Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Dark Horses

It’s about diggity-dang time they released the Dark Horse Surprise numbers!

Palomino Splash: 1050 Matte/175 Gloss (1225 total)
Appaloosa: 850 Matte/175 Gloss (1025 total)
Bay Tobiano Pinto: 575 Matte/175 Gloss (750 total)
Flaming Decorator: 425 Matte/175 Gloss (600 total)
Black: 225 Matte/175 Gloss (400 total)

The Black is definitely the rarest, and the Splash Palomino the most common. No surprises there.

But I thought – based on online and event sales – that the Bay Pinto was going to be the second rarest.

Apparently the large number of Decorators I saw for sale wasn’t a result of sheer numbers, but a lack of interest/appeal in the color itself, primarily among younger collectors – much like the original 1960s Decorators!

In fact, if I heard any complaints at all about the Surprise model this year, it was from younger collectors bemoaning the fact that they pulled the Decorator. It was very clearly designed to appeal to a rather different clientele from the typical BreyerFest attendee – ones more interested in horsepower, rather than horse power.

It’ll be interesting to see if, like the original vintage Decos, that translates into increased interest (and prices) in the color in the future.

It’s been my experience that younger collectors seem to prefer the Tobiano Pintos; add into the mix the fact that the Smarty Jones hasn’t come in a lot of pintos in general (with the most accessible being the still-pretty-tough-to-get 2007 Collector’s Choice Windtalker in Grulla Overo) and it makes some sense that any kids that snagged one likely kept it.

I would have been fine with the Deco if I had gotten one – you know I love Translucents – but I am glad I ended up with my two favorites: the Black and the Palomino Splash!

Just a few weeks ago I was pining for more Splash Pintos, and the one in the Dark Horse Surprise is beautifully executed: if he had been a standalone Special Run this year, I would have likely bought him!

And well, I’ve been a longtime champion of Solid Black paintjobs for years. When I went over to the Silent Auction Booth to ogle the complete set of Glossies Friday afternoon, two thoughts immediately crossed my mind:

“Ooh, the Black one’s my favorite!”

“He’s probably the rare one. I always pick the rare one.”

I guess my only (slight) criticism of the Dark Horse Surprise was the predictability: a lot of people pegged it as the Smarty Jones early on. I was hoping that Reeves would throw us a curveball and give us something offbeat or a little more Quarter/Stock Horsey.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Times

I had a particularly bad migraine yesterday and I’m still feeling a bit nauseous, so just a bit of commentary about that article in The New York Times.

If you haven’t read it yet, I’d recommend it; it’s actually rather decent:


I especially liked this paragraph – it makes BreyerFest sound so exotic and alluring:
If Breyerfest is the horse girl’s bacchanal, the nearby Clarion Hotel is its open bar, from which the ecstasy of material excess flows like wine. Throughout Breyerfest, the hotel transforms into a kind of Kowloon Walled City, in which dealers cram their rooms floor to ceiling with shelves of model horses and open their doors to the madding crowd.
If I wasn’t already a lifer, I’d be penciling BreyerFest into my 2019 itinerary right now!

Also, had I known The New York Times was milling about, I would have made the effort to get quoted! While it’s not necessarily something I’ve been looking to add to my “bucket list”, it would have made a nice bullet point on the Curriculum Vitae.

(I’ve been quoted in newspapers before, but nothing on that big of a stage.)

Although the hobby has gotten a lot of press over the years, most of it has been via regional newspapers and specialty periodicals (like Western Horseman); national press like this is a little out of the ordinary.

For the most part, this article was pretty respectful and with little in the way of the “Let’s ogle the oddballs!” framing that hobbies and other unique subcultures tend to get put into.

I do have a few other quibbles with the article, though.

The impression that the hobby itself is of more recent vintage, and generated by Breyer itself is frustrating. I know why they framed it this way – this is at its core a puff/promotional piece for Reeves – but no, not even.

This little hobby of ours has been around long enough that it’s become multigenerational. There were newsletters, live shows, and organizing bodies within the hobby proper over fifty years ago. It was hobbyists who were pestering Breyer to get more involved: that the industry exists as it does is largely in response to us!

BreyerFest is also essentially just an outgrowth of an earlier event – Model Horse Congress – that was originally organized by hobbyists for a couple of decades prior.

That Reeves gets to dictate how we get seen by the larger world is partly our fault; we’ve spent way too much time quibbling over incidental things and awarding each other prizes, rather than promoting the activity itself.

