Wednesday, August 31, 2016

That Article

Lots of stuff happened in the past few days – yes, I’m aware of the new releases and I’ll have something about the “Gold Chestnut” Valegro next post – but this apparently showed up today and it’s worth a dissection here:

Yes, an article about BreyerFest on Gizmodo, of all places. Although I have been interviewed and filmed for media pieces before, I wasn’t for this one. My social media profile is a little outside of Gizmodo’s comfort zone, I guess: I don’t have an Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube account, and not really interested either.

Which apparently makes me some sort of dinosaur? I was busy trying to have a good time. (Mostly a success.)

As you may know, I do not “hide” my participation in this hobby; if anyone asks me about it, I tell them about it in the same tone and terms any one would use to describe any other avocation, like knitting, sharpshooting or baseball card collecting.

If you act ashamed about something, people are going to assume – rightly or wrongly – that there might be something there to be ashamed about. But there isn’t and I’m not.

Sure, there’s lots of weirdness, and arcane language, and some people do have a hard time wrapping their heads around the concepts like live showing and breeding (pedigree assignment for you noobs). But you get that with any activity.

I’ve been to my fair share of Comicons and conventions for other things. I’ve seen stuff.

That being said, the article was … interesting. It was better than most “an outsider looks in” articles I’ve seen (I have a collection of those in my archive, too!) though there was strange thread of tech-shaming in it – which is a bit odd, considering the hobby’s early and enthusiastic adoption of the Internet.

Just because a chunk of us don’t participate in whatever social media form is the “it” medium of the moment doesn’t mean we’re irrelevant or Luddites.

Some of the details were wrong – that isn’t that big a deal really – but some of the interpretations and observations were a little out there, and that was. (I’m not sure if they spoke to any actual Breyer/Reeves people? I couldn’t tell.)

And the tone – well, I’m one of the few that apparently saw it as a little off; trying a touch too hard to be clever in sort of a slightly detached anthropological way. 

Articles of that type have a tendency to objectify people or groups into odd little curios to be studied, which is generally not a good thing. Especially since this hobby, in some ways, is about exactly the opposite: investing personalities and life into our “curios”.

The comments are the usual minefield, too. (More “Breyers were better back in the day” nonsense? I can’t even… I was there dudes, no they weren’t!)

But it was mostly okay. A good jumping point, if you will: if anyone has come here from there, feel free to peruse mine, as well. It’s a little weird and obsessive at points, but it gives me joy, sometimes at the most unexpected moments.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Necessity of Cliff Diving

More bodies from the local Salvation Army –

The Traditional Black Beauty was a nice one, by late 1970s/early 1980s standards: the cleanly masked star, good seams, not tippy at all, and has that attractive “dry matte” finish you don’t run across very often. And he’s the four-stocking version, earliest of the multiple variations of the long-running (1979-1988) #89 release.

But not rarest. The rarest would be the left foresock version, seen almost exclusively on his box:

This was not the first version of the box: the first version had the four stocking variation. It was one of the rare instances where Breyer actually updated the artwork on the box to more accurately reflect the horse inside. Somewhat, of course: while all subsequent Black Beauties did have a single sock, the placement varied. And very rarely appeared on the left fore. (How rare? I cannot remember the last time I saw one for sale.)

Alas, the previous owner took it upon her- or himself and “neatened” up the stockings with some nail polish remover – aka slightly watered down Acetone, which is the stuff they use to fuse freshly-molded pieces together to make fully functional Breyers. And so he goes, along with his dinged-up jumping friend, into the body box.

As much as the mold aggravates me – mostly because he’s such a shelf hog – he’s another one of those underappreciated Hess molds with a lot of customizing potential.

But not for me. The irony of my again-plentiful body box is that most of my creative efforts for the time being are of the sewing and quilting variety. Some clean and empty floor space made itself available in the house, and I want to take advantage of it while I can to finish a few of the bigger projects.  

The other project I have to focus on: making this Chasing the Chesapeake thing happen.

Yep, silly me bought a dang ticket.

My other rationalization for doing this – aside from all of the others I articulated earlier – was that I think I need to do this to get myself out of the personal funk I’ve found myself in this year.

