Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Finally, Some Ponies!

I was both expecting and not expecting to see the Rhian and Cadell set: expecting it because it’s both a British Pony breed and a Mare and Foal set, and not expecting it because it was featured as the Sunday Raffle item last year.

Back to back BreyerFest releases on the same mold aren’t unknown – most notoriously the Silver releases Valentino in 2001, Ahote in 2002, and both the Live Show Prize S’Wonderful and Strawberry Fields in 2003 – and most recently, with Bristol’s 2018 Raffle release Jackpot, and last year’s Customs Contest prize Leap of Faith.

As a few others might have pointed out by now (or at least, I hope so), Brighid and Beltane do bear a passing similarity to Misty and Stormy, which may well be intentional, considering it’s an “anniversary” year and the only other nod to history in this year’s BreyerFest lineup so far has been the inclusion of the Sham Lugh.

This set is on my maybe list: I love the Foal mold, but the Mare mold seems a little soft and undefined to me. Like anything, a lot of it will depend on how they look in person.

And of course, there’s the whole issue of whether we’ll even get that chance.

Even though my life, as it is, has so far been relatively undisturbed by the pandemic, fret and worry have my traveling companions during this journey too. All this uncertainty about… everything is definitely taking its toll on me and my own.

(Even Vita: she is Not Happy about all these dogs walking past her territory on a daily basis. Not one bit!)

Most of my other extracurricular activities – including, today, the Comicon I had substituted in lieu of the Soiree – have been either postponed or cancelled outright. I spent a considerable chunk of time on Sunday looking up alternative events to participate in in the late Summer or beyond, like Quilt Week in Paducah, or Youmacon, in case the worst case scenario comes to pass.

(FYI: I genuinely don’t know any more about that situation than most of you do. So don’t interpret this as anything other than my reaction to the stress we’re all experiencing right now. I come from a family that prepares for even the most obscure of emergencies: contingency planning is just something we need to do to cope.)

I am grateful to have other activities that don’t depend on going anywhere or even interacting with anyone – like my gardening and my quilting – and I did promise myself to wrap up a lot of “unfinished business” around the house this year.

But I do need some social interaction with people I don’t have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. The prospect of doing without… is not one I want to think about.

Not one bit.

Saturday, March 28, 2020


Part of the reason I am not all that into the Diorama Model Feis is that I have no current plans on entering the contest in the first place.

This cosplay idea I’ve been trying to execute is frustrating me literally every step of the way – supplies missing, orders canceled, pieces lost from patterns – and so throwing myself into another project whose end result is bound to frustrate me has no appeal at all.

Yes, the lineup is pinto-heavy this year, but the pinto part doesn’t bother me. The fact that it’s a Jeanne Mellin Herrick mold doesn’t bug me either – in fact, one of the articles I’m prepping to write for this year’s Sampler is a discussion of her work for Breyer.

No, I have two other, completely unrelated aesthetic reasons I’m not all that into the Diorama Prize model Feis.

First, as I’ve discussed before, I’m just not into Buckskin Pintos in general. I do admire how well done it is, though: instead of simple streaks, the intricate mane masking gives us a real sense of hair twisting and tangling in the breeze, and the color itself is very similar to the well-received Buttermilk Buckskin Bollywood Surprise from a few years back.

Second: it’s another Draft Horse, in a thematic year that should almost be pony-obsessive. I know there are still several more items to be revealed that will (or should) make up that deficit, but at this point it’s becoming almost comical.

As you might have noticed, Reeves has been using either older molds, or molds unsuitable for live showing for their Diorama Contest prizes recently: Haflinger, Buckshot, Boomerang, El Pastor. Many of these molds have been used for releases or entire lines designed to appeal to a younger crowd, which may be the point of selecting them for this contest, entirely.

But personally, if I had to go with an older mold, or even another Jeanne Mellin Herrick mold, I would have preferred Roemer or Pluto. (And I am extremely relieved it’s not the Fell Pony Emma. So, so relieved.)