But I am in no mood to argue those points all over again. It’s time for this old “horse lady” to get herself to bed for the flea market tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Let’s talk about the Celebration Horse a little bit today.

The initial promotional photos for him were not that promising. It didn’t particularly matter to me, since I appear to be going through a Carrick phase.

But oh my goodness, the two I picked up are super, particularly this one:

Gorgeous shading, nice finishwork, and is that just a hint of Blue Interference paint in his finish, giving him a delightful sheen?

I figured they’d be incorporating that Blue Interference paint on a nominally “realistic” paint job in the near future, but putting it on a release I was already predisposed to like? Nice!

I haven’t taken most of my more recent Celebration Horses out of their boxes – partly out of laziness, and partly out of self-preservation – but I think this one will be having a coming out party pretty soon.

You can’t really see in the photograph, but he’s live show quality, or darn well near it.

It would have been even lovelier to add a Gloss one to my equine family, but that was not meant to be.

My Costume Contest entry this year was made from recycled bits of previous costumes and materials I got on sale, or for cheap through the local thrift store circuit. One yard of felt from the local Salvation Army Store, some glue sticks and a Dollar Tree sun hat =

(Too tired right now to drag out the matching Winner’s Blanket!)

In other words, I wasn’t terribly invested in it, emotionally or financially. But it turned out pretty nice regardless, and considering the judging for this thing seems to be pretty random, I thought I had as good a shot as anyone.

Aside from the fact that the scheduling issues have still not been resolved, and either the time or the location of it has to change – it was, as I mentioned before, the lack of prize equity that I found most troubling.

I believe the prize breakdown was 26 kids got prizes, as opposed to 10 adults? I was there and saw the disparity first hand, but I did not realize the gap was so huge.

I know why they do it: it’s supposed to encourage kids and families with young kids to participate.

But I think it’s starting to have the same effect the Gloss Prize Models did at the Children’s Show, and the Diorama Contest’s under-10 category: it’s becoming an incentive for some parents to use their children as proxies.

Gloss Prize Models tend to baseline at $500 on the secondary market. That’s a pretty big incentive, especially if the odds are in their favor.

I’ve been luckier than most and I have actually won a couple of prizes, and for that I’m grateful. And I’m definitely not hurting for treasures: my local flea markets are pretty sweet, and I definitely have a knack for finding things at BreyerFest or online that nobody else does.

BreyerFest is a constant work in progress, and things will change.

And so am I, and so will I.

For the better, for the worse, or just for the sake of change.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Derpy Winner

By request, the Classic Ruffian with the derpy markings:

Classic Chicago factory quality control, ca. 1977! Close enough is good enough, am I right?

She’s super-dark with nice shading, too – a bit of light restoration and she’d probably be live show quality. Depending on the judges sense of humor.

Though I do have a small collection of unusual early Love Classic Racehorse variations, she was not something I was necessarily looking for. I did find that lovely variation of the Palomino earlier in the year, but like that girl, this was more a purchase of opportunity.

I heard reports that many of the Icabad Cranes had markings that were similarly askew, but I didn’t see anything particularly eyebrow-raising when I went to pick mine out Saturday afternoon.

And if there was, I might have actually gone with it anyway. Unless it’s something that’s really distracting – or clearly impossible – it’s something I regard more as a neat variation than a true flaw.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Hallway Beer

This isn’t going to make a lot of sense to most of you, but I just want to preface what I write today with the news that the thing that I was so excited about this week… did not pan out.

I’m not going to lie: finishing in second place your whole life is positively soulcrushing; this is why I take things like the various contests, competitions and random draws at BreyerFest and online so seriously.

The handful of times I’ve actually succeeded in winning something there – even if it was a totally random draw I had no control over whatsoever – it’s given me a sense of accomplishment and success that I don’t get on a regular basis in the mundane world.

I’ll recover because I have to, but I’d rather not have to, at all.

(In the meantime, anyone out there want a copy of my résumé?)

Moving on to slightly happier thoughts, here’s this year’s Volunteer Model, whose name is apparently Churchill:

As I explained not all that long ago, I only have a handful of other Othellos, all of them special in some way: the Silver Snow, the BreyerFest Mariah’s Boon, and my Juggathello (my freakish Mariah’s Boon Sample with the spooky eyes and little dictator moustache).

I wouldn’t mind more, but the Othello mold is one of those handful of molds that make hobbyists kind of crazy. With so many of them in the unaffordable or unattainable range, it’s probably wiser to wait for models to find me, rather than vice versa.

