Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A New Decorator Color? On Geronimo?

I had a tiny bit of free time over the weekend, and it seemed like as good a time as any to get caught up a bit on paperwork – and do a bit of unboxing!

Yep, I still hadn’t unboxed stuff from BreyerFest last year. It’s not out of a lack of interest – I love Translucents, and my Auriverde! – but of time, space and priorities. (In other words, the usual nonsense.)

There is nothing particularly noteworthy to say about the Auriverde, other than I wish I had some sunny window space for him; all that is currently occupied by other models more in need of the sun.

Some of the first hints and inklings of this year’s BreyerFest Special Run lineup have been announced in the past few days – a blog post that specifically references “polo ponies” and of course, a sneak peek of what appears to be a Geronimo:

Interesting! I haven’t had a chance to examine a Geronimo extensively or in-the-round yet – all three releases so far (the Premier Club release, last year’s Custom Contest Prize Guerreiro, and the Raffle Model Areia) are all either a little or a lot out of my price range. There is a fourth release on the mold coming named Bandera, so that lack of familiarity with the mold will likely change soon.

At first I thought Bandera was going to be a slighty-more-metallic-than-average Chestnut, but it looks like Reeves might be doing a full-on Copper patina with him.

We’ve had “Ageless Bronze” pieces in the past – like the #1102 Durango on the Smoky, and the #832 Hyksos on the Black Stallion – and other metallics in whole or part (some even made with/of actual metal!), but I think this the first time they’ve released a model that actually looks like a pot metal carnival prize horse.

Which is not a criticism – I kind of like it! At the very least, I am intrigued. If that is actually the case or intent, I would absolutely love to see future releases on something a little old-fashioned and/or Western-y, like the Western Pony or Prancing Horse, or the good old (and little seen) #36 Racehorse mold.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Soap and Sunshine

Here’s an updated picture of those two Gloss Alabaster Family Arabians that came in an especially dirty box lot a while back:

Originally I was going to leave them as-is, as an “ultimate” example of grubbiness, but after nearly a year of their sad faces peering over the monitor in my office, I had to do something.

They still have a ways to go in the unyellowing process, but here’s what the other side still looks like, to give you an idea of how far they have come:

You might think that’s bad, but it’s a considerable improvement over what they originally looked like before they even hit the bathtub:

They were literally so grimy you could not even tell they were Gloss! The grime was so thick in spots that it actually came off in chunks, which kind of freaked me out a little bit at first. Was something else coming off as well?

Nope, just years of neglect.

And it really didn’t take much serious effort, beyond a little soap, sunshine, and patience. (No actual bleach in this case: it tends to do more harm than good on Gloss Finishes.)

In the weeks that they’ve resided in my bedroom window, I’ve kind of gotten attached to these two; they were slated for my sales list after rehab, but right now it’s 50-50 on whether or not they’ll stay.

I already have a really nice Gloss Mare, and several superlative Gloss Foals (because of my obsession with tracking ear/mold variations on the Foal mold), so I shouldn’t. Since Family Arabians have been trending up of late – especially now, with a Family Arabian Stallion in the Vintage Club lineup this year – finding them a new home shouldn’t be hard.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Unfinished or Unpainted?

No luck in the local Walmart Stablemates hunt so far; it looks like that experiment/promotion may be a little more limited than we imagined.

C’est La Vie.

The past few days at work have been slow going, and a new shiny thing would have been a nice distraction. I’ll just have to distract myself with other things.

Speaking of Stablemates, here’s that Stablemates Painting Kit I found a little while back at the local Salvation Army. Complete with all the painting bits too, remarkably!

The models in these kits may be unpainted, but they are not raw or unfinished. They’ve been trimmed, cleaned, and the surface lightly prepped/primed to accept paint. Painting is just one step in the production process, albeit the finishing one.

I don’t have any true Factory Unpainted pieces out right now to show you the differences, and it might not be that helpful anyway. Like Chalkies, true Factory Unpainteds can be difficult to photograph, with nuances that are probably best demonstrated with an in-person examination or comparison.

Ironically, these early Test Color Quarter Horse Mares may be most helpful here, since I suspect they were Preproduction pieces that didn’t go through the full finishing process before they had a paint job slapped on them. The paint job caught and accentuated all the ridges and roughness of the back seam:

The unfinished nature of the seam is especially visible on the example on the left. Most of this roughness wasn’t from the mold itself, but from the acetone used to melt and soften the edges prior to assembly.

