Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Someone was a bad doggie earlier this week!

But with uncanny timing, since I’ve been wanting to talk about the Special Run Translucent Patriot, who first came to our attention via the mail-order company Back in the Saddle:


Chinese Samples of the Transparent Clock Saddlebred mold have been showing up on eBay over the past several months, so it wasn’t a complete surprise that a Special Run showed up now. I thought we’d have to wait until BreyerFest until we saw a larger-run Traditional Translucent release, though. The blurb on the “Exclusive Models” page of the BreyerFest section of the Breyer web site (that I featured here before) hints at it:
Following in the spirit of the Olympics, each of our Special Runs represent either a continent or the 'brio' of Rio!  
That is, if you translate ‘brio’ as “Carnevale-level outrageous” a la Times Square: the 2007 Glossy Black Ethereal with metallic gold mane and tail covered in glittery multi-colored fireworks, and one of my favorite BreyerFest SRs ever.

Translucent Samples of the Marabella and Running Mare were also made available on eBay via Chinese sources, so maybe either of those might be the potential candidate? (There was a clear plastic Smarty Jones, too, but the Polo Pony version of Smarty is being used for the Early Bird Raffle Polomar. So, not likely.)

But let’s get back to the actual Patriot model. I thought I’d like it more – I’m totally down with Translucents in general, and a couple of quilt projects I’ve worked on in the past year have been patriotically-themed – but the design seems a bit lacking. A bright red nose and ears? Weird, and not in a good way.

Patriotic art only works for me if it’s either done with a sense of subtlety or grandeur (Lincoln Memorial), or is completely over-the-top (Hawaiian-style Flag Quilts). The design of the recalled carousel Christmas ornament from a few years back hit all the right notes in the over-the-top category, I thought, if not the actual pieces themselves:


His Rudolph-colored muzzle aside, Patriot falls somewhere in the muddled middle. My proposal would have gone with a red Woodgrain body, a big blue blanket covered with fifty sparkly glow-in-the-dark stars, and a blaze in the shape of an exploding fireworks rocket. And white striping in the mane and tail.

(Hmm, I think I might have the concept for my next Family Arabian Mare project!)

Seeing a Patriot in person might change my mind, because it often does, but for the time being I’ll be content to sit back and let others take their share first.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Seen and Unseen

I’ve spent most of my extended weekend off working on my taxes; it’s always a surprise to me just how many horses I buy and sell every year. Good thing I find so much of my stuff locally, and cheap. (Less than a month to go until flea market season starts, yes!)

Anyway, let’s get back to a topic I’ve been meaning to get to all week: BreyerWest. It seemed to go pretty much as I expected. I did think Reeves would throw in at least one little surprise – the intro of another BreyerFest SR, or maybe even a raffle or token SR of some sort – but they kept it fairly modest, with warehouse leftovers as various gifts and prizes, and a preview of most (but not all) of the up-to-then-announced Special Runs.

No sample of the new Mangalarga Marchador mold was present, painted or unpainted, which I chalk up to the fact that the mold is brand new and is likely still being tweaked a bit for production.

This shouldn’t be considered an unusual or troubling development; think about all the instances of “stand-ins” for new molds that occurred in holiday mail-order catalogs, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s. Thinking about it a bit more, the timelines aren't even all that different.

I’m not sure why the Dag Dia or the Hermosa/Corazon set weren’t there either, though. While most of us are quick to assume that technical issues may have been to blame, it could have just as easily been Oops, forgot that box.

The only true “surprise” of the event for me was that, upon seeing her sample, a number of hobbyists walked away with a much more favorable opinion of Namid.

A lot of criticism has been made of the Forever Saige’s neck, which has been described as “giraffe-like”. I didn’t recall getting that impression when I first read the article about her on the Breyer web site, so I went back and took a second look at the photos. Here:


Her neck doesn’t seem out of proportion in the original sculpt in gray primer. The proportions do seem a little odd in the Premier Club release, but I think that’s a consequence of the extended Appaloosa blanket. With Namid’s solid paint job, that consequence disappears.

Theoretically, every model horse should look equally good regardless of the “clothes” it wears, but any customizer can tell you that’s simply not so. Some models look better in some colors or patterns than others, and sometimes just the right markings or color can hide any number of conformational sins.

Think about all the times you’ve reconsidered a mold once the right color, finish, pattern or markings are applied. The San Domingo mold, for instance, looks better to me in a Pinto or Appaloosa pattern, while I tend to prefer solid colors for models with strong silhouettes, like Salinero.

