Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Gloss G1 Stablemate Morgan Stallions

Since I am in the middle of working on one big project – and trying to finish a couple of other long-standing projects in-between when I get fidgety – I’ll just post a quick bit about a topic that comes up fairly often whenever the discussion turns to vintage (G1) Stablemates.

Did they come in Glossy variations? And if so, which ones?

The first question is the easiest: yes, they did. I knew I had some, but I was rather shocked at the number I found when I was plowing through my Stablemate Storage Boxes looking for live show material. Here are two of the nicer ones that I happened to take with me to Pansies and Ponies – both a Bay and a Black Morgan Stallion:

(The Bay won his class, incidentally. The Black took fourth in the same.)

As for the answer to the second question, I don’t have a complete list of the ones in my herd – again, my time’s been a bit limited of late – but judging from what I remember seeing, I’m guessing most of the G1 molds came in Gloss in their original issue colors.

As to when and why: that, I have no idea. These two guys above aren’t of much help. The Black one for instance, was purchased from someone during room sales at BreyerFest in 1996 (for the hefty sum of $5.00!)

The Gloss Bay was purchased in 1986 at a local Toy and Hobby Shop chain that often received discontinued merchandise from other local retailers. And sometimes that merchandise was ancient: from another one of their locations I also purchased a new-in-box #626 Polo Pony in its original White Picture Box, and a #327 German Shepherd nearly a decade after it had been discontinued.

(Man, I loved that store!)

Judging from the crispness of the detail and the abundance of overspray and flashing, my guess would be that they are pretty early, though I do not remember seeing any particularly shiny ones when I first started shopping for Stablemates in 1975.

So early, but not necessarily the earliest is the best I can do.

I would love to fill in the gaps in my Glossy Stablemates collection, once I figure out exactly where the gaps are! But considering how white-hot the Stablemates market is, I think I’ll just wait things out and hope the local flea market and thrift scene does its magic.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

It's A Day

Apparently the new standing Stablemate Warmblood mold is a mare, but the rest of my criticism about that One-Day release still stands.

It’s overt and heavy-handed pandering to an audience that might pay off in the short term, but will be costly in the long-term. If you become increasingly reliant on a smaller but more intense clientele, that clientele eventually begins to think it can dictate the business of the company itself.

(Looks in mirror. Yup, you too!)

Anyway, since I had already planned on focusing most of my resources to finishing old business, rather than starting new business, I’m going to regard my displeasure at the thematic aspects of this year’s Special Run lineup as a potentially positive development: buying fewer models means I have to spend less money – and time! – dealing with them.

Let’s see, what else to do we have going on today, aside from the birthday (which is a national holiday, incidentally, sort of).

I am somewhat relieved that the “My Strongest Suit” model Beau is already sold out, though I am curious about the piece runs on these more recent first-come, first-served Web Specials. I know other factors are in play – the choice of molds, colors and finishes, and in the case of Beau, the two different mane options – that are helping with the quicker sellouts, but I’d still like to know, you know?

I actually like the latest Test Color “raffle” piece, the Autism Yearling Hope in a Gold and Pearl Appaloosa covered in primary-colored puzzle pieces:

She’d make a lovely birthday present, and I see a lot of people posting the same yucky-faces they did when the actual production run release came out, which would make you assume – wrongly – that there will be fewer people entering for her.

What’s interesting (but not entirely unexpected, to me) is that the original production release is starting to pick up a little traction in the aftermarket, presumably either from collectors who don’t give a hoot about realism or showability, and/or from people who have a personal or familial connection to autism.

I fall into both categories, but I’m still dealing with some time and space issues here, it’ll happen when the time, place and money are right, and not a moment sooner.

Unless the Test Color happens.

I have a bunch of photographs to take and some deadlines to meet, so that’s all for today, folks.

Friday, April 26, 2019

All About The Context

Well, my enthusiasm for the One-Day Stablemates just fell several notches. Almost everything about the third release is just… wrong. So wrong it’s not even wrong. It’s “confusing the Proud Arabian Stallion for the Family Arabian Stallion” level of wrong.

First, the whole throwback concept: the model this Stablemate is based off of was a BreyerFest Raffle model in 2016. That’s not a throwback: that’s more like an accidental drop and roll under the kitchen chair. Everything that is past is history, but criminy, you’ve got nearly 30 years of history to work with and you go with something from three years ago?