My other Breyer-related travel has become almost routine. I’ve been to Kentucky enough that it almost feels like my second residence, and last year’s Event was my fifth trip to the Chicago area. But I’ve been to the East Coast exactly once – back in 1992, again for a Breyer-thing – and all the travel arrangements were made for me then.

Other than it being also a Breyer-thing, this is going to be an entirely new experience for me, almost from the ground up. Drive or Fly? Roommates? Travel companions? None of this is set in stone. I’m not quite sure where to even begin.

It’s both thrilling and terrifying, like diving off a cliff.

(IOW yes, I’m looking for roommates and travel companions. Blab me, e-mail me, comment below if you have any help to offer in these areas.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Shrinky Stablemates

Ever have one of those days where you have all the time in the world, and you can’t get one darn thing done?

Today was that day for me. Grr. Argh.

But so far I’ve managed to resist the temptation of the BreyerFest Leftover Sale, so perhaps Thursday will be a better day.

Yes, I’m deciding to go for a Chesapeake ticket. I figure all of the Events from this point forward will be even further away and less accessible, aside from any more potential Factory-centered Events, so I might as well give it a shot. I’ll be home most of the day to monitor the availability anyway.

If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. The particulars I will sort out, if it does.

Here’s a little something I picked up at the flea market just before Kentucky – and I do mean little: a Shrinky Stablemates Bay Morgan Stallion!

The shrinkage is a little more noticeable in this photograph:

Yep, Shrinky Stablemates do exist. What’s fascinating about them is that since they are (by and large) molded out of solid acetate, they pretty much shrink at a consistent rate all over.

There is very little bending, warping or any other physical distortions, aside from the color shifting: they just get smaller and more adorable.

How much smaller, I don’t know. I guess I’ll be able to find out, now!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Mustang with the Good Hair

I recently purchased a lot of models from the early to mid-1970s; I was hoping for a Chalky or two in the bunch but alas, no such luck. Fortunately, it didn’t cost me much, and there was one unexpected keeper in the bunch:

This #87 Buckskin Mustang epitomizes everything that was both good, and bad, about Breyer models of the 1970s. That would be the era that I grew up in, Breyer-wise.

The Bad: his shading is fuzzy and inconsistent, there’s overspray in unexpected places, his seams are rough and punctuated by random gouges, and he has a factory-bent back leg that makes him lean at a rather precipitous angle.

The Good: look at that mane!

He’s got spit curls!

There was a lot of variation in the way the Buckskin Mustang’s mane was painted over the years: it’s been loosely airbrushed, tightly airbrushed, and it has had a couple of different painting masks/stencils. This release was in production for about 25 years, so variation of that sort is not only not unusual, it is to be expected.

I’ve seen, and owned, Buckskin Mustangs with tightly airbrushed manes before. But the quality of the airbrushing on this fellow – well, I haven’t quite seen its like before. It’s delicate, playful, and almost calligraphic.

Was someone in the painting department showing off? Bored? Or had a particularly good lunch that day?

No matter. They took what would have been a standard, barely-out-of-body-box quality Mustang and turned him into a genuine piece of art.

So of course I have to keep him.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Running, Jumping, Crunching

Earlier this week I ran my personal budget numbers; it’s not that anything is necessarily amiss, but this does tend to be my most expensive time of the year. I was hoping to see if there was room for some of the surprises that Reeves inevitably throws out. Because I had a feeling they were planning some doozies.

Then not one, but two of those doozies got thrown at us this very week: an unusually plentiful BreyerFest Leftover sale, and news of the next Exclusive Event.

The Leftover Sale is a bit different this time, in that they posted items not just from this year, but from the past several years – including pieces like Tunbridge Wells, Aintree, Champagne Wishes, and the Silver Anniversary Stablemates – and some were also discounted, sometimes rather deeply (the porcelain Dances with Wolves is only $35? Really?)

Depending on how a few pending deals go this weekend, I might indulge myself, especially since it looks like the weather is going to put a kibosh on flea marketing over the next few days.

The Exclusive Event – “Chasing the Chesapeake” – well, it’s theoretically possible. Timing isn’t an issue, since my job is very flexible in that regard, but everything else is iffy. With money being the biggest if.

On the plus side: it’d be an opportunity to have a “do over” of the less-than-optimal Chicago event; I already have a (hilarious) costume idea in mind; third, it’s drivable (though I’d do a rental) and fourth: Michael Matz!

