Monday, January 31, 2022

Another Inconsequential Thing

This is not the model I was talking about in my previous post; this was something I bought last week because the price was excellent and I (slightly) regretted not buying it when I was actually drawn for one, back in the good old days when getting drawn for Web Specials didn’t feel like a near-impossibility:

I had almost completely forgotten I had bought Goji until it arrived on my doorstep Friday night. (Yeah, it was THAT kind of week.)

Now that we have the new Fjord mold Astrid, and the new Stablemates Fjord Lyric, what little popularity the original “Henry” Fjord originally had has begun to dissipate. I totally missed out on the discussion as to why he was deemed less worthy to begin with, and at this point I’m not even sure I want to know why. 

The hobby has a way of making inconsequential things seem so important, when they’re not, really. (Says the person who has written over 1500 blog posts about… plastic horse history.)

In spite of his lack of star power, the mold still has a couple of unattainables: the 2010 WEG rerelease of Henry (only 18 made) and the 2015 BreyerFest Diorama Prize Truffle (28 made). 

The others are not so hard; I think all I am missing at this point is the 2014-2015 Regular Run release GVF Sjokolade? I’m not in any hurry. 

Time has a way of turning the tables when it comes to popularity, though: for years many hobbyists bemoaned the fact that the only Friesian available to most of us was the Jeanne Mellin Herrick mold. Now that we have several (indeed, it almost seems like too many!) Breyer Friesians to choose from, the old JMH Friesian has come back into its own, again. 

I’d eventually like to get more of the Berry Ponies series, though a few of them (the Bouncer Bilberry, and the Croi Bramble) are probably out of my reach. Maybe Strawberry, next? The Hackney Pony is another mold hobbyists don’t have an overly high regard for. 

Yeah, it’s a chonky, unrefined little thing, but I still love it for all sorts of reasons, including the fact that I might have had a very small hand in getting it produced in the first place.

Incidentally, I rather like the BreyerFest release of Astrid with the long mane, named Rapunzel:

The shape of the new mane is a little goofy, and distorts the true contours of her neck the same way Giselle’s mane does. But a cute, roany pony is hard for me to resist, and I’ll definite consider her when the time comes. (So many excellent SRs to choose from this year, so hard for me to decide!)

Friday, January 28, 2022

Cake, and Other Mixed Emotions

As expected, no Cardinal. I did get something really special earlier in the week that I’ll share with you all next time that mitigates the disappointment quite a bit, but until I am ready for that reveal, let’s get back to BreyerFest stuff, shall we?

On one hand, I’m all-in on cake-themed Decorators and have been brainstorming how to execute a “Bumpy Cake” custom for several months now. (Traditional, or Classics mold? Do I go classic Devil’s Food, or go with my favorite Caramel, for the contrast?) I love the Classic Shire mold, and Black Chestnut is one of my favorite real-world horse colors that Reeves doesn’t use nearly enough.

On the other hand, you know that I am more than over this bizarre and almost nonsensical fixation on food for this year’s BreyerFest. I am 100 percent convinced this BreyerFest was entirely conceived over dinner at a German restaurant. 

Part of my bafflement over this stems from the fact that I once attended a German-themed company luncheon that not only inspired a great deal of griping from the staff, it generated a lot of uneaten leftovers. (Some of which I took home, because we could repurpose them into something more... flavorful.)

Even the plush has a food-oriented name. Strudel? Seriously? You couldn’t go with a traditional German boy name like Gunter, Hans, or the blindingly obvious Horst?

(For the record: the Art History professor who introduced me to Franz Marc was named Horst Uhr.)

I wasn’t going to buy the plush anyway, because I wasn’t going to buy anything lederhosen-themed on principle. The little Drafter is on my maybe/probably list: I’d love to have it, but I don’t think it’s a priority. Not yet.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Surprise Speculation

If I didn’t get drawn for the weird Decorator Bighorn Ram Montana, the likelihood of me getting selected for the latest Birds of a Feather release Cardinal is nonexistent:

A pretty Flaxen Red Chestnut on a Shannondell? Even though they upped the piece count to 500, I am not getting my hopes up. 

Speaking of Drafts, it’s probably a good time for my brief discussion/analysis of this year’s BreyerFest Surprise Model, which they’ve dubbed “Rotating Draft Surprise”.

