Sunday, April 30, 2023

Griffin Lamps

After planting trees in the morning, I had an uneventful birthday, working on craft projects and restoring my latest acquisition:

I don’t have much documentation about the manufacturer of this lamp, the Griffin Lamp Manufacturing Company, other than this ad I found in the November 1970 issue of Western Horseman:

The company made more than just the Western Prancing Horse lamp; you can occasionally find similar lamps with other toys attached, like stuffed animals and die-cast trucks. In fact, I might have had one on my night stand when I was little; I think it was a vinyl bear? It was basically a big squeaky toy, and not (thank goodness) one of those creepy stuffies with a human face.

(It’s long since gone.)

The Western Prancer ones turn up every once and a great while; the last one I saw previous to the Buckskin was a Smoke with its original lampshade, and it went for more money than I was comfortable paying. (While Smoke is not listed in the ad, its absence is obviously a typo.)

The Buckskin one had been sitting on eBay for at least a month prior; I didn’t notice it at the time because I was trying to behave myself for Lent and not actively buying anything. So when he happened to pop up on top of my searches early last week, I decided to make it my birthday present this year!

He was in much better shape than I expected him to be, other than the missing shade and saddle. I have been trying to upgrade my Buckskin Western Prancing Horse for quite a while too, and other than the yellowing, I think he’s aesthetically better than my current Buckskin. 

But since I consider the lamp its own separate thing, I’ll still be on the lookout.

The numbering of these lamps in the ad is interesting, since it obviously follows the numbering of the original Western Prancer releases, with a one added to the front: Buckskin is #1111, Palomino is #1112, Bay is #1114, and Appaloosa #1115. This is not dissimilar to the numbering system they used for the Showcase Collection, which used trailing zeroes. Or even the Presentation Collection, which had the number 50 prefixed to their original release numbers: for example, the Presentation Collection Man o’ War was numbered #5047. 

All of these oddball releases happened around the same time (the late 1960s and early 1970s) so it makes me wonder if Breyer had originally intended to market these as a part of their own product line, but pulled out at the last minute. (In case it is not obvious, the base is also plastic.) 

I have a feeling that the replacement saddle for the lamp will end up costing me more than what I paid for the lamp itself. Alas, I’m already consigned to paying a princely sum for the lampshade, so I may just bite the bullet and go for it anyway. 

Friday, April 28, 2023


Completely missed out on the Vintage Club Grab Bags: I was in-transit to work. I’m actually a little bit bummed, since I suspect that there might be a few Gambler’s Choice items mixed in there, and that’s all I really have a hankering for. (Another Sailor would be nice. Or an Ali!)

That’s okay, I have a neat package to open up today that will make up for it. (Next post!)

My first reaction upon seeing the Patriotic Spring Decorator Washington was “Oh, at last a more easily obtainable and/or affordable Interference Blue Bay release.” And I happened to grow up in Washington Township and participated in a couple of Bicentennial-themed parades back in the day.

(Yeah: I am OLD!)

Then a few moments later: “C’mon you know better.” 

Most of the online dealers are already sold out, and with my current work schedule, picking one up locally is a dicey proposition. So I’ll have to wait and see what the situation on the web site will be. Quick sellout, or will he linger?

Last year’s Patriotic Decorator Anthem isn’t too hard to come by now, so I think I’ll be okay. The Show Jumping Warmblood mold isn’t super-mega-popular, or even as popular as the Ethereal mold. 

I only have two other Show Jumping Warmbloods: the 2010 WEG Special Run Cedric, and the 2020 Celebration Horse Ballynoe Castle RM. All the others I’d like on this mold I was either not drawn for (Magpie, Inconspicuous, Bolo) or are budget-busters (Here’s to You, Apollo). I might pick up a Sugar Maple eventually, if the time and price are right.

One model I will definitely be going out of my way to get is the rerelease of Carltonlima Emma, now with neck sash:

I know a lot of hobbyists are a little disappointed that Emma is Not A Glossy. We tend to forget, however, that Gloss finishes are a hobby affectation: something that is way more popular within it, and not so much outside of it. 

Since it’s being marketed to the general public, it makes sense to release the original model. The neck sash is a nice little perk, even if it does give off strong “Malibu Stacy” vibes.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll save some to Gloss for another promotion – the Collector’s Club Appreciation Sale, Live Show Prizes…

And speaking of that, I had my first BreyerFest nightmare last night: I was 4 hours late for the live show and missed most of my classes. It never ceases to amaze me how my brain tailors my terrors like that. 