Second, the name is misspelled on the blog: is Areia, not Aeria. Areia is a city in Brazil, and it’s also the Portuguese word for sand. It’s an appropriate name for a dappled sooty palomino horse made for a Brazilian Carnival-themed BreyerFest.

Just a few weeks ago I was half-joking with my friends that one of the two things I was hoping for with any potential new Social Media hires at Breyer HQ was an ability to spell – but that I wasn’t optimistic about it.

Way to prove my point, guys.   

Another thing: the name they chose for it. All of the other Stablemate doppelgangers have names that bear some thematic similarity to their Traditional counterparts. Red Velvet and Chiffon are both cakes; Boot Scootin’ Boogie and Toe Tapper are both dance-related; and Allegro and Andante are both musical terms.

The only similarity Areia and Arya have is in the spelling. And aside from the obvious pandering to female Game of Thrones fans, the mold is not a mare.

They’ve done this several times before in the past – release models on gender-inappropriate molds – that they now include swappable gender bits in many of their newer molds. Those bits are so small on Stablemates it’s a moot point most of the time anyway.

Stilll… they just couldn’t resist the temptation to be cutesy and clever.

(FYI: I have neither watched nor read Game of Thrones. I like my fantasy a little less depressing.)  

And finally, there’s this bit of copy in the blog post itself:
… on the always-popular Geronimo mold.
No. Just, no. If there’s one thing that hobbyists can agree on, it is that the Geronimo mold is not particularly popular or beloved. I have nothing against it personally – I’ll pick up a gloss version of the Bandera eventually, as a companion to my extra-dark variation of the Matte – but this is simply not true.

The sad thing about this is that, independent of its context, I like the model personally. But as someone who strives to couch every Breyer release ever in its own context, I am having a hard time dealing with this one.

(It also does not help my mood that my birthday weekend is apparently including SNOW in the forecast. Seriously? Can’t I have one birthday free from unwelcome guests?)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Tapped Out

It figures that they put the winner of the “My Strongest Suit” Contest up for sale today – the day after I place my order for Gwenevere! Oh well, it’s not like I’m swimming in extra cash after my adventure at the Secretary of State’s office this past afternoon.

(Two hours to resolve an issue with renewing my plates. Two hours of icy glares and uncomfortable small talk with strangers, some of whom were unnaturally obsessed with plumbing. A big old “Thbppt!” to this day, for sure!)

I’ll just take it as a hint that I probably shouldn’t be spending that money, especially after my splurge on Saturday – which, incidentally, finally saw me purchasing that Walmart Stablemates Set that was always one step ahead or behind me. Thank you, Janet!

Since I’m talking Stablemates, I like what I’ve seen so far with this year’s One-Day Stablemates – I pretty much expected the Darwin and Brishen, and I thought the Magnolia was a possibility too.

The new Standing Warmblood is a bit of an outlier, though: if they were going to go with all-new molds instead of mixing it up, the Alborozo seems like the more obvious choice. Especially since they’re going for Mini Me’s of previous popular BreyerFest releases! Mini Alborozo as… a Mini Me Alborozo. right?

But that just leaves it open to being the Pop-Up Store Stablemate – in Matte, Gloss, the Early Bird Special Alegria, or either of the Auction Pieces, in Smutty Palomino or Gloss Dapple Red Bay. Or maybe all of the above!

Or maybe not. That could get very messy, very quickly. We’ll just have to wait and see. There’s also the looming possibility of a 10-piece booster pack of the 20th Anniversary Stablemates Set, too.

Judging from the reactions I’m seeing online so far (FYI: this involved about five minutes worth of searching on my part) I am not going to make the same mistake I did last year and assume there will be sufficient will-call leftovers to go around later.

Though if they were smart, Reeves would double their usual orders on the mini Brishen and Darwin, alone. The original 2013 Raffle model Boot Scootin’ Boogie was pretty, but I was not heartbroken about not getting one. So I was not expecting to like the teeny clone Toe Tapper as much as I do:

He is just so insufferably cute! What is this strange magic of shrinking that did such wonders to him? 

(Note to self: just buy the dang Stablemates, Andrea. It’s a lot less painful than the alternative.)