The more cynical among us are thinking this is yet another head fake, the same way last year’s “Seven Arts Surprise” ultimately didn’t involve seven different variations. While it’s true that the Surprises aren’t always what their names lead us to think they are (I did not see the Bollywood Surprise Latigos coming) sometimes, they are. 

For the 2018 Off to the Races “Dark Horse Surprise”, they not only used a racing-appropriate mold – Smarty Jones – the rarity was the Solid Black: an actual “Dark Horse”!

So I think a Draft Horse is a strong possibility this year. It’s about time for one, anyway. 

To get the usual formalities out of the way: the “rotating” part will have nothing to do with that long-held BreyerFest fantasy of multiple molds being used for the Surprise. As I’ve explained before, that would be an absolute nightmare to execute, especially in person, since it would become very obvious what molds are what even in their opaque bags. The only way that’s a viable option would have been virtually, and that opportunity has passed. 

There’s the chance that they’ll interpret that word in a more literal sense, and if that’s the case: say hello to Bobby Jo!

But back to the Drafts: it’s not going to be Othello, and it’s very unlikely to be Georg. Othello not so much because it’s popular, but because it’s been done to death, and coming up with five new colors or takes on previously-used colors is difficult. 

Georg is still too popular. We’ll definitely see him at BreyerFest – either as a Live Show Prize Model (hello, Gloss Theo!) and/or as a Raffle Model. 

Shannondell is a possibility: Georg has stolen a bit of that mold’s thunder, and it’s still new enough that it hasn’t been released in a multitude of colors yet. It also has multiple mane and tail options, which is something we often see with Surprises. But it might be just a tad bit too popular yet.  

Two other choices I think might be possibilities include the always-popular Clydesdale Mare, and Brishen, whose popularity has muted just enough to finally qualify it as a Surprise-level model. Both have been used recently, so that may or may not rule them out.

Goffert and Wixom are slightly better candidates: both are at least moderately popular with solid fanbases, with some color options that haven’t been exploited yet. Goffert’s big with the younger crowd, which is often a factor in Reeves’s mold selection process.

Molds like the Bell-bottomed Shire, Big Butt Belgian, and Roy, with the Friesian Sporthorse and Welsh Cob being draft-adjacent enough to qualify as Surprise candidates, but I’d consider most of them pretty unlikely, though I think the Friesian Sporthorse might turn up as a Surprise in the not-distant future. 

Personally, I’m rooting for either Cleveland Bay or the original Clydesdale Stallion. The Cleveland Bay is modestly popular, comes with multiple mold options, and is popular with at least one member of the staff in New Jersey. 

There hasn’t been a true Vintage Surprise since the very first – the Quarter Horse Gelding in 2009 – and the Clydesdale’s reappearance in Stablemates form has rekindled interest in the mold, who hasn’t come in as many exotic colors as collectors might think.

Of course, the Cleveland Bay was most recently used as the Celebration Horse back in 2019, and the Stablemates Clydesdale is being used as one of the One-Day Stablemates (As a Beer! Hmm?) 

So in short, I have no idea. I’m just happy that it won’t be a complete shot in the dark this time around. For me, there are so many lovely Special Run options this year that knowing who or what the Surprise is, is not going to be a huge factor in my SR selection process. I might even opt out of it entirely, considering how many others are already on my “Must Have” list.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Breyer Breeds

We interrupt our normally scheduled nitpicking of BreyerFest Special Run announcements to bring you this important news: Black Man o’ War!

There’s a whole mess of these “Breyer Breeds” models that popped up on the web site Wednesday morning, and alas, there went one of my New Year’s Resolutions, right out the window. (Still holding fast to the other two, so far.)

I have long been an advocate of releasing older molds in simple, modern-style paint jobs, and it looks like I finally got my wish? In a way, this new series of models harkens back to the Breyer releases in the 1960s through the early 1990s, when the majority of models were meant as generic representations of certain breeds or types, and not necessarily as portrait models. 

