold has been out of production since 2007, and it’s high time for another release, I say.

The Cougar mold was introduced as part of a couple different Walmart Mesteno-Mustang sets in 2001 – Rufo and Diablo, and Azul and Fausto. It was then released in various shades of tan in subsequent sets, eventually getting its own stand-alone Regular Run in 2005-2006, as #3813.

I’ve had a few Cougars over the years – mostly body quality pieces via box lots and flea markets. I’ve since sold all of them too, partly because they were useless for research purposes: they had no context. I had no idea if I was in the possession of a standard issue Cougar from Set A, B or C, or a variation or oddity.

It exposed a hole in my knowledge and I wasn’t comfortable with that.

It’s something I’d like to rectify eventually, but my budget and timing have been conspiring against me on that. (I heard rumor that a few leftovers of the Bandit and Kohana set were in the Ninja Pit last year. Sigh.)

If Reeves thinks a spotted pattern a little too challenging to execute competently – and with the mold’s small size and textured coat, it may well be – I think many of us would be happy with a basic Black Panther. Pair it up with a Classic Horse and Rider and there you go – a Pantanal Play Set!

Probably won’t happen; a Brahma Bull modified into an Indo-Brazilian Bull, with short horns and droopy ears seems more likely:

The Brahma Bull hasn’t been in production since 2004, when the #385 Red Brahma was discontinued. If they can make the necessary horn and ear adjustments to the mold, and since the ears and horns of the Brahma are separately molded parts, I don’t see that being a big technical or financial hurdle.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Pottery Barn Specials

As you may know, the only Pottery Barn item I have is the Sample of the Gray Kennebec Count that appeared on eBay during that brief window of time when rumors were swirling about that Special Run’s potential cancellation:

Fortunately I didn’t pay too much for him; most either decided to wait out the rumors, or just give it a complete pass altogether because it was Kennebec Count. (Which I have no problem with: more for me!)

There were (or are, so far) only four horses in the Pottery Barn lineup: the 2007 Kennebec, a lovely Dappled Bay loose-tail Strapless released in 2009, the Classic Best in Show Thoroughbred in Black, and the Classic Johar in Chestnut Appaloosa. The Classics are still up on the Pottery Barn web site, though they were released in 2012, and are no longer available from them:

They also sold the Classics Scale Horse Trailer:

None of the models had “official” names, and the two Classics are indistinguishable (as far as I know) from the Regular Run releases, aside from the special packaging.

The Kennebecs are relatively easy to find, though I don’t know if that’s because they made more, or he’s liked less than the Strapless. (A dislike that has struck me as much personal in nature, as conformational.)

On the other hand, the Strapless mold is currently quite the fashionable little darling now, no doubt aided in part by the well-received BreyerFest Store Special Oration last year. (Good luck finding one those pretties for less than $100!)

The two bay Straplesses are relatively easy to distinguish from each other: the PB Strapless is a little darker, dappled and more shaded, with a loose tail and three stockings; Oration is a lighter and redder bay with a braided tail and four stockings.

Of the two, I prefer the Pottery Barn Bay, partly because I still don’t have a loose tail variation yet. I have a funny feeling she’ll be on my newly-revamped want list for a while, however. (Eh, no money to spare at the moment anyway!)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Another Odds-and-Ends Kind of Day

I’m so tired today that I feel partially melted. At least we don’t have to deal with massive amounts of snow here. Just the cold, and exhaustion.

Just a few odds and ends before I hit the sack.

That Breyer posted about the 5K Run on their BreyerFest Blog the day after I posted about it here was a coincidence, I swear. That’s not a wink-wink, nudge-nudge kind of denial, either.

Second: I was poking around the usual sales sites and found a couple of unpolished “Let’s Go Riding” Secretariats that were obviously not Samples, so I can confirm that they do exist. Determining whether the polishing occurred during production or before is still difficult.

It’s possible that they had a small stash of older Secretariat bodies lying around that they needed to use up anyway. It’s a not-uncommon practice: the Black Family Arabian Special Runs from the 1970s, the Chalky Dapple Gray Hanoverian from the 1980s, and the Warehouse Reissues were all made from previously molded/warehoused items.

