Sunday, February 28, 2021

And Here We Go

When I said SOON, I wasn’t expecting NEXT DAY!

Well, I was kind of hoping it would be, because it would have been a perfect way to celebrate National Model Horse Day and all. But I also know that NMHD is pretty much just my personal holiday (it’s the 57th day of the year!) and not anything outside of this blog even knows about, so it’s almost purely a coincidence. 

I think. 

Anyway, I didn’t get a chance to access the Internet until almost 5:30 p.m. that day, so the initial batch of Lafayettes were long gone before I even knew they were available. But fortunately Reeves did go with the backorder option, much to the delight of almost everyone except hobbyists with an unusually narrow definition of the term “limited edition”.

It’ll take six month or so for the backordered ones (including mine) to get here, but thank goodness I don’t have to rely on the secondary market to get one at all. A few are selling in the $125-135 range, but for the most part I think people actually read the e-mail/understood the maths before pulling the trigger. 

I hope that all Collector’s Club Exclusives are done this way from now on, especially ones that are advertised for months in advance. There are a lot of models offered through the CC that are not guaranteed in any way – Web Specials, Test Colors, Exclusive Event models, BreyerFest items – and there should be some models available to anyone who has a CC membership, if they want it. 

As for the small handful of folks complaining that Lafayette is not really all that special anymore because he can be backordered... well. I have said this before, but it needs repeating: quantity is only one factor of many when it comes to aftermarket prices on any given model horse, whether it’s a Special Run or Regular Run. 

There are many models with pretty substantial runs that command pretty high prices because collectors love them and want them. Some of the pricier Exclusive Event models, for example, are the ones with 80-125 piece runs, oddly enough. Heck, look at the prices for the Seattle Soiree model Redmond!

When Reeves started labeling things “Limited Editions” and “Commemorative Editions” back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, those items regularly outsold Regular Run, open stock items. Sometimes by A LOT.

So I would always roll my eyes whenever a flea market vendor would try to tell me how “rare” those models were. The quantities specified on the Commemorative Editions had no relation to how well other models made that year were selling. Just because they limited a model to 10,000 pieces in a year did not mean all regular run models made that year were selling more than 10,000 units. 

In fact, I would not be surprised if these “Limited Editions” were the best-selling items in their respective years. (I do not have the time to dig out those files for specifics.) It was just a marketing tactic. People see a number, and they automatically assume that if there is a fixed number, that means it is rare.

Limited does not mean rare. It just means something about the run of an item is fixed in some way: by location, by time, or by quantity. Sometimes those models retain their value. Sometimes they do not.

Collectibles are an unreliable and unpredictable investment, and your money should be better spent on models you intend on keeping long term. End of story. 

Personally, if I really want to get down and dirty, I would propose that Reeves consider making all of their more aesthetically pleasing Special Runs the higher piece count ones, and the more challenging/less showable pieces the scarcer ones. Let’s see just how much money some collectors will cough up for a metallic magenta Khemosabi with lime green points, a Lady Roxana in “Baby Poop Brishen Brown”, or a Fuchsia Pintaloosa Family Arabian Mare. 

The fan base of these molds is sufficiently high enough for most of them that smaller runs will still sell out, handily. (In fact, I am certain that more than a dozen of you are now saying to yourself “I would buy a Fuschia Pintaloosa FAM in a heartbeat.” Me too people, me too.)

If they want to make something extra nice and showable, put it in the Benefit Auction and make sure that money goes to charity.  

In short: if you want to make short-term profits by buying low and selling high (arbitrage) go play that game in the actual stock market, not the plastic one.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Cleaning Up the Office

Something short again today, everybody: I have a ton of things to get done before the weekend is out, plus I have to squeeze some sleep in there somewhere as well. 

First, let’s get a little bit of housekeeping done. Let’s go down the list.

One: I have no idea when the Collector’s Club Exclusive Lafayette will drop, other than to agree with the general consensus of SOON. I am hoping that, in light of recent events and offers, that they’ll either make a ton of them, or offer them up as they did some of this year’s BreyerFest SRs: shipping out what they have, and allowing backorders for a certain number of hours or days.