Pardon me while I try to figure out whether or not to sign up for one Collector’s Class entry, or two…

Monday, April 24, 2023

Dealing With The Dealt Hand

For what it’s worth, I am fine: this is just the Universe reminding me I am not that special after all. There is no need to get angry on my behalf. 

The main thing that threw me off guard about it is the fact that I’ve been rejected, denied, ignored and overlooked for a lot of nonhobby things lately (I’m still trying to find a collision shop that will even call me back about my car!) and having the one thing that’s been a safe call for a while now not be took a little wind out of my sails.

I decided to make something of that frustration on Sunday and pulled some weeds, worked on a quilt top, and researched horse butts for a couple of customs languishing on craft table. 

I also bought another rehab project off of eBay, this time a vintage OF thing; if I can fix it up, it might lead to a pretty keen Collector’s Class entry, since that’s possibly my best shot at scoring something sweet at BreyerFest this year. 

I wasn’t going to enter any of those particular classes, but since they’re reopening them for entries and there’s now space in the car, it might be worth a shot, especially since there’s (ulp!) 181 other entrants to compete against in the actual show-show. No pressure there, yikes…

One of my more reliable showhorses, one I am considering taking to BreyerFest Live, is an exquisite example of the 2011 BreyerFest Special Run Jasmine:

They only made 1100 pieces of her, which seems rather small now, but she was one of the higher piece runs. She was outnumbered by the 1200 piece Spun Gold Surprise that year: even though it was just the second year for the Surprise (after 2009’s Quarter Horse Gelding) it was already one of the most popular items on the BreyerFest Special Run menu.

I didn’t participate in the Treasure Hunt in 2011, but I did go out of my way to get “Thunderstorm” because Black Arabians are definitely a thing for me, and I was lucky enough to get drawn for a Mont Tremblant, too.

My Mont Tremblant doesn’t get out as much as my Jasmine; lately I’ve been taking my Zugspitze when I want to bring a Silver Filigree to live show (everybody loves Zugspitze!) She keeps me company in my office with Jasmine and Thunderstorm, and that’s good enough.

The only Weather Girl I’m in serious need of – but it won’t happen, so I try not to think about it too much – is the Liver Chestnut variation of the BreyerFest Natasha from 2019. The Red Bay version didn’t do anything for me, but gosh the Liver Chestnut was a dream.

(I was never much interested in the Sunshine Celebration Exclusive Event Gloss Silver Red Bay Winter Haven – just not a fan of that color.)

Saturday, April 22, 2023

In The News

My spoiler-free Picard review: it was a very satisfying series finale.

It doesn’t need a signal boost, especially now that it’s over, but the auction to benefit the effort to save the Beebe Ranch from development should at least be noted:

Misty and Stormy look so good in Gold Charm Pinto! While I realize this was probably the quickest and easiest way to generate the funds for the Museum of Chincoteague Island’s fundraiser, I am a little bummed that a way couldn’t be found for the less-well-heeled among us to get in on the action via a Special Run of some sort. I have… a lot of Misties, and a few more would not be unwelcome.

Yeah, I know I could just… donate. And I might. But a memento of the effort is always nice.

Reeves also made the announcement that they’d be packaging most of the BreyerFest Special Runs this year in more recyclable packaging, including honeycomb paper. I’ve been using kraft paper as one of my primary packing materials for years, and I have not had any significant problems with it: it’s lightweight, shapeable, easier to store, has multiple other uses (paper-mache!) and it is (of course!) biodegradable. 

I recycle as much bubble wrap and other packaging as I can that enters this house, but a lot of people… do not, as anyone who has either worked in a factory or retail environment can attest.  

(I do my part: 95% of the boxes I use are from work, and I haven’t had to buy craft cardboard for years!)

And many hobbyists seem to forget that most Breyer models in the 1950s and 1960s were packaged quite similarly – or with even less – and were perfectly fine. 

Speaking of the environment, I’ll be planting trees in a park in my hometown on Arbor Day. Arbor Day just coincidentally happens to fall on my birthday this year, so cake may also be a part of the festivities, if any of y’all want to show up to watch me and my coworkers dig holes in the ground. 

And finally, I have some more awkward and ironic news: it appears that (as of this moment) I will not be joining the ranks of volunteers at BreyerFest this year. 

I knew there was a possibility that this would happen, since live showing often (but not always!) eliminates you from contention. And people who volunteer frequently are often given “time off” for no other reason than to give other people a chance to participate.

But it does me a little bereft of things to do at BreyerFest outside of the show, other than selling and socializing. All the workshops are long sold out, and most of the more interesting seminars (to me) are the same day of the show. 

