Saturday, December 31, 2016

Picks and Predictions

All those pictures of the Holiday Shermans are making me almost regret not getting one. That’s okay, though, I came home with a decent little haul from the Salvation Army the other day:

I have some interesting things to say about the Stablemates painting kit, but that’s for another day.

I’ve been sort of obsessed with incorporating it into my quilting projects lately, so of course I wasn’t going to turn down a 25-yard spool of giant lime green ric-rac.

The stoneware animals are by a local Michigan artist, and I’m kind of shocked that I bought them as inexpensively as I did, but that’s our local Salvation Army for you. I don’t know if I’m going to keep them yet, or consign them to the sales stash. They are adorable, but the china cabinet’s looking a little crowded.

The blue sari fabric – about three yards – I found the previous week, but I thought I’d include it because “finding a bit of inspiration for the coming year’s BreyerFest” seems to be turning into one of my newer holiday traditions. It’s not quite enough to make a sari (traditionally you need about six) but I do plan on finishing more quilts in the coming year, so an Indian-themed BreyerFest quilt could be a part of that.

Speaking of that, tickets for the event go on sale starting next week, correct?

Generally I’m one of those people who waits until the last minute to buy tickets, depending on the Special Runs offered. Since I’m trying to keep to a tighter budget this year, I might just get it over with and cough up the dough for my one ticket now. And hope if there are any items above and beyond the two allotted to me that I want, they will be unpopular and have plenty of leftovers.

I’ll save myself several months of aggravation and get all of my hopes/dreams/predictions for Special Run items out of the way here and now, too. My predict-o-meter has been somewhat off lately, so take these all with a grain of salt:

The Breyer Elephant mold is of an Indian Elephant, so that’s an obvious choice. The only question here is color; most are assuming either White, or Decorator, but I’d like a fancy Glossy one with lots of shading and detail, and a fancy new Howdah. I’ll be fine with anything, though.

I have no idea what mold the Pop-Up Store Crystal will be, but I’d be surprised if its name is anything other than Koh-i-Noor, for the famous diamond.

Since modern Polo was more or less invented in India, there might be a Polo Pony of some sort. We’ve had a couple of BreyerFest Smarty Polo Ponies lately, so the Classics Polo Pony feels more likely. In a Pinto pattern, if it was my choice to make: that mold has almost always come in either a solid color or some shade of gray.

Something possibly British-themed, to acknowledge India’s history as a British colony. So someone in the Thoroughbred family, maybe?

The famous warhorse Chetak is another potential candidate; he’s described as having a “blue tinge”, which could lend itself to some interesting artistic interpretations.

The Buddha’s horse Kanthaka is another possibility, a White or Aged Gray stallion in Matte or Gloss.

A Baloo and Bagheera set, from Kipling’s The Jungle Book, because someone at Reeves is an unrepentant Disney fan and probably won’t be able to help themselves. I wouldn’t mind this one too much, really, since I really want another Cougar Special Run, and I can always make room for another Bear.

I’d also like to see something that honors the Indian textile industry. If it was me, I would make a two-piece Classics set in pastel colors and decals, one called Paisley, and the other Calico. This wouldn’t be that hard to pull off, since they still have paisley decals from the Bucking Bronco releases a few years back, as well as all the floral motifs from the Blossoms series and Prince of Chintz.

I am also hoping for least one other pony. For no rhyme or reason, I’d like it to be a Galiceno Pony.

Along the same lines, I’d also like to see either a Weather Girl or the pretty new Premier Club Yasmin in some shade of Chestnut (please?)

I won’t offer up any guesses on the Surprise model because other than last year’s Esprit, it’s been almost impossible to predict.

Now to wait and see how wrong I am!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Holiday Shermans

When the “Christmas Surprise” e-mail came through late on December 24, my imagination went into overtime with all of potential ways Reeves could tempt me.

An Elk? A Deer Family? The Zebra? Maybe even another dog, like the Saint Bernard?

Instead, we got a trio of Sherman Morgans:

Since I don’t love the mold as much as others do, and I’m not one to buy to resell, I walked away from the offer with my Paypal account balance intact. A Gold Florentine to match my Silver Filigree Celebration would have been nice, but it being a Gambler’s Choice there was no way I could guarantee it.

