Monday, August 31, 2020

Waiting for the Tractor Supply Horses

Another busy weekend: I reorganized my main flower garden yesterday (and am I feeling it today, oof!) and I apparently made yet another grail purchase.

But you should know the drill about these grails by now (waiting until it gets here, yadda yadda).

I was hoping that all I’d have to worry about with regards to the upcoming Tractor Supply Special Runs would be whatever Stablemates (Blind Bags and otherwise) they’ll be adding to their standard store assortment. But based on the plan-o-grams floating around the Internet, it looks like it’s going to be more complicated than that.

The Alabaster/Aged Gray Classic Brabant is definitely a given, since I’ve managed to keep my little collection of the mold complete so far (and it comes with a wee blanket, squee!) I still haven’t opened up my Greenman yet, but horse inventory stuff is part of my extended Labor Day weekend plans, so soon:

I might even buy another Mighty Muscle in the near future for customizing purposes, but that will depend on the progress I make on all my other projects in the next month or so.

I am hoping that this Tractor Supply Special will be the last new release on the Brabant mold for a while, though. At least through the end of the year? While I don't expect the TSC Brabant to be all that difficult to get, I still could use the break.

You also know I’m also a big fan of the Emerson mold, so the Black Pinto Emerson in the TSC assortment will also likely be coming home with me. I’ll have to see what the Marabella and the Boomerang look like in person (and how my inventory plans go!) before I make any commitments.

I am intrigued by the Marabella; while the mold has come in an assortment of pintos over the years, her upcoming TSC release will mark the first time she’s appeared in Appaloosa.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Garage Sale Finds, Yay!

Earlier in the week I was going through my paperwork for the year thus far, and lamented that the “Nonretail” portion of my purchases – made at flea markets, yard sales, auctions and such – was pretty skimpy, and would probably remain so for the rest of it.

Then I did one of my intermittent searches on Craigslist and found a potentially interesting local garage sale that led to… these lovely finds!

Believe it or not, this is my first light, Nonchalky version of the #110 Smoke Western Prancing Horse. My first Smoke – my second model horse ever – was a Chalky variation I received for Christmas back in 1974. I’ve also gone through several Charcoal variations before settling (I think!) on the one I have now.

But a standard, actually “Smoke” Smoke Western Prancing Horse, or one I considered worth adding to my collection, had eluded me until now. I was kind of hoping to find a minty, New-in-White-Picture-Box one, or even an example with a Blue Ribbon Sticker, but this fellow with awesome pinking and original saddle and reins will more than do.

He needs a little bit of touch up work, but I’ll worry about that another day.

And well, you also know my fondness for vintage Red Roans. It’s kind of interesting that in spite of the Red Roan Running Mare’s relative rarity (produced only from 1971-1973) that’s she’s not considered more desirable.  

I think it’s a combination of two factors.

First, while she certain has her share of fans, the Running Mare is simply a less-collected mold than her 1960s contemporaries, like the Semi-Rearing Mustang and Fighting Stallion.  

Second, she’s come in so many Variations, Special Runs and even scarce Regular Run items over the years that the #119 Red Roan doesn’t even break the top ten in terms of rarity or desirability. Even vintage Test Colors of her are not especially difficult to find. (Still not cheap, though!)

Just about the only time you see the price of a Red Roan Running Mare hit the stratosphere is if it’s found in Showcase Collection packaging, or features an exceptionally beautiful or distinctive paint job.

Speaking of that, vintage Red Roans vary, a lot; I’m justifying keeping this pretty girl because aside from her original shipper box, she has finer freckling than my other Red Roan Running Mare, who also happens to have corn spotting. And a sticker that’s not really her sticker, but that’s another story.

All of the other goodies came along for the ride; they’re not things I normally collect, but I have a hard time resisting cute, little things.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

WEG Salinero

I had been wanting to add a one or two more of the more limited WEG models to my collection; the roached mane/short tail variation of the Matte Toby would have been perfect, but I wouldn’t turn down almost anything else if it presented itself. 

And this one did! 

