Thursday, June 30, 2016

Speaking Conditionally

That Quarter Horse Gelding cleaned up pretty nice, actually:

He has chipped ears, and rubs on his near side, so he’s still technically body box material. But his color and shading are so pretty, I won’t argue with anyone if they think he’s worth keeping as-is.

(I’ll actually have quite a few “shelf quality” pieces like that for sale at BreyerFest this year: another reason to come dig in my ginormous body box!)

I have tons of models in questionable condition, myself, that I still consider valued members of my herd. Like this little fellow:

Yep, a Test Color. As you can see, this Classic Quarter Horse Foal is especially… special: as in, he has so many rubs he’s very definition of a body. He was one of those things that the Bentleys found while cleaning out Chicago factory ca. 1985. Then he was bagged, tossed into one of several large cardboard boxes, and brought out to sell at Model Horse Congress, where I was the lucky person who found him.

I don’t normally like to go around quoting the prices I get stuff for – lest I find myself in the awkward position of having to sell it – but he’s one of those pieces that isn’t going anywhere, so I guess I’m safe here.

I found him in the “One Dollar” box.

I can’t confirm it one way or another, but I suspect that he – and the two very similar Classic Quarter Horse Mares I also found in those fabled boxes (for a little bit more) – weren’t simply Test Colors, but Preproduction pieces.

Everything about them felt cobbled together: the paintjobs are uneven, the seams are mismatched and unfinished, everything about them feels slapdash and rough.

And although I haven’t done a point-for-point inspection with actual production pieces to be sure, I think they might even have been made from mold test shots, before the molds were finalized and okayed for production.

In a sense, they may be the most Test Color of Test Colors. (Beat that, Benefit Auction Test Color Brindle Pinto Man o’ War with the fancy tail!)

It doesn’t matter if they are or not, though. They’ll always have a home here.

Monday, June 27, 2016

A Smoke Western Prancer Hoof Variation?

The flea market was better for me yesterday:

Two more bodies, and a pretty decent Zippo Pine Bar. Good enough to consider keeping, but I’ll have the look at the budget in a week or two before I make that decision.

I’m also hedging a bit on the Quarter Horse Gelding, since he’s a “transitional/in-between” body – toned down muscles, but no tummy tuck – and I’ve always wanted to make a Suffolk Punch out of one. (And I just bought a fresh batch of epoxy. Hmm.)

The weekend was productive on a number of fronts. In the process of doing a bit of research on my Sampler, an interesting little something jumped out at me that I hadn’t noticed before. Notice anything unusual in this picture of the Smoke Western Prancing Horse from the 1963 Dealer’s Catalog?

His hooves are black! Typically Smokes have gray hooves. In fact, it’s what distinguishes darker Smokes from Charcoals, which have pink or tan hooves. I can’t recall ever seeing a vintage Smoke Prancer with black hooves.

The color Smoke debuted around this time – 1962/1963 – so it might just be a case of an early Test or Preproduction piece being used for the photo shoot. (Check out the fancy feathering on his mane, too. Sweet!)

It’s also possible that the photographer or graphic designer who put the catalog together might have done a little photo retouching, and assumed that the hooves were supposed to be darker. Or it just did it because they thought it looked better that way anyway.

I had “seen” this photograph before, multiple times, but it was usually a black and white photocopy I was examining. I alway assume that any odd color shifts I see in black and white copies are the result of the copier distorting the image. But as I was examining my color original –  researching another topic entirely – it became obvious that there was no distortion: those hooves really are black.

Yet another example of why it is so important to have access to original source materials, and not just copies.

As I said above, I’ve never seen a Smoke with black hooves – on the WPH or anyone else – so it’s likely just a Test. If one ever did show up, though, I would be all over that….

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Another Old Favorite, Reconsidered

After a week of hard travelling for work, it’s nice to have a weekend off. Except for my usual trip to the flea market, I don’t plan on leaving the “pajama perimeter” until Monday.

Yes, I am actually looking forward to a weekend filled with paperwork and BreyerFest prep!

(“Pajama Perimeter” is a term we use in this house to describe all the places we consider acceptable to wear pajamas outdoors. Basically: the yard, up to the mailbox, and up and down the road to walk the dog.)