Earlier this week, I was getting a little bit of work done on the car (again, routine stuff, nothing to worry about) and while I was waiting, I managed to catch some coverage Team Show Jumping at the Olympics – and of Cortes ‘C’, whose model is one of the ones I was hoping to schedule into my budget for the rest of the year.

(BTW: Get well soon, Tiny!)

Anyway, it made me flashback to the early 1980s. One of the perks of living in the Detroit area was being able to catch Canadian programming locally; this included some slightly demented children’s shows (Mr. Dressup, anyone?) and coverage of sporting events that U.S. stations didn’t deem worthy of airtime, like darts and curling.

That also included a lot of equestrian events. Anyway, one day I was home by myself and watching some show jumping – I can’t remember what event it was, specifically. The first horse I saw was Jet Run (and Michael Matz, of course).

This was shortly after Breyer had released the USET Gift Set in 1980; I had read about them, but hadn’t seen them in actual (live!) action before. So I was dorked out beyond words. I think that was all I talked about for the rest of the day, much to my family’s chagrin. (Me: “I saw Jet Run on TV today!!” The Rest of the Family: “What on Earth are you talking about?”)

Anyway. So there’s all that.

But the money and the planning are a huge issue, and tied to the reservations I have about these “Exclusive Events” in general. Especially now that they seem to be a yearly thing.

(In short: they run contrary to my notion of the hobby being a being a more egalitarian and affordable alternative to the “real” horse world. But I don’t have the energy for that conversation today.)

I have a lot of time off in the next couple of weeks – it’s always a bit slow this time of year at work – to crunch more numbers and see if I can make it more doable. If anyone wants to volunteer to carpool or splitsies on a room, let me know. It might help.

Monday, August 15, 2016


The flea market yesterday was a bit of a bust, for a variety of reasons. The past few weeks have been pretty good overall, so I can’t complain too much. Take, for example, a recent Salvation Army store haul:

Yes, that Dachshund is a Hagen-Renaker Brunhilda – with a broken leg and tail, but still a keeper. It’s been a little while since I’ve found an H-R Pedigree Dog, in any condition, and she has a sweet and nicely detailed face. (FWIW, I prefer them “pre-broken” anyway: I am clumsy and it takes the pressure off.)

While most of my most recent purchases will end up on my sales list – because my other rationalization for shopping is “I need inventory!” – nothing I’ve purchased will make me any serious money. Lots of bodies and mid-range Traditionals and Classics; I think the best piece, aside from Brunhilda, was an early and near mint Kelso with no mold mark. (Also not a keeper, but not for sale, yet.)

Not that there hasn’t been temptation to buy strictly for myself: the Appaloosa Classics Draft Horse Triton who appeared on the Breyer web site recently is adorable. He reminds me a lot of another recent release, the Let’s Go Riding – English Set Appaloosa Pluto:

I call this painting technique “splash dotting” as opposed to “splash spotting” because the spots look like dots. Reeves developed this technique – basically a much slower and more controlled splattering – to reduce the incidence of streaky spots that used to plague Dappled and Appaloosa paint jobs in the 1970s and 1980s.

Unfortunately, it turned out that this technique wasn’t any more realistic that the original splash-spotting: streaks were replaced with a handful of randomly scattered polka dots.

It looks like with the release of Triton – who is also Gloss, with metallic blue ribbons – Reeves may be acknowledging and embracing splash dotting as another technique in their Decorator arsenal, just as they now have with the original Freckle Red Roans and the Matte Shaded Resist Dapple Grays of the 1970s.

Those latter two colors, incidentally, were among the earliest attempts by Breyer to create more “realistic” paintjobs, per hobbyist demand. While they might not be realistic by today’s standards, they are still appealing on both a decorative and nostalgic level.

So yeah, bring on the polka-dotted ponies! (Just not right now for me, I need to buy some new tires soon.)

Friday, August 12, 2016


I am not really understanding the antagonism over the latest Stablemates Club release Ricochet, the Pink Pearl Florentine Decorator G3 Andalusian:

I dislike the gender stereotyping of Pink as a “girly” color as much as the next person, and I don’t wear it personally because I look terrible in it, but I don’t hate it. There are some colors I like less than others – Magenta, ahem – but I don’t shy away from any of them as an artist.

