Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Nope, Not That One Either

Ugh. I feel like I’ve been moving in slow motion for the past several days. My back is definitely in a better place than it was last week, but getting anything extracurricular done – prepping a quilt for quilting, sorting out old mail, writing blog posts – has been an exhausting process. 

As you know, after several years of fruitless searching, I was finally able to find myself a Glossy Dapple Belgian. The search for an adequate Smoke Belgian still continues, however:

He wasn’t the main reason I bought that particular box lot – it was a good deal, and the majority of the models in the lot were not body quality, that’s why – but I was kind of hoping he’d be close enough. Nice shading, good pinking, no yellowing, snowy-white, beautifully executed eye whites and tail ribbons…

… but not quite nice enough for me to spend money restoring. Like all the other Smoke Belgians I’ve had in my life, he’ll probably spend several months here before moving along, like all the rest.

He’s not an especially rare model to acquire, but he is hard to find in good condition. Since he was primarily produced in the mid- to late-1960s (1964 to 1971, to be exact), the majority of them were specifically purchased as toys, not as collectibles: he’s a big, sturdy fella that I’m sure many parents assumed could stand up to some rough handling. 

And except for eartip breaks and rubs, they usually do! 

Smokes do seem more prone to rubbing than other paint jobs, too, which might have something to do with how they were painted in the first place: the paint was thinner and more lightly applied, and they were (except for a few Belgians on lamps) almost always Matte-finished. 

(By the way, the Smoke Belgian was never actually advertised as a Smoke: He is listed as a “Grey with white mane and tail” in all the known catalogs, manuals and other ephemera. Why that is, I have no idea. Just Breyer being Breyer, I guess.) 

Incidentally, I still haven’t gotten around to getting myself a Gibson; my work schedule hasn’t been very accommodating to casual shopping at Tractor Supply. That’s… probably for the best?  

I’m not in any hurry for either a Smoke Belgian or a Gibson: if anything, I need more excuses to sell more stuff, but until both my back and my work schedule clear up a bit more, sales are definitely not a priority.  

What is a priority, if it does happen? A vintage Chestnut Belgian with eyewhites! It’s been a couple of years since I’ve even seen one for sale, so I am not holding my breath. Catching my breath is hard enough, nowadays...

Sunday, November 26, 2023

The Jam Sham

I am actually pretty annoyed that Reeves decided to sell most of the “good” stuff they had set aside for Black Friday several days before the actual Black Friday. 

I realize that I have had a really, really good year model-wise and I don’t need to be spending any more money. And I get it that this week/s long Black Friday sale thing has become a thing with sellers of all stripes this season.

But it is kind of a bummer to wake up on Black Friday and not have anything to look forward to, especially when you do have the fundage. And especially when your shopping in the previous week was almost a total bust. 

(Let’s just say both Plan A and Plan B for my vacation-that-is-not-BreyerFest next year are completely out of the question. First world problems, but still ugh…)

I did have a tiny bit of success today – just an itty-bitty bit – when I did venture out of the house on Saturday to buy a few necessities. I found a couple of books at the Salvation Army Store that always has a good selection:

The Brighty is a Scholastic first printing, which is a nice plus. Both books will probably end up on my saleslist, though the Mustang book has an interesting inscription that will greatly amuse a couple of my friends… 

Since I am also still feeling a little crappy because of my back – which is making it hard as heck to get any of the crafting I had planned for the weekend done – today is another picture day. And that picture is the #410994 Jamboree Sham from 1994!

Due to the introduction of several newer Arabian and Arabian-ish Traditional molds in recent years, Sham has fallen slightly out of favor; he’s also come in a bajillion colors, which has made it difficult to find something new to dress him up in, though they did do a mighty fine job on the BreyerFest release of Lugh in 2020.

The Jamboree Sham came out only about ten years after the mold’s introduction, when there were still many options to explore, though most of them still veered into “just another shade of Bay” territory. So a Flaxen Dark Liver Chestnut was a delightful surprise!

They only made about 550 of him, which may seem like a lot for a mid-1990s Special Run release. He was still a little tough to acquire though, especially if you were living on the East Coast: after the initial hullabaloo, I was able to get one for not too much more than retail.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023


My life is weird, part one million: this past week included my shoes melting and an extended argument about a toilet. I also unintentionally manifested an entire box of French Vanilla coffee creamer.