All I hope for is that this reconsideration doesn’t translate into a “Sorry, no Namid for you” moment in July.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

So Many Wishes

No Persimmon, and not worrying about it. Money’s running a little bit tight right now anyway. (Taxes, dental appointment, BreyerFest tickets, tags for the car….)

The Asian Delegate for BreyerFest has been announced, and it’s a glossy little something on the Make a Wish mold. Her name is Furano:

First, let me toss in my usual boilerplate about my mention of the mold last week and her appearance within the Breyer web-o-sphere this week being a complete coincidence. I’ve been meaning to do a write up about this mold for a while, as a follow up to the Brishen/Laredo piece. I guess that means the time to do so is today!

To continue… the mold is extremely popular now in all its various iterations, especially among newer hobbyists; it makes sense that Reeves would go with her over someone like Weather Girl. Every generation of hobbyists has its Arabian Mare, and for all the hobbyists (young and old) who are now doing their darndest to make this year’s Family Vacation is BreyerFest or nothing, it’s the Make A Wish.

Like the Brishen/Laredo mold, the Make A Wish mold comes with some interesting documentation challenges. With three different neck combos, and three different tails, there are nine different possible mold configurations:
  • Neck Up, Swish Tail
  • Neck Up, Fan Tail
  • Neck Up, Long Tail
  • Neck Down with Left Side Mane, Swish Tail
  • Neck Down with Left Side Mane, Fan Tail
  • Neck Down with Left Side Mane, Long Tail
  • Neck Down with Right Side Mane, Swish Tail
  • Neck Down with Right Side Mane, Fan Tail
  • Neck Down with Right Side Mane, Long Tail
I haven’t quite worked out the categorization of the parts here, so I’m just using basic descriptors for now.

Of the nine (for now) different configurations, only five of them have been used for production pieces so far: all three versions of the Neck Up, and one each of the Neck Down-Left and Neck Down-Right.

Neck Up, Swish Tail: Furano, S Justadream
Neck Up, Fan Tail: Gold Raven, Oasis
Neck Up, Long Tail: Music Row
Neck Down-Left, Swish Tail: Make A Wish, Summer Love
Neck Down-Right, Long Tail: Burnham, OT Sara Moniet RS, Smoke and Mirrors

There was also an Auction Test Piece in 2009 – the year the mold debuted – of the Neck Down-Right, Fan Tail variety, but as far as I know that was a genuine one-off. I don’t have access to the factory or the warehouse (11.5 hour drive, peeps) so I don’t know if they have more of that particular body stashed away somewhere for future use.

(Oh, to nose around that warehouse for a day….)

I’ll definitely consider Furano if and once I get to see one independent of the PR shot; for now my thrifty heart belongs to just Dag Dia and Namid.

By the way, it is so nice to see the tide of opinion turning on Namid after BreyerWest! But more on all that next time.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

And Now, a Regular Run Gambler's Choice?

Loose-Maned Newsworthy/Connemara Ponies have been found in the wild; apparently Reeves is doing a “Gambler’s Choice” with the two different versions, though I suspect the Loose-Maned will be scarcer, at least at first.

It’s nice to know that the option is out there, since the positive online response to Persimmon is making it less likely for me to get picked for one. (More people entering, more often = worse odds.) I’ve heard almost nothing but nice things about the paint job for the Connemara, too, so it won’t be a mere consolation prize when I find one.

While we’ve had simultaneously released finish variations (Gloss vs. Matte) for both Regular Run and Special Run items for a while now, simultaneously released mold variations are a relatively new thing.

This is because the ability to release multiple mold variations simultaneously is a relatively new thing.

But not a new-new thing. We’ve had separately molded and theoretically swappable parts on molds since the 1950s, primarily via the various “saddled” horses (Horse, Pony, Fury/Prancer, Western Prancer) and the cattle with their separately molded ear and horn pieces.

The closest corollary to the Connemara, I believe, would be the original Breyer Dairy Cow, who had unique horns or sets for its five different releases: Ayrshire, Holstein, Brown Swiss, Jersey and Guernsey. They were not always consistently placed, or done with the correct pieces, but the effort was made.

The Dairy Cow experiment ended after a couple of years, but not due to technical issues: being the most popular dairy cow breed in the U.S., the Holstein outsold all of the other Dairy Cow releases, plain and simple. So much so that many of the subsequent releases, reissues and Special Runs were some flavor of Holstein, like the Weber Scientific Cow:

The two-year production run for the other Cows (and Calves) was atypical for Breyer releases in the 1970s, but it’s fairly average for a release today. It’s a different market, requiring different marketing techniques, so I wouldn’t “read” too much into the length of the Connemara Pony’s run, one way or another.