The Volunteer Models have been trending towards Connoisseur-level paint jobs on newer and/or more popular molds. Back when they still put Volunteer Models in the Benefit Auction, I even thought this Othello might have been one:


It used to be that the sheer scarcity of the Volunteer Model was what made it worth the risk of sunburn, blisters and the occasional verbal abuse. But as the size of the event has grown – and the need for volunteers – they obviously had to switch up their strategy to encourage hobbyists to apply.

And it seems to be working!

Aside from the fact that his paint job is amazing – Sooty Dappled Buckskin, man – I loved that the selection of Othello got a lot of younger hobbyists asking questions about volunteering.
My Churchill, of course, is not going anywhere. He’s even got a name, already: Hallway Beer.

I suppose now’s a good time to talk about it. In a suitably sanitized fashion.

During the course of BreyerFest – on Wednesday night, maybe? – I found an unopened can of Modelo in one of the hallways of the Clarion. I picked it up and popped in the fridge, figuring that somebody at some point would have something to celebrate, right?

Well, that obviously did not happen.

Saturday night, we drank it anyway. It was a free can of beer, and aside from our lack of success at almost everything we tried this year, we still managed to have a good time with friends.

(Two seconds after I took the above photograph, the sign fell down, Othello fell down, and now I have to do some research on restoration artists. Life, you suck.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

All The Things

Almost done unpacking, Here is The Haul:

  • Brass Hats (2)
  • Hands Down Stablemate (2)
  • Icabad Crane
  • Gloss Foiled Again
  • Chestnut Liam (still boxed)
  • Newmarket (still bagged)
  • Dead Heat – Palomino (still bagged)
  • Matte Sierra Rose
  • Inari
  • Matte Palomino Splash Surprise Smarty
  • Matte Black Surprise Smarty
  • Annie Oakley’s Prince (NPOD Warehouse Leftover)
  • Bay Western Prancing Horse (True Bay variation)
  • #606 Classic Ruffian, extra dark with derpy markings
Not shown: the Volunteer Model Othello, who is being admired upstairs. I’ll talk about him more next time, along with some of the others. The can of beer is an interesting story, though a borderline NSFW one.

No Prizes, no Glosses, no Raffles, no outstanding rarities other than the Matte Black Surprise Smarty. I did get the two Dark Horse Surprises I wanted the most – the Splash and the Black – though either one of them being Glossy would have been nice change of pace for me.

I haven’t gotten a Gloss Surprise since the Stoneleigh Surprise in 2012 – back when they were actually rare-rare. (The “easier” something becomes to acquire, the less likely I am actually able to acquire it. Go figure.)

I got pretty much everything I wanted, except for the Gloss part. And the Riddle part. I didn’t get a chance to do much room shopping, either, though that’s probably for the best.

And I wasn’t cool with the way the Costume Contest prizes were allocated.

I could handle not winning: I was resigned to that the moment Breyer took my picture. (Always the Pinup, never the Prizewinner…) But the fact that the Adult Individual category had the largest number of entries, but the fewest number of prizes awarded, did not seem entirely… equitable?

I am not sure if I’ll be participating in any of the contests next year. (It’s not entirely about the lack of winning. I just need a break.) Though since next year’s theme is “Horse Heroes” I might just walk around the KHP wearing a cape just for the heck of it.

(Again: the fact that I posted the picture of Comet the Super-Horse a short time ago was entirely coincidental. I might know things, but not all the things.)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Tale of Two Doggies

This was supposed to publish on July 12th - it was scheduled to anyway, but apparently blogspot thought otherwise, and the hotel wifi was spotty and I did not have time to check. See you all tomorrow.

Back in the old days of Breyer History Research, we didn’t have enough information to pinpoint the precise year many models debuted.

The original Breyer Master List that they sent out to collectors who asked for it listed two different dates 1958, and 1963 – as the starting date for the majority of early Breyer models: basically, all those seen in either the 1958 Price List, or the 1963 Dealer’s Catalog.

Those were the only two pieces of reference material we had back then that had any actual dates ascribed to them.

We’ve since made significant progress, and significant corrections. But the bad data of the past still crops up from time to time: the two that rub me the wrong way especially are the 1956 date ascribed to the Old Mold Mare and Foal (nope, 1958!), and 1958 for the Boxer (actually, 1953!)

