Monday, February 28, 2022

The Unexpected

I unexpectedly got the weekend off, and I didn’t know quite what to do with myself. What is this thing they call “free time”, and what do I do with it?

(I decided to finish prepping a long-delayed appliqu̩ quilt project Рsomething to keep me busy during jury duty this week!)

And since I have a few free moments here, I’ll randomly open one of the “Breyer Breeds” models that I purchase a few weeks back and never had the chance to unpack, because such is my life right now. And the winner is…

There he is, my beautiful boy! (I know the likelihood of you believing this was something randomly pulled from my stack of boxes is slim, but I’m sticking to my story.)

They did a wonderful job with his facial details, perhaps to make up for the fact that he is a solid, unshaded black:

He reminds me a great deal of the Classic Best in Show Thoroughbred release in Solid Black, the popular #935 release that ran from 2011 through 2018, and was even briefly released as a “Special Run” for Pottery Barn Kids in 2012. (As far as I know, the Pottery Barn release is identical to the Regular Run, but I haven’t gotten around to owning or inspecting one in person yet.)

So does that make this Man o’ War a “Maxi Me” of the Classic Thoroughbred, or is the Classic a “Middle Me” of the Man o’ War? Details, details…

I still want a vintage Black Man o’ War (I know, still dreaming) and I am kind of hoping that these releases – except for the Quarter Horse Gelding, naturally – get included in the Collector’s Club Appreciation Event this year. They would all look amazing in Gloss, but a Gloss Black Traditional Man o’ War would be delightful

And since we’re talking about Thoroughbreds, am I the only one who wants the current Test Color offering? I have two Sample Cigars – Nosferatu and Aintree, both lucky NPOD purchases – and a true Test Color would make it a nice trio. Plus I love the “Gold Chestnut” variation of Golden Charm in general, and wish this Gold Medalist series had taken off. 

I do remember that nonhobbyist fans of Valegro were both baffled and put off by this Gold Medal release, and the whole concept of Decorator colors in general, which was possibly part of the reason why the series never came to be. 

Friday, February 25, 2022

The Little Things

It went perfectly smooth and hasn’t sold out yet, so ordering my BreyerFest VIP ticket felt a little anticlimactic? I mean, I’m glad it’s over and done with and I reserved everything I was hoping for, but apparently there was no rush to beat? Ah, well….

I also feel like the only person who didn’t go for a Stein and a Surprise: I went with Franz and the Gummi Bears instead, of course. I doubt either one would have sold out regardless, but they were the ones I wanted most, and I’d rather spend my money on things I want, rather than things I think I can sell for a profit. 

The only time I worry about getting my money back is when I’m buying box lots, or I find it second hand and I have to make a decision on buying it right then and there. It blows my mind that so many hobbyists think they’re entitled to a financial return on their hobby investments. 

(At best, I’m thinking I’ll break about even in the end.) 

For my Limited Editions I reserved the Stablemates: both the Wittelsbach and the Best of BreyerFest Set. It had been my plan to focus on Stablemates this year anyway – a plan that was thwarted by the fact that the Christmas Stablemates Sets I missed out on in the 1990s are all kinds of expensive. That’s why I’ve been buying Vintage Traditionals instead, like my recently arrived Gray Appaloosa Fighting Stallion, here posing with his slightly yellowed brother. (He was a lot yellower when I got him, trust me!)

The new guy has a couple of weird factory paint bloopers that probably rule him out as a live show prospect. I suppose I could get them repaired, but I’m kind of a minimalist when it comes to that sort of thing, and I’m not exactly in mint condition myself, so I can relate.

(Though my health screening this week came back pretty decent. Other than needing to lose about 25 pounds, which I already knew.)

If I get another ticket, I’m not too particular about who I get selected for; the only one that doesn’t do anything for me is Marzipan. I’ve even changed my mind about Landler: I’ve seen some of the photos of him coming out of BreyerWest, and gosh he looks way better than I imagined he would! 

