Sunday, September 30, 2018

Latigo Dun It and Collecting Philosophies

Since I had a twenty minute window of free time Saturday, I went to the toy store to look at the Alejandros. 

The dappling was not optimal on the examples I had to choose from, so he was easier to walk away from than I expected. 

I’m not a stickler for perfect dapples – you know me, I’ll even buy models with really bad dappling just because it amuses me so – but on this particular release I think being fussy is probably the right choice for me. 

But you know who had almost perfect dappling, gorgeous shading and color? A Latigo Dun It, one who looked very much like his “press” photo:

I’m certainly not immune to the Smart Chic Olena mold’s charms, and Reeves is in the habit of finding the most fabulous paint jobs to put on him. Yet he wasn’t on my must-buy list before, until I saw this one in this store…

Isn’t it funny when you walk into a store expecting to buy one thing, and find yourself smitten with something else? 

I’ve always considered myself something of an “organic” collector – my collection grows in response to whatever I find in my shopping environment, and not necessarily out of a specific list of wants or needs – but it is always a shock when a model sort of throws itself at me like that. 

Which is sort of the point of adopting that type of collecting philosophy in the first place. I’d much rather see every model as a possibility – even ones I hadn’t seriously considered before. 

Whenever I’ve just going to look for a very narrow range of molds or colors, or only pieces I would deem “perfect”, I feel like I’m setting myself up for more disappointments than not. And life is full of enough disappointments, you know? 

It was more a matter of time than money or desire that made me leave the Latigo Dun It behind: it was a quick look at the clock and the sudden realization that my 20-minute window of free time was so over. The store was busy (other people were pretty happy with their Alejandros!) and I really had no time to stand in line.   

It’s still a possibility he’ll come home with me, eventually. If someone else hasn’t already snapped him up by the time I can swing by next.

(Looks at schedule, wonders when that is. Sigh.)

Friday, September 28, 2018

2018 TSC Roundup

Briefly stopped by the local Tractor Supply earlier this week, and got a good look at all the 2018 Special Runs: the Jasper, the Boone, and the Classics Mustang set featuring the Charging Mesteno and the Frolicking Foal.

The Jasper (Desatado) was very nice, but still didn’t impress me enough to buy one. I don’t think Glossiness or Chalkiness would have changed my opinion: it’s the mold, not the color.

I liked the Boone (Cody) more than I thought I would: the color was softer and lighter than I imagined – almost a Perlino Dun – and I liked the Pinto masking on him better than on his big brother Salpicado. They did a very rough-edged style of masking on the Salpicado that I assume was an attempt to simulate the feathery edges you see on some sabinos, but I don’t think it was entirely successful.

The Mustang set intrigues me. The Charging Mesteno mold hasn’t seen much use at all – I think the last time we saw him was nearly ten years ago, on one of the Walmart Mustang sets – and I honestly don’t know why he has been so scarce since.

I can kind of understand why the lumpy-bumpy “Old Man” Mesteno hasn’t been put back into production since his initial release in 1996, but the only thing I could see being an impediment for the Charging Mesteno mold is, like the Nokota Horse, the size and shape of the mold might make it difficult to package him?

I do like his color; it’s very similar to (though not the same as) the Balking Mule Test Color that appeared in my dreams early this week. I also love that they used the Snowcap Appaloosa pattern on the Frolicking Foal: you know me and my fondness for the “less attractive” Appaloosas!

Though I was surprised – and quite pleased – that the Few Spot True North was the second highest moneymaker at the BreyerFest benefit auction this year. It’s reassuring to know that my tastes aren’t quite as “out there” as I assumed, and that the auction results may improve the odds of a more available/affordable release in the future.

There was also another Django in their latest batch of Mystery Stablemates at this TSC too, but since I’m having a hard time selling stuff I already have in the stash, I didn’t feel like I could justify bringing home another to resell. I’ll let someone else have the job of that surprise.

