Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Daft Days

The Zebra arrived today, but I’ll probably wait until the weekend to open him up – partly to forestall any potential disappointments, and because I am already elbow deep in horse inventory stuff. The Stablemates alone will be the death of me…

And speaking of, Reeves pushed out one last enticement to join the Stablemates Club: an optional seventh release, a Mini Me of the Dapple Gray Clydesdale Stallion by the name of Duke.

A moot point for me (I signed up a while ago) but there is the answer to the not-really-a-question of whether or not they’re shrinky-dinking other Vintage molds. Of course they are.

But let’s get back to the question of Ambrose. Some of you won’t like my answer, but you know I am not afraid of being a contrarian.

I find that Reeves’ marketing of Ambrose – one that emphasizes its “painted in the USA” status – as both a little cynical and troubling.

For one, it devalues some of the genuinely beautiful models that are now being made in China. Are they all “Live Show Quality”? No. But the possibility of acquiring something excellent at a not unreasonable price does exist.

And not only that, this exclusivity is simply not true: there are a lot of models still painted in the USA: some of the Web Specials (Wailua, Bramble), Volunteer Specials, Prize and Raffle models, models for Exclusive Events. To name a few.

Sure, they may not available to everyone equally, but a $300 model hyped as being “extraordinary” and sold on a First-Come, First-Served basis at the end of an already overcrowded December selling season is also… not available to everyone equally.

It’s just another flavor of exclusivity, albeit an economic one. For those of us who choose not to (or simply cannot) spend ourselves into oblivion during the holidays, we’re now faced with a glut of promotions with ever escalating stakes. Do we risk getting a Gloss Regular Run, or should we wait for the Winter Web Specials? Will the Christmas Day model be to our liking, or will Reeves throw down something else in the “Daft Days” that follow? Is a New Year’s Day Special not far behind?

The hobby’s original appeal of opening the often-too-expensive world of horses to everyone is something now reflected even Breyer’s own marketing strategy: “A Horse of Your Own”. This is an approach I’ve been touting for years, and I am glad that Reeves is taking it. 

Targeting to your higher-end customers is not wrong, but when it appears that you are catering to the higher-end customers to the exclusion of everyone else, that’s a problem. Especially when those customers not only expect it, but demand it.

This issue ties to another troubling point in Ambrose’s sale pitch: quality escalation. While I have no doubt that the Ambroses will be uniformly excellent, they will not be uniformly perfect. Looking at the way many hobbyists nitpick models at half – or even one-tenth – the price, I can only imagine how intense the scrutiny will be for models like Ambrose, and his successors.

It can’t end well.

If they continue this “series” – based on the response, I am assuming that it’s going to be added to the end-of-year sales blitz – I won’t rule out the possibility of buying one in the future. But it’ll have to be on a mold I really love in a color I can’t pass up: I prefer to buy things for keeps, not to speculate.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Palomino Hamilton

Since I am basically tapped out, and trying to end the year with as little credit card debt as possible, I passed on the Ambrose.

I had a feeling they were going to drop one more bombshell on us before the end of the year. I’m still sorting out my decidedly feelings about the whole thing, so I am going to talk about another topic I’ve put off for a while: the Palomino Hamilton.

If there’s one thing I’d like to say to the rest of the hobby that would actually get listened to and followed, it’d be: chill out about this Hamilton already, people.

If what happened with the first run of the Collector’s Club Appreciation Glossies is any indication, I think Reeves has the situation under control, and production will be calibrated accordingly: a little more of this, a little less of that, with the Pinto Smarty Jones chase piece remaining the rarest, regardless.

I am not going to worry about it until the middle of the year at least, and possibly not until after BreyerFest, when I presume the bulk of production on this particular Gambler’s Choice run will be concluded. And for those of your afeared that a substantial chunk of those will be going to Dremel-happy customizers, I wouldn’t count out another production item on the mold by the end of 2020, either. 

