Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Like Lightning

As someone who: chose Ansel as one of my BreyerFest Special Run selections; who wrote a paper about Georges Melies for a high-school French class, then rewrote it in English for a college Film History class; who was ridiculously excited when they found a near-complete print of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis; and who has a huge pile of vintage film memorabilia about Rex, King of the Wild Horses stashed under her bed…… yeah, I want that danged Raffle Model! I want Muybridge like a chocoholic wants a Bumpy Cake. (Thought to be honest, I like the Caramel Bumpy Cake just a touch better.)

Icelandics just happened to be on my mind: I was just starting to price the two Jóls (clear, and teal) I still need to get, and I had already decided that Sporður frá Bergi is on my BreyerFest shopping list. I had also recently been pricing Honeysuckles, but that is clearly not going to happen any time soon...

Like last year, to simulate the BreyerFest experience I’m going on a mini-road trip that will consist of me shopping at a couple of local toy stores, and then stopping at The Telway for sliders and onion rings. (And if anyone wants to come with, let me know.)

I know the odds of me winning a Raffle Model are probably about the same as me getting hit by lightning.  Incidentally, I’ve come pretty close to that a couple of times, too, but those are both instances where I’m grateful it was a near miss. 

But this model hits all my buttons: a Silver Black Splash Icelandic with blue eyes? Named after Eadweard Muybridge? Losing this one’s gonna hurt more than most. 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Getting Artsy

Well, I had my first BreyerFest nightmare in ages last night. That was… unexpected. Can’t say that’s something I missed from the normal BreyerFest experience. 

I mean, other than the Sampler, everything else is a go: the computer has been updated, the VIP purchases have been paid, the time off has been approved. All I have to do is log on, pay for my other SR selections (whatever they are), and do five minutes of shopping (pick up the Stablemate and maybe a t-shirt or mug). After that, it’s just videos and live feeds, and maybe a couple of the VIP exclusive workshops.

I might participate in an NPOD component if it’s there, but I doubt it. That was not fun last year. At all. I thought about about doing a live feed or Zoom meeting, but my work/schedule is hella weird and the times that would be good for me would probably not be good for anybody else in the continental U.S.

I suppose I could clean the office up in case anyone wants to come over at any point during that weekend, but that has to wait until other projects are wrapped up and packed up, and there’s nothing I can do to speed up that timetable. 

Oh, I’ve also decided that instead of baking a cake, I’ll try to make hot pretzels that weekend instead. I planned on buying a box of frozen lemonades to simulate the BreyerFest experience anyway, might as well go all in and add pretzels to the mix, too.

Since I’m currently in picture taking mode for other projects, I decided to put this little piece in the queue since it’s somewhat on topic:

Several years ago I bought a big bag of body-quality Mini Whinnies to keep them on hand for various projects. This is something I did with one batch of them because I had some epoxy that was getting old and I wanted to use it up. I thought I’d make it into something “artsy” just using the materials I had on hand, and I was pretty pleased with the result.

As I’ve mentioned before, I think way too much emphasis is put on realism in the hobby, and it dissuades a lot of people from even trying at all. This was something I did purely as a creative challenge: not only did I enjoy doing it, I learned a lot from the experience.

Anyway, off the soapbox. My Tobias arrived, and he’s neat!

The shipping box he came in was kind of terrifying, but all of the contents inside were fine. And I have to admit, I like this fellow a lot more than I thought I would: all those tiny little spots, all so nicely masked!

The first semi-leopard Appaloosa, of course, was the #99 Appaloosa Performance Horse all the way back in 1974; it was a radical change from Breyer’s appaloosas of the past, and enough of a technical challenge that it would be several years more before they’d try it again. 

And now we’re at a point where they’re releasing Stablemates with a few hundred masked spots as not-outrageously priced club pieces. 

Friday, June 25, 2021

Peeking Out of the Cave

In the middle of a bunch of things here, so I’ll do a little cleanup and go back to my cave.

Following up on the Classics discussion in the post previous, the two bodies I pulled out of my body box to tinker with are a pair of Classics: the Mesteno’s Mother and Duchess. I’ve seen both of them get customized by others, but either as simple repaints or armatures, and neither of those approaches works for me.

I happen to think there’s something beautiful inside each of these molds, so my challenge is to reveal it without obliterating the original character of the molds themselves. 

But the bulk of that work won’t happen until after BreyerFest, because I’ve barely worked on my Sampler for this year. I am not too worried about it yet because I know what I want to write about, and I have already penciled in the three-day Fourth of July weekend to do it in. 

