Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Wintry Mix

Well, my greatest accomplishment over the past few days was in not dying – literally! 

I was driving in the sleet and freezing rain to work yesterday, and I thought the road conditions were actually improving as I traveled south. I noticed a backup (about ¼ to ½ mile) on the northbound side of the freeway due to a spinout crash into a (newly installed!) guardrail, so I slowed down a bit more as a precaution.

Some knucklehead in an SUV decided they weren’t having this, and made the choice to pass me in the fast lane. They gunned it; I saw them wobble a bit as they crossed lanes a couple car lengths in front of me… and then proceeded to do a full 360 spin in my lane, and then slid down the (very steep) embankment. 

I swear it looked like a special effect straight out of a Final Destination movie. I held my breath, told myself not to brake, braced for impact and… somehow we missed each other. By how much I’ll never know, unless someone else has dashcam video of it. It was not by much!

Since the cops were not even a half mile up the road attending to the other accident, and it didn’t seem wise to stop, I kept driving. And I actually made it to work on time. 

Though, to be honest, I was pretty useless for the first hour or so: my hands were shaking like crazy and I couldn’t concentrate because holy carp, I came within a couple of seconds of nearly dying…

Anyway, that’s the kind of day I had. How was yours? 

The 2023 Volunteer Model is the Croi Damsha/Connemara – a mold I did have on my list of possible candidates – in Red Bay and Sunburnt Black Snowcap Appaloosa: 

They’re holding back the third color until BreyerFest, presumably to leave us something to speculate about. 

Everyone’s first instinct is to think that the third color Chevaliere will come in will be a Decorator, but I’m more inclined to believe it’s going to be a Dilute or some other base color modifier like Dun, Pearl, Roan or Gray. 

While I wouldn’t rule it out (especially a Translucent release – surely there must be a few leftover bodies from the Christmas Spice Drop release hanging around the warehouse somewhere?), it’s been a while since they’ve done a pure Decorator color for the Volunteer Models.

What’s unusual about Chevaliere isn’t the fact that it’s an Appaloosa – they’ve already done the Connemara mold in Dun Blanket Appaloosa, for the 2018 Collector’s Club Special Run Starlet – but that they went with a Snowcap Appaloosa pattern.

Breyer has done a lot of Appaloosas over the years, but most of them have been fairly conventional: Leopards, Semi-Leopards, and Blanket Appaloosas. Few Spots, Varnish Roans, Snowflake and Snowcap Appaloosa releases are much fewer and further between.

Some of it is a reflection of real-world tastes and biases: many horse people have a surprisingly narrow definition of what an Appaloosa should look like, and it usually involves lots of spots. 

And I know from personal experience that some patterns are simply harder to render than others: I will not regale you with all my failed attempts to paint the Snowflake Appaloosa of my dreams. (Will my Few Spot Standing Stock Horse Foal turn out any better? LOL, probably not!)

I’m not sure when the application for volunteering goes up – presumably pretty darn soon? – and I know they need a bunch of people this year, so I encourage anyone who’s curious about it to give it a shot. Heck, I’d do it just for a tee-shirt and a sandwich, but y’all know I’m a lifer…

And don’t worry if you’re not famous, not an expert at anything, or have even been to BreyerFest before. There’s a place for everybody – even (believe it or not) people who aren’t big on crowds! Everybody can contribute something, even if all it is is a cheerful face and a willingness to be helpful.

That’s it for today; I now need to go to bed and stare into the void for a while. I think I deserve it. 

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Ahead of Its Time?

I just realized that if I had decided to go to BreyerWest, I would have experienced another weather-related freak out with the ice storm. 

I now feel like I have somehow outwitted the weather gods. 

Whether this ends up being a good (that I dodged a bullet!) or a bad thing (that there will be meteorological retaliation somehow), only time will tell.