As far as purchasing other Limited Editions, I might still try to get the Black Forest Classic Draft, and in spite of my apprehension about spending any significant time online during the event, I’ll probably have to at least get that Soccer Ball Stablemate Drafter. 

I am a little concerned about the location of the “Model Handout Tent” where the Special Runs are being distributed: according to the map in the blog post, it’s the same general area of the parking lot I’ve sometimes used whenever I had Volunteer business to attend to. (Because lugging totes around in the 90 degree heat is never as much fun as you think it might be.)

I suspected a lot of other things are getting moved around and reconfigured this year and I was ready to deal with that, but for some reason the elimination of my favorite parking lot is throwing me for a loop. It’s always the little things, you know? 

Monday, February 21, 2022

The Fuss

I spent a great deal of time this weekend – the parts where I wasn’t working or sleeping, that is – trying to write a post about the recent announcement that Reeves is getting of the BreyerFest Special Run ticket line, and replacing it with a prepaid voucher system. Trying to come up with a measured, thoughtful response that would give some of the angry voices a moment to take a deep breath and step back…

But then I realized that nothing I say or do will really make a difference, because this is being fueled by the social media environment. Social media thrives on engagement, and there’s no better engagement than enragement. 

But I’ll still give it a shot, in my little corner of the Internet universe. 

I’ll also reiterate that yes, I do occasionally do some work for Reeves International, though it’s certainly not enough to live on. But I also happen to be a Hobby Lifer and would be saying most of this stuff regardless. I don’t be getting anything extra out of this effort.


Just because you personally were able to make a system work for you doesn’t mean the system is not broken, or cannot be improved. The previous system of timed tickets was put into place to solve the problem of hobbyists lining up to acquire Special Runs for hours on a first-come, first-served basis. Which resulted in a lot of hurt feelings, heatstroke, sunburn and so on…

BreyerFest has grown to the point that distributing them via the timed ticket system was soon going to become logistically unfeasible. Throw in on top of that several hundred people crammed under a tent elbow-to-elbow, with misters blowing not-just-water around wasn’t a healthy environment pre-pandemic, much less now. 

And those with multiple tickets often ended up spending most – if not all! – of their time at the park just picking up models, and thus missing most of the festivities in the process.

I thought they’d take a hybrid approach – the prepaid VIP tickets would take out a chunk of line standers, and maybe they’d do something similar for Live Show Attendees and Volunteers, who also struggled to schedule their ticket times – but I guess they decided to save a step and go “all in”. 

I have no idea how the Will Call or Pickup Windows will be set up; I’m assuming – or at least hoping – that there will be multiple lines and windows involved. I’d like to see at least one Pickup window dedicated as an “Express” pickup for hobbyists with only a couple of tickets, or perhaps a window for people picking up multiple orders of tickets instead. 

Will this be a better system? I have no idea. I can see the logic behind it: instead of standing in line for multiple hours throughout the length of the event, you can pretty much just pick whenever it’s convenient for you and get it all done in one fell swoop.

Will there be problems? Of course there will: there are problems every year, even with seemingly minor changes of format, venue or scheduling. It kind of sucks a bit that we don’t get to review our potential choices the night before at the hotel, and it changes the entire experience of the Surprise now. 

And paying for everything up front is also a bummer, especially for people on tighter budgets. 

I haven’t given it much thought beyond that: my life is messy, complicated and weird right now, and I don’t need to add “worrying how BreyerFest will work this year” to it. 

I don’t know much about Event Planning in general, but I do know that I trust the people who have been running this event for years over folks on the Internet who have opinions. Especially since the hobby’s track record in running its own large, convention-type events hasn’t been universally awesome, either. 

Friday, February 18, 2022

He’s So Fine

He’s not in my hot hands just yet, but he’s been paid for and shipped, so I think it’s safe to share my latest acquisition:

Isn’t he beautiful? I mean, I love my original #32 Gray Appaloosa with the superfine speckling, and I had vowed to avoid the sinking deathtrap of variations this vintage release has to offer, because I don’t have room enough or money enough to deal with it. 