(The Silver Filigree Celebration, incidentally, is the only example I have of the revised Sherman Morgan mold; my other three Shermans are all of the original lumpy version with the turd-shaped tail.)

I imagine if he came in a favorite color like the original Freckle Red Roan or the “Silver Dilute Dun” the Web Special Adios Frappe came in, the story would be different. I sometimes hesitate just a bit whenever I see an affordably priced Gloss QVC Special Run of the Justin Morgan, or the Millennium Horse Carpe Diem.

I wouldn’t have hesitated to keep a Silver Charm Celebration either, if I had lucked into one.

It wasn’t all that surprising that the Sherman didn’t sell out by the end of the day: there were 350 of each color, 1050 pieces total, and limited to one per account. That’s a lot of models! I’m not sure he even officially sold out, or they just removed him from the site.

Other than the Grab Bag with the WEG Classics Ruffian in it, I didn’t bite on any of the offers made on the web site this Holiday season. I did put a few items in my shopping cart to see if they qualified for the latest “Free Random Gloss Classic Arabian” offer. They did, and the Free Shipping offer on top of that was tempting.

But still didn’t do it.

One of my hobby resolutions for next year is to get models off the office floor, and that’s going to require another culling of the herd by another five or ten percent. Buying fewer models now will mean fewer models to cull later.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Winter Wonderland and His Hooves

Last week at work, after having to listen to the local radio station that plays Christmas music all day play “Winter Wonderland” for the umpteenth time, I turned to a coworker and said “If they play this song one more time, I swear, someone’s gonna get hurt…”

It’s not that I dislike that song, particularly, but sound repetition drives me crazy.

So what shows up on the Internet this week? Pictures of next year’s Holiday Horse, named (naturally) Winter Wonderland:

The past few Holiday Horses haven’t done much for me. Though I liked the partial Chalky Mulberry Esprit in the Bayberry and Roses set in 2014, the decorations/“costume” it came with screamed “We got such a deal on ribbon this year”. This year’s Woodland Splendor, on the Lonesome Glory, was more my Mother’s style of holiday decorating, not mine.

(Feathers. Always with the feathers…)

But you know what? I love Winter Wonderland. A Pearlescent Palomino Totilas covered in white fake fur and owls? It sounds as absurd as the Holiday Horses that preceded him, but this one somehow works for me. I want to rein in my horse spending a bit more next year, but Winter Wonderland still makes it on my want list.

I especially like the gray hooves, which are a nice Vintage touch. Gray hooves used to be the standard hoof color for Palomino paint jobs, pre-Reeves (ca. 1984/5). There were some exceptions – most notably the Fighting Stallion, Five-Gaiter, and earlier examples of the Rearing Stallion – but if any model was issued in a generic Palomino paint job in the 1970s or 1980s, gray hooves were the norm.

Gray hooves on Palominos were never completely phased out, and they still turn up on releases with solid-colored legs. But tan or pink-hued hooves are now more likely to be seen on legs with socks or stockings.

So that’s why that little touch on Winter Wonderland stood out so much to me.

One thing I’ve found aggravating about some of the more recent Vintage-styled releases is that while they get the general concepts correct, the littlest details often go wrong.

Hoof color has been one of those littlest details. For instance, for some strange reason Reeves can’t grok the idea that Gloss Honey Bays usually came with Black hooves, not Gray ones. The Vintage Club Honey Bay Cantering Welsh Pony, for instance:

Yeah, yeah, I know that several Matte Bays from the 1960s and 1970s came with Gray hooves, like the Grazing Mare and Foal and the Stretched Morgan. But Glosses were almost always Black, darn it!

But they do seem to grasp the overall picture of Vintage Palomino paint jobs, and Winter Wonderland is more evidence of that. (Yes, I am still hoping for a Vintage Club SR in Neon Yellow Matte Palomino.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Libra Duchess

One of the pieces from the Grab Bag that I am definitely keeping is the Zodiac Series Libra, on the Duchess mold:

I think I received an especially well shaded one, and the pink undertones (not visible in any of the promotional pictures that I can recall) are both a nice aesthetic touch and a subtle nod to the nature of the sign itself – balancing out a cool color with a warm one, and a “masculine” color with a “feminine” one.

I’m also keeping her because I was reviewing my collecting goals for the coming year, and I had just about settled on it being the Duchess mold.