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Conquering Kaiju

Well, that was an interesting experience! More on the live show I attended Saturday when I’ve had time to both mentally and physically unpack; I’ve spent most of the rest of my weekend recovering by eating stinky cheeses and catching up on my TV and YouTube videos.

(If you haven’t been watching the Curiosity, Inc. series on The Potter’s House… well, you should!)

The briefest rundown: I only missed one class, I picked up a few NAN cards, didn’t win the Weston, but did win a Reserve Division Champ, Division Champ, and this guy won the biggest rosette:

In celebration, let us all sing along to is his namesake’s theme song, with the correct pronunciation of his name! (Yes, I am ridiculously pumped about Godzilla: King of Monsters!)

I also stopped by a Tuesday Morning on my way home from the show and bought a couple of things. Alas, the only example they had of the Pinto Roemer set I was hoping for had more smudges and overspray than I was comfortable with.

I did pick up a cheap Zena – seriously, she was only 19.99! – and a very matte and well-shaded Traditional American Pharoah who happened to be on clearance. Whether or not I keep either will depend on a bunch of things, like the quality of my flea market season, how much time I can devote to selling between now and BreyerFest, and whether or not I can find shelf space for either one of them.

I really want to keep the Zena, since I am very fond of the Shagya-Arabian mold in general, but even without her horn that girl is longer than a vintage land yacht!

And also, I have a considerable amount of model horse-related business to conduct over the next couple of months that may put a crimp on my free time, too. Some of which (cues the boilerplate) I am not at liberty to discuss.

Last week’s events aside, I am already finding myself making some difficult decisions about my free time. (The last Mares in Black podcast is apparently three hours long? I love you guys, but seriously: I ain’t got time for that!)

As far as other live shows and get togethers, that is something that I will have to give some serious consideration. Just not for the next few weeks, though, everybody.

Monday, April 15, 2019


(As an art historian and Francophile, today has been a very bad day. Since I have things I really need to get done this week, I am going to put my feelings about what happened in Paris today in a little box and take them out when I have time to grieve and reflect. 

Sometime after the show on Saturday, I presume.

On with today’s show…)  

The topic of Pressman horses came up recently, and I thought it was worth posting on the blog, since information about them in the great wilds of the Internet is pretty scarce.

Pressman was – and remains! – an established toy company that’s still in business. Though primarily known for their board games (they were the ones who helped popularize Chinese Checkers in the U.S.) they’ve made all sorts of toys over the years, including a brief foray into the world of model horses.

Here’s a page from the 1965 Montgomery Ward’s Christmas Catalog, featuring their exclusive release of Pressman’s “Horsey Set”, including the Hunting Horse (a knock-off of the Stretched Morgan), the Western Cowpony (an amalgamation of the Fighting Stallion and Mustang) and the Thoroughbred Racer (kinda-sorta a Running Mare):

Like Breyer before them, Pressman broke into the market by copying the designs of other companies – here obviously, Breyer!

There were a number of toy companies that tried to cash in on the toy horse “craze” in the 1950s and 1960s, but Pressman was one of the few to put some serious effort into it. This was probably because they were a toy company that had been around since 1922: they could afford to take a few risks. This is also why they dropped it when the model horse market dropped off in the late 1960s – they already had other, more profitable things to sell.

There’s currently a Pressman stable for sale on eBay, and what’s interesting about the box is that it specifically calls out the existence of the “new fascinating hobby” itself!

Although Breyer, Hartland and the rest did actively promote model horses as collectibles from the get-go, it was hobbyists like ourselves that came up with everything else that makes up what we call “the model horse hobby”: showing, customizing, pedigree assignments, racing and all that other stuff.

However, this is one of the things that gets glossed over in hobby histories: the toy industry took note of our efforts (and via our letters, undoubtedly), and made the effort to push to promote the hobby as well.

And why not? There was money to be made!

There were some favorable articles about the hobby as early as 1959 (in Western Horseman) and Mission Supply House actually published a professional-looking hobby newsletter ca. 1965-1967.

Breyer eventually got into the hobby promotion game in 1968, with the publication of the first “Collector’s Manuals”. But they didn’t specifically mention the hobby by name until the 1970 Manual:

Friday, April 12, 2019

Identity Crisis

As someone who was buying Stablemates from the get-go in 1975, I’ve generally been pretty nonpartisan on Stablemates releases – a nice release is a nice release, whether it’s a freshly minted newer mold or one of the original Hagen-Renaker G1s.