Seattle Soiree Special? Tractor Supply? Brick and Mortar? Any one of the multitudes of Holiday releases? It’s going to happen, people. Plenty of Hamiltons for everybody, whatever your hobby persuasion!

What I find kind of fascinating about this particular release of Hamilton is that he is an intentional callback to another iconic Breyer release: the #53 Palomino Five-Gaiter!

That release used to be such a cornerstone of many hobbyists’ collections in the 1970s and 1980s along with his brother, the #51 Albino, until the mold’s recent fall from favor.

What was interesting about the #53 Palomino was that it was made well into the “Matte Finish” era, not being discontinued until 1971. As far as I know, it was never officially made in a Matte version – sure, I’ve heard the rumors, but I’ve never actually seen one in person.

Later ones are definitely a different shade of Palomino than earlier ones, though some of that can be attributed to the fugitive nature of the Palomino paint Breyer used back then. (Under normal/average environmental conditions, early Breyer Palominos tend to turn slightly brownish with age, to a more golden honey color.)

But yeah, I am definitely not going to get my dander up about the Palomino Hamilton until I absolutely have to. And probably not then, either, likely because we will be obsessed with another (real or perceived) Reeves marketing flub by then.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas Candy

Well, so this happened today:

… and I figured as much from the clue in the e-mail from yesterday that mentioned “a sweet treat!” So it was a little anticlimactic for me when the sale finally went live around 11 a.m. Eastern – though I punched the buy button pretty hard, nevertheless. 

What I wasn’t expecting from this little bit of Breyer fan service was not two, but five(!) different colors, including a solid black “Licorice” serving as this year’s magical lump of “Coal”:

As someone who actually likes the stuff in real life – I go through the bags of assorted taffy at my local Family Farm and Home store looking for the ones with extra licorice pieces – naturally I would love the Zebra version. But that’s not my decision to make.

I do want them all, but since I only have one account at the moment, and some minor medical stuff coming up early in the next year (nothing to worry about, guys, just some long-delayed maintenance/upkeep), I’ll have to put off getting the rest of them until at least mid-year.

It might also be partially dependent on whether I am chosen for the Seattle Soiree Event or not. Even though it’s on the other side of the country and plane tickets would have to be involved, it appears otherwise… both financially and logistically feasible.

I know there is some concern that the mold itself isn’t that popular, and the price isn’t merited. In regards to the former, the zebra patterning is more complicated than the original version, and for the latter, consider that the 2015 BreyerFest Special Run Caves of Lascaux – a run of 650 pieces – is neither cheap, nor easy to find.

So, who’s next on my XMAS wish list?

This should be obvious: the original #81 Standing Donkey.

She’s only come in various shades of Gray and Bay. She’s come in no true Glossies, and no Decorators except the almost-impossible-to-find Woodgrain.

And to add an extra level of difficulty: how about adding the original baskets?

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Glossy Stock Horses

In case you were wondering, I did participate in the second round of the Collector’s Club Appreciation Sale; I still wanted everything that was left in my cart (minus the sold out items), and the teases that they gave us for the second batch of Glossies – Integrity, Khalid, and even the Stock Horse Stallion King – were all perfectly acceptable.

I couldn’t pass up that Spirit Jersey, especially since it was in that familiar shade of purple (sorry, “Deep Lavender”) that I found so appealing on the Unicorn Zenith. I had been shopping for a new oversized pullover, and since this one was actually cheaper than most of the ones I had been considering, I would have bought it (and the socks) by the end of the year, anyway.

I might even buy a second, if/when the larger sizes go back in stock.

Incidentally, as the Breyer web site states, it’s true that the Stock Horse Stallion has rarely come in Gloss: aside from a few stray Tests and Raffle pieces, the only Production Runs that comes to mind are the 2008 BreyerFest Live Show prize DZ Weedo, and the Gloss version of the 2009 Web Special Summer Solstice, who showed up in the NPOD later that same year.

