Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Not One for the Win Column

All my Spoon Tomato seedlings are either dead or dying for no discernable reason, and I didn’t get picked from the waitlist for Goldfinch, so I am putting Tuesday in the “bad day” column and moving on. 

(I am more bummed about the tomatoes than Goldfinch – I spent actual money and time on those!)

I don’t care if I get called out for price shaming on this, but seriously, I need to rant right now. Prices are completely out of control not just for the Silver, but for just about… everything right now. Who are all these people buying $1000 Alborozos? 

Speculator markets like the one we’re apparently in the middle of are scary, dangerous, and never end well. I want no part of this.

This is also why I am not optimistic about getting picked for the True Blue Exclusive Event: people like me who actually want to participate in the event are going to be outnumbered by the resellers.

(I kind of wish there weren’t any exclusive items for these events at all, beyond the one model and the one Stablemate. But I know I am dreaming.)

One of the side effects of this speculator’s market is the sheer abundance of White Boxers that have come up for sale. The White Boxer is one of the few Traditional Breyer Dogs I don’t have – and at the prices they are currently going for, it’s going to stay that way.

Years ago it was assumed that only a small quantity of White Boxers existed – I think the number that floated around was 25? – but that’s since been disproven by both documentary evidence and the sheer number of them that have turned up over the years. 

Scarce? Yeah. Eight hundred dollars worth of Rare? Nope.

Some of the pricing on these Boxers is a consequence of misinformation still being circulated. That was the case with the Buckskin Lady Phases for years, as well.

Collectors, for the most part, now realize that not all Buckskin Lady Phases are the same, and “rare, extremely limited quantity” label attached to her referred to her slightly (but noticeably) different Model Horse Congress and VaLes Bead Trailer runs, not her later and actually pretty numerous JC Penney’s Christmas catalog run. 

But the White Boxer? It looks like I am going to have to continue biding my time until (a) I get lucky, (b) this nutso speculator’s market we’re currently trapped in finally abates or (c) the hobby finally comes around to the idea that it’s not THAT rare of a model in the first place, and moves on to something else.

Preferably something I do not want, or already have.

(I know, also dreaming.)

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Glossy Chalky Buckskin

The first thought that came to mind when I saw in-hand pictures of Goldfinch was: holy cats, this is My Girl all over again.

The 2016 Vintage Club release My Girl, on the Cantering Welsh Pony, came in three colors: Gloss Bay, Gloss Palomino, and Gloss Alabaster. When I opened the shipping box and discovered that I had received the Alabaster – my third choice – I was slightly crestfallen. 

I think Gloss Palomino is a highly underrated vintage color, and who doesn’t love a lovely Gloss Honey Bay? But Gloss Alabaster can be hit or miss, depending on its shading, or lack thereof. And as far as shading goes, the initial pictures of the Alabaster My Girls showed a definite lack.

Then I opened up her actual box-box, and fell in love with Glossy Chalky Alabaster. 

I think I kind of love Glossy Chalky Buckskin, too.

If I don’t get picked from what’s going to be a very small waitlist – because people are definitely willing to put themselves in short-term debt if they know they can make an almost-immediate profit – I’ll just have to let it go. 

I have a little too much stuff anyway. 

That’s what I keep telling myself, but there I was at the toy store after I got my first COVID shot Saturday, trying to persuade myself that I really didn’t need Obsidian.

I did manage to walk out of the store horse-free. This time.

(In all seriousness, though, if I do start buying seriously again, I think I’ll start with the homely little Standing Stock Horse Foal. Not a lot of demand, not a lot of rarities, not a lot of Test Colors, Oddities or Whatever.) 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Feeling a Bit Blue

I am… apprehensive about this:

My luck getting actually drawn for Exclusive Events under normal circumstances is terrible; having an Exclusive Event that’s online – and thus not subject to the normal constraints of travel arrangements and extended time off from work (i.e. more than one day) – is only going to make the situation worse. 

I am also not encouraged by the wording here: Purchase is limited to one ticket per Collector Club account.

I’d like to think that this is just an awkward and economical way of saying “no plus ones” that I think is not only a good idea but should be an idea with all Exclusive Events going forward amen

But let’s get realistic here: there are people who have more than one Collector Club account and are definitely going to read it an entirely different way.

As we saw with the BreyerFest VIP ticket situation, many hobbyists are terrible and will definitely attempt to get more than one ticket purely for the financial windfalls they come with. If that does happen, it will feel especially grievous this year because they will not have “I need to pay my travel expenses” as an excuse.