I’ve been wanting a Salinero for a while. My platonic ideal Salinero is the 2007 BreyerFest Raffle Model Tacoma in Bay Overo Pinto, because I think his overo paint job perfectly complements and enhances his lovely silhouette.

But you and I both know that wasn’t ever going to happen. I’m not that lucky, and also I am a cheapskate. So the next best Salinero for me would have been the 2010 WEG rerelease… and now I have him!

Okay, sure, I get it: he’s not as exciting as… just about any other WEG release. In fact, he’s pretty boring: the only thing that distinguishes a WEG Salinero from a Regular Run #704 Salinero is that the WEG release has a VIN mark, and the Regular Runs – manufactured in 2007 and 2008 – predate that, and thus do not. 

Unlike other WEG reissues, only about a year and a half of time had passed since the release was formally discontinued. There were no significant changes or improvements to the painting process in that short time frame, other than the addition of VIN numbers to models being produced in China. 

And it’s lucky that he got even that. Most of the other extra-limited WEG models were painted stateside, but the Salineros made for the 2010 WEG were not. I presume that was because they still had all the painting specs (and of course, the mold) so it was probably easier just to have the factory in China pull 96 bodies off the Cloud Nine production line and paint them up in addition to the 500 piece WEG SRs (like Cedric and Jamaica) while they were busy in New Jersey painting up all of the other super-limited Specials.

It would also explain why they made more of him than any other of those Specials: New Jersey production was probably limited to what was on hand.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Show Time

I spent most of the day geeking out in the DC Fandome today, which – to me – has been the most successful online replication of a convention experience I’ve had this year so far.

(For the fellow nerds in the audience, I will reveal no spoilers. Except for the fact that one of Jim Lee’s favorite characters is Matter-Eater Lad, which both amuses and delights me. LLL!)

The first part (this weekend) was essentially a live stream with some interactivity, some taped content, and a store; the second part on September 12-13, and will featuring multiple worlds/streams and more interactivity, and sounds like it will be close to the kind of experience we were hoping for at BreyerFest this year.

DC is, of course, part of a huge multimedia conglomerate that has the resources to pull something like this off and Reeves is actually kind of a small company with very few full-time employees at their physical location in New Jersey, many of whom already have to wear multiple hats to begin with.

But it will be interesting to see if this particular event has any influence on anyone planning virtual events going forward.

Since I am spending the rest of the weekend catching up on my quilting projects (the sewing machine is back up and running, huzzah!) I’ll just close with another Virtual Photo Show photograph I was especially proud of:

One of the difficulties in photographing vintage Glosses is in trying to convey that glossiness without it distracting from or altering the color of the finish, and I think I managed to do that here. The color is a touch more yellow than he is in real life because of the light sources I used, but I couldn’t color correct the photo any more than I did without it becoming obvious or distorted.  

This model, incidentally, was not my first Charcoal Fighting Stallion. My first one was an earlier and browner version with more body shading, but who was slightly more yellowed and that I attempted to unyellow in my car one day

… and who I forgot about the next day when I went to work and parked in a freshly blacktopped lot. On a hot summer day. 

Don’t do that, kids.

Fortunately for me, my “new guy” showed up at one of my local flea markets a couple weeks later, and I ended up selling my original at BreyerFest to someone very happy to add a Bloated Charcoal Fighter to their collection.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Chicago Radius

Here’s one of the things I’ve bought during my recent shopping binge:

It’s a really, really nice Cull of the Appaloosa Gelding!

So nice, in fact, I kind of wonder what made him a “Cull” in the first place? The very slightly splotchy left eye? The tiny bit of flashing on his barrel? The rougher than average seams?

If you were a child of the 1970s or 1980s, receiving New in Box Breyers with these kinds of flaws was not unusual, and I often received some that looked far worse.

I am presuming here that this was simply a nicer than average Employee “Take Home”. “Take Homes” were models that Breyer employees took home, as a perk of the job, usually as gifts to children or other family members.

(Things were definitely more lax back then!)

