Thursday, December 31, 2020

So Sparkly

The Jóls are starting to arrive, and to be honest, I love them all. Traditionals with embedded glitter? Be still my heart... 

I know some folks were complaining that the colors weren’t “festive” enough, but growing up with a mother who saw Christmas Trees as her own personal creative challenge, the notion that holiday decorating has to be limited to a red, green and gold palette is an odd one to me. 

One of the first things I learned from her: anything can be festive if you cover it with enough glitter. Or pinecones. 

Speaking of, here’s my festive holiday centerpiece, made almost entirely from stuff purchased at Dollar Tree. (The pinecones and branches came from the backyard, obviously.) It didn’t win the contest it was entered in, but you probably already guessed that:

I set it on the table, everyone went “Ooh, it’s so pretty!” and that’s when I knew it was over. I know this game.

But back to the Jóls. The Clear ones are obviously reminiscent of ice, the Teal Blue ones look like the Disney version of a Nokk, from Frozen, and the Red ones look like my favorite holiday candy, Filled Raspberries

I’ll be happy with any of them; I like them so much, in fact, that once I get this exhausting mess around me sorted out, I might make an effort to complete the achievable trio. 

But the mess before me is huge, and that effort is far away. 

I’ve actually made some decent progress – I can now walk through my office without stubbing my toes! – but I still have a lot of hard decisions ahead of me. What gets sold, what goes into storage, reevaluating my goals and priorities for the coming year…

Buying less stuff is definitely on the menu, regardless. Once all this packing and paperwork is done, I think I’ll just focus on my first loves – Stablemates and earlier (1950s/1960s) Vintage items – and maybe actually finish a few customs and other hobby projects in whatever spare time I am able to carve out in the new year. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

This Year

This year can kiss my pasty white butt.

I had crafted a much longer and more thoughtful post for today (well, now yesterday), but my computer crashed and took that file with it; all that remains of that original effort is the title above and the photo below:

Anyone who has seen the contents of my car or the current state of my office will realize that I can make no great claims to willpower; indeed, if this year has shown, I am all too willing to succumb to my immediate impulses. 

The displayer of 70th Anniversary Stablemates remained unopened until the 25th because there was/is literally stuff on top of stuff: I simply have not had the time or space to do it. But at least in this case, as the photograph above has demonstrated, it was worth the wait.

I still want the Platinum Brishen, but not before I finish cleaning up my office and my workspace. (I did manage to clean up my sewing table today. While waiting for the computer to finishing uncrashing, sure, but still...)

For the moment, like so many of us, I simply want the year to be over and done with. I want to put all the troubles of the past 12 months in a tidy little box, put the box in our fancy new garbage incinerator and toast some marshmallows to the flames.

And the thing is that, on paper, I had a pretty good year. We all made it through the year relatively healthy, my finances are in good shape, I have acquired a number of (what I had assumed were unattainable) grails, and even my previously neglected garden is looking presentable now. 

But if I, someone who is fire phobic, felt like I had a rough enough year that I wanted to set it proverbially aflame, I can only imagine what it has been like for others who have not been so fortunate.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Blessed Jól

As far as this year’s Christmas Surprise models goes, there were only a few colors/molds/options I would have considered for purchasing, and darn it all, Reeves somehow managed to perfectly thread the needle with a sparkly, translucent Icelandic Pony named Jól:

I’ve been dreaming of a clear translucent Traditional release ever since I saw Marney’s Transparent Belgian a lifetime ago, so that’s the one out of this trio I want the most. But I am just happy to get one at all, considering that they sold out in, what, 45 minutes?

I know the whole “12 random Glossy Black Coals” gimmick is at least partly responsible for the swiftness of the sellout, which is one reason why I wish they wouldn’t do it at all. I’d rather have collectors buy things because they like them and want them, not because they think they might be able to win the model horse version of the Lotto.   

And also because the distribution of said Coals the past two years didn’t appear to be completely equitable anyway. Unfortunately, the way the distribution system is set up it’s probably impossible to completely remove the possibility of someone getting two Coals.

When I make my decision about buying, the possibility of a Coal never enters into it. Most of my model horse luck is a consequence of 40(!) years of research and living in a model horse-rich environment. And, on very rare occasions, a bit of good timing.

But the luck of the random draw? Nope, never me. 

Apparently there has been a lot of grumbling about this year’s Christmas Surprise and I’m not entirely sure why? While some of the particulars are, by nature of the promotion itself, a surprise (the mold, the colors), everything else about this year’s promotion was pretty darn standard. Boring, even.

