Monday, September 30, 2019

Living the Dream

Don’t tell my family, but this wasn’t the only horse I bought this weekend:

Long story short, Saturday afternoon I happened to be in the neighborhood of a toy store that’s normally a bit out of my way, so I stopped in to see if they had any Khalids.

They did! And they were having a storewide sale. And they actually had a couple American Dreams; since I figured this would probably be my last chance to get one until December (according to the web site!) and this example was so dark and pretty…

I liked the pictures of him I had been seeing online, but now that I’ve seen him in person and in the round, I think he’s my new favorite modern Classic/Freedom mold. I can’t wait to see this pretty boy in any of the vintage Mustang colors. Bald-faced Buckskin? Gloss Charcoal? Gloss Gray Appaloosa?

(The solution to getting more collectors collecting Classics is… making more and better Classics? How... obvious!)

Then I ended up going to a nearby Ollie’s and picked up a couple of those SR Walmart Stablemates sets because there were some beautiful variations mixed in; then for good measure I hit up a farm store (part of a local chain) that happened to have some unrifled-through Stablemate Blind Bag boxes, and salt water taffy. (The taffy was the bigger draw there: Don’t ask me why or how, but I am on a huge taffy kick right now.)

And finally, the weather was cool but mostly cooperative so I went to the flea market Sunday morning and found a whole bunch of goodies, including a C.W. Anderson portfolio and a Royal Doulton Scottish Terrier.

But aside from the produced-based flea market purchases, the only thing that’s made it into the house so far is the American Dream.

Not that anyone would notice right now – there’s some work being done in the kitchen for the duration, so I could probably sneak in an actual, live Shetland Pony and I doubt anyone would notice.

(Except maybe the dog. I don’t think she’d appreciate someone bogarting her carrots and peppermints.)

But seriously, this will probably be my last significant “horse shopping” binge for the year, outside of obligate club purchases, and possibly the Christmas Surprise and CC Appreciation Sale. I have too much stuff and I definitely need to do more selling than buying in the next three months.

If I can find the time. Sigh.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Fun Daze

Interesting: apparently most – but oddly, not all – of my Breyer e-mails have been going into my spam folder for at least a month now. Not quite understanding why some were marked as spam and some came through just like normal, if they’re all marked with the same address and originate from the same server. The problem is now fixed, I hope…

Second – there’s a National Fun Day planned for October 19 at retailers across the country. Normally I don’t go to these events because they tend to be tailored to a younger crowd – justifiably! – but one of the participating retailers is only about twenty minutes from my house.

Hmm. Interesting.

Since it appears that I won’t be able to make it to any live shows or other model horse type events until next year, I might swing by just for the model horse chatter. While I might not be the same age as most of the participants, we definitely speak the same language!

And sometimes that’s all that matters, especially when you are surrounded in your “mundane” life by people who don’t know Bay from Chestnut, or a Saddlebred from a Standardbred. Or, when they hear you mention Breyer think you’re talking about ice cream.

Right now it’s too soon to tell if my schedule will even allow it. I hope so.

Third, all of the Halloween stuff is now sold out except the Plushie Boo, who they are now offering as a freebie with qualified $50 purchase while supplies last. Not my thing because of the dog, but in case you were planning on some shopping over the weekend, there you go. 

And finally, the Giraffe is not the Giraffe I was expecting: it’s Lonesome Glory and not Forever Saige.

Nadifa is very nicely executed, but the over-the-top craziness I require in my modern Decorator purchases is not quite there. I will enter once, but other people love Lonesome Glory far more than I do, and I won’t stand in their way.

On the plus side, I can now go purchase a Khalid (and whatever else tickles my fancy) without the budget guilt. If anymore are left to be found; I just saw what they are going for on eBay, and now I know why my local store just ran out!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Sticking My Neck Out

OMG, is this what I think it is? The Giraffe-themed Forever Saige I deemed the obvious second release in the Wild Animal Series in a blog post about a year ago?

Naturally, I need this like candy sprinkles on a sundae. Of course.

At this point, I think just need to set up a GoFundMe site for the new sewing machine, because Reeves is determined to get most of my disposable income for the rest of the year.

Incidentally, if any of the other concepts I mention in that post also come to pass, I am going to start requesting Artist’s Proofs, Samples or something….

(Though I changed my mind on the Oryx: the Marwari mold would suit that one just fine. And sit on my shelves better, too.)