Most of the time these Take-Homes were some flavor of Cull – either deliberately set aside, or pulled from the Cull bin – though occasionally you’ll see a Regular Run model that’s a little bit “off”: the markings might not be quite right, black points might have been added to an otherwise Chestnut model, or not added at all to something that was supposed to be Bay.

Or maybe it didn’t pass some sort of arbitrary quality check – something that was also more lax back then! I could easily imagine that this guy passed through the production process, only to get pulled just before packing and shipping because someone finally noticed that his halter was unpainted.

And sometimes that didn’t happen, either.

So what I am saying is that all this speculation could be so much poppycock, and he could have been bought off the shelf this way, and where he came from could have been a complete coincidence.

Generally I’ve found that most Culls and other Chicago Era Oddballs haven’t wandered too far from Chicago. And I’ve had enough experience finding these sort of oddballs to think there’s a better than average chance that he’s a Cull or Take-Home.

What I am saying is: any odd-looking, pre-1985 Breyer horse found for sale within a three-hour driving radius of Chicago – I sometimes refer to it as “The Chicago Radius” – has a pretty good chance of being one.

(For your information, I live a couple hours beyond The Chicago Radius. However, I do live in an area was blessed with a surfeit of independent toy and hobby stores.)

Sunday, August 16, 2020


To make a long story short: I had a bad weekend because I broke my new sewing machine in one of the dumbest ways possible, because I was born clumsy. 

(I mean that last part quite literally: I was born with congenital hip dysplasia. This is why I have mismatched feet and occasionally walk into walls. But I digress...)

Let’s just say I am not looking forward to calling the service center tomorrow to explain things. On the plus side, I did get a lot of weed-pulling done.

Although I haven’t sold much in the past couple of weeks (the post-BreyerFest sales slump!), my online sales have been good enough this year to make up for the lack of room sales. So much so that my sales list is beginning to look pretty darn skimpy.

Especially since I have not been able to replenish it: the flea market is basically a no-go area, all of my recent online purchases have been grails and other necessities, I haven’t snagged a decent box lot of anything in ages, and even the local book sale has been canceled due to the pandemic.

However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. One of the arguments in favor of me attending the live show at BreyerFest next year is that since I won’t have that much to sell, I’ll have room in the car for my show horses, instead!

One big “score” could change everything, of course. I do need to do a little herd culling too, and (once the sewing machine situation is copacetic again) possibly make other merchandise worth selling. 

Even though I haven’t been going as regularly as I used to because time is also an issue, I’m still finding a small handful of items at local thrift and antique stores, including another addition to my shelf of “books with model horses in them”: Crescent Dragonwagon’s Margaret Ziegler is Horse-Crazy.

They are not just on the cover, but are a part of the actual story:

The book was published in 1988, so those “seventeen […] made of plastic” are definitely Breyers. (And do I spy a Lady Phase in the middle of the herd?)

This copy is even signed by the author, which is probably a moot point because it’s not going anywhere, regardless.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

A Brief Interlude with Lady Phase

I bought another thing today. Not a grail, but something cool that I could not pass up for the price, regardless. Dang it!

I didn’t have “sell more stuff” on my To-Do List until (checks calendar) late September. Ima gonna have to move that up the list...

There are also more Walmart Exclusive Stablemates out (Series 3? Series 4? I forget…) and Tractor Supply stores are just getting in their Holiday merchandise too, which apparently includes the 70th Anniversary Stablemates in their assortment of Breyer merchandise.

Bringing with it the possibility of more easily obtainable Chase pieces, which is what has happened the past few years. I was kind of hoping to save my $25 Live Show “Store” credit for a case when they finally come back in stock, but if this turns out to be easier and cheaper option that involves less selling of duplicates, I will go for it.

The other thing I bought earlier this week arrived yesterday, but I’m not in a mood to take any pictures today. Instead, let’s talk about something I already have a very pretty picture of: my #40 Lady Phase!

Like a lot of common, long-running models, it took me quite a while to find just the right Lady Phase: some were too red, some were too grainy, others had too much overspray or weird masking issues, but when I found this girl she was... as close to perfect as I could get at the time. (And in spite of my half-hearted later attempts, never surpassed!)

