Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Someone Drops A Shoe

To work off the drama of the past several days, I spent a good chunk of my weekend either customizing or gardening. 

I didn’t get quite as far with the garden as I hoped: it was hotter than the bottom of a skillet outside, and it hasn’t rained in a while so the ground was the consistency of concrete. It’s definitely looking better, though.

I thought I was doing pretty well with a few of the customs I was playing around with, and maybe even close to done. Then I hit them with a little primer to check my progress, and discovered I seriously overestimated my customizing skills. 


But here’s a bit of good news: the vintage Black Stallion custom is finally finished! Just look at this beautiful boy:

I decided to go with a retro, poofy ‘80s-style hairdo. I am also inordinately proud of the base I made for him: most custom bases in the 1980s were rather crude (compared to the horse, anyway) and he deserved something classy to stand on. 

I am heartened by the support I received in the comments over the Performance Horse Affair. I was initially hesitant to come forward with the story, expecting that it might generate some negative feedback. 

But I thought it was important to put it out there, because (a) it was already a topic of discussion (b) it was something I was personally involved in, and (c) it did not have the happy ending people were imagining it did.

I have a feeling the model itself is now radioactive; I rather doubt we’ll be seeing it again anytime soon. If it does turn up again, it’s going to be awkward for everyone. 

Regardless, the best case scenario is that maybe this will lead to the hobby having a more open and thorough discussion about the etiquette and ethics of selling and reselling, instead of it disintegrating into insinuations that we’re price-shaming people by even mentioning money.

At this point there are between 500 to 750 BreyerFest Benefit Auction models floating around out there. One of them will be mine someday, I know it. There were a lot of weird, homely and unshowable things in those early auctions: Rugged Larks and Khemosabis and all manner of Classics, to name a few. 

This one would have been the best, most perfect ending of my quest. It was one of my favorite molds (Performance Horse), in one of my favorite colors (Red Roan), from one of the few BreyerFest Auctions I personally attended (1993), at an insanely good price.

Alas, no. But there’s an interesting postscript to the story. 

Here’s the other misidentified model I bought from the same seller the same day for the same price, and (fortunately) the sale wasn’t canceled several hours after the fact:

A nice consolation prize, I suppose, even though I already have another Classic Black Stallion Test Color in the stable. (I know, who gets to say stuff like that? Someone who’s not particularly particular about the Test Colors she buys!)

He feels a bit like a Marney Test to me, but his origins are unknown. The less flashy parts of Marney’s collection were being dispersed by sellers at BreyerFest in 1993 – including boring, solid-colored Test Color Classics, Hess Stock Horses and the like – so it’s entirely possible he was purchased around the same time as the APH. 

Not the happy ending I was hoping for, but I’ll take it. 

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Eight and a Half Hours

A little bird has told me that a recent purchase I made is the source of a great deal of speculation.

Yes, I was the “lucky” soul who managed to score the 1993 BreyerFest Benefit Auction Red Roan Appaloosa Performance Horse on Thursday.

It took me a few seconds to see what I was seeing: that’s no ordinary Appaloosa Performance Horse. Buy It Now? Hella yeah. 

After a couple of tense seconds that felt like hours, the sale went through.

I started hyperventilating. Then I drank a massive amount of Mountain Dew (alcohol was off the table: I had to go to work in a couple of hours) and immediately texted a friend IN ALL CAPS, punctuated by swear words. As one does when someone scores a major grail. 

I’ve achieved a number of Grails in recent years, and the next “big one” I had been aiming for was an early BreyerFest Auction piece. That’s because most of those earlier models were probably actual Test Colors, and on the Vintage molds I prefer. They were what they were, and were not designed specifically to maximize bidding. 

I have also occasionally seen early Auction Tests turn up on eBay (and elsewhere), often misidentified. There was a not implausible hope that I could get lucky someday.

I was at the 1993 Auction; it was one of the few I actually attended, and probably the last where I could have afforded anything. I was in Art School and money was a little scarce, so I did not bid. (Though my BreyerFest roommate that year did.)

Do I remember this specific model from that year? Nope. I don’t remember many Auction Tests, recent and not so: these models slip from my mind, because I know they are not achievable in any way. 

And ultimately, so was this model. 

My ownership ended eight and a half hours later: the sale was canceled around 9 p.m., because “the item was out of stock.” I contacted the seller for more information, and the only explanation I was given was that it was “listed in error”. 

We’ve all had the experience of scoring something fabulous for a song on eBay, only to have the sale canceled a short time later, often when someone tattles after the fact. We’re not the only hobby where that happens, but we’re a small enough community to usually know who the suspects are.