Back to normal blogging in a day or two.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

September Shopping

I know I got lucky with the Fruitcake Fillies last year so I kinda-sorta had it coming, but I seriously do not have time to deal with twinsies right now:

The Salem is just as awesome as advertised, though: I don’t know what process they are using to achieve this, but he glows so intensely you could use him as a nightlight.

This is also my first in-hand experience with the Mason mold in person, and I have to say that… I really like him! I wasn’t overly impressed with the mold when he debuted as the 2018 Horse of the Year, but I think I was letting the original release’s sedate gray color get in the way. It’s amazing what a difference a nicely designed paint job makes!

(I think the same situation is going to occur with the new “Mighty Muscle” Draft Horse.)

Speaking of… since I happened to be in that part of town, I swung by one of my local toy stores on Friday, ostensibly to check out some of the Fall releases. I was impressed by the sparkly Cupcake (who, despite what some people say, does look like chocolate in person), found myself still on the fence about the “Black Opal” Desatado Lightning Ridge (a concept that would have definitely benefited from translucency), and unexpectedly fell in love with the Brick and Mortar Marwari release Khalid.

I didn’t buy any of those three, though if I can carve out any time in the next several days to do it I just might go back for the Khalid. He was a release I hadn’t really given him much thought to prior to seeing him in person, and now that I have I realize that he’s the exact shade of Dun Sabino that I’ve been chasing for years.

I’ve tried painting one myself, and got others to try and paint one for me, but here Reeves goes and just nails it in a Production Run. I was not prepared for that.

It took me a couple of Tractor Supply Stores, but I did manage to secure a Stella that met my specifications yesterday. The same store had a drop-dead gorgeous and extremely Chalky Sampson too, but since things are kind of chaos here at the moment (and the Khalid is messing with my head) I decided to stick to my original plan. Though I did thrown in a few of the Series 2 Spirit Stablemates I hadn’t acquired yet, including the Chase Running Mustang Spirit. Because there’s always room for Stablemates!

And finally, here’s last week’s flea market acquisitions: while the weather was fine, I just wasn’t feeling up to the task today (busy, allergies, not sleeping well, etc.)

The larger Fox Terrier is actually hard plastic – I’m assuming Diamond P, but I don’t see a mold mark anywhere so don’t quote me on that. As I’ve pointed out before, in Breyer’s earliest days they briefly billed themselves as a “Horse and Dog” figurine manufacturer. And it makes sense: by 1958 they already had the Boxer, the Poodle, Rin Tin Tin and Lassie molds in their lineup – all before the Old Mold Arabians and the Clydesdale Stallion even debuted!

That parity would be short lived, with only four more Traditional Dog molds introduced in the following twenty years.

Would a Fox Terrier have been a part of the mix eventually, if the Dog molds had been just a bit more popular? (Or the horses, a little less so?) Sometimes I wonder.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Manure Occureth

Just a few odds and ends today; I was prepping my next quilt project and discovered it needed way more repairs than I anticipated....

First, I am not as enamored of the latest Test Color as everyone else:

Oh, he’s certainly pretty, but it’s not my favorite shade of Chestnut. If he was a Black Chestnut, or something similar to the Web Special Muir Woods Gloss Red Chestnut, I’d be twisting arms for more entries. As it is, I’ll just be content with my single account.

Incidentally, the Five-Gaiter was not an uncommon Test Color subject in the 1970s and 1980s; he was a much more popular mold back then, before the arrival of much more elegant Traditional-scale representatives of the breed.

(I still haven’t gotten one yet, but if the opportunity ever arose…)

Some Ollie’s Discount Stores have overstock of the Walmart Series 2 Horse Crazy Gift Collection that featured the Bay Django and Grulla Cob/Tushar. The store that’s within reasonable driving distance to my house, alas, doesn’t appear to be one of them.

(I already have the set: I just wanted to see them in the wild.)

The BreyerFest 2019 Leftovers are up; they’ve been up for a few days, but the announcement e-mail finally went out today. So far it appears to only be the “swag” – t-shirts, bottles, bags, hats, whatnot. No word on the Classics, Stablemates Sets or Store Specials (I think Rico was the only one of the Store Specials actually left over?)