I think I traded someone a #300 Bay Jumping Horse for her at a live show back in 1985, shortly before she was discontinued? That particular show (Autumn in Michigan) was in October, so news of her discontinuation might have been known by then.

It was a good thing I got her when I did, because she became very scarce very quickly afterwards. Part of it was because people were hoarding them for customizing purposes – she was the go-to Stock Horse body back then – but another part of it was that (according to the rumor) the last production run of Lady Phase was lost in a truck fire.

The body hoarding became less of an issue a few years later, when Breezing Dixie (1988), the Signing Party Red Roan (1989) and countless other Special Runs and Regular Runs were released in the early 1990s.

But it was dicey there for a couple of years, as both collectors and customizers found themselves competing for an increasingly smaller pool of models.

Mine didn’t do diddley at the show, by the way. Which is kind of a shame, because I just love the way her picture turned out. Next year, maybe?

Monday, August 10, 2020

Harley’s Story

With the weather planning on being hot and sticky all week, I flipped the script and spent most of the weekend working on the garden, and I’m feeling every bit of it today.

Oh, and I think I might have bought another minor grail this weekend, too? I’ll know for sure when it arrives, presumably by the end of the week. I usually go on something of a shopping binge after BreyerFest anyway, but this is absolutely nuts…

I think I might have forgotten to tell you the story about why I purchased a Harley as a part of my pre-BreyerFest shopping binge. And it’s not just because he’s a really nice example with extra mottling around his lips and crisp masking (though that doesn’t hurt!)

The first time I visited the Kentucky Horse Park in 1979, near the end of a particularly infamous family road trip, I bought a Black Appaloosa Running Stallion from the Gift Shop, which happened to be in the International Museum of the Horse at the time. I still have him, of course:

Several years later, I purchased a second Black Appaloosa Running Stallion at BreyerFest, nominally as an upgrade. I was pretty sure he was from 1968, the year he was first issued, since he had a small Blue Ribbon Sticker and no USA mold mark.

Several years after that, I was gifted another Black Appaloosa Running Stallion – this one, a Cull – by a friend who saw I was having a particularly rough time of it at BreyerFest that year. She had no idea, of course, that that particular model had any personal historical significance to me. She just assumed (correctly!) that I’d appreciate a vintage, Chicago Era Cull. 

Early this year, when it looked like a road trip was still a possibility – not just to salvage Summer, but maybe even as a way to recreate the “Redneck Road Trip” that gave me my first Black Appaloosa Running Stallion – I had planned on purchasing another Breyer Black Appaloosa Horse during the “visiting the Kentucky Horse Park” portion of the trip.

The obvious choice being… Harley! Even more obvious because when I purchased my original Running Stallion, I named him Sandman. 

This was not an intentional comic book riff; this was ten years before Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. In fact, I was on a hiatus from comic books until late 1981, when I randomly bought The Legion of Super-Heroes #284, and The Great Darkness Saga made me fall in love with them all over again.... 

To honor the coincidence inherent in Harley’s name, it’s only fitting and right that I am going to name him Quinn. (BTW, if you get a chance to watch the recent animated Harley Quinn series, I highly recommend it. They somehow managed to make Kite Man… kind of adorable?) 

Friday, August 7, 2020

The Spiegel Pluto

First, a little bit of housekeeping: I thought I had downloaded a PDF copy of the BreyerFest 2020 Program, but (slaps head) I didn’t check if this was actually the case until Tuesday this week. So if anyone can pass along a copy to me, that would be much appreciated.  

Second, I’ve been engaging in some online retail therapy this week, since none of us had that in-person option at BreyerFest this year, the flea market – for many, many reasons – is simply not a safe place for me to visit right now, and I am still a little steamed about THAT Western Prancing Horse I lost out on eBay a few weeks back. 

This delightful little “Buy It Now” item came today definitely makes up for this deficiency:

A Spiegel Pluto! (Does wild, Kermit-style flail.)

