Saturday, October 31, 2020

The Details

Going through my receipts yesterday (I hadn’t touched them at all this year – Bad Andrea!) I discovered why I was feeling so overwhelmed over the past two weeks:

I’ve bought over 100 models in the past month and a half! 

The majority of them came in four large box lots of 15 to 25 models apiece, but a fair share of them also came from Breyer’s recent sales promotions and club offerings. (I am counting the Anniversary Stablemates Displayer as one item for the moment, not 24, because I haven’t opened it yet. This is my logic, and I have spoken.) 

Recent developments have taken some of the financial pressure off me having to sell things online, but having models in every nook and cranny of my bedroom, my office, the bathroom, and even my car(!) is starting to wear on me, psychologically, so I’ll have to do something soon. 

One of the complications I’m running into is that a number of the pieces I’ve bought in the box lots are – or may be – possible upgrades, and that part of the process is going to be a massive time suck. 

I’ll dig things out, compare and contrast, make hard decisions, get lost admiring some treasure I had in storage that I now want to display and then have to choose who goes back into storage. 

One collection I bought is particularly challenging: most of the models are from ca. 1969 through ca. 1974, and some of them have details that lead me to believe that it might be a salesman’s sample lot. The paint jobs are exceptional, and there are some oddities that definitely give me pause – like a partially chalky Saddlebred Weanling, and a Buckskin Mustang with factory painted black hoof bottoms (all four, not just the front two!)

But it’s also entirely possible that this collector was simply very particular about handpicking; many stores were still displaying sales pieces in glass cabinets or behind sales counters during this time period. For those that didn’t (or couldn’t) the clear plastic Showcase Collection was also an option in the early 1970s.

As I’ve mentioned before, Breyer shifted away from gloss finishes and unrealistic colors in the early 1970s due to both consumer and hobbyist demand. They started experimenting with more naturalistic colors and spending more time adding subtle details wherever they could, like these individually painted tendrils in this Buckskin Indian Pony’s mane:

(In case you were wondering, yes, the Buckskin Indian Pony was in that lot and no, you can’t have her.)

Unfortunately, it’s the little details like these that tend to get dropped when (inevitably) production can’t meet demand. This holds true even for more recent releases: this is why I tell people to hesitate just a bit before they dive into customizing the newest/latest molds and models. You might end up doing something you’ll regret later!

Incidentally, if you are looking for something to customize, that’s one section of the sales list that’s (almost) sorted out, so it’ll probably be the first thing I list online sometime in the next week or so. Mostly older Hess molds, Love Classics and some Mestenos, if you’re curious. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Story of Julius

Dear Reeves-type people: I am completely exhausted and you can stop with all the reveals, new stuff and special offers now. I’m sure everybody at the warehouse would also be relieved. 

Aside from the Vintage Club and Premier Club reveals and another web exclusive Unicorn, take a gander at the New Products page for the latest Good Grief What Now. Not shown on this page: the fact that the 70th Anniversary Traditionals are now also selectable by mold, so if you still need a Palomino Hamilton, now’s your chance.

(I’ll wait for that shiny black one.) 

The Vintage Club is currently taking renewals from current subscribers and will start taking new subbers on November 4th. I have no idea if they will release pictures of any of the other releases in the club, and I am not at liberty to give you any hints anyway. 

Except (a) I expect it to sell out quickly, and (b) I don’t think you will be disappointed. 

As for Julius, the first reveal in the VC, I have a little story to tell about him:

It has been one of my greatest joys – and favorite hobby accomplishments – to name actual Breyer releases. When it came time to find a suitable name for a Vintage Club release on the Georg, one name became very obvious for me.

I named him after my Uncle George (my grandfather’s youngest brother), whose given name was actually Julius.

All of the male siblings in the family were... hell raisers, to put it mildly. The inside joke was that if anything went awry on the family farm, they’d blame it on “George”: that was the name the brothers called each other, much to the consternation of their father. (The brothers actual names were Joseph, Charles and Julius.)