I didn’t bring anybody else home either. The usual excuses: time and money.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Painted Ribbons

Breyer has never been consistent about painting molded-on ribbons and bobs, so the latest hobby perturbance over Alejandro’s unpainted ribbons has floated past me.

Earlier examples of the original Cantering Welsh Pony had painted ribbons; later ones generally did not, and even later releases have been all over the map. Most of the new molds released in the late 1970s and early 1980s that featured braiding – like Halla, and the Classic USET horses – also didn’t come with painted braids, outside of a few possible Samples and Tests.

The Classic Polo Pony rarely got the painted ribbon treatment – I believe the 1994 Show Special Silver Comet is the only Production Run release that did – and the Clydesdale Stallion’s forelock ribbon is also only occasionally painted. (And only after Nancy Young pointed out the fact that it was even there at all!)

It’s not like it’s something new with the Brishen mold, either: of the three previous releases featuring the fancy plaited “down” mane, only the BreyerFest 2013 Laredo release has handpainted ribbons. Tesoro de Oro and Dag Dia didn’t get them.

Why some models get the painted ribbon treatment and some do not nowadays is complicated, and not entirely cost-related. If cost was the sole factor, we wouldn’t see painted ribbons on $4.00 Walmart Stablemates like the recent G2 Saddlebred release in the Mystery Surprise series:

With the Walmart Stablemates I suspect it’s a matter of quantity and bulk pricing – Walmart sells tons of Stablemates! – and creating the appearance of value. Adding detailing to small, incidental items like Stablemates increases the likelihood of impulse sales. More sales? More money!

By the way, painted ribbons on Stablemates releases are a relatively recent phenomenon, all around. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that the G1 Saddlebred finally got them, in the Sears and JC Penneys Stablemates Assortments available through their respective Christmas catalogs – over twenty years after the mold debuted in 1975! Considering the execution, however, they probably should have waited a bit longer.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Horse Dreams

From the pictures that are appearing online, Bogeyman does look slimy – in the good way, I mean.

Which is what I figured. While Breyer’s pictures have gotten better lately, it’s still a safe bet that most items will look better in person than they do online.

So if it is still available the next time I need to place an order, one just might end up in my cart.

I think it is indicative of the lack of time I’ve had for horses that my dreams are starting to compensate: I had a “found horse” dream last night! You know, the kind of dream where you find the models of your dreams, for free or cheap?

I don’t get them very often, presumably because in the environment I reside in, model horses aren’t all that uncommon: I find them all the time, even when I am not looking. I go shopping for shoes and work pants, and end up coming home with a box of horses!

In this dream I found a loose box of one-dollar toys in a thrift store, and it was full of equine randomness: everything from Stablemates to Traditionals, from New in Box to Body quality, and even a couple of Test Colors!

The two Test Colors, incidentally, were an airbrushed Black Pinto Traditional Ruffian – similar to the Vintage Club Tanner release – and a Splash Spot Red Chestnut Semi-Leopard Appaloosa Balking Mule.

Neither of these molds, colors, or mold-color combos are high on my list of wants or desires, so it’s interesting that those were the models that my subconscious conjured up for me. Not a Wedgewood Blue Polled Hereford Bull? Not a Matte Neon Yellow Palomino Traditional Man o’ War?

My first reaction within the dream was – and this should come as no surprise at all – that I couldn’t wait to get home and do some research on them!

And then clean them up, because they were a bit dinged up, having resided in a mixed box of jumbled toys and all.

Horses in my horse dreams are rarely mint condition, but I think that’s because I take a lot of pleasure in fixing up foundlings – especially rarities! So that part definitely rang true, as something I would dream about.

It will be super-duper weird if either one of those ideas turns into something real in the next several months. If it does, and it’s something affordable (IOW: not an actual Test Color or Auction Model) then I might be obligated to buy it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Research Reminder

Still AWOL for the time being.

In the meantime, since I get these requests on a fairly regular basis, I just wanted to remind you that it’s not necessary to ask my permission to use anything on this site for your documentation or research needs.