Whatever works, works. (I’ve found it to be a very versatile color in my quilting projects: it works especially well with browns, yellows, and neutrals.)

Ricochet is not the first official, non-accidental production run model in some shade of Pink: come to think of it, we’ve had a lot.

Off the top of my head… we’ve had Color Crazy Stablemates, the 2011 BreyerFest Fairytails Flora, the 2014 BreyerFest Stablemate Birthday Cake, the Breast Cancer Awareness Horses, pieces in both the Blossoms and Zodiac series, and of course the notorious Pink Poodle Cotton Candy, on the Small Poodle mold:

Most recently – this year, in fact – we’ve also had the Mini Whinnies Blind Bag Surprise Landing Jumper Strawberry.

While most Pink Breyers are of recent origin, one Pink piece is among the oldest, and rarest: the Pink Elephant, made very briefly in 1958. It was probably made from a batch of pink-colored Tenite purchased for the then-unlaunched Small Poodle mold.

I think. It’s what makes sense from the evidence, since Test pieces of the original Small Poodle mold seem to indicate that they were intended to release it in Pink and Light Blue. (The former being the inspiration for Cotton Candy!)

It would also explain why they’d release an Elephant, otherwise inexplicably, in Blue instead of a more logical color like White.

(Yeah, I saw that Test Color White Elephant on eBay a while back. Sigh. Odds are pretty good for an Elephant Special Run for next year’s Indian-themed ‘Fest, so here’s hoping…)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Gloss Namib

My draws for the ticket line at BreyerFest the past few years have been bad – I can’t recall the last time I was even in the front half of the line – so I did not expect to get, and did not get, the Funky Brown Pegasus.

That did sell out easily because it was – as I said – a low piece run and a Pegasus.

I haven’t been having much luck in the Gloss department, either, but I did manage to at least get a Gloss Namib, who was the designated 50/50 Gloss-Matte Split model this year:

She looked beautiful both ways, and I would have been content with the Matte, but it was nice to get one “surprise” Gloss this year, even if I had a 50-50 chance all along, technically.

It’s interesting that this marks the third year in a row at BreyerFest that we’ve had a Gloss Dark Bay Special Run: in 2014 it was one of the Glossy Surprise SR Nokota Horses, and in 2015 it was the Ashquar Ganache.

Is it a coincidence, or a consequence of the feedback from buyers? I’m definitely not complaining – third time was the charm for me, yay! – but I think it’s worth noting.

While she didn’t sell out while the ticket time were running, she did sell out when the leftovers went on sale Sunday afternoon. So while she might not have been everyone’s first choice, she was apparently a lot of people’s second.

Reeves did a fairly good job this year managing the inventory this year; after everyone with tickets had their share, and then the leftovers, only three items had any significant leftovers to spare: the bull Zebu, Furano, and the Mamacita y Chico set.

The Nonhorse molds have been hit or miss the past few years, so leftovers on Zebu weren’t too shocking. But the Make a Wish mold (Furano) is really hot right now, and Mare and Foal sets have tended to sell well at BreyerFest in general. I thought for sure those two would be the sellouts, with the Namib and Bozeman being the ones with leftovers.

Again, worth noting: if history is any guide, it’s the items that don’t immediately sell out that become hot ticket items down the road (see also: most of the stuff that ends up at Tuesday Morning).

It’s unlikely I’ll bite if and when the leftovers go on sale online. I’m trying to lay off the retail purchases for the time being. I tend to remain stuck in “shopping mode” for a couple of months after BreyerFest, and that sometimes gets me in trouble.

(Though if the past few days are any indication, going the “nonretail” route isn’t going to be much more help!)

It helps that I’m currently a bit cool on those molds right now, too, though it might just be a matter of the right color and finish at the right time that correct that.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Black Spotted Appaloosa Gelding

I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather the past few days (this allergy season has been hitting me like a sledgehammer) so you’re getting something short post today.

Here is another one of the handful of nonretail/nonstore acquisitions I made at BreyerFest this year. Technically he’s a body, and shouldn’t be anything to write home about, but can you see why I was so excited to make this Appaloosa Gelding’s acquaintance?

Check out the spots on his butt – they’re dark brown/black, not the standard Chestnut! They are the same paint color as his halter, as opposed to more typical Geldings, whose spots are the same darker shade of Chestnut color as the mane and tail.