At least, that’s how I’d be running things. If I were running things. Let everyone who wants a shiny black horsie have a shiny black horsie!

Two: It doesn’t look likely that I’ll be able to participate in the Online BreyerFest Swap Meet at all, and the BreyerFest Photo Show looks unlikely at this point, too. 

Since I am not traveling to Kentucky or staying at the hotel, I am not pressed for the money the room sales would bring. The Photo Show took a lot out of me last year, and if I have any extra time in May or June, I really want to spend it finishing the rehabilitation of my garden.

Three: The 15-Year Rule was brought up in the comments a couple of posts back, and while I’m in cleanup mode, I might as well re-explain. 

As you all know by now, Breyers are pretty plentiful here, even at the flea market. Over the years I noticed that it takes – on average – about 15 years for a model purchased by a nonhobbyist to end up in the secondary market.

The math makes sense, once you puzzle it out. Most kids go through a horse-crazy phase from around the ages of 8 to 14. Fifteen years later would be the ages of 23 to 29, around the time their parents are reclaiming the space in their house/attic/garage. The children are given the ultimatum: take your old toys with you, or we’re selling them at the yard sale. 

And that’s where most of them end up.

Four: Last week I made a trip to a local Salvation Army store to buy a ten-pound sack of vintage calico fabric – I found it earlier and the week and left it behind, until I decided I couldn’t – and made a quick perusal of the book department. This particular store gets a pretty good assortment, so it’s always worth a look. 

For some reason I picked out a book – Junior Miss, by Sally Benson – maybe thinking it was an old Scholastic Book Club hardcover, and I’m kind of fascinated by old Scholastics. And look what I found inside:

I’ve owned a number of Linda Leach-Hardy customs in my time, and I’ve even found a few at the local flea markets – which makes sense, because she was a local artist – but this is the first time I’ve found her signature in a book. 

Sure, there is a possibility it is another Linda Leach, but finding this after a recent discussion of vintage customs? 

So weird.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Old Wooden Stables

I made the mistake of watching a couple of hoarding videos last week (I was trying to get caught up on the latest Curiosity, Inc. Hoarder House cleanout; I swear I saw horse-shaped objects and well, you know…) and now I’m in deep cleaning mode, again. As if I don’t have enough to do.

But hey, the garage is definitely looking navigable again. 

All kidding aside, I really do need to make myself scarce for the next few weeks and get some things done around here. I may also have a scheduling change soon that may make the timing of some of my posts extremely peculiar. 

As I like to say, no rest for the wicked.

Anyway, here’s another thing I purchased recently that’s much more exciting than the visuals give away. Behold the #7000 Stable for Traditional Size, the plus-sized counterpart of the #7100 Stable for Stablemate Size, of the same vintage (1976) and in the same style box:

As for that label? I made the mistake of forgetting to tell the seller to wrap the box in paper before shipping it. It didn’t incur a lot of damage, fortunately, but I should have known better and that’s my fault. It was someone who obviously didn’t deal with Breyer items very often who just happened to stumble across something that was that unusual combination of rare and obscure. 

I don’t like to assume that the seller in question doesn’t know what they’re doing, but lesson learned. Nevertheless, it’s still something that’s very much a thing I’ve been wanting for years and I am very happy it is now in my possession. 

Especially since the likelihood of something like this showing up again anytime soon is also unlikely. Until recently, I assumed that both of these early Breyer stables – like the Breyer Rider Gift Set with Palomino Adios – were never officially sold retail, but that now does seem to be the case, at least on a very limited basis.

After this, Breyer only attempted to market one more Stable of its own before being purchased by Reeves: the Traditional-scale #7025 in 1980. I’m not certain #7025 was even manufactured; while the #7000 and #7100 both briefly appeared on Bentley Sales Discontinued Price Lists, the #7025 never did.

There have been numerous Stables issued since then, and many of them are also quite scarce, including Reeves’s first official attempts in 1986/1987. Both appear to be the same or a very similar stable that was sold in Holiday catalogs as early as 1979, but not officially marketed as a Breyer product until 1986. 

