Thursday, November 3, 2022


I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised to see them using a vintage mold – Chris Hess’s Trakehner – for next year’s BreyerFest Celebration Horse, Bravour 54:

The original Trakehner’s mold number is also 54, which I’m sure is just a happy coincidence.

As a big fan of the Hess Trakehner, I do have some mixed feelings about this mold selection. 

The first being that I still prefer the first version of the mold with his rougher coat and thinner tail. I suppose it’s possible that they might have a few unpainted bodies of the original mold floating around the warehouse, but I am going to assume that any models painted from these will be pricey and difficult to come by. 

The second one is that we know there will be Gloss Prize models of him: I do not have a good track record of obtaining these things. Even though the mold is not as popular as it once was, rare Glosses of almost anything drive collectors (and prices) mad.

(The prices for the Gloss Nikolases are still straight up ridiculous!)

And third – something I’m already starting to see – is that there’s going to be a backlash against using an older mold to begin with. And when I mean an older mold, I mean anything that predates Huckleberry Bey. And he was released in 1999!

Sure, there was a period in the mid to late 1980s and early 1990s – the immediate post-Hess period – where Reeves was still searching for suitable sculptors to replace him, with mixed results. 

But it is a little disheartening to see hobbyists and collectors being so dismissive of the first fifty or so years of Breyer’s output. The Trakehner’s underpinnings are a bit light in comparison to his body, and he’s not quite as clean or refined as newer molds, but I consider him one of Hess’s better efforts from that era. 

I just wish he showed better: I’ve got some darn fine examples, and they straight up get ignored in the show ring nowadays…

Some hobbyists also fail to realize that with most portrait models – and especially the Celebration Horse – the owners are actively involved in the development process. Newer molds may have been considered, and rejected. 

As I have said before, mostly in relation to the more recent Arabian releases, cleaner and more refined sculpts are not necessarily more realistic or accurate. 

When I took my car in for a bit of work at the dealership last week, I found out the service rep was also a horse person, and in fact owned a Paso Fino. I showed her a picture of the new Premier Club Paso Fino mold Cancion, but she much preferred El Pastor: the new Vivaldi de Besilu release looked just like her old mare!

And I have to say that the prototype for Bravour is also a pretty good likeness, too. Thumbs up from this old fart!


Lydia Lepic said...

I think he's a very pretty model, and I loved how thrilled his owner was with the likeness. The Trakehner mold really is an excellent choice, and I can't think of another that would be even closely suitable. There's no pleasing some people, and they tend to be the loudest.

SixLegNag said...

I have to wonder if any of the other suitable molds for this fellow were even on the table- Breyer doesn't seem to love 1) using the same mold at BF without a few years in between- Northern Dancer was just Dani, plus Big Ben and Idocus were used last year- and 2) doesn't like to use models with bases as celebration models, so there goes most of the other heavier warmbloods. And a light one like Strapless just wouldn't do. The Trakehner is easily the nicest of the no-base, no-recent-use warmbloods. (Obviously there's exceptions to both trends, and of course the owner could just love vintage molds!)
Personally I think he's a great choice of mold (and if they're all shaded like the one we've seen, treated well by the paint job). I grew up playing with Hess's horses, and since plenty of celebration models do wind up in the hands of kids who will use them as toys, I'm happy they'll have a sweet-faced, sturdy-legged new friend, and hope hobbyists who can't bear to have something old fashioned in their homes consider donating them to kids who will love them regardless of mold fashion. Mine, of course, will be spared the abuses of my childhood horses, and get to live on a shelf. I don't have any others on the mold- unsure if I want to put him with most of my other Hess molds or let him hang out with the Idocus-es, since they figure to look nice together.

I'm with you on liking the old tail better too, but at least an old mold is getting center stage for once, even if it is in its retooled form.

Anonymous said...

It breaks my heart how these newer collectors just dismiss our dear vintage molds.

I will happily take any vintage mold over these over done new molds.

Sanmari said...

as a younger collector who's horses tend to be vintage finds, i love me a good old model and I really like the relative simplicity of this stallion compared to newer ones.

Anna Miller said...

I'm younger than forty, but I absolutely love the Trakehner. I have every obtainable copy of his OF models and am ecstatic about the celebration horse. He's so underappreciated.

Anonymous said...

I just don't understand the hate for him, he looks gorgeous! Plus he's a solid chunk for the kids that come.

So many people I read said they won't even get a ticket, they dislike him so much. OK, then, don't whine when you can get any of the cool SRs at cost.

And my Hickstead places VERY well in photo shows.

JJ Mo said...

I love the mold and look forward to possibly getting this guy. I also prefer the old unaltered molds (RIP): Halla. POA, SHS, pre-broken Shermie. I even love the ol' lumpy John Henry. I have been around for four decades. I suppose the current molds will be nostalgic for the current generation and will get scoffed at by kids in 20 years as well. I like many of the Hess molds because they don't have razor sharp detail all over. Most horses get winter coats and lose their "detail" all winter, too. Not everything needs to look hyper realistic. It can look strange and unnatural, just like movies and ads and ultra filtered everything these days. Everyone has their cuppa. Let us enjoy our cuppa. Cheers. :)

Corky said...

I've always thought this mold was kinda homely, but then again, many real horses are more ordinary in appearance than others. And when I lived in Japan, I took huntseat riding lessons for 3 years; one of the horses I frequently rode was a 17-hand Hanoverian who looked exactly like the original release of the Breyer Trakehner, and when I realized that, my feelings about this mold softened considerably. It was very heartwarming seeing the reaction of the horse's owners to the model, and that's really the most important thing.

Little Black Car said...

I love this mold and very much preferred the older version, too, but I also have *five* different ones in bay already--54, Calypso, Jamaica, 1987 Small World SR, and Hickstead. Plus he looks a lot like the (someone told me it's actually a buckskin?) sport pony that they just did. So . . . he's pretty, but, eh, and I'm worried that I'm seeing stripey "shading" again. They have so many warmblood molds--surely there is one that hasn't already been bay at least five times that could have been used?

Also: Vivaldi di Besilu is stunning. I'm trying to limit acquisitions but it's seriously much prettier in real life than in pictures.

Suzanne said...

I've probably already stated this here, but the newer models with the flashy poses and full, long manes & tails in arcs and swirls are what I'd wished for when I was 11. Decades later, I find I appreciate all the standing Hess models, and I've fallen in love with the Trakehner. No, I can't spell it, and I'm only giving it two tries!

PixelPerfectStables said...

Personally, I love almost all eras of Breyer molds, except the 80's (Roy is the only one I enjoy out of those) and most of the earlier 90's ones (non-Moody/Sifton/etc. pieces). I only have 2 Trakehners myself, the black pinto from my carpet herd and that gorgeous chestnut web exclusive. Bravour won't be my favorite, but I'll keep one as a souvenir and if I get to (hopefully) attend in person, I'll participate in the tradition of passing my extras off to kids with general admission tickets.

Anonymous said...

He might have been a great celebration model back in 1990. Now he's just boring and repetitive, certainly not what I want with an $85 ticket. I can be excited to meet the real horse but this model is totally disappointing, especially as a celebration model. Would have been better used as a regular run.