Monday, July 29, 2019

Hall of Fame Effort

You can skip this part if you’re bored or annoyed by the comic book talk already, but I could not let this slip by uncommented: a YouTube clip that from Late Night with Seth Meyer last Thursday, featuring the comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis, who puts in a strong plug for his reboot of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Comic book nerds talking about the Legion of Super-Heroes on network TV? Be still my heart! See, see? I told you I am not crazy.

(Okay, maybe a little: I have been writing a blog about Breyer History for the past ten years.)

I’m deep in the middle of finishing some old business here – all those odds and ends that got dropped in the run up to BreyerFest – but I figured you’d probably want to hear a bit from me about Reeves’s latest attempt to get Breyer nominated to The National Toy Hall of Fame, at the National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.

First, the link:

Second: my opinion on the matter.

As someone who’s been writing a blog about Breyer History, it should be fairly obvious that I am all in favor of this campaign. One of the many reasons for the existence of this blog is to proselytize for the historical and cultural significance of models horses in general and Breyer Horses specifically.

If you want to utilize this blog as a part of your application effort, please feel free!

And also let me say that if this campaign is ultimately successful, I’d also consider donating my model horse archives to The Strong whenever the time comes for me to be parted from it.

(But to be clear: that would not be for a very, very long time. Versta?)


This is not the first attempt at getting Breyer into the Toy Hall of Fame. While I believe and agree that Breyer models meet all of the criteria listed on the web site, they also have the burden of being seen as primarily a girl’s toy.

While there are some toys in the Hall of Fame that are/were marketed primarily to girls – like Barbie, and the Easy Bake Oven – the majority of toys now included skew towards basic, timeless items (my personal favorite: the Cardboard Box!) or products that were considered appropriate for all children (LEGO).

Reeves has made great strides in expanding their fanbase – I met several young boys this year at BreyerFest who were pretty stoked to be there, and not just because of the CollectA dinosaurs – and historically, there have been male collectors and hobbyists within the model horse hobby since the beginning.

But the perception that toy horses are a niche product designed for horse crazy little girls still remains, to a degree. The public at large puts us (the hobby, and the horses) in a box and kicks that box in a corner. And that attitude works against us.

I hope the effort works this time. If not, we’ll get there, eventually. You all should know by now that I am trying my darndest!

Saturday, July 27, 2019


The Hero’s Surprise numbers are out, and of course, OF COURSE, my favorite is again the rare one – not the Rare-Rare 30-piece Anniversary one, but the one that would be rare in any other given year:

Dark Dapple Grey: 1000 Matte, 200 Glossy
Chestnut Pinto: 850 Matte, 200 Glossy
Dappled Pearl: 650 Matte, 200 Glossy
Rose Grey: 520 Matte, 200 Glossy
Decorator: 400 Glossy
Pearly Black Leopard Appaloosa: 30 Matte

How do they manage to do that? How do I manage to do that?

I really do want to get that Lime Green one eventually. But since I’m still having a few, uh, inventory issues here, I’ll just wait it out and then maybe do some strategic trades and sales or something in the meantime to build up the war chest.

I don’t care which subvariation – the mostly silver or the mostly green – just whoever happens to be available at the right time and the right price.

I am also considering the same with the Saint Bernard Blue Bucky variation, who just had to appear when I thought maybe my Traditional Dog collection was within spitting distance of being complete!

Since my options were rather limited in my second go-round in the Special Run Line – I took a gamble on the number draw, and naturally lost – I went with a second Bucky (in addition to a Pepper), who was pretty much the same as the first.

Knew I should have gone for a Natasha instead! She was much nicer in person compared to her pictures (not unexpectedly), and to be honest I think of all the variations they came out with this year, she was straight-up the prettiest. I am such a sucker for a nicely executed liver chestnut…

I’d like to think that maybe I’d still have a shot at her with the Leftovers Sale, but I don’t know what the situation is going to be there – what’s going to be available, and when – so I am just taking the extremely reasonable assumption that it’s going to happen when I am not online to partake, anyway.