Apparently there’s some consternation about the new Unicorn Foals Zoe and Zander. The banner ad and e-mail notification showed a resist/splatter-dappled pair:

But the web site – and apparently, the actual models themselves – are solid:

This doesn’t bother me that much. In fact, I consider it pretty much par for the course: Breyer has a long history of production models not matching their promotional photos. I think my personal favorite mismatch was the Black Appaloosa Scratching Foal with four stockings. His original promo pic from the 1970 Dealer’s Catalog insert:

Looked for that little bugger for years before finally surrendering! (“as shown” – my butt!)

You’d think that the production process would be more streamlined now, and that errors like this could be caught more quickly and corrected.

This might be true, but the same streamlined process that can catch errors doesn’t mean deadlines don’t get missed. In fact, the possibility of being able to change something at the last minute often leads to changes at the last minute – and inevitably, things still get overlooked.

Or, as one of my favorite BreyerFest t-shirts says: Manure Occureth

Monday, September 16, 2019

Brand Awareness

And now some thoughts on the Toy Hall of Fame situation.

As I explained before, it doesn’t surprise me that Breyer didn’t make the Hall of Fame finalist list, again. That didn’t annoy me so much, but the fact that Care Bears – the very definition of a manufacturer-created fad – did, did.

My Little Pony or He-Man have similar origins, but they don’t bother me as much: aside from cultural relevancy, their fandoms exist somewhat independent of the companies that created them. They are also played with in ways not dreamed of by their manufacturers: for me, this is a key component in determining whether or not a toy truly fosters imaginative play.

One thing that these three properties do have that Breyers do not – and is probably the key factor in Breyer Horses continuing failure to make the ballot – is brand awareness. Just how many people know of the product, directly or indirectly?

Ask an average random person in the United States what My Little Pony, He-Man, or Care Bears are, and virtually everyone will know what you are talking about.

Breyers… don’t quite have that same level of recognition. But that will take a bit of explanation.

There are basically three levels when it comes to awareness of something – be it a thing or an idea.

First: there are people who are very familiar with the thing or idea.

Second: there are people who know nothing of the thing or idea.

Third: there are people who are vaguely familiar with the thing or idea – basically they know that it exists out there, but they don't know many particulars about it.

When it comes to Breyers in particular, and model horses in general, about 20% of people I know/meet in a day fall into the first category, those who immediately know what I am talking about. That's about one in five. (At the flea market, it's more like 80-90%)

About 20% of people know nothing about model horses, and will look at me like I am a crazy person when I go on about the topic. If they acknowledge the existence of toy horses, they immediately think either “My Little Pony” or “Barbie's Horse Dallas”.

Everybody else falls into the gray zone; conversations with these people usually start with something along the lines of “My sister/cousin/aunt/crazy Uncle Ned collected horses....” and end with “...and they threw them out/gave them to the neighbor's kids/sold them at a yard sale.”

Think about the Toy Story movies: Breyers were clearly implied in the second film when Jessie sings about her former life, but they were not mentioned by name:

I think that sums up the level of awareness that most people have about model horses in general, and Breyers in particular. Oh yeah, I remember those. What were they called, again?

But how do you go about fixing this problem?

I don’t think the availability of the product – or the lack thereof – is necessarily a big factor in the recognition issue. The horse-crazy kids know what Breyers are, even if they don’t necessarily have access to them financially or logistically.

The concept of “toy horses” is not difficult to sell to a larger public, either: that many (if not most) young girls go through a “horse phase” is practically a cliché.

I like to use the “dollar store” analogy: of you can get a knock-off of it at a dollar store, it’s something that has a fairly broad appeal. And you can get model horses – not very good ones, but “horses” nonetheless – at most dollar stores.

As far as the availability issue goes, Breyers as a brand can be tough to market, but that’s also because the retail market is a lot tougher these days: the stores that do have the shelf space would rather dedicate it to products that have a higher brand awareness – like My Little Pony.

My Little Pony managed to achieve this awareness – in part – by going small, creating a self-contained fantasy universe/playground much the way Star Wars did. 

Breyer has that to some degree, but the difference here is twofold. First, Breyer’s “playground” – the model horse hobby – is largely unknown outside of dedicated hobbyists: even among people who know or collect, many are either unfamiliar with it or intimidated by it.

Second, our “playground” is not a self-contained fantasy universe in the same way MLP, He-Man or Star Wars is: it’s basically Live-Action Role Playing (LARPing) of real horses – except where it isn’t (or can’t be). 

So how you go about fixing Breyer’s brand awareness problem?