I loved her pinto release in the Gato y Mancha set at BreyerFest this year, which in turn spurred my unsuccessful (so far) attempt to acquire the infamous Wildlife Adventure set with the Pink Camo blanket and Baby Gorilla.

The Duchess mold should be just challenging enough to keep me interested and motivated, without taking up too much of either my shelf space or money.  

The only possible frustration I’m seeing is that outside of one release (the #663 Buckskin “Thoroughbred Cross”, ca. 2006-2008) the Duchess mold has almost always been packaged as a part of a set. With the exception of things like the Zodiac Series pieces (that I will probably end up with a complete set of anyway, over time) I’m the kind of person who prefers to keep sets as sets.

Generally that wouldn’t be too much of a problem, except that some of the sets Duchess came in (especially those from the Walmart Mustangs Series) also came with popular and very desirable bits like the Wolf or some of the more modern Classics Foal molds.

My initial searches turned up a lot of sad, stray and stranded Duchesses, and that makes me only want her more.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Highlander Haflinger

I’m feeling so sorry for the Highland Pony release on the old Haflinger mold:

She really does have a lovely paintjob, but as I feared, it wasn’t enough to rescue her from being discontinued for next year – along with fellow “Best of British” series alums the Welsh Cob (on the Llanarth True Briton), the Shetland Pony and the Connemara Pony Newsworthy.

It wasn’t a surprise, though; in spite of the fact that there have been quite a few “collectible” Haflingers issued over the years, it has generated very little love for the mold among hobbyists in general.

The original 156 Haflinger comes in multiple – though minor – variations, mostly involving the shade of Chestnut it comes in, and markings. (This release can, on very rare occasions, be found with airbrushed stockings.)

Of the rarities, there’s the Gloss variation of the #1483 Highland Pony, made for the 2012 BreyerFest Youth/Child Shows, the Gloss Apricot Dun prize model for the 2005 BreyerFest Sceptre Contest, and the slightly modified reissue of the RDA Strikey (sans “brand”) made for the 2010 WEG in Kentucky.

Even though all of those releases were under 50 pieces – and there were only 18 made of the WEG Haflinger! – the most desirable Haflinger of them all is still the 1997 Christmas release of Snowball:

Snowball is popular because outside of being the first in the ongoing series of Holiday Horses, the release was cut short due to production issues with the tack. They disappeared rather quickly in stores, which cause a bit of a run on them right from the get-go; judging from the recent sales on eBay, demand still seems pretty solid nearly 20 years on.

Like the Highland Pony, Snowball came a Chalky finish, albeit without the extensive shading or dappling. Snowball wasn’t unique: many Alabasters from that time period came in a Chalky or semi-Chalky finish, like the Black Stallion release Equus.

In Snowball’s case, that bright white finish wasn’t merely an aesthetic choice, but a practical one. The matte and opaque Chalky finish would help keep them from turning into… yellow(ed) Snowballs.

I haven’t made a decision yet on keeping this pony; I’m already keeping several pieces from that Grab Bag, and I don’t really want to add more. Even if I did decide to let it go now, busy season is coming up at work, and I won’t have much time to do much selling.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The 500 Club

I had no trouble filling up my shopping cart to get a Glossy Cosette offered on that “Collector Appreciation Day” earlier this week, but I didn’t go through with it. Partly it was because I managed to score something wonderful in my Grab Bag Box:

Any of the four Classics issued for the 2014 WEG would have been fine – the Chestnut Johar, the Bay Frolicking Quarter Horse Stallion, the Black Warmblood Mare, and the Alabaster Classics Ruffian – and all four have shown up in the #1 Grab Bag Assortments.

As my favorite among the four, however, the Ruffian one was something I was actively pursuing at BreyerFest this year. Having her show up on my doorstep helped make up for some of the bad fortune/timing I’ve been having with eBay auctions over the past week.

(I wasn’t quite as lucky with the Sherman Morgan in the lot: just another “normal” Silver Filigree there.)

Both the Glossy Cosette and the 2014 WEG Classics were issued in runs of 500 pieces. Nowadays collectors consider 500-piece Special Runs to be relatively common – heck, anything over 100 pieces, really – but quantity alone is rarely the sole determinant of rarity or value.