There have been almost countless Stables since then, from Stablemates scale to Traditional. While I wouldn’t mind adding a few more to the collection, space is definitely an issue. The only ones that would seriously attract my attention now would probably be the #7025 (if it even exists), and maybe the 1986 and 1987 ones (#200 and #201, respectively) but only in their original boxes.

There’s also a Play-Well Stable Set in its original box on eBay that’s been piquing my interest; it’s the same set that was sold by mail-order companies that sold Breyers and Hartlands direct to consumers as early as 1962. 

It sort of boggles my mind, but in a good way, that the market for model horses was strong enough that other manufacturers were creating complementary products for them. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Creatively Challenged

For all the people who are confused or frustrated by the rules for this year’s Diorama Contest and struggling to figure out what Reeves is actually looking for, Welcome to My World

I’m not trying to be (that) snarky: I’ve been struggling for years with this contest, trying to figure out what the judges are looking for, and obviously not succeeding. 

At this point I am just throwing caution to the wind: I want to participate, and I can’t participate if I don’t enter something. I’ve got some ideas, I got some bodies, and whatever turns out the best by the due date gets entered, and that’s that. 

(Though it turns out that I may have to rule out one of my ideas because the body involved might actually be salvageable as an Original Finish piece. It’s not a super valuable one, but if it looks like it can be rescued, I always feel obligated to make the effort.)

To be honest, though, I think they’re putting some serious effort into explaining what the contests entail this year, and I really appreciate it. Whether that means I’ll have a better chance this year compared to any other year is still questionable, because I’ve found that the way I see or interpret things is not the way most of the rest of the world does.

Sometimes to my benefit, but definitely not when it comes to BreyerFest-related competitions. 

I know some hobbyists are being very vocal that the artistic restrictions – only public domain images from three specific online repositories, and the artwork in question must have a horse in it – are too restrictive. 

Which… doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

If you’ve been to art school, or taken more than one or two art classes in your lifetime, you’ve sometimes been asked to copy – or at least emulate – the works of previous artists. It’s not to stifle your creativity, it’s about understanding how the original artist did what they did, and why. 

As the famous Pablo Picasso quote goes: Good artists copy, but great artists steal. Rote replication is not the point of the exercise, it’s what you learn in the process.

In other words, Reeves is using this particular contest as an Art School Lesson. The only difference is that in this particular exercise, you’re being asked to creatively insert at least one Breyer Horse into an artwork with a horse in it. As the horse.

That’s actually… a pretty sophisticated idea for a contest. (Claps politely.)

As someone who considers herself an artist in other mediums – primarily quilting – I’ve also found that there isn’t really such a thing as art without limitations: in fact, when presented with every possibility and every conceivable art supply, most people still end up retreading the same topics, techniques and tropes. You are in an invisible box, bound by your previous experiences.

When you’re faced with limitations, you are forced to think outside of that box. That is, to me, the ultimate creative challenge.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Black Man o’ Wars

Well, I spent a couple of hours looking through those art archives post on the Breyer web site, and now I have diorama ideas. The only good thing about most of them is that I already have suitable bodies in my body box in the event that I, at the last minute inevitably, decide that I need to participate. 

The seed issue has also been resolved. Or at least the seed company has said it will be. So that’s another worry off my mind.

But now there is this situation: 

It’s not ****** likely I’ll be able to afford the one now on eBay. So when I am not busy doing other things this week (ones that will mercifully occupy both my waking and slumbering hours) I’ll be alternately weeping or cursing to myself in my underground office bunker.

Most of the stuff I’ve been interested in recently falls into that category. Part of the reason is because I have largely run out of cheaper and/or easier-to-get things, but a lot of it is because prices took an extremely sharp upturn over the past several months and have put things well beyond my (not quite as modest as it used to be) reach. 

This is fine most of the time, because I own too much stuff anyway and money is better spent on more mundane and practical things, like car payments and garden mulch. But this one is actually a Pretty Big Deal for me, so watching it fly out of my reach a couple hours into the auction itself is kinda depressing.

The thing is – contrary to what the auction claims – is that there are several Traditional Black Man o’ Wars known to be in circulation, and that one is unlikely to be a BreyerFest Auction Test Piece, regardless. It’s more likely to be a Test Color from the early 1980s, of which a small undefined number were made, most of which appear to have gray hooves, a masked star, and black halters with metallic gold trim.