All that I ask is that you note where you got your data from. Just like you did the last time you wrote a research paper!

I can’t guarantee that the judge will take my word as final: I’ve gotten into some… interesting arguments with some of my fellow hobbyists over the years about some of the finer (and not so fine) points of Breyer History.

Also, there are a number of posts that probably no longer as accurate as they should be, and should be updated with new or fresher research.

Time, of course, is the issue here: I’m still struggling to schedule time for things like showering and sleeping, and this situation isn’t going to change until at least the middle of October.

Plus there are over 1000 posts and nearly a million words to filter through. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Well, maybe a personal assistant might, but I can’t afford one of those. And while her spelling skills are top notch, Vita’s reading comprehension aren’t.  

If you absolutely need to get the most up-to-date data, I’ll accommodate when and where I can. Might take a couple of days for me to see your request. And a couple of days to answer after that, depending on my state of mind.

Keep having fun while I’m away!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Hartlands, Again?

By the time I entered the hobby in the late 1970s, Hartlands had already been out of production for several years. They were never formally a part of my childhood, though once I discovered Tinymites and Barkies, those did become as crucial a part of my early hobbyhood as Stablemates did.

Because just like Stablemates they were cute, little, and affordable!

My Hartland collection has expanded and contracted multiple times over the years, almost entirely dependent on incidental flea market and thrift store finds.

I still have all of my Tinymites and Barkies, but the rest of the Hartland collection now takes up about half a shelf in the display collection in the bedroom. Other than a few minor grails – a Blue Roan Polo Pony, the Pearl 11-inch Arabian, a couple of stray Barkies I’m still missing – I doubt it will expand much further.

My opinion on the latest attempt to revive Hartlands? (What is this now, the third, fourth or fifth attempt?)

The past is a nice place to visit, but you don’t want to live there.

This has nothing to do with their style: you all know I’ve never been a stickler for anatomical or conformational fidelity. I’d be all for adding more models in the Hartland style to the hobby world.

If the latest attempt happens to include new molds in the Hartland style – either entirely new sculptures, ones that had been planned in previous revivals, or even older unreleased designs, like these mysterious and tantalizing fellows – I’d be all for it:

(These photos are from Marney’s files, naturally, included in a small group taken during a trip to Hartland Collectables in the 1980s. There were no notations on these photos, so I have no additional information to give about them or their whereabouts.)

But if it’s going to be just another attempt to market older molds, I just don’t foresee it being viable.

Toy companies – like any companies, really – require innovation to thrive. Marketing and nostalgia can only take you so far: new molds, new products, new colors, and new ways of thinking are all necessary components for long-term success and viability.

I think most of us have harbored the fantasy of having a model horse company of our own, running it the way we think it should be run.

Even I had this fantasy for a brief while: I worked at a plastic-injection molding plant for several years, and they were going through a phase where they wanted to create proprietary toy products of their own.

My suggestions were largely for naught, because the owner was in the habit of ignoring the input of people who weren’t also members of his immediate family. (If that. The company is long gone, unsurprisingly.)

I still get twinges of this fantasy, usually when I find myself perusing the toy horse selection at the dollar store. Could you imagine if those companies invested just a few dollars more into development of slightly more horselike molds? And what impact cheap, decent, and widely available bodies for customizing could have on the hobby?

Friday, September 14, 2018

Interesting Failures vs. Boring Successes

I like Bogeyman, but I don’t know if I love him yet:

It doesn’t help that I took my car in for a little deferred maintenance and found out that the repairs are going to be a little more expensive than I anticipated. (A part that normally never breaks, broke. Michigan roads!) So there is no fun-money in the budget for little things like Bogeyman.

Heck, I had to walk away from a stack of Nevermores earlier this week, and I just about had a panic attack over that one, because that one really does tickle my fancy. (Sigh.)

