Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Das Model

Today’s going to be a bit of a mixed bag. I spent most of the weekend pulling weeds and dodging tornados:

Armada is where my infamous local flea market is, the place where many of the things you see here were found. Though I haven’t been there since the pandemic began, for many reasons.

And for obvious reasons the paper Samplers are still delayed. Just a few more days though, I think.

But back to happier thoughts! Like a thing I bought!

Although superficially similar to the 1987 Just About Horses Special Run, this Trakehner appears to be a Test for the Samsung Woodstock, on the Morganglanz mold. And since I’ve been casually window shopping for both Trakehners and Morganglanzes, I kind of had to have him.

In terms of Trakehners, the only ones that seem out of my reach are the Gloss Hicksteads, and the Solid Chestnuts that randomly popped up in Grab Bags back in 2008. I’m not sure I am even going to count the Trakehner Society Trakehner, because unless it comes with paperwork or an ironclad provenance, I am going to find all of the ones advertised as such extremely suspect.

This Chestnut Trakehner is also slightly suspect, but there was enough there to hang my hat on, so I went with it. I try to limit myself to only a handful of extravagant purchases a year, and this was it. I wanted the Classic Andalusian Stallion Unicorn from the same sellers too, but I decided not to push my luck after winning the Trakehner.

I am not going to see him as a portent of next year’s German-themed BreyerFest; I am a little skeptical that they’d pull the mold out again after it was used last year for Thorn. Morganglanz might be a nice choice for a Diorama Contest prize, but I’ve already committed myself to getting my ENTIRE STORAGE UNIT OF CRAFT PROJECTS (no lie) done instead. 

Besides, all the ideas I already have in my head are either too obscure (making a Breyer look like a Steha!) or kinda terrifying (I don’t have the legs for a Klaus Nomi costume anyway.) Kraftwerk, Fritz Lang, Der Blaue Reiter….

(Am I the only one that thinks a Wedgewood Blue Cleveland Bay with a darker blue mane and tail would be perfect for the Decorator offering, though? Pretty please?)

I am also thinking that if BreyerFest next year (crosses fingers) is in person, that it might be time I host an Ice Cream Social/Meet and Greet at the Kentucky Horse Park at some point during the weekend. The idea is only notional at this point, and dependent on my getting my nonsense together. But if it looks possible, that’s where my extra energies will be directed.

Sunday, July 25, 2021


This is not the post I wanted to write, but it’s probably the one I need to write, right now.

First, let’s start with something more pleasant; that way if you don’t want to deal with the unpleasantness, it will be easier to walk away, and I won’t judge.

Anyway, here’s the Pinto Icelandic I bought last week:

The first store had two, but I didn’t like either one; the second store only had this one, and he was… actually pretty nice! Usually when there’s only one model left out of a shipment, that means there’s something wrong with it, but I couldn’t find anything amiss with him.

While I am fortunate that I have a lot of store to choose Breyers from, I also have to compete with an almost equally large number of collectors in the area. In other words, the numerical advantage is often lost, and whatever I find is as much a matter of luck as anything else. 

My tastes are also pretty eclectic, so even if what I want is not present, I usually find something worthwhile. As anybody who has wandered the halls of the Clarion with me has discovered.

Iceland has been a source of fascination for me for several years – I have a couple translations of the Icelandic Eddas in my to-be-read pile, still unopened – but my attempts to learn a little bit of Icelandic (or even fake an accent of it) have failed, so I I’m going to call him “Spotty Iceberg” just because it’s close enough and it could pass as an actual show name, if I ever get a chance to live show again.

I don’t even have any space for him at the moment, though. The house and the office are a mess, and right now I am also a mess, and this makes as good a segue as any to the unpleasant part. 

When I saw that the comments for my second BreyerFest post entered the double digits, I suspected that things had taken a turn for the worse, and they had. 

I will not dress this up in pretty or clever words, or make this weakness of mine a strength (or whatever such nonsense those self-help books are trying to peddle). 

