Monday, February 26, 2018

Another Oddity: Bay Grazing Foal

Here’s another fun one I shouldn’t have bought, but did anyway:

A Bay Grazing Foal with no front black points. You might recall that I found a similar Mare back in November:

So now I have a matching set of variations! Anyone who has tried to complete families – Family Arabians, Proud Arabians, Stock Horses et al – knows how hard it is to find matching or complementary sets. The opportunity to reunite this pair was one I simply couldn’t pass up.

Variations on the Grazing Foal are a little more common than the Mare; Foal molds in general tend to be in production longer than their respective Stallions and Mares, and sell in greater quantities. More models = more potential variations.

That’s the reasoning behind the recent spate of Foal releases – Traditional, Classics, Stablemates, Camilla the Foalzilla – that are otherwise unattached or unaffiliated to a matching Stallion or Mare. People will buy “orphan” foals without any pressing need for a matching parent.

(I’m old-fashioned in that regard. I bothers me a lot when people ask to buy “just the foal”, especially matching sets that have otherwise managed to stay together for decades.)

While it is easy to chalk up both the Mare and the Foal as random production variations, in the mid-1970s there were Regular Run items that were specifically painted without front black points. Most notably, the early version of the Stablemates G1 Bay Arabian Stallion, especially when he was sold as a mislabeled Citation. From the 1975 Dealer Catalog:

(FYI: Most of them did not look this nice.)

Was there some sort of correlation? It is a safe assumption to make, since the timing lines up: my Grazing Mare and Foal have all the mold marks and stylistic cues of mid- to late-1970s releases.

But again, like the Palomino Ruffians of my last blog post, sometimes variations just happen. I am just happy to finally have a matching Bay Grazing Mare and Foal set that I can live with.

Friday, February 23, 2018

A Tale of Two Ruffian Variations

Might as well discuss these two before they get lost in the shuffle of everything else that’s been coming and going:

You know how you’ll sometimes look at a Regular Run model and tell yourself “If only I could find just the right one…”

This is the story of how I ended up with not one, but two Palomino Classics Ruffians.

The last time I was at Tuesday Morning, pondering those Semi-Gloss Stablemates and the Squishie Classic Haflinger, I also spent a little time looking over a couple of the Classic Palomino Ruffians – aka the #932 Thoroughbred Cross, just discontinued late last year.

I liked the concept of a Palomino Classic Ruffian, but none of the ones I had come across really appealed to me. The ones at Tuesday Morning were very nice; additionally, the packaging was slightly different than the standard Classics packaging, and the assortment consisted of recently discontinued items from very late in their production run – possibly the last pieces produced in their respective runs, making them another possible de facto Special Run.

But like the Haflinger and Stablemates, I left them behind.

Then I found that slightly pearly Palomino one on eBay a few weeks ago, with the unmasked mane and oversprayed tail, and no eyewhites. I was in love.

Because I happened to be in the area and I needed to buy some storage boxes for some of my ephemera anyway, I went back to that Tuesday Morning and bought one of those, too. Obviously they needed each other, and I felt I could justify it because unlike her Traditional-scale sister, the Classics Ruffian takes up hardly any room at all on the shelf.

This is where my lack of attention to the recent Classics releases has come to bite me in the behind. Is my pretty, pearly Ruffian a variation, an oddity, or something else? Her VIN number says she was produced in early 2014, but all the photos of her in the ephemera, and online show masking right from the start.

I have similar questions about the Tuesday Morning Ruffian (whose VIN number indicates a September 2017 production date). Is she different from the bulk of the run, or am I just imagining it?

I fear this may lead to me buying more Palomino Ruffians.

Sometimes oddballs and variations just happen, for no rhyme or reason. Fretting over their origins sometimes gets in the way of appreciating them in the first place.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Teeny Boxes

Yesterday was a wash in many ways, but this cheered me up a little:

I was a wee bit skeptical about the boxes, and figured they’d go with a plastic insert like they’ve done before – beginning with the very first Stablemates releases back in 1975.

But dang it guys, it really is a teeny-tiny replica of the larger boxes – and it is super-duper cute! You do not know (and don’t want to know!) how much I needed a bit of cuteness in my life yesterday.