And also thus denying some hobbyists the opportunity for the experience above and beyond the models involved. I have a fancy new computer here, folks, and I’d like to use it!

(As I’ve mentioned several times before, I’d volunteer at BreyerFest for a t-shirt and a sandwich. This is not normal, I know.)

All I can do is put my entries in and hope for the best, I guess. 

(Sorry to be so spicy today – I’ve been dealing with a lot of negative attitudes over the past few days and I am totally done with people for at least the rest of the week.) 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Bluest Boy

So it looks like I didn’t get the Goldfinch, and I am perfectly fine with that. 

The prices for them on eBay right now are absolutely ridiculous, but unfortunately the prices about Special Run Silvers is ridiculous, which is another reason why I try not to get too emotionally involved with that mold.

Anyway, here’s a picture of a model I bought last year that I never got around to talking about, because, you know, my life is crazy:

It’s a more blue-ish version of the #863 Rana, on the Sham mold, released from 1992 through 1993. They all have at least a slight blue cast to them, but some are more blue than others, and I wanted to find the bluest one possible.

I think I can do better, both color- and condition-wise, but this example is probably the best I am going to get until the next in-person BreyerFest. (Well, I hadn’t had any luck finding one at BreyerFest either, but the odds seem better there, somehow.)

I’m not even sure what actual horse color this is suppose to represent – Breyer called it “Blue Chocolate”, which I am assuming is just another name for Black Silver, or maybe an obscure variation of Black Silver with another modifier thrown on top just to spice things up? 

(It’s been a while since I dabbled in horse color genetics.)

I also know Ruby Chocolate is a thing, but that’s an edible thing and a rather new creation that I haven’t gotten around to sampling yet. (But trust me, It will happen.)

Whatever it is supposed to be, I think it’s kind of neat, and another reason I’ve been wanting this release for a while.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Birds of a Feather

I used to think that a sure way to make money was to set up a live feed of some of our neighbors; while I have accepted that I am not normal, some of my neighbors in comparison make me feel refreshingly average.

But the past couple of days – mostly consisting of me cursing at my computer as I attempt to learn how to edit videos – have led me to believe that a livestream of me teaching myself new things might be more entertaining. 

(FYI: While it would probably be hilarious watching me yell at a ball of yarn or throw my woodcarving tools against the wall, it ain’t happening.)

As I’ve asserted for years, both comic book fandom and the model horse hobby have a lot in common – both for both the better, and the worse. After watching Zack Snyder’s Justice League Thursday night I strongly considered writing a post about how the model horse hobby also has a toxic fandom problem.  

And you might have noticed, there are certain common hobby words, arguments and phrases that I do not use specifically because they play into the hobby’s darker nature. There’s a sense of ownership among certain segments of both comic book fandom and the model horse hobby that goes well beyond what’s rational and reasonable.

The vocabulary you use makes a difference.

But you know what? It’s the first day of Spring and I am going to let that nonsense go. My seeds are sprouting, it’s starting to warm up outside, and my studio is all set up and ready to roll.

But back to actual horses for a bit, here. From the sneak peek photo in the most recent Breyer newsletter, the general consensus was that the next release in the Birds of a Feather Series was going to be a Silver. And the consensus was right:

I’m not a huge fan of the Silver mold because it’s been used to death: nearly 40 releases in the past twenty years, not including Test Colors, Samples and unique and/or unobtainable Live Show prizes or Event releases. There are Traditional molds three times as old that haven’t had that many releases in their lifetimes. 

It is kind of hard to get emotionally attached to a mold with so many releases in so short a time, and so many of them are impossible to get regardless. 

But somehow they found a color/finish combo that he hasn’t been issued in yet: Glossy Light Buckskin. I am very picky when it comes to buckskins, so in spite of those two handicaps, I rather like him! 

If I get Goldfinch, great, but I’m also cool with not getting him, because things are a little nuts here at the moment and adding another package to the pile would be problematic, especially if it’s something that’s not a must-have for me. 

All of my actual must-haves I have been escaping me on eBay, or but that’s another story. I may have more money to spend nowadays, but I am not going to change my spending habits because everyone else has. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Early Stablemates Packaging

Just something short today; while setting up the new computer went more smoothly than I anticipated and things – in general – are going pretty swimmingly overall, I still have a ton of stuff to do by the end of the week. 

Plus, you know, I’ll be busy all Thursday night: I’ve already bought my snacks and I am ready to go.

(DCEU Nerd and I make no apologies!)