I’ve made much hay out of the absence of the Old Timer in this year’s assortment of BreyerFest Special Runs. I’ve made less of a fuss about the Pacer because now that we have the new Standardbred mold Constantia, my expectations for the Pacer’s return have dimmed a little. 

He’s an old Hess mold with a molded-on halter, after all.

With the exceptions of the rarities – the Exclusive Event Praline, the BreyerFest Live Hot to Trot, and Test Colors (BreyerFest or otherwise) – I have just about all of them. I could stand to upgrade a few, and while I have all of the Sulky Set colors and variations, I don’t have a NIB or MIB one per se

(I have pieces of one. It’s… a story.)

I don’t think I have the QVC reissue of Niatross either, but that’s not a consequence of it being particularly hard to find – it isn’t any moreso than the QVC Man o’ War, who turns up a few times a year – it’s just me being easily distracted and/or having bad timing. 

Of all the Pacer releases, none are more notorious than the Riegsecker Pacers from 1984: a set of three in Palomino, Dapple Gray, and Flaxen Red Chestnut. The Palomino and the Dapple Gray draw most of the collector attention: the Palomino is that notorious eye-watering shade of Neon Yellow that was very common in late-era Chicago releases, and the Dapple Gray was also very typical of the times with random, wild and messy dappling.

But the third member of the trio is much more sedate, and as a result doesn’t get quite the same looks:

Other models were decorated with similar Flaxen Red Chestnut paint jobs at the time, but the Pacer feels a little different. While the other two Pacers are very much of their era, the Flaxen Red Chestnut almost seems like a harbinger of the more realistic and less generic colorways Reeves would produce – after several years of mostly unsuccessful experimentation in the late 1980s and early 1990s. 

None of the three come up for sale very often anymore: they only made a few hundred of each, and hobbyists like me who collect the Pacer tend to keep them. 

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Goodie Bags

Not dead! Just exhausted and probably a little overscheduled. Throwing an ice storm and a health screening into the mix didn’t help things, either. 

(We didn’t lose power, but I could stand to lose 25 pounds.)

Anyway, since I’m short on time here and I’d like to get in a little extra sleep before the weekend (a full weekend off!) I’ll cover a few quick topics as I prepare something a little more substantial in a day or two.

First, I’ll jump right into it and join the chorus of people excited about the contents of this year’s BreyerFest VIP Swag. A Bento Box and an Insulated Lunch Bag? A Picnic Blanket and a Cooling Towel? 


The only problem here, of course, is that I actually want to use all this stuff. Generally, the only swag I use on a regular basis are the tee-shirts, because I can turn them into quilts later. (I also make quilts to display my pins on, but I’m not sure that counts as something I “use”.)

Onto the next one…

I ditched all the reference photos I pulled for the two Diorama Contests. I decided I’d rather focus on my sewing instead, at least until the weather warms up and I can start customizing more. It was a little sad to give up on the Diorama dream so early, but my time is not infinitely expandable, and I really need to kick my multitasking habit.

And finally…

Maybe my confusion stems from the fact that this is the first year I am seriously considering entering the in-person live show, but is there some reason why there are two resin shows for BreyerFest? 

Although much of the antipathy between Breyer collectors and resin aficionados has dissipated, I come from a long line of people who have held grudges forever, so part of me is a little miffed that resin collectors/showers have both an online and in-person option, but Breyer collectors/showers don’t. Breyer Boot Camp is tailored to Novices only, and I am most definitely not a Novice! 

I know they wouldn’t necessarily want to have a photo show with the same number of classes as BreyerFest Live, but maybe a theme or specialty show with a pared down classlist would be more manageable: Mini Only, Custom Only, Specific Breeds Only, Collectibility Only. It could be a different every year, both for the challenge and to cover all the bases over time. And make it open to everybody!

If I don’t enter BreyerFest Live this year for whatever reason (sells out, I have other commitments, or I end up in traction and unable to travel due to my tragic lack of coordination), I’m definitely doing Breakables. I have enough decent chinas to be competitive but also not so many that I’d lose much more than a weekend preparing for it. 