And if I am, just be happy when I inevitably open up the Bay Pinto.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

My LaFitte

The first concrete details of this year’s variations and finish splits are up:

Originally I was going to write this next post about the variations and some other issues – and possible solutions – I had with BreyerFest this year, but my thoughts are still a little too disorganized, so I’ll go with my backup plan and show you my LaFitte instead:

He literally arrived the very moment I stepped out the door on my way to Kentucky: the mail carrier handed the box to me then said “Do you know your car door is open?”

(Uh, yeah?)

Until a couple of days ago, my LaFitte remained unopened, because BreyerFest got in the way, as it does.

I wasn’t lucky enough to get the blinkerless version, but I am okay with that – I have a pair of blinkerless Chicago-era Culls that I am pretty chuffed to own. If an affordable one crosses my path someday though, I will consider it.

Old Timer is one of those molds that I’ve always wanted to actively collect, but space and circumstances have worked against it. Whenever/if ever that time comes, I already have most of the “harder” to get ones, like the Reissues, the Montgomery Ward’s Alabaster, and of course the Vintage Club Gus.

(I love Gus!)

Only real rarities I don’t have are the McCormick Decanter set – which isn’t really hard to find, so much as it is expensive – and the 2002 BreyerFest Hat Contest Jake, who I’ve just accepted is never going to live at my house.

Test Colors on the Old Timer – especially from the Chicago (pre-1985) era – are somewhat uncommon, presumably because they either never saw a need to test new colors on him back then, or because that would also involve painting all of his fiddly bits, and they just did not have time for that.

But anyways, I love my LaFitte: the paint job is beautiful, intricate and completely suits both the mold and the theme – though I wish they could have somehow made the purple a little more obvious, for the King Cake reference.

It’s also worth noting that they appear to be experimenting with a new/different dappling technique with LaFitte – it looks more like a mask than hand airbrushing, but a little more subtle.

Personally I am fine with the hand-airbrushed dappling technique (I grew up with resist dappling, yo) but if this somehow leads to me seeing the words “fish scale” and “crapples” less often, then I would consider the change a net positive.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

BreyerFest 2019, Part 2

It never fails to amaze me how long it takes me to unpack after Kentucky. I am still finding stray misplaced bits and pieces in the car...

On the plus side, I did manage to keep better track of my inventory this time, so that part didn’t take quite as long to sort out as it did last year.

Anyway, I did manage to accomplish most of what I wanted to do in Kentucky: sold a lot of stuff, managed to survive the weather, incurred no significant accidents or damage to self, secured the three SRs I wanted the most (Bucky, Rocket and the 30th Anniversary Stablemates Set) and stayed pretty much on budget.

The Ninja Fortune Bag promotion was successful, I had a bunch of wonderful conversations with friends old and new, got into some deeply nerdy discussions about obscure Breyer History, and I saw Cookie in person. 

I got to participate in – or witness – several special moments: a little girl asking me “Why are they all so beautiful?”; a woman who declared she had only fifty cents left in her budget for the day – and then proceeded to find a long-lost favorite book in my fifty-cent paperback pile; and a couple of instances of Horse Dads being heartbreakingly attentive to their special needs daughters. 

(My own Horse Dad took me to the Kentucky Horse Park in 1979 to make up for the family’s legendary but otherwise not-so-great Redneck Roadtrip. And let me pick out a Breyer horse from the gift shop: a Black Appaloosa Running Stallion. That I still have.)


By most objective measures, the trip was largely successful. Yet…

Of course, and as I mentioned before, I received none of the variations, won none of the contests or raffles I entered, and I found absolutely nothing in the NPOD worth bringing home.

I found myself (again) wishing that I could somehow change the laws of probability so that luck was more than just random, but also fair. That there would be more people on the receiving end of a little BreyerFest magic, and perhaps a few less who find themselves multiply blessed.

I am fine. I am more than fine, compared to where I was last year. And I’ve had my share of wonderful times past. But still, I wonder: when will it be my turn to hold the brass ring, again?

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Matte White Poodle

The spirit is willing, but the body is weak: my more comprehensive overview of BreyerFest will have to wait a couple more days, until my body stops generating spontaneous naps.