Don’t like the colors, the mold, the concept, the price? Go spend your money on something else. That’s what I would have done. And might still do, depending on what shows up on the Internet over the next week or so. 

I did think that the Fjord mold was going to get the nod this year because of the Berries Pony Goji earlier this year. It had been out of production for a while, and when you run a mold, you don’t run it for just a few hundred pieces, you know?

Tuesday, December 22, 2020


I’m somewhat short on time today, so here’s a picture of that fascinating Dapple Gray Old Timer variation with the Cornflake Dappling from the Dirty Pony Lot:

Large, irregular dappling, also known as “cornflake” dappling, is a variation that randomly occurs on resist or splatter Dapple Grays, primarily in the 1970s. It’s most commonly seen on the Proud Arabians, but is occasionally spotted (no pun intended) on other models that sported this style of dappling, like the #205 Old Timer.

While the #123 Dark Dapple Gray Running Mare and #133 Running Foal did have large dapples from their release starting in ca. 1962 onward, those dapples were restricted to their hips in a paint job that was uniquely their own during their 10+ year production run. 

I once saw – and almost purchased – a striking Dappled Smoke Running Mare from the 1987 Sears Wishbook “Graceful Mare and Foal Set” with cornflake dappling, at BreyerFest several years back. 

The fact that it does pop up so sporadically like that makes me assume it is either a truly random phenomenon and not something intentional (as so many early Breyer painting peculiarities were) or perhaps the handiwork of a particular but now-unidentifiable production worker at the factory.

Off to find an unoccupied window to sun him in! 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Nuisance

This Adios doesn’t look like much at first glance, but it was kind of a big deal for me – but more as a nuisance and a lingering bother at the back of my head than an actual grail:

He has no USA mold mark, which makes him a 1969 or early 1970 release. Although there are subtle differences from Adioses that came after – the color on the earlier examples seem a little redder and flatter than slightly later ones, with more noticeable shading in the face and the genitals – the absence of the mold mark is the only significant difference.

And for me, it was a variation that I could never manage to score, ever. I’ve owned a lot of Adioses over the years; the area I live in used to be home to several Standardbred farms, and there used to be harness racing just up the road at the Eastern Michigan State Fairgrounds. Seeing campers with sulkies strapped to their roofs or being pulled on trailers were a very common sight during my childhood.

In short, I find a lot of Adioses. I thought finding this variation would be easy. 

But most of them are either later examples or in, shall we say, unsuitable condition. My efforts to shortcut the process and buy an example with a Blue Ribbon Sticker didn’t pan out as expected, either: while I have excellent examples of both the Adios and Yellow Mount with stickers, both have the USA mold mark. 

This one came up on eBay a couple of weeks ago, with a very clear photo showing its obvious lack of said mark. So in spite of my spending moratorium, he had to come home to me to (finally) put that nagging nuisance to rest. 

While the Adios without the USA mark is not particularly rare variation overall – he was a pretty popular fellow upon his release ca. 1969, and sold briskly – his mold mark is something that only Breyer History nerds like me, and a not insignificant portion of you, care about. 

It’s not something that is usually noted upon in online listings. Exceptions are ironically made by sellers unfamiliar with Breyers in general, who tend to take pictures of the mold mark to prove to us what we already know (that it’s a Breyer!) not realizing it also tells us other, sometimes more important things (that he’s old!) 

Anyway, he’s neat and he’s sticking around, unless a mint condition one with a Blue Ribbon Sticker happens to show up at the right place, the right time, and at the right price.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

A Surprise in Every Box Lot

It’s cold, snowing, and the Seasonal Affective Disorder is hitting me hard right now, guys. Plus I got wrangled into making a Christmassy centerpiece for Friday, and that should be… entertaining. 

I wanted to do something Star-Warsy, but I limited myself to whatever I could find at Dollar Tree or in my craft closet and alas, no tiny AT-ATs or X-Wings to be found…

The cleaning of the dirty pony lot continues apace; I think the Black Bucking Bronco may also a Pearly, but the plastic itself is just strange overall; I don’t know if the model itself has a textured surface, or the paint is just more heavily applied than average or there is just really deeply embedded grunge. I think the last? 

The plastic almost feels like ABS/Styrene, but it’s not. It’s really perplexing me.

(I have no pictures of him yet because he’s still got a lot of rehab ahead of him – this boy is a mess! – and I am currently preoccupied with this silly centerpiece thingy anyway. The things I get myself into, I swear.)

