Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Mirado, et al

Since I’m still feeling a little out of sorts today over last week’s matters, I’ve been trying to work off some of the frustration by starting my Spring Cleaning a couple months early.

I packed away some sales items, sorted out my shipping boxes, and now I’m attempting to get caught up on my more recent Stablemates arrivals, like the Mirado I only just recently unwrapped…

Generally I like him – his carved out ears and raised hoof are adorbs – though he has just a tad bit too much mane for my tastes. (I have the same issue with the Tushar.) Some people are a bit put off by his blue eye, but it doesn’t bother me.

Incidentally, I have so far managed to avoid the Stablemates (and the Squishy Mare) I saw at Tuesday Morning, and since I won’t be on that side of town again for another week, I think I have managed to successfully avoid the temptation.

While I wouldn’t mind picking up some of new Regular Run Blind Bag Mystery Stablemates, I’m getting the impression that my search for them – at least, for the next few weeks or months – will probably be as fruitless as my recent Walmart quests.

At first I thought that making the “chase piece” the same mold as another item in the assortment was a great idea – until I realized that meant it would make the more common example hard to come by as well.

Especially when you use a newer and more desirable mold like Django, and use a brand new Decorator color like Copper Florentine for the “rare” one.

I understand the marketing strategy behind it, but I do miss the old days of Stablemates collecting, when you had multiple simultaneous releases that were produced in roughly the same quantities. Any variances were because of desirability (some colors being more popular than others) or production issues.

On the other hand, that was largely because we only had a handful of molds to work with for over 20 years – 16, technically – until the Kathleen Moody “G2” molds came out in 1998 and blew up the world of Stablemates collectors.

At one point, I had an almost complete collection of Stablemates. I was just missing the Silver Saddlebred, the Poop Paperweight, and a complete Stablemates Stable Set. I’ve since improved upon that original collection – I’ve since found a factory sealed Stablemates Stable Set, and the Wooden Stable, an item so rare I didn’t even think it made it out of the prototype stage.

But the newer stuff? I am so far behind. I lost my Stablemates mojo sometime in the early 2000s: all those new molds and colors tapped me out, then wore me out.

My purchases have been a bit spotty since then, but I’ve made up a bit of ground recently with the web site special offers and such. When I do finally get back into the swing of buying again, I might just stick with Stablemates for a while.

But just the slightly older stuff. Part of the appeal of Stablemates collecting for me is the affordability thing: $100 Copper Florentine Djangos are definitely not in my budget.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Glossy Foiled Again

To be euphemistically coy as possible, a personal matter (completely unrelated to model horses) that started in fire ended in fire this past Friday. While it was not entirely unexpected, it did hit me a little harder than I expected, and left me largely out of sorts most of the weekend.

But this helped soften the blow: a Glossy Pacer Special Run Foiled Again for BreyerFest!

This Foiled Again Special Run was also not completely unexpected: I suspected as much back in December, when it was quietly announced on the USTA web site that the horse himself would be making an appearance at BreyerFest.

While I was hoping for changes like these, what I was expecting was that they’d only make a small change or two – some special packaging perhaps, and/or maybe a commemorative backstamp, blanket or button. Hurray for happy surprises!

It’s interesting that in the 50+ year history of the Pacer, there have only been two other Gloss releases – the earliest examples of the original #46 Dark Chestnut release, and the 2010 Web Special Pace Yourself.

The halter color appears to be the same lime green as the headstall on the Vintage Club Appaloosa Balking Mule release Lucy. Although most Pacer halters have been some shade of brown or black, there has been a fair assortment of more cheerful colors too, including the bright lemony yellow of the original Foiled Again release.

The blog post about the release is a bit vague on specifics: we don’t know where or how the model will be sold (Pop-Up Store? NPOD?) and all we’re told of the quantity is this:
BreyerFest fans will have the first opportunity to add the Special Edition Foiled Again to their collection. If models remain available after BreyerFest, they will be offered for sale to the general public on
So – more than the average BreyerFest Special Run, but still kind of limited? So 2000 pieces or fewer?

Whether it’s 200 pieces or 2000, all I know for sure is that this is the first release in this year’s lineup that I will absolutely, positively have to have. There is no negotiating on this.

My only (slight) disappointment is that this eliminates the possibility of the Pacer being the Surprise SR. Although there have been a few dilutes – like the infamous Riegesecker Palomino – we haven’t seen much in the way of spots, dots and speckles on the Pacer. The only Production Run pinto, I believe, has been the Exclusive Event Praline, and they only made 48 of him.

But hey, I'll happily take a Glossy Dark Bay Pacer in the meantime....

Thursday, January 25, 2018


Had a close call earlier this week; I had to make a quick pit stop after work (bran muffin-induced emergency) and found myself in a Tuesday Morning – and ooh, they had some mighty fine high-semigloss Stablemates Mystery Foal Set variations!