The next Bird of a Feather Series release Meadowlark is up, and I like her. But I’m not getting my hopes up because we all know how the market is right now:

Bluegrass Bandit is another model that gets way more negativity thrown at it than the average model, and I’m not sure why. I’m kind of up to my eyeballs in sales items right now, so I wouldn’t be as hurt was with the previous release in this series (Crane). Just… kind of bummed.

(The one I really want at the moment is Milky Way, and the prices are not encouraging.)

Some hobbyists are annoyed that they didn’t get enough forewarning about the Mercy for Animals Hope Gala charity auction lot, which included a Test Color Ayrshire Cow and a Hampshire Pig. I am also not sure why this was a big deal either – the knowing about it part, not the auction itself or the cause.

As you can tell, I haven’t been terribly on top of things in the hobby lately, but I knew about it when it was still live. And promptly ignored it, because it was already well above what was willing to pay. 

I wasn’t going to stick around to watch either, because I’ve never had much fascination with watching other people spending enormous amounts of money on things. Haggling, negotiating, wheeling and dealing can be artful and entertaining to watch, but I am not someone who takes particular joy in treating high-dollar auctions like a spectator sport. 

(And the clapping? Why the clapping?)

I already had a Hampshire Pig anyway:

I always wanted one of the Special Run Pigs from the 1980s, but they’re pretty elusive because they were primarily sold to pig farmers, not hobbyists. When they do show up, they tend to do so pretty randomly. 

And that’s how I got mine: I found him in a box lot of Breyer Animal molds on eBay years ago. I don’t have time to look up the price I paid, but it was neither a steal nor an extravagance, and I’m sure I made up most of the sale selling the excess out of the lot. (I do remember getting my #365 Black Angus Bull out of the same lot. I wanted one anyway, and since he came with...)

The Hampshire appears to be the most “common” of the Special Run Pigs, and I haven’t found any of the others yet at a price I can justify to myself.

Monday, June 21, 2021

All About Compensation

Thank you for the kind words and encouragement, but y’all aren’t likely to see the latest diorama fail until after BreyerFest; I have projects with hard deadlines coming up, so it’ll have to wait. I may even lump it in to a “Parade of Fail” post I’ve been thinking about doing here for a while, to purge myself of this particular daemon. 

A lot of this stems from art school trauma. My instructors would single me out for praise, my work would almost always be put in the student showcases, and one of my pieces was even given the honor of being hung in the dean’s office for a year. But when it came to the student competitions where actual cash money was involved? 

Second place. Always. 

The people who write articles online telling you that “second place is the best place” and that it’s indicative of you actually being more awesome than the people who win have obviously not spent their lives in this awkward position.

In the meantime, I’ve pulled out a couple of old customizing projects to fuss over as distractions to the deadlines. If there’s one positive outcome to all this, it’s the fact that it’s shown me that my customizing skills are better than I thought they were, and that I shouldn’t be afraid to hack things to pieces and reassemble them. 

Whether I enter them in any competitions or not is secondary to the act of creation. It has to be: doing it for the money will drive me mad. 

Anyway, as compensation for my whining, here’s a picture of one of my more obscure Test Colors:

Obviously it’s a Test for the Sham in the Classic #3345 King of the Wind Set. I bought it a few years after the set itself was discontinued, and from a well-known hobbyist to boot, so I know it’s authentic. 

They obviously decided to go with a redder shade to match the Traditional Sham, and distinguish it more from the Golden Bay Lath in the set. I just thought it was a neat thing to own; while everyone else was chasing those elusive Golden Bay Traditional Shams, I had the Classic version!

(I also have a Golden Bay Sham. Kinda. It’s a story.)

Because he was a Classic, he was relatively cheap, and even today I doubt I can sell him for much more over the price I paid 25 years ago. The indifference and sometimes outright antagonism some Breyer enthusiasts have over the Classic scale horses (even the Loves!) surprises and confuses me, especially in light of the prices some comparably rare Stablemates bring. 

I think it says (a lot of) something that random topic/challenge class for the Customs Contest this year was simply Classics. I mean, I am all for encouraging people to use different and less popular molds, but ouch...

Oh well, back to work. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021


Guess what? 

After getting the diorama nearly done – and pretty fabulously, I might add – I was getting the paperwork/details in order, and… discovered that the search engine on that particular museum website completely failed me: the artwork was not public domain. 

When I began the project I thought it was, but a quirk in that museum’s web site dropped the public domain tag and included copyrighted images in my searches.

Cuss words? Yeah, many have been expressed. In a couple different languages, even.

Welcome to my world, people. If I had had the time to do my due diligence earlier, maybe I would have discovered the problem a little bit sooner, and focused my attention on one of the other two ideas that it turns out (of course!) were very much in the public domain.

It’s far too late to go back and finish one of those other ideas, so that means… I am done.

I will get the damned thing finished – it really does look amazing, I swear – but for me, not for a prize. 

So like all my other diorama entries, basically. Another float in my parade of fail.

As I’ve mentioned before, the effort wasn’t totally wasted, and I really did need the creative distraction. But the Universe is obviously trying to tell me something. 

It’s telling me to stop trying to enter any of these stupid contests altogether, because all it does is lead to sadness and disappointment.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Close To Home

The diorama is… getting there. All of the components are (essentially) done except the body; all I need to do now is finish the horse itself, and then glue everything together. 

I am surprised at how well the customizing is going, especially since it involves a lot more sculpting than I am normally comfortable doing for a diorama project, especially in such a short period of time. Here’s the only clue you’ll get before the big reveal:

And also a bonus, this was the other project I have (temporarily) abandoned – a FAM that was going to be a Staffordshire Pottery Horse:

I have a bunch of Family Arabian Mare bodies that I will eventually turn into an assortment of art projects – this was a plan well before the announcement of this year’s BreyerFest theme – because those bodies are cheap and nobody does anything with them except as armatures, and I think that’s a darn shame. 

There is a lot of potential there that just needs a little imagination to realize it.

Regardless of the outcome (I haven’t consulted the Magic Eightball yet!) this diorama project has been a very therapeutic creative distraction. And there are only so many weeds to pull in the garden.

I know a lot of hobbyists are a bit bummed that there won’t be much to do during the second virtual BreyerFest except sit in front of a computer screen and watch videos. To be honest, I’m kind of looking forward to luxury of a couple of obligation-free days of doing mostly nothing. I might even bake a cake!

Then there is also this sad news to deal with:

When you consider just how large and complicated a topic as Breyer History is, it is both surprising and unsurprising that there aren’t actually that many of us doing the legwork of uncovering, analyzing and publishing Breyer History.

The loss of any hobbyist – whether we’re someone well-known, or unknown – is always a diminishment. But this one hits close to home. 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

The Trakehner, Again

Well, the review of the Midyears will have to wait, because apparently my Magic Breyer Summoning Powers have manifested themselves again: there’s what appears to be a Black Trakehner in a box lot on eBay.

I’m not going to link to it because I’m assuming everyone already knows about it. It’s already at a higher-than-I’m-comfortable-with price, so it’s not like it needs the pageviews. 

Also, it’s fairly obvious that it’s not the identical model in my photograph: the hooves of the one in the auction are a different color. 

Because the hooves are even different colors from the front to the back, I gave it a passing thought that it might be a repainted Hanover, and possibly not even Original Finish. 

(And as if the matter wasn’t already confusing and fraught enough, there is also the possibility that it was a Hanover but it was repainted at factory, which can be a thing. Yeah, I know.)

Black paint jobs, like Gloss Finishes, are incredibly easy things to fake, and they can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from the real thing, even in person. I have a hard time investing a lot time or effort into something that has a nonzero chance of not being authentic.

This is, of course, all rationalization: something I tell myself when I know something is probably out of my reach.

Look, you know I’ll put in a good faith effort, but you also know that I am cheap and many other people in the hobby have legit lost their minds moneywise, so my odds of getting him are about the same as me finding an authentic dollar Rolex watch at the local Salvation Army for five bucks.

Not impossible, but it might as well be. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The Telephone Game

I’m busy as heck right now and can’t come to the phone right now. Please accept this random assortment of Test Colors and Oddities I do not own while I try to catch up on my sleep.

I do have to say that out of this whole bunch, I’d probably pick the Trakehner because, you know, I’m a big vintage Trakehner fan. But I must confess, that’s one sweet Proud Arabian Stallion! 

I’m so glad that mold has gotten a recent reevaluation; he really was a teenaged girl’s Dream Arabian Stallion back in the 1970s. Now if I could only find myself a nice shaded Alabaster in decent condition...

Actually I could have owned one of these, but there’s a story there that I don’t have time to tell and it’s kind of boring anyway. Feel free to speculate which one it is while you wait to fill out your BreyerFest Special Run preference list!

Incidentally, since I’ve gotten a second complimentary ticket in addition to my VIP, my choices are (a) Seurat, because Seurat is one of my favorite painters and the mold looks great in that color, and (b) either Pollock or the Surprise, because the Pollock is probably going to look crazy awesome in person and I will then regret not getting him, and the Surprise because what the heck, I’m feeling adventurous. 

I would also not be unhappy with the Pinto Marwari Tassili, because I love these Chestnuts with the coppery undertones they’ve been doing recently. 