Yes, I am jealous. I have always been jealous person. I acknowledge that it is my greatest failing. I am very much my Grandmother Julia’s grandchild: she was a woman who had exceedingly good taste and who could grow a rose bush from a popsicle stick, but a woman so consumed by jealousy of her children – and particularly her talented middle child, my mother – that she damaged them all emotionally, and profoundly. 

Nature? Nurture? A little bit of both? Does not matter. I am jealous person, and I hate myself for it. 

For a second year in a row I found myself alone in my basement, and this year I had to watch other people having a good time in the company of other model horse people. While I did get to “participate” in BreyerFest this year, my part was done several months ago, in the solitude of my basement and in the small hours of the day. Nobody in my real-life circle of friends, family and coworkers knew what I was talking about when I was discussing my challenges or frustrations with it. Or particularly cared. 

(My boss did, a little, but I barely see her because of my current schedule.)

I live 11.5 hours away and I knew it was never going to happen anyway; I haven’t been to the factory since 1992, when the sample room was little more than a walk-in closet. Whether it will ever happen again is a mystery to me; all I know is that it will not be soon. 

I suppose this is also a good a time as any to reveal another reason why I have not been so good at controlling my emotions lately. As some of you may know, I revealed on Model Horse Blab on Saturday that Vita has been unwell.

That word, in itself, is a kindness: she’s been losing the ability to walk, and it’s very likely that she has Degenerative Myelopathy. They can only confirm it with an autopsy, but she has all the symptoms and it’s something that’s been documented with Wirehaired Fox Terriers. 

It’s been progressing very rapidly over the course of the past couple of months, and while she’s not in any pain, it makes me so sad to see her struggle. She’s always been so independent, and she gets mad when we try to help her up the stairs or into bed. 

And I cry because there’s nothing I can do to help her. Alone in the basement, at night, with only plastic horses to keep me company.  

Sorry to get so heavy there. Something lighter and happier next time, I promise. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Second Impressions

As I was jotting down some notes at work yesterday, I realized that I’ll probably have enough for at two more posts about this year’s BreyerFest. I’ll get to the most urgent business first.

Paper Samplers: it probably won’t be until the end of the week before I can print up any paper copies of the Sampler; that would involve getting some equipment out of the supply closet. While I made significant progress cleaning up my office on Monday, a few other things came up that I have to deal with first before I can get back to excavation mode.

The Virtual Component: I hope I didn’t give the wrong impression with my last post regarding this year’s BreyerFest. I am absolutely 100 percent in favor of a virtual component of BreyerFest, and would be more than happy to contribute to future versions of it. There are a lot of people who have physical or financial obstacles that make an in-person BreyerFest difficult, and I’ve always believed that the model horse hobby should be as inclusive as possible. 

In fact, I think that the hobby’s accessibility is what makes it superior to the real horse world, in some ways.

My problem is more of a personal one: for me, BreyerFest is as much about physical escape as it is a mental one. I also see the model horse community as my “other family”, and I treat BreyerFest like a family reunion. In short: I miss seeing my model horse family. I don’t know if I could take another year of it being virtual-only. 

Purchases: Last minute purchases included a Gloss Josie and a Gloss Rheverence. Gloss Bay always suckers me in, and in spite of my general dislike of Buckskin Pintos, the Rheverence looks pretty nice, especially in Gloss. 

I was not entirely surprised that the Store Specials didn’t sell out: once I saw that they were offering everything in Gloss, and both on backorder, that basically solved the store problem. There wasn’t much money to be made in speculating, so the speculators moved on to other things (Pollock, apparently.) 

I would also not be surprised if, going forward, Reeves reserves Gloss versions of the Store Special to Virtual Attendees. Among other things; that is a topic for another day. 

All the other stuff that’s coming: my second Celebration Horse, the Best of BreyerFest Stablemates Set, the Matte Josie, the umbrella, the ceramic mug, the “Team Gloss” and “Team Matte” magnets, Seurat, Ansel, the Surprise and Uffington. 

That’s more than I wanted to buy, but pickings were a little slim at the stores I went to on Thursday. Purchases there included not one, but two Buckeye Mules with completely different facial shading, the newer Classic Riding Set with Chestnut Duchess, a pretty nice pinto Fjord, and some customizing supplies, though I’ll be buying/ordering more by the end of the week. 