I got him for a great price, too – the kind of price that helps me justify (a bit) other recent purchases I’ve made at full retail. 

In spite of the fact that he’s a relatively plentiful item (about 1150 made) the nature of his distribution actually makes him a hotly-pursued grail for many hobbyists, particularly now that Jeanne Mellin Herrick’s molds have seen a resurgence of popularity. 

He was sold in the 1993 Spiegel holiday catalog, alongside a Two-piece Dressage Set that included a Black Misty’s Twilight and a (super-duper pretty!) Dark Bay Hanoverian. The Dressage Set was very clearly a Special Run, but it was not as obvious that the Pluto was. The #475 Pluto was still current at the time, and the picture in the catalog appeared to be a #475 Pluto, so most hobbyists assumed that’s all he was. 

It wasn’t until several months later that we found out otherwise.

Roughly the same amount of Dressage Sets were sold – 1130, I believe – but both the Misty’s Twilight and Hanoverian are not especially difficult to acquire. There are a couple of the Hanoverians on eBay right now, and a Misty’s Twilight was listed (and relisted, twice) back in July. 

But the Plutos are few and far between. And why, you ask?

While hobbyists were aware of the Dressage Set as an actual Special Run item, and purchased accordingly, most of the Plutos were (presumably) bought as actual gifts for either children or horse-loving nonhobbyists. 

If hobbyists wanted a Pluto, he was still available from their favorite retailer. Probably cheaper, and with the option of handpicking, too.

So while most of the Hanoverian and Misty’s Twilights stayed within (and circulated about) the hobby market, most of the Spiegel Plutos ended up in the general market. When they do resurface, they’re either (a) in less than ideal condition, or (b) misidentified as a #475 Pluto. 

Mine fell into Category B: I swear I punched that Buy It Now button so hard I thought it would leave a hole in my computer screen. 

Technically he wasn’t a full-on “grail” item – I had half-heartedly hoped I’d find one at a thrift store or in a box lot on eBay or Craigslist, but didn’t actively pursue him – but both the price and the timing were right, so I couldn’t just pass him by.

Monday, August 3, 2020

More Thoughts on the BreyerFest Stablemates

I decided to skip out on the final weekend of BreyerFest content: aside from a deeper analysis of the Virtual Show results I’ll be doing over the next few weeks, and my still unfinished musings about the Special Runs and next year’s theme (that I like, a lot), I’m going to focus most of my creative energies – for the month of August, at least – on gardening and quilting.

(Finished two quilts this past weekend, already! Woot!)

I’m glad they finally put up the full videos of the live broadcasts, though; I know a lot of people were asking about the Archive Room Tour footage, in particular.

(HINT: “Trips to the Archive” could be something you could feature on the web site or YouTube channel on a regular basis, guys.)

The Special Run I fought the hardest for this year was Eire. I wasn’t even 100 percent sure I wanted him in the first place, but after he was snatched from my cart for the fourth or fifth time, I wasn’t going to let that little bugger go without a fight. He was one of the first things I pulled out of my “BreyerFest in a Box” and I have to say that… I’m glad I fought for him:

Hobbyists have come to expect the final product to be somewhat different than the initial promotional photographs, but the differences between “online” Eire and “in-person” Eire were starker than average – and in my opinion, significantly for the better!

Instead of just being a translucent lime green with a shamrock on his butt, he’s a deeper shade of green (not quite Kelly Green, but close) that’s nearly opaque. And that’s not merely “gold interference”,  he’s heavily oversprayed with gold to the point of being gilded.

I wouldn’t say he’s my favorite of all the Special Runs this year (still Hamish!) but my opinion of him went up several notches.

(As far as the color scheme goes, I suppose – as an alumna – I am obligated to say Go Tartars!)

All the Stablemates this year were great, actually. A couple of the quilts I’m currently working on incorporate a lot of plaids, so you would be guessing correctly that I love the little fabric bags the One-Days came in almost as much as the Stablemates themselves. I could really use some of that orange and turquoise material for my stash: