Friday, November 30, 2018

Opinions On Fruitcake Are Always Divided

My week ended rather well, and there was money in the Paypal account. So dear readers, I bought them:

I won’t know which ones I get until Christmas Eve – that’s when we open gifts in these parts, even the ones we buy for ourselves. Although the Green one is my favorite, I’ll just be happy to get two different colors.

The Fruitcake Fillies are, of course, a reiteration of the 2013 BreyerFest Special Run Birthday Cake Stablemate – in Coral, Blue, Green and Purple, instead of the original Pink.

Releases like these are the reason I abandoned my attempt to create and standardize Breyer color descriptions. The web page describes it as thus:
The Highland Pony sports four different fruit-inspired looks for the holidays: metallic pearly purple, blue, green, and coral appaloosa. Each has a shaded coat, high gloss finish and multi-color spotting.
So would I call it Candy Sprinkle Appaloosa? Fruitcake Appaloosa? Frosted Animal Cracker? Purple Monkey Dishwasher? Or simply go with what I was using before, Decorator Birthday Cake?

There’s been some consternation over the price of these ponies – $24.95 apiece – but it is comparable to Stablemates Club releases, and not much more than BreyerFest One-Day Stablemates. These are all releases that have four-figure piece counts, while there are only 500 pieces of each of the four different colors.

And while I am not an advocate of treating your models as investments (in fact, quite the contrary!), Stablemates in general – and lower piece run Stablemates in particular (under 2000 pieces) – have tended to be better-than-average in that department.

If you like them, buy them. If you don’t, then don’t. Or wait, and hope the price drops eventually. It might, it might not.

I had no idea Flockies would ever be the big deal that they are, and I don’t regret one bit not buying the ones I could have. They just were not my thing.

I have what feels like a million and one things to do this weekend and I suppose I should get cracking on that list ASAP, so that’s all for today, folks.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Pinto Roemer

Managed to survive Cyber Monday unscathed, as well. So far the only other item that’s tempted me in the past couple of weeks’ worth of sales and promotions – aside from the Benasque and the True North mini – was the Let’s Go Riding – English Set with the pinto Roemer, who was on sale several days ago or so.

I make no apologies for loving the Roemer mold, but I haven’t bought this set yet because it’s diggity-danged expensive – only a pittance less than what I paid for my Test Color Roemer:

I mean, yeah, the set comes with a boatload of stuff, but even this Roemer fangirl has her limits. Though if nothing else comes through for me through the end of the year, I may swing by one of my local independent toy stores and buy one as my “holiday present to myself” thing.

Incidentally, one of the few things I did accomplish over the long, lazy Thanksgiving weekend was to clean off my desk – of both crumbs and paperwork! One of the things I found in my to-do pile was a post about Roemer’s sculptor, Jeanne Mellin Herrick.

She was one of Breyer’s most prolific sculptors in the immediate post-Hess era, sculpting six new Traditional molds in the space of five years:

  • Sherman Morgan (1987)
  • John Henry (1988)
  • Roemer (1990)
  • Misty’s Twilight (1991)
  • Pluto (1991)
  • Friesian (1992)

In spite of their anatomical irregularities, some of them – especially the Sherman Morgan and Friesian – still have devoted fanbases. In recent years, most of these molds have also seen a second life or three in gift sets and holiday releases designed for younger hobbyists and casual collectors.

(The Friesian got two releases alone, this year: Harley, and the Let’s Go Riding – Western Set!)

What’s nice about loving a mold less desirable molds like Roemer is that he’s an easier and more affordable mold to collect. So far the only Roemer out of my reach is the Chicago Exclusive Event Centerpiece model Wadsworth.

On the other hand, Reeves’s marketing strategy with these molds has had the benefit of boosting the visibility – and ultimately, the popularity – of these molds with the general public.

Which could lead to more releases in the future, but also the possibility of more unobtainable models like Wadsworth.

(Worth it. Probably.)

(Note: yes, a longer and more detailed post about Jeanne Mellin Herrick will be coming soon.)

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Anecdote Vs. Data

I somehow managed to escape all the Black Friday sales unscathed; we’ll see what Cyber Monday brings. (Nothing, I hope. Other than the snow, and that is completely out of my control.)