I also bought a #930 Classic Black Appaloosa on the Might Tango mold. 

Instead doing a Memory Box for this year’s BreyerFest, I’m going to do a Joseph Cornell box, since it fits with the theme and I’ve always wanted to do one that included a model horse in some way. If you’re not familiar with Joseph Cornell, this place is a good start:

One of the stores I visited had a bunch of the Appaloosa – not a big seller for them, obviously – but I kept coming back to it and realized why: he was the perfect candidate for this project!

Next post will actually have pictures, I promise. The camera is another thing I need to find. It has to be here somewhere, I swear...

Sunday, July 18, 2021

First Impressions

I’ll try to get the negativity out of the way first, so bear with me here.

I was a little hesitant to say it because Reeves is trying very hard to push the narrative about how positive the experience is. And for most people, I am sure that it is: there is lots of excellent video content on a variety of topics, the store transactions have been pretty smooth (by and large) and the technical bits are better – though some of the video feeds have been glitchy (the last 1.5 hours of Saturday’s Live Feed is basically unwatchable to me, as were some of the archived horse demos.)

But personally I am feeling pretty disconnected from the BreyerFest experience this year, even moreso than last year. I am kind of sad, lonely, and a little bored. I miss seeing my friends in person and I wish I was literally anywhere but in my basement and on my computer right now. 

And in case you were wondering, I’ve been largely avoiding the Archive Room segments. (Which puts me in the extreme minority here, I know.)

I’ve also avoided looking at the Diorama and Costume Contest entries because I had ideas that I didn’t have time to execute, and I know it would bother me to see other people doing them – or winning with them.

I didn’t get a Grab Bag – this is not a surprise – nor did I get a Pollock. The former is more upsetting than the latter, especially since some folks apparently managed to snag more than one, which is not cool. I guess I’ll have to pretend – like I do with waitlists – that they are figments of other people’s imagination.

The aftermarket prices for Pollock right now are a little ridiculous. I was kind of hoping to get one later on if I was not drawn for it, but it looks like the wait might be a very long one, because there is no way I’m paying $350-500 for a 1600-piece Special Run item. 

I won’t even pay that for a Crane, at one-fourth the run size.

While I bought both the Team Matte and Team Glossy magnet, I am a little bummed they did not have a Team Chalky one.

And now for some positives:

The VIP Swag box is very nice: the cloisonne pins alone were worth it. I don’t collect pins, but I also don’t turn them down if they’re offered to me. (I almost have enough newer Breyerfest ones to justify make another quilt for them. Hmm.) 

The Celebration Horse model is lovely and her masking is absolutely perfect.

Kathleen Moody’s Meet-and-Greet was fun. I had no idea that the Five-Gaiter was her favorite mold, but was not at all surprised by her revelation about Tony. 

I think I will love the new Fjord Astrid once she’s available as a Regular Run. (I much prefer the Matte of her Premiere Club release, so she might still be theoretically attainable.)

I give the box for the teeny Vintage Club Yellow Mount an A+, and I actually love all three of the Spooky Stablemates this year. If I’m lucky enough to get any, I am hoping for a Bogeyman. 

The variety of video content has been great, and unlike last year the experience has not turned me off of watching most of it. I’m glad that most of the content will be up through the end of the month, since I’m now in the middle of a kind of involved quilt piecing project (I have been working on it all weekend) and it’ll be good to have that content to keep me company. 

I found it rather reassuring that most of the customizing content was not completely alien to me, too. It was nice to know that my skills are not as out-of-date as I thought they might be! 

I have also been getting lots of positive feedback from my video seminar, and that’s been very heartening, especially since the past couple of months have been pretty tough sledding for me emotionally for reasons I’d rather not talk about publicly. Kind words are never wasted! 

As for whether or not I do more, I have no idea. Now that I know to operate the software and the equipment, it will certainly be easier the second time around.   

I’ll be back in another day or two with more observations and comments. 