The Gloss Summer Solstice, in particular, was mostly unnoticed and/or outright ignored when he was “released”, but you don’t see much of either of those Glosses on the secondary market anymore.

It’s not really a surprise that he – or any of the other 1980s Stock Horse Family molds – have had many Gloss releases. Very few Glosses were being produced in the heyday of the Hess Stock Horse Family in the 1980s, and by the time it became a thing again both Breyer and the hobby had moved on to newer and more glamorous molds.

Typical of Chris Hess’s later work, the 1980s Stock Horse molds also have a less “polished” finish than both their predecessors and successors, which doesn’t really lend itself to glossing, though I think it looks perfectly lovely on both the Summer Solstice above, and the King below.

The second round of Glosses aren’t scheduled to ship until the beginning of May – close enough to my birthday that I’ll simply treat it as a de facto birthday present, regardless of who I get. And it’s the thought that counts, right?

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Breyer 2020

I was going to talk about BreyerFest, the new BreyerFest Guide, and all that, but photos of (some) of the 2020 Breyer releases dropped on the Breyer website yesterday and – ladies and gentlemen – we have to talk.


The Lipizanner Mare and Foal being released as a set is no surprise; I figured as much, since we just had the Winter Web Special Avoriaz. The colors are pretty, and more typical of actual Lipizzaners, which should momentarily quiet that contingent of hobbyists who get very upset when typey molds are released in nontypey/nonstandard colors. 

(Personally I don’t care one way or the other, but Carina does look lovely in fleabites!)

The return of both the Galiceno and the Pony of the Americas mold – in a set, no less – is more of a surprise for me. Since I am quite fond of both (though not the POA’s new hairdo) this set is a possible must-have for me, in addition to the Lipizanners.

So the Ideal series making a comeback on the Geronimo mold? That’s an interesting idea. The only problem I see with this series is – like the previous AQHA series – is that it’s tailored more towards AQHA members than hobbyists per se. After the third or fourth release in Bay or Chestnut, most hobbyists will tune it out…

I am not quite as gaga over the new Classic-scale Morgan Stallion as everyone else is yet; he’s one I want to wait and see on. And while I know Silver Bay is an acceptable Morgan color, I would have gone with something a little more conventional with the initial release, especially since they have been crushing it with the Bays and Chestnuts of late. 

Oddly more appealing to me is the Malik as a Translucent Blue and Silver Filigree Decorator and a “Unicornized” Mighty Muscle Draft Horse in the same “Early Morning Sunrise” color I found really appealing on the Walmart Unicorn Arabian earlier this year.

(And being the DC nerd that I am, my thoughts went straight to the Solaris of All-Star Superman. As I have mentioned before, it is definitely worth the read.)

The Stablemates 8-pack with both a Darley Arabian and a Darwin is another probably-gotta-buy-it: the paint jobs are a little plain (solid Black on the Darwin?) but I am assuming that’s because they’re trying for a more modest price point there.

So… in spite of my best intentions to the contrary, it might be an expensive year for me, depending on what Specials they have in store for us. And BreyerFest.

Finally, regarding the 70th Anniversary Assortment that has everyone both intrigued and annoyed: I don’t know anything more about how this is going to work than you guys do. I am assuming the Gambler’s Choice aspect applies only to the online purchases on the Breyer website, and to the dealers themselves, who won’t know what they’re getting from the warehouse until they open their cartons up. 

So if you’ve got a particular jones for one mold or another, it might be best to go to a local retailer. (And this, in fact, might be the whole point of this release.)

Besides, from the mess that some people make of Stablemates Blind Bags, “blind boxing” Traditionals would be (a) not particularly feasible, and (b) a gosh-darned nightmare, frankly. 