I mean, I do need to sell more stuff, and I have been feeling pretty lonely lately, so more socializing with “my people” doesn’t hurt. But still, it is kind of a downer as I’ve now got to rearrange my plans yet again….

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Another Shiny Object

It’s a good time to be a nerd, but so help me, if anyone spoils the series finale of Picard for me, there will be heck to pay…

Not understanding why Paramount isn’t doing an IMAX screening in the Detroit area: are they completely unaware of the fact that some of the earliest Trek Cons were held here, and that Detroit was literally one of the first major media market to broadcast Star Trek reruns in the country?

(Frakes and Spiner are going to be at Motor City Comic Con this year; I suppose this will marginally make up for the slight.)

We make a lot of jokes about hobbyists being distracted by shiny objects, but my current distraction is not a horse, but a vintage camper sitting in a neighbor’s driveway with a “For Sale” sign in the window. It’s always been a bit of a dream of mine to restore an old house, but in lieu of that, a vintage camper will also work. It’s a tiny, portable house! 

Alas, this one priced very optimistically, so it really is just a distraction, and not a project in my very near future. That’s something that is both literally and figuratively a bit down the road for me anyway, unless a free or super cheap one ends up on my doorstep somehow.

(This is not an invitation for you to point me in the direction of one. If only because there is no room for one in the garage, which is now full of horses and packaging materials, much to my family’s chagrin.)

I feel that I am obligated to give you a shiny equine object, and I think Poncho Rex, the 1999 West Coast Jamboree Horse will do quite nicely:

In spite of the mold’s popularity and longevity, it didn’t officially appear in a Pinto paint job until 1992’s Limited Edition release Chaparral. Reeves quickly made up for lost time: between 1998 and 2000 there were five production run Pintos, with Poncho Rex here being my favorite of that group. 

Not coincidentally, two of those pintos, including the 1998 BreyerFest Volunteer one, also happened to use the same painting mask of Chaparral. This was back when paint masks were still made by hand, which often limited Breyer’s ability to offer non-solid paint jobs: they were expensive and time consuming to make! After all that time and effort, they were not going to let it just sit there and collect dust...

The Volunteer Model also happened to represent the Fighting Stallion’s first appearance (not including Test Colors) in a factory Gloss finish since the Palomino and Charcoal were discontinued in the early 1970s. 

There have been a considerable number of spotted, dotted and freckled Fighters since then, with the most recent being the 70th Anniversary Assortment in Chestnut Sabino, in both Matte and Gloss. 

Sunday, April 16, 2023

More, or Less?

Enjoying a momentary respite here: the taxes are done, the seeds have been started, and (most) of the financial paperwork I wanted to wrap up has been… wrapped up. Nothing I need to get done can get done until tomorrow, other than some stray e-mails that I am procrastinating about.

I was going to write up a more full-bodied explanation of my reasoning surrounding the likelihood of the early Family Arabian Special Runs, but the initial dive into my research materials left my head spinning. So instead, let’s focus on something that is both less – and more – of a mystery:

As I mentioned many, many years ago, I picked up this Western Horse at Model Horse Congress back in 1985 or 1986, which was both significantly before the Just About Horses Special Run Palomino Pinto from 1990, and well after the Regular Run release #56, which was discontinued in 1966. 

The fact that he is essentially unfinished (the black paint is very obviously not factory original, in person) and without his original reins tells me he was a Cull, and the fact that that particular shade of Matte Neon Palomino was typical of models from the early 1980s suggests he “escaped” from the factory not long before I had purchased him. 

Even curiouser: the pinto mask/stencil used to create him was also last used in production over ten years earlier!

(I cannot remember if the saddle was a replacement, or came with. Probably a replacement.)

I didn’t think too much about how truly odd he is until recently, though: in fact, he really is one of the weirdest things in my collection. Had he been a very early Test for the JAH release that was shelved? A frivolity that the one of the painters played around with? Were they training, or giving a painting demonstration of how those metal masks worked, with the Western Horse simply being the most convenient test subject? 

Most of the random Test Color Western Horses I see tend to be of the solid variety, and also usually complete. I am presuming he was either an Employee Take-Home, or a model Marney salvaged from the factory as a body. 

Bodies that also happened to be Test Colors, or other such rarities were not that uncommon back then, by the way. The bodies that always freaked me out were the Special Run Culls: I remember seeing a few of the Chestnut Midnight Sun that absolutely messed with my head. 

It’s a body, but it’s also a Rare Special Run! Argh, my brain!