Their story may be true. It may not. All I know is that when this model inevitably reappears, all I’ll be able to do is look away, and think: I owned you, once, for eight and a half hours. 

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Getting Lucky

Something crazy lucky happened today. 

I think. 

More on this story if and when it officially arrives.

In response to a comment in the previous post: I have been a model horse hobbyist since 1978, a comic book reader since before I entered grade school, and have attended all manner of conventions since the mid-1980s. My favorite Golden Age SF author is A.E. Van Vogt, my favorite kaiju is Gamera, and my family has seen every single Star Trek film ever made in the movie theatre. Even the one where Kirk picks a fight with God!

Today is not the day I write my opus about the model horse hobby being a subcategory of Science-Fiction Fandom. But as someone who’s lived the life, and met several others who have done likewise, I’d like to think that I can write it with a measure of both authority and persuasion when I do. 

Now, back to the Model Horse Nerdery, and the topic of getting lucky: 

I’m not sure how this happened, but I’m taking it! Since I do not consider myself especially lucky, my mind immediately went to several different rationalizations as to why and how I actually got drawn for this opportunity. 

It was only open to VIP ticket holders: okay, there were fewer entries to choose from. That helped.

The fact that it happens on a Wednesday, and a lot of people already have their plans in place and could not accommodate the date: sure, that is definitely a factor.

The cost: yeah, this could be a budget-buster for some folks. Been there, done that: I get it. 

And finally, the cost-benefit analysis: I am not one of these people (obviously!) but if there’s no money to be made at an activity, a lot of hobbyists simply won’t do it. 

I’m a little bit short on extracurricular activities at BreyerFest this year: some of the things I could do I want to save for my future “Redneck Family Roadtrip Redo” either next year or the year after (Derby comes first, and then a still undetermined international location!) And most of the alternate excursions are either not viable schedule-wise or (in at least one instance) ethically questionable.

So the Hillcroft Farm Tour was a perfect fit for me. And I actually get to go!

Whether or not there will be any added “benefits” to the package aside from what’s already been mentioned, I have no clue. This is new territory: this feels more like the farm tours that Reeves used to facilitate at BreyerFest rather than the farm tours that come with Exclusive Event experiences.

But we really have no way of knowing what it will be like, until it happens.

I am going into this experience with that thought in mind. Anything extra that comes out of it is just extra.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Into the Unicorniverse

Had a lovely time at Motor City Comic Con this Saturday, wish you were there. I’d post the only picture I had taken, but I suspect a lot of you may have no idea who Run-DMC is.

(It was a moment and I had to do it. Three Stripe Life!)

It was definitely better attended than last year; there were times on the convention floor when I couldn’t move. I did buy a few things, including this lovely, and very BreyerFest-adjacent piece of art on an authentic piece of papyrus!

I bought a couple similar ones to take to BreyerFest for people who might want a little something extra to go with their Speos; I’m not getting a Speos myself, unless something changes and an extra ticket magically happens. 

I almost bought a lightsaber, too, but I didn’t have enough walking around cash at that point, and that booth was absolutely mobbed anyway. Maybe for Christmas…

I’m also getting the notion that I should cosplay there next year. (More on that another time, if it ever becomes more than a notion.)

Like Worldcon, I was struck by the notion that Reeves would have done well with a booth here (at any comic con, really) selling their Unicorns and other fantasy-affiliated creatures. There’s always been a lot of fandom overlap between general “nerd” culture and “model horse” culture, you might as well make it official!

Speaking of unicorns, when I bought my Blue Roan Brabant the other day, I also bought the “Sparkling Splendor” Deluxe Unicorn Collection, because I guess I needed more Metallic Stablemates Unicorns in my life:

What I love about this set is that they went through the effort of not just naming every Unicorn in the “herd”, but they gave them a little backstory, too: 

Assuming that genetics in Breyer’s Unicorniverse follow the color wheel, I’m guessing that the leader of this particular “herd” is the purple Fireheart “Trifle” and not the silvery Mini Carrick “Esteem”. 

Friday, May 19, 2023

Metallic Bay Adios

That was an unwelcome surprise: I found a giant black spider on the envelope of my BreyerFest tickets as I pulled them out of the mailbox yesterday! I freaked out and immediately dropped all my mail on the ground, because spiders

The last time I had that close of an encounter with a spider, I got bit and thought I’d have to go to the ER. So my reaction was not entirely unjustified.

I am happy to report that both me and the spider survived the incident unscathed, as did the tickets. (No footprints!) The rest of the mail was also fine, including a lot of vintage Wyoming travel brochures I bought off eBay.