(I knew four straight days in 90+ heat and humidity sapped a lot out of me, but seriously, sleeping in my car at a Kroger parking lot for an hour was not on my agenda for today.)

I do want to cover this guy in some detail, though – one of my handful of hotel finds I persuaded myself I couldn’t live without:

Behold – a Matte variation of the #68 White Poodle! (No, really, he is. I just don’t have the time or energy right now to pull one of my multiple shiny ones from upstairs for comparison.)

Matte White Poodles are one of those things that I simply assumed existed because the Matte Black ones do, but until this previous weekend, I had never actually seen one in person!

Since I couldn’t find a BreyerFest Beethoven at the right price and condition, and the Benasque Blue variation of Bucky was the remotest of long shots, this guy showed up at the right time and at the right price. 

Ironically, both the Matte Black and Black with Blue Collar Poodle were high on my scouting list this year – with the Bucky in this year’s lineup, it seemed like a good time to focus on filling some holes in my Breyer Dog collection – but alas, neither one was to be found.

Which was not a huge surprise – both of those variations are pretty rare – but not as rare as the Matte White Poodle! Funny how that works.

The Matte Black and (now confirmed!) White Poodles are another rare but notable example of Breyer Matte variations being less common than their Glossy counterparts.

And their “rarity” makes sense, too, since the Black and White Poodles were discontinued ca. 1968, right around the time Breyer was transitioning to more realistic (Matte) colors and finishes.

Since everyone is so focused on Glossy = Good, Matte rarities tend to slip by relatively unnoticed. Well, usually: there are always exceptions, of course. (Matte Dark Dapple Gray Running Mare and Foal, anyone?) And me spilling the beans on them here means that eventually it will no longer be the case….

You know, I still don’t have a Woodgrain Poodle, either. I probably should work on that – while he’s one of the slightly scarcer Woodgrains (ca. 1960 through 1964), a lot of hobbyists aren’t into the Nonhorses, so that tends to moderate his prices a bit. In other words, that tends to push him into the affordable (to me) range.

Maybe once all the various stray bits of money promised to me finally make their way here, I’ll consider the splurge.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

BreyerFest 2019, Part One

I’m not yet done unpacking and my brain is still stuck in unfiltered mode (four days in the hot Kentucky sun shorts it out that way) so how’s this deal: something short and rambly today, and something longer and more focused on Thursday?

Good? Good.

I managed to snag my two primary wants from the SR line, Bucky and Rocket; I couldn’t get a Quill or a Diana because my place in line with my second ticket was teh awful, so I ended up with what was left: (another) Bucky and Pepper.

No fun variations to be had in my selection, which is what I expected: I haven’t gotten anything “awesome” in the Ticket SR line – Glossy or Rarity – since 2012, and I wasn’t expecting that to change. I am not one of those people.

(Yes, both the Pinto Rocket and Benasque Blue Bucky did make me whimper. Quite a lot, actually. Mostly in private.)

My prediction of the Surprise Andalusian was spot on, and the variation bonanza did not surprise me in the least – other than the scope of it. I do like how that managed to draw some of the focus off the Surprise Special a little bit.

I know it did for me.

I like the Moody Andalusian and have several, including that glorious BreyerFest Special of yore Galahad, but knowing that I had a shot at a possible variation with all of the other Specials made it easier for me to stick to my original choices, rather than attempt to get one of the Surprises I wanted.

Which were the Medicine Hat Pinto and – you guessed it! – the Translucent Lime Green Silver Filigree. The latter was not my idea, but to the currently unknown somebody at Breyer HQ who dreamed up that confection: you get me.

(And no, I had no idea they’d be going with that when I wrote the post about my love of the color lime green back in May. Another coincidence, people. Seriously.)

I have no info about the variations, though what I’ve been hearing is 30 different variations total, with 30 pieces being made of the rarest (like the Pinto Diana, another heartbreaker for me) and others being 50/50 splits.

I am hoping that they’ll publish all the details soon, if only to quell the rumors floating around.