I know nothing about the situation with the Brick and Mortar Gloss Kodis now turning up. I am assuming that Reeves, knowing that many of us completely lose our heads over anything Gloss, is just randomly glossing the last bits of the Kodi stock in an effort to make space in the warehouse for the 2019 models.

As such, I don’t think they’ll be excessively rare, and nothing to get hot and bothered over. And if they are, they still aren’t worth getting worked up about.

I have also pretty much given up trying to figure out Reeves is doing, in regards to their marketing. After being obtuse about the Benasque’s color, being almost completely opaque about the Vintage Club models, revealing two of the releases and silhouettes of the other four molds for Stablemates Club ones, the straight-up weirdness of the Bay Bristol reveal, I’m ready to tap out and use my brain power on more rewarding things, like lottery number algorithms.

Some of this is undoubtedly because of the new blood that’s come in recently, some of whom are from well outside the model horse community. That in itself is not a bad thing, but you’d hope they would have already evaluated the approaches that have – and have not – worked in the past.

Or maybe they have. A point in their favor is that we’re working from anecdotal data, while they have hard sales data.

When I have had access to some of that sales data, it often bore little correlation to what hobbyists (working from anecdotal data points) assumed to be true.

But getting back to the Stablemates Club reveals, the first (?) release for the 2019 Stablemates Club is  a Gloss Dappled Chestnut on the Mirado mold:

Since I belong to the “I’ll buy what I like” school of horse-buying, and I liked him just fine, I hadn’t noticed the level of antagonism and vitriol that had grown up around the Mirado mold. Yes, the original paint job didn’t do him any favors, and the extra-long flappy mane does distort his proportions a bit, but… it’s a Stablemate.

The beauty of the Stablemates scale is that both the buyer and the manufacturer can get experimental or weird or quirky, for a rather modest initial outlay.

What’s also interesting about this release is that Reeves took a mold that received a rather cool reception, and changed the one thing that they could: the paintjob.

To the one thing that they know a lot of collectors can’t resist: Glossy!

A point in your favor, Reeves. Now about the lack of Vintage Club reveals....

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Dreaming of Warmer Days

Darn, just missed out on the True North Mini on the Breyer web site Black Friday sale. Put it in the cart, but when I tried to check out, he was removed.

Nothing else in the sale was making my heart go pitter-patter, and the weather will be too darn cold to go adventuring tomorrow, so that’ll likely be the end of my Black Fridaying for the year….

I haven’t commented yet on the announcement of next year’s BreyerFest Celebration Horse, Oliver:

With the announcement of the theme, I was expecting to see (a) the Cleveland Bay mold, (b) a Police Horse of some sort, and (c) possibly something honoring one of the many horses who serve at the Kentucky Horse Park: with Oliver, they’ve managed to combine all three!

My only mild disappointment is that he’s a loose-maned Cleveland Bay: while the loose-mane is my favorite of the three variations, I still don’t have a braided-mane variation in my herd. I’ve had a few, but I’ve since sold them or traded them off for other things.

I wouldn’t mind a Chicory or a Cassia, but the former is a little out of my price range, and the latter is completely so.

The Connoisseur Series Jazz Fusion is another one I wouldn’t mind owning, but I was not lucky enough to get pulled for one, and I am reluctant to buy items in that series the same way I’ve been reluctant to buy a BreyerFest Dr. Peaches.

Since I wasn’t at the first BreyerFest, it doesn’t feel right buying a Dr. Peaches on the secondary market: each BreyerFest Celebration Horse represents an experience I had, but the Dr. Peaches would simply be a model I bought to complete a series.

My Connoisseur collection consists almost entirely of the ones I was drawn for. The only two Connoisseurs I’ve bought in the aftermarket have both been NPOD Samples: a Lonesome Glory Thrillseeker, and the Buffalo Taima. (Both of whom I really, really wanted anyway, so that kinda-sorta worked out for me.)

Jazz Fusion is a reasonably popular Connoisseur, and the prices on him are not… outrageous, but I think I manage to hold off and let the more devoted fans of the mold, or the Connoisseur Series, have their shot at him first. I’ll just bide my time and wait for Oliver.

(And quietly sigh at the probable impossibility of winning a Gloss one at the Costume Contest.)

Monday, November 19, 2018

Blue is the New Silver Filigree

It’s a good thing I decided against participating in NaNoWriMo this year: the words just haven’t been coming for me, not this month and especially not today.