It’s interesting that these boxes were designed to have bar codes, especially since these are direct-order, club exclusive pieces:

It could be related to their inventory practices, but what it suggests to me is that these boxes might be used for retail packaging later on. (Or BreyerFest?)

They’ve already done something similar before, for the Translucent Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Awareness Horse on the G2 Morgan mold. However, that was a one-off for a special promotion, while these Stablemates Club boxes are miniaturized versions of the standard/generic packaging used for Traditionals.

They could be used for almost anything.

I know I would definitely be more inclined to buy individual Stablemates in these packages, as opposed to the blister cards they use now. You still don’t get to see the opposite side, and the risk of rubs is still there, but you do get a better overall view of the model unobstructed by the form-fitting plastic blister.

Don’t get me wrong, I also like the little drawstring bags they replaced: in fact, one of my many sewing projects involves coming up with a quick and easy-to-sew pattern to make them for 400 or so Stablemates in my life that don’t already have them.

But now that they’re starting to miniaturize Traditional molds into Stablemates-scale ones (Mini Brishen!) it only makes sense that they’d come with scale boxes, too.

(Speaking of miniaturizing molds, can I put in a request for a wee Family Arabian Stallion? Please? Let’s give some of the vintage molds some love!)

I’ll open up this cute little bugger eventually, but for now I’ll just carry him around from room to room, periodically squealing in delight.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Reissue Thing

Reeves telegraphed us early on that there would be more than just flat-track horse racing specials at BreyerFest this year, but even I have to admit I am a little surprised they went with a Reissue of Scamper:

On their blog they went out of their way to point out how different this set is from the original #477 Scamper release, which was one of Breyer’s longest running recent releases (1998-2008).  In addition to the three blue and yellow BreyerFest-themed racing barrels:
Scamper features a "BreyerFest 2018" print on his belly, crisp leg markings and modern shading.
Okay, sure.

It’s interesting that of the eight models announced so far, four of the five “Portrait” models are solid Bays with minimal whites. That’s more a consequence of the theme (racing Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds tend towards conservative colors) than a conscious effort of color coordination on the part of Reeves.

Hobbyists out there are complaining less about the Bay Thing and more about the Reissue Thing “This is boring, and dumb. Why couldn’t they make him Glossy like Foiled Again, at least?”

Well, because I don’t think they’re necessarily appealing to hobbyists per se, with a Scamper Reissue. The original Scamper ran for over ten years, and that is an eternity in model horse time: long-running releases like that are clearly appealing to a larger swath of humanity than us mere model horse hobbyists and collectors.

That larger swath of humanity – fans of the real-life horse, or of barrel racing in general – are (at best) indifferent to the concept of glossing. Glossing is very much an in-hobby Thing.

By adding (and emphasizing) a number of subtle differences with the original release, they’re trying to make it different enough for hobbyists to at least consider it.

And I am.

I don’t have any Scamper models in my collection presently, but it’s not for a lack of love for the mold or the Western Performance Series. I just never found the right one. I keep telling myself I ought to get the cute Barrel Racing Set with the Semi-leopard Appaloosa and the pink and purple barrels, but something else always comes up…

…like a couple more unexpected variations I’ll get to later in the week.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Suckling Foal Oddity

I’ve been keeping busy the past several days by sorting through ephemera – both stuff that was pulled for research purposes, and “new” stuff that I’ve acquired over the past few years that I never got around to properly classifying and filing in the first place.

It’s almost as much fun as cleaning and sorting box lots of horses! Speaking of, I find myself presented with a particularly challenging little filly in a recent box lot acquisition:

The Suckling Foal from the original #3155 Thoroughbred Mare and Foal Set didn’t come in a lot of variations. It does come in Chalky, and it was one of the handful of releases that came in Gray Plastic without a Chalky Basecoat.

(The best known of those being the Elephant and Donkey, of course!)

But other than some slight variations in color and shading (lighter and darker) the Foal’s paintjob was remarkably consistent throughout its twelve-year run (1973-1984).

So when I found this one with two front stockings – well, she clearly had to come home with me.

The rest of the items in the lot weren’t bad either, but did not provide any hint of her origins. The seller was from a location not too far from Chicago, so that opens up the possibility of her being an Employee Take-Home. The paint job on the other side of her neck is a little uneven, too, which would be consistent with her being a finished Cull.