Here I thought I had seen it all when it came to crazy plastic shenanigans of the 1970s, but in every mystery body box, there seems to be a surprise!

I haven’t owned a lot of Pearlies in my time; outside of the two potential candidates from the dirty pony box lot, I only own a Black Appaloosa Lying Down Foal currently. I haven’t had much luck finding nice examples locally, and the ones in the “retail” market either tend to sell quickly, or go for more than I’m comfortable with. 

The Lying Down Foal was a BreyerFest purchase from many years ago, before they became a big thing. (Wandering the halls, buying cheap Chalkies and Pearlies. Ah, those were the days…)

I think it’s interesting that Breyer seems to have limited the Pearly plastic to either Classic-scaled molds or to Foals. I don’t know if it was an active, conscious decision on Breyer’s part back then, or simply a coincidence: maybe they just happened to be running those molds that week? 

If this Bronco is any indication, though, maybe there were some technical issues they were having with it that made it more practical to run on the smaller molds. I am a little fearful that that is the case: he has a leg bent at a terrifying angle I will only attempt to straighten on a day when I am not feeling either grumpy or flat-out exhausted. 

Saturday, December 12, 2020

My Dirty Ponies

While everyone else was plotzing about the Space Bears or Star Wars spin-offs yesterday I was having a grand old time with a big box lot of dirty ponies:

Here’s a close up to give you an idea of what I’m dealing with:

I know I am not alone here, but cleaning dirty plastic ponies is my happy place. Buying a lot like this is not about adding to or upgrading in the collection, or even about making any money off the deal, though when all is said and done I will probably make a small profit. 

I just really enjoy taking something dirty and unattractive and making it presentable and/or pretty again. In some ways it’s much like a customizer’s impulse to make something beautiful out of what they presume is less so. 

The only difference here is that instead of rejecting the original color, shape or design, I’m restoring it.

Some are already done, some are still in process, and some (like the deeply yellowed Shire, and the Proud Arabian Stallion who I’ve nicknamed “The Trainwreck”) are definitely long-term projects. 

The only one I think I might be keeping (so far) is the Clydesdale Foal, who turned out to be a Pearly underneath all that muck. The Clydesdale Foal is one of the less common vintage Pearlies, and she has rather pretty shading too, so that’s cool.

The Shire might also stay, depending on how well the de-yellowing goes. While she has some condition issues above and beyond the yellowing, her shading and dappling are so superior to my already existing Dapple Shire that it’s definitely giving me something think about.

The Old Timer has “cornflake” dappling (sparse, giant dapples), which is also a thing. On the other hand, I definitely don’t need another Dapple Gray Old Timer variation. 

The Diamond P Knockoffs are fun, but I have enough already and they will all be moving on eventually. The big standing one that seems to be an original design might stick around a little longer than the rest since I find him intriguing overall, even if his face is disturbingly serpentine. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Pointy Breakableness

FYI: I didn’t get that good a look at the new weird plastic Stablemates on Saturday because aside from being distracted by the very attractive Sable Island Horse, the place was extremely busy I didn’t want to stick around in the place too long, with things being the way they are right now. 

I did give them a quick look over but I didn’t buy a set, so I didn’t get a chance to get an in-hand feel to assess what plastic it is. I’m assuming it’s something a little softer and less breakable in little hands than the standard ABS is. 

My general impression of them is that they’re being marketed as toys for young children, and directly competing with Melissa & Doug. And as such, they are perfectly fine for what they are. 

People in my orbit who are the actual target market for this – parents and grandparents of young children who are equine-curious – have responded positively to it. Sturdiness, cuteness, and having a half-dozen ponies to play with are bigger factors in their purchasing decisions than realistic or high-quality paint jobs, especially since they’re going to get dinged up from the get-go.

I also like to think of it as a hobbyist starter kit: if and when some of the ponies get lost, individual replacement ponies are right there in the same aisle. And once they get a taste of “real” Stablemates…

Anyway, the Universe is playing hardball with my spending moratorium and I found this earlier this week at my local Salvation Army. I swear I was only there to check out the fabric and craft supplies, but lo and behold, there was a Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron Forever Friends Resin Diorama sitting right there on the knick-knack shelf:

I do not, generally, collect Breyer Gallery items. I am big and preternaturally clumsy and anything remotely breakable is at a high risk of being damaged. That is why I am perfectly okay with buying broken Clinkies at the thrift store or flea market: someone else broke it for me and got the stress and heartache out of the way!