And on that note, guess what I’ll be doing this weekend, probably… 

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Riding It Out

I find myself in the midst of a midwinter funk that no amount of seed starting can fix. All I can do is ride it out until it passes, or at least until the end of the week, with BreyerWest and the news it brings. 

I am most curious to see what the Volunteer Special looks like; this year they are implementing a new program that essentially turns it into a Gambler’s Choice model, in three different colorways, that applies to all volunteers at designated Breyer-sponsored events. 

This was something I think they were going to implement earlier – in 2020, the Celtic Fling Volunteer Special Ben Nevis came in two different shades of Chestnut Pinto – but the Pandemic got in the way. 

I’ll be interesting to see how that affects Volunteer applications. While some of us do for the love of the hobby, there are a significant number of hobbyists who do it for the financial boon. 

(I like the heat and I don’t usually mind the humidity, so the whole “compensation for my pain and suffering” isn’t part of the equation for me.)  

While it could be argued that three small (125 piece) runs are going to be “more desirable” than a single 375-piece run, I’d counter that if a model is awesome enough, the quantity is almost irrelevant. But if it brings in more applications and more enthusiasm, so be it.

I don’t have much more to say today; I really need to finish planting the petunias and alpine strawberries. (The strawberry plants were much easier to grow from seed last year than I imagined they would be, but the berries themselves are teeny, and I need at least 50 plants to be able to make anything out of them!) 

I suppose I should leave you with a picture of something: the lovely, lighter variation of the Prince Charming release of Linzer, the mini Brigadeiros from last year’s Best of BreyerFest Set!

The majority of Linzers were much closer to the Traditional Brigadeiros’s Seal Bay color, but a handful of them were this sooty buckskin. While I have largely curbed my Stablemate variation habit (with the recent exception of the Dollar General pieces) this one I simply couldn’t resist, especially since he seemed to be a bit on the scarce side. 

Thursday, February 16, 2023

To Buy, Or Not To Buy

Shows you just how distracted I’ve been lately: I just now realized I’ve been calling Zafirah Ziyadah! And here I thought I was doing so well, never having called Totilas Tortillas… 

Here’s today’s conundrum:

On one hand, here is a Glossy Dark Dappled Red Bay on the Fireheart; on the other, there is my commitment to minimize my purchases this year until I legitimately have my inventory under control. 

Right now my “buy-o-meter” is telling me no: most of the recent Collector’s Club Special Runs of this sort have not been all that difficult to obtain after the fact, including Lafayette. If I still need him six months from now, I don’t think I’ll have too much difficulty obtaining one.

Plus the Vintage Club and Stablemates Club releases were just announced: that pretty much blows my model horse budget for the month anyway.

Too many hobbyists, I think, make the assumption that models fall into only two categories: expensive, and worthless. As someone who finds value and worth in every Breyer mold – but is also a cheapskate who has a hard time spending more than $300 on any one model – I am not one of those people, obviously.  

Most models fall in the “mushy middle”, with their prices bobbing up and down according to whims, fads and fashions. Remember when Khemosabi was a thing? When the original NIB AQHA Horse was selling for $250? Or the $400 1984 Just About Horses Saddlebred Weanlings? 

That’s why I don’t take too much stock in that current line of hobby thinking that assumes that because the prices of Alborozos have leveled off, that the market itself has cooled. 

No, it’s just moved on to something else, as it always and eventually does. There are still tons of models out there being advertised at crazy prices, and some of them… are actually selling. 

Off to plant my pepper seeds now...

Monday, February 13, 2023

Happy Places

I ended up sleeping through most of my (actual, full-length) weekend. It wasn’t completely wasted, though: I did get most of my tax paperwork from last year sorted out, about a month earlier than I usually do. And I picked up my newly repaired sewing machine!

(A shout out to Lea Robinson here for making the tax paperwork process super-easy, at least as far as the BreyerFest Sales part goes. If you’re in need of a room-sitter, I highly recommend!)