So yeah, this one isn’t lighting a fire in my belly, and I am fine with that. I still might enter, depending on what shakes out with my plans for the next few months (i.e. if the Comicon the costume is for gets canceled or postponed), but I am definitely not going to sweat it, regardless. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Strange Times

I did go ahead and splurge on one thing this weekend: since the Stablemates discount code worked on the Starry Skies Stablemates, and adding one to my Starlight order didn’t bump up the shipping costs, that’s what I did.

I don’t know if I’ll open it when it gets here, or wait until my birthday. Depending on what the situation is with their warehouse and shipping, that question might be moot…

As you might have heard, as of last night and for the next three weeks, Michigan is currently under a Stay Home/Stay Safe executive order.

Without giving too much away about my current life situation, nothing has really changed that much for me, other than suddenly finding myself doing all my shopping for the next couple weeks in a single afternoon.

These are strange times, indeed, when you see people panic-buying glitter and scrapbook paper at Michael’s.

FYI: I needed rhinestones. Though there is a distinct possibility that the event I need them for will be cancelled: it’s the same weekend that the Seattle Soiree was supposed to be, and it’s a far bigger event with celebrity guests and stuff. (Right now it is looking about 50/50.)

Speaking of which, I assume you’ve already heard the news about the Seattle Soiree being cancelled:


I thought Reeves would announce on Monday, but it looks like they took the extra time to hammer out a couple different solution options – either cancel out and get an automatic bye into the next event (but not for your “plus one”), or get the Event Model Redmond and Stablemate Puget, and the other models will be purchase-raffled off online.

I am assuming there will be a little bit more to it than that, since some of the “plus ones” don’t have Collector’s Club accounts, not to mention the entire conundrum of dealing with the leftovers in an entirely virtual setting.

The decision to cancel the Fun Days appears to be up to the venue and what the local situation is at the time. (Last time I checked there was nothing local to me anyway.)

BreyerFest is still proceeding normally – we’re still getting sneak peaks and blog updates, anyway – though I would not be surprised if there are changes made, and possibly some activities made virtual, like this year’s Science Fiction Writers of America Nebula Conference will be.

Not sure how their virtual room parties and dance party are going to work; I don’t think I even want to contemplate what virtual room sales would be like.

But to end on a happy note: my flower seedlings look great! I am so glad I decided to start some plants indoors this year.

(African Marigold: Kilimanjaro White)

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Klaus and Friends

After much consideration, I’ve decided to pass on both the Grab Bags and the Goji Berry Pony, who I had almost completely forgotten I had been picked for in the first place.

Because I only entered once, out of habit.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s adorable – and as some have pointed out, is obviously related to the Exclusive Event Cleveland Bay Chicory somehow – but I just can’t justify him right now.

The Traditional Fjord is also a harder than normal mold to collect – the 2015 Diorama Contest Truffles and WEG Fjord re-release are not just rare numerically, but also in a “never gets puts up for sale, ever” sort of way. I think I’ll just be content with the ones I already have, and any inexpensive ones that happen to wander my way on the secondary market.

Better to open and enjoy what I have right now than seek out more goodies in the meantime, anyway. Like my Stablemates Club Klaus and Vintage Club Misty and Stormy:

(Those tiny boxes never get old!)

It’s been a few weeks and there’s probably not much more that could be said about either release – though I like the Klaus more than most. As you might expect, the crisp edges and lack of halo spots doesn’t bother me much at all, and I’m (also, obviously) one who enjoys a release that’s designed to be an historical recreation of Lipizzaners past:


(Which reminds me to make a mental note to add Carina and Selene to my potential BreyerFest want list.)

As I am kinda behind on what I wanted to accomplish this weekend (quarter-inch elastic is apparently sold out everywhere, putting a crimp on my cosplay plans) that’s all I have for you guys today.

Oh, other than this: for reasons that should be obvious (the color scheme, but also my generalized weirdness), it seemed pretty obvious to me that my Klaus’s name should be Nomi. As in Klaus Nomi:

Thursday, March 19, 2020


First, just to let you know, I was not the lucky stiff who snagged the Presentation Series *Witez II on eBay today. My luck’s been good, but not THAT good. I’m (mostly) okay with that.