Speaking of the flea market, the pickings continue to be slim, though I think I’ve figured out why. If the weather cooperates, I’ll be taking some measures to correct the problem. Not that I need to plump up the sales list any further; I’ve been getting my fix from other sources, so I’m doing all right. But more is always better.

Since I am not particularly talkative today, and preoccupied with other horsey business, here’s a picture of an old favorite of mine who has been on my mind a lot lately:

He’s the Dark Palomino Special run from the 1980s, with a white mane and tail. There were a lot of Special Run Belgians at that time, and the Dark Palomino – along with the “Yellow” Palomino – was among the harder ones to acquire.

Nevertheless, he’s rarely that expensive when he shows up for sale now. Some of that is due to the fact that there are a lot of SR Belgians to choose from of the same time period, and visually he’s close enough to other Regular Runs and Special Runs that he doesn’t stand out.

The rest of it is that he’s a Vintage mold, with a relatively small fan base, who takes up a large amount of shelf space. In spite of his sheer rarity (a mere 200-piece run) he’s just not cool or fashionable as a Strapless or an S Justadream.

The Belgian mold, lately and in general, has been a bit of a bargain on the secondary market. (The Five-Gaiter, too, oddly enough.) I don’t know how many times I’ve been tempted in recent months by the rather cheap Dapple Grays that have been all over eBay.

(Except for the Black Dapple variations. Those are considered so distinctive – if not iconic – that I doubt they’ll ever be cheap.)

If I had a bit more money to spend, I would have given in and bought one, or two. The original Gloss Dapple Gray Belgian is one of those pieces that always seems to hover just a little bit out of my reach.

I guess I’m still holding out hope that a pretty and even cheaper one turns up locally, someday.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Brunello and Stuff

First, the stuff.

I made the mistake of wandering into some online discussions about Geronimo a few days ago, during some rare downtime. I keep telling myself not to do that, and one of these days I’m finally going to listen!

Reading new mold discussions always makes me want to go out and buy the model, just to give it a hug. I can’t afford to do that right now!

Anyway, most hobbyists know by now that the early release Brunellos with the Tryon blanket were not just the standard release, with blanket: nope, instead of the braided mane and tail that the Regular Run release was supposed to have, these Brunellos have the standard loose Idocus mane and tail.

And what should have been a moderately interesting blip in the Breyer SR radar – a Regular Run release with limited edition accessories – suddenly became much more interesting to many more people.

Supposedly some of this 400-piece run are (or were, until recently?) still available through Tryon Tack, but I’m still on my rigorous budget right now, so I have been trying my darndest to resist calling them to find out. I really like the Idocus mold, but I am not sure I love him enough to stray off my budget.

From what I’ve heard, they were made because the braided bodies weren’t ready in time for the event? I want to believe that, but with Breyer you can never been sure if that was a genuine answer or a wink-wink to those of us who obsess over every little thing.

Ironically, I do collect the “Regular Run with Accessories” category of Special Runs, though not in a directed or organized way. Many of the early Sears and JC Penneys Christmas Catalog items actually fall into that category. If I happen upon them at a reasonably good price, I’ll jump on them. But I don’t get too upset if they go above and beyond my price threshold, unless the model itself is interesting or especially pretty.

This is often the case, because many of those sets also featured newly released molds in their earliest iterations. The dark and pretty Legionario that came up in my discussion of the dorsal-striped Legionario a little while back was just such a creature:

I also like to collect them because the box art is so interesting and fun – like that Classics Race Horse Set one that had me strutting around the house a little while back:

Until recently, most hobbyists didn’t collect this sort of thing either, unless they were mold or series completists. Now that that’s become more of a thing (because most of us can’t afford to have it all!) they, too, have become more of a thing.

Saturday, June 18, 2016


This guy arrived in a recent body box lot, and is worth a further examination. Notice anything odd about this #415 Buckshot?

He seems to be a standard issue Buckshot in very good condition with a decent paint job and no significant flaws, other than…

That Hind Hoof. What the heck happened there?

The Buckshot mold is notoriously tippy: he has rather narrow footing, and an elongated pose that ends in an almost solidly-molded tail. It’s like he was designed to tip over.