(Yeah, the same nonsense I can do with models I can now do with food. Except a decent vegetarian corn chowder: that search continues.)

First, some of you were a little confused about the references to the legs on the Family Arabian Foal: I was referring to how she looked from the front, rather than the sides. Here’s a shot to show you how different the leg positions are on my belly-stamped FAF, compared to a slightly later Bay example.

Most of my FAFs (I have… so many) look more like the Bay than the Woodgrain. It could just be that this specific Woodgrain Foal was made this way, or got this way somehow; legs have a habit of going wonky in storage. Maybe there is something more to it, and maybe there isn’t. I haven’t seen enough of these Foals in person to make any assumptions.

Someone mentioned the Old Mold version of the Stallion in the comments – yes, he is most definitely an underappreciated early rarity! But ironically, not a hard one to collect: I think I have a complete collection of them now, and I don’t think any one example cost me more than fifty dollars (the Woodgrain, I believe: I think because he had a Tenite sticker? Back is still too achy for me to dig him out.)

The only significant difference between an Old Mold Stallion and an early Family Arabian Stallion is the mold stamp: Old Molds don’t have it, though most Gray Appaloosas seem to have the partial one. There may be some other subtle differences, but I’ve never been able to conclusively pinpoint anything that couldn’t be ascribed to an incidental manufacturing error. 

Second, this WinterFest thing is interesting; I was just thinking that it was about time for another Duende Special Run. I do like Trueno, and how this paint job makes his mane looks like icicles, but I don’t know if I like him enough to pursue him.

The same can probably be said of the braided-mane version of Nikolas, named Mouse. Other people have done some digging in my stead and discovered that they are going to be both relatively plentiful and inexpensive, so I may have time to change my mind.

Mouse reminds me a little bit of another one of the customs I’ve been working, too. I’ll probably be putting most of my customizing on hiatus after the Thanksgiving work break, though, to focus on my quilts instead. 

The garage is cold and quilts are warm; that’s all there really is to that.

What else they have in store for this thing we’ll all have to wait and see. I might do a workshop or two if I can find the spare time. (Tempted by the Zebra one, but I fear my patience for painting stripes is very limited.)

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Cooler Things

It just amuses and baffles me that I can’t “win” 1000-piece Special Runs, but Test Colors, 50-piece runs, and things other hobbyists are like “what, they made that?” No problemo!

(Yeah, still no Vail. At this point I’m just laughing and shaking my head about it.)

The Bay Lady Roxana has soared past my upper bidding limit; but that’s fine: I went and bought some box lots on the Internet for less that are probably worth more; I’ll find out by the end of the week!

So here’s another cool thing I have been looking for for an insanely long time:

As you might have guessed – because it’s me we’re talking about here – this is no ordinary Family Arabian Foal. Check out the location of her mold mark!

(Just above the drip mark.)

The belly-stamped Foals are obviously very early; in fact, I think they represent the “first state” of the mold, before any of the multitude of other changes were made to it. 

The Family Arabian Foal was likely Breyer’s most popular and in-demand mold through the 1960s and a large portion of the 1970s, and because of the wear and tear of near-constant production, it went through many repairs and revisions. So many, in fact, that with a little extra research, we could probably create a pretty accurate year-by-year timeline of the changes.

(Sorry folks, I do not have the time for that right now!)

Looking for a belly-stamped FAF has been awkward, to say the least, and is complicated by the fact that the best place you would think to find something like this – BreyerFest – has also become one of the less likely. Unless it’s a Test Color, Oddity, Rare SR, New in Box or another known rare variation (like the Sorrels), people don’t bring Family Arabians to sell, because they’re old-fashioned, common and allegedly boring. 

Fortunately, on places like eBay, a lot of sellers don’t know or don’t care: they just want to make a sale. The more diligent ones do what sellers selling items outside of their comfort zone usually do: they photograph everything, including the location of the mold marks. 

Although there are instances where the presence or absence of certain mold marks is historically important, usually it isn’t, so most of us roll our eyes when we see that photo included in a listing. Yeah, I already know that’s a Breyer, doofus.

