Friday, December 31, 2021

Year End Wrap Up Stuff

A little late to the party, true, but here’s my Zugspitze:

I still haven’t decided on a name yet; I’m torn between “Taconite” and “Zug Island Dandy”.

As I suspected, I rather like the Red version of the Christmas SR Spice Drop – she looks like a Cinnamon-flavored jellybean! – but not enough to seek one out at the moment. Maybe by BreyerFest, if the sales and my budget aligns.

As far as my purchases for 2022 go, I think I’ll stick to the “Stablemates and Vintage Grails” plan that worked out pretty well for me in 2021. The Palomino and Albino Five-Gaiter are high on that list, as well as another Woodgrain or two (eyeing the Running Mare and Foal in particular), and some of the later Christmas Catalog Parade of Breeds Stablemates sets that I dropped the ball on back when they were originally released. 

And some upgrades of more of my vintage Commons, even though I know that rarely goes well. 

It’s good that other than the Unicorn Swirl Gift Set and the Halloween Desatado release Maelstrom, I don’t see much in the way of new releases to tempt me. The Friesian Sjoerd is interesting, but do I really need another Black Brishen?

(Probably, but humor me.)

Like a lot of folks, I’m hoping to sell more than I buy next year because whoo boy, I bought a lot of stuff this year. Of course (and as I suspected) now that it looks like I might have the chance to do that, the market is just beginning to show signs of cooling off.

It’s not that big a deal, really, just not… unexpected. I’ll still manage to break even because I know the market well enough to know when to hold and when to sell. I am more bummed that my complete lack of spare time completely upended my selling opportunities this year.

On the other hand, I’m doing much better professionally than I’ve done in a long time, which means I didn’t have to depend on that extra cash for my day-to-day expenses. Which is a good thing, I guess? 

I’d like to do a live show or two in 2022, but most of the ones I am aware of that are within a reasonable driving distance are already full, and information about newer shows is difficult for me to find because it’s almost entirely hidden behind Facebook. 

It’s more of a want than a need, though: if it happens, it happens.

As far as BreyerFest goes, I am not sure of my precise plans, other than lots of hugging, crying, and selling. The thought of live showing has crossed my mind, but I might have other duties or responsibilities that might get in the way, so I have to wait a couple of months before I can make more extensive plans.

I might just take a breather on all of the associated contests and competitions and devote my spare, non-hobby time to finishing more old sewing projects and completing the revamp of my garden. 

As far as my other plans for next year, I’ve decided to forego both BreyerWest and The Wyoming Trip, and opted to attend my first World Science Fiction Convention (aka “Worldcon”) instead. Aside from always wanting to attend, next year’s convention is in Chicago, which is the closest it will probably be for me for some time (it’s in China in 2023!)  

It’s close enough to feel manageable, and it’s an experience that’s enough outside my comfort zone to feel daring and exciting. The thought of participating in the Masquerade is also intriguing (a Novice did win Best in Show this year!) but I might just go and be an anonymous nerd. (If anyone wants to come with and split the hotel tab and/or hold my hand, let me know!)

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

End of the Chase

I was not selected for Montana, which amuses me, but not as much as all the people who were selected who are trying to flip them, without much success. 

I wasn’t selected for the Woodgrain Pig Hawthorn either, but I eventually got one four or five waitlist pulls later. (No, really – it was like two weeks after the initial drawing!) And they made only 350 pieces of him.

I’m not going to worry about it, either way. They made 490 of this goofball SR: there’s going to be plenty for everyone who seriously (or unseriously!) needs one. I am not sure if I fall into either the former category, or the latter. If it happens, it happens. 

Besides, I am still mad about Bunyan, and my well of rage is not bottomless. Priorities, people.

On a slightly more cheerful holiday note, I got the Smarty Jones Chase Piece as my CCA Glossy:

I wasn’t able to track a Matte one down locally, and I wasn’t willing to pay the $125 they were charging for them on the web site at the end of last year, so this is a win-win for me. (The Omega Fahim is also pretty spiff, with no box rubs or obvious seams, so it’s all good here.)