Though I do think the release will get a little bit of a bump in sales, since a scarcely produced and previously much more difficult to obtain mold variation is now in the mix.

All I’m asking for is that it run long enough for me to find and procure one at a reasonable price. This might take a while, since my work schedule has not been conducive to pony shopping lately.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Pacer Madness

I wanted to write about the mold variations of the Make A Wish mold, but I’m feeling a little unmotivated in the research department, so here is a picture of a moderately interesting #46 Pacer instead:

The #46 Pacer is the other release – besides the #47 Man o’ War – where I’m trying to untangle the knot of color variations and changes that appeared during its 20+ year run.

What complicates matters with the Pacer is that he’s one of a handful of pre-1970 molds that never got the USA mold mark in the first place, so dating early ones is often a matter of either the ephemera, or the other models he might have come with.

There are some exceptions: Chalkies of course, and the early Semi-Glosses, who often have eyewhites. But those are just two corner pieces in an elaborate puzzle for which I have no reference picture.

Generally earlier models have three socks, but this three-socker has the lighter body tones and black halter of a model from the late 1970s or early 1980s. That makes sense, since he came with one of my more recent Man o’ Wars who was definitely a late 1970s/early 1980s piece.

Here’s the quick rundown of the details of the six Pacers now in my possession – and why this particular project might drive me insane in a way the Man o’ War project never will:

Gloss with Eyewhites: 3 stockings, black halter
Matte, small Blue Ribbon Sticker (1967/68): 3 stockings, red-brown halter
Matte in Gold Foil Sticker Box (1973): 4 stockings, red-brown halter
Matte (Christmas Gift 1974): 4 stockings, red-brown halter
Chalky (1973-1975): 4 stockings, brown halter
Matte Lighter variation (late 1970s/early 1980s): 3 stockings, black halter

There seems to be a logical progression in the middle, bracketed by what appear to be outliers. But I’ve also seen Matte versions of the 3 stocking with black halter that were obviously earlier than my lighter variant, but later than the Gloss.

But how much later? When? Argh!

Clearly, this means I need to buy more Pacers. Lucky for me, this guy – except in variations I already have, like the Chalky and the eyewhited Semi-Gloss – is still relatively cheap. For the time being.

Monday, March 14, 2016


The next release of the Web Special “Berries Ponies” series is out (already?), and it’s a loose mane/tail version of the Newsworthy mold:

Other than the Connoisseur release Golden Boy, all of the other Newsworthy production releases since the mold’s introduction in 2008 have had the braided mane and tail.

Intriguingly, a promotional picture of the Best of British Connemara Pony release also features the loose mane and tail, and is shown on the web site alongside the braided version:

Only braided versions of it have shown up – so far. I’ve heard conflicting information about whether or not we will be seeing this loose version in the wild; I think it’s just a matter of time. After all, those pictures have been up on the Breyer web site for a while, and we now have an actual (albeit small) release using the loose mane and tail.

When there is one, others usually follow. Whether or not the photo was intentionally used or not, Reeves might have to make them now just to get us to stop bothering them about it: for better or worse, we hobbyists tend to be a rather annoying and persistent bunch.

I’ve always preferred the loose mane/tail version; the loose mane, in particular, is just better sculpted than the braids. In this form, he also looks like a more refined and updated version of the old #300 Jumping Horse.

While the Connoisseur Golden Boy isn’t necessarily the hardest of the Connoisseurs to find, and the prices aren’t too crazy, I’ve been pretty good at limiting my Connoisseur collection to those pieces that I’ve won. (With the sole exception of a Tortoiseshell Buffalo Taima, who is actually a Sample.)

That being said, I’ll probably only do my “enter once, hope for a lucky draw” thing again here. While I think Persimmon is adorable, and I certainly would not turn him down if I get drawn, that money could best be used elsewhere right now.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Naughty Pictures

Had a productive couple of “days off”: finished prepping an old sewing project, made fudge, cleaned up and transferred some stuff off my old computer’s hard drive, and unboxed some horses:

I remember when I was a kid and I’d pick up horse magazines – Western Horseman was my big fave – and I’d giggle at the stud horse photos gloriously detailing their handsome backsides: basically they were a ten-year-old horse-crazy girl’s idea of naughty pictures. So I guess you could say that this is my homage to the “dirty pictures” of my wanton youth….

Featuring the Zodiac Cancer/Lobster Butt and a couple of AQHA Horses – the Blue Roan Warehouse Find/Reissue, and the 75th Anniversary Palomino, whom I am really loving right now. Not enough to go forth and complete the collection, but enough to make me wish that the Glossy Black one really was a thing.