For what it’s worth (small sample size over a short period of time), the unpolished ones do seem to be less common than the polished.

And finally, even when I’m not looking for anything, I find things:

A large Rain Plushie in the Stuffed Animal Bin of one of my regular haunts, on the way home from work today. She was just sitting on top of the heap like she was waiting for me. Plushes were on sale today, too, so I had no excuse not to take her home.

I don’t have a lot of plushies – Breyer or otherwise – because Vita considers all plushies her personal property. In fact, she personally inspects every shopping bag that enters the house in hopes of adding new victims to her toy heap.

Not today, sweetie. This one’s hiding in the closet until I determine a less gruesome fate for her.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Getting Started

In a sense I have gotten started early on my BreyerFest prep. Remember those shoes I showed you a little while back that I was contemplating as a part of a potential costume/outfit?

I pulled a muscle in my foot when I tried them on last week. I’ve been limping around in various degrees of old-lady-ness (physically, and attitudinally) ever since then.

I’m trying to spin this as a positive: perhaps this means that I’m getting the standard “damage to self or personal property” portion of the trip done now, and not later? And the shoes themselves did, as I hoped they would, looked great on and made me feel a little bit more fabulous while I was wearing them.

So going over the particulars of the BreyerFest 5K Run the other day, well, it made me laugh:

Several years ago I tried writing a satirical novel about the hobby and BreyerFest. One of the reasons I put the project on hold indefinitely was because reality kept catching up with the satire. No matter how absurd I made things, reality went one better.

Remember the brief discussion a few years ago in one of the NAMHSA discussion-type-places about establishing breed standards for Unicorns? Stuff like that.

In one portion of the novel I was trying to devise the craziest, most embarrassing or downright grueling contest or activity hobbyists would put themselves through to win a model.

Let’s see, a 5K Run on the final day of BreyerFest, in Kentucky, in what is usually almost-intolerable heat and humidity? Reality, you have beat me once again.

In spite of all that, I am thinking about it. Not for a prize model – not with my feet, which are as oddly shaped and mismatched as the Traditional Stock Horse Mare’s – but because “running a marathon” is something on my bucket list. A 5K at an event I’m already at might actually motivate me to start working towards that goal. Even if I limp home last, I’d still get a t-shirt out of it.

I sincerely hope, however, that whatever prizes are involved aren’t exceedingly valuable – Regular Runs, Web Special leftovers, etc. – because seriously, I don’t want to see people pass out and/or hurt themselves over a prize model.

Just make a limited edition SR Stablemate for all physical participants, with glossy ones for the category winners. Everyone gets something special for making a good faith effort, and we can all go home happy. And in one piece.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Classic American Pharoah

Feeling a little down today; I won’t go into the details, but basically I am broke until Tuesday or possibly Wednesday next week because of something someone else failed to do.

So much for picking up those odds and ends I planned on buying to get started on my BreyerFest prep. (One of the New Year’s Resolutions: get all my prep done early. Preferably before I leave for Kentucky.)

One good thing that will come out of this aggravation is that it’s giving me plenty of motivation to start selling online again. The only thing that’s kept me from being even angrier over this entire affair is that I still had a bit of financial wiggle room provided to me by my year-end sales. Might as well build that war chest up again.

Whew. Got that out of my system. Back to discussing some of the new releases.

Although I’m not a part of the American Pharoah bandwagon, I did buy a couple of Stablemate versions of him during the last website promotion, because I love Stablemates. Once I have access to money again, I might buy the Classic Pharoah, too:

While I’m not a huge fan of the Best in Show Thoroughbred mold – he strikes me as a little plain and generic-looking – I actually really like him in this release. It reminds me a lot of another plain, generic-looking Breyer release that was also a “portrait” of a Triple Crown Winner:

The #36 Racehorse, which was based on the Grand Wood Carving sculpture of Whirlaway.

The Race Horse was never officially advertised or identified as Whirlaway in any Breyer promotional materials; in early (pre-1960) Dealer Catalogs he was called “Derby Winner” (and described as “One of the winningest horses of all time” per his ca. 1953/4 Dealer Catalog page/sheet) and also on the rarely-found hangtag.