It was not that big a deal for most other hobbyists (who were just happy for the cheap bodies) but now I wonder just how much something like that would go for today, in its original state. Crazy bucks, more than likely; I even remember some of us speculating about that possibility back then. And laughing about it....

Another question I have been asking myself about him lately is: should I restore him? I am not as weirded out as I used to be about naked, or partially naked models sitting on the shelf, and I am not one of those hobbyists who insists that even obviously unrealistic paint jobs require realistically painted eyes.

If I do, I’ll probably strip the black paint off and replace his reins, because I still remain a minimalist when it comes to Original Finish restorations. But not much beyond that: if he was simple discard, a cull of little import, then those scuffs and marks are also an indicator of his history. Fully restoring him would erase all that. 

Just something to think about. 

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Rousing the Envy Beast

While it is true that I’ve seen – and owned – a lot more rare Breyer models than the average person, and it does take considerable effort to pique my interest in Collectibility classes in general, I occasionally see things that make me go all grabby hands, at least mentally.

Was it a Marney Test, a Decorator, a Raffle Model, or even an Auction piece that roused the Envy Beast in my heart at BVG Live this year?

Nay, it was FAM: specifically, a Gray Appaloosa Family Arabian Mare with the B mold mark!

As I’ve discussed before, I consider the existence of non-Palomino Family Arabians with B mold marks (made roughly from 1979 through 1982/3) good evidence that the rumored Walmart Gray Appaloosa Family Arabians were not a rumor after all. 

It now looks like all – or a good portion! – of the Family Arabians sold via the Bentley Sales Company Discontinued Lists in the late 1970s and early 1980s may have been a part of a failed rerelease or Special Run program, and not just ancient warehouse overstock that Breyer pawned off on the Bentley Sales Company, who (being just a short drive away from the factory in Chicago) got all the good warehouse detritus Breyer had to offer.

That realization has made me look at this January, 1983 Bentley Sales Company Discontinued List flier in a completely different light:

(Click to embiggen)

Special Runs. Those Family Arabians were all Special Runs and we had no idea. *Mind blown.*

In case you’re curious, the prices on this list are more or less the same prices for the equivalent Regular Runs of the time – there wasn’t a “mark-up” for discontinued items, at least through Bentley Sales. Most of this stuff really was warehouse overstock, and Breyer really didn’t have a way of marketing items like this to collectors other than selling it off to mail-order companies.

There was a bit of a mark-up for some Special Run items that were made specifically for companies like Bentley Sales, but it wasn’t huge because most of their customers were younger and poorer: the market wouldn’t have supported it!

Anyway, now that I seem to have all – or most – of the Low-Relief Family Arabian Mares, the B-mold Mark ones are next up on my want list. 

(Actually, I’ll just settle for one. I’m not picky about color or condition.)

Monday, April 10, 2023

Model X

I thought I was having a pretty productive weekend, but then I attempted to do my taxes and hit a brick wall.

Ugh. Another appointment to schedule this week!

While putting my live show documentation away this past weekend, I found a very interesting photograph: someone who bears a striking similarity to the custom I’m rehabbing!

According to the information on the back of this photograph, this particular model (a Morgan Mare named CID Teresa Diamond) was done by Kathleen Maestas. Aside from the gender issues (my model is very much a stallion!) the painting style of my little rehab project isn’t anything like hers, so any similarities here are due to the fact that they were done in the same era (the mid- to late-1980s) using similar materials and models.

Some artists back then also had a habit of replicating customs, either their own or (sometimes) the work of others. Especially if the original did well at a live show, or had received multiple purchase offers back in the day of published sales/stock lists, monthly newsletters and SASEs. 

With some variations for personal preferences, of course: I want it just like Model X, but with two hind socks and a blaze!

And if you’re wondering, yeah, it wasn’t considered cool back then, either. But it did happen. I believe at one point Karen Grimm even attempted to formalize/monetize the process a bit and make standardized customs called “Hacksaw Originals” that were also slightly customizable to customer preferences.

I don’t believe that effort lasted long: this was shortly before drastic customs and (a few years after that) resins became de rigueur. And some of the “standard” bodies she came up with were a little odd. Like a Family Arabian Stallion with a Five-Gaiter’s head and neck kind of weird. 

I mean, points for creativity at least…

Nevertheless, I did do a little bit of a double take when I saw the photo: I’ve found photographs of models I’ve bought before (and sold after!) so it wouldn’t have been a complete shock if it was him. The hobby – and the number of active hobbyists, showers and customizers – was smaller than it is today, and to be honest there aren’t all that many of us even now.