But in this case, it’s what made the difference for me. I immediately saw it and jumped on it like a cat on a can of tuna. 

I’m beginning to wonder if the FAF was the first – or one of the first – molds to receive the mold mark, before they decided that putting it on the inside hind leg was the way to go. The change happened very quickly, and before they revised the curled eartips: curled eartip FAFs with the standard leg stamp are a little uncommon, but not super-rare. 

(The Shetland Pony also received a belly-stamp around the same time, but it never got removed or repositioned).

Theoretically, the Belly Stamp Foals should only exist in the original four Family Arabian/Old Mold colors: Alabaster, Bay, Woodgrain and Gray Appaloosa. Palomino and Charcoal didn’t show up until later; how much later I am not sure, but I do know I still haven’t found any evidence of Palomino or Charcoal FAFs with the curled eartips.

I haven’t done a comprehensive, point-by-point study of the Foal to figure out what else was changed or corrected from the first state of the mold to the second. Having a sample size of only one is also not helpful, because you don’t know if the variations are the result of a molding or production change, or just something idiosyncratic to that particular Foal.

The Foal’s legs are definitely not in the same places as most of my later examples, but that could just mean the cooling boards weren’t ready yet and everything was assembled by hand, as was the case with the original In-Between Mares around the same time.

Even though Breyer had been producing horses for nearly a decade by the time this Foal was manufactured, she does feel a little – primitive? Maybe they had rush orders to fill, and even though they didn’t have a production process or even all the equipment “ready”, they just got them done by any means necessary?

(I work in a production facility: some of the crazy stuff we do to get product out the door...)

The real question, though, is this: just how rare are these Foals numerically

Well, the first problem here is that we don’t have any production records from this period to establish a lower limit. We also have to consider that the mold change happened very early, maybe/likely after the first production run; this first production run could have even been a test batch! It’s been over sixty years now since they were produced, so a lot of them have gone to the model horse graveyard by now, too. 

So my guess (and experience!) would say that unless several come out of the woodwork like the Woodgrain Old Mold Foal did, I’d say she was pretty rare. I do think these Foals are probably a little more common than we realize, because most hobbyists have been unaware of this variation’s existence, until now. And now they will look!

I’d love to have a complete set of four, but I’m happy with just the one, for now.

Thursday, November 16, 2023


Nothing makes you feel old like shopping for store brand Ben-gay at the grocery store.

On the other hand, with it I’ve been able to get a decent night’s sleep with it for the past two days, though the dreams are beyond weird. Like playing hide-and-seek in a multidimensional furniture store weird. 

I’ll take it, I guess. 

What I won’t be taking? A trip to Denver in March. Tickets for BreyerWest go on sale today (I double checked this time, LOL). Flights are expensive, the exclusive special – a Gloss Harkness – is nice but nothing I can’t live without, and my presence is not required, so I am giving it a pass. 

(It’s a little more complicated than that, but nothing else you need to know.)

I think too many hobbyists are overthinking the fact that the Swirls & Snowflakes Stablemates are still available. They probably made more due to historical demand – remember that some previous iterations of them sold out in hours – and I also think the hobby in general is experiencing blind bag fatigue. 

The general public likes blind bags just fine, but the Christmas ones are targeted toward active collectors, and I think most of us would like the option – if possible – of buying a complete set and being done with it. Designate a certain amount of them as sets, sell the rest as individuals, the end. 

For me, personally, it’s also because (in case you haven’t noticed!) I’ve been acquiring a crazy amount of rarities, Test Colors and Grails: things I have wanted for years, sometime decades. Things like that trump items that I found out about a week or two ago. My money is also not infinite: I have to draw the line somewhere.

And now there’s a Test Color/Oddity Lady Roxana on eBay that’s caught my eye. Like I need another Test Color, yikes… She’s not even a BreyerFest Auction piece or anything. I already have a Sample Roxana, on the Sahara release. And a Preproduction Test of Roxana on the Sham…

Yes, I have a lot of Tests, Samples, Oddities and Whatnots. Probably not quite as many as Reeves does, but I’m hesitant to get them out for a group shot and put that theory to the test. (No pun intended!)