As far as this week’s big project goes, it’s seed starting time. As I’ve mentioned before, most of the things I intend on growing this year are direct sow, but I do have a couple varieties of peppers and a few perennials I that have to be started early, as well as the usual petunias, snapdragons and coleus. I had pretty good luck stratifying seeds last year, so I have to get that set up, too. 

They released another video of the BreyerFest Special Runs with better (non-distorted) shots. The color on the Barb is beautiful, but I’m still not a fan of the mold. I’m liking the Ziyadah more than I thought I would, but I’m hesitant to put her on my official Buy List. I still own way too much stuff, and it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to sell as much as I want from now until July to make room for her anyway.

Since I had a dentist appointment today and it’s thrown me out of whack (as it usually does), here’s another picture of a not-very-recent but still very pleasing acquisition that puts me in a happier place: the Bay Pinto Thoroughbred Mare and Suckling Foal!

One of the earliest of the “official” Christmas Catalog Special Runs when it first appeared in the 1982 Sears Wishbook, this set was so popular it made a return appearance in the 1983 catalog. A variation of the Foal can sometimes be found with stockings on its opposite legs. (Which I already had, courtesy of a large and very randomly assorted box lot several years back.)

I got this set for Christmas when it first came out, but I was dumb and sold it several years later. Although this set is not minty-mint, I did pick them up in a small box lot a couple months ago: once the other bodies in the lot are sold, the Mare and Foal will essentially be free. My favorite kind of deal!

Friday, February 10, 2023

Taking the Win

Things are pretty quiet here, model-horse wise. I did a very, very preliminary show string for the show in April: the Collectibility section was pretty easy (as I hoped it would be!), but the Stablemates division I wanted to focus on this year? That’s going to be some tough sledding.

And it’ll be a couple of weeks before I can go through my stash and pull out some fresh contenders. My success with the Stablemates has been such a mixed bag lately I’m not even sure what I’m looking for at this point…

To go back to a point I made in my previous post about reading too much into things, I think a lot of hobbyists are reading way too much into those BreyerFest Special Run reveal videos posted on Instagram. They’re a little oddly lit and shot, and what we’re seeing in them is not any more representative of what they’ll actually look like in person than the publicity photos.

Seriously people, nothing has happened to the Brighty mold. It’s perfectly fine.

I don’t think we can accurately assess what the models will look like in person until we see some samples in person, and the first opportunity for that will probably be at BreyerWest, at the end of the month. 

I doubt my opinions or choices will change, though. My choices were based mostly on affection toward the mold, rather than the love of the color. Until we get better (less staged) pictures, all we can do is chillax, and maybe get some crafting done in the meantime. (No painting for me though. Stresses me out too much!)

Now for some actual model horse content:

Here’s a model I acquired last BreyerFest that I only recently unboxed: a Gloss Omega Fahim! I traded my Gloss Jake (the Chestnut Overo Wixom) for him; I’m sure the person on the other side of the trade thought they were getting the better of the deal. 

But (a) both of the models were technically the same price in the beginning, which was free and (b) if both ends of the trade are happy with what they get, so who’s to say one side profited more than the other?

There have been plenty of deals I’ve been a part of where I came out the “winner” financially, but my first and foremost goal when wheeling and dealing is to acquire things that I like and want. Selling is (usually) a secondary goal.

And this model is so gorgeous in person: the gloss really brings out the midnight blue highlights that are almost imperceptible in the Matte version. The Jake was nice – and one of the scarcer Glosses of that particular CCA Sale – but I scarcely glanced at him when I owned him. But the Omega Fahim I could stare at it all day. Feels like a win to me!

Monday, February 6, 2023

Whiter Shades

That was a surprisingly productive weekend, especially considering it was only 24 hours long for me. Finally finished that one stupid quilt project that refused to be finished, started another, cleaned out some old financial paperwork, and did a bit of prep work on my taxes!