I’ve had a number of Classic Arabians on my sales list the past couple of years, but outside of body-box quality pieces, they’ve been a tough sell. The collectors who grew up with them (like yours truly) already have them, and newer collectors aren’t all that into them.

That’s the reason why I took a pass on the original Cosette: there is no sense of urgency. The Matte version has been available to the general public on the Breyer web site for a while now, manufactured in a quantity sufficiently large enough that they were able to gloss 500 of them for the offer. She seems almost as common and familiar as any other Regular Run item.

The way the Gloss Cosette offer was structured – you had to buy a hundred dollars of qualifying items – meant that there will be leftovers. They will turn up elsewhere, maybe even in future Grab Bags that will also come with a bunch of discounted stuff I already wanted!

Like the 2014 WEG Classics. But even though those items were also issued in runs of 500, on molds that are also modestly but not wildly popular, there’s definitely a sense that those models are more desirable – or at least harder to come by – than the Classic Arabian releases, Matte or Gloss, will ever be.

The 2014 WEG Classics were distributed at the event in France, and then disappeared (warehoused, apparently!) You could get them from some sellers overseas, but the shipping was prohibitive for many of us. Some of the WEG Stablemates did make it over here, but the Classics largely did not.

Now that they’re finally letting some of them go in the Grab Bags, and presumably in other places or in other offers or situations, the perceived rarity of the WEG Classics may change. Hobbyists will get blasé about them, too, and then move on to the next newest or hottest thing.

I’ll just keep buying and keeping what I like, rare or not.  

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Fell Pony Emma

I’m just having the hardest time focusing on anything right now. I don’t know if it’s a consequence of the weather or this cold that’s been aggravating me for the past several days, but I’m beginning to get really annoyed by my inability to get anything done.

So today I’ll take it easy on the blog front and just pause to admire a recent acquisition, the Chasing the Chesapeake Special Run Emma, Black-Eyed Susan:

She was the only one of the Event SRs that made me panic a little bit; all the Special Runs were lovely, but I felt a burning need to bring the little Emma home.

I probably should not have worried. She had the highest piece count (76) outside of the Mason, and most were hoping for the popular Brishen Sagamore Rye (60) or the scarce Shire Testudo (50). If I was going to get one of the not-a-Masons, it was going to be her. With my luck, though, nothing is ever a guarantee...

The mold only came out about a year ago, so there’s not really much to say about it from an historical perspective.

Just about the only little tidbit I can add is that a Sample of the original black Carltonlima Emma was used as a table decoration in the Tailgating Tent at the Chesapeake Event. She was looking pretty rough, so I doubt most even gave her a second look. (Except me, because I am me.)

It seems obvious to me now that, duh, that’s what some of the Samples knocking around the Reeves office end up doing: they become table decorations for events, public and private. So keep that in mind the next time they post pictures of a party or event that they participated in.

(I’m still pining for one of those Cremello Belgians they used as centerpieces at some equestrian book event a few years back. Old Goliaths from the warehouse, or something else? Argh!)

She’s small, shaggy and adorable, so I doubt I’ll be able to keep my little Emma collection complete for long. While I think it’s more likely we’ll see the Galiceno Pony instead of the Emma as a BreyerFest SR next year, India was a British colony. I’m pretty sure there’s going to be at least one British-themed piece to commemorate that.

And Emma is a very British little (Fell) Pony.

So, maybe.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Winter Surprises

No Olaf for me – I didn’t even have a choice in the matter, since I got home from work about 15-20 minutes after they sold out. If it had been the day before (when I was home earlier than usual) or the day after (my day off) the situation might have been different.

Or if they had announced it when they had usually announced these sort of things – early afternoons or evenings…

…but if there’s been anything consistent about these December Surprises, it’s their complete inconsistency. We’ve had Giveaways (the War Horse), Vault Sales, Christmas Day Sales, Boxing Day Sales, Micro Runs, 350-piece Purchase Raffles, 350-piece Direct Purchase items, Gambler’s Choices, Christmas Decos, Black Friday Surprises and Gifts with Purchase Offers.

I take some consolation in having mixed feelings about the release itself.