Friday, July 16, 2021

A Reintroduction

I am not completely happy with it – the curses of an artistic temperament, alas – but this year’s Sampler is up! 

It’s been up since early Thursday morning, but I wanted to do my shopping trip yesterday and I didn’t have time to make my formal announcement. My “trip” was unusual, but I’ll talk about it another day when I’m feeling a little less out of sorts.

(How unusual? At one point I was stuck in traffic behind the 2023 Corvette! That is not a typo, and no time travel was involved.)

As a bonus, I’ll offer up color versions of the pictures accompanying the Early Micro Runs article. I was originally going to include them in color in the Sampler, but I decided to keep it all in black and white instead. 

(By the way, printed copies will be available next week: I’m kind of wiped right now and I just want to chill for most of the weekend.)

It really is kind of remarkable that I have pictures of all these things, especially since I physically own none of them. I was present for raffles of the Rose Gray Proud Arabian Mare and the Red Bay Cantering Welsh Pony, but didn’t win either of them, naturally. Even back then I was not so lucky.

Oh, and for those of you joining us for BreyerFest, howdy! The current content has been a little BreyerFest-focused because it’s that time of the year, but it can – and does – change. 

I try to post about ten times a month (every three days or so) and while most of the content is about Breyer History, it sometimes veers off into other topics I am interested in, including: quilting, comic books, art history, old movies, gardening, and the weird stuff that only seems to happen to me (yes, I’m one of THOSE people!)

I’ve been collecting since 1974, been involved in the hobby since 1978, and I’ve done work for Breyer – off and on – since I published my first article in the original Just About Horses in 1985. I still occasionally do work for them, but as you’ll see, I’m also not afraid about calling them out when they sometimes do dumb things. 

I’ve done everything in the hobby from live showing to customizing to pedigree assignment (we called it “breeding” back in the old days!) but my first love has been researching and obsessing over model horse history, particularly Breyer History. 

I will confess that I don’t know everything, I am occasionally wrong, and I am sometimes a bit of a drama queen (if you didn’t already get that from the blog title). 

I also occasionally – and absolutely unintentionally, I swear – talk about models before they’re released. This is super-awkward because there are some things that I’m not supposed to talk about. 

Like the Corvette, time travel is not involved, and I make no claims of psychic abilities: I just know the market and the product well enough to be able to make better predictions than most. Whether I realize I am doing it or not.

And in case you’re going to ask, my social media presence is a light one. I have a pretty busy offline life, and other than this blog, my Internet activity is not a priority. 

I also do not have a Facebook account, and hope to keep it that way. Long story short: aside from the fact it is not a good fit for the way I socialize in general, I also happen to think that Facebook’s business model is doing more harm to the world than good, so I try to keep my interaction with it to a bare minimum.   

Monday, July 12, 2021

Entering the Homestretch

Taking another brief break here – one last piece of the Sampler is being difficult. Everything else about is essentially done, except for a little bit of proofreading and formatting.

Apparently everybody is up in arms about how the sales of optional, non-ticket items are being handled at BreyerFest this time around. Instead of the punctuated restocking that left us clinging to our computer screens all weekend last year, they’re going to dump everything on the web site the moment everything opens up on Friday.

Honestly, I doesn’t bother me that much. In some ways, I think this way might be better: instead of three days of anguish and despair, it’ll only be three hours. Then we can move on with our weekend and enjoy all of the other content on the site without having to worry if something restocked somewhere. 

Other than the swag and the Warehouse Finds, a lot of the optional purchases are backorder-able anyway. I’m not interested in the Crystal (I break things) or the plush (Vita eats them) and while the ceramic mug is pretty sweet, it’s not going to break my heart if I don’t get one. 

The only thing I’m slightly worried about is the Stablemate, but they’re making 6500 pieces, and that’s kind of a lot. And not everybody likes Stablemates or Decorators or Decorator Stablemates, so seriously everybody, just chill. They only made 2000 of Eire last year, and they’re still only selling for 25-30 bucks on eBay. 