It’s a known variation, but definitely not a common one. I’m not sure how he fits into the Appaloosa Gelding’s variation chronology. Most (but not all) vintage Breyer paint jobs tend to get simpler and less sophisticated over time, not more complex; judging from the overall look and characteristics of this example, I’m thinking closer to the beginning of his run (1971) as opposed to near the end (1980).

He’s been a “back burner” want of mine for a while, until I spotted him – naturally! – in a body box at BreyerFest.

Alas, I didn’t walk away with him when I found him originally, because (silly me) I didn’t have my money on me at the time. When I went back, he was gone, so I assumed someone else noticed how special he was. (I am not the only one who knows some of the greatest finds at BreyerFest are to be found in body boxes!)

To make a long story short – because the allergy meds are starting to kick in – he still managed to find his way to me. While he might not have he same flash or backstory as, the Gold Charm Man o’ War, his acquisition will be just as treasured a memory.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Winning and Losing

Here’s a picture of my diorama entry. As you might have guessed by now, it was not a winner:

There’s a moment when I’m turning in an entry or getting ready to enter a contest when I know that I have definitively lost. With my dioramas, it’s become the moment when someone tells me “It’s so pretty, I hope you win.”

I thank them for the compliment, but hope that they don’t see that look behind my eyes that says “There goes another one down the tubes…”

In spite of my inability to crack the diorama formula (I don’t care what anybody says: I don’t think there is one!) at least I enjoyed the process this year. Papier-mache has been a favorite medium of mine since elementary school: I have about a half-dozen other papier-mache sculptures in my bedroom at the moment, and once even built a life-sized sculpture of the Loch Ness Monster for a movie theater promotion.

Other than some fresh paint and a matching Stablemate, I had all of these supplies already on hand, which is either an awesome or terrifying testament to the size and depth of my craft stash.

I was going to go a bit crazier with it – add a couple of sharks, some fancy raised letters, at least one more surfer, maybe a little blood on the trident – but time and ambition ran out. I doubt any of that would have helped, and I still think it turned out pretty amazing.

But the judges did not think so. Sometimes I wonder if the results would have turned out differently if I had gone with my original low-effort plan: “Shake n Bake” a random Classic with a ton of glitter, glue it to a piece of cardboard covered in feathers, and call it a day.

I got the same results in the Costume Contest: nada. The moment I knew I lost there was backstage when the professional samba band that Reeves had hired complimented me on my outfit and asked me where I had gotten my Bahia dress.

Too authentic again, argh!

Then a photographer took my photo, and that’s the moment I knew I was done for, and had to resist the urge to bolt for the door. That one didn’t take too much out of my time or budget either, but still? A bummer.

Moreso if my picture turns up anywhere on the Breyer web site. I know the person who selects the photos for the web site generally doesn’t know the winners from the losers, but the fact that such a high percentage of the pictures they use to advertise the contests show losing entries has to say something about the apparent randomness of the judging process.

I did walk away with this beauty, however:

The Volunteer Model #711468 Caipirinha, named after Brazil’s national cocktail. I totally whiffed on predicting this one – I assumed Gloss, Vintage, Decorator, and he’s Matte, Premier Club mold, and Realistic – but I am not complaining. He’s beautiful!

I had been mulling over picking up a Cortes C as my first Carrick, because I was struck by how great he looks in that color. But Dappled Fleabitten Rose Gray Minimal Pinto? Ooh, boy. A more than acceptable substitute.

I think it’s interesting that the Volunteer Model has evolved from something desirable because of its rarity and exclusivity – the earliest Volunteer Specials had piece runs under 40 – to something desirable because of its detail and quality.

It makes sense on a number of levels. First and in spite of protestations to the contrary on the Internet, Reeves is far better at this painting thing than they were 20 some years ago. And second, now that the piece counts are significantly higher (163 for the Carrick) something else has to be done to make it “special” again, because for some hobbyists nowadays, 163 pieces is too common and possibly not sufficient incentive to volunteer.

Which, frankly, kind of blows my mind, but then again, I’d probably volunteer for a free t-shirt and a sub, so what do I know?

So anyway, in conclusion: I didn’t win anything this year, but I still walked away from BreyerFest with two really spectacular keepers.

So, not bad, BreyerFest. Other than this Diorama Contest thing.

I will conquer you again, I swear it.