Most (but not all!) Stablemates come out of the mold solid, so they wouldn’t necessarily have this kind of problem to deal with. Most of the molding issues with Stablemates would be with sink marks (indentations caused by overheated plastic), mold flow lines (squiggly lines on the surface of the plastic), and flashing (rough extruded edges at the seams).

Sink marks can’t really be fixed or finished away, but mold flow lines and flashing can, to a degree.

So this is why I wince a little whenever I read complaints about newer releases that are either mostly or extensively white, as somehow being less finished or less complete. Perhaps, but there’s still a lot of work that goes into getting a model to that state in the first place!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Single Year Releases

Here she is, my newest Duchess:

That’s the #62006 Pinto Sport Horse and Foal set. It’s one of the slightly less common Duchess releases – it was only available in 2010.

I was expecting my first purchase to be something a little more common – like the #62031 Gray Mare and Foal set that was also rereleased as part of the Walmart Sunshine Stables/Meadows promo in 2012, or one of the current releases like the Red Roan Western Horse and Rider set with the disturbingly oversized doll.

(Seriously Reeves, what the heck is going on with those funky horse and rider sets?)

But this pair turned up on eBay at an unbeatable price, so they became my inaugural purchase in The Duchess Project.

The bonus here is that this was a set I had been thinking about buying before I decided to collect the Duchess mold. She looks lovely in Tobiano Pinto, and I’m a big fan of the saucy little Sport Horse Foal mold, too.

Back when I started collecting – or more accurately, when I started learning all I could learn about Breyer History – Breyer models that were released for a single year (or two!), like the #191 Gray Bucking Bronco or the #169 Liver Chestnut Scratching Foal seemed so exotic and appealing for just that very reason.

In the 1960s, 1970s and well into the 1980s, it was unusual for a release to run less than three years. If it did, it was either a Decorator-level turkey, or had a manufacturing issue (too expensive to produce, or an actual qualitative problem).

I wince a little now when I see either of those two on eBay, usually unsold and endlessly relisted. I cannot offer a home here: I added examples of both of them to my herd a long time ago, with no pressing need for more. (Well, perhaps a few more of the Scratching Foal – there are some sock variations I don’t have!)

Time has not made them less numerically rare, but the market is now flooded with items of similar or greater rarity, on a seemingly endless number of molds. Our choices, and our focuses, are no longer as narrow or limited as they once were.

In a way, it makes collecting easier – as long as the focus you choose isn’t the mold of the moment.

So far, so good for me with the Duchess. Except for those darn Walmart releases with the Wolves in them; those sets may be the bane of my existence this year.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Blind Bag Stablemates

So I guess there are Blind Bag “Horse Crazy Surprise” Stablemates at some Walmarts now? These are not the blank/unpainted pieces from the various painting kits, but actual factory painted and finished Stablemates, including a “rare” Mystery Surprise that is apparently a G3 Friesian in Metallic Gold Buckskin.

While I like this idea in theory – hurray for more Stablemates! – the only problem with Blind Bags is that once the rarities or mysteries are revealed, it’s not hard to fish them out with a little strategic groping.

That’s why I’ve never been a big fan of the idea of multiple molds in Mystery/Surprise releases, especially at BreyerFest. I could see things getting very contentious very quickly at that particular section of the Special Run table, once the more desirable ones are ferreted out….

It’s clear that this is a first run/trial run of the idea, at least as single-pack Stablemates. This program is both an extension of the Mini Whinnies Blind Bag program and a logical replacement of the Stablemates Mystery Foal Surprise sets – right down to the metallic goldness of the Surprise.

It’s possible that Reeves could get clever about this in future Stablemates Blind Bag Mystery releases and switch it up – for instance, using one of the “common” pieces in the assortment printed on the bag (all older releases, at least in this go-round) in multiple colors as the Mystery Surprise.

Or make them all new releases – as is going to be the case with the Stablemates in the new Spirit: Running Free line, I believe. I haven’t really looked much into that yet; although I admired the character designs and Breyer sculpts, the movie really didn’t do much for me and I doubt the animated series will, either.

(My heart still belongs to Steven Universe!)

I’ll look for the Horse Crazy Surprises if I happen to be in or near a Walmart anytime soon, but other model horse purchases will still take priority. (My first “new” Duchess arrived today!)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Moondance and Hwin

I like the new Collectors’ Club Special Run Moondance, a lot. But if I’m getting another Forever Saige this year, it’s going to be the Regular Run Hwin instead.