Second, and case you were wondering: yes, I know all about the #82 Donkey with Baskets on eBay. In fact – and as you might have guessed – I knew about it before most of you guys did.

What’s blowing my mind right now is that I could… probably afford it right now. But considering the state of the world right now, keeping my discretionary purchases to a minimum seems like a wiser choice for me. 

(Though I am mulling over these new Grab Bags Reeves is offering that allegedly have some actual good stuff in them, not just the usual Regular Run warehouse leftovers. I think I might wait until I see the contents of a few pop up online before I decide, though.)

As some of you also know, I got insanely lucky several years ago when I located this treasure on eBay, for a sum very much within my budget:

Both of the Elephant with Howdah and the Donkey with Baskets came out around the same time – early in 1958 – and left just as quickly. I presume that they were originally made to capitalize on the success of their other value-added products, most notably the Western Pony Groomers.

However, most of these other value-added models – which grew to include such oddments as the French Poodle Sewing Kits and the infamous “Candy Packers” – were primarily sold via holiday catalogs. The Elephant with Howdah and Donkey with Baskets appear to be Breyer’s the only contemporaneous attempts to add these kinds of items to their Regular Run lineup.

Ones that obviously failed, based on the scarcity of both items.

Why both items were discontinued so quickly is a mystery. Was the fact that they were significantly more expensive ($1.50 instead of $1.00, wholesale) or that customers also expected something inside those baskets, like candy or office supplies?

Regardless of the reasons behind their mysterious disappearances, a return of either does not seem so far-fetched now, especially in light of this year’s Vintage Club releases.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Bittersweet Complexity

The past few days have been bittersweet. Not only did the money I was anticipating finally arrive, but I finished my taxes and found (as I hoped) that I’d be getting a refund for the first time in many years. And both amounts were significantly larger than I expected.

Combined, they would have more than covered the trip to Seattle.

But alas, luck was not on my side, and no amount of money can turn me into one of those people who gets picked for everything they hope for.

My luck (lately) has been running more towards finding random rarities on eBay, and I am mostly okay with that.

The money won’t go to waste: there are plenty of purchases I’ve put off for months (and years!) that I can finally catch up on. And BreyerFest will definitely be more stress free, without the pressure of having to make as many sales to pay for it all.

(Assuming the world is closer to normal by then. Which – for the sake of my sanity – I am assuming is going to be the case, unless evidence or circumstance change.)

I can also go ahead with my plan of buying “a few glorious things” – at retail! I’ve decided to wait until BreyerFest to buy the Gloss Dapple Gray Belgian of my dreams, and one or two others if the opportunities present themselves like an earlier/homelier Auction Test Color, or a scarcer-than-average Woodgrain like a freestanding (never mounted on a lamp) Running Mare or Foal.

The latter may seem surprising because hobbyists tend to forget that the actual Regular Run #920 Woodgrain Running Mare and #930 Foal were only in production from ca. 1962 through 1965. A significant percentage of loose Woodgrain Mares and Foals on the market are actually ones set free from Ranchcraft Lamps.

Which are, themselves, likely later – or as I sometime call them – Post-Production Special Runs. In other words, separate releases entirely.

Sometimes it even feels like the Woodgrain Lamps Mares and Foals are more common than the freestanding pieces, but I think that’s more of a consequence of their manufacture. Many of the freestanding pieces ended up as toys, with a higher attrition rate than lamps, which as furniture don’t get manhandled quite as much or discarded quite as easily.

We genuinely don’t know much about production quantities of Regular Run models from the 1950 through the mid-1980s – and what the average attrition rate was for those models as they traveled through time to today.

To make a long story short: rarity is complicated, and more relative than you might imagine. So buy what you like at the price you are comfortable with.