The only problem I have with her is that someone decided to spray some aftermarket gloss finish, and  they did a terrible job of it. Runs, drips, globs, lint and hair? She’s got them all!

Aftermarket gloss is not impossible to remove, but the fact that she’s a more-unusual-than-average oddity makes me extremely apprehensive about trying anything. So on the shelf she goes, with all my other rehab projects...

Sunday, February 11, 2018

More Hard BreyerFest Decisions

I really like the latest two Specials announced for this year’s BreyerFest. First there is Old Ironsides, on Strapless:

There have been three other Gray releases on the Strapless mold, including the 2005 Live Show Prize Dapple Gray Overo Pinto, the 2007 FEI World Cup Special, and the 2009 Valvella.

I loved the first two, but they are essentially Micro Runs, and unattainable. The Valvella is more plentiful (700 pieces) but I’ve had a hard time warming up to that release. I love fleabites and the loose mane/tail version of Strapless, so this one might be a no-brainer for me.

The Chestnut Snowcap Ruffian Dead Heat is the second (though she looks more Red Dun to me):

There’s our designated “Racing Appaloosa” release! The Traditional Ruffian mold has also come in Appaloosa a couple times before, both as BreyerFest releases: the 2006 Silver Bay Blanket Appaloosa Raffle Model Windswept, and 2007’s Glossy Bay Semi-Leopard Heartland.

Current speculation is that Dead Heat is the item most likely to be the 50/50 Gloss/Matte Split model, though I am more intrigued by the fact that they “accidentally” released a second photo (now deleted/replaced) of this SR with the mold’s original longer tail.

Allegedly this was a mistake and the short-tail version is the official version, but the fact that the second photo existed at all is interesting.

This means that they might have only very recently made the decision on the tail but had photos of both versions made ready, just in case. Or we’ll be seeing the long-tail version in some other capacity such as a Raffle, Auction, or Online piece.

I prefer the short-tail version, regardless: I am more of an “old school” Appaloosa fan. (One of my “dream” Special Runs is a Few Spot Leopard on the Appaloosa Performance Horse mold.)

Breyer’s first Racing Appaloosa was, of course, the Stud Spider back in 1978. While I wouldn’t mind seeing something to commemorate that mold’s 40th anniversary – a Glossy Re-release, or the original Stud Spider pattern on a newer mold – I’m kind of doubting it.

BreyerFest Portrait Special tend to be of the “Store Special” variety, and they’ve already announced three: the Gloss Foiled Again, Icabad Crane, and now the Old Ironsides.

My only hesitation about the Dead Heat is the size of her. I own only two Traditional Ruffians currently (the original release, and the Goddess Series Athena) because she’s a shelf hog and hard to display properly.

I wish I could more ruthless with my affections as some are – we are not even half way through February, and Reeves is already making things hard for me!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Another Oddball FAM

Here I thought I was doing pretty good earlier this week when I picked up an inexpensive box lot of unicorns through a local auction house. Even after taking out a few treasures for myself (the Hagens), I should be able to make a nice little profit from the rest of the lot at BreyerFest.

Then I saw what that Mahogany Bay Family Arabian Mare went for on eBay. Yikes! If only I could be that lucky.

Well actually, I have been, but my problem is that the really good stuff tends to stick around. The ability to own a rare and beautiful thing tends to trump whatever financial considerations I have – and it’s usually easier just to sell off things I am not as emotionally invested in, horses or otherwise, until the need passes.

Ironically, one of the models I had been waffling on has been my other Oddball/Test Color FAM, here hanging with a couple of friends:

Isn’t she lovely? She’s basically a mid-1970s Matte Palomino with a Palomino mane and tail, a simple yet surprisingly effective alteration. I assume she was another Factory Employee Take-Home, possibly a Cull that was fished out of the reject bin and finished for gifting.

I picked her up pretty cheaply several years ago on eBay, before Family Arabian Mares of any stripe were a thing. I remember being a little apprehensive about paying that much money for what was essentially a glorified Matte Palomino FAM.

It doesn’t seem as foolish a deal now. (Less than two percent of the Mahogany Mare’s selling price, if you’re curious.) She is staying: she only happens to be on my sales shelving unit because I am still in the process of reorganizing here.

