Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Stablemates, Old and New

Interesting lineup for the 2019 Stablemates Club:

Two new molds, and the Mirado, who has only had one previous release – as the final release in 2017’s Stablemates Club. And then there’s the G1 Love Morgan Mare, who we haven’t seen since she was replaced as Rain by the Paso Fino in the #5312 Spirit Family Play Set at the end of 2005.

But alas, no mini Dundee/Lipizzan yet; still hoping he turns up somewhere and somewhat affordable next year, like in a Regular Run boxed assortment or play set. (No Mystery Assortments, please!)

I am fine with all of these selections, since I have been a Stablemates loyalist since almost literally day one. My very plebeian hobby fantasy after winning the lottery wouldn’t be to start buying Decorators or Test Colors or Micro Runs, it would be to complete my Stablemates collection.

Except the super rare or expensive ones because frankly, collecting Test Colors or vintage Decorators would be way cheaper. Of all the reasons why I collect Stablemates, the fact that they are mostly affordable is also a huge part of the allure. Having the luxury of being able to buy what I want wouldn’t change that.

Besides, I could keep my occupied for a good while tracking down all the commons and variations I don’t have!

It’s a lot: I fell off the Stablemates wagon sometime early in the G2 era. It wasn’t any one thing, other than life getting in the way, and then realizing how far behind I was when it wasn’t. Now I get what I can get, and if a release shoots out of my budget range, I just move on to something cheaper.

So when the colors and finishes are finally revealed, the most you’ll get from me are minor quibbles about details – certain molds being annoyingly tippy, color selections I wouldn’t have made personally, aesthetic issues I have with the smanes and tails on later molds, that sort of thing.

I will say that I like what I see in the silhouette of the obvious Thoroughbred in the upper righthand corner. I think he and I will be fast friends, in whatever colors he comes in.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Vanity Organizer Redux

Friend of Blog Ellen tipped me to this wonderful ancient Breyer History nugget, from the 1948 Sears Wishbook:

The brown thing in the lower lefthand corner is the Vanity Organizer – a Breyer-manufactured item from its pre-equine days. I wrote about in an early blog post, when I made the initial discovery:

Here’s the copy from the catalog itself:
New! Vanity Organizer. 
A smart gift women will appreciate. Provides “place for everything.” Sturdy brown plastic; 12 compartments for bob pins, comb, brush, manicure needs.
15" x 12 3/8" x 2" inches. $2.79
So we now know when the item was manufactured, what it sold for, and one of the venues it was sold through!

The company that the Vanity Organizer was manufactured for – The W.F. Goodell Company – was based in Louisville, Kentucky; Sears, like Breyer, was a Chicago-based one. This makes me wonder what role Breyer had, if any, in getting the item in the Sears Wishbook in the first place.

And was the experience what led to the first identifiably Breyer product appeared in the Sears Wishbook: the Cigarette Host, in 1950?


Right now I am beginning to wonder what other still-unidentified items could be lurking in these early Sears Wishbooks that were also Breyer-molded. Another thing to add to the “research topics” list, I guess.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Double Take

No, not that Double Take. This one:

When I caught my first glimpse of the new Collector’s Club Special Celeste, my first thought was “That’s kind of a bold move Reeves, going with a Misty’s Twilight mold.” 

Then I did a face palm and realized it was actually the newer Eberl Andalusian Mare, instead. But take a gander at the 1997 State Line Tack Special Run Kokopelli’s Gold, and you can (maybe?) kind of see why someone like me might have been a wee bit confused?

Yes, even I conflate one model with another. Maybe moreso than the average hobbyist, since I have a bigger-than-average reference file: my brain goes straight to old stuff, instead of the new.

Maybe conflating Misty’s Twilight and the Andalusian Mare is also another reason why I’ve been having a hard time mustering more affection for the newer mold? If anything, I slightly prefer the Misty’s Twilight, and the historical shout out to Currier and Ives prints.

(If I had had the time – and more motivation – to do it, my Diorama Contest entry for BreyerFest this year would have been a recreation of a Currier and Ives harness racing print, preferably one of the legendary Maud S.