In less traumatic news, I was not draw for a Sparrow, but that’s neither a surprise nor a heartbreak. If I want to speak of heartbreak, there’s another Test Color Drawing, for a Metallic Bay Adios:

I wasn’t expecting this, because he’s not particularly flashy or groundbreaking (another Bay Adios, of all things?) but gosh, he is so pretty. I think I need him. 

Adios was a pretty popular guy in the 1970s and 1980s with both the general public and hobbyists: not only was he a portrait model twice over (Adios and Yellow Mount), he was also one of the more anatomically correct models of the era, and tended to show pretty well. Everyone had at least one Adios mold in their showstring!

Consequently, bodies were plentiful at the factory, which resulted a number of Test Colors and Oddities. You experiment with what’s available to you, after all…. 

The most desirable of these Oddball Adioses at the time, of course, were the Black ones. 

Contrary to hobby belief, the Black Adios was never formally considered a Special Run of any sort: they existed in a fuzzy gray area somewhere in between Test Color, Factory Custom and Gift/Prize Model. 

Some of them were painted by Marney as gifts to hobbyists who were lucky enough to get a factory tour: Black was the easiest color of all to paint, and since it covered a multitude of decorative sins, it was also a good way to use up some of the Culls in the regrind bin.

But she also painted up (or rescued?) some for resale. I remember seeing at least a couple in the Test Color boxes she casually placed on some empty show tables at Model Horse Congress in 1985, the ones that made everyone in attendance go into full meltdown mode.   

I was never lucky enough to get a Black Adios, though I came pretty close: our local hobbyist group was planning a trip to visit the Chicago factory in mid to late 1984, but the tour got canceled at the last minute, probably due to the pending sale to Reeves International. 

Considering how much of a legend the Black Adios has become nowadays, I think I have a better shot at getting the Metallic Bay one. 

Technically, I do have a Test Color Adios, or at least I think he is (yeah, it is one of those things) but I’ll cover him another time, when I actually have a little more to spare.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Vacation Plans

Another cleanup day here. First, a couple of customs I’ve been fiddling with:

My problem when it comes to ambitious customs like the Mesteno’s Mother is that I never know when to stop. Will she fall to the same fate as many of my other experiments, like the Quarter Horse Gelding I tried to turn into a Suffolk Punch? I have no idea.

The Classic Quarter Horse Mare – who was that bad, but earnestly done custom I found at a Salvation Army years ago – required less work to get to this stage, but I’ve been doing an insane amount of tiny tweaks on her. Most of them to fix mistakes the original customizer made (like floppy ears, and divots in her butt!)

Second I couldn’t muster up a lot of enthusiasm for the latest Birds of a Feather Web Special Sparrow. I mean, she’s pretty, but there have been a lot of pricey and hard-to-obtain Croi Damsha releases lately, and a Chevaliere doesn’t look likely either. I will not be troubled much if I don’t get her.  

(Though it looks like prices on the Christmas Spice Drops have been dropping, and the Green and Red ones I prefer are the less desirable ones, hmm….)

Most of my free time has been spent getting caught up with my vacation prep – Kentucky and Wyoming will be back-to-back, incidentally, though I’m still working on some of the particulars. 

I decided to go ahead and do a couple of Collector’s Classes at BreyerFest Live. I will probably regret it – I am not a big spender, nor is my luck particularly keen – but since the opportunity is there, and judging at that show is notoriously quirky, it was worth the modest entry fees. 

(Believe it or not, even back in “The Good Old Days”, I never actually won a Collector’s Class. It was all about the Decorators and Glossies back then, and I did not have much of either.)

My BreyerFest sales list is being challenging because, in spite of the fact that I haven’t really bought all that much in the past year, I still have way too much to fit in the car again. I sold so much stuff last year, how is that even possible? 

While I am at it, I might as well tell you my vacation plans for next year, since it’s also horse-related and there’s a slim chance someone out there might be able to help with this one:

I want to go to the Kentucky Derby. 

I’ve never been (no, really!) and it being the 150th Anniversary, well, just makes me want to go even more. Ticket sales are going to be insane, I know, and my odds of winning a chance to buy tickets are about as likely as me winning a Test Color Web Raffles. (Which has been never, so far.)

But I owe it to myself to at least try. 

Sunday, May 14, 2023

My Little Noriker

This week was a rough one, and I was feeling pretty blue by the end of it. So I decided to make a detour to work yesterday and buy myself something blue to cheer myself up, making the assumption that it was going to be the new Patriotic Web Special Washington. 

There were, indeed, several to nice examples to choose from, but something else blue caught my eye instead: the Blue Roan Brabant!