I’ll just have to muddle through today the best I can…

Another thing not coming for me: Benasque. That doesn’t come as a surprise: the more popular something becomes, the less likely I’ll be picked for it. Blue has become the new Silver Filigree.

Since the prices have become more incomprehensible on the secondary more quickly than I anticipated, and I consider the Wait List a wholly imaginary construct in my universe, that’s the end of that.

It wouldn’t be so bothersome if the current “gold rush” with the Scottsdale Stampede Special Runs wasn’t also happening. (Just where are all these people getting all that money? Better question: can I have some?)

I just hate to be reminded about how big a factor money has become in the hobby. I am lucky that I have alternate means of getting an affordable fix, but so many of my fellow hobbyists do not.

I have not been in much of a horse-buying mood anyway – a couple of the items in the Collector’s Club Black Friday Preview were moderately tempting (I still don’t have a Triton. Hmm.) and the new Holiday Mare and Foal Set Wish and Wonder is very cute – and Chalky! – but I’m in more of a mood to sell or purge, not buy.

A few obligatory historical notes: Misty has come in Gray before, and the original #20 release does come in an extremely rare and desirable Chalky variation. Outside of Test Colors, little Stormy has almost always been some sort of Pinto; I have not seen or heard of any Chalkies of the original #19 release, but the mold was not released until 1977, a couple years beyond the Chalky Era (ca. 1973-1975).

Outside of some Club stuff, the only horse-related things I’ve bought in the past couple of weeks were a few vintage horse books for my (still-depleted) stash from a Salvation Army store a few days ago.

Oh, I’m still in the habit of window shopping: I had a few half-hearted attempts to suss out some goodies from Walmart (but left empty-handed), the Clydesdale Mare Alba has reappeared on the shelves of the local Tractor Supply Store and continues to tempt me, and I’ve spotted a few intriguing variations on eBay.

(I’m looking at Dogs, again. Just missed a Matte Black Poodle again, grrr!)

On the plus side of all of this, my bank accounts will be well-rested when all the December promotions finally drop.

All I’m really asking for this year is that I’ll actually get to see the Holiday Animal Special Run before it sells out. Not necessarily buy it, but to see it: sometimes having the ability to purchase something is more important than actually purchasing it.

(But if it’s a Dog mold, I’m definitely buying it.)

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Core Fandom

Some of you know that I can play “Six Degrees of Separation” game like a champ; it should come as no surprise that I need considerably less than six to get to Stan Lee.

Now is not the time or place to explain in great detail; I only bring it up because it’ll help explain my shocked, but not shocked reaction to the reports of the attempted theft of a centerpiece model at the Scottsdale Stampede.

Comic Book Fandom and the Model Horse Hobby have a lot in common; not only are the social dynamics fairly similar, but there is also a perception among casual participants of each activity that the “core” of it – people, places, activities – is much larger, distant and anonymous than it actually is.

I had been a casual participant in Comic Book Fandom for years. One day I decided to get more involved – by responding to an open invitation to join an APA in a letter column.

What seemed inaccessible – hanging out with the movers and shakers, artists and writers, and all the BNPs – suddenly wasn’t. It was both exhilarating and disorienting to find my new friends gleefully teasing Jim Shooter, making idle conversation with George Perez, and overhearing industry insider gossip both salacious and mundane….

My experience with Comic Book Fandom came with the revelation that the actual dedicated “core” of most hobby communities isn’t that large, and isn’t that remote. It just takes a very modest bit of effort to step it up to the next level.

So anyway, back to this incident. The fact that some hobbyists exhibited bad behavior at a hobbyist-oriented event is not unusual. I have been in the hobby now for over 40 (ulp!) years, and I have seen many things, some of them quite bad.

If you’ve been to BreyerFest even once, you’ve seen or heard similar things.

While there’s some degree of anonymity at an event like BreyerFest (that allows bad things to happen with little in the way of consequences), there is not much room for error at an Exclusive Event (with only 200 participants, many of them repeat customers).

Who are broken into groups of fifty people each.

Where you have to provide proof of your identity when you show up to pick up your models (yes, even me).

And where almost everyone is taking multiple pictures of everyone and everything.

So while I am not shocked that an attempt was made, I am shocked that it was attempted at what is essentially a “core fandom” event: this is the last place on Earth you should try to pull a stunt like that.