Okay, maybe not, but we’ll get to the reasons why in a moment. In the meantime, Reeves released pics of the African Representative, Namid:

Ah, that luscious solid Dark Bay again! When I Googled images of the Namib Desert Horses, I saw a lot of solid Dark Bays, which makes sense since they are the descendants of cavalry mounts.

It appears that I am in the minority in finding her appealing, though; while I was away doing not-Internet things, we apparently entered that awkward part of the year where all the cool kids decide to dislike everything and casually brag about how little they’ll actually spend at BreyerFest, or if they’ll even buy a ticket at all.

As my recent experiences with Reeves issuing exactly the kinds of Special Runs that I dream for – like Marshall, and now Dugan – well, that does not always work out as planned, either. I’d rather be content in finding worth and beauty in the things that are accessible to me, than fret over beautiful things made to my specifications that I cannot have.

That’s one of the points of art connoisseurship – to reconsider something you would not normally have considered before. So instead of first looking for things to dislike about any given release, my first instinct is to try to find things I like about it, or at least find interesting.

I know sometimes the dismissiveness comes from a defensive place: it’s easier to collect when you’re able to eliminate the majority of new items out of hand. And I don’t love everything, myself: Flockies weird me out, I’m still having a hard time loving Desatado, and I really don’t understand the fascination so many have for the Exclusive Event Othello “Puttin’ on the Ritz”. (He’s green, and not in a good way!)

But still, I wish we could all be a little less catty, and a little bit more like the ten-year-old horse-crazy kids we once were. The ones who thought even the homeliest of horses were still kind of awesome.

For instance, I never expected to like my new AQHA Horses – the Roan, the Palomino, and the Warehouse Find Blue Roan – as much as I do now, but I do. That’s why I’d rather not make an offhand wish for a Glossy Black one, only to have it show up somewhere beyond my reach.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Another Swing ... and a Miss

While the rational argument would be to wait until they get to the wait list, I also know I’m not the kind of person who gets picked from wait lists, so I’m just going to get on with my life and declare myself Dugan-less.

It hurts a little more than I thought it would, but some of that may also be work-related.

In other news, the Silver Saddlebred went for what I would consider an irrationally high amount – north of $3000, which is more than what I typically spend on models in the course of a year (or two, sometimes three or four…)

Oddly, I’m more optimistic that I’ll someday find one of those Saddlebreds in the wild, as opposed to a Dugan. The Saddlebreds were distributed in such a way that they may genuinely show up in a garage sale, estate sale, or flea market someday. It may not be in the best condition if and when it gets found, but the possibility is there. And I’m not all that picky about condition.

Items that are distributed internally – within the hobby – tend to stay in the hobby. They may come up for sale more often, and are in better condition, but unless someone is desperate or just wants them gone, NOW, the markup tends to be significant enough to essentially render it unavailable to someone like me.

Sure, weird stuff happens – I certainly wasn’t expecting to find a Shannon and Excalibur at a local sale less than a half hour from my house, for instance – but I think I used up a couple year’s worth of model horse mojo on that find alone.

On an unrelated note, we’ve finally gotten another BreyerFest SR hint, which appears to be a Black or Dark Bay Forever Saige. The Blog blurb makes it obvious that she’s supposed to be a Namib Desert Horse, and not a Vlaamperd:
Our next Special Run pays tribute to Africa where herds of majestic feral horses run free through the desert.
Not what I thought they’d go with – Egypt is in Africa, and therefore (I thought) a fair justification to include a Weather Girl in the lineup – but it’s an interesting and creative choice.

I kinda like the Forever Saige’s slightly bratty attitude anyway, and I don’t share the currently fashionable disdain for black paint jobs, so she might be getting put on my buy list. Especially if her markings/detailing are interesting, and I can’t locate an at- or near-cost Premier Club Forever Saige.

Well, off to do something creative with my frustration for the next couple of days.

Saturday, March 5, 2016


Why yes, I am super-duper excited about the new Special Run Basset Hound Dugan, thanks for asking!

I have no idea how long this particular item has been in the works, but with all the mumbling I made here about not getting a Basset Hound SR as part of last year’s BreyerFest lineup, I’ve been walking around the house like a proud auntie, anyway.

I am not as excited about it (a) being a 40-piece Micro Run, and (b) being up for purchase-raffle. Items so oddly specific as a Gloss Black and Tan Basset Hound should just be straight-up for sale on a first-come, first-serve basis.

And I say that as someone who had to work late on Thursday, and most likely would have missed out if it had been. I’ve had good luck with Micro Runs in the past, so missing one wouldn’t have killed me (probably.)