They were quite tempting, especially since my attempts last week to track down the Walmart Specials – not to buy, necessarily, but just to see “in the wild” – met with abject failure. Every store I happened to find myself in during my work travels either looked liked it hadn’t been reset yet, or had already been plundered for all the gold. It was nice to see a store with actual models on the shelf, for a change.

Fortunately I managed to escape the Tuesday Morning unscathed, but tomorrow is payday and I’ll be in the same part of town….

…and they had an intriguing Classic Haflinger Mare that is bothering me even more than those lovely little Stablemates. She was seriously squished, kind of like my Woodgrain Boxer here:

He’s normal looking from the side, in case you were wondering:

The Haflinger’s side profile was also distorted – that’s how I noticed she was a little peculiar in the first place – so an even better example would have been one of the later Stablemates G1 Quarter Horse Mares with the twisted barrels. But I am in no mood to go digging through my Stablemates tonight.

I’m fairly sure it was a factory-originated flaw and not one that occurred in shipping, because her shading was exquisite – either someone at the factory took it upon themselves to make up for her other deficiencies, or her more dramatic contours enhanced her paint job naturally.

The Haflinger was obviously a one-off, possibly caused by a handling or machine error while the mold halves were still warm and freshly molded. More uniform examples like the Boxer might be – like Bloaties – a result of climate/temperature changes, issues with the mold itself, or a problem in the assembly process.

(The narrowness of more recent molds – like Duende, or the Imperador das Aguas – is most likely an issue with the metal molds themselves, I think.)

Although not as common – or beloved – as Bloaties, this molding flaw occurs with enough frequency that I feel like I need to coin a name for the afflicted. Collapsers? Squishies? Skinnies?

I kind of like Squishies, at the moment.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Rebel Rebel

Ugh. Today. Long story.

So here’s a picture of a model that makes me smile every time I see him:

It’s the 2002 QVC Special Run Texas Longhorn Bull, named Rebel. He has masking identical to the Regular Run #399 Texas Longhorn Bull, who ran from 2000 through 2004.

But he’s also Glossy, his color is lighter and less red, his eyes are nicely detailed out and of course – his horns are backwards!

As with most molds with separately molded horns, antlers or ears of unusual size, there’s always going to be some degree of variability when they are finally installed: up, down, or even a little (or a lot!) cock-eyed one way or the other.

Sometimes – as in not very often at all – you’ll even find an occasional horn or other odd bit that’s been cemented in backwards.

The handful of notable examples I’ve seen have been on the Cow, where the horns are small enough – and the curvatures slight enough – that most collectors either shrug it off as part of the normal production variability, or don’t even see it until someone else points it out.

They’ve done other alterations to the Longhorn’s horns over the years. The Broken Horn Special Runs had (factory) broken horns, the 2008 Exclusive Event Longhorn Wrangler had an intentionally cock-eyed one, and in relatively recent times the overall wingspan of the horns themselves have even been shortened.

But Rebel was the first to have his horns deliberately set backwards.

And I love it.

I sold off several of my Longhorns recently because they were simply taking up too much shelf space, but this guy and his “happy” horns had to stay.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Being Stubborn

Normally I have no issue with offbeat mold choices used for BreyerFest themes, but this Duende Special Run Straight Bet is rubbing me the wrong way:

I have nothing against the mold itself, per se, other than being not overly thrilled about getting another Andalusian/Spanish type Traditional mold, when so many other breeds and types continue to be unrepresented (Akhal-Teke), or underrepresented (Morgans).  

The hobby’s initial reaction to the Duende mold was fairly predictable: the promotional pictures showed a model with a paint job that simply wasn’t possible from a large-scale production standpoint, molding issues aside.

(I have no idea what is going on with their current mold making issues, other than they really need to address it ASAP.)

Duende does look nice in Glossy Liver Chestnut, I’ll give it that. In any other situation I would be all over this guy. But it’s just so obviously a pander and a marketing push for a new mold, forced to fit into a theme.

You guys have so many molds and possibilities to work here, Reeves: if it’s one thing you do not have a shortage of, it’s molds representing breeds and types that are regularly used in racing events – flat track or otherwise. Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, Arabians, Quarter Horses, Appaloosas – and even Mules?

Okay, now I’m moderately excited for a Special Run Brown Sunshine. Speaking of, here’s my Sergeant, and his NPOD Sample Brother:

As you can see, there’s not a lot of difference between the two – the production piece is slightly warmer and pearlier than the Sample, but the rest of differences could be chalked up to normal day-to-day production variability.

These are the only two Brown Sunshines I have currently. I would not mind another. (But what color? Hmm.)