The Solid Black one shown above comes from Marney’s Big Book of Test Colors, and is probably just a random piece that Marney either found in the Chicago factory or finished herself, sometime in the early 1980s. He has no gray hooves, no star, and no additional detailing. 

Decent Body found in a scrap or cull bin + quick solid black paint job = hello, Test Color! 

(Side note: this is how most of the fabled Solid Black Adioses came to be. Among other things.)

One of the reasons I selected a Test Color Black Man o’ War as one of my Test Color grails is because there are a lot of them out there. Solid Black ones, ones made from Black Plastic, fancy ones with gray hooves and stars, and probably a few other variations none of us have dreamed of yet. 

(Well, okay, I have dreamed of a Glossy Dappled Black Traditional Man o’ War just recently. In light of Lafayette, I was just thinking that Glossy Dappled Black is the new Glossy Dark Bay, and daydreaming ensued.)

Anyway, it was my hope that one of these many Black Man o’ Wars would show up at the right time and right place and the price wouldn’t be so high that I’d find myself desperately digging in couch cushions for spare change or pulling aluminum cans out of the trash bins at the local park for deposits.

Today is not that day, obviously. I can only hope that the next one doesn’t generate as much irrationally exuberant bidding.

Friday, February 12, 2021

It’s Always Something

The Good: My Glossy Cheesecake is finally here!

The Bad: My seed order also arrived and they shipped the wrong seeds. The one variety I was most looking forward to getting started – the Superbissima Petunias – was listed on my receipt, but I got Purple Nasturtiums instead. 

Sigh. It’s always something. (Calls made, e-mails sent, yadda yadda, blah blah…)

The details of the BreyerFest contests are now up – for the Diorama, Customs, and also (surprisingly!) the Costume Contest. The Diorama and Costume Contests are what I expected them to be – doing something art-historically inspired – though oddly limiting your inspiration to just three online repositories of copyright-free images. 

This I assume is a way of getting around some potential legal issues, but I already had some ideas for both the Diorama and Costume Contest that are now off the table because they’re not in those specific repositories. 

Well, there’s the one, but that’s gonna be a hard one to pull off…

I do have a couple of customs languishing on my craft table that could be worked into a Customs Contest entry somehow. But it’s going to be a couple months before I can get started on anything like that, and I’ll be running short on time because I always do with my Samplers, no matter how much I plan. 

The Sampler takes priority over everything, and especially over my inevitably-doomed-to-failure contest entries. And at least one of the Contest page pictures is an unpleasant reminder of the failure part. 

(It was a rough week, okay? I got into an argument with someone about math, for heaven’s sake! Math!)

I might just skip out on all of these contests entirely again because, and I repeat myself, I don’t have time for any of this. (I should have been in bed an hour ago, but let us not get into that.) This is a danged shame, because I was an Art History major in college and this is unexpectedly and delightfully shaping up to be totally my jam

Something more substantial and actually history related next time, I promise.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The Waiting Game

A shorter one today: the weather turned frigid cold and all I want to do is hibernate until Spring arrives. 

(FYI: this is typically late April or early May in Michigan, and lasts all of two weeks until Summer arrives. Not even kidding.)

Just as I suspected, I got picked for Puffin, and she’s already been rehomed. As I mentioned before, I’m all in on the series concept, but it’s just a bad time for me and I am not in the best mood right now anyway. (See above.)

One of the many delights of our garden last year was the arrival of a family of Orioles that made little piggies of themselves at our feeding station (Turns out that they really do love grape jelly. Like, a lot!) so if an Oriole turns up in this series somewhere down the line, I call dibs.

A Hummingbird would be nice, too. (On either Newsworthy or Bristol, maybe?) Even if they can be little jerks sometimes. 

I’m assuming there is going to be at least one actual winged model (Silver?) and that’ll go for crazy bucks no matter what bird/color scheme it ends up being. The 2016 BreyerFest SR Estrela do Carnaval was widely derided initially, but good luck finding one at a decent price now! 