Part of the problem probably lies with the fact that his sculptor, Bob Scriver, was more accustomed to working in bronze, not in injection-molded plastic. As you might imagine, the weighting and balancing issues are completely different!

Some of that could have been corrected during the actual moldmaking process, but sometimes there is only so much you can do before interfering with the integrity of the original sculpt. And with the sculptor being Bob Scriver, Breyer probably wanted to avoid that.

I have – and have had – a number of Buckshots that stood up just fine. But it doesn’t take much in the way of a variance – fraction of an inch here, a tiny bit of extra plastic there – to make him tip over like me in a pair of platform shoes.

It’s never been a huge issue in the show ring, because he’s never been popular piece to show. I have a couple of Buckshots – an early, extra dark one, and a finished cull/quasi-test – that I did live show, but I “solved” the tipping problem by laying them down on neatly trimmed pieces of fabric.

It was Buckshot: judges understood.

Anyway, Breyer obviously made an attempt to “right” this particular piece by grinding down one of his hooves. It was a technique they used quite frequently on their less stable molds; I have several Pacers, for instance, with all manner of factory hoof deformities.

You would assume that they ground it down to the point where it stood on its own, right? You would think they had to have tested the piece before it finished going through the production process.

The thing was, this technique rarely worked: most vintage models I find with trimmed hooves still don’t stand properly – or at all. As is also the case with this Buckshot.

Either the workbench or carts where the prep work took place were also not level in some way, or they just decided at some point to shrug and say “good enough”.

I’m not sure if any work has been done on the mold recently to correct its tipping issue. The newest of my Buckshots is Monty Robert’s Shy Boy, from 2002-3, and I can’t recall if he was prone to being prone. All of my Buckshots are in storage, because I can’t have anything out right now that cannot tolerate a stampeding terrier.

I’m going to hope and assume that, being prize models and all, that the Diorama Contest Pele models will be upstanding citizens.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

That Funny Feeling

Something told me to go to the Salvation Army yesterday on my way home from work, and guess what I found:

Horsies! And a strange, old decoupaged lunchbox that was also hanging out in the toy department, for reasons unknown. (For that weird, artsy grammar school kid? Oh wait, that would have been me, ca. 1975. Well played, Salvation Army, well played.)

That pushes the tally on this year’s Body Box to well over 40 pieces, making it easily my most epic.

There’s a slight chance I might pick out one or two from this latest cache to toss in my personal body stash – I always wanted to do something silly with a Llanarth, or do a slight remodel/beautification on the Hess Secretariat. It’ll all depend on how much room I have in the car, and how much motivation I think I’ll have, post-BreyerFest.

Speaking of… I briefly considered doing the BreyerFest Customs Contest this year. But time, again, was my enemy. I’m struggling to get my usual efforts (Sampler, Saleslist, Costume, Diorama) done in time; starting or finishing a custom, too, would have been… not good for my mental health, I think.

And I’m still not thrilled by the particulars of the contest, especially the open-ended rules and lack of a thematic component. I’d just prefer it if all of the creative contests operated under similar rules.

It’s all a little too vague for me, especially when they offer the rarest of the BreyerFest Special Runs as a prize – this year, he’s called Guerreiro:

That’s…an interesting choice, especially since the mold is also being used for the Sunday Raffle Model Areia:

Last year’s prize for the Customs Contest was the Premier Club Hermosa and Corazon, also in a pattern identical to their Premier Club release, but in a different color. So Reeves is definitely following a plan there. Though it is a bit disorienting to see a new mold used in two completely unrelated (non-Surprise) releases at the same BreyerFest.

I haven’t seen one of these guys in person yet – it was just released via the Premier Club as Geronimo, so not many have. I’m not sure if I like him or not, yet. I do find the color/pattern combo on the Areia intriguing, but I’m not buying any more Raffle tickets than the usual amount I allot myself.

Hmm, and looking at the Premier Club page, there’s that Esperanza Stablemate again. D’oh! I keep forgetting the Premier Club has bonus Stablemates now. I really wish I had the time to poke around the Breyer web site a little more thoroughly.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Seen It All Before

The past 24 hours just….ugh. There are some things kitten cuddles and puppy hugs do not fix. Especially when you have a dog who only wants hugs on her own terms.