The Duende is only one model out of a line up at least two dozen, so I’ll give it a pass; it’s not that big a deal, really. Work has been leaving me short of sleep this week and I am a bit crankier than normal, which might be affecting my initial reaction.

Didn’t I promise myself to buy less stuff this year anyway?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Right on Schedule

It’s been darn hard to resist the temptation to buy things as it is, but now one of my local independent toy stores is going out of business, and the clearance sale starts Thursday! Argh!

Sigh. They were a Flagship Store, and they sometimes held Breyer Events; I think they actually hosted the last official event Peter Stone attended for Breyer (remember the Mustang Rawhide?) – and one of the first public events for “The Peter Stone Company”.

It’s on the other side of town and I have plenty of other stores to take care of my model horse fix, so there is no need to worry about my long-term shopping needs. But it’s going to be hard to resist this sale, no lie. Especially since I am now considering doing the BreyerFest Customs Contest, and I might need a Carrick body.

I cannot believe I am even thinking about it. It all started about a week ago, when I unboxed the Cortes C I bought for the Customer Appreciation Sale. Here he is:

As I was admiring him and his deepest, darkest chocolate black coat – he’s virtually the same color as that 90 percent cacao chocolate some people think is edible – I suddenly realized that he bore a certain likeness to a racehorse I had a great fondness for back in my racing fangirl days.

It’s someone fairly famous who I am genuinely surprised no one has done a portrait of yet; at least, not that I can recall. It’s a project that’s been on my back-back burner, well behind the other unfinished customs I’ve started over the years … along with all those quilts, and novels, and everything else, too.

But I made a promise to myself to finish unfinished projects this year, and keep new projects to a minimum. I have a difficult enough time getting all of my usual silliness done for BreyerFest: another entry, for another contest? Am I mad?

On the other hand, I did want to seriously start customizing again, and maybe a deadline is the kick in the pants I need to get started.

On the other-other hand, the two potential ideas that I came up with for the Diorama Contest also involve a lot of customizing, and I’ll have at least another extra month to toil on that. (Both involve tack: I will need it.)

Great. Six months away and I’m already stressing out about BreyerFest!

In other words, everything is right on schedule.

(And no, not going to tell you who the portrait is supposed to be. Unless I manage to do it and finish it in time – deal?)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Gray Hoof Midnight Sun

It’s been another long couple of days here, so here’s a treasure I unearthed during the recent collection cleanout (it’s almost done now, thank goodness):

It’s the Gray Hoof variation of the Midnight Sun! He’s not in the best condition, but I’m glad to have him, as he’s a remarkably tough bugger to find. It was the first/original variation of the #60 Midnight Sun release, who debuted in 1972.

The slightly later – and more common – variation of the Midnight Sun has some tan or light brown shading on those hooves and significantly more overspray issues, to the point where they sometimes appear to have short, foggy gray socks.

(You silly kids who think quality control is a recent issue! Pshaw!)

The hooves of the gray-hooved variation of Midnight Sun tend to be neater and cleaner, with my example being a bit on the fuzzier end.

I made the mistake of passing a near mint but somewhat pricey example (for me) at a local antique show; to assuage my guilt, I promised myself that I would buy the next available one I could find, and a couple years later this guy turned up on eBay.

I’d love to upgrade him, but he’s somewhat of a low priority right now; basically it’s another “I’ll buy him when I see him” situation. Since I’m trying to minimize my extracurricular purchases this year, I am not optimistic that it’ll happen any time soon, but I am not one to say never in my neck of the woods.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Another Oddball Stud Spider

Something short today. Work’s been running late this week and my brains feel like mashed potatoes right now.

In spite of my best intentions, I bought a horse this week. You can totally see why:

It’s a Stud Spider with two socks!

Like the #48 Black Morgan, the original Stud Spider release was prone to variations. I’ve seen multiple blanket variations, gray hooves, black hooves, missing stars, and oh goodness, the socks.

Right fore sock, left fore sock, four actual socks, no socks at all? Seen them all before, and own most of them. And now, another! As with the Morgan, an alarming number of Stud Spiders variations have turned up on my doorstep over the years. Few are turned away.

Most variations from the right front sock “norm” were incidental, occurring randomly within day-to-day production. (The four-sock version was allegedly a one-day production error.) They show up in the market with varying frequency; the left front sock variation seems to be the least difficult among them to find.

This two stocking combo is something I haven’t seen – or even had heard of – before. That’s saying something, coming from me.

It’s possible that he was some sort of Chicago factory employee “Take-Home” model. I have good reason to suspect it: it’s from the same Chicago-area seller on eBay who recently sold that oddball Palomino Family Arabian Mare with the Black mane and tail for over $1000.

That particular kind of oddball is actually semi-common: it seems to have been a thing back for employees back then to touch up botched Palominos Culls into quasi-Buckskins. Or even as production salvage jobs: every once and a great while I see a “Bay” Grazing Mare or Foal that suspect started life as a Palomino.