I finally decided to forego the Breyer Bootcamp thing entirely: the photo show was enticing, but then I realized that (a) I had no time for that nonsense in the first place, (b) the photography studio is out in the unheated garage and it’s insanely cold out there right now, and (c) while the class list was to my liking, the unlimited entries per class thing is not. 

Among other things.

I am undecided on the BreyerFest Photo Show, partly because I’d like to know how they’re going to handle previous winners. At the live version of the show, Overall Champs are disqualified from entering again, but they suspended that rule last year on the assumption that there’d be an actual Live show this year. And there isn’t. 

While it’s true that a different set of judges will judge things differently, I am still not entirely comfortable going up against the last year’s winners.

I have the opportunity to take new photos, and I have several new additions to the herd who I think could do well, so my showstring would be improved over last year’s. But still. I guess I will have to wait and see when the details are posted.

Same goes for the online Swap Meet. The fact that I wouldn’t have to pack, move, unpack, repack and move all my “stock” is definitely a plus, but it appears that I’d also have to build an online store from scratch, unless they are going to offer a basic platform/template for everyone and just have not told us yet.

Building a basic online store isn’t necessarily hard and it is something I have been meaning to do anyway but again, it does involve time to set up, something I haven’t had a lot of these days.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Letting It Go

The bodies I wanted to strip are proving to be more… intractable than I imagined, so I’ve decided to set them aside for now and occupy myself with other projects, like planning my garden – continuing with last year’s Victorian theme, but adding more scented flowers – and sorting out the craft supplies and paperwork hidden in my Jethro Closet.

(It’s a weird little storage closet tucked under the stairs in the basement where all my wayward things seem to end up, instead. The name is an old family joke, and I’ll just leave it at that.)

While I normally would be head over heels for anything coming in Glossy Dappled Black, the latest Web Special Puffin, the first in the new “Birds of a Feather” Series, is leaving me a little cold (no pun intended). 

I like the concept of the series in general, and I have nothing against the Wixom mold in particular. I’m just not in a buying mood right now, and if I’m buying anything this year that’s Glossy Dappled Black, it’s going to be the Collector’s Club Exclusive Lafayette, on the Hamilton mold. 

It also doesn’t help that my Glossy Cheesecake from last year’s BreyerFest is still not here yet and I am not looking forward to calling Reeves for the fourth time on Monday to figure out what his status is. The last time I called (two weeks ago) it was still at the fulfillment center, but at this point I think I’d rather have my money back and just forget I even ordered it in the first place. 

I don’t think I’ve ever had to call more than once to resolve a shipping issue before they switched to this new fulfillment house, so to say that I am displeased at the moment is... an understatement. Especially since I hate making phone calls in the first place.

I already have the Matte Cheesecake anyway, so I’m perfectly fine with letting the Glossy one go. 

I did enter for Puffin, so if by some stroke of luck I do get drawn, I’ll offer her up for sale at cost plus transaction fees.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Almost Pearly Clydesdale Foal

Speaking of yelling at inanimate objects...

Today was one of those days I had to walk away from the computer and let it deal with its own issues. All you will be getting out of me today is this picture of the Slightly Pearly Clydesdale Foal from the infamous Dirty Pony Lot:

She’s not obnoxiously pearly like the Classic Quarter Horse or Arabian Foals can be, but there’s definitely a sheen to the plastic that goes beyond the translucency inherent in her unpainted portions (the bald face and stockings). 

And while it is true that whoever painted her was crushing it with the airbrush that day, you can also (hopefully) see that there is a definite glow to the plastic that only enhances her excellent paint job. 

I already have two other pretty fabulous #84 Clydesdale Foals – a Chalky, and one with a Blue Ribbon Sticker – but this girl is my new favorite. She’s so pretty in person!

What I suspect is going on with her – and the Black Bucking Bronco in the same lot – is that there was some Pearly regrind mixed in with the standard Translucent White Cellulose Acetate, just enough to give her that hint of pearliness. 

But it also yellowed her a little bit: that’s the problem, alas, when you use regrind. It was an unavoidable problem in the early 1970s since Breyer was having such a hard time getting their usual stuff. They could not afford to let any good plastic go to waste, even if it was just a wee bit off-color.

While I’d love to get her showring ready as soon as possible, the windows are already full of potential sales list items that take priority.