Finally, I found this link on another (non-horsey) blog I frequent, and I thought I would be something of interest to at least a few of you; consider it an early Christmas present:

Monday, November 13, 2023

The Latest in Hamiltons

If you are wondering if the time change helped with my sleep patterns, the answer is the same as me getting drawn for a Vail: that would be a No.

In lieu of stronger medications (there is a family history of sleepwalking: I am NOT mixing Ambien with that!) I’ll probably ramp up my quilting and sewing activities, in the hopes that the peace of mind that comes from completed projects will help.

I am more or less okay with the Vail: the past month has been a bit on the expensive side (a minor but necessary car repair, an unexpected dental bill, things on eBay I shouldn’t be buying but were unlikely to show up ever again) and there are a couple of things I need to save up for, including a space heater for the garage and a new phone. 

Consequently, the Swirls and Snowflakes Stablemates that have been rescheduled for Tuesday Monday are now completely out of the question for me.

Since I am so very, very close to finishing a one of those aforementioned projects (to a certain stage, anyway) I’ll just give you all a better shot of my Gloss Buckskin Pinto Stagecoach Surprise Hamilton:

Aside from being the first Gloss I’ve pulled from the actual ticket line since… 2012, egads – he also appears to be nigh-perfect. I’ve been looking for a good Hamilton to add to my showstring for a while, and I think he might be the guy, in spite of the fact that Buckskin Pintos generally aren’t my preference. He’s just so nice in person! (The shading on his other side is even better.)

He isn’t the rarest color of the bunch by far – that would have been the Decorator, followed by the Dapple Gray – but as I’ll likely be showing him more in Breed than Collectibility, the argument is irrelevant. 

The first Stagecoach Surprise I pulled was the Matte Dapple Gray; I remember looking at him and thinking he’s probably the “rare” one, because I almost always pull the rarest Matte. But I was not particularly enamored of the color on him. So I immediately traded him for a Matte Black Pinto, which I felt suited him much more, and who also turned out to be the most common Matte.

Even after the Dapple Gray’s relative “rarity” was confirmed a while later, I was untroubled by my decision. I’d rather have something I like that’s more common, than something I dislike that’s more rare. 

Within reason: at this point, my collection is almost a refuge for all the ugly, weird Test Colors and Oddities the rest of the hobby has deemed “undesirable”. And I just caught myself looking at some inexpensive NIB Mesteno sets the other day, and it wasn’t just the ones with Duchess in them; my recent experimentation with them has piqued a certain curiosity...

(I did buy something cool and rare yesterday, but it wasn’t a Mesteno.)

Friday, November 10, 2023

Things I Cannot Worry About

My Tuxedo arrived, and he’s the Bald-faced version:

I was slightly bummed to find out that the split on the variations was not (more or less) equal: according to the recently arrived Just About Horses, there’s only 100 Solid Blacks, compared to 450 each of the Star-faced and Bald-faced.

I was all for the multiple variations; I was not expecting the uneven splits. And I am always amazed how preferences change when rarity is involved! 

I’m actually more annoyed to discover that there were even more of the Volunteer SR Chevaliere made than advertised, especially with me still be completely Chevaliere-free. 

I mean, I ended up coming out ahead at BreyerFest anyway, and the rest of the year – aside from the Appaloosa Performance Horse fiasco – has been unusually abundant, so I think I’ll live. 

Kind of surprised about the Black Friday Sale being today. I’m a second shift person (NOT by choice, BTW, but that’s another story) so whatever was there that I could have wanted (maybe Slyder?) wasn’t going to happen regardless. 

For all those people who are ticked off they didn’t get a Zugspitze, just how many did they think they actually had left over to sell? Couldn’t have been more than a few dozen. The only effect of pre-announcing the sale would have been people flooding the web site and having it crash, which would have ticked off even more people. 

I have more mixed feelings about Vail. I haven’t had the best luck getting the rarer blue variations in general, outside of the Studebaker, and I’ve gotten a lot of good stuff lately (and I was bad again, last weekend) and I really do not need more stuff. And he is a bit tippy....

Sure, there’s a 1000 of them, but I didn’t get picked for Tahoe from the first list – or any of the subsequent, mythical – waitlists, either. I will have to abide by the the Universe’s decision on this, too. 