In addition to the customizing involved, I would have also had to do a fair bit of tackmaking, sulky-making, and some crazy engineering to suspend the whole shebang inside a shadow box with a vintage-looking picture frame.

So yeah, obviously that wasn’t going to happen.)

Since I’m still enjoying a horse-buying semi-hiatus, whether I really liked Celeste or not was sort of irrelevant anyway. I’ll save my cash for whatever other end-of-year holiday silliness they have planned.

To be honest, all I am asking for is to actually have the opportunity to see the Special Run Holiday Animal – whatever it is! – before it’s sold out.  Since we already got the Special Run Elk Inari at BreyerFest this year I am probably safe even if I do miss it (again). Just having the chance means more to me than the actual buying.

Unless it’s the Deer Family. All bets are off on that.

FYI everybody: while I’m still “out” for the duration, I’m hoping to have more of a hobby and online presence again, soon. While I am nowhere near done with my literal and metaphorical housecleaning, I may be in a more manageable place in the near future.

Monday, October 22, 2018

A Plethora of Pintos

From all the previews that dropped over the past few days, you can tell the end of the year is approaching fast…

First, the third of the Premier Club’s three 2018 releases, Emerson:

I think he’s my favorite of the three Traditional releases for the year. He reminds me of those lean and leggy Thoroughbreds you’d see in illustrations and photographs from the late 19th or early 20th century. He’s also reminiscent of the Love Classic Man o’ War, and that’s not a bad look to emulate!

(I have been sticking fingers in my ears, covering my eyes and mumbling nonsense phrases over and over in a desperate attempt to pretend to unsee the Stablemates Dundee Lipizzaner they previewed in the Collector’s Club Tent at BreyerFest this year. You guys finally release a Stablemates Lipizzaner, and you have to make the first one nigh-unobtainable?

Life is easier if I just pretend it does not exist, until it does.)

I’m a little bummed that Emerson will probably be a little off my financial radar. But likely not for long, because if past history is any guide, we’ll probably see him and all of the other 2018 releases in an assortment of Special Run or Regular Run releases in 2019.

(Put him in that gorgeous “Brass Hat” Bay, and ooh boy….)

The Out of the Blue is the first Collector’s Club Special Run for next year, a Black Roan Tobiano Pinto on the Bobby Jo mold:

While I’ve generally liked the open-ended, larger run Collector’s Club Specials, I haven’t loved them enough to order most of them. The only older one that I think I might cave in and get eventually is Moondance. I think the color and pattern are a good fit for the mold, and the Forever Saige mold is chronically misunderstood (and consequently undervalued, I believe).

I am seriously considering Out of the Blue. I like the mold, I love roany pintos in general, and the relative simplicity of the pattern – reminiscent of one of the original Weather Girl releases Partly Cloudy – is very appealing, and a nice change of pace from the more elaborate paint jobs we’ve been seeing throughout the year.

The third is the final Stablemates Club release for the year, Tabatha Pack’s Darley, I don’t know what to think about, to be honest:

The color is great: I am loving the Gulastra Plume, and I am not as bothered as others are over Reeves’s obsession with Pinto paint jobs this year. (I’m not thrilled by it, either, but that’s what sells. End of story.)

Usually I am all for crazy, awkward or unconventional poses, but I am not quite sure what the heck is going on with Darley. I’m assuming it’s one of those “Arabian” things?

I’ll probably love him once I see him in person. That’s how these things tend to work.

Friday, October 19, 2018


You know what? I’m going to let the two Gambler’s Choice models I received – and opened – yesterday remain a mystery to you all. A Schrödinger's Cat, if you will, with twelve different possibilities, rather than two. 

The more interesting item in that box was the Vintage Club 2019 Renewal flier, featuring the debut model for 2019, a Gloss Silver Bay Pinto Pacer named Rockford:

He’ll be only the third production Gloss on the Pacer – after the 2010 Web Special Pace Yourself, and this year’s BreyerFest Special Gloss Reissue of the Foiled Again. And the third Pinto as well, the others being the impossible-for-me-to-acquire Exclusive Event Praline and this year’s BreyerFest Open Show Reserve Prize Hot to Trot.

