Thursday, December 8, 2022

Try, Try Again

I forgot to mention my favorite purchase in my Black Friday Box of Goodies: the sparkly sequined blanket! That Extra Pearly Gray Jet Run I found earlier this year was the obvious choice to model it: 

I’m not much of a tack person – new horses always trump a new bit of tack – but I do have a hard time resisting sequins. And also glitter: I may be one of the few collectors out there that doesn’t mind the glitterized manes and tails of many recent Unicorn releases. 

I haven’t gone as far as adding glitter to my actual customs, but that’s because I, uh, rarely finish them? But let’s not talk about that…

Since I was in Florida at the time and trying to minimize my time in the mundane world (which was part of the reason for the trip) the announcement about the newest entrants in this year’s Toy Hall of Fame almost completely flew by me.

We obviously didn’t make it in again, this year. 

While I do not have any personal animosity towards the property or its fandom, I am slightly annoyed by Masters of The Universe getting in before us. 

Mostly because, for better or worse, MOTU has often been portrayed in a negative light in popular (non-nerd) as an example a cartoon designed to sell toys. As a lifelong advocate for a toy that (a) has twice as much history, and (b) has thrived in spite of a nearly non-existent media presence, it does sting a bit.

It may have also been complicated by the possible stigma of horses being considered a “girl thing”. Like it or not, “girl things” are often seen as of less worthy of inclusion everywhere in any discussion about historical or cultural relevance.

For what it’s worth, I do think we actually got fairly close this year; we might even be in the same position Masters of the Universe was in a few years ago. I saw Breyer mentioned prominently in several stories about this year’s entries, and I myself became a (very) minor Fandom phenom talking about it back in September. 

Where Fandom goes, public interest generally follows.

As far as what we can do to make it actually happen next time, all I can say is what I’ve been saying for years: do what you can to increase public awareness. If people ask you what your hobby is, don’t deflect: just talk about it like any other person talks about their favorite activities! 

The more familiarity there is of the brand, and the hobby, the more public opinion will turn to our side. Pulling in some of those stragglers might just get us over the finish line next time.

I know it’s a hard thing for a lot of hobbyists to talk about the hobby in public; it’s never been an issue for me because I was born weird and never recovered. But I also think not talking about it creates a self-perpetuating problem: if we don’t talk about it because we think people will think it’s weird, the fact that we don’t talk about it makes people think we think it’s weird.

(Now there’s a sentence to end a post on!)


Anonymous said...

If Breyer wants to make it into the Toy HOF it’s going to take a lot more than hobbyist talking about models. As you pointed out Breyer has very little name recognition. When the Average Joe/Jane hears “Breyer” they think of the ice cream brand. Why? Because Breyers ice cream is found in every store that has a freezer section. People see it all the time even if they don’t buy it. Breyer horses, not so much. The models aren’t seen in popular stores where the general public shops. They’re not even in Walmart anymore & the SM’s found in Dollar Store are cheapies that devalue the brand. No one is gonna vote for a toy they rarely heard of & have never seen in person. And the few that have seen them think of the cheap, non-realistic looking purple & pink “crap” they glanced at in the jumbled mess that is the Dollar Store toy section. When John & Jane Q. Public hear “Breyer Horses” they don’t picture the lovely RR portrait models or the realistic Mustangs of the Freedom series or the TR Breeds models. Why? Because they’ve never seen them since they’re only found at a handful of dealers across the country & most of them are tack shops that only have a small selection. People who don’t own horses, livestock or acreage don’t step foot in tack shops or TSC.
Reeves has got to get their products into more stores. Only then will they build the name recognition that will get them into the Toy HOF.

Anonymous said...

Yeah! It would be great for other people to know about the hobby too🙂

Sanmari said...

I actually remember buying Mini Whinnies and Stablemates from the local... I think it was Walmart that had them in stock in the mid 2000s. I did spot a Breyer unicorn at Walmart again last year, but that was once and I haven't seen them outside novelty toy shops since.