You might think you’re anonymous, but trust me: for better or for worse, you’re not.

(FYI: mostly for the better. But you knew that already.)

Monday, November 12, 2018

Shades of Blue

While reading this post, keep in mind that (a) it’s been in the upper 20s and low 30 degrees up here since Friday, (b) our furnace has been on the fritz since Saturday and (a) it’s Monday.

(It is getting repaired tomorrow. At least, that’s what I’ve been told.)

Reeves, seriously, what’s going on in your office?

The e-mail you sent out about the new Winter Decorator Special Benasque announced it as a “New Test Color”. Umm, no.

According to the web site copy, he’s marked “Benasque 2017”. Last time I checked, it was still 2018.

Why are you calling his color “electric blue filigree” when you have another perfectly fine name for it – Copenhagen Blue? Is it actually different in some way – with iridescent, metallic, or purplish undertones? We know better than to trust your photos…

And speaking of photos, you even misspelled the name Benasque as “Banasque” on the photo. Normally I’d not even give this a mention because I mangle names all the time when I’m saving photos, because spellcheck can’t save anyone’s behind there.

But as I was pulling a copy of it from their web site all I could manage to mutter from underneath the pile of blankets, quilts and sweatshirts I’m currently residing under…

“… and that, too? Cripes!”

At the very least, the nitpicky distractions of this new Duende have kept me from fixating too much on the Scottsdale Stampede Table Centerpiece Model Peplum.

The Camilla/Foalzilla mold doesn’t move me either way, but they just had to paint her Turquoise with copper veining! I figured they would do some sort of Turquoise-themed SR, but I assumed it would be the Stablemate or maybe one of the Event Specials. You know, something in the neighborhood of affordable.

Alas, no.

Before I was a Breyer Collector, I was a pretty serious Rockhound. I still am to some degree, though I rarely go so far as to buy rocks, minerals or fossils outright. Part of the reason why I took a Metalsmithing class several years ago was because I wanted to incorporate some of my favorite specimens into art and jewelry.

I am too cheap and not terribly lucky, so Peplum is not going to happen. All I can hope for is that she might be a precursor to other (more affordable) rock and mineral-themed* Breyer Decorators in the future.

Not just Alabasters, but I’ll settle. Benasque would be nice, too. I love how his mane looks like icicles!

(*FYI: for a variety of reasons, I don’t do Stones.)

Friday, November 9, 2018

Sand and Snow

Fortunately nothing I’ve seen of the Scottsdale Special Runs is making me mutter curse words into the freshly fallen snow here in Michigan. (Curse words about the snow, I can make no promises…)

Although I did have a brief moment of panic when I saw the word “Bolo” being bantered about – I thought maybe they had actual Special Run Breyer Bolo Ties, and that would have got me going!

Good for Reeves for correcting the flaw inherent in the distribution system at the last two Exclusive Events, and separating the models into two categories to avoid the unpleasantness some of us had to experience at the end of the line having to double up on the leftovers.

Anyway, if I were there, my choices would be the Bobby Jo Sonorah from Category B (because I love Perlino Dun, and all of the Breyer releases in that color have eluded me so far) and… either one of the choices from Category A (Buckskin Show Jumping Warmblood Bolo or Black Splash Lady Phase Oakley). Maybe a slight lean towards the Lady Phase, because of my current fascination with Splash Pintos.

(Just saw a picture. Yep, definitely Lady Phase. Not that that means anything, but there you go.)

I am mildly amused by the tizzy hobbyists are getting in over the Black Huck Bey Prescott. Yeah, he’s probably in that same lovely shade of Black they used on the BreyerFest Dark Horse Surprise Black and that is awesome.

But it’s still the Solid Black.

I guess being Huckleberry Bey and super-limited (44 pieces) trumps that stigma. And perhaps minds and hearts were finally swayed by the subtleties possible with such a paint job on the Dark Horse Surprise release, as well?

Not that I wouldn’t mind having him either, but I am being realistic with my expectations here. I would be happy with anything from the Event, if that were an option.

If I want a pretty, and relatively cheap Solid Black Breyer of recent release, I’ll finally spring for a Justin Morgan Black Jack. I’ve been eyeing them on eBay again, recently, probably because my Black Dark Horse Surprise Smarty Jones is just visible over my computer monitor, reminding me how pretty he is.