Truth be told it, was Julius who was the biggest troublemaker of the bunch, so he eventually he became “George”. Our grandfather Charles passed away when we were fairly young, so George became our surrogate grandfather, even though he had a son who was two years younger than my brother, which caused all sorts of confusion in school. (We lived in the same town, for a while.)

My brother and I didn’t even know that George’s actual name was Julius until years later, when we wondered why everyone else at holiday get-togethers called him “Julius”, instead.

(There was a lot of that in my family, actually. Both sides. I learned very early on that identity can be a very slippery thing.)

All the men on my Grandfather’s side of the family were stout and big-boned: if they had been horses, they would have been Drafts. The name Julius also has an old-fashioned, old-world feel to it that suited the Georg mold very well. 

There have also been a number of Breyer releases that have unintentionally named after other relatives of mine, so it seemed appropriate that one be intentionally so.

Sunday, October 25, 2020


Oh goodness, where do I even begin?

The topic of color is just as controversial one in both the live horse and model horse community. 

Some of it is comes out of old and often debunked beliefs and institutional prejudices about certain colors and patterns (Pintaloosas, double dilutes, narrow ranges of acceptable breed colors, excessive white rules, etc.) 

And some of it is genuine concern about the health and wellbeing of the horse itself: flashy color sells, and sometimes horses with obvious and/or potentially harmful characteristics will be bred because they’re a pretty color or sport an eyecatching pattern. (And some of the colors themselves are harmful in and of themselves, in a genetically homozygous form.)

Any time a model is released in an atypical color – for the breed, or just in general – there is always a backlash.

My first concern when they announced next year’s BreyerFest theme – one that I initially dismissed because surely they were smart enough not to go there – was that they might pick a Celebration Horse that might fall into that latter category: pretty, but problematic.

What I was hoping for was that Reeves would carefully thread this needle: we wouldn’t just have colorful representatives of breeds known for their flashy looks, but also horses that didn’t fit the “mold”. That would have included not just rare colors on more common breeds (Pinto Trakehners!), but unusual patterns and oddities (Brindles and Chimeras), visually striking examples of rare breeds, and also horses or breeds that thrived or succeeded outside of their more usual or expected roles or overcame great obstacles or disabilities. 

And also, at least one actual Zebra, a couple of Decorators including a Rainbow-colored one (duh!) and one or two rarely used older molds because they are also “of another color”, metaphorically speaking. 

Well, that’s what I would have gone with or proposed, if I had been asked.

When I initially saw the Celebration Horse model, my first reaction was “Oh okay, an Appaloosa. We haven’t had many Appaloosa Celebration Horses, so that’s seems like a logical choice.” The model looked nice, though very similar to last year’s Holiday Connoisseur Ambrose. I figured there would probably be a little bit of backlash over that, because any time any release is followed by a somewhat similar release, there’s going to be trouble.

But that was not where the trouble really was. I saw pictures of the actual horse the model was based on, and the first words out of my mouth were “Oh, dear…”

Although I have made it very clearly and obviously known that I am not a stickler when it comes to model horse anatomy – plastic has no genotype – that does not extend to the real thing. 

Horses should look like horses, and function like them too. I, too, cringe at what has become of some breeds in recent years, especially Morgan and Quarter Horses. Give me those old Foundation-bred horses anytime!

There is, undoubtedly, some after-the-fact enhancements that make the real-world horse look even more exaggerated in his photos than he does in person. Sadly, it is these exaggerated looks that often win and sell: that’s part of what got the Tennessee Walking Horse breed into the sorry state that it has devolved into. 

It becomes a vicious circle that results in horses being bred to a type that either can’t, or shouldn’t, exist. 

Do the owners of these horses actually love them as horses, or do they only see them as investments? It’s complicated: some do, some don’t, though most exist in a state somewhere between the two. 

I’m not going to speculate on the owners’ motives or where they exist on that scale: I think it’s unfair to do so, especially since I do not know them in any sense of the word. I do understand why he was withdrawn from the event as the Celebration Horse. I saw the tone of the conversation on Facebook, such as it was, before it was pulled. 

I have no doubt there were some comments that veered into volatile or threatening territory: provoking and stoking strong emotions is a behavior endemic to Facebook, and one of the many reasons I try to avoid it.