To deal with some of my space issues here, I had sold off a couple Longhorns, and I am considering letting go of a couple more. He really is one of the shelf-hoggiest of shelf hogs, and I’d like to devote that space to other Nonhorse molds I’m currently more interested in – namely, the Dogs and the Deer Family. So he was not a must-have for me.

It seemed like an odd mold choice, too, as the Longhorn Bull isn’t something I’d associate with either cooler climes or Holiday themes. The name grates me a little, but that’s strictly a personal thing – whomever it is on Team Breyer that’s a big fan of the Disney references, I wish they’d give it a rest.

On the plus side, the money I might have spent on Olaf I got to spend on something else – a Grab Bag! I wasn’t going to buy one, initially – my sales inventory is almost at a manageable level here, finally, and I didn’t want to risk adding to it so soon. But one of the Grab Bags (#1) had the newer Deer Family, the Eve and Claus Mare and Foal set, and some of the leftover WEG 2014 Special Run Classics, and since those were all things I had been actively eyeing before, it was a no-brainer.

And I get another shot at a Silver Sherman Morgan too. (Third time’s the Charm? Literally, maybe?)

The color on the Olaf pretty though – I think I’ve made it abundantly clear this year that I do love me some Gloss Alabaster – and the fact that it is a 350-piece run, and not a 40-piece one is oddly encouraging. That means if I find some shelf space, and one at an affordable price (IOW: not too far off the issue price) six months or a year down the road, it might be doable.

I am curious if Olaf was made from bodies leftover from the 2007 BreyerFest Special Run Alamo – as I suspect the 2009 Lone Star Experience Wranglers were – or if this is a precursor to either another Special Run or Regular Run Longhorn in the near future.

Time will tell, I guess.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

My Alabaster Cantering Welsh Pony

I’ve been trying to get caught up in my paperwork, but with little success; every time I pick up a horse to examine it, I end up losing valuable time just staring at the darn thing. One that’s been particularly hard to get past has been my Alabaster Vintage Club Cantering Welsh Pony My Girl:

When they were first announced, I was hoping to get the Palomino, but I have to say that I am exceedingly pleased that I received the Alabaster instead. In fact, she’s been such a distraction in my office that I’ve had to pack her back in her box and tuck her away from my sometimes less-than-dainty fingers.

The only minor quibble I had with her – and the original reason I was hesitant to deem the Alabaster my first choice – was that she didn’t have much in the way of body shading as the original White and Alabaster releases did, especially examples from the early 1960s. Even last year’s now highly-coveted Bonus Vintage Club Stablemate Bravo had some!

But when I opened her up, that lack of body shading was forgiven. In fact, she reminded me a lot of the Semi-Chalky Alabaster Running Mare I picked up last year, who has also become another fast favorite of mine. (Her yellowy parts whitened up real nice in the window, by the way!)

In every other respect they nailed the color, other than the name of the color on the box itself. As I explained earlier this year (first in the Sampler, then here) it should have been “White”.

I only finally figured that little nugget of trivia out this year – that the term “Gloss Alabaster” is a recent invention, and that in the 1960s those models were almost always labeled “White” – so that mistake, as it were, is easily forgiven.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

In a Name

Calm down, everyone: Tuesday’s special offer on Breyer’s web site was just overstock of last year’s Tractor Supply Special Jesse, given the more generic name “Palomino Quarter Horse”. Everything else appears to be exactly the same, even the issue number:

They did the same thing with the 2012 Mid-States Special Run Bay Roan Roxy Constellations, too, if you recall.

I briefly thought of ordering one – the handful of Jesses that I found around here were underwhelming – considering the possibility that there might be some of the Chalky variation ones in the overstock.

But then they sold out, and that temptation went away. More money for the potential surprises of December, I guess!

These re-releases are a nice offer for people who don’t have these participating retailers near them, or who wouldn’t dare brave the Breyer Sales Tent/NPOD for one either (where these kinds of overstocks often go).

I don’t have any Mid-States retailers within a reasonable driving distance, for instance; if I hadn’t already acquired a Constellation, I might have taken up the offer on the web site.

(Ironically, mine is a Sample from the NPOD!)

But historically speaking, this is little more than an interesting footnote, kind of like this one:

Yes, in some – but not all – early Breyer ephemera, the Running Mare and Foal were also known as the Running Arabian Mare and Foal. (This particular snippet is from the 1964 Price List.)