Heads up: I have a number of things I need to get done over the weekend, so I am going to be scarcer than l usually am (which has been pretty darn scarce, I know, but I’m working on it.)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Marketing Strategies

Let’s wrap up the rest of the weekend news…

Some of the Justify items are now available; I’ll be getting the Traditional version eventually, because of my recent infatuation with the Carrick mold. It’ll be a while though, because: he’s already on backorder on the web site; it doesn’t seem likely that I’ll be any where near one of my local toy stores for the next few weeks; and good heavens, have you seen those prices on eBay?  

I can wait.

The Unicorn Foals Sirius and Vega are neat – and on my two favorite Classic Foal molds! – but as I’ve skipped most of the other recent Unicorn releases, I’ll probably skip them too. Kudos to Reeves for coloring them to match their astronomical counterparts.

(Vega is the blue one.)

Renewals for the Vintage Club are up, but so far all they’ve been offering is a picture of the Pacer Rockford, who we already knew about.

I have no clue what their marketing strategy is, and am assuming that pictures of the other models will be coming eventually – perhaps as a way of gauging the response to each release? Because I severely doubt that they’re going back to the “everything’s a secret” mode from the first year of the Vintage Club. Especially since, you know…

(Is it ironic that the suspense is killing me?)

Regarding those YouTube videos that Reeves taunted us with – specifically, the one with the mysterious Solid Bay Bristol in it – well, I found them more annoying than rage-inducing. If you’re going to click-bait hobbyists who’d normally never give a passing glance at these videos, could you give us a little something for our effort?

I’m not much of a YouTube person, I’m not the target audience for these types of videos anyway, and I’m okay with that: hobbyists and hobbyist organizations certainly aren’t doing much in the way of youth outreach, and it’s in Reeves’s financial interest to do so.

But offering exclusive information about possible upcoming releases via these kinds of channels does not seem quite right, either. It’s like giving out sports scores during a weather report, or stock market tips in the middle of some celebrity gossip: while it is technically all news, it is not the news the viewers are looking for, or where they were looking for it.

My only other real criticism is that I’d rather they take more of a “bottom-up” approach than a “top-down” one with their youth marketing. Focus on activities and crafts that are more affordable and accessible to everyone: battle bots made with $150 Web Specials and craft bowls made with $50-75 worth of Stablemates would not have happened in the working-class household I grew up in.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Rushmore Zippo

Wow, there’s been a lot of Breyer activity the past few days! Let’s just focus on the one that’s most interesting to me – the latest Test Color Purchase Raffle, a Dappled Bay Roan Zippo Pine Bar:

Often it’s hard to see why a Test Color was done; in many instances, there was no specific goal in mind, other than experimentation for experimentation’s sake. But in the case of this Zippo (as with the previous Flaxen Chestnut Stud Spider) it’s clearly the antecedent to a specific production run: the BreyerFest 2007 Special Run Rushmore, on the Smarty Jones mold.

The web site’s copy about it being “one of the tests that inspired the Burbank Nakota Appaloosa model for the Velvet Rope Collector Event in 2008” was clearly written by someone with only a passing familiarity with Breyer History.

Yes, it’s technically correct, but it is more obviously and directly connected to the BreyerFest Special Run than the Burbank. Except for the absence of the snip, he’s a near-exact match, and came out the year before!

In fact, him being the clear ancestor of the Rushmore is a big reason why I want him in the first place.  All Test Colors are awesome, but I reserve a special place in my heart for Test Colors that obviously led to widely-available (1000+ piece) Production Run items.

Another plus: if I do win him (unlikely, but still a tiny possibility) it won’t be difficult to get a matching Rushmore; barring a lottery-level miracle, a Burbank will never happen for me.

And also I would like to give a big, gigantic “ARGH” to the misspelling of Nokota, which is one of my biggest pedantic hobby pet peeves, right up there with “hobbiest”, “filagree” and “defiantly” (for definitely).

But to end on a slightly more cheerful note….

One really fascinating thing about the Zippo Pine Bar mold: did you know he was designed to be an “easy” model to mold? There are no undercuts that require special gating or tooling, and no special add-ons or take-aways that could complicate the molding process.

The simpler the mold, the cheaper it is to produce. Having a mold like that around helps mitigate the cost of some of the more flamboyant or labor-intensive molds.