It looks like Reeves made a very careful and considerate selection of molds – the Fighting Stallion, the Indian Pony, the Moody Andalusian, and the Saddlebred Hamilton – that all have considerable fan bases and should be popular enough individually to not leave dealers with too many shelf sitters.

Naturally, when I first took a look at the assortment before reading the text, my eyes went straight to the Black Pinto Smarty Jones, who is… the darn chase piece.

Of course he is. Oh well, that’s something I can’t let myself worry about.

(The Palomino Hamilton is also rather eyecatching too, but I want to devote a post solely about him later in the week.)

Monday, December 16, 2019

The Madness

After having read through a big chunk of the Collector’s Club Appreciation social media brouhaha, I now find myself longing for the days when our biggest arguments were over Palomino Arabians and Breed Standards for Unicorns.

I still don’t see this Glossy Madness ending until this sale – or a variation of it – basically offers Glossies On Demand.

Though to be honest, The Madness wouldn’t go away, it’d just move to another target. I’m old enough to remember when the 1984 Just About Horses Saddlebred Weanling was selling for $250-400 on the secondary market: I was just on eBay earlier today, and saw one for $45 getting no apparent interest. 

(It’s still too soon to tell, but I think it would be absolutely hilarious if it turns out that Reeves actually tailored the quantities of the first set of Glosses to meet hobbyist/collector interest – so we end up with lots of Verdadeses, and not a lot of Enzos?)

Moving on to lighter subjects, here’s Reuben:

He’ll look fabulous next to my BreyerFest Bowland! The only other Charolais Bulls I have at the moment are a “pinto” version of the original #365 release, the Special Run Simmental made for Robbins Weathervane – new in box(!), and what I assume is a cull of the Special Run Red Shorthorn, also for Robbins.

I had the PBR Signature one, too, but I sold him a little while ago when I was doing a bit of a culling of my Cattle molds. While I liked the release itself just fine, I had a strange/awkward experience when I bought him from a local store, and I really didn’t want to be reminded of that every time I saw him. 

I just order my Stablemates Club Corbin – the past couple of weeks have been nothing if not distracting, hence my delay – that I am hoping will be my last hobby purchases of the year.

As I’ve said before, I’ve had a really good run of luck recently, so whatever Reeves throws our way on Christmas Eve/Day will have to be something pretty darn special for me to reconsider tapping my bank account. I’d rather let someone else who wants it more get it, and not be an intermediary in the process.

Friday, December 13, 2019

This Year's Appreciation Offer

Oh boy, I don’t even know where to begin.

Well, this has been an interesting three days, hasn’t it?

I was excited for the Collector’s Club Appreciation Sale – until I discovered that it was going to go live at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, with no way for me to get Internet access until 3 p.m. at the very earliest.

Initially I thought that because previous sales took hours to sell out, that I still had a chance but alas, no. 

While I was a little on the fence about participating anyway, I did bypass a couple of sales on items that I already had in my cart, just in case. The Double Discount Sale weekend was especially hard to ignore!

My luck has been exceptionally good model-horse-wise for the past month, though: that beautiful Yellow Mount, the Showcase Collection Grazing Mare, an Avoriaz and (literally arriving just hours ago, and still in his box) a Reuben, too.

So I wasn’t as bummed as I could have been.

I was not entirely surprised that Reeves decided to open up the offer again over the weekend for people who were not available to participate previously. The start time (2 p.m. on a Wednesday) was awkward for a lot of people, and there were several reported instances of ordering glitches – Regular Run items that the site interpreted as ineligible for the program.

But the most important factor in their decision wasn’t the whiners on Facebook: it was the fact that it sold out in 27 minutes. (In case you were wondering about the math, that’s an order every two seconds. Yikes!) It’s pretty clear that they vastly underestimated the demand for this offer.

I made some suggestions elsewhere online that next year’s sale should be tweaked to be more inclusive – like (for instance) shifting the start time to something a little bit later to accommodate shift workers on the East Coast, and people on lunch breaks on the West Coast who might not have Internet access at work. (Because surprise, people: not a lot of us do, nor do many of us see it as a hardship.)