Anonymous said...

True. If Breyer wants name recognition, they need to think about getting their models into national store chains like Walmart and Target.

Anonymous said...

"I was born weird and never recovered" Ha ha, that's a T-shirt right there! LOL!

PixelPerfectStables said...

There are a few toy shops in my area (mom & pop types) that carry Breyer! One is a fairly large operation and gets the spring & fall dealer specials, the other that I discovered more recently is a small shop, been around for decades but they don't carry much Traditional line. Mostly the Classic/Freedom & Stablemate scales as well as CollectA and a bunch of the Breyer line that is aimed at younger kids.
One way that seems to be good for reaching out to the public is swap meets that allow folks outside the hobby. Flyers (both printed and digital) can be sent out to various spots in the surrounding community which may at least catch the eye of casual hobbyists who aren't very involved or parents with horse-loving kids. The first swap meet I held was Nov 2019 and though I wish I'd had more advertising time, I think it was well-placed in the lead up to the holidays when folks are buying gifts. My event was exclusive to anyone who found the event through hobby pages for the first hour and the rest of the time was open to the public. All of the ones I've been to including my own have had around 15-20 vendors but if a larger space can be rented and vendor tables sold, that could be a larger chance of public draw depending on location.

Corky said...

I was wondering about the Hall of Fame election myself last night as I was drifting off to sleep. Since I hadn't heard anything about it, I decided Breyer probably didn't make it in. I'm sorry to see I was right about that. I suppose there's always next year. And Anonymous has a real point -- Breyer definitely needs to get into more stores if they want more name recognition.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and with how crappy Breyer is treating their dealers, holding back merchandise and selling it themselves at Breyerfest when they have been sitting on dealer money since the end of last year and/or the beginning of this year, why would bigger stores want to even deal with them? They're losing dealers all the time, nobody wants to have money tied up to have empty shelves. Large stores don't have time for their brand of nonsense. They are definitely NOT Toy Hall Of Fame material, I sure didn't vote for them.

Anonymous said...

I agree. The way they treat dealers is terrible. They moved to China to cut costs but their prices keep going up while quality has gone down. They came up with all these online clubs which encourages flippers & creates a divide between the average hobbyists & the deep pockets while also undermining dealers even further since people pass on RR’s to pay for club models.
Their business model is incomprehensible to me & I haven’t voted for them to get into the HOF for 3 years now.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Toy Hall of Fame, Masters of the Universe hasn’t really been a thing since the 1980s, right? American Girl dolls got in last year, I think, and they have never been sold in a retail store (catalog only for ages, and then the handful of AG stores). So I’m not sure the issue with Breyers is that they aren’t out there in enough locations. They are a weird mix of collectible and toy. Also the number of kids that are exposed to actual horses or live in area with farms nearby has significantly declined (I’m guessing). For me and my friends, Breyers were a great substitute for actual horses, but if a kid never has that first experience with a real horse, are they going to seek out Breyers?

Anonymous said...

Actually, I’m not entirely correct about AG. You could always get the books at various locations, and after the purchase of the brand by Mattel, a handful of items have been available at Kohl’s and Costco. But I still don’t think lack of retail locations is what’s hurting Breyer. If there was more demand, they’d be out there.

Harecroft Horses said...

I always describe my hobby to people at work as 'It's like doing model trains or soldiers, but horses. Collecting, exhibitions, doing research, painting them as realistic as possible, making to-scale scenery...' and then they get it.
It's like it clicks as something which makes sense to outsiders, when likened to those other better-known modelly hobbies which are seen as grown up and accepted as fairly normal, at least here in the UK. Nerdy, yes, but still respected - a hobby for adults who get really into it, are creative, and know their stuff.
Tell the workmates you win prizes for how good your models are, and they're generally impressed, not laughing!