If the prices do go a little nuts, wait a few months. They’re not going to turn into something else while you wait for the prices to go down. Heck, the Slyders are almost affordable now, and I actually saw a Crane for less than 300 dollars on eBay the other day, so all things are possible!

(FYI: I managed to resist the temptation for the five minutes or so it was up.)

I will try for a Warehouse Find lot; while my computer is definitely better, I am not expecting a better outcome than last year, which was zilch. I do need a new umbrella for reals (we’re in for another week of nearly constant rain here) so I might put that on my tab if I get a chance, too.

Other than that, I’m just going to try and enjoy my extended weekend. I’ll watch some of the customizing videos because that’s where my head is right now, but not much of the history or collecting stuff because I have opinions, and it would just involve me yelling at the computer screen, and I don’t have time for that. 

So I have a feeling my weekend is going to involve me not actually “being” at BreyerFest much anyway, which might be for the best. I’ve got quilts to finish and a Mesteno custom to fuss over. This is what she looks like right now, by the way:

Eh, not bad, considering how rusty my skills are and what I’ve got to work with. More supplies are already on order, and I plan on stopping at the local military miniatures store on Thursday as part of my Mini Simulated BreyerFest Shopping Trip, to see what other kinds of fun tools they have in stock.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Getting Colorful

I hadn’t planned on saying anything more about the BreyerFest Auction pieces, but if a bag of money fell out of the sky RIGHT NOW, I wouldn’t hesitate to bid on pretty much on any of the ones in that last batch, up to and including the Metallic Red Pinto Georg everyone is dumping on because “there’s not enough paint on it”:

That’s another one of those popular hobby arguments I don’t understand either. I think he’s neat, and if that’s an idea they were pursuing for a future Christmas Day release, all I can say is: Keep going in that direction. I would definitely buy metallic red or green pinto horses. Basecoated or not. 

I am also really digging that new Fireheart mold – but I do prefer my Mustangs a bit on the “chonky” side. I’ve been trying to gently nudge my Mesteno’s Mother custom in that direction, too, but she’s being uncooperative at the moment. (She is looking better than she did a couple of days ago, though.)

Anyway, the Sampler is coming along adequately, and my garden is not an overgrown jungle yet, so everything is… more or less fine here? I am definitely in my “Wish I Was Doing Almost Anything Else At This Point” Phase, though.

I can’t remember if I ever showed you the Spectrum I bought last year when they were briefly available again on the Breyer web site. Originally I wasn’t going to buy her, as the Rainbow Decorators normally don’t do much for me, but the in-hand pictures finally sold her:

I think also the fact that the colors on this Bobby Jo are a little more intense than some of the previous Rainbow Decos, especially her screaming red-orange head and neck. Red-Orange was my absolute most favorite color when I was nine and I didn’t understand why everybody else didn’t love it too. And there’s a little part of me that still thinks that way. 

Bobby Jo is currently one of the betting favorites for the BreyerFest Surprise model, and I don’t disagree that it’s a contender with Desatado, Wyatt and maybe Bluegrass Bandit. But that’s as far as I’ll go in terms of speculation. My head is full of words that need to get committed to (virtual) paper, and I need to hop back to it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

A Momentary Idyll

I am now in full Sampler panic mode, so outside of watering and varmint-trapping*, I now have to bid my garden adieu for the next week and a half. Which is a shame, because my Superbissima Petunias are starting to bloom:

On the plus side, the “use customizing as a creative distraction” plan seems to be working out for me. Here’s the current project, on the Mesteno’s Mother mold:

Looking good (and her head is not nearly that gigantic in person. I am a terrible photographer, etc. etc.) I just need to make a couple more minor cuts and bends, then it’ll be onto the “tin foil and super glue” phase. Then do a little more carving out in spots before I break out the epoxy. 

My goal with this piece is to make modest customizations, mostly to correct some of the more distracting conformation issues, but still keep her recognizable when I’m done. I also want to keep as much of her hair as possible, because that’s really what makes a Mesteno mold a Mesteno mold, for me. (That gigantic forelock had to go, though.)