The pickings at the flea market yesterday were modest, with the best find being a set of boxed Japanese miniatures from the 1960s, still in their original packing paper and fluff. (That are also staying here for the time being, because I need their cuteness right now.)

I think I should be good to go as far as inventory for BreyerFest, though; I did a local pickup last week, and I may be doing another later this week, if my work scheduling pans out. If nothing else, my body box will be huge and fabulous.

(Whenever I do one of these local pickups it always feels like we’re doing something slightly illicit, in public. “Nope, nothing to see here, officer, just a little horse trading at the park….”)

Aside from the social aspect of horse trading, which I really enjoy, I also prefer to fund the trip that way. Other hobbyists set aside money, I set aside inventory! It helps rein in my spending impulses a bit: what I buy is limited to what I can sell, and how much room I can make in the car.

It doesn’t always work out, but at least there is a plan.

Since I’m a bit short on brainpower today (work scheduling issues), here’s another not quite random pic of a Test Color from one of Marney’s albums:

A Bay Splash Spot Blanket Appaloosa Standing Stock Horse Foal that looks not too dissimilar from the production release of the #861 Family Appaloosa Foal, from 1992-1994:

Most of the photos in the album the Test Color’s photo came from are from the mid-1980s or earlier, so I think it’s unlikely that the Test led to the Foal, especially if it was already in Marney’s possession by then.

It’s more likely that the Foal was either just one of Marney’s little experiments – let’s try the Appaloosa’s blanket on the Bay! – or it could represent one of the color options they were exploring for the mold’s initial release in 1983.

In some quarters, Test Colors that are that similar to Production Runs don’t get as much love or money as flashier or more exotic ones. As I’ve said before, I prefer them, not just because they tend to be cheaper (usually!) but because of the historical aspect.

Friday, June 10, 2016

More Not-So-News Things

Typical: work gets crazy for a couple of days, and suddenly there’s model horse news everywhere.

First, there’s the Pop-Up Store Stablemate Copacabana, a Decorator on the G3 Running Mustang:

Argh! I was hoping to avoid the Mercado this year, because I haven’t had much luck in the past few Pop-Up Stores. If they significantly up the piece count on it enough that I’ll be able to stroll in Saturday afternoon and pick one up, great. If not, he gets consigned to my want list.

I have too many lines to stand in and too many activities to participate in to suffer for a Stablemate. Even a purple one covered in orange flames.

I think it’s interesting, though, that hobbyists are generally more accepting of crazier or more experimental Deco finishes on Stablemates than they are on larger scale items. Personally, I’d totally be down with the 2014 Birthday Cake paintjob on almost anything:

Second, they’re doing another Test Color Purchase Raffle, and this time around it’s something with a significantly larger fan base than the Cody:

A fleabitten gray Indian Pony. Oh, dear.

Is this going to be a monthly thing now? I don’t know if I can handle that, especially if they get around to the stuff that makes me crazy, like a Pacer, Man o’ War, or a Stretch Morgan. And if is, I hope they throw in a few more affordable pieces in smaller scales along the way, or an occasional giveaway. (Affording it will be a challenge. But gosh, a fleabitten IP?)

I’d hate to see this new thing turn into a de facto two-part event every time: the raffling, then the reselling. I guess all I can say about this one is that I hope one of her many adoring fans (if not me!) straight-up wins her.

And third, I stand corrected: the “new” Sao Paolo mold is actually the Stablemates scale porcelain Esperanza, from the Spirit Collection. That would explain her slightly cartoonish features!

I have a good explanation for missing that: I grew up in an era where all Breyers were plastic, and I still have a hard time seeing or acknowledging Breyers as Breyers that aren’t. And I prefer plastic: I was born clumsy (almost literally!) so anything fragile that enters this residence tends to end up broken or damaged at some point.

Consequently, I only have a small number of Nonplastic pieces – mostly ornaments, and mostly gifts. And while I really dig a couple of those “Breeds of the World” resins, I haven’t been brave enough to buy one, even the deeply discounted ones I see at Tuesday Morning.

But yes, definitely something that came out of left field. Or more descriptively, the parking lot behind the fence beyond left field. Makes me wonder what gets translated into plastic next...