Well technically he was the Chase piece: it appears that this year’s CCA models were not Glossed leftovers, but made specifically for the promotion, and probably in more or less equal quantities. (What those quantities were, I don’t know either, sorry.)

Though if they had been really smart, they would have doubled the quantity of the Palomino Hamilton relative to all the other pieces in the promotion. Contrary to what some folks think, Reeves is very aware of the Hamilton mold’s popularity. 

What’s going on in the secondary market is mostly beyond their control, though, and they have no real obligation to do anything about it anyway. While they can mitigate it somewhat with open-ended runs and backordering, even those options are not entirely trouble-free. Every solution comes with its own set of problems. 

In this case it would have been a variation of “They devalued it by producing so many!” argument pushed mostly by people who see their collection as their retirement fund. It doesn’t make much sense to me if they all easily and quickly find homes. Quantity is only one component of this thing we call “Collectibility” and probably not the most important one. 

Since it’s unclear if the promotion actually “sold out”, I am curious if there are any Gloss Leftovers, and if so, where they are going to go. I wouldn’t mind snagging a Chalky variation of the Andalusian – boy, those sure look way nicer than I imagined! – but I’m not sure if I want to take a chance on a Gambler’s Choice of the leftovers if it was offered. 

I already have way too much stuff to sell as it is, and I’d rather not take a chance on a duplicate, even if it would be a relatively easy sale.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Our Beanie Babies Phase

Guess who overslept today? 

It’s pretty sad when you roll over, see that it’s 11:08 a.m., and realize that no matter what mold or colors they were, the Christmas Day Special was probably already sold out. By the time I sauntered over to the computer, I was not wrong. 

Fortunately it was the Croi, after all, and in some… interesting color selections. I suppose after everything is delivered and the people who bought them for the possibility of a Coal decide to unload their “losing tickets” I might pick up a Spice Drop or two. I rather like the Red and Green ones: they look like the delightfully tacky kind of things Liberace would decorate his piano with for Christmas.  

But I am in no hurry.

Regardless of what the rest of the collectibles world is experiencing, it really does feel we’ve entered our Beanie Babies period. HBO Max just released a pretty illuminating documentary about the Beanie Babies fad a couple of days ago, in fact:

(The more observant among us will probably notice the Breyers in the background of the gift shop/toy store around the 15 second mark of the trailer.)

I’m a bit of a documentary geek, so of course I was going to watch it, but boy howdy was that uncomfortable: there were several points where I felt extremely seen. 

I’ve spent most of my life surrounded by antiques and collectibles, and became all too aware of the fickle nature of the market very early on. It’s also why I established pretty low spending limits for myself from the get-go, and I haven’t altered them much in the intervening years. It’s very easy to lose yourself – and a lot of money – in the process, if you don’t.

As it is, this frees me up to finally buy the Jols and Christmas Candy Zebras I’ve been putting off because I’ve been too busy chasing all the other stuff that’s been thrown at us, mostly without success. If it had been the Fell Pony as I feared, I’d be a lot less sanguine about the whole thing, but I suppose if there had to be a year where I accidentally slept in, this would be it.

(For the record, I was up most of the night working on my inventory paperwork. Crossing my fingers that I’ll actually be able to file my taxes early next year.) 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021


My CCA Box is here! Even though I genuinely don’t care who’s hiding within, I’ll still wait until Christmas to open it. What’s a few more days, right? I’m almost more excited about the Omega Fahim I know is in there: there were a couple at the last toy store I visited a few moons back, but they were clearly the ones left behind after handpicking had been done.

Well, I certainly didn’t have THIS on my Breyer Bingo Card:

I had to do a double take and make sure that the e-mail was actually from Reeves, and not some spoof account, because I thought one of you wiseacres was having a little bit of fun with Photoshop filters or something.