If you did a personality test to determine my likes, dislikes and preferences and designed a Halloween Horse to meet all the criteria, the end result just might be Nevermore. I think the only thing that’s missing is that it doesn’t Glow in the Dark!

But back to Bogeyman.

I think he’ll be neater in person than the photograph lets on – the ad copy hints at a “pearly base” to her color. If they apply it liberally to the drippy parts, I can see it reasonably reproducing the look of slime.

If that is the case, I might just pinch a few pennies and get one after all.

If not, hey, I’ll still give them points for trying something different. I’d rather buy an interesting failure than a boring success.

The Tractor Supply Special Run Traditionals – a Red Dun Pinto Cody named Boone and a Shaded Bay Desatado named Jasper – will also be a pass for me this year, too.

Of the two, I find the Jasper the more intriguing.

Some models are just harder to love than others. For a lot of hobbyists, it’s a structural or anatomical issue that puts a model on their hard-to-love list, but for me it tends to be aesthetic ones.

I’m just not a big fan of the Desatado as a sculpture, so much so that I still haven’t found one to join my herd. All the ones that I have managed to acquire I’ve ended up selling a few weeks or months later.

The only one I’ve really loved? It had to be last year’s Saturday Raffle Model Rana. Of course. Not winning most raffle horses ranges from annoying to mildly or moderately disappointing: not winning Rana actually hurt.

(After the raffle I went back to the Clarion and walked into three successive rooms with occupants who had won Ranas. If there had seen one more Rana, something else would have ended up as hurt or broken as my soul.)

But I have been an absolute sucker for a well-done Bay paint job, something you probably could have guessed from the number of them I brought home with me from BreyerFest this year.

Hmm. Maybe I’ll put it on my Christmas Wish List and let Santa make the call.

Sunday, September 9, 2018


I just realized that I kinda-sorta collect the Brishen mold. I have an NPOD Sample of the Bay Pinto Gypsy Vanner, the BreyerFest Store Specials Dag Dia and Albion, and probably soon the Brick and Mortar Special Alejandro, even though I know I shouldn’t:

The name reminds me of Lady Gaga’s video of the same name that I won’t link to here, because its Evita-meets-Steve-Rude’s-Nexus vibe is not quite family-friendly enough for this blog.

Although I don’t think it was intentional, they did name one of their Special Runs (Astru) after a Hungarian Black Metal band, too. It makes me wonder what they’re actually listening to in the offices in New Jersey.

But anyway…

His color, for those of you not up on your horse color genetics, is Mulberry Gray, a relatively rare color in Breyer’s repertoire. There have been some Tests like the Moody Andalusian from 2016, and the Original and Reissue of the Legionario III #880 Medieval Knight. The #1498 Lusitano on the Esprit mold was called Red Roan, but is technically Mulberry Gray, as well.

The mold has some conformational issues, but I think Reeves has done a remarkable job in designing paintjobs that highlight the mold’s strength as a more fantastical creature in the spirit of Esprit and Ethereal.

I’ve described the Pinto Gypsy Vanner as a Lisa Frank-style horse, Novelisto D and Dag Dia as personifications of Lightness and Darkness.

Alejandro? His mane and tail make him look like he’s literally on fire.

And I can’t look away: in fact, I think I love it.

There are already a few too many Rarities and Glossies with the Brishen mold and all its variants to make actively collecting the mold impractical.

To be realistic, it really isn’t practical for me to buy any horses at all right now, other than the occasional stray Stablemate. If I happen to find him sometime this week or next, during my travels, I will get him.

But that’s a big if.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Stablemates, Unicorns, Tractor Supply, Etc.

The store where they were acquired is a bit out of the way of my usual travels, but I just happened to be in the neighborhood about a week ago and thought, why the heck not?

Apparently some of the Unicorn Stablemates Glow – regrind from the Glow in the Dark sets, obviously – but these two aren’t among them. I’m fine with just having them.