That’s why “unique” models – like Customs and Test Colors – have an uncanny knack of reappearing after so many years. Most of them haven’t strayed that far to begin with! 

And before I go get my (several) appointments out of the way this week, let’s also remember that collectors and hobbyists are not interchangeable terms. There are a vast number of people who collect, but the actual number of people who go to live shows, customize, attend BreyerFest on a regular basis, or inhabit various Internet hangouts where model-horsery takes place is only a small fraction of that.

Friday, April 7, 2023


Apparently I was mistaken – Mignonette was Overall, not the Reserve in Mini! I’m so used to finishing second, I just naturally made the assumption…

As for what this forbodes for BreyerFest Live? Probably nothing. I’ve heard enough crazy stories about what happens there that I’m not going to take anything for granted, other than having a good time with my friends. I’ll take my best horses, document the heck out of everything, try not to miss any classes, and see what happens.

(Though if I do end up with a bunch of seconds and thirds, I’m not going to lie: that’s going to be super-duper aggravating.)

This year’s Spring Gambler’s Choice is something different: it’s not a Classic mold, and it’s something that’s already had a Gambler’s Choice released on it!

I like Shelby – especially the Grulla Appaloosa one – but do I love him enough to get one? I’m not so sure yet. I’m still in a Vintage kind of mood, and as much as I love the catlike dynamism of the Nokota Horse mold, he does take up a lot of space on the shelf.

The Nokota Horse mold is rather oddly shaped: he does not fit easily into a rectangular box like most Breyer models do. That’s why he’s had a larger-than-average number of Special Run releases in non-standard packaging: things like BreyerFest Special Runs, Mail-Order Specials, and Exclusive Event models. 

So his selection here makes some sort of sense. He is a moderately popular model, but his last realistic, non-Decorator release was the Exclusive Event Phantom Face in 2018; a more widely available release was the 2016 Flagship Store Special Toro in 2016. 

As for the April Fool’s joke Nokota, I wouldn’t necessarily rule out another appearance: the Decorator Khemosabis ended up as a Silent Auction lot at BreyerFest later that same year. And they’ve already made at least one other actual Roached Mane version of the mold (for last year’s BreyerFest Benefit Auction), so them testing the waters a little more with another auction piece does not seem implausible.

Like the Polo Pony version of the Smarty Jones mold, though, I’m not going to count on a more widely available version of him showing up anytime soon. 

Monday, April 3, 2023

The After Party

I still haven’t quite finished unpacking from the show; when I got home Saturday night I fell asleep trying to watch a movie, then I went to bed and slept another twelve hours. And then I spent a good chunk of my Sunday working on gardening things. 

(I have way more ornamental peppers than I was expecting, LOL. I expect at least half of them are going to get rehomed at work.)

I did both better and worse than I thought I would. While I didn’t get as many placings in Mini as I had hoped – only 12 out of the forty or so I brought – three of them either Champed or Reserved their Sectionals, and my lovely Dark Dapple Gray G1 Saddlebred ended up being Reserve Overall in Minis:

Good job, Mignonette! 

And while I still haven’t quite figured out the mystery that is Stablemates Foals, I did get three of my placings there, including a third with this cute, wee one as a Quarter Pony Foal:

On the other hand, I had 32 placings in Collectibility, most of them first through third. Several Champs here: Stablemate Sectional Champ (Black Pancho), Vintage Sectional Champ (the Airbrushed Misty), and both Animal Champ and Reserve (Ghost Moose and the French Perfume Poodle). 

Some of the models I expected to do better did not, but I worried about it less because, well, it was a conscious choice I made to focus on it less. I feel like I know what I’m doing there, and I’m confident enough with my models to just have fun with it and show off some of my pretties this time.

It also looks like my decision to avoid Traditional Breed paid off: those classes were huge, and the placings sometimes… odd. Not as odd as placing second to an Old Timer, but some of ones I did get a chance to review were a little confusing. 

(And I repeat myself: judges, man…)

When I woke up Sunday morning-ish I compiled a short list of must-takes for BreyerFest Live: I ended up with about twenty? If I have the ambition and the time, I might even add a couple of customs to the list, but I’m not going to sweat it if I don’t. (There’s a “crazy custom hairdo” Fun Class, and I have this FAM I use to deposit my excess epoxy on. She’s looking… pretty shaggy!)

Anyhoo, I have to go finish my taxes and call some places to get some work done on the car this week. (Relax: it wasn’t my fault and the issue is mostly cosmetic. More of a nuisance than anything else.)