There’s also been some speculation that this incident proves that the Powers-That-Be at Reeves are “not actually horsepeople”. I know for a fact that this is not true: some of our very own work for them on, by salary and by contract. 

But what did happen to get to this point? It was probably a combination of factors. 

I think part of the problem is that they were allured by the horse’s celebrity owner, and the possibility of using his celebrity status to draw more attention to the event. They’ve been using that strategy since the 1970s with releases like Stud Spider and Lady Phase, and to great effect at BreyerFest. 

It’s also somewhat obvious that the folks at Reeves tend to favor English and International disciplines over Western ones, and may not have been as aware of some of their attendant controversies. They probably had assurances that the horse was N/N for HYPP, and that was enough to allay their initial concerns.

Regardless of how they got to this point, the issue is now: where do they go from here?

First: the model itself likely never got beyond the Test/Sample phase, and production for Celebration Horses doesn’t usually begin until well after ticket sales do, so they don’t have a warehouse full of unsellable models to deal with. 

Second: who becomes the Celebration Horse now? I’ve always assumed – since the Mego incident in 1995 – that Reeves has had backup plans for Celebration Horses who are unable to attend for any given reason. 

If they had backup choices, they’re going to be recontacted this week, obviously, and whatever contracts need to be renegotiated, they will be. It’s also possible that another guest performer who may have already been confirmed – but not yet announced – could be bumped up to “Celebration Horse” status, which could save a lot of time, money and aggravation.

If I had a choice, what I would do is take the negative and turn it into a positive, with a Tennessee Walking Horse as the Celebration Horse. I’d use the Bluegrass Bandit mold as opposed to the Midnight Sun (of course) and utilize this very visible platform to highlight the efforts to redeem and reclaim the breed from the Big Lick. There are a lot of very colorful TWHs out there – another thing the breed is known for! – and that would definitely help “retcon” it into the theme. 

Anyways, that’s my thoughts on the matter. Not exactly how I thought my first “official” post about BreyerFest 2021 would go, but there it is. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Hindsight Is So 2020

How is it only Thursday? This week has felt at least a month long! 

The first thing I’ll say is that I will devote an entire post to the Celebration Horse controversy, but not today, because I’m still recovering from… all the other stuff.

I get that Reeves is trying to recoup some of the sales “lost” to the absence of an in-person BreyerFest by extending their holiday sales promotions into October. But I paid off my credit cards earlier this year and I kind of want to keep it that way by the end of it, you know? 

I mean, my family is going to be asking some questions in the next week or so about the sheer number of Reeves boxes getting dumped on our doorstep… 

Anyway yes, to start the week I did participate in the Customer Appreciation Sale: all of the revealed/mentioned items – Winx, Buckeye and the Catch Me – were acceptable to me. The Winx and the Buckeye had already been “revealed” through leaks to dealers a while back, but the Catch Me was a surprise. 

The one I’m most forward to seeing in Gloss is the Catch Me: all the ones received by my local retailers were heavily picked through before I got to see them, and therefore probably not the best or most representative examples. And I do love the True North mold.

Like everyone else, I am all hubba-hubba-yowza about a Gloss Winx: Emerson, in Gloss Dark Bay? Sold. 

And I’ve been casually searching for affordable Brown Sunshines for a big chunk of the year, without much success. I had no idea how popular that mold is right now!

Just last week I was thinking that I should probably put together a couple of alternate CCA “buy” lists, but since they dropped it on us two months early, I just went the easiest route possible and bought 5 of the 6 Fairytale Friends. I was planning on getting them all anyway, saving them as order fillers for free postage, but since my week started out pretty rough (not hobby-related) and I didn’t feel like doing any complicated math, in the cart they went. 

(The last one in the set will get added to my Honeybunch order here in a day or two, because you just know I’m not going to pass up an affordable Pearly Possibly Pinto Palomino Fell Pony Emma.)

As for what other Glosses might show up in the CCA mix, I have no idea. I saw some suggestions that the Brick and Mortar Special Lionel could be a possibility, and I am very much in favor of that, please and thank you, especially since I never got to see any locally and I had plans on handpicking one. 