I don’t know if I really need another Esprit in my life, but I am also definitely warming up to the Apollo del Solis. Otherwise I think the only other shopping I’ll be doing that weekend is picking up the One-Day Stablemate and maybe hoping for an NPOD Grab Bag. 

I had no luck last time, but that was because I was so focused on getting everything else that it ended up giving up after a while.  

Apparently the Midyear releases dropped yesterday? I’ll talk about them more next time, when I actually have time to process them. 

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Kings and Queens

Tosses two more bodies back into my project box, waves goodbye to my Diorama Contest dreams.

I’ve just completely run out of time for them. I just have too many higher-priority projects to do between now and BreyerFest to be able to spend any more time necessary to complete them. 

My “clever” idea is turning out better than I expected, too. The only comfort I have with it is that if I take my time with it, maybe it can be salvaged as a Customs Contest entry for next year.

The other one, I dunno. It’s more of a craft project than an actual custom, but it involves solving a technical issue that’s running headlong into my poor spatial awareness skills. 

Think about it this way: I have an easier time folding a map than actually reading it.


(And another thing: I don’t want to hear anybody tell me they’re bored. Unless you can come over sometime this week and weed my flower beds, I just can’t even with you people right now, okay?)

Since I’m short on time, again, here’s another picture of another recent purchase: a Glossy King! No, not a vintage Bay or White Fighting Stallion (I wish!), but the Stock Horse Stallion from the Collector’s Club Appreciation Sale:

He wasn’t the most popular choice among the Glossies offered that year, but I still thought he was pretty neat. Like the Glossy Bandera, I was hoping to find one at a not-unreasonable price, eventually. And that eventuality was last week!

I’m not too keen on the long tail, though. I’ve never been a fan of the whole “short mane/long tail” look that’s so popular in the Stock Horse world: it reminds me too much of mullets. 

I don’t care that they’re back in style again, nobody looks good in a mullet. Not Superman, not David Bowie, and definitely not horses. 

UPDATE: I just did a slapdash, ten-minute mockup of the second diorama, and it looks like I’m being a drama queen. I just may have the time to finish this one after all. I’d still rather go with my clever idea, but that would necessitate the invention of a 36-hour day. In other words: toss it back in the box, Andrea. The Sampler is not going to write itself!

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

How It's Going

How’s it going on my new schedule?

I’m crushing it on my old paperwork, the garden is looking respectable, and the office cleaning and reorganization is coming along. Sleep is still a work in progress; the melatonin doesn’t seem to be working well for me, and I’d rather not keep relying on the Benadryl.

But the customizing is… a problem. The rest of the household is not too keen on my cracking out the Dremel drill and hacksaw during the small hours, so my diorama plans have changed a little. 

Idea One (the best idea) involves too much customizing for the amount of time left on the clock anyway, so that one’s on hold. The effort there has not been wasted: the mold involved is part of a larger project, and I will get back to it eventually.

Idea Two (my first idea) was supposed to be something quick and simple, but the mold I selected for the task is less amenable to customizing than I originally thought. I think I can still make it work, with some compromises. I’ll give myself until the end of the coming weekend to decide whether or not to abandon it.

Idea Three (the “clever” idea) is actually coming along rather nicely. But it’s also the one I think the judges will be least likely to “get”, and it also involves a painting technique I haven’t tried before. 

So that’s my conundrum. I’ve got several writing projects to occupy my time between now and the weekend, so that’s where my head’s going to be at for the next several days. I’ll probably hem, haw and peck away at the two remaining ideas in whatever down time I do have between now and then.

But as we head into BreyerFest season, let’s all take a moment to stop and smell some freshly unpacked Stablemates Unicorns:

There’s nothing special or noteworthy about any of them, other than the fact that I think it’s a little weird that the dark blue Warmblood Unicorn is named Topaz. While topazes can come in almost any color, they are most commonly some shade of yellow or orange; dark blue is usually only achieved via heat treatment. 

Inner rock nerd me isn’t a huge fan of stones that need heat treatments, other than Tanzanite. If they wanted a dark and mysterious looking stone, I would have gone with Galena or Hematite.

I suppose I should also mention the Limited Edition BreyerFest Stablemate Kaleidoscope:

Ooh boy, he’s something, ain’t he? Rainbow resist-dappled pearly blue with white points: the only thing missing here is the glitter. The 6500-piece count sounds like it should be enough, though I have no idea what they’re basing that production count on. 

The name Kaleidoscope, incidentally, has been used at least once before, on a Special Run Pinto Trakehner way back when. He’s always been one of my favorites among my Trakehner collection, partly because Pinto Trakehners are actually a thing.