And/or also truly making it a Customer Appreciation Sale by opening up the window of opportunity to everyone – but limiting it to a set number of hours. Have a quantity of Glosses on-hand to accommodate the first X number of customers, and have the rest of the orders that get in before the expiration time put on backorder.

And I’ll be darned if I find myself reading the new offer in my e-mail box this afternoon and finding variations of these two ideas being implemented for the Second Chance offer right now.

I also suggested the possibility of making the Gloss item selectable – thus neutralizing the desirability issue a bit, since that means they’d make more of the popular ones and less of the less popular ones. But that was clearly wish fulfillment on my part – who wouldn’t love the option of Glosses made to order?

Speaking about the less popular ones, I feel so sad for all those poor, unwanted Glossy Enzos! I don’t have any particularly negative feelings toward the mold itself (other than its narrowness) and you know I love minimal pintos, so I would not have been among the disappointed if I had gotten one. Though of the original five Glosses, Latigo Dun It is the only one that’s making me wince a bit. Another expensive and possibly unattainable Smart Chic Olena, ouch…

(Looks at my Gloss Kodi, wonders if trading is a possibility.)

Other surprises/not really from the sale: that that goofy Classics/Freedom Series Cupcake sold out, as did the larger sizes of that totally boss Fighting Stallion t-shirt.

The Cupcake has since been restocked, and since the t-shirt is part of their 70th Anniversary lineup it will be, eventually.

It will be interesting to see what the CCA sale will be like next year; I suspect it will be more like the second offering than the first.

The only other changes I’d like to see is (a) fixing the notification issue: in light of the bajillion e-mails they send off during the holiday season, adding another e-mail notification of the sale the day before to all Collector’s Club members shouldn’t be all that hard, and (b) adding a link on the Appreciation Model page to the page that lists all the eligible purchase items would actually be super helpful, especially when one of your first or second choices is sold out and you don’t want to go wandering/wondering around the site looking for a substitution.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Lady Roxana, Revised?

With a dentist appointment, Christmas shopping, the looming CC Appreciation Sale, and the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover thing melting my brain this week, you are not going to get a whole lot out of me today, except for a picture of my Avoriaz:

It’s a Filigree! I’ve  decided to name her Etelka, after one of my Hungarian Great-Grandmother’s sisters. So this genealogy research is paying off after all!*

You know who the PC Lipizzaner Mare reminds me of? The two-point contact trot, arched neck, an artfully swished tail serving as the third point-of-contact?

She’s kind of what I imagine Lady Roxana would have looked like if Rich Rudish had had more time to actually finish and refine her!

Normally I’d just be happy with this Filigree Avoriaz as my one and only, but I think I have to acquire the Rose Gold Charm version sometime in the not too distant future. I have been considering selling off one of my previous CC Appreciation Glossies…

Not this week, though. Probably.

*(In case you want to know – probably not, but I am going to tell you anyway – that my Belgian Great-Grandmother’s name was Alida, just like the Marabella Unicorn release from a few years back. Which I assume – like the other two examples I brought up earlier this year – is just a coincidence, unless a near-future release of the new Rhenish German Coldblood mold is named after my Belgian Great-Grandfather or one of his brothers. Then I might have to have a little discussion with some people in New Jersey about boundaries.)

Saturday, December 7, 2019


Remember about a week ago, when I mentioned a basic math problem in passing: Decorator Color + Bull Mold = Winner?

Freckle Red Roan + Charolais Bull = Winter Web Animal Special Run Reuben!

Guys, seriously, I had no idea. It’s just another one of my random guesses hitting pretty darn close to the target. Again.

The old-style freckle roaning technique has been used on cattle molds before, most notably on the Longhorn Bull, like the QVC Rebel Special Run, and the Regular Run #399 Texas Longhorn from 2000-2004 that is was based on.