You know I am all for the Outrageous Animal Special Runs - just a few days ago I suggested, completely unironically, a Rainbow Calico Unicorn Kitten – but a Black Florentine Bighorn Ram?

Dude, just… no. 

The color looks cute on the Stablemate Chase pieces it previously appeared on, but here it’s just weird. And not a good way: more like a person randomly poking a model with a metallic paint pen weird.

It’s funny because I was just thinking that the only Web Special Micro Run that I’m almost completely uninterested in is the Bighorn Ram Rodney. I entered for him and would have gladly taken one, sure, but seeing the odd one for sale doesn’t take me to the same dark place other Micro Runs do. 

Same thing will go with Montana. I won’t turn him down if I get one, but I will also not be terribly upset if I don’t, either. I’m pretty sure he’ll look better in person than his press photo, but with a release like this is almost doesn’t matter.

The piece run on this thing is also kind of crazy: 490 pieces? What a completely random (and large!) number. Methinks they’re cleaning out the warehouse and possibly repurposing older/unsellable merchandise. 

For a quantity that large I would have gone with a Gambler’s Choice of two different colors instead – Gloss Chalky Alabaster and Charcoal, or Red and Green Filigree – but that wasn’t my call to make. You know, he might have also been kind of interesting in a patinated color, too, like the old Smoky release Durango

Hmm. Any of the older Hess Wildlife molds would look great that way, come to think of it. But then again, we’d have to put up with hobbyists complaining about the eyes not being painted, and that’s not how patinated bronzes work, people…

I have a nice example of the original release of the Bighorn, and both the Gray and Tan horn variations of the Dall Sheep. I’d eventually like to upgrade them to ones with stickers, which aren’t necessarily scarce, but are still a little pricey, nonetheless.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Micro Run Madness

Just another reminder here that while there have been cases where I have sometimes been extremely exasperated by the direction of online speculation about future releases, I have never intentionally revealed anything in advance that I did actually have knowledge about. 

Zugspitze is here, but like my other Christmas gifts – including a set of Carbide Scrapers, and a Mini Hand Jigsaw – he won’t be opened until Christmas Day. Not that I’m expecting any sort of surprise within, I just want to open something on Christmas besides the Breyer e-mail.

Not that I’ll be getting around to using my new customizing tools any time soon; I’m currently making halfway decent progress on several long-term sewing projects as I’m also trying to catch up on a couple years’ worth of TV shows I’m rather dreadfully behind on.

(Yes, I’m multitasking while watching TV. I know I have a problem!)

But let’s get back to the Blue Bull Bunyan. 

This is the first Web Special Micro Run in a while – since Waban, I believe, in early 2019. There have been Micro Runs since, but they’ve either been straight-up Raffle Models, Prizes or variations/surprises within larger Special Runs, or tied to Exclusive Events. 

Web Special Micro Runs have been problematic since their inception nearly ten years ago. Early examples like the Lusitano and the Moose Ghost were sold on a first-come, first-served basis, which favored people who were at the right place at the right time – and had the money on hand to make it happen.

Then they switched to the online raffle distribution method, and that’s when things really went haywire. It happened very quickly: I don’t think I need to reiterate what happened with the Polled Hereford Bull Marshall, but it wasn’t pretty. 

Collectors who didn’t give two patoots about the models in question entered anyway, because the stakes were low (entering is free!) and the short-term financial rewards for flipping were high.

Now that’ve we’ve entered this current period of massive model speculation, I am genuinely fearful of the aftermath of this particular Micro Run drawing. How bad is it going to get?

Some of the prices of previous Micro Runs have been mitigated by the fact that many of them were on molds with a rather narrow fanbases: once the handful of people who were both sufficiently motivated and financially willing to buy them at elevated prices did so, the market flattened out. Prices didn’t necessarily get better, but they didn’t get… worse. And they can still occasionally be found for sale.

That hasn’t been the case with others, like the aforementioned Marshall, and (cringe) the Brighty Cornelius. All the bullet points suggest that Bunyan will fall in the later category: a popular Decorator color, on a rarely used mold that also happens to be a Bull.