I neither like nor dislike next year’s theme, which is “Celtic Fling”: this seems to put me in the minority. I have nothing against it (except the inevitable onslaught of leprechauns) and I will say that I already have some ideas for Costume Contest and Diorama Contest entries, depending on what the exact focus of these contests are. (Especially the Diorama: for as much heartache as that contest gives me, I do love the challenge of assembling my entry.)

I am also giving some serious consideration to both the Live Show and the Custom Contest, but right now I just want to spend my time recovering from this year.

(And quilting. Lots and lots of quilting.)

Friday, July 12, 2019

The #365 Black Angus Bull Mold

For those of you who have chosen (perhaps wisely!) to avoid BreyerFest this year, here is a little something from this year’s Sampler.

The Black Angus Bull (mold #365) was introduced in 1978, and was the last of the Breyer Cattle molds until Carol Herden’s Cutting and Roping Calves were introduced in the Western Performance Series in the late 1990s. 

In addition to being a more modern replacement for the #72 Walking Black Angus Bull – which was copied from a design by Edward Boehm, in the 1950s – he was designed to be more “in scale” with Breyer’s other cattle molds, like the #360 Charolais and #68 Polled Hereford Bull.

However, unlike the rest of Breyer’s Bull molds, the newer Black Angus Bull has a remarkably short release history: he’s only had two in his 40-year history!

The original #365 Black ran through 2004; other than the bi-eyed examples from early 1997, his solid Black paint job varied little over the years. “The Big Red One” – a Special Run made for the Iowa Red Angus Association in 1983/4 – comes in two distinct variations: an earlier and less common version with a pinked nose, and a slightly later and more common version without. 

Considering that the breed itself only comes in those two colors – both without much variation – the lack of releases probably should not be surprising.

What is remarkable is the fact that the mold has remained out of production since 2004! Aside from the logical choices they could go with – slightly different versions of the previous releases in Chalky, Glossy, or with more modern shading and detail – Breyer has not let breed standards or Mother Nature get in the way of releasing an older mold in a new or pretty color. Why make an exception now?

In other words: hop to it guys, I know you’re up to the task!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

It's that time of year, again...

Just about everything’s been uploaded, downloaded, printed, prepped and packed. Packing the new car’s been a challenge – the configuration is completely different than the previous car, so figuring out what goes where has been…a puzzle, both literally and figuratively.

(I’d also like to thank our local crazy-awesome independent dollar store Debby’s Dollar for the assist this year with making the trip more affordable. And for the candy: come try the mystery taffy!)

I think I’m way more chill about BreyerFest at this point than I ought to be. I don’t even have the nagging feeling that I’m forgetting something, though I almost certain am.

Since I’m on a slightly tighter than usual budget, and I have too much darn stuff anyway, I’ll probably keep shopping at the Clarion to a minimum. That doesn’t mean I won’t take a look anyway, and if the right thing magically appears in front of me (like the Golden Charm Man o’ War) all that will go out the window.

I might buy slightly more than average tickets for the Saturday Raffle item North Star. The Duende mold hasn’t done anything for me one way or another, but that color is really something. He’d make a nice companion for my Showboat, for sure!

No plans on attending the auction – definitely not in my budget ballpark – but I know who I like: the Bay Roan Varnish Appaloosa Dundee!

Sine the Few-Spot True North I loved so much last year got top dollar, I would not be surprised if the Dundee does, too. The Legionario in a magnificently executed Gloss Primitive Red Dun will go pretty high, too. I mean, just look at him!

I would buy that color on almost anything. (Hint, hint.)

Other big moneymakers will probably include the Gloss Bay Marwari, because it’s Gloss Bay, and the Rainbow Croi Damsha because that Gloss Rainbow Overo Pinto paint job makes a lot of people lose their minds. (Personally I can take it or leave it.)

I know there’s been some speculation that there’s at least one “surprise” that’s being withheld from us – like they did with the Silver Charm Surprises for the 25th anniversary. I have no special insight on whether or not that’s going to happen (really, honest!), but I wouldn’t put it past them, either.

Frankly, I can’t get too excited about it because I haven’t even gotten a Glossy Surprise model since 2012 – an extra-limited something-something? Nah. 