I don’t know exactly what’s up with the delay with the Christmas Blind Bag Stablemates, but they are also not high on my list of concerns. I told myself that the only things I may need to get for the remainder of the year are (a) the Christmas Day Special, if it’s something I collect (Emma?) and/or (b) the Winter Web Animal, depending on what the mold is. (Dog, Elk or Deer Family? Hella yeah!)

I do think they are very neat, and reminiscent of the glitter-encrusted ornaments that adorned Grandma Jankowiak’s ginormous Christmas Tree every year. Along with 30 year old actual metal tinsel she saved and reused every year, and German Stars made out of waxed paper.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Another Lucky Find

I know a lot of people are not fans of the concept in general, but if the time change manages to reset my internal clock, I am all for it. I am very tired of being very tired. 

It’d be fine with the not-sleeping, if I was actually getting anything done. But all the projects I am currently working on are, to put it kindly, long slogs. At what point did I think handpiecing a bed-sized quilt top that includes 684 bias-cut one-inch high equilateral triangles was a good idea?

Anyway, another “lucky” find arrived late last week: a Chalky #23 Bay Shetland Pony! 

I’ve had a lot of Bay Shetland Ponies over the years, and none of them really stuck around. The paint jobs were uninspiring, the seams were bad, they had condition issues, you name it. I really wanted a Chalky variation, but all the ones I found either (also) had condition issues, or were overpriced, or sold before I got to them.

Then I found this one for a super-affordable Buy It Now on eBay. I wasn’t 100 percent certain she was a Chalky, but the price was good, even for an ordinary Bay. I would have been happy even if she wasn’t what I thought she was.

But luckily, she was!

In terms of rarity, I’d put her somewhere in the middle of the pack. I think there are more out there than we imagine, because the color did debut in 1973, at the start of the “Chalky Era” (ca. 1973-1975), and new molds and new colors tend to sell really well at the beginning of their runs.

For example: the #99 Appaloosa Performance Horse and #61 El Pastor both debuted in 1974, and are among the “easier” vintage Chalkies to find.

The problem with this release – like the Chalky variation of the Midnight Sun – is that it’s a solid color with minimal markings. Even though she does have a bald face, it can still be difficult to determine if she’s a Chalky, because the overspray that was common on models from that era sometimes mimics chalkiness, especially in the overexposed photographs commonly seen over the Internet. 

She was never really a “Grail” model for me: I didn’t go out of my way to find one, or target one, and her absence from my rather abundant collection of Shetland Ponies never really nagged at me the way the Dapple Belgian sometimes did. But I did want one some day. 

So when the right model at the right price came at the right moment, I took it. 

And she is so lovely: nice dark coloring, and just a couple of itty-bitty marks and dings!

Friday, November 3, 2023

Pretty Chestnuts

As you know, I’ve had a hard time warming up to the Dundee mold, but I think next year’s BreyerFest Celebration Horse is one I will keep: that is a very pretty shade of chestnut, and I do like minimal pintos:

I’ve been watching a lot archaeological documentaries lately (hello insomnia, my old friend), so when I hear the phrase “Athenian lady”, all I can think of is how the actual ladies of Ancient Athens were the opposite of empowered.

I know it’s just a play on one of the goddess’s many names and I am reading way too much into it; ‘tis the curse of being a history nerd. 

Her story is (fortunately) not as sentimental as a lot of horse stories tend to be. I am not immune to sentimentality, but The Hallmark Channel doesn’t get a lot of airtime in my house, either. 

(As far as the rescue angle is concerned – I am not touching that with a 50-foot pole and a Hazmat suit. All I will say on the matter publicly is that the enemy of your enemy is not your friend.)

I also really like the latest Test Run offering, who is also a lovely shade of chestnut with just a little bit of extra white:

I was just thinking that if I ever got the notion of entering another Collector’s Class at BreyerFest (definitely NOT next year!) I’d want to do a “Hooked on Classics” Test theme, especially since I have… a lot of Classic Test Colors. A documented “Archival” Test would made a very nice addition to that potential entry, since the rest of mine are technically undocumented. 

I’d also like something in Appaloosa and something in Gloss, too, for variety’s sake, but I also know those are even longer shots than this fellow.