And the first Pacer release that is both Gloss and Pinto! 

Incidentally, he’s not named after the TV show character Jim Rockford of The Rockford Files – that went off the air a few years before the “White Frame” style of box debuted – but after Rockford, Illinois, which was the mailing address for Just About Horses for a while (as was neighboring Loves Park, and Walworth, Wisconsin.)

That’s probably all I can/should say about next year’s Vintage Club releases, at this point. Other than if you like what you see so far, wait until you see what’s coming….

(Yes, knowing he was coming did soften the blow of Hot to Trot, just a little bit.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

And Now, A Nonadventure!

It’s October and all I want to do is hibernate! Alas, I have no time for that silliness.

Speaking of silliness, I suppose I should tell you about my desperate and ultimately failed attempt at trying to get on Antiques Roadshow earlier this year. To bring Breyers, or horses, or frankly anything other than rusty old Civil War guns and pawn shop guitars to the masses…

One of their shooting locations this year was less than 20 minutes (!) from the house, so I applied for free tickets.

Didn’t get drawn for them. I was not expecting to, but still annoying, and disappointing.

Then they made more tickets available. Didn’t get drawn for those, either.

Then they offered “free” tickets if you made a donation to the local PBS station. That was a no-go from the start, since the amount they were asking as a suitable donation was greater than my BreyerFest budget.

Then they offered tickets to people who could write a compelling enough essay about an object that they wanted to bring. There were a significant number of tickets available (150, I think?) and I can write things.

Surely I could thwart my lack of luck with the power of my words! So I did write ups on three horse-related items.

First, the large, hand-colored photograph I have of Midnight Sun. Aside from the strangeness of an obvious relic from Harlinsdale Farm turning up in a flea market in Michigan, I thought it’d also make for an excellent segue into educating the public about the ongoing efforts to save the breed from the scourge of the Big Lick. And I could bring a Breyer Midnight Sun as part of the package!


Second, on the letter I have written by Wild Horse Annie to Marguerite Henry talking about the newly-released Breyer Hobo (among other things). One equine legend writing to another equine legend about a third equine legend (Breyer, ahem). Aside from the sheer uniqueness of the letter, I could also have brought along a Classic Hobo and possibly other Marguerite Henry-inspired models for illustrative purposes.

Nope on that one, too.

Third, I wrote about the horse-themed photo album I found a couple years ago, featuring photos of the previous owner’s horses, his trip to Cheyenne Frontier Days (in 1946!), carefully annotated photos from a day at the racetrack in June 1942, all that good stuff. And there was a photograph in the album of a WWII-era Navy baseball team that might have included Yogi Berra, too.

If they weren’t interested in any of the horse stuff, surely the baseball angle would have drawn them in, right? I mean, after guitars and Civil War relics, there seems to be baseball stuff in every episode of Antiques Roadshow, am I right?

Nope. Strike three.

Sorry guys, but apparently they didn’t find me or my stuff interesting enough. This I found a little more devastating than losing a random lottery-type thing: I expect to lose random lotteries, but I pride myself on being at least minimally interesting to almost everybody!

I suppose if I had something horse-related that was also Detroit-related, like Seabiscuit (who started his “comeback” here) or Man o’ War (the Match Race against Sir Barton was just across the river, in Windsor), or The Lone Ranger (which originated in Detroit), or a verifiable piece of a local carousel, because Detroit’s Golden Age corresponded almost exactly with the Golden Age of Carousels, and there were probably more wooden carousels here per capita than any other place on Earth, y’all.
But I didn’t have any of that. So like most my other attempts to bring attention to the hobby to the masses, I found myself sitting home. Again.