My Vintage Club mini Gold Secretariat is here but – like a lot of recent purchases that aren’t related to work – he’ll probably remain unopened for the next several weeks. 

In the meantime, I’ll post a picture of a vintage example of the packaging they were trying to emulate:

This is Umar and he actually did pretty well at the BreyerFest Photo Show last year: fourth, I think? Not too surprising: the packaging was near-perfect and it’s the Dapple Gray version of the actual Arabian Stallion mold, not the cosplaying Morgan Stallion that came out the year previous. 

He’s scarcer than his Morgan predecessor, because releases tend to sell best in their first year and then taper off, even if there’s been a significant change in the release itself – whether it’s a change of markings, finish or (in this case) the mold itself. 

The resist dapple paint job was discontinued on the original G1 Stablemates by the end of 1976 because they were kind of a pain in the butt: you could get away with a variety of dapple sizes on a Traditional scale model, but a few out of scale dapples on a Stablemate would have been a no-go.   

One interesting difference between the Vintage Club release and the original is the blow-molded insert: the original has a molded-in texture that the Vintage Club release does not. 

I am assuming there was a logical reason for adding texture to the original inserts. It may have been a way of masking or camouflaging any minor imperfections or irregularities in the plastic. Or perhaps because the stark white insert visually dominates the packaging, a texture was added to jazz it up a bit?

I don’t know, I’m just speculating here. 

Friday, March 12, 2021

Silver Basecoat Blacks

[Head’s up: the next week is going to be coo-coo bananas for me, so if I disappear for more than my usual 2-4 days, I just want to let you know I am (probably) not dead.]

Turns out I did have a few moments to spare yesterday so I opened up my Lafayette after all:

Nice! I am pleased.

When they mentioned “silver basecoat” in the original notification e-mail, I assumed that meant that Lafayette would be the same silvery black color as Summer Solstice, Gwendolyn, and the Weather Girl Thunderstorm

I own all three of those models – I like them enough that they’re all a part of my display collection – so I was perfectly fine when that did turn out to be the case. I was lucky enough to get a Lafayette without any significant condition or box issues either, and that’s good because I don’t have time for any of that right now.

People are very quick and not at all discreet when it comes to expressing negative opinions on the Internet about any darn thing, so it appears that my opinion (currently) seems to be in the minority. 

Apparently he’s not black enough? Weren’t folks complaining not that long ago that they didn’t like solid black or near-black horses? Stuff like this is why I buy what I like and try not to get too caught up in the opinions of what other people like. 

Personal preferences are personal preferences. Nobody should be shamed or bullied for liking or disliking something on an aesthetic level. 

I’m a visually-oriented person, so trust me, I am judging people’s aesthetic choices all the time, especially when it comes to clothing. And sometimes I do find them wanting. 

But I do so internally. The only time I tend to verbally comment on anybody’s apparel choices is when I am either envious, or it looks really great on them and I think they deserve the compliment for their good taste. As long as as it meets all of the the legal definitions of acceptable attire, it’s none of my business if they think they look great in magenta.

(Nobody looks good in magenta. Okay, almost nobody.)

Anyway, I’ve liked popular things that have become unpopular, I’ve like unpopular things that have become popular, and every shade in between that. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

That Dapple Gray Shire

Lafayette is here, but I won’t be able to open him until Friday or Saturday, depending on how my schedule works out.  (It’s been a “Where am I? What day is it? Who bought this cheese?” kind of week.)

I just ordered a new computer yesterday, so there may be a little wonkiness with my posting schedule for the next week as I get everything switched over and reconfigured. 

To be honest, I had been needing a new computer since last year, but I put it off as long as possible because it’s always such a hassle to get everything just the way I want it. But with the ongoing video project and a couple of small but tidy sums coming in the mail that would amply cover the cost, it was time. 

We also got some new lighting installed in the basement that’s a huge improvement over the previous lighting. Here’s a plain, unretouched test shot of the Dapple Gray Shire from the “Dirty Pony Lot” that’s been slowly deyellowing in the window:

Because Winter Sun is weaker than Summer Sun, she’s still got a long way to go, but she is getting better. As you can see, she has some amazing dappling and shading; what is a little less obvious are some condition issues, first and foremost these two factory flaws:

The smudge in her dappling is underneath the clear topcoat, and was obviously something that happened during the actual dappling process. 

The weird bubbly mark on the middle of her barrel is a contact mark: either she was touching another model on the painting rack while she was drying, or she fell over or got knocked over before she was dry and her barrel made contact with another surface – table, wall or floor. 