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Small Miracles, Old Timers and Ninjas

I was just perusing the Costume Contest rules and... interesting that they’re limiting each category to three winners now. Considering the average number of entries - and the lure of a Glossy Cleveland Bay will undoubtedly provide - well, my odds do not look good.

Although I feel almost certain I will probably lose, I am feeling very proud of my Costume Contest entry regardless. It’s been coming together exceptionally easily and some of the components I am pretty pleased with, especially since I am improvising and making do with materials I have on hand, rather than buying anything new.

(Well, all except one component. But I think I found equally cheap fix, so it’s all good. I think.)

And considering I was not going to do anything at all this year, the fact that I am doing anything at all is a miracle.

The other “big” project is just about done as well: this year, instead of beating my head against the wall with that infernal diorama contest, I decided to go ahead with another project I’ve had on hold the past couple of years: Ninja Fortune Bags!

Basically these are just a fun little gift with purchase thing I’ll be doing for room sales, a handmade drawstring bag (Stablemates-sized, of course!) with candy, stickers, a gumball-prize toy, and a fortune.

(I’ll also have some available for purchase for a dollar, if you can’t find anything to suit your fancy in my room.)

The Sampler is… still a work in progress. Though at this point it’s simply procrastination on my part.

I ordered my LaFitte at the very last minute, so it’s unlikely I’ll see him before I leave for Kentucky. As far as what’s going on with some of them not coming with blinkers or hats… I’m not entirely sure what’s going on there.

Most hobbyists seem to think it’s a binary choice: either they screwed up somehow and forgot the hats and blinkers, or it’s something done intentionally because they know we love variations.

I think it’s somewhere in between: they might have been short a few hats and/or blinkers, and just decided to mix the hatless/blinkerless ones in with the rest, assuming that most people who would be happy to buy a Limited Edition Old Timer would also be happy to receive a variation – and the number of those that do get returned would negligible/easy to swap out with a more normal one anyway.

From what I’ve managed to see online, I think I’ll be happy either way.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Appaloosa Yearlings

Behold, one of the most popular releases of the 1970s and 1980s:

Yep, the #103 Appaloosa Yearling. She ran from 1971 through 1988 – longer than both the Palomino and Liver Chestnut releases, both of whom only ran from 1970 through 1980. So I’ve found a fair amount of them over the years, and always have at least one in my Body Box at all times.

This year I’ll have at least two, including this rather typical specimen (the little girl above) I found at a local Salvation Army a little over a week ago.

It always surprises people when I tell them that she was one of the most popular releases of that era. Somehow she managed to hit the sweet spot – color, mold, breed, pattern or je ne sais quoi – that lead to a rather remarkable 18-year production run.

The mold itself intrigues me just enough that I think I might be able to do something with her, but I haven’t been motivated enough to set one aside for my personal stash of experimental bodies. I still have a couple of Duchesses, Performance Horses, a Mesteno body and an entire herd of Family Arabian Mares to “play with” before I’d get to her anyway.

I keep hoping that one of these years Breyer decides to either add a “vintage body/Hess mold” class for their Customs Contest, or use that concept for their thematic class.

Just as long as the mold is still somehow recognizable, none of this “I’ll just use it as an armature anyway” kind of extreme custom that kind of bores me to tears at this point and really isn’t as clever or creative as everyone seems to think it is.

(Whenever a conversation starts with “You’ll never guess what mold I used….” It’s a Touch of Class. Seriously, it’s almost always a Touch of Class….)

(And yes, I am vaguely aware of the Sarah Mink’s Vintage Custom Month thing. Not on Facebook, blah blah blah, etc.)

I am at the point of my BreyerFest prep that I’d rather hide in the basement and just work on my quilting instead, so any thoughts of firing up the Dremel drill and having at one of my partially finished projects will have to be put on hold for the duration. 

Speaking of… time to log off to do more prep. Since I abandoned my diorama idea, I’ve decided to go full bore with a completely different something I’ve had rattling around my head for the past couple of years. More on that next time, when I’ll have an actual sample/test piece to show you what I’m going with.

(Not trying to be sneaky or anything. Nothing is actually completely done yet!)