So while I would often take a look at them for research purposes, or just admire them for aesthetic reasons, I never had the desire to purchase any of them.  

But when I saw him on eBay early Wednesday morning, I just had to have him. For Heaven’s sake, he’s so fine he even has eyepinking, something you only occasionally see on early examples of this mold!

(The last time I found a Fighter with eyepinking I was pretty much obligated to sell him to someone at cost, but that’s a story I’d rather not revisit.)

I am also pleased with his similarity to early promotional photographs of the Appaloosa Fighter, like this one from a ca. 1961 Red Bird Sales flier:

He doesn’t have the black mane and tail that’s even harder to find than the eyepinking, but that’s a very minor complaint. To be honest, I haven’t even seen an Appaloosa Fighter with a genuinely black mane and tail in person. I’m not sure they were ever a legitimate production variation to begin with, and I’m willing to chalk the few that do show up as just random Oddities, Tests, Samples, or examples with darker-than-average gray manes and tails. 

I paid more than I normally would for this guy, which did stress me out a little bit because you know I’m all about getting the deals. But for the moment, I have more money than time to devote to hobby pursuits, so I’ve been trying to persuade myself that I shouldn’t feel guilty for spending what’s really just a little bit extra. 

He is Vintage, awesome, and almost completely different from my existing Appaloosa Fighter. A little bit of guilt is better than the regret of not getting him at all, right? 

Unless I happen to find another distinctive and/or attractive variation in immaculate condition for cheap, I don’t foresee my #32 Appaloosa Fighting Stallion collection getting any bigger, though.  

(Yes, I am aware of the changes announced for this year’s Special Run lines, and I have opinions I will express next time. The complicating factor here is that a lot of you are probably not going to like what I have to say.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Red and Gold

Before they get lost in the shuffle, here’s another thing I was able to do recently: I traded one of my Red Christmas Clydesdales for a Gold one! (Thanks, Christine!)

Together, they kind of remind me of the unconventionally pretty White, Burgundy and Gold Christmas Tree we had a few years back that glowed pink when we turned on the lights. 

And now that I do have two different Christmas Clydes, I’m tempted to complete the set, though I think I’ll wait until BreyerFest, at least. Not so much because I want to handpick, I just think my life will be a little bit less hectic by then. Prices might be a tad bit better since lot of speculators may have moved on to the next hot thing, too.  

They guys also tempt me to make a Traditional Scale Christmas Clydesdale, something that I’m shocked hasn’t happened yet already, given the popularity of the Draft/Draft-adjacent Holiday Horses like 2020’s Yuletide Greetings, on the Shannondell mold. 

I’d probably stick to a more conventional color – or even go with the original, common-as-dirt #80 Bay, with the simple addition of Red and Green mane bobs and a fancy matching outfit made from my gigantic craft supply stash. 

Painting is my least favorite part of the customizing process, and if I can get away with gently modifying an Original Finish model instead, I’m going to go for it. 

(One of my most successful customs, back in that very brief heyday when I did customize for money, was basically a modestly modified Original Finish horse.)

But that’s another project for another day. One that is way, way into the future. Probably. 

Taking out Glossies, all the various Resist Dapple Grays, and quasi-Decorators like the 2012 Web Special Magnus (Extremely Chalky!) and the 1992 Semi-Metallic Grullo Sears XMAS Special Run, the Traditional Clydesdale Stallion mold has come in only three Decorator colors officially. 

The first was, of course, the #980 Woodgrain, recently reissued in Stablemates form. The second was the 1998 Tour Special Major, in a fabulous Gloss Charcoal with metallic gold ribbons and bobs. And the third is the 2002 Volunteer Special in Gold Florentine with metallic silver ribbons and bobs. The Volunteer Special was – briefly – one of the less popular/less expensive Volunteer Specials, but I’m not sure that’s even a category anymore. 