The store – not one I’d normally consider a sales hotbed – received not one, but two cases of the Paint Kits. That tells me that either it’s an open stock item, or an early launch of a Regular Run item. The 5000-series numbering on these sets leads me to believe that these are (or will be) Regular Run items.

However, items made for Tractor Supply – Regular Run, or Special Run – tend to come with either extended VIN numbers on their bellies and/or Made in China stickers, subtle differences that mean little to someone merely looking for a nice horse to add to the herd, but mean yet another subtle variation for the completist to track down.

This means that the Copper Florentine Djangos turning up at TSC are – or could be – interpreted as a separate entity from the actual Chase piece in the standard Mystery Box assortment. If you are so inclined.

As for the upset some are feeling over the declining prices of Copper Florentine Djangos because of the appearance of the TSC Djangos, there’s the reason why I can’t justify spending more than 20-30 on any given Stablemate.

Because aside from a handful of Special Runs (like Hermes) and Promotional items, most Stablemates aren’t numerically rare: most piece runs are in the thousands, or at least the high hundreds.

It’s perceived rarity, rather than actual numerical rarity, that’s driving the Stablemates market, especially now. When you’re told that that only one in four Mystery Boxes has a Copper Florentine Chase piece, that sounds pretty rare, right?

Here’s the kicker: we don’t know how many boxes have actually been produced.

Some hobbyists have been trying to parse the numbers based on the shipping boxes they come in from China – the ones that say “XXX of XXX boxes” – but that’s not necessarily accurate either. That “96” number that’s been batted around could be per shipment, and we have no way of knowing how many shipments.

They sell an ungodly amount of Stablemates, y’all. It could be lots.

Even without the appearance of the TSC Djangos, the price on the Copper Florentines was bound to fluctuate lower, eventually, as more boxes of Mystery Stablemates were distributed.

Because of Tractor Supply, it just happened sooner, rather than later.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Scanners Live in Vain

What the local annual book sale lacked in quantity (for me) it made up for in quality. Among the finds are the 1950 translation of the definitive book about German Shepherds written by the guy who invented the breed, a 1984 edition of the FEI rulebook for Driving(!), and a First Edition-First Printing of Misty of Chincoteague from 1947:

My original Misty of Chincoteague was a 1948 edition that had seen better days, so I was super happy to find an upgrade that was not only in better condition, but was a first-first, too!

Take that, annoying book scanner people!

For those of you unfamiliar with shopping at charity used book sales, there’s a certain class of resellers who use handheld scanners or phone apps to determine if books are worth buying for resale.

They tend to be indiscriminate in their purchases, and focused on more modern books that have scanable barcodes or ISBN numbers. Unless a sale specifically bans them in the first day or hours, they will absolutely overrun the place.

I don’t have an issue with them having an online bookselling business, because I do as well, but a lot of these people are such amateurs.

I showed up an hour late for the sale – aside from the bad traffic, I also had to make a run to the bank, because my Salvation Army shopping spree earlier in the week left me without any fun money at all. Yet I still managed to score some pretty valuable books that were essentially invisible to the scanner people, who were too focused on what their scanners were telling them.

Is there a model horse lesson to be learned from this story?

Of course there is: a tool can’t replace knowledge or experience. A tool is often incapable of distinguishing the subtle nuances that differentiate the valuable from the valueless. This applies to either books, or Breyers.

A Matte Palomino Family Arabian Stallion in ordinary condition? Probably body box material. A mint-in-box Chalky Palomino Family Arabian Stallion with all his paperwork and receipts? That’s a major score!

You want to succeed at collecting? A tool can only take you so far. Work on building the database you carry inside your head.

My other edition of Misty will be going in my BreyerFest book stash (which was absolutely decimated this year) along with a couple of the others. The Fury book is going into my reference library, unless they reissue the Fury mold for BreyerFest next year. (I hope!)

The GSD book will be put online in the near future, because vintage dog reference books have been a really good niche market for me. Just as it was for horse racing, the Metro Detroit area used to be quite a hotbed for dog breeders!