But I am not going to worry about what I get, regardless.  

Monday, October 19, 2020

Atticus, Cassidy, and the Box of Mysteries

I am happy to report that my Box of Mysteries has arrived:

Everyone else, on the other hand, is bored with that already and has moved on to the Stablemates Club Gambler’s Choice Alborozo swap-and-sale-athon. I haven’t even ordered mine yet – not a lack of money or interest, simply a matter of priorities – and as I’ve stated before, I’ll be okay with literally any of them, so selling/swapping is not a concern.

Even the funky teal and purple Pintaloosa Unicorn: now that I’ve seen in-hand pictures of it, I actually think he is really neat! (He kind of reminds me of a quilt I finished recently, color-wise.) 

Photos of the first release for next year’s Stablemates Club have been posted, and it’s the shrinkified Clydesdale Stallion with a new haircut, named Atticus:

The paint job is pretty, and I’m sure he’ll be lovely in person, but my very first thought upon seeing him was “Wait a minute, is this a Custom?” 

He reminds me a lot of vintage customs of the Traditional Clydesdale Stallion: dark dappled Bay Sabinos with loose (usually haired) manes and tails were a fairly common sight in the showring in the 1980s. 

Along with Grulla Overo Lady Phases with lowered/turned heads, Indian Ponies in “fancy” (more realistic) Appaloosa paint jobs, Dapple Gray or Bay Proud Arabian Stallions in exaggerated park trots, and Dilute Pinto Adioses sporting way too much mohair. 

(I tended, even then, to stick to weirder and more experimental stuff, but I’ll dig out photos of my early customizing attempts another day.)  

I am somewhat cool to the final release of this year’s club, Maggie Jenner-Bennett’s Walking Stock Horse Mare Cassidy:

It’s either the photograph or the color/pattern combo that’s throwing me off here, because I usually really like Maggie’s stuff in person. Her hooves are striped and I like the pose – it’s similar to a drawing I did a million years ago (high school, maybe?) that I once fantasized about sending to Breyer as a proposal for a Traditional-scale performance friendly stock horse. So I’m sure it will also be perfectly lovely in person.

It also appears that they’ll be offering up the optional “Bonus” Stablemate Duke (the Gloss Dapple Gray Clydesdale) at the same time as Cassidy in early December, which is a nice gesture and an acknowledgement that a lot of us wait to the last possible moment to order in case something else comes up by the order deadline, because it so often does.

Which is also a reason why I am in no hurry to order my Gambler’s Choice mini Alborozo.  

Friday, October 16, 2020

That Hamilton Horse

I took a chance at the Walmart in the road construction zone today… and success!

While I’m tempted to go for broke and complete my collection of the Warmblood mold – especially now that the Fairytale Friends releases, including Sage, are open to anyone, club member or not – I  am still annoyed about the BreyerFest Arya release and I do not give up little grievances easily. 

In other Stablemate news Chalice, the Bonus Stablemate for next year’s Deluxe Collector’s Club membership, is a replica of the model that broke the bank at the 2019 BreyerFest Benefit Auction, and he’s pretty spiffy. I originally thought that he’d be a chase piece for the 70th Anniversary Stablemates set, but this will also do. (And be much easier to acquire!)

But the model that’s got me all twitchy and bothered is this hot ham and cheese sandwich of a horse:

Glossy. Dappled. Black. Hamilton. 

Pardon my French, but damn. Reeves, you ain’t playing!

Well actually, that I already knew, but the rest of you will see why in a few weeks. 

That Hamilton Horse better be either a pre-order, or a run of 3000+ pieces, because if my recent interactions have been any indication, their beleaguered Customer Service Reps have been through enough in the past year and really deserve a break. 

In fact, probably all deserve gift baskets. (Saturday is Sweetest Day in these parts…)

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Good Things Come in Tiny Packages

My schedule is already apparently back to “normal” and to celebrate, I went out and bought a few more Walmart Stablemates. Nothing especially noteworthy about the lot of them; I still need to find the G3 Quarter Horse in Dark Bay and (of course!) the Carbonated Grape Unicorn Chase piece continues to elude me. 