Friday, March 13, 2020

A Celtic Arabian

In case you haven’t seen it, this is Breyer’s official notice about COVID-19, which is about what I expected:


In short: nothing’s cancelled, but we’re monitoring the situation and will update you if there are any changes. 

On a lighter topic, the latest BreyerFest is… a Sham?

I had assumed that at least one of the Specials this year was going to be an Arabian, but for some reason I thought it’d be the Proud Arabian Stallion and not the Sham.

The four Proud Arabian Stallions that have been Special Runs for BreyerFest are either expensive or hard to find: the 2003 Raffle Model Saturday Night Fever, the 2008 Gloss Prize Model Thee Desperado, the 2009 Volunteer Model After Party (my favorite!) and the 2015 Raffle Model Que Sera Sera.

But the Sham isn’t quite as challenging: just the 1991 Wedgewood Blue Raffle Model, the 1996 Celebration Horse Tseminole Wind, and the 2008 Decorator Pharaoh.

Hmm. I guess it was about time for another Sham.

We last saw the Gulastra Plume coloring on the 2018 Stablemates Club debut of Darley; I was hoping we’d see it again soon, and Sham’s swishy tail is ideally suited for it.

Although I love Glossy Bay, and especially a Glossy Bay with Gulastra Plume, this is another model I am undecided on. I guess I’m just starting to feel a little Special Run fatigue, right now. Or is it that I find the pony-shaped holes in this year’s lineup disorienting?

(Please don’t let one of them be a Diorama Prize model. That contest has been nothing but heartbreak for me. A Translucent Decorator Bouncer as a Pop-Up Store item will be perfectly acceptable.)

I also continue to be mildly amused by the fact that while many of these Specials aren’t all that conceptually different from previous BreyerFest Special Runs – in that their only connection to the theme is in their name – there isn’t that much uproar over that fact this year.

Some of it may be hobbyists finally getting over that particular bugaboo, and the quality of the Special Runs themselves, but I also think everyone else’s enthusiasm for the theme may be overriding that perennial complaint.

As someone whose ethnic background can be loosely described as “Eastern Barbarian”, I find myself kind of meh on the theme.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Health and Safety

The primary components of cellulose acetate, the stuff that (most) Breyer models are made of, are cellulose and acetic acid. The vinegary “New Horse Smell” we experience when we open up our latest acquisitions is the acetic acid: vinegar is, more or less, a diluted form of it.

Vinegar is considered a disinfectant, though it is not as effective as commercially made disinfectants.

What I’m saying here is that your new 2020 Traditional-scale Breyers don’t pose a significant health risk, because the stuff they are made of is somewhat self-disinfecting.

Once it’s out of the box it’s another game altogether. Anyone who’s bought anything second hand – sometimes even from other hobbyists – knows Breyers can get real funky, real fast.

(Oh, you know I have stories!)

When that happens, the safest and most effective cleaning solution for most Breyer models is warm water and a good quality dish soap like Dawn.

Diluted Bleach or Vinegar (not both together!) can also be used, but come with some risks. They can cause “milkiness” (basically turning the clear topcoats found on earlier Breyers opaque), can corrode metallic paints, and if left in a solution for an extended period of time can flake the finish off completely.

I am supposing – I am not in the loop about this, so don’t quote me – that in regards to COVID-19, Reeves is in the process of developing contingency plans for both the Seattle Soiree and BreyerFest.

Cancellation is probably their very last resort. As in, I think it is extremely unlikely. But being prepared for worst-case scenarios is never a bad thing.

For what it’s worth, my hobby plans have not changed. I am relatively healthy (aside from some minor chronic conditions) and I’ve had good hygiene practices drilled into me from an early age. (Many members of my extended family have worked in either healthcare, or in food services.) 

But I am not a health care expert, and I am not you. I would urge you to take the time now to review your own situation and plan accordingly.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Wedgewood Blue Stud Spider

I love him and I want him:

I am assuming that he was a Test Color for the 2006 Treasure Hunt Lady Phase in Wedgewood Blue, since the color and the eye details are similar, as are the molds themselves.