Aside from encouraging horse-crazy kids to “buy Breyer”, you have to tell the people who were former horse-crazy kids that Breyers are here for them, too. After all, it’s right there in their mission statement:
Delivering the promise of a horse to everyone who dreams of one.

The new management at Reeves has been working on that mission statement, most visibly with last year’s New York Times article, the Imagine Entertainment deal announced a couple month back.

But these efforts so far have been targeted towards kids. That’s great (and necessary, obviously!) but ultimately a brand awareness solution needs to include a plan to engage those who were horse-crazy kids “once upon a time”, but may still harbor deep-seated fantasies of horse ownership.

Letting them know that they can have the horse of their dreams and “play” with them like the real thing? That could be huge. If think the horse-crazy kids who attend BreyerFest for the first time are a joy to behold, seeing the ones who discover (or rediscover) it as adults is downright revelatory.

In short: while “brand awareness” alone should never be enough for inclusion in the Toy Hall of Fame, I think it is one of the primary things holding Breyer Horses back from even being nominated. I think that can be overcome by not just marketing to current horse-crazy kids, but also former (now vintage?) horse-crazy kids.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Halloween Surprises

As I expected, Breyer was not on the list of finalists for the Toy Hall of Fame. I have some thoughts and feelings about this, but rather than have it turn into a rant about Care Bears, I’ll give myself a few more days for a more nuanced post.

In the meantime, we can talk about the Halloween stuff they released to Collector’s Club members today:

We’ve already knew about the Spooky Stablemates and the Samhain; however, the plush Boo (above) and the Classic* Mason Salem were new.

I’m trying to avoid even considering any Traditional-scale Halloween items right now – there is no space here at the moment – and Plushes are not an option as long as Vita roams the house.

The Stablemates were a no-brainer the moment I saw them at BreyerFest, of course. I love all three, but I do hope at least one of the two I’m getting is the Mini Ichabod Rivet, because you know how much I love glow-in-the-dark stuff.

And that’s why I ended up buying the Salem, too. At first I thought that he was cute and well-executed – a Decorator Pinto pattern with cat silhouettes and paw prints and purple interference! – but not necessarily a must-have.

Then I saw that it was glow-in-the-dark, too, and I was well, so much for setting aside some funds for a new sewing machine this week….

I do want to object to how this program was marketed, though. It was on Instagram, on Twitter, on Facebook… everywhere except the one place I actually check on a (somewhat) daily basis: my e-mail.

I am glad that these items were basically open stock items and of a sufficiently large enough quantity that they were still available when I actually had the opportunity to peruse the Internet – eight hours later.

Please do not let this be a trend: people do not need any more encouragement to stare at their phones as it is. I’ve never been more lonely than when I’ve found myself sitting at a table eating lunch with friends or coworkers, and every single one of them is staring into their phones like the rest of the world (or me!) does not exist.

Not all of us are attached to our cellphones 24/7 – in fact, I barely use it at all, and usually only for emergencies. And yes, I am also appalled that “Smartphones” made the Hall of Fame shortlist. But more about that next time…

(*Look, I still call “Paddock Pals” Little Bits. But at least it kinda-sorta makes sense. Renaming the Classics Series the Freedom Series just borders on the random and nonsensical.) 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019


It was a pretty good day at the flea market, all things considered:

This wasn’t all of it, just the most interesting bits. (Looks like I’ll be doing that Christmas-themed Western Horse custom after all!) The ceramic Dinosaur came out of a box lot of figurines that one of my regular vendors gave me a sweet deal on, and the MiniWhinnies were in a bag of Schleichs and other plastic/rubber toys.

In other words, it looks like I am well on my way towards restocking my Dollar Table for next year!

(Before you ask: that Dimetrodon is definitely staying.)

Normally I’d be way more excited about the two aquarium figurines I found, but I happened to watch a video of the auction I had to miss on Saturday, and there were dozens (dozens!) of vintage ones there sold in box lots. I hoped a few of them would have shown up at the flea market but alas, I had to content myself with just these two.

I am a cheapskate, so buying them piecemeal on eBay or at antique shows/malls is not my preferred option.

How much is too much? I won’t pay more than five dollars per piece usually, and it has to be pretty special to me to cough up a fiver (or more) for it.

