Monday, November 28, 2016

Coco, Coeur de Lion, Swaps et al

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 25, 2016

Traditional Man o' War Cull

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Another Mustang Oddity

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

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

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

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

No, this fellow is something in between.

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

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

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

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Things You Wish For

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Here’s my CollectA collection:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Gray and Silver Linings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Breyer Promoted Smoking?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until now.

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Brown Pinto Western Pony Slip-On Saddle?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 3, 2016

October (Model Horse) Surprises

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Chesapeake, Part III

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(I ate entirely too much on this trip!)

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

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

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