His paint job is very reminiscent of the original #415 Buckshot, right down to the “is he, or isn’t he?” Appaloosa vibe. So much so that I thought Reeves missed an excellent opportunity to label him a Noriker instead. 

The color for Buckshot was never clearly defined: it was sort of a combination/mashup of Blue Roan, Appaloosa and Grulla, and there was so much variation in the model’s modest four-year run that all of those labels fit to one degree or another, often simultaneously. I am not quite sure they even knew back then anyway: his color was (rather unhelpfully!) labeled Grulla (Blue Roan) in the 1985 catalog. 

The color wasn’t unique to Buckshot: it did appear on a Special Run of the original Hess Belgian in 1986. That release originally was going to be a reinterpretation of the Belgian’s original Smoke color – but with a black mane and tail – but due to customer feedback and some miscommunication, he ended up getting painted like Buckshot instead. 

Thus creating, unintentionally, Breyer’s first “Noriker” release, even if he wasn’t officially labeled or sold that way.

The first true Breyer Noriker was 2001’s Fine Porcelain Model Moritz, an untacked adaptation of Kathleen Moody’s Porcelain Household Cavalry Drum Horse from 1999. The untacked version of the mold was finally translated into plastic for the release of the 2007 Holiday Horse Winter Song. 

Although the mold now known as Othello was later released in Appaloosa as the Redemption Model for the 2010 Treasure Hunt, it wouldn’t be until 2020 that we’d get an Appaloosa Noriker that was identified as such: the BreyerFest Special Run Oak, on the Georg mold. 

Alas, my dear little Brabant has a factory scrape on his chest that probably limits his potential show career; I have plenty enough models in the stable more urgently in need of repair.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023


I spent an inordinate amount of time last night looking for an affordable wooden box or frame to finish my Joseph Cornell-inspired BreyerFest box. Then it finally dawned on me: they were assemblages of found objects, just haunt the local thrift stores until you find one that works. Duh.

In my defense, yesterday was not a good day.

Regarding the Just About Horses situation: yes, I am aware. (It’s complicated.)

As far as the popularity of the Gloss Bravour goes, I am not going to judge it by what the loudest voices on the Internet have to say. Some of the most popular and best-selling Breyer releases aren’t necessarily the ones that make hardcore hobbyists swoon, and current prices for items previously considered undesirable are also not to be taken lightly.

Things aren’t cool or collectable, until they are. And vice versa.

But just to throw this out there into the Universe: I do have a Sarong and/or a Peregrine available to anyone willing to trade for a Gloss Bravour. Or – let me dream big, here – a Brigadeiros.

And in regards to Gloss Bravours being given out for “services rendered”: they’ve been doing that with Gloss Celebration Models for years. It has absolutely nothing to do with mold popularity or desirability. They just did it to compensate some folks at BreyerFest one year, and kept rolling with it. End of story.

(FWIW, I have never gotten one that way. Probably never will.)

In other Morganglanz news, here’s another recent acquisition: the 1996 JC Penney Christmas Special Run Swedish Warmblood:

I just think he’s neat: a light, pretty Palomino with tri-colored eyes, which were not a common feature back in 1996, and primarily used for “premium quality” releases like the El Pastor Precipitado Sin Par in 1987 and Breezing Dixie in 1988. The release may have been kind of a trial-run of the infamous bi-colored eyes seen on most Regular Run releases in early 1997. 

Infamous because they were kind of creepy, not very realistic, and also not terribly well-executed. Most of that was due to scale: quality control for a single, otherwise simple Special Run is a vastly different undertaking compared to quality control on virtually every Traditional model in your product line.

And not well-received: unsurprisingly, they were quickly discontinued. Bi-eyed variations aren’t sought after today, except by mold completists. 

Another interesting feature of this release is the fact that they gave it a such an unusual breed designation for the time: Swedish Warmblood! It was obscure enough at the time that it was rather hilariously misnamed on the box as Sweetish Warmblood

I kind of wonder origins of this release; I always assumed that the color idea came first, then they did some research to find a breed where that was possible. When Swedish Warmbloods came up, they ran with it.

Personally, I think the mold looks more like a Silesian to me; if I ever decide to show my Gris Gris in something other than Collectibility, that’s what I’m going with.  

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Lost Goodies

I wish they didn’t post that picture of the Gloss Bravour 54s on the Breyer web site: I made a commitment to finish my unfinished projects this year, and nothing I am currently working on can be shoehorned into a Diorama Contest entry. And it is making me a little bit sad, because I do love the old Hess Trakehner, and there are already a couple of them beyond my reach. 