But Reuben most closely resembles the popular BreyerFest Special Run Spanish Fighting Bull Flint, from 1999.

Only 375 Flints were made for that BreyerFest; even though BreyerFest was much smaller then, he was still a hot commodity, and still retains much of his value now.

I know some hobbyists are a little apprehensive about committing to Reuben because of last year’s Woodgrain Pig Hawthorn. Hawthorn was perceived as not all that popular or desirable; he went through so many waitlisters, in fact, that even I eventually ended up with one, and I am somebody who never gets picked off the waitlist.

Based on the fact that I met a lot of people looking for Jaspers at BreyerFest this year, I think it was a simple mismatch of the selling method with the market. Hawthorn might have sold better – and even sold out – if he had been offered as a first-come, first-served Special, like the two previous Winter Web Animal SRs, the Longhorn Bull Olaf and the Cow and Calf Eldora and Sol.

Bulls are a different matter entirely.

The last release on the Charolais Bull, the 2012 Special Run Bowland, is one of the more popular of the recent Nonhorse BreyerFest releases, and a very casual look at recent eBay sales show that even the Regular Run releases are pretty easy sells. So throw in a well-designed vintage-style Red Roan paint job on top of a moderately popular Nonhorse mold, and he seems like a pretty safe bet to me.

I also have to say that I rather appreciate the clever pun of his name: as sandwich aficionados know, the primary ingredient in a Reuben is… corned beef!

(Corned Beef is also a very Irish thing, so the timing of this guy with the imminent onslaught of BreyerFest 2020 Celtic Fling marketing is... interesting.)

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Rare Enough

Sorry guys – for some strange reason I did a little poking around the family tree just for fun, and now I appear to be knee deep in some serious genealogy research. With all the business I have to catch up on in the next several weeks, it’s not something I thought I needed to do, but here I am doing it anyway…

But I have held you all in suspense long enough with this package that arrived a couple of weeks ago already, so here it is:

A little background information: this all happened the same day that the Starry Skies Stablemates dropped on the Breyer web site. As I said before, I was a bit hesitant to buy more Blind Bag Stablemates, so I wandered over to eBay to clear my head a bit.

Aside from the fact that there were a couple of sweaters on there I was eyeing, I was also poking around on eBay because I had missed several good model horse auctions over the past several weeks previous as a consequence of my still-ongoing scheduling issues.

Perhaps lightning would finally strike for me, right?

Then, it actually happened.

I saw an honest-to-goodness Grail Model.

It had just been listed.

The seller was accepting offers.

So I made an offer.

It definitely wasn’t the price you still may see on eBay, but it was what I thought was (a) reasonable, and (b) within my budget.

I wasn’t expecting to offer to be accepted. Surely others had also seen it, and it’s something that’s on a lot of collector must-have lists. Even if I didn’t get it in the end, I figured I made an honest effort, at least.

An hour later, my offer was accepted.

I didn’t believe she was actually mine until the package arrived about a week later:

Yes, a Showcase Collection #1430 Palomino Grazing Mare!

Showcase Collection packaging (ca. 1970-1972) was one of the few examples of early Breyer packaging I had not acquired yet. Because of its fragility, it has been described as one of the “rarest” types of early packaging, but I don’t necessarily think that’s the case. Dumbbell stickers and the original Touchability Boxes are almost equally fragile, and far more scarce.

What the Showcase Collection packaging has got going for it is desirability: it’s just rare enough that even average collectors can reasonably dream of eventually adding one their own collection. And there are just enough of them turning up on a yearly basis to encourage others to dedicate themselves to actually collecting them as a thing, the same way some of us collect Chalkies, Stablemates, or color variations.

As you know by now, I am more of the former, not the latter. Though if I were lucky enough to find another, I certainly wouldn’t pass him or her by…