I’m secretly hoping that this year’s BreyerFest Rotating Draft Surprise is the Clydesdale Stallion, but they haven’t gone with a “vintage” mold since the first Surprise in 2009, so I will honestly be a little stunned if they do it again. Delighted, but still stunned.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Darned If You Do

I haven’t joined the Premier Club, but I’ve entered into a partnership with a friend to purchase any releases she doesn’t want or need. It’s a win-win situation for the both of us: she won’t have to go through the bother of finding a buyer, and I’ll occasionally get a random surprise model, which is always fun.

The first of these new purchases was Firefly and Hawkeye!

The Foal is just as cute in person as I thought it would be, and the Mare in much nicer than the photos let on. I think it’s the paint job, mostly: it distracts from her lovely silhouette. 

It highlights the one problem I do have with Premier Club releases, and a lot of higher end Breyer releases in general: unnecessarily complex colors and patterns. 

If you don’t put a “fancy” paint job on a higher-end release, hobbyists complain that they’re not getting their money’s worth on it. But then you have other hobbyists complaining that the fancy colors and patterns are either unrealistic, or not breed accurate.

It’s a darned-if-you-do, darned-if-you-don’t situation.

Taking breed standards out of the equation, some molds look better in solid colors, and others in patterned ones. For example, I think the San Domingo looks better spotted, rather than solid (with the one except being the No-Spot Appaloosa Oxydol, maybe because of his uniqueness?) The opposite is the case with molds like the Traditional Man o’ War, whose admittedly odd proportions can look even odder when enhanced with strategically placed whites. 

As much as I want to love him, the 2016 Vintage Club Man o’ War release Storm just doesn’t do much for me. I would have been so much happier with a solid Charcoal, Gloss or Matte Palomino, or even (sigh!) Gloss Dapple Gray or Dapple Black.

(Though if I were offered a Test Color Pinto or Appaloosa Man o’ War, I would take it in a heartbeat, because one does not turn down a Test Color Man o’ War.)

I think that’s why I’m still a little hesitant about Elbe and Spree, the Pinto BreyerFest releases of Firefly and Hawkeye: while I’m sure they’ll be great in person, all I can imagine is how much more I would like them in more common/boring colors – like the original Thoroughbred Mare and Suckling Foal, in plain old (kinda-sorta) Bay and Chestnut.

While I think that would make an ideal future Vintage Club release, I can also see a lot of collectors dismissing them much as they dismissed the recent Barrington – on another Morgen Kilbourn mold, no less. (I thought he turned out fabulous, but I am pretty much a sucker for all of Morgen’s molds.)

(Just a head’s up: I’ll be on more-or-less mandatory overtime through the month of March, so free time will be even harder to come by for me until April-ish. I’m not thrilled that most of my creative life will be on hold until then, but I’m definitely not disliking the paychecks.)

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Sometimes Less Means More

I am the kind of clumsy you normally only see in sitcoms, so the BreyerFest crystal release Lorelei is not even an option: 

This is also why I don’t buy (many) china releases at retail: breakage is just a matter of when, not if. I don’t need that kind of guilt.

Plus, my shopping list this year is already a bit on the long side, which is partly my rationale for (probably) not getting the online-only Georg release who, oddly, doesn’t have a name beyond “Rhenish Draft”: 

They’re making 5000 of him, and that means he shouldn’t be too difficult to locate after the event, if need be. He reminds me quite a bit of the #777 Belgian release, down to the mismatched hoof colors. It’s not just a random style choice, it’s a thing that happens with flaxen-pointed Chestnuts whose points are so light that leg markings essentially disappear, with only the hoof color to distinguish them. 

I was kind of hoping that they’d offer something exclusively to online-only attendees, but all the online-only items are also available to in-person attendees, so far. 

Another complication for me with these online options is that I normally try to limit my online interactions during the event. The whole point of being there is to get the face-to-face interpersonal interaction I don’t get with my fellow hobbyists on a daily basis: any moment I spend online there feels like I’m taking away from the in-person experience.  