So many people in the hobby try to hide their interest in the hobby from the public eye. Ironically, I do everything short of tap-dancing down I-75 in a hot pink tutu during rush hour, and I see nary a shrug in my direction.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Good Enough

It just occurred to me that the two items I ordered late last week – the Vintage Club Weather Girl Grace, and the Stablemates Club Finn – are both Gambler’s Choice items. I just paid out a decent chunk of money and I have no idea what I’ll be getting.

Out of the 12 different possible combinations (three of the Grace, four of the Finn) that is.

And you know what? I’m fine with that. I grew up during the “picture box” era of Breyer collecting – pre-1985 – and most of the time you had no idea what you’d actually be getting inside that box. It wasn’t just a solid, opaque cardboard box either: they were shrinkwrapped too!

(Handpicking? Hah!)

Breyer was in something of an experimental phase with retail packaging in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Prior to then, toy stores generally kept out display pieces, and you had to ask the clerk to bring you your selection from their backstock.

By the end of the 1970s, most stores – toys or otherwise – had switched to a self-service mode as a cost-saving measure, which necessitated a move to more decorative and informative packaging.

The history of Breyer packaging is, of course, much more complicated than that, but I don’t have the time or the mind to deal with the intricacies today. Another day, perhaps.

Aside from the packaging issues, a lot of the time you couldn’t trust the catalogs or manuals, either. Case in point: the Stock Horse Stallions from the 1981 Dealer’s Catalog:

Well, okay, I am still a little mad about that one: I want that minimally-marked Black Pinto San Domingo, dangnabit! I probably have a slightly better chance of acquiring one of the numerous Stock Horse Stallions Tests, like this one:

Seriously, there’s like a bajillion different Black Pinto Stock Horse Stallions out there, and I like them all better than the pinto we actually got, but that just might be a “wanting what you can’t have” thing. Or that I’m always up for another Test Color or Oddity, no matter the mold or color. I already have two Stock Horse Stallion Tests, and don’t really need another.

But back to the original point: everyone has gotten very spoiled since the advent of display boxes. We can be picky now, instead of later!

However, the ability to be pickier isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially if we find ourselves becoming so picky that nothing less than perfection is good enough. And since perfection is an arbitrary and abstract concept, what happens is that eventually, no model is ever good enough.

The perfect is the enemy of the good. 

I’m not saying y’all should accept a substandard model, but sometimes, life is easier and a lot less stressful if we just accept that everything comes occasional ding or flaw, whether we like it or not.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Web Site Remodel

I haven’t been online enough to judge the Breyer Horses web site redesign (too much offline nonsense to deal with at the moment. Life, man.) I pretty much just reactivated my account per their e-mail instructions, and did a little bit of poking around to make sure they didn’t hide any Super-Secret-Special-Runs anywhere.

I do like it visually – it’s a much cleaner, cohesive and professional-looking design, to say the least. The previous site design gave off a “generic toy company” vibe, while this design is more “slightly upscale aspirational equestrian lifestyle brand”.

Which makes sense, since they recently changed their company slogan from the almost meaningless “Let Your Imagination Play” to “A Horse Of My Very Own”. Their mission statement, under the Discover Breyer tab on the index page:

Ever since our first model horse was created in 1950, Breyer has been committed to making the World’s Finest Model Horses. Fans believe that when they hold a Breyer horse in their hands, it’s like entering the world of real horses.   
Our goal is build on the historical legacy of the brand, and bring the inspiration of horses to as many people as possible. As we do this, every expression of the brand, across our products, content, and experiences, is a touchpoint that connects us to that inspiration. 

That’s what I’ve been saying for years; I think I’ve expressed some variations of these sentiments on previous BreyerFest Volunteer Applications, because (duh) that’s what I sincerely believe.

(Though I prefer to think that the new-ish people in charge did their homework and came up with the concept independently, and that I was but one voice of many.)

I don’t have a place for the living-breathing kind of horses in my life – and likely never will – and Breyer Horses are the closest equivalent. Better in some ways, since I don’t have to worry about additional expenses (vet bills, boarding) and, if need be, I can walk away from them for a while and not have to worry about their physical or emotional upkeep.