I have to say, though, that I am as shocked as anyone that the Family Arabian Mare – who has been, historically, the least appreciated of the three Family Arabian molds – is now a “hot” item.

This is good for her, though not so good for me. I might have to find another lightly collected, underappreciated and cheap Traditional mold to obsess over now, or at least until this craziness blows over.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

FAMs as PAMs?

Several years ago I acquired a Matte Dapple Gray Family Arabian Mare in a Body Box lot. She was missing a leg and half an ear, but I didn’t care:

I knew there was at least one other Dapple Gray Family Arabian Mare like her out there, and where there are two, there are usually more. I assumed that she was either a Salesman’s Sample or very early production piece of the Proud Arabian Mare, produced before the Proud Arabian Mare mold was ready for full production.

I also assumed that meant there had to be at least a few Mahogany Bay Family Arabian Mares out there too, either sitting unnoticed in someone’s collection, or passed off as a simple variation of the Bay.

(Any Matte Alabasters that would have/could have been produced would have been virtually identical/indistinguishable from the original Matte Alabaster FAMs, save for a little extra body shading, perhaps.)

So it wasn’t a complete surprise when a Mahogany Bay Family Arabian Mare showed up – on eBay, of course. What was odd about it was that it came with the original White Cardboard Picture box, and a not-quite-matching Bay Proud Arabian Foal.

Oddballs and obvious Samples have turned up in retail boxes before, especially the enclosed cardboard ones of the 1970s and early 1980s. It might have been done to round out the production quota for the day, or (according to a rumor I heard from Marney herself) to give the hobby community a few little surprises to go hunting for.

But if these Oddball Mares were Samples or simply very early production items, you’d expect to find them with Corrugated Shipper Boxes: the Proud Arabian Mare debuted in 1972, but the retail-friendly White Cardboard Picture Boxes didn’t appear until 1973.

A random thought occurred to me a while back, now bolstered by this Mahogany Bay Mare and her box: what if these Mares were straight-up goofs? What if – like so many hobbyists – one of the factory painters simply confused the PAM mold with the FAM mold?

If so, it was obviously a mistake that was caught early. This is a darn shame, since I have grown rather fond of Mahogany Bay as a color.

I had the strange misfortune of actually finding the Mahogany Bay FAM auction very shortly after it was listed, and fumbled around the page for a few anxious seconds desperately looking for the “Buy It Now” button that was not there.

So I will simply have to be content with my three-legged mare…

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Striking Green Gold

After getting dismissed early from jury duty on Thursday, I decided to stop at the Walmart on the way home, and guess what I found?

It looked like they had just plopped a freshly opened box of Mystery Stablemates on the shelf, so it was more a matter of timing than luck or skill. (There is nothing especially special about the Pony. I just like the mold.)

I wanted to wait until I got home, but my curiosity got the best of me, and I opened them in the parking lot. I probably should have waited – you guys weren’t kidding about the overwhelming paint-store smell!

It’s not just the Gloss that’s responsible for the Friesian’s unique funk, but a combination of the opaque green-gold metallic paint, the Gloss, and the sealed bags they marinate in.

I think that these Green-Gold Friesians will end up being not all that rare, since they seem to be appearing at roughly the same rate/quantity as all of the other pieces in that Mystery assortment, and are being replenished somewhat regularly. They only seem scarce because everyone is rushing the stores and grabbing all the Glossy! Metallic! Friesians they can find.

The situation with the Copper Florentine Django is a little bit different: he’s appearing in one out of every four Mystery assortment boxes. That is rare, but not elbow-to-eyeball Black Friday Sale rare: that’s 750 pieces for every 3000 boxes of Stablemates shipped.

Since many of the other pieces in the assortment are in high demand also – the Reiner, the Bucking Horse Rivet, Tushar, and that especially handsome Alabaster Eberl Andalusian among them – I foresee many more boxes of those Mystery Stablemates being sold and shipped, and many more Djangos with them.

This is why I can’t muster the energy to worry about him. There will be more in the pipeline, sooner and later.

My second Friesian will be sold or traded in the near future (for the Metallic Blue Endurance Arabian, I hope?) There were no Unicorns or Mini Whinnies at the store I stopped at, and since I have too many other things to buy and/or worry about in the next several weeks, that’s likely the end of my Walmart adventuring.