The Traditional Man o’ War, who replaced the #36 Racehorse in the Breyer line in 1967, was initially sold/advertised as the Race Horse, with the name “Man o’ War” in italics or parentheses. Shortly afterwards he became “Famous Thoroughbred Man o’ War” and eventually just Man o’ War.

But never as “Derby Winner”, of course, because that was one race Man o’ War never ran.

You know, now that they’re releasing a Traditional Man o’ War in the Vintage Club line this year, Reeves might want to consider doing a small, similar release on his predecessor.

Preferably with that little saddle blanket like the Classic American Pharoah. Because seriously, how cute is that thing?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A More Polished Secretariat

So tired today; work is in its busy season, and sleep has been in short supply. I’m grateful for the overtime, but what I wouldn’t give to be able to sleep in one day this week ...

(Sunday. Maybe.)

I did take a quick opportunity to do a little decompressing after a particularly rough day earlier in the week, at an undisclosed location on the way home that had some Breyers in it. I was mulling over the recently discontinued #1440 Let’s Go Racing Set – the one with the Black Secretariat. I collect the mold, and the notion of buying a Breyer play set appealed to my inner nine year old.

Then I noticed something: the Secretariat mold has been “polished”, just like the Traditional #54 Trakehner mold!

It actually looked good on him, though as a member of that mold’s slender fanbase, I’m a little wistful about alterations being made to Chris Hess’s last official Breyer mold.

I don’t know when the polishing occurred; I traded for an NPOD sample of one that still had that slightly rough-hewn look, and the promotional photos and video all show that version as well:

I hadn’t noticed the change before because it wasn’t something I had been looking to get until recently, now that it’s been discontinued and some of the remaining warehouse stock has been shipped to Tuesday Mornings and the like.

Plus I had the Sample, and Burmese the solid Black Export Special Run of one of Queen Elizabeth’s favorite horses. Black Secretariats are not in short supply here.

It’ll probably be a while before I actually pick up the polished mold version – it’s time, not money, that’s not on my side.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Mostly Black

Why yes, there are quite a few solid black Breyer releases on tap for 2016:
  • Dag Dia (BreyerFest SR Brishen) 
  • Carltonlima Emma (the new Fell Pony)
  • Cortes C (Carrick)
  • Cherry Creek Fonzie Merit (Adios)
  • Rhapsody in Black (Weather Girl)
Add the following earlier Traditionals, still current:
  • Magic (Miniature Horse from the Magic and Hamlet set)
  • Classic Shire (from the set)
  • Welsh Cob (Llanarth True Briton)
  • Totilas
Throw in several more recently discontinued items like the AQHA Horse, and models in other scales, and it makes you think: wow, Reeves must have gotten some deal on black paint recently, eh?

I think it’s more coincidence than planning. Mostly.

Black horses had a strong pull on the imagination of horse lovers long before the publication of Black Beauty in 1877. Black in and of itself is visually striking: in a herd of Bays and Chestnuts, the Blacks will stand out. It doesn’t hurt that it also has the cachet of being a relatively rare color too, genetically speaking.

It is an easy and inexpensive color to paint, and very flattering on molds with strong and pleasing contours, like the Adios.

With all other factors being equal, Black will tend to get the nod over something slightly more common, like Chestnut or Bay. Throw in a few popular or trendy breeds that either specify or favor Black (like the Friesian, and the Fell) and there you go: a Mostly Black lineup for 2016.

Speaking of Adios: not counting Roans, Grays or Tests, the Cherry Creek Fonzie Merit release represents the first true unmodified Solid Matte Black Adios Production Run. The closest we came previously was the striking Dark Mahogany Bay #853 Mesa, released in 1991-1992.

The “Special Run” Black Adioses of the 1980s that get spoken of with some frequency in hobby circles were more a collection of similar Samples, Tests, and Gifts than a true or formal Special Run, and as far as I can remember were never advertised as such, either.

I certainly wouldn’t argue its technical or legal status if one was offered to me, though!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

In A Gadda Dag Dia

I’ll admit I’ve been tempted to put my Novelisto D up for sale; the resale prices for that release have been impressive, to say the least. But now I know why I hesitated: I now have to complete a matching set with his Evil Twin, Dag Dia!