But anyway, I’m not thrilled by the method of distribution because purchase-raffles on weird rarities like Dugan tend to encourage our more mercenary tendencies. It’s one thing to purchase and resell items from the open market, but doing so with direct sale items is an ethical gray area for me.

Though I am glad to see some hobbyists are marshaling their goodwill and trying to enter for the benefit of hobbyists other than themselves. I’ll play by the rules of the game and see how it turns out.

Dugan is the first “official” Special Run on the Basset Hound mold, and only the fourth official release of the mold ever, which includes the #325 Bloodhound, the #326 Basset Hound, and the #324 Chaser. There are a few Tests and Culls floating around – in fact, I think I saw a cull on eBay just a few weeks back – but they are not common.

However, those four releases would not constitute a complete collection: by my reckoning, you’d need at least three more dogs to do that.

Who are the other three?

The first is the American Interinsurance Exchange Basset Hound: the one with the little sign hanging around its neck by a chain. Although it was an aftermarket creation, they are common and plentiful enough that most avid Breyer Dog collectors consider it a semi-official SR anyway.

The second is a common but distinctive variation of the #326 Basset I like the call the “Sober” one: those are the standard Bassets that don’t have the droopy red eyeliner. As I am not able to pin it to any particular time or outlet, I consider them an incidental/accidental variation and not an intentional one. But like the Interinsurance Dog, it’s common enough – and distinctive enough – to merit inclusion on a want list.

The third is a little more difficult: it’s the Post-Production Special Run of the Bloodhound, made ca. 1970; I believe I wrote a post about his discovery back in May of 2009. These are basically Bloodhounds that were made, likely as a special order, a couple of years after the original Bloodhound was discontinued. It is primarily distinguished by having a USA mold mark, something the Regular Run Bloodhounds will not have; it wasn’t added to the mold until ca. 1970.

The color on those pieces may also be lighter and more Chestnut than Dark Brown, but I only have the one piece to go by, so it might not be a representative sample.

If you want to get real crazy, you could start adding even more variations – the #326 Basset ran from ca. 1969 through 1985, and being a largely hand-airbrushed paint job, subtle and not-so-subtle variations are numerous. Both the Bloodhound and the Basset come with Blue Ribbon Stickers, too, if you look hard enough.

I have quite a few – they were sort of a thing with me for a while, and for some strange reason I don’t think I ever got rid of a single one of them – but I hope I can make room for just one more.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Most Desirable Stablemate in the World…

...is now available as a “gift with purchase” in an auction on eBay right now. If you don’t know who or what I’m talking about, it’s the G1 25th Anniversary Saddlebred, as seen in this 1990 issue of Just About Horses:

Because I am not wealthy, not that lucky, and am rather fond of my internal organs, that picture is probably as close as I am going to get to owning one, outside of making one myself.

(I’ve thought of it. I really have. Making one, not selling my organs.)

There have been some questions online whether or not a model that was allegedly made in a piece run of about 1000 could or should be flirting with a four-figure price tag.

Oh yes, for at least two reasons.

The piece was made as a promotional giveaway item, presumably to both (a) celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Breyer Animal Creations line, and (b) help announce the arrival of the then-new Stablemates scale, of which the G1 Saddlebred was (I believe) the first mold actually cast.

As such, it was likely given to clients, potential clients, Sales Reps, and at industry PR events. The likelihood that some would end up in the hands of hobbyists at the time was very small.

In fact, I can’t recall even hearing about such a thing until 1990, when it appeared in Just About Horses, and one was auctioned off at the inaugural BreyerFest that year. They have occasionally trickled on to the market since then – though rarely quite as nice as the one up for auction at the moment (Mint in Box!)

A thousand pieces of anything can disappear quickly, especially when it’s distributed to the general/nonhobby public first. Special Runs and other oddities were not well or easily distributed to hobbyists back then, either: Just About Horses itself didn't even debut until late 1975, as a single-page folded brochure.

Though I do have evidence that Breyer did consider offering a Free Stablemate/Redemption program when the Stablemates line was introduced in 1975, it never launched and I have no evidence that the Saddlebred leftovers would have been a part of that even if it had.

But it wasn’t just the distribution method, but the composition of the item itself that makes it so hard to find: it’s silver-plated ABS plastic. (ABS is easier to “plate” than Tenite, which is why it was used then).

Silver tarnishes, and ABS plastic – the same stuff they use for (most) Stablemates now – breaks easily.

A free shiny plastic horse given to you as a gift, especially if you are not a collector yourself, most likely ends up as a gift to someone who would be enraptured by a small shiny plastic horse.

And being small, fragile, and quick to tarnish, it’s not hard to guess what happened to most of those Silver Saddlebreds.