Although we still have significant gaps in our knowledge base, we’re getting to the point where we can not just pinpoint the year a mold was released, but the month! Like the Davy Crockett: it’s listed as one of the “New Toys on parade” in the August 1955 issue of Toys and Novelties magazine:

(A month before Hartland’s version, by the way…)

Both Lassie and Rin Tin Tin made their “official” debuts at the 1956 Toy Fair, but I don’t think they were released simultaneously: I think Lassie was ready to go at least a couple of months before Rinty was.

The announcement of Breyer acquiring the license for Lassie was announced in the August 1955 issue of Toys and Novelties magazine, and a picture of the Lassie appears in the January 1956 issue.

Breyer is not listed as a licensee of Rin Tin Tin in the August 1955 issue, and his first official announcement as a Breyer product at all is in the March 1956 issue, in an ad placed by Krenzien, Krenzien & Dunlap, Breyer’s Midwest Sales Representatives.

In addition to all that, a few years ago someone in the Chicago area found a Lassie at an estate sale painted just like Rin Tin Tin – along with several other unusual pieces in a collection of someone who obviously had a professional connection to Breyer in the mid to late 1950s.

Exactly when the Rinty was available I still don’t know yet; my files may be good, but not that good. Yet.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Dear Flea Market: The Cowboy Cull

Originally I was just going to whinge about the new Unicorn Stablemates and how I am super annoyed that I will probably just have to order a box of them from somebody just to get some at a halfway decent price, but then I went to the flea market and this happened:

I found an authentic ca. 1950s Breyer Cowboy Cull.

With his hat.

(That was the best part. I didn’t even see it when I picked him up, and the vendor was “Don’t forget his hat!” If he had pulled out the guns or a box, too, you would not be reading this because I would be in the hospital right now still recovering from the shock.)

Seriously, flea market: we need to talk.

I thought we were safely out of range of Chicago for this sort of nonsense to happen.

The closest I’ve heard of such things happening was Lansing and Lansing is, at best, two hours away. We’re close enough to Canada that the occasional Beswick or Royal Doulton piece wanders by, and that I’m totally cool with and grateful for.

You might remember that I found a New Jersey Cull (the Quarter Horse Gelding Splash) here last year, which is why I’m understandably a little freaked out about this.

The rest of the flea market shopping experience was fairly normal. A few body-quality Classics, some craft supplies, a few groceries. I did end up leaving some stuff behind, including a pretty decent Gray Plastic Donkey, because after the Cowboy I was pretty much “I can’t even, anymore.” 

Technically there’s not a huge market for this thing: Culls are a bit of a niche item, and so are the 1950s-era Rigid Riders.

So a niche of a niche is what, exactly? Is it like a nook or cranny?

Since I dwell in that subniche – I own a Test Color Roemer, over a half dozen Black Stretched Morgan variations, and a three-legged Dapple Gray Family Arabian Mare that I’m not even sure I know what she is anymore – it’s a moot point. It’s not going anywhere.

Interesting way to get “model horse holy week” off to a start!

I have to go finish packing now. It is not going well, but I’ll manage.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Worth the Wait

Whoa, yesterday just flew right past me! Like many of you at the moment, I’m pretty much in full panic mode. I’m not sure why; everything is going about as well as can be expected, the car is half-packed, and the various assorted costume bits are coming along just fine.

Habit, I guess? I’m always fearful that I will forget one thing…

Just a couple of Auction lots that can’t pass without comment.

Pearly + Liver Chestnut + Minimal Pinto = this paint job is my everything! A modern reinterpretation of Matte Charcoal, and I’m loving it!

The Gloss Dark Palomino on this Five-Gaiter is pretty sexy too:

Either one of those colors would look good on almost anything. Motor vehicles, Christmas ornaments, household appliances….

I don’t know if the Gaiter will go for particularly big money, though: Five-Gaiters (except for Decorators) are a tough sell right now. Even fairly decent Woodgrains and #53 Gloss Palominos can be had for well under $50.

I’ve been around long enough to see the fortunes rise and fall on most models. Remember when the #465 Khemosabi was all the rage on eBay? When the original release of the AQHA Ideal Quarter Horse, new in box, could guarantee you at least a $150 payout? When a JAH Saddlebred Weanling could set you back $400?

That’s why I try to follow my own tastes and hew closely to my budget. And wait: I literally cannot afford to be impatient.