I know I told myself not to buy stuff this year, but (alas) I relented again. My rationale this time: it was cheap and something I wanted!

He’s the later black-eyed version with not a lot of shading, but he’s snowy white and in excellent condition, other than a couple of small stains and hoof edge rubs. And I got him for about the current cost of an off-the-shelf Traditional.

I’ll still need to get the original pink-eyed “Albino” version one of these days, but I suspect I’ll have to cough up a little more cash for that one. They command slightly higher prices not just because they’re earlier pieces, but because they tend to look a little bit fancier, with the pink eyes and extra shading.

I’ve noticed that regardless of the variation – black-eye or pink-eye – the White Five-Gaiters don’t seem to yellow as much as other White/Alabaster/Albino models from the same era. 

Even back then Breyer was aware of Cellulose Acetate’s tendency to yellow or mellow over time, especially when they used a lot of regrind (reground, recycled plastic). I wonder if they purposefully used fresh CA whenever they manufactured the Albino Five-Gaiter because the yellowing would be just that much more noticeable? 

Or was it the fact that he wasn’t as popular as his Palomino or Sorrel siblings? The Albino Five-Gaiter was discontinued by the end of 1966, while the Palomino stuck around through 1971, and the Sorrel until 1986. Fewer models = fewer models that will turn yellow.

Or with him being one of the fancier paint jobs of the era, maybe the majority of them lived the decorative life in a window?

There is also the strong possibility that it is all just a coincidence and I am reading way too much into it. That happens a lot in historical research, especially when so much of the evidence is lost and we have to deduce things from what was left behind: in our case, the models themselves.

Friday, February 3, 2023

The Choices

Got my BreyerFest ticket order in. Just one VIP ticket: the Fell Pony Scurry and the Lady Phase and Standing Stock Foal set Surrey and Axle as my SRs, and Via Lattea and the Best of BreyerFest set as my Limiteds. 

It’s nothing I think will sell out or be overly popular – I feel like the only ticket buyer who didn’t pick either a Speos or a Wells – so while it might not have been specifically necessary, having all this stuff prepaid is always a load off my mind. I can just go and enjoy the event. And maybe finally focus on finding those Hess Belgians that kept eluding me last year. 

(The list: Gloss Dapple Gray and/or Dapple Black, a Darker-Than-Average Smoke, and an older Chestnut with painted eye whites!)

I am a little underwhelmed by this year’s Stablemate Buggy, another Appaloosa on the Django mold:

While the mold looks good in any color, the fact that the Standing Friesian mold has now come in three different Appaloosa patterns, but still no variation of Black yet… well, it’s getting a little silly. 

I know they do it because spotted horses sell better than solid ones, but considering how pretty (and well-received!) last year’s Glossy Dappled Black Volunteer Model Zeitgeist turned out, you’d think that would have been an obvious choice for a driving-themed Stablemates Friesian release. 

I’ll still get him, because I am not one to pass up a nice bay roan anything, but this is one of those so obvious exceptions to the rule that it makes me want to throw my hands up in the air and just go “Gah!”

(A lot of things have been making me do that lately, to be honest. I wish there was a polite way to tell people they’re being dumb, because that would come in super handy right now.)

That, and the obvious lack of Old Timer in the lineup. While there is a slim possibility of it being the Surprise – it’s probably one of the few true “vintage” molds that is popular enough to work – they tend to go with more recent molds. 

The only vintage mold used for the BreyerFest Surprises was the very first one back in 2009: the Quarter Horse Gelding. Who I think they went with because they were still uncertain that the idea would even work.

(Laughs hysterically.)

If I get another ticket, I think I’ll shoot for Peanutine and the Surprise. The former because it would be easy to sell if I don’t fall in love with it, and the latter because I like (or love) most of the stronger mold possibilities, such as Smart Chic Olena and Forever Saige. And if it’s not something I love, passing the redemption ticket onto someone who does won’t be a hardship either.