(“If we put black points on this we can totally pass this off as a Bay, right?”)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Hot and Cold

Rather than catch up on real work last week, I spent it pouring over all the newly posted BreyerFest details. Fantasizing about the baking heat of Kentucky in July is one of the few things that’s gotten me through these past two brutally bone-chilling weeks!

For even the more experienced among us, it might be worth your time to do likewise: there have been a lot of little changes to BreyerFest this year, some more consequential than others.

Among them: the live show is no longer a NAN qualifier, access to the upstairs lounge of the Covered Arena is now something you have to pay for, all the workshops have moved to the museum basement, the Special Runs will be distributed in their own tent, event hours on Sunday have been extended to 4 p.m., and some volunteers will be free-range docents called “BreyerFest Ambassadors.”

(Does that job come with a fancy hat and sash? Inquiring minds need to know!)

One thing that hasn’t changed is that there’s still going to be Store Specials. Here’s a picture of the first Store Special, a portrait of Icabad Crane on the True North mold:

This is the first release on the True North mold that will be relatively cheap and accessible to the average collector. The first True North was available by Premier Club subscription only, and the other two – last year’s Custom Contest Masala, and Sunday Raffle Horse Rangoli – were both extremely limited and things that had to be either won, or purchased at high cost.

Piece counts on Store Specials have ranged from 500 (most of the earlier ones, including the 2006 Peruvian Paso Magnifico) to 1250 (2016’s Dag Dia), with 750 pieces being the median – roughly the same quantity as Premier Club releases.

The accessibility of BreyerFest Store Specials has been a mixed bag over the years, however, and how high or low the piece counts are is usually moot. Some have been popular and heavily fought over (2014’s Novelisto D: with 750 pieces issued) and some have not (2011’s Halla/Bolya Dusty: also 750 pieces issued).

I am guessing that because it’s the first True North that most of us will be able to afford, and the mold itself has been well-received generally, demand will be high.

Reeves should know all this, and plan accordingly.

I hope.

Wanting is different from needing, and I haven’t decided whether or not I actually need the Icabad Crane or not. I suppose it’ll all depend on how nice that red bay color translates into a production run piece, what my budget looks like by then – and what else they may have in store for us.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


Sigh. They are using the Traditional Man o’ War as the Early Bird Raffle model for BreyerFest this year. Pardon me while I briefly “hulk out” and rage around the less breakable parts of my office:

While I’ve always assumed my Traditional Man o’ War collection would be forever incomplete, I thought there would at least be no additions to my list of impediments. I hoped/assumed there would be a Man o’ War SR for the upcoming BreyerFest, but that it’d be something a bit more accessible like a Store Special, Volunteer model, or Pop-Up Store thing.

There are – or were, prior to today – only two true rarities left on my Man o’ War list.

The first is the Presentation Series Man o’ War. Like all of the Presentation Series pieces, he is scarce and pricey. But I don’t consider him necessarily out of reach: Presentation pieces were sold to the public, so a slender possibility of finding one “in the wild” does exist.

I’ve found other trophy-mounted Breyers before, though no true Presentation pieces yet. Horse racing memorabilia is relatively common around here (remember the jockey helmet I found back in October?) When the occasional Presentation piece shows up, it’s usually Adios: the other Presentation racehorse!

So, there’s hope.

The second rarity is the original Matte Dapple Gray Man o’ War, who was either a small Special Run or a set of similar-looking Test Colors that originated with Marney Walerius in some fashion, in the early 1970s.

That one seems significantly less likely, especially if an example should ever show up on eBay, or via some other venue frequented by model horse peoples. It’s a release that achieved an almost legendary status, and there are not a lot of them (probably five?) around. That’s usually a recipe for a four-figure selling price.

But I have acquired older Breyer items of roughly equal rarity, sometimes in the most unexpected of places or circumstances, for cheap. Or relatively cheap.

Like the Quarter Horse Gelding Splash cull I found at the local flea market last year. That one still boggles my mind! Why are you here? This is not New Jersey.

But this release Riddle… either I win one, or it is not going to happen. It’s that simple, and that painful.

It’s too well publicized an item (literally, the first Special Run announced, after the Celebration Horse Brass Hat) for it to ever be a cheap find, or circumstantial one.

I’m not the kind of person who pays a four-figure price for anything. It’s not a matter of being capable, but of principle: I think of my models more as repositories of memories and stories than of a financial investment.

Spending a lot of money on something makes me see something as more of an investment than a memory or story. I have a hard time doing that for a mold that means as much to me as the Man o’ War.

Well, at least it isn’t the Diorama Prize. If that was the case, there’d definitely be something freshly broken in my office.