A good reminder for those of you who might get enraptured by whatever Reeves throws at us next week: unless it’s something you know really is a once-in-a-lifetime chance (like my Gold Charm Man o’ War was) it’s worth it to wait.

Something new and exciting will turn up in a few weeks, or a few months, and suddenly what’s hot will be not. And if you still love it and want it and need it, it’ll be there for you at a better price.

Usually. Not always, but usually.

(This is what I keep telling myself whenever another Stablemate rarity shows up on the open market. Someday you shall be mine, Emperor’s Gold Bar! And it won’t cost me an actual gold bar to acquire you!)

One more comment before I go back to torturing myself with the hot glue gun.

I don’t know where this tidbit of information came from – I am assuming it’s a misinterpretation or misreading of the entry for it in Nancy Young’s Breyer Molds & Models – but there are way more than three Woodgrain Elephants in the world.

Woodgrain Elephants are still pretty rare – not quite as rare, say, as the Woodgrain Polled Hereford Bull or Buffalo, or the Elephant with Howdah, but definitely not something you see everyday.

But it does concern me that that bit of bad information may have had an effect on the outcome of the auction on eBay. (I missed it previously, because I’ve been avoiding eBay the past month or so, because it’s such a huge time suck.)

Well-informed collectors are less likely to overspend.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Homestretch

The flea market’s offerings this week are acceptable:

The boxed Walmart Mustang sets and the Stablemates were pretty… unpleasant to the touch when I found them. They’ve since cleaned up well, but I don’t even want to imagine where they were being stored previous to their arrival at the flea market.

The photos appear to be late 1970s or early 1980s vintage, and professionally framed and mounted. I originally thought the jumper on top of the one was Might Tango, but I think it was just the early morning mugginess that made me think that.

They are super-nice, though; I am still deciding whether or not to drag them to BreyerFest or not; I am at the point where I may have to leave a few things home, and they might not make the cut.

I took a quick look at the program – for the prices and quantities on the Special Runs:

711283 Newmarket - 800 pieces - $65
711284 Inari - 750 pieces - $60
711285 Dark Horse Surprise - 4000 pieces - $85
711286 Dead Heat – 1800 pieces - $70
711287 Straight Bet - 1600 pieces - $60
711288 Julep & Pim - 1700 pieces - $65
711289 Sierra Rose – 1450 pieces - $60
711290 By A Nose - 1400 pieces - $65

1765 Foiled Again - 750 pieces - $55
711311 Lonesome Glory - 750 pieces - $55
711337 Scamper - 750 pieces - $35

711291 Old Ironsides – 1250 pieces - $75
711292 Icabad Crane – 1700 pieces - $70

711293 Born to Run (Classic Deco) – 1500 pieces - $30
711295 Home Straight (Crystal) – 1000 pieces - $45
711338 Winner’s Circle Autograph Horse (Adios) – 2000 pieces - $25
711304 Hands Down (Stablemate Scale) – 3000 pieces - $10
711294 Furlong (Plush) – 1500 pieces - $18

Surprised that they’re doing 1450 pieces on the Proud Arabian Mare Sierra Rose. I mean, we knew a little while ago that she’s the 50/50 Gloss and Matte model, but it’s still seems like a lot for something that’s technically a Vintage mold.

The Elk Inari is at 750 pieces, in line with most of the previous Nonhorse SRs. He’s my primary want, and I’m not too worried about getting him.

4000 pieces on the Dark Horse Surprise? That’s a lot! Secretly I am hoping that they split the four colors and two finishes equally – 500 of each, basically – but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to be the case. I have to wait and see on that one.

The 1700 piece run on the Store Special Icabad Crane is also a little nuts. But a good nuts for me: that means he shouldn’t be too difficult to acquire.

The “BreyerFest Special Editions” (the Reissues) might be, though. Only 750 pieces of each of them? Sigh. I know that the Pacer isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but being a significantly lower piece run than most of the other Specials being offered, and being Glossy, I suspect a lot of attendees will get a little mercenary about him.

Everybody else I need to look at in person. I haven’t seen any of the newer Premier Club models in person yet, so I am most curious about seeing Straight Bet and the Julep & Pim.

The Classic Translucent Decorator Born to Run looks mighty pretty too, so that’s another possibility for me. Normally I try to get the Pop-Up Store Stablemates, but if this year’s piece is actually resin, I might reconsider: I am clumsy, and with dog.

Back to prep: reviewing the final draft of the Sampler, and doing my final sort on the sales items. (Something I usually do back in May, but stuff got in the way.)