Right around the holidays, when a lot of people are looking for a little extra cash to spend. 

I’m not getting my hopes up, because I know better. But I seriously considered – and had, within my means – almost completing my collection of the Walking Horned Hereford Bull this year. 

All I really needed before Bunyan was the Woodgrain, the Chalky variation of the original release, and Colton. While I consider the Vault Sale Colton a lost cause, several examples of both the Woodgrain and the Chalky have turned up in the past year that I either just missed out on or hesitated about. 

I’ve had a pretty good year, model-wise, so I shouldn’t complain too much, and maybe things will be fine and people won’t be too terrible. But still, not the way I hoped to close out the year, hobby-wise.   

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Just Take My Paycheck, Please

This week has been pretty traumatic: dentist appointment on Monday (all good!), family medical emergency on Tuesday (everyone is home, and fine), and the Collectors Club Appreciation Event on Wednesday (got my order in in under two minutes, then went to bed.)

The CCA Event was just as much a surprise to me as everyone else; I thought that they’d be skipping it at this point too, but they decided to go with glossing last year’s 70th Anniversary Models – including the Chase Piece Smarty Jones! – and they all look amazing. 

The only CCA horse I’m slightly meh on is the Andalusian, because he’s not significantly different from previous gray-based Andalusian releases, and if I want to add more Moody Andalusians to the family (I do!), it’s going to be either the Slime Green and Silver BreyerFest Surprise SR or the original Black, with lavender undertones. I wouldn’t turn down a Glorioso, either.

The offer is still up, which isn’t entirely surprising, since (a) a lot of people I know opted out this year due to buyer fatigue, and (b) a lot of merchandise was already sold out or out of stock on the web site. For me, I wanted all of the new individually-carded Stablemates but they have been in short supply all year. So I had to opt for an Obsidian instead, whose sparkling dark floofiness has been distracting me every time I spied one in a store somewhere. 

(Also in my order: Omega Fahim, the Palominos and Pintos Stablemates Set, and both pairs of socks. All things I actually wanted.)

Oh, and I don’t know how that happened, but I also managed to get drawn for Zugspitze. The price was a little… painful, but a lot of that is our own darn fault for turning so many of these Web Specials into cash grabs. Of course the price is going to go up.

I’ve done okay with the Winter Web Specials in general; the only one that still makes me wince slightly in pain at the sight of him is Benasque, and he has that effect on a lot of hobbyists. 

Anyway, so all that’s possibly left for the year are the Christmas Day Special and the Winter Decorator Animal.

As long as the Christmas Day Special isn’t the Fell Pony or something Vintage like the Jeanne Mellin Herrick Friesian or Misty’s Twilight, I might be fine without it? I hope? We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, I guess. (The current odds-on favorite is the Croi Damsha/Connemara, and I might be able to resist that.)

I’m a little more concerned about a potential Winter Decorator Animal, especially since my mind went to some interesting places last thinking of possible candidates. In addition to my perennial suggestions – the Silver Charm Elk, and a Wedgwood Blue Polled Hereford Bull – my exhaustion- and Benadryl-fueled brain also thought a Gold Charm Saint Bernard or a Rainbow Calico UniKitten would be pretty awesome.  

(You know you want it. Or want to see it!)

Edit: Fifteen minutes later... 

Collectors Club Exclusive Micro Run named Bunyan. 

Oh Sweet Jumping Jesus on a Pogo Stick!

I will now go into the shower and have a good long cry.

Monday, December 13, 2021

My Thoughts on the 2022 BreyerFest Tickets

So much for my grand plans this weekend: I literally slept through most of it!

In my defense, I was feeling a bit under the weather – and just overwhelmed, in general – so I probably needed it anyway. And to be honest, I was running on very little sleep from the entire week previous, which was also entirely my own fault. 

But I did have a little time to think about next year’s BreyerFest ticket scheme: basically, we’re back to the status quo, but with a limited online option. 