It sometimes led to some pretty boring models, but I think that was more a function of the technical limitations of the time, rather than the concept itself. I mean, I love my #206 Bay Old Timer, but that shade of Bay is pretty bland. In contrast, look how fabulous Roemer looks in a modern style Silver Bay:

I was tempted to buy all six, but I managed to restrain myself and only bought four: I’ll save the Sporthorse Black Beauty and the Percheron Roy for future sales promotions. 

It was my hope that a promotion like this would come with somewhat cheaper prices, and when I found them and bought mine, they were 34.99. That price didn’t last long, but my original order hasn’t been canceled or revised… yet. 

I know nothing else about this program, incidentally: quantities, duration, future releases, what have you.  I am just happy to have some of my favorite molds in new and pretty colors.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Blue Horse

A reasonable facsimile of my celebratory dance in honor of Franz:


You may think I am joking, but anyone who has seen me dance knows that this is not that far off from reality. (Note: this is why I don’t dance in public.)

Anyway, at last, a dream I’ve had since college has finally come true, and we now have a Breyer model based on the work of Franz Marc:

The Traditional Spirit is excellent mold choice, by the way. I was thinking they’d go with something more realistic, but props to them following through and selecting one of the more “artistic” molds instead. 

It gives me hope that the cringe level inherent in this theme could be kept to a minimal level, though I am already mentally preparing myself for the inevitable legions of Lederhosen-wearing Diorama Brighties. But if they have an actual Kraftwerk-inspired Special Run planned, I will dance in public at BreyerFest.

I have purchased a number of Traditional Spirit Models over the years, but none of them stuck around long: some were pickups, but most were secondhand purchases bought for resale. I do have a neat idea for a custom, but it’ll be a while before I get around to it, so I won’t be in the market for a body anytime soon.

I almost bought the 2020 Halloween Horse Apparition – aka “the Scooby-Doo Horse” – but the ones I found locally had some condition issues, and by the time I got around to shopping for one online, the prices were higher than I was comfortable paying. 

While he is not high on my Want List, if I do happen to find a decent, out-of-box one at a not-terrible price at BreyerFest, I am definitely snapping it up. (Worth noting: I am also trying to avoid buying anything online between now and then.)

Spirit’s cartoony-ness has never really bothered me other than his eyes. Because of their size in relation to the rest of his head, they can look kind of creepy and bug-like if they are not “detailed out” properly with eyewhites and pupils. (I’m looking at you looking at me, Padre!) Thankfully, that’s not an issue here.

The color turned out really nice, too, and I hope that means we get to see more of it in the future on other releases. Not sure what I’d call the color itself: Blue Point Wedgewood, maybe? 

Saturday, January 15, 2022

So Bright and Blue

I am of two thoughts when it comes to the current maybe-probably Wedgewood Blue BreyerFest Special Run sneak peek:

It might be a play on the Danube River, the second longest river in Europe that also happens to originate in southern Germany. The Danube is the subject of the famous waltz “The Blue Danube” by Austrian composer Johann Strauss. It’s a song you’ve heard just about everywhere, from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Squid Game. Some of the relevant lyrics here:

Danube so blue,
so bright and blue,
through vale and field
you flow so calm,
our Vienna greets you,
your silver stream
through all the lands
you merry the heart
with your beautiful shores.

There’s also a subtle equine connection at play here: the German name for the Danube is Donau, which also happened to be the name of the ill-fated 1910 Kentucky Derby winner! 

The other line of thinking is that this release might be (as I speculated a while ago) related to German Expressionism: either The Blue Rider School (Der Blaue Reiter) or specifically to the artwork of Franz Marc, whose artwork frequently featured… blue horses. 

If they go with the latter idea, I would hope (again, as I speculated back in late July) they would do a modified version of Wedgewood Blue with a darker blue mane and tail, to replicate the horses in Marc’s work. 

I have no idea what mold this would be. I know a lot of people are hoping/fearing that this will be Georg, but I’m personally rooting for something more Warmblood-ish, like the Cleveland Bay. 

Either way, this model will possibly create a conundrum. I was hoping to get away from BreyerFest with relatively little financial damage, but with the Gummi Bears, the Stablemates, that magnificent Fireheart Stein, and now maybe/probably The Blue Horse, I can see this is not going to be the case. 