In comparison, my model horse spending limit is $350 for a single item. Not counting the two “Exclusive Events” I’ve attended, and all of the associated costs of BreyerFest, I think I’ve come close to that limit maybe two or three times?

However, relatively speaking, it is really quite a low boundary – especially when you consider how my tastes run.

While I don’t begrudge hobbyists who have higher spending tolerances, I sometimes do find myself casting a slightly skeptical eye their way. I’ve been in this hobby (and a few others) long enough to be wary of folks who spend a lot of money in relatively short periods of time: I have sometimes seen it not… end well, not just for the person or persons involved, but the hobby as well.

One of the foundational aspects of the model horse hobby was that it was an affordable alternative to the “real” horse world, and I’d hate to see price escalation push people away.

But this is also one of the reasons why I got into researching Breyer History in the first place: while I will probably never be comfortable competing with money, competing with knowledge I can totally do. And one of the reasons this blog exists is so that you can, too. 

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Hamilton, and Occam’s Razor

Sorry for my relative absence the past week or so guys – things kind of got crazy there for a few days, and there were some lingering aftereffects from the whatever-I-had last week still causing me some inconveniences.

And consequently all my best laid plans for the weekend went out the window.

Although there was no auction or antique show for me today, I did get a chance to see some pretty horses. But that’s a long story, and time is short today.

Let’s (briefly) talk about another thing that flew past me in the week before and of BreyerFest: the Premier Club Hamilton!

He is lovely and makes me wish I had joined the Premier Club this year. When the first sneak preview picture was making the rounds the weekend before BreyerFest, I took one look at it (below), and the first (and only!) logical explanation that popped into my head: well, duh, that’s a Saddlebred. 

Conceptually, it also made sense because Reeves has slowly been “updating” their lineup, replacing Vintage molds of popular breeds with more modern ones. And no Vintage mold has fallen more out of favor than the original rough-and-chunky Five-Gaiter, who I sometimes refer to as “The Racking Drafter”.

In short: he was due for an update. 

So I was surprised (to say the least) at the number of people contorting themselves into explanations of how it could be... almost anything but a Saddlebred.

Occam’s Razor, people: the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. Not always, but usually.

I need to stumble into bed here in a few moments, so I’ll close with a photo of one of my favorite Five-Gaiters from my collection, a Sample of the Regular Run CH Sprinkles release I picked up in the NPOD a few years ago:

He’s a Sample because you can tell in person that he’s a he, and not a she. And he is one of my favorites because his paint job is even more amazing in person!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Stablemates Labor Day Roundup

That was a surprisingly productive weekend, considering I was on cold medication through most of it. Wrapped up another quilting project, finishing prepping another, and made considerable progress on a third. And I am almost caught up on all my “stories”, too – just one more series left to binge and I’m good!

I managed to get a little shopping done, too – behold my mighty Stablemates Hoard:

The Blue and Lavender Unicorn Alborozos are from Tractor Supply, and all the candy-colored Unicorns are from the latest Walmart Unicorn Chase – except the actual Chase piece, of course, because collectors around here are locusts, I swear.

Although I like the Rainbow Sherbet Magnolia Chase piece better than the previous “Halloween Florentine” Magnolia Chase, I’m not going out of my way to get one, either. I’ll find it when I find it, or do without.

I’m just happy that the Alborozo isn’t, for a change, making him the easiest one for me to acquire so far. Funny how that works! (When are we going to get plain old Regular Run on him, I wonder?)

And lest I forget, here’s my Stablemates Club Iris – much to my surprise, I received the Decorator Mojave Turquoise:

The Blue Unicorn Magnolia came along for the ride; I hadn’t bought any of that particular series of Blind Bag Unicorns yet, so I was going to be fine with whatever showed up. All the non-Chase pieces in that series seem pretty plentiful actually, so I’ll pick up the rest at the time and pace of my choosing.

Incidentally, I passed by opportunities to purchase a couple of small horse collections in the past week – I’m juggling just a little bit too much stuff right now to take on anything beyond Stablemates and necessities. (Yes, I know, for some of us they are one and the same.) 

Oh, and I did go to the annual town book sale and I did... okay? Nothing really worth reporting there, except that my book sales stash was pretty depleted after BreyerFest, and now it’s not.

There is a slight chance I’ll be swinging by a farm auction or antique show next weekend, though: I haven’t been to either in ages, and it’s more about the people-watching and gauging the market than about the actual shopping. Finding stuff to buy is just a bonus.