All that being said, the G1 Morgan Mare is probably one of my favorite G1 molds. (In fact, one of the few customs I had commissioned back in the day was on the Morgan Mare!) So I was pleased that they chose to use her again in the Stablemates Club this year, as Gwenevere:

The only thing I don’t like about this release is the twee, pretentious spelling of her name, which I assume was partially adopted to distinguish her from a previous release named Guinevere, on the Touch of Class mold.

And also because a lot of hobbyists get upset when they start recycling names? It’s not that big a deal for me: when you have a hundred or so different releases a year, you’re going end up with some duplicates. I’d rather they just duplicate a name they had before than go with an uncommon spelling that’s just going to confuse people even more.

A name is only part of an identity anyway: I know more than one person named Jennifer, and I can distinguish between them just fine.

On the topics of names and identities, I have to get the last bit of this business out of my system, once and for all.

I forged a significant part of my identity as a comic book enthusiast: conventions and comic book stores were not a welcoming place for girls, especially in the 1980s and 1990s. My experiences there taught me to not be so shy or ashamed of the things that I loved – whether it happened to be heroes, or horses.

Yet the world of comic books, like so many other intellectual properties or philosophical concepts, is highly partisan. People take sides: Coke vs. Pepsi, McDonald’s vs. Burger King, Star Trek vs. Star Wars, Republican vs. Democrat, New England Patriots vs. Anyone Else.

Some people cross over from time to time, or are ideologically neutral on one topic or another. (In the battle between Star Trek and Star Wars, I take no sides!) But most do pick a side, consciously or not.

Some time in the early 1970s, I consciously chose DC over Marvel. I’m not sure why I did so, though looking back now, I guess it was because at that time their female characters were more interesting and more powerful, and less prone to be depowered or trivialized.

(Above: Legion of Super-Heroes #2, March 1973, one of the first comic books I bought with my own money!)

By choosing to honor Marvel with five of the seven ticket Special Runs – six of the eight, if you include the Early Bird Special Cap – Reeves has clearly chosen a side, intentionally or not. As someone who has been a DC fan since before I bought my first Breyer, I now find myself somewhat less enthused about BreyerFest than I anticipated.

They’ve taken the easy and clichéd route many times before with BreyerFest themes, and given their proclivity for Disney-themed everything, I knew the catnip of Super-heroes + Disney was going to be too hard for Reeves to resist.

Yet they have a mold named Flash, a mold named Harley, and there’s a well-known independent published named Dark Horse, so I had hopes they’d offer a little bit more balance than the one token non-Marvel that they’ve given us. We still don’t know the names of some of the other prizes, the Pop-Up Store items or the One-Day Stablemates, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

I know these are only names, and not necessarily the identities that they will retain once I purchase any of them. Nevertheless, their release names are going to be a reminder that the feeling of being a stranger in a strange land will never leave me, even in the most familiar of surroundings.

So anyway, that’s the last gasp of griping about the subject from me. (No guarantees on the Star Wars stuff. Off to watch the new Episode IX trailer for the umpteenth time!)

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Another Bowl of Ice Cream

Great, more Butter Pecan…

Because I really do want to add an affordable and attractive Emerson to my collection, I’ll just use the fact that they didn’t directly reference any character in their blog post and pretend the name is referring to someone different and/or better, like Milestone’s Rocket, the somewhat obscure Justice League International character Rocket Red, or even Dave Stevens’s Rocketeer.

All that’s left is the Decorator release, and… I got nothing on that. I kind of like the idea of a Translucent Camouflage model, but inexplicably they seem to be hinting that the military-themed model – Hero’s Welcome – will be the Surprise.

This makes no sense to me, since if any Special Run is inherently suited to a super-heroic theme, it’s one that involves a model whose true identity is a secret until it is almost literally unmasked. (But what does the comic book nerd with a complete original run of Booster Gold in her closet know, right?)

Regardless, if there is a Translucent Camouflage Special Run anywhere in the lineup – as a Surprise Horse rarity, or not – it’ll be on my list.

So at this point, my selections are going to be the Emerson, probably the Saint Bernard, possibly a Surprise Horse, and either the Appaloosa SCO or the Diana, depending on which one I like better in person. (And if I’m not in love with the Surprise, then definitely both.)