While I will concede that I am not normally a person who defends the status quo – in fact, far from it! – I think that if the pandemic didn’t happen and the in-person event did in both 2020 and 2021, we’d be having a much different and much more positive discussion about the 2022 online option. 

I had always assumed that there would eventually be an online component to BreyerFest, and the pandemic merely accelerated the timeline. I think what we would have initially gotten, sans pandemic, would have been much like what they’re offering now: the Celebration Horse, Store Special access, and online content like seminars and live feeds. 

Putting aside the technical and logistical challenges they had in even putting together an online BreyerFest to begin with, Reeves International – as I’ve mentioned before – is a much smaller company than many of us realize, and they do quite a lot with relatively little. 

But freed from the limitations of an in-person event, the previous two years have also shown us that there are limitations to the online format that make it impossible to perfectly replicate the in-person experience. There’s no handpicking, no last-minute decisions or reevaluations of your choices, no real-time haggling or horsetrading, no casual interactions that could lead to something deeper and longer lasting. 

For many of us who are fortunate to attend in-person, it was reduced to a bigger-than-average online shopping event. 

This may also be an unpopular opinion, but I also think something much bigger is lost when we attempt to replicate in-person experiences online. Human beings are designed to interact with each other not just on a visual or verbal level, but on a physical level as well. Social interactions can get really weird, and not in a good way, when the physical component is removed.

We’re already seeing that as some of us gently try to integrate ourselves back into the outside world. (Some, less gently than others.)

I’m not saying online events shouldn’t exist – I am all for being as inclusive as possible when it comes to the model horse world – but I fear if we elevate (or even prioritize) the online experience to the level of or even over the physical one, there will be profoundly negative short-term and long-term consequences. 

All that being said, I think the way to go for Reeves is to create an online experience that complements the in-person experience, with each getting something the other does not. 

Online distribution of the Ticket Specials was a major hassle, so aside from being a perk of attendance, it makes sense that they would reserve them to the in-person event. Though I am guessing that a small portion of them will be set aside as prizes for online exclusive activities.

For the online option, in addition to the Photo Show, I’d let them keep the Gloss option on Store Specials as an exclusive, as well as some seminars. While they wouldn’t be able to participate in the Costume Contest, the Customs Contest would still be open to them since only their model has to be “in person” if it is selected as a finalist. 

I’m not sure if the same courtesy could be extended to the Diorama Contest, especially since they have a hard enough time managing that one as it is. I’d imagine they’re going to replace it with something that’s more online-friendly, like a themed photo contest or coloring contest instead, with the prizes possibly including Ticket SRs. 

I could also see them offering an Online Ticket Special Run exclusive. The twist here is that if there were any leftovers from that offering, they could then offer it to all classes of ticket buyers at a later date. And vice versa, in the case of the Ticket SRs. 

If there is enough differentiation of benefits in the tickets, it might even act as an incentive for people to purchase both. I would definitely consider it.

That’s all I have to say on the matter until Reeves has more to say on the matter.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Food For Thought

I just found out I’m getting the whole weekend off, and I don’t know quite what to do with myself. Bake Christmas Cookies, maybe? Take another shot at the Poppyseed Roll? I think I figured out what I did wrong with the last one....

Speaking of food, Reeves really is going all-in on the “German Food” thing with the One-Day Stablemates:

You’d think the Mini Me Emma “Brezel” would be my favorite, but I’m kind of digging the licorice-themed Hanoverian “Lakritz”: Glossy Dark Dappled Gray with multicolored ribbons based on the German flag? Sold!

While you will not find a bigger booster of licorice than me – there’s currently half a bag of licorice taffy in my car, because if I brought it into the house it would be an empty bag of taffy – I’ve always thought of licorice as more of a Scandinavian thing. Including it here is not a stretch in the same way the Spanish Fighting Bull Special Run Le Taureau was for the French-themed BreyerFest, but it’s up there.

I would have gone with something like Strudel, Pumpernickel, Stollen, or even Pfeffernusse. But hey, not my call. 