Speaking of Stein, while we all get annoyed at times with Reeves shoehorning in newer releases into BreyerFest themes where they don’t necessarily belong (rolling my eyes, again, at the Wyatt Marzipan) I am a little surprised that they did not mention Germany’s fascination with the American Old West after World War II. It would have created a more palatable rationale for its inclusion, rather than an obtuse one about its color. 

Off to do a little online seed shopping. Will this be the year I finally get Penstemon to grow from seed?

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Something Sweet

There aren’t a lot of Beyer Equines that have a textured coat, and most of them are Foals, so I assumed that the sneak peek they gave us a couple days ago was a Misty. The mold is currently in production, and they’ve given us a couple of Decorator Misty releases for BreyerFest already: the original Florentine Raffle model in 1990, and the 2014 Silver Filigree Time to Party!

The only other molds that have a textured finish are Wildlife molds, and surely they couldn’t be giving us another crazy Decorator Animal so soon after the release of Montana?

I have never been more delighted to be completely wrong:

At last, a German Food-related Special Run I am on board with! (Seriously, “German Cuisine” is an oxymoron and I am dying on that hill. Marzipan? Dude?)

I did think they were considering a Gummi Bear Special Run, but I thought it’d be something Stablemates-related, and that we’d get stuck with another bovine as our Nonhorse release, like an Aurochs cobbled together from a Charolais Bull and the horns of a Brahma Bull. 

(I have been told that the Rin Tin Tin/German Shepherd mold is nonfunctional, so it was probably never an option. But they brought back the In-Between Mare, so who knows these days...)

These guys are so well done that I’ve shown them to a couple of non-hobbyists, who automatically assumed that they were actually edible. The only thing that would blow my mind more about these guys would be if they did offer an edible option, which I would also buy but feel slightly guilty about eating, but only partly because of the calories.

My only minor disappointment about the gummi Bear Cubs is that they didn’t include Orange or my favorite flavor, Pineapple. It wouldn’t surprise me if they do throw in a complete set of flavors into either the Silent or Live Auctions, though. 

The Bear Cub was last seen at BreyerFest in 2014 on the Kodiak and Denali set, which also included a Silver Charm Micro Run that I was not fortunate enough to get because I just don’t. 

I am a little apprehensive about the “scented” part; I am assuming that the smell is going to be on par with “New Horse Smell” in that it will be pretty potent when you unwrap them, and barely noticeable a week later.  

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Getting Things Out Of The Way

So every time I wake up now there’s going to be another BreyerFest reveal? Okay, sure. I guess that means the VIP tickets are going to go up for sale sooner rather than later.

(I have no idea how that’s going to go down this year. I have enough on my mind this month not to want to think about it.)

First let’s talk about Montanara:

I like him! The original Herrick Friesian mold has many loyal fans, so this Store Special will be undoubtedly very popular. My only hesitation with this fellow is that that color is hit or miss: when it’s rendered right, it’s gorgeous, and when it’s not, it bears a striking resemblance to baby poop. 

And there’s the possibility that we might be offered a Gloss option on him like the previous two years’ worth of Store Specials, and if that’s the case, I might need him in Gloss. 

(For the record, I am not a Gloss Addict, nor do I ever use the word “pop” in a sentence except to refer to music or carbonated beverages because I am a civilized person, yo). 

Incidentally, the mold has rarely been offered in anything other than a Matte Finish – and all of these Non-Matte models have been BreyerFest Special Runs! The 2005 Celebration Horse Fire Magic was Semi-Gloss, the 2014 Store Special Athos was Pearlescent, and in 2019 the Black Appaloosa Harley release was offered in Gloss as a Live Show prize. 

The Mare and Foal set they’re offering this year is on the just-released Premier Club Firefly and Hawkeye molds, in Red Bay Tobiano:

I haven’t seen these molds yet in person – I am not a member of the Premier Club, obviously – so I can’t really make a judgement about them. It does not help that the photograph is not great, but that’s par for the course here. The Foal is definitely cute, and the Mare is very reminiscent of the Thoroughbred Mare from the #3155 Thoroughbred Mare and Suckling Foal set. 

Allegedly these molds are controversial and/or are not going over well because their scale is off? Breyer Traditionals have been all over the map in terms of scale since pretty much the beginning, so variations of scale don’t bother me as much as it apparently does hobbyists who are more active on the showing side of things. 