I was going to leave it behind initially – look at all that pointy breakableness! – but then I remember what happens to delicate things at this Salvation Army. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the damage it already received happened at the Salvation Army before I even got there. 

So I rescued it. I am now going to put it someplace (presumably) safe from both me and Vita until I am able to either get the repairs done, or sell it to someone else less accident-prone.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Finished Footings

I had a few moments to spare Saturday and stopped by my local hobby shop to nominally* check out the fuss about the new Stablemates stuff, and it was absolutely bonkers in there. The parking lot was full, the phone was ringing off the hook, staff was scurrying everywhere, and there was an actual line at the checkout.  

(*I say nominally, because there was a beautifully shaded Sable Island Horse there, and I couldn’t just leave her behind, you know? Damn you and your beautiful Bay paint jobs, Breyer!) 

I do not know what’s going on with all of the delays at Reeves – especially the Black Friday shipments, and the notifications for the Space Bears – but if the situation in New Jersey is anything like it is in Michigan, it’s probably a combination of being overwhelmed with holiday orders, being short staffed because of the pandemic, and an infrastructure being pushed beyond its current capacity

I know I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed lately and pushed above and beyond my personal capacities. I hope to get caught up a bit this week, but I am trying to not be overly optimistic. Heck, I’ll just be happy getting my office navigable again and all my sales stuff tagged, bagged and put into storage. 

All this mental and physical clutter is making me claustrophobic, and I hate that feeling.

Here’s an example of some of the clutter I have to deal with. It’s another one of those models from that lot I bought a while back that had such an assortment of lovelies:

Now, I have a lot of #87 Buckskin Mustangs, including a magnificently shaded early example with eyewhites who makes me gasp every time I take him off the shelf. I don’t have a Chalky one yet, but that’s because they get snapped up pretty quickly on the hope that it might be not just a Chalky, but a painted over Decorator too.

What’s making me hesitate putting this fellow on the sales list is his footings:

Painted footings are a relatively recent development. Unless a hoof was upraised or otherwise visually exposed, hoof bottoms on models from the 1950s through most of the 1980s were left unfinished. 

First, there were the technical issues: aside from dealing with overspray, where do you put a model with wet feet to dry? It only takes the paint about seven seconds to dry, but that’s several seconds that could be used to paint the next model.

Second, there were practical considerations: as toys and display pieces, hoof bottoms were simply considered the point of contact between the model and the floor or shelf. “Finishing” them in any way would just make the inevitable rubs and scuffs even more visible.

Usually when I see a vintage model with finished footings, it raises a red flag to me: this model might have been repainted or significantly touched up. 

In the case of this Mustang, the paint not only appears to be authentic, but there’s also light factory overspray on his belly where you’d expect it to be. It is actually quite noticeable in person but, you know, my photograph skills could be better.

So here I am, trying to convince myself I don’t need another Buckskin Mustang…

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Ursa Major and Ursa Minor

Special Run Bears + Astronomical Theme = Yes, please!

The original Black and Brown Bear and Cub sets from the late 1960s/early 1970s were one of my first “big” flea market finds back in the early 1980s; my parents were quite perplexed to see me get so excited over something that was Not A Horse

I wouldn’t say I became obsessed with the molds per se, but I have tried my best to keep myself up-to-date with them.

While there are a few more recent strays I haven’t acquired yet, mostly because space is an issue (the Cub in the one Walmart Mustang set, the 2005 set rerelease, and the Bear and Cub that were sold separately in the early 2000s) the Silver variation of the BreyerFest 2014 Kodiak and Denali are the only ones I haven’t acquired (and am not likely to) because of financial reasons.

Yes, there’s been a set on eBay for forever. But it’s either pay up, or go without. And Breyers being the luxury they are, I’ve had to learn to do without. 

(FYI: $500 is about as high as I could go without starting to hyperventilate.)

Well, them and any Test Colors that might be floating around. I know for fact that there’s at least one set of standard black and white Panda Bears out there somewhere. A Chalky set of Polar Bears turned up on eBay several years ago and went well above my comfort zone, too.

The molds are not super popular in general and they’re making 350 sets so I am not overly concerned about being able to get them, even if I’m not picked from the initial list. But I will worry about that tomorrow, if need be.

I do love this particular “colorway” – Space Pinto, basically? – and I hope it makes its way onto other releases soon. Unicorns, Horses, other Nonhorses….