A couple of the customs I’ve been tinkering with are looking better than I expected, but nowhere near Custom Contest territory: all my creative energy went into the garden this weekend, instead. It was the first truly nice weekend this year, and I had to make up for lost time. (Buckets and buckets and buckets of weeds…)

I suppose I could be optimistic and say that since this year’s Celebration Horse was not overly well-received, acquiring a Gloss one second hand might not be as expensive as I anticipated. Kind of like the latest addition to my herd: a Glossy Bandera!

Even though he was clearly the least popular of the Glosses distributed in the Collector’s Club Appreciation Event in 2017, there were still only about 125 of him made. 

Despite his lack of popularity, he’s not all that easy to come by now: I had been looking for one half-heartedly for the past few years, and the ones I did find weren’t at a price I wanted to pay. 

This one I happened to find on eBay, advertised as a run-of-the-mill Bandera, and I ended up getting him for less than I paid for my Regular Run Bandera. (Though, admittedly, I did pay “full price” for an extra dark one in the NPOD that year!)

It kind of fascinates me how more recent models specifically designed for the collector’s market can end up misidentified and/or essentially abandoned in the secondary market. 

Some of it is due to a lack of popularity (like Bandera, obviously) and some of it is via the distribution method: I always wonder what the actual percentage of “chase” Stablemates randomly happen to end up in the hands of people who just grabbed a blind bag or two just for funsies and got lucky. 

I’ve found WEG 2010 models and Vintage Customs at the local flea market, a BreyerFest Shannon and Excalibur at a sale advertised on Craigslist, and over a dozen MOC Special Run Hagen-Renaker mini Cocker Spaniels at an antique store in town, so I know it’s possible to locate these lost goodies on occasion. 

But in today’s super-heated collector’s market, it is increasingly unlikely, even with a mold as “unpopular” as the Hess Trakehner. BreyerFest Glosses, regardless of the mold involved, make collectors a little bit crazy, too. 

That’s about all the thought and consideration I can give the Gloss Bravour 54s, though: I have to focus on getting ready for my “one shot” at potential BreyerFest-specific treasures – the Live Show! – and finish planning for the other vacation. 

(I just booked the tickets and the rental car, so there’s no going back now: I am simultaneously excited and terrified!)

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Shades of Grulla

First, Happy Star Wars Day to all those who celebrate. (Can you believe I work with a bunch of nonbelievers who have not seen a single movie? Fine, watch your yucky zombie fungus nonsense...)

Another hard pass: even though he’s still available as of me write this, I’m skipping on the Shelby completely. I bought something that was (a) cheaper, and (b) something I wanted more, and I figured I was done with shopping for the week.

Since I only really wanted the Grulla Appaloosa, I’d be better off acquiring one later than ordering one and only having a 33 percent chance of getting him. All the wheeling and dealing that would have to follow if I didn’t would also be super-annoying.

Part of the reason I decided that the Grulla Appaloosa was my jam was the similarity of the color to a vintage color that’s a particular favorite here at my ranch: Slate Gray!

First seen, very briefly, on the #191 Bucking Bronco in 1966, this color has only occasionally reappeared over the years, most notably on the Classic Arabian Foal in the Blister Card Assortment in the 1970s, and on the Bell-Bottomed Shire in the 1985 Special Run Set of 4 that also included the Black, Red Bay and the notorious Neon Yellow Palomino.

While it’s true that undappled Gray horses do exist and are not all that uncommon, I’ve often wondered if this color was – like so many other colors Breyer attempted in the 1960s – possibly a misinterpretation of another color.

The obvious choice here being Grulla.

The only flaw in this theory is that, in its heyday, they never really used it like Grulla. Aside from the Bucking Bronco itself, it’s been used on molds representing breed and breed types where Grullas either don’t exist, or are highly unlikely: not just the Shire and Arabian Foal mentioned above, but also Thoroughbreds, like the After School Herd release #259 Andrew, on the Classic Silky Sullivan.

And none of the earlier releases in this color had even a hint of a dorsal stripe, leg barring or darkly-pointed legs. They considered it a different flavor of Gray, and goshdarnit, they were going to use it that way!

They did toy with the idea of true Grullas in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with released like the 1989 Quarter Horse Gelding Silver, the 1992 Classic Mustang Family Foal, and even the Bucking Bronco himself in 1988. But they didn’t get it “right”, in my opinion, until the release of the Quarter Horse Gelding Splash in 1998

And that paint job, not coincidentally, bears a lot of similarity to the original Slate Gray, though gussied up just a bit.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I consider vintage Gray Appaloosas (the Fighting Stallion, Family Arabians, the Hess Stock Horse Family, and so on) another animal altogether: I assumed they were meant to be Blue Roan Semi-Leopard Appaloosas.