Plus the past two years has soured me a bit on the online experience: the less I am reminded of it, the better. While I acknowledge that it has been a boon for those of us unable to attend in-person, for whatever reason, it’s just not for me personally. 

If that means missing out on some items, so be it. 

Sunday, February 6, 2022

The Rest Of Them

The connection between the 2016 BreyerFest theme and this year’s BreyerFest theme is a little stretched – Oktoberfest is just like Carnivale! – and I’m okay with it only because it gives me a Mini Me of Caipirinha and the chance to own teeny versions of both Brigadeiros and Polomar, who are both so rare they don’t even qualify as Grails. 

(Brigadeiros hurts a little more than Polomar, because I wrote an article in a Sampler about the Morganglanz that advocated for a Pinto release, not long before that. Sigh.)

I was wondering when the Arabian/Arabian-adjacent component of BreyerFest would show up, and here he is!

Technically he’s inspired by the crest of the House of Wittelsbach, but for about 98 percent of us who first took a gander at him, we immediately thought of the 2018 BreyerFest Special Run Newmarket, on the Flash mold. That particular release didn’t go over so well – I bought one on Sunday afternoon during the sale of the leftovers, hoping that I’d eventually fall in love, and I didn’t – but the pattern looks way cuter and more appropriate on this flamboyant little Eberl Arabian.

The Stablemate that surprises me the most, though, is Torlinie, who is another Online-Only item:

I am not a fan of either form of Football – my childhood was spent grimacing through Detroit Lions games – but I have to say that I think Torlinie is my favorite of the Stablemates releases for BreyerFest this year. 

I know a lot of hobbyists feel this mold has been overused and are so over it by now, and I get it, but if there’s one mold that looks like he’s kicking a soccer ball down a field, it’s the G2 Clydesdale. The mold choice is just so spot on. (No pun intended!)

And like the pattern on Wittelsbach, it’s not something that I think any other mold at any other scale could pull off, except maybe the Brishen. 

All in all, this is a nice crop of BreyerFest Stablemates; I’m going to ignore whoever/whatever the Stablemate is going to be for the Finalist prize in the Customs Contest, because I’m a little too wrapped up in getting all my Quilting UFOs done this year to either start – or finish – anything worth entering. One of these years, I swear...

Thursday, February 3, 2022

The Chase Never Ends

Blizzard + A Job Cannot Be Done Remotely = Snow Day! Whoo-hoo!

I slept in, made Chocolate Chip French Toast and finished another quilt top that had been a thorn in my side for years. (No more!) I also took a picture of my new beautiful thing I thought I would never have:

I was tempted to cuddle him like a teddy bear the night that I got him, but realized that was probably a bad idea – not because of what he’s technically worth, but because he really is shaped like a brick paver and not all that huggable, really.  

But alas, the chase never really ends, does it? There’s always another grail, or another oddity or rarity on the horizon. I flaked out about a week ago and forgot to bid on a Polled Hereford Bull Nightlight on eBay, and there’s a Woodgrain PHB Lamp on there right now at a price that bigger than my entire travel budget this year, and I plan on travelling quite a lot

(Which consists of two conventions and three live shows, so far.) 

Of all the rarities, oddities and the like, the Lamp is the one I worry least about. Like most of the Ranchcraft Lamps, they were purchased by nonhobbyists fifty some odd years ago, so the possibility of finding one “in the wild” is quite tangible. It’s certainly a stronger possibility than finding Micro Runs, Test Colors and scarce but affordable Special Runs on Craigslist or a local estate sale, outside of the Chicago area or maybe northern New Jersey.

(There’s a Mosaic on our local Craigslist who periodically gets relisted at $1000. Uh, okay…)

Marshall is currently residing on my very crowded nightstand, though I’ll definitely be rearranging things around here so I can admire his beefy, glittery loveliness on a daily basis.