(Leaving Vita alone for half the day is terrifying enough!)

Whether the site is easier to use or navigate I haven’t really had a chance to determine yet. I suspect there are some bugs that still need to be worked out; there always are.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The "It" Color

Things have been so crazy here for so long that a lot of recent – and not so recent – purchases have come (and sometimes, gone!) without comment. Since my horse purchases have been, and will continue to be more or less on hiatus for the next couple of months, let’s begin to rectify that with this beauty, a Mint in Box Pottery Barn Strapless I bought over a year ago (ulp!):

I ended up paying about market value for her, which is something I do on rare occasions – mostly when I feel that the “good deal” I was hoping for is not likely coming. I justify it by rationalizing that I get enough good deals throughout the year so I can afford an occasional full-retail splurge.

She’ll be released from her box soon; I didn’t have the time or space to do so previously. The box in rough shape, anyway, and unlike the other two Pottery Barn releases – the Classic Johar in Chestnut Appaloosa, and the Best in Show Thoroughbred in Black – she won’t lose her identity or much value once she is set free.

Not that resale value is very high on my list of concerns. It’s not. In fact, focusing on potential resale value is one of the few ways I think collectors and hobbyists can go seriously astray. But now is not the time to revisit that topic…

It’s interesting to me that this purchase – like so many that I’ve made in the past – was unintentionally prescient. As both I and others have pointed out, 2018 has definitely been the “Year of the Bay” as far as Breyers are concerned.

For me, too. The majority of my non-retail purchases at BreyerFest were Bay, and the only current release I am (somewhat) actively looking for is the Walmart 4-piece set, primarily for that beautiful Bay Django.

I’d like to buy an LV Integrity on the Yasmin mold, too, but I’m trying to save that one for any potential gift-with-purchase offers they may spring on us near the end of the year.

It’ll be interesting to see what becomes the next “It” color. I’m secretly hoping for something old-fashioned or Decoratory. Honey Palomino? Gloss Pink-eyed Albino? Resist Dapple Gray?

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Animal Print Decorators

I love Okapis, so I kind of dig the premiere model in the Wild Animal Series, Kehinde:

The Wildlife Animal Series is an obvious replacement to the annually-released Big Cat Series, which had run its course – and out of “Big Cats” to depict (even though it’s technically not a “Big Cat”, I was kind of hoping they’d manage to work a Caracal into the mix.)

Like the Big Cats Series, which was inspired by the 2012 Passage to the Pacific Stablemate Hear Me Roar, the kernel of the idea for the Wild Animal Series was undoubtedly another Exclusive Event model, the 2011 Sunshine Celebration Everglades on the Nokota Horse mold.

I thought he was kind of neat, but he was definitely a polarizing release: either you loved him, or you hated him. Another animal-themed Traditional release a year later, the Passage to the Pacific’s Fighting Stallion Star of India, left me cold. I liked the general concept, and wanted to love the model, but the execution just didn’t work for me at all.

I am assuming that, like the Big Cat Series, this new series will be an annual one, with releases timed for early Fall. The theme is sufficiently vague enough to allow for a wide range of releases: pretty much any animal print you can think of, from birds to snakes to fish…

… though it seems pretty obvious (or should be) that the next release should/will be a Giraffe on the Forever Saige mold. Technically her neck isn’t as long or out of proportion as a lot of people say it is, but the pose itself is very giraffe-like, so I wouldn’t necessarily object.

Though I’d love to see a Blue Jay-themed Silver/Pegasus, an Oryx on the Unicorn version of Yasmin (obviously!) or a Koi Fish anything.

Kehinde is a really unusual concept, well-executed, and I certainly wouldn’t mind adding one to my herd. Props to the designer Karen Williams for making me seriously want a release on a mold (the Clock Saddlebred) that I am not predisposed to liking in the first place!

But my office is still a mess and I still haven’t gotten around to finishing up my BreyerFest paperwork, so I am okay with not getting one: I am all about minimizing my workload this Fall. I will probably just put in my obligatory single entry and see what happens.