This raises all sorts of questions about those Golden Charm Appaloosa and Honey Bay Lady Phases and the 2013 Mother Lode models, too. Ones I’ll set aside for now because I’m elbow deep in tax paperwork today and I promised myself I’d get that done by the end of the weekend.

The online discussion of this particular Test Color is a little frustrating, but not entirely unexpected: an entire generation of hobbyists have grown up assuming that what they see in BreyerFest Benefit Auctions (and donation pieces to hobby events/organizations) are Test Colors, when most of them are more akin to Factory Customs.

(Not all, but the percentage does vary from year to year.)

Most of the Test Colors featured in the earliest BreyerFest Auctions – particularly the ones in the 1990s – were actual Test Colors, featuring strange or unappealing colors on molds now considered undesirable.

As their stable of molds and color techniques improved, so did the auction pieces, and their prices, thus creating the crazy feedback loop we have today. Something that’s both (or neither) a good thing or a bad thing, but again, a topic for another day.

So now Reeves offers up something closer to the actual nature of a Test Color – unapologetically and unequivocally an experiment, dings and all – and this has been deemed unsatisfactory by a lot of hobbyists.

As someone who owns multiple Test Colors with issues (a three-legged Dapple Gray Family Arabian Mare, a bloated Bay Stormy, a Sorrel Classic Quarter Horse Foal with about 300 rubs) condition is not an issue for me. The price is not terrible, and his provenance is fabulous: I’d love to have him live here. He’d make an especially nice companion to my 4-stocking Stud Spider variation!

That’s not my decision to make, unfortunately. Stud Spider does have his fans, enough to make me wonder why he hasn’t been a part of the Vintage Club program, except as a color inspiration to the Man o’ War Storm. 

Incidentally, I’ve decided that my next big Breyer “Grail” is going to be one of those early funky BreyerFest Auction Tests. Someone put up a 1990s Morganglanz on eBay a few years back for a not-at-all terrible price, and I’m still kicking myself for not buying him.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Behind Door Number Three

Half of me is saying “You already have enough Brishens!” and the other half is yelling “But it’s a Silver Cremello Tobiano Pinto!”

The Brishen mold has been a BreyerFest Special Run many times, in numerous mold variations: in 2013 the Bay Pinto Gypsy Vanner was a Gloss Open Show Prize, he was also used for the Sunday Raffle Model Boot Scootin’ Boogie, and the clean-legged mold variation debuted as a Ticket Special by the name of Laredo.

He’s also been a Store Special twice before: 2014’s immensely popular Novelisto D, and his mirror opposite/evil twin Dag Dia in 2016.

I do have a couple of minor disappointments here. One, he’s not going to be a Surprise this year: with all of the mane, tail and leg variations, they really could have gone crazy with this one. And second – somewhat related to the first! – they went with the standard upswept mane and tail.

I know that Faugh-A-Ballagh’s people probably had the final say on this, and it does seem to be the most popular choice even among collectors, but I like variety, dangnabit!

So for this guy, mark me as undecided.

By the way, good job Reeves for faking us out with the sneak peeks – I know I wasn’t the only one who assumed that three consecutive images without a reveal would lead up to a Mare and Foal Set or even a Classic Family.

But alas, no.

We’ve had Mare and Foal sets for a while, and one of the earliest was the Classic Haflinger Mare and Foal set Hansel and Gretel in 2011. But the closest we’ve gotten to a full three-member Classic Family was the #701601 Classic Racing Thoroughbreds featuring a Man o’ War, Kelso and a Silky Sullivan came out in 2001.

If I recall correctly, that set didn’t sell particularly well, and ended up getting remaindered to both Tuesday Morning and to the KHP Gift Shop. Thus possibly answering the question why we haven’t gotten one since then…

I always wondered if hobbyists would have been more receptive to the set if it had been issued in more Thoroughbred-like colors, but I consider the Shaded Buckskin Man o’ War to be flat-out gorgeous, and is probably my favorite release on that mold, even moreso than the recent Lancelots.