Both of these flaws passed QC because (a) standards were a little bit looser then, and (b) they both kind of blend in with the paint job. Yellowing has definitely made the contact mark more visible, and will become less so as she whitens up again.

When I hear some collectors complain that “paint jobs were so much better THEN” (i.e. in Chicago) I have to take a deep breath before I respond to any of it. 

If you look at older pieces like this Shire objectively, it’s… simply not true. Either one of these marks on a newer model, and some hobbyists would be ready to fly to New Jersey just for the satisfaction of yelling at someone in person for this. 

But what many hobbyists are actually saying when they make comments like that is expressing a justifiable admiration of the skill and dexterity of the painters of the Chicago era, who were able to do so much with so little. 

Colored by nostalgia: the Breyers of your youth, alas, are not immune to the powers of the Suck Fairy.

I still haven’t decided whether she’s a keeper or not. I’ll stick her back in the window and see what she looks like, come late April or May. 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Wee Box

Apparently my Lafayette is coming next week? In spite of me ordering in several hours after it went to backorder status? And me being completely fine with it being on backorder?

Guys, honestly, I don’t know what’s going on either. All I do know is that Reeves knows there are problems. 

Whether this baffling situation – with live orders being put on backorder status, backorders moved up to live status, with no rhyme or reason – leads to a resolution, I also don’t know. 

I sure hope so: I had multiple issues with shipping from the warehouse last year, and I am usually one to let most things slide and work themselves out. Most of them were eventually resolved to my satisfaction (i.e. the Glossy Cheesecake) but not all (the sweatshirt that shall not be mentioned ever again). 

I am lucky – and grateful – that I can do most of my Breyer shopping locally, so I only have to deal with this nonsense with club- and web-exclusive merchandise. 

But let’s close on a happier note: here’s a picture of my Glossy Atticus with his wee box:

I like him more than I thought I would. I am so used to seeing the Traditional Clydesdale Stallion mold with his hair braided that any other hairstyle makes him look like an “old school” custom to me, back when we only had a handful of Draft molds to work with and we had to make do. 

(He does make a nice Jutland or Brabant, with a little work.)

I do love this style of box – it reminds me of those tiny Whitman’s Sampler boxes, the kind that come with 4 to 6 pieces of fancy chocolates. The graphic design is very bold and visually appealing, too, very much in the style I would have gone for if I had designed it. The only change I would have made to the design would be to make the corner silhouette reflect who’s in the box.

But also a big YAY for reusable boxes. We haven’t had that for Stablemates since… the 1975 Sears Wishbook Stablemates that will now set you back a car payment, and the silverplated 25th Anniversary Saddlebred, that will set you back a couple of house payments. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Missing Unicorn

Anyway, something short again today because I have business to attend to. 

In case you were wondering, yes, that’s one of the reasons why I’ve been so busy of late. It’s gonna be… terrifying but exhilarating at the same time, kind of like my Chasing the Chesapeake experience. 

(If she behaves, it may even include a Vita cameo!)

As I’ve been sifting through my craft supplies, I’ve been sorting some of them into boxes for possible ready-to-go crafting opportunities: we’re talking “not until at least the Fall” territory here, though.

One of those projects is creating a Little Bits/Paddock Pal Carousel similar to the one that was planned as a holiday catalog series in the mid-1980s. Only one piece – the pink and mauve Morgan – was officially released, and unmounted/undrilled white Unicorns with baby blue manes and tails showed up a short time later at the Riegsecker’s store in Shipshewana, Indiana. 

(They were the folks who were contracted to do the tack and mounting.)

I already have a small assortment of Paddock Pal/Little Bits bodies assembled for this project – culled from the unsellable detritus from body and box lot purchases – but do you know which body is the toughest to find right now?

Of all things, the Unicorn! He hasn’t been in regular production for over 15 years. The last regular run one was the #1652, in a pearly white with green points (obviously not the lavender fellow above, who was just the one I happened to have most readily available). He was in production from 2005 through 2006, and “reissued” as a Special Run for Kmart in 2007. 

I’m not sweating it right now because that project is still a long way from being started. But it did strike me pretty funny that we’ve been getting Unicorns hand over fist lately, but the first Breyer mold designed specifically and exclusively as a Unicorn has basically been as elusive as the real thing for over a decade. 

Why has this not been issued in a Painting Kit already, complete with glitter and holographic stickers? I am not the target demographic for painting kits in general, but I would buy that. 

(Well, okay, I did buy a Suncatcher Painting Kit in January, but it was half-priced clearance merchandise and involved Translucent Stablemates. Duh.)