I’m not sure I’m interested in any of the Store Specials yet, though I do want to get a good look at the Dundee Hal first. I think that one is going to surprise a lot of people.

As for everything else, it’ll all depend on my mood, my budget, how much space I have in the car, what the Stablemates are, the slim possibility of winning something (ha!), and whatever I find in the NPOD or the CHIN.

In other words, the usual.

Saturday, April 6, 2019


It looks like I found my birthday present early this year:

A Forever Saige, in the same Turquoise paint job that the Scottsdale Stampede Centerpiece Foalzilla Peplum came in? With a name that actually makes sense? Yes, please!

Incidentally, I am still baffled by Peplum’s name. It just seems so random. Did somebody wear a turquoise-colored peplum to work one day? Was it pulled from a random name generator? Or did someone run across the word in a mail-order catalog and immediately think “That’s a great name for a model!”

These are all variations of things that I have done over the years, sometimes with similarly odd results. (I’ve been itching to name someone smaragd for years, for instance.)

Anyway, the fact that they invested some time and money in creating those elaborate copper veining die cuts meant that it was a matter not of if, but when we’d see this pattern return.

I wasn’t expecting it to be this soon.

Regardless, I’ll have to wait until the end of the month – when it’s actually being released – to pick one up. I just finished my taxes and… let’s just say I’ll have significantly less fun money until then.

I’ve seen some grumbling about it being an unfavored mold, but I know how this game is played: that doesn’t mean it’ll necessarily be easy to get. If there’s money to be made, hobbyists will buy it no matter how much they say they dislike it in public.

And if it is truly unloved, I’ll have the luxury of handpicking, like I did with Bandera. (Note to self: still need to pick up a Gloss Bandera when I finally get my inventory issues worked out.)

I’m still not going to fret too much about it either way, because lucky me actually has some local stores I can shop from when the time (and money) comes. None of that preorder nonsense for me!

That’s all for tonight, folks. My office isn’t going to clean itself.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Expected, and The Unexpected

It’s interesting to me that of the two BreyerFest Raffle items, it’s the Duende North Star that intrigues me more – perhaps because it was slightly unexpected?

Only slightly – Straight Bet was one of the more popular items at BreyerFest last year. What I didn’t expect was that they’d follow up with another BreyerFest release of Duende a year later, also in a Glossy Solid colorway.

He reminds me of two previous BreyerFest releases: the 2011 Diorama Prize Model Happily Ever After, on the Justin Morgan mold, and the 2000 Raffle Model Showboat, on the Stretched Morgan mold. The previous I didn’t win, but the latter I did!

Will lightning strike again? Considering the two times I won the Costume Contest, both prizes were Solid Glossy Bays, it would be fitting and appropriate that the Glossy Dapple Gray North Star could be my second Raffle win.

But I don’t buy that many tickets, and I wouldn’t consider myself one of the lucky people who wins regardless of the number of tickets I buy.

Some folks seem to be a bit “meh” on his color, but like most of the recent solid releases, he’ll probably look amazing in person. It’s a modern, updated version of Smoke, but with Dappling, Gloss, and a Pearlized mane and tail.

(Yes, I know, there’s that Ranchcraft Gloss Smoke Belgian Lamp that proves that Gloss Smoke was once a thing! But it appears to have been a one-off of mysterious origins, so I still think the jury’s out on that one.)

North Star also appeals to me because I think I might have a marginally better shot at winning him compared to the Sunday Raffle pieces Valour & Honour, on the new (and not-yet-released) Premier Club Welsh Mare and Foal by Josine Vingerling.

That’s partly because that’s one that was… expected? A lot of hobbyists were speculating that this set would end up as a Raffle or Prize of some sort. The only really eyebrow-raising thing about them is that they’re Appaloosa.

Incidentally, both Raffle prizes are only tangentially related to comic books. Marvel’s Northstar was a Québécois superhero who was a member of the Canadian team Alpha Flight; Valo(u)r was a name Legion of Super-Heroes member Mon-el adopted after one of the team’s many reboots, though he’s since gone back to being Mon-el.

I doubt either one is intentional; Northstar’s never been seen on the big screen, and Mon-el’s stint at Valor was relatively brief.