Looking back at my most recent permanent acquisitions, there are very few spotted horses in the mix. The last ones were the Vintage Club Stablemate Riptide and the Chesapeake Stablemate Cecil, and both of those were “Gift with Purchase” kinds of items. The last intentionally purchased ones were the BreyerFest Bozeman and the Classic Duchess. I guess I’m just on a solid color kick right now!

Some models look better in solid colors anyway, and I think the Forever Saige is one of them. I’m not the only one; quite a few hobbyist hearts seemed to turn when they saw her as last year’s BreyerFest Special Namib in that beautiful Dark Bay-Brown.

The real Hwin, as I suspect most of you know, is named after one of the talking horses in C.S. Lewis’s The Horse and His Boy.

I have mixed feelings about that installment in the Narnia series. I loved the Narnia books in general, and I was really excited to find out that there was one with talking horses in it.

Reading it did motivate me enough to start writing my first novel – about a talking horse – back when most of my friends were writing Star Wars fanfic. (My early exposure/obsession with Mr. Ed didn’t hurt, either.)

But that was because it turned out to be my least favorite book in the series. I don’t know if it was because it hadn’t aged well, or if it had to do with the apprehensions I had about equine literature even then. I felt compelled to write the talking horse fantasy novel I really wanted to read.

Around the same time, though, I also discovered the hobby, and after a while it mitigated my need to write horse fiction. Why write talking horse fantasies when I could essentially “live” them in miniature form?

I still continued to write fiction, but horses were only incidental to the plot, if they appeared at all. Even my fiction-writing attempts today are relatively horse-free. The hobby still fills that niche for  me.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

In Glorious Black and White

On the heels of last year’s Diorama Contest Prize Pele, we now have Live Show Benefit Horse Reno, on the Buckshot mold. In an intricate Gloss Black Frame Overo Pinto:

I wouldn’t mind taking one of those home! It doesn’t look likely that I’ll be able to attend any live shows this year either, so he’s another Rare Shiny (partially) Black horsey that I’ll just have to admire from afar.

Here’s a little factoid worth pointing out regarding Pele: while the greatest number of entries in the BreyerFest Diorama Contest is usually in the Over-20 Age Bracket, that wasn’t the case last year. I believe it was in the 10-14 Age Bracket!

If the number of entries indicates the general level of interest in the prize itself, it was a younger group of hobbyists who were the most interested in a Buckshot, for once!

A notoriously tipsy, thirty-year-old mold with “artistic” conformation?

It does seems curious, until you realize that there was a Palomino Buckshot release named Rascal a few years back – in 2009 and 2010, to be specific. He was a part of the “My Favorite Horse” series, which was specifically designed and marketed for younger/newer collectors.


Judging from the number of Diorama Contest entries last year, that program obviously succeeded! Some of those kids got a little bit older, stayed in the hobby, retained a fondness for the Buckshot mold, and were motivated enough to enter.

I know some hobbyists are making squishy faces at the thought of another Buckshot prize model, but I think they’re just tailoring the Live Show Benefit Horse to a slightly younger crowd this year. The past two models – 2015’s Western Pony Razzmatazz, and 2016’s Fury Prancer Chase – were more esoteric and targeted for older and/or more experienced hobbyists.

Some of us grayhairs like Reno too. Will he be motivation enough for me to find the time and money to attend a live show this year? That I do not know.

Just one minor housekeeping note here.

Since I am in the busy season at work and consequently not home much, my selling activity will be greatly curtailed or even nil through January and possibly part of February. As soon as I am able, I’ll try to start tossing a few odds and ends up on MHSP.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Nazruddin and Sokkar

We already knew that this year’s BreyerFest Celebration Horse was a Chestnut Marwari; the only question any of us really had was what mane and tail option they were going to go with on the Marwari mold.

The original short mane and swish tail it is, then!

The Early Bird Raffle piece is, umm, different? As in a Glossy Black Icelandic named Sokkar? (That means socks, in Icelandic. She has four big ones, so that makes sense, at least.)

Early Bird Raffle pieces are another one of those unpredictable BreyerFest things. Sometimes they seem to have a vague connection to the theme, like last year’s Smarty Jones Polo Pony Polomar; Polo is popular in South America. Other years are baffling, like the infamous Stretched Morgan Bennington in 2012 – one of the most quintessentially “American” breeds for a British-themed year? Okey-dokey!

So this year it looks like we get something more the latter than the former.

If there was any model from last year that I could have taken home, aside from the treasures that I did, it would have been one of the live show prize Glossy Carrick Cortes Cs. So Black! So Shiny! So of course I’d be happy to take home a Sokkar.