(There’s also some nonsense about their scale being a larger plot to get us to pay Traditional prices for Classic Scale molds, which is… something. Really, if there is anything going on, I think it’s more an issue with their moldmakers or the moldmaking process than some convoluted conspiracy to get more money out of us.)

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Firsts of the Year

Getting thing off to a rapid start for the New Year: I’ve already had my first BreyerFest nightmare! Basically we were all kind of running around the KHP and the CHIN bumping into each other, because we’ve all forgotten how to behave in public.

In other words, kind of like being inside a grocery store any time in the past six months. 

Some of the Montanas have arrived, and they’re looking – unsurprisingly – better than expected. I’ve decided I am not going to pursue one unless I get picked from the waitlist, which (if you know my history with waitlists) is a roundabout way of saying I won’t be getting one. 

There’s always the chance there will be leftovers for sale on a first-come, first-served basis at some point, but that doesn’t mean anything in today’s market. And that’s fine, especially since I’m trying to keep my model purchases to a minimum for the next several months, to get caught up on paperwork and stuff. (The office is more of a mess than usual, and I am not liking it. At all.)

He does kind of remind me of the famous Mesopotamian “Ram in a Thicket” sculptures excavated by Leonard Woolley in Ur in the early 20th century. (Technically it’s supposed to be a goat, not a ram, but that’s mere details.) 

If Montana’s basecoat had actually been a deep Lapis Lazuli blue instead of black, that might have changed him from a “Yeah, sure, I’d take one” to a “Hecking YES” because I am kind of obsessed with ancient Mesopotamia: I have a copy of Woolley’s book on my shelves, and one of my favorite works of art at the DIA is the Dragon of Marduk from the Ishtar Gate.

I’m sure there will be something I love more between now and then that might actually break my heart. You know, like another Exclusive Event or Micro Run I won’t get picked for. 

The first Special Run for BreyerFest was announced, a Dappled Rose Gray on the Totilas, and he seems a little familiar: 

Oh yeah, the 2016 Volunteer Special Run Carrick Caipirinha:

I can attest that this color is beautiful in person, but I am not quite as enamored of Ländler as everyone else is. Some of it is “Do I need another tipsy Totilas?” and some of it is “This theme simply doesn’t connect with me on a personal level”. 

More the latter than the former, I think: I can buy a better base for my existing Totilases, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I’m sure there’ll be at least one or two models in the lineup that will be must-haves for me, I’m just not predisposed to loving things German-flavored things, aside from Gummi Bears and pretzels. The releases this year will have to work for my love.

We’ve only got about 20-25 more Special Runs to go, right? No worries. 

(And the first Store Special, literally while I was napping! More on Montanara next time.)

Monday, January 3, 2022

Blue Freckles

Did I forget to mention that I opened my Canadian Walmart Stablemates Blind Bags? Nothing out of the ordinary – and no surprises, which is no surprise, really:

At least I’ll be able to do some handpicking, and the Red Dun on the G4 Endurance Arabian looks really good on him! I am, naturally, enamored of the Freckle Blue Roan on the Reiner:

Although Test Colors and other examples of questionable provenance have shown up over the years, this is the closest we’ve come to a wide-scale production release of a Black/Blue version of the original Freckle Red Roan color. 

Early attempts at Blue/Black Roan, like the 1989 JAH Special Run Quarter Horse Yearling, featured much sparser freckling on a stark white base color. Which I liked, personally, but it didn’t seem to be as big a hit with anybody else. 

Maybe because they looked more like Fleabitten Grays than actual Roans? The Red Roans of the same era were painted almost identically, part of Reeves’ experimentation with more naturalistic paint jobs. It definitely took Reeves a while to get the hang of Roans, and then they lost the will and/or the knack for the old-fashioned Freckle Roans somewhere along the way, though this fella is definitely an encouraging sign. 

Another encouraging sign: the Blind Bag Stablemates that briefly appeared at some Tractor Supply stores (definitely not ours!) were – like the Unicorn Surprise sets – simply early releases of 2022 merchandise. I am on the fence about buying a case when they’re available: I know it’s my best shot at getting a chase piece, but I’d really rather not add more models to my sales list, even if they’re only Stablemates.