But I’ll wait on those two. That purple unicorn seems to be getting more common over time, so – like the Rainbow Magnolia – I think I’ll be able to avoid having to pay the online premium for it.  

The 70th Anniversary Stablemate 24-piece Displayers are also back in stock – or were so earlier today – so I also have that coming to me. I know it’s technically not on the “discontinued” list, but I’m tired of trying to track down boxes locally, only to find them completely picked over. 

I’ll see if I can resist the temptation to open them until a significant holiday (or other reason to celebrate) arrives. 

A third – and for the moment, final – Stablemate purchase was made some time back, but I hadn’t bothered to photograph it until recently because other things have gotten in the way, as they do:

I decided to do “full retail” on this purchase because it doesn’t look like a purchase of a Gloss Dapple Gray Belgian is going to happen any time soon, and the money I had designated specifically for that purpose rather neatly accommodated this one. 

I felt a little guilty at first, but then a few days ago I was looking at some recently ended auctions on eBay of what I consider somewhat less scarce vintage NIP Stablemates, I don’t feel so guilty now.

Boxed Sears Wishbook Stablemates have been grail items for Stablemates collectors even before other boxed Wishbook horses became something worth collecting, mostly because the boxes are so darn cute. 

I mean, seriously, they need to make these miniature carton boxes a thing for the Stablemates Club one of these years. Don’t get me wrong, the little yellow boxes are great, but these are reusable and therefore logically superior.

Sure, I would have loved to have gotten her for a lower price, but they can’t all be bargains. But being cheap most of the time means the occasional “Good gravy, what have I done?” purchase is only momentarily discomforting.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

White Shade of White

This year’s Christmas Model Yuletide Greetings is another model whose popularity I am moderately confused by. 

I get that the Shannondell model – independent of anything attached to it – is popular in and of itself. But all the Christmassy gewgaws dripping off of him aren’t doing much for me. As I’ve said before, some of these Breyer Christmas horses kind of remind me of the way Mom decorates for Christmas, and I am not so much unimpressed as I’m kind of over it. And Yuletide Greetings falls into that category. 

A giant, six-foot tall tree made out of pinecones? Completely covering a tree in pink poinsettias? Handmade grapevine wreaths decorated with flowers made out of hand-dyed cornhusks? Seen it. Done it. Yawn.

I do have a pretty nice, saddle-free White Western Pony in my body box right now that I might decorate as my interpretation of a Candy Packer for the holidays. All the supplies have been purchased (they were on sale!), but time? Time is the problem…

Speaking of all-white horses, here’s a pic of an old favorite of mine who didn’t do much at the BreyerFest Photo Show, but her photograph turned out pretty great so I’ll share it with you all:

This is an unpainted Chalky Plastic G1 Saddlebred, purchased from The Bentley Sales Company at Model Horse Congress back in 1985. For 25 cents? Or a dollar? Something ridiculously low, because Stablemates were cheap and collecting unpainted models back then wasn’t that big of a thing yet.

The swirls in the plastic are mold flow lines, caused by the leading edge of the melted plastic already beginning to harden, forming a slight skin. They are fairly common in vintage models, particularly those from the 1970s and 1980s. 

It’s not very apparent in the photograph, but she’s also somewhat yellowed: just because the plastic was opaque white doesn’t mean it doesn’t also yellow. Basecoated Chalkies are less likely to do so, though I’ve seen a few that have mellowed to a very pale ivory with age.

Unpainted Breyers in other colors also exist – most notably, the Pink Proud Arabian Foals – but a lot of the ones I see are actually just stripped Chalkies. The fact that some live shows allow them to show as Original Finish models, alas, only muddies the line between Customs and Original Finish and (to a degree) devalues those truly unpainted rarities that do occasionally resurface. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Some Days Just Be Like That

Yesterday was ridiculous.

First, I apparently wore my tee-shirt backwards the entire day and nobody bothered to tell me.

Second, I had an eBay transaction canceled on me. The seller gave me fifteen minutes (!) to respond to a question about shipping costs. In the middle of the day, when I had no access to any electronic devices whatsoever. 