Think about it: Dag Dia is Listo’s opposite in every way -
  • Solid Black, instead of Solid White
  • Mane Down, instead of Mane Up
  • Tail Down, instead of Tail Up
  • Feathered Legs, instead of Clean
Did you know that there are 8 different possible mane-tail-leg combos for the Brishen-Laredo mold? I was curious one day and plotted it all out, labeling the parts that first appeared on Brishen as “A” and what appeared on Laredo as “B”. (Brishen is “A” because he came first, naturally.)

Most of the previous production releases on this mold have stuck to the same two combos: the upswept mane, tail and feathered legs of Brishen (“AAA”), or the braided mane, lowered tail, and clean legs of Laredo (“BBB”).

Using this system, that makes Novelisto an “AAB” and Dag Dia a “BBA”. Four down, four more combos to go! (Illustrating all eight combos might make for a fun Photoshop project for someone. Just saying.)

The other two known BreyerFest 2016 releases aren’t too shabby either – the Celebration Horse is a new sculpt by Sarah Minkiewicz-Breunig, and the Early Bird Special is a Smarty Jones Polo Pony in what I think is supposed to be a cornspotted Bay Roan.

I’ll reserve judgment of the Celebration Horse until I see one in person. Breyer photos, as you all should well know by now, are a terrible indicator of what the production pieces will look like: the color is usually wrong, and sloppy Photoshop clipping paths (used to cut the model out of the background) end up distorting the model’s actual contours beyond the point of usefulness.
It is interesting that the third release of the Smarty Jones Polo Pony Mold Variation is another very limited BreyerFest Special Run, with the previous being the 2012 Saturday Raffle model Carlisle. There are even fewer of Polomar (3) than Carlisle, so I’ll likely have to wait a little longer to add a Smarty-Pony to the herd.

(My standards may be more lax than most, but even I had a hard time finding a Santiago that didn’t make me sigh deeply and walk away.)

BTW, for you whippersnappers who don’t get the title reference, grab yourself a bag of chips and a cold beverage of your choice, and enjoy:

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Getting Lucky

Regarding sales: I’ll be suspending sales for the next couple of weeks to deal with the usual beginning of the year stuff. All of my spare AQHA Horses will remain here for the time being.

Shopping, alas, got started a little early this year. The first haul, from Saturday:

A Hartland Our Lady of the Fatima, a Red Mill Unicorn, two yards of pink and white calico, and a fabulous pair of shoes. The Hartland will stay, the Red Mill will go, the fabric is a perfect match for a long-stalled quilt project, and the shoes are for what I’m now calling “The Carmen Project”.

A mixed bag, but it’s not like one can go thrift shopping with a specific list in mind; some imagination and improvisation does help. If I went to these places looking only for Breyers, or very specific Breyers, I’d walk away more disappointed than not. I prefer to approach every object I find as a maybe, rather than a nope.

You’d think that it would make list making and the obtaining of grails a rather frustrating effort, but I’ve long since adapted to that by adjusting my sense of scale: my grails and lesser wants tend to stay on my want list for years, not weeks or months.

It helps, too, that I sometimes get lucky – this year, quite literally! Two of the releases in the Vintage Club are molds that I actively and enthusiastically collect: the Traditional Man o’ War, and Western Prancing Horse, a Resist Dapple Gray named … Lucky!

(Is that dappling in his mane? Gosh, I hope so.)

The Western Prancing Horse was the second or third model in my collection, after the Man o’ War: I received both a Pacer and the Western Prancing Horse the following Christmas, but I don’t remember which box I opened first.

(Hey, it was a long time ago. How long? He is a Chalky Smoke.)

Aside from Test Colors – which are not too scarce on this mold, just expensive – the Western Prancing Horse is not a difficult mold to collect. It’s not without its challenges: the Black Pinto is a little rare, there are multiple variations of the Black Leopard Appaloosa that might drive you crazy, and Chalkies of both the Smoke and Palomino are very pricey.

The only one that could qualify as a true “Grail” piece would be the Chestnut, a model so scarce that I didn’t even bother putting it on my want list to begin with. And then he happened:

The best kinds of grails are the ones that never even make it to your want list.