Monday, June 6, 2016

And Now, the Collie


I’m not even sure where to begin with Maurice, the latest Micro Run on the old Lassie/Collie mold. I mean, I saw a Collie Special Run as an inevitability (I think I predicted it on page two of one of the Rodney discussion threads on Blab, back on April 22nd) but I wasn’t expecting another Micro Run so soon, and so close to BreyerFest.

As a somewhat avid collector of the dog molds, of course I want him. Those blue eyes, that sweet face? He’s adorable. He needed to join the rest of his family – Lassie, Jester, and Honey – here with me.

But yeah. No. Again.

The “tools” I rely on normally to compete in the collecting area – my timing, intuition, and deep knowledge base – are of no use or consequence with these Micro Run Purchase Raffles. It’s hard for me to get too excited about them now that acquiring them has become purely a matter of random luck, or money. Since I can’t rely on the former, and I have an uneven supply of the latter… I almost didn’t enter at all.

But hope springs eternal. So I tried. Every day, I tried.

I suppose it’s just the Universe balancing things out: I did get the four “pre-raffle” Micro Runs that came before – and assorted other Buried Treasures and surprises and stuff.

Still doesn’t make it any less of a bummer, though. Especially when it involves things you actively collect and campaign for. And when you actually have a little cash in the Paypal account, for once. (More money for NPOD?)

In the meantime, here’s a scan of a copy of the original sketch of the Lassie, prior to a few minor alterations suggested by Lassie’s licensing agency (Stone Associates – no relation to Sam and Peter Stone, as far as I know):

This sketch is also a useful corrective to some of the naysayers who tend to dismiss Chris Hess’s artistic skills.

Another corrective is that, contrary to Reeves’s copy on the web site, we do know when Lassie was introduced: 1956. Here she is, being featured in the January 1956 issue of Toys & Novelties magazine:

(Click to enlarge)

Rin Tin Tin was introduced at the same time, more or less. But I’ll cover that (and why it’s extremely unlikely we’ll be seeing a Rinty Micro Run) some other time.

Friday, June 3, 2016


Of the One-Day Stablemates this year, the Bucking Horse Bahia is (of course!) my favorite:

I’m trying my hardest to stay on-budget this year, but the temptation is very strong with this one. The cute as a button Rivet mold, in Black Leopard Appaloosa? You got my number, Reeves.

It’s interesting that of the four releases this mold has had since its introduction in 2013, three of them have been very limited (for a Stablemate) items: the BreyerFest 2013 Rivet, the Vintage Club Riptide, and now the BreyerFest 2015 Bahia.

It’s no wonder, then, that its Regular Run Roan “Mustang” release we finally got at the end of last year can still be a bit of a tough customer to find! This mold is like a mini-Esprit, in terms of his early availability. (And yes, the WEG Reiner is another. Sigh.)

The Sao Paolo model is also interesting. It’s not unprecedented that we would get brand new Stablemates molds for BreyerFest – Rivet was a part of a quartet of new molds in 2013, after all – but I was thrown a bit with the randomness of one new mold among the older.

I like his paint job, but I think I’ll wait until I see one in person before I decide whether or not to like-like him.

Molds like Sao Paolo – and some of the upcoming Stablemates Club releases – do present an interesting (or troubling) classification problem.

We used to be able to classify Stablemates releases by “generations” – a group of molds released within a certain timeframe. The “First Generation” or G1 molds consisted of all the Hagen-Renaker releases introduced in 1975 and 1976. The G2s were the first set of new molds, released ca. 1998, and so on.

This terminology carried over from the My Little Pony community, and our hobby has adopted it without much complaint or to-do. Because it worked.

But now that we’re in a new age, where – like Traditional and Classic molds – random new Stablemates molds are going to show up whenever, the classification by generations breaks down. Either we’ll have to start arbitrarily defining new generations, or just give up on classifying later releases altogether.

I prefer the latter to the former. Primarily because general consensuses in the hobby are hard to come by – go ask a half-dozen hobbyists to define what “vintage” means, chronologically, and boggle at the answers.

We can still keep the older classification system for the older Stablemates molds (no reason to abandon it, really) but as far as the newer and more randomly distributed molds, I see no reason to classify them any differently than any other scale’s mold releases, now.