It might just be me, but I am also getting a bit of a Vintage vibe/callback from Sokkar, too – specifically, her similarity to the original #27 Fury Prancer. (Great. Now really like is turning into I think I want. Always doing this to myself, I am.)

But as I might be on the other side of the Park for the “Bollywood Bash” Costume Contest when they draw for them, I will have to persuade myself to not worry about the tiny possibility of getting drawn.

I like that the Diorama Contest rules have basically done away with all of the nuance and boiled it down to a generic “Make it something about India”. That’s what I think these contest entries have been judged for all along, regardless of whatever silly copy they wrote up in the rules. Whether that realization will help me or anyone else I know who is pining for the glory of a win, though….

I already have somewhat solid ideas for both the Costume Contest and the Diorama Contest, but since I’m currently putting in some OT at work and am tied up with some other creative projects, they’ll have to wait.

The “good” bodies and craft supplies are packed away in the garage anyway, and January is being very January. All I want to do when I get home from work is snuggle myself underneath one or more of my fifty or so unfinished quilt projects.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Filling in the Holes

So it looks like the CollectA line will be operating under an arrangement similar to the Pocket Box animals: certain items (horses, pets, farm animals) are being repackaged/rebranded and sold as Breyer product, with the originating company maintaining the noncompeting lines and items independently.

Both of these moves were done, obviously, to plug holes in the Breyer brand – expanding their offerings in the Micro Mini scale with the Pocket Box items, and making an entrĂ©e into the vinyl toy animal market currently dominated by Schleich. 

Like the Pocket Box critters, it’s still a little too early form me to determine how I will handle them. There’s a potential for multiple releases with the CollectA items that’s not available with the Pocket Box items, so I expect I’ll end up treating the CollectA pieces more like standard Breyers, and the Pocket Box pieces more like accessories.  

One thing that’s been largely forgotten in all this is that this is not the first time Reeves has adapted or adopted competing items as their own. In 1986, they gave us the #9900 Breyer Riding Stable set, aka the Pine Lodge Riding School, a play set composed of Britains:

It was a fairly popular item, too, running through 1989 in the Collector’s Manuals/Dealer Catalogs, and available through 1992 in the Sears Wishbook; I still find (usually) incomplete sets around here from time to time. 

It does feel a little weird/wrong to find a Breyer box with Britains in it, though.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these products per se – some of the CollectA horse molds are actually great, and I might be buying some of the Pocket Box Aquarium items, too. But it’ll be a while yet before I can “buy” them as Breyer products.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

First Findings

Both the BreyerFest info and the new CollectA/Corral Pals dropped on the Breyer web site today, but I’ll get to those later in the week when I get a little extra time to review it all.

I just happened to be in a Toys R Us for work yesterday, though, and had a chance to see a few of the new 2017 Classics, including one of the new Liams – specifically, the 916 Chestnut Quarter Horse:

He’s not the only new Liam in town. In addition to the Chestnut, he also appears in the #62045 Palomino Morgan and Foal set, and as the Web Special Run #712236 Black Beauty, replacing the Classics Warmblood Stallion.

And let’s not forget that he was also just seen in the Tractor Supply/Big Box New Beginnings Set, in Appaloosa, and in Buckskin in last year’s BreyerFest Pop-Up Store Special Run set with the Duchess.

That’s five separate releases in six months! Prior to that, the Sir Buckingham mold had only been seen twice since its conversion to plastic in 2014 – as the #62115 Liam (in Gloss and Matte) and the 2014 BreyerFest Decorator Special Run #711189 Let’s Celebrate.

It’s a little unusual now to see so many simultaneous or near-simultaneous releases of a mold that aren’t somehow related to a Gambler’s Choice – like the recent Sherman Morgans.

During in the Chicago era (pre-1985), though, it was the norm. Part of the reason why was because there were fewer molds to work with – if they wanted more product on the shelves, it was cheaper and easier to work up a new paint job and packaging for an older mold than it was to create an entirely new one.

I don’t know what’s motivating the decision to go forward with multiple releases on the Liam now. My guess would be cost, again: it’s cheaper to run one mold for multiple releases, than multiple molds for multiple releases, even if those molds already exist.

I came pretty close to taking the Chestnut Liam with me, but I managed to resist somehow. Then I stopped at another Salvation Army on the way home and found all of these goodies instead, all for less than the cost of the Liam, combined:

The Western Horse is for a potential Christmas project, the Mini Whinnies go in my stash, but all of the other horsey items will go straight to the sales list.

Although I am a little skeptical of the coming year as a whole, at least the horses continue to be plentiful!