Anyway, I’ve grown rather fond of the G4 Hanoverian mold and I even have a body in my Stablemate stash that I’ve been trying to find an idea for, for a couple of years now. I’ll be getting some carbide scrapers and a mini handheld jigsaw for Christmas, so next year, maybe….

Another FYI, for those of you out of the loop: due to technical difficulties, the drawing for the Winter Web Special Zugspitze is being held off until Monday. 

Since I’ve already emotionally distanced myself from the rest of the “Silly Sales Season” Specials, this glitch is not affecting me personally one way or another. I did enter and I will check, because Silver Filigree, but I’m not getting my hopes up. It’s just not worth it at this point.

I have to admit, though, that this Special Run’s name has been the source of a great deal of amusement to me. Whenever I hear the word “Zug”, I immediately think of a local Detroit “landmark” Zug Island that (trust me) nobody thinks of as a vacation spot. 

(Though they are looking into eventually rehabilitating it. I hope so!)

And while German is certainly a very expressive language – it’s given us wonderful words like Schadenfreude and Backpfeifengischt – it is not particularly beautiful, no matter what one of my former employers once said. 

(That dude had some… issues. I’ll leave it at that.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

W.H. Annie

Here’s one of the models I’m considering “deaccessioning”, which is just a fancy word for selling: the #710112 W.H. Annie, a 2002 BreyerFest Special Run Wixom in a pretty Dappled Rose Gray. 

She was released just a year after the mold was introduced in 2001, and was one of several Special Runs we were pummeled with at the beginning of the mold’s run, with one of the first being the gorgeous Gloss Dappled “Candy Apple” Bay Raffle Model Siren

She was also the QVC Special Run Equinox and the Connoisseur model Molly McGuire the following year, and in 2003 she was used as the Jamboree model Belle Fleur, the BreyerFest Live Show Prize Largo, and that Pink and Yellow Tie-Dyed BreyerFest Auction Model that I still think about on a regular basis. 

And then she was used as the BreyerFest Volunteer Model in 2005. Whew!

The only other Wixom out of all these that I managed to score was the QVC Equinox, but in spite of her very pretty color, I ended up having to return mine because she had too many goobers in her gloss. 

I’d eventually like to get a Belle Fleur, because the Chalky Fleabitten Gray really suits her, I think. But like a lot of earlier Special Runs on molds that aren’t super-popular anymore, she’s a little hard to come by now, though (thankfully) not too expensive when they do show up. 

But yeah, after having all those scarce or downright rare models thrown at us so quickly, it’s probably not a surprise that my potential enthusiasm got tamped down right quick. 

(See also: Esprit.)

Which is fine, really. Because I’m not really willing to give up too many of my Hess Belgians to make room for more of her. 

Wixom’s early history is also a good reminder that this particular release strategy is not something new.  

Sunday, December 5, 2021

The Five-Gaiter’s Friend

FYI: I have not been intentionally absent.

As you might imagine, it’s still absolute chaos here; it feels like all the progress I made over my vacation has been completely obliterated, and I’m both physically and emotionally exhausted. 

I do have a couple of substantial posts “in the pipeline” but to tide you over until I manage to actually get them done, here’s a picture of another recent acquisition:

This cull of the #975 Best Choice release of the Sham mold was purchased from the same seller as my Funky Five-Gaiter. I logged on to eBay, and he was literally right on top of the search page. 

While I am neither a big collector of Culls nor of Shams, dear readers, I took that as a sign.

As you know, my luck with this year’s Web Specials – like so many of you – has been the absolute pits. (Currently glaring at the twenty – twenty! – Midases currently for sale on eBay and MH$P.) I needed to score something special, and this was the opportunity that was presented to me. So I took it.

Will I be keeping him long term? I have no idea. I have friends who would probably be over the moon to have him, and he just might end up with one of them someday. With a few rare exceptions, Culls don’t stick around here too long.

But today? Today he stays.