I haven’t had much opportunity lately to be creative just for the joy of it, which is also why I pulled a Mesteno mold out of my body stash first. If any Breyer equine molds can be described as almost purely artistic pieces, it’s them. 

(The Modernistic Buck and Doe are their own thing entirely.)

I have no illusions of making her a competition-worthy piece. I just want to see what I can do with it. And bonus – anything I try after this will seem easy in comparison!

Anyway, the BreyerFest program is not only out, they’re offering us the opportunity to purchase a hard copy, which is great. I’m not saying that as a person who obsessively saved ephemera: documentation is the very foundation of the hobby, informing almost every aspect of it. Whatever you do, you need tons of reference materials, books, documents, photos, and file folders of stuff. 

They’re also slowly releasing photos of the Test Color auction items, but I’m mostly going to ignore them: that’s way too rich a game for me. 

I purchased my first Test Colors all the way back in 1985; the most expensive one was this little fellow, who cost me the princely sum of… twenty dollars:

That was about the price of a decent, moderately-in-demand discontinued item back then, so it was not outrageous. Though it must be noted that I did pay seven dollars apiece for a Dapple Gray with Black points Proud Arabian Stallion and Mare at the same show (Model Horse Congress), and less than that for the Test Colors I pulled from the Bentley Sales Company sales boxes. 

So I guess he was kind of expensive for me, at the time? 

Anyway, he’s not terribly showable, though I think he did a placement at the BreyerFest Live Show last year because he is certainly eyecatching. I kind of wish Marney – or whoever “finished” him – had gone the extra mile and painted his mane and tail black. Then again, Hess’s Stock Horse Family in general don’t get a lot of second looks these days, unless they happen to be heavily customized. 

Incidentally, I have a pretty messed up Standing Stock Horse Foal in my body box that just might be my follow up to the Mesteno. First things first, though…

*Local groundhogs treat our garden shed like a time-share.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

It’s All Good

First, let’s start with an unequivocable good: this stunning, drop-dead gorgeous Malik I found at Tuesday Morning several months back that I never got around to opening until today:

While I liked the mold itself, I wasn’t overwhelmed by the color of most of the ones I saw. I thought I’d have to wait until they released him in a different color before I’d finally buy one. And then I was shopping for something else entirely and this guy practically threw himself at me. Of course I had to take him home!

Now they’re on the verge of releasing the mold as The Black Stallion, and now I’m all in on this mold, until they release something I can’t obtain or afford. Which isn’t super likely – it is a Classic (oops sorry, Freedom Series) mold – but I might as well prepare myself for the possibility.

As expected, no Meadowlark for me. I have pretty much consigned myself to the very real possibility of not getting picked for any Web Specials until the current Collectible market boom finally busts.  

I have mixed feelings about the Saturday Raffle model Bonheur:

Positives: the color is beautiful, the gloss is thick and deep, and from what I can see of the markings, there appears to be an attention to detail that’s going to be much more apparent in person, and we all should know by now that models can’t really be evaluated by web site photographs. 

Negatives: Not the fact that she’s solid – I truly do not care one way or another – but that it’s going to open up the “Solid versus Patterned” debate again. Hobbyists complain that there are too many pintos and appaloosas, but when they give us more solid colors, hobbyists complain that they’re boring. 

Whatever happened to the saying “A good horse can be any color?”

The other negative – for me, anyway – is the fact that they named it after Rosa Bonheur. When they announced the Diorama Contest theme, I just knew that a significant portion of the entries – if not the majority – were going to be based on the painting The Horse Fair. And at least a few of them will win, because it’s The Horse Fair

Setting aside the historical significance of the painting – because most people are either unaware, or uninterested in it – the image itself has become a safe, conventional and almost stereotypical one today. The antithesis of the kind of artwork that inspires me.  

And possibly one of the reasons why I rarely succeed at these contests. I am the weird kid staring at the reconstruction of The Dragon of Marduk, while everyone else is taking pictures of themselves with the Rivera Murals. (Not that the Rivera Murals are not awesome. They are just... obvious.)

I will not turn down a Bonheur if I win one, though. But it’s been a long time since I’ve won anything.