Third, as I was going through the rest of my e-mails I discovered that there was a second Collector’s Club release – an Appaloosa Lonesome Glory named Sassy – but it was sold out already so never mind.

Truth be told: (a) I wasn’t in a situation where anyone would have either noticed or really cared about the shirt, (b) that deal was probably too good to be true, and (c) I am not all that into the Lonesome Glory mold anyway.

As for the quick sellout on the Sassy, it’s mostly a combination of Glossy finishes making hobbyists dumb and people with multiple accounts taking advantage of their fellow hobbyists’ desperation for anything glossy. 

There’s nothing that can be done to counter the all-gloss, all-the-time mindset; y’all know I’ve tried my best. But we can counter the opportunity for profit-taking by resisting the urge to reward that behavior. 

That’s why I don’t have a Buckskin Adios or the Polled Hereford Bull Marshall and (probably) never will. (Yeah, I saw the Marshall on eBay. Wasn’t me that bought it, that’s for sure….)

I’m good. You know I’ve gotten my fair share of goodies this year. I’m mainly kvetching because of other, more serious nonsense I had to deal with today and it takes my mind off of all that. 

But back to the topic: I don’t know why they switched the Collector’s Club Exclusives to a first-come, first-served basis when they had been doing pre-orders before. I am going to assume that there’s some logic to the decision that currently escapes my tired and exasperated brain. (Too much extra hassle for the additional profit?)

I will get myself a Fabio eventually, but like the Dapple Gray Belgian I was hoping for, I will have to wait until the next in-person BreyerFest. Not going to bother with Sassy, unless I see it in person and find myself smitten. 

That’s it for today; I need to get back to cleaning and sorting out the mess of models that I have, and not worry as much about the mess that I missed out on. 

Sunday, October 4, 2020


When I found out about the return of the In-Between Mare, my first reaction was “I can’t believe they’re actually doing this.” 

My second reaction was “Keeping this secret is going to be next-level hard.”

My third reaction, when they finally decided what colors she’d come in as the Gambler’s Choice model, was “I guess that means I’ll be getting the Matte Dappled Palomino one, then.”


And that’s fine. I haven’t even attempted to acquire other Vintage Club Gambler’s Choice pieces beyond the one my subscription gives me, so I certainly wasn’t going to start that nonsense now with a mold so rare that most hobbyists haven’t even seen a vintage example in person. 

Having an actual piece in hand that I can now examine at length and at my leisure, you know what she reminds me of? A Hong Kong Breyer Knockoff! 

But I don’t mean that in a negative way: my Zahra is just as well-constructed and painted as any other of my Vintage Club pieces. It’s in her awkward similarities to both the Old Mold/Proud Arabian Mare and the Family Arabian Mare, without be an exact copy of either. 

In other words, like many Knockoffs, she feels both a little familiar and also a little off. Her legs also seem a bit “knobby” in the same way a lot of Hong Kong Knockoffs are, but I think I my mind might be accentuating the knobbiness because of the other Knockoff vibes she gives off. 

As mentioned on their blog, this is the real deal, not a digital rescan: the mold was built up and around the original metal insert from 1959/1960. This also means that unlike the Traditional Alborozo, it’s now a permanent addition to Breyer’s stable of molds, which means we will be seeing her again. 

When, and in what context, I do not know. I’d like to think that they would use her sparingly to preserve her mystique, possibly only for Special Run items. 

I would forego attempts to camouflage her anatomical issues with more “normal” horse colors, though, and lean into her oddness. Personally, I’d go with either Decorator paint jobs (Christmas or otherwise) or improbable but theoretically possible realistic color combinations, like Dunalino Pintaloosa or Reverse Dappled Flaxen Liver Chestnut Roan Splash Pinto.

What’s nice about this approach is that it would roll very neatly into next year’s BreyerFest theme of “Horse of Another Color”, however they choose to execute it. (A topic I promise to get to, eventually.) 

And in case you were wondering, I’d take that Chalky Buckskin Stud Spider Appaloosa Test Piece one in a heartbeat: