Sunday, December 10, 2017

An Early Chalky Western Horse

Since my back has been really bothering me the past several days (it’s nothing serious, just a chronic condition that periodically flares up) I’ll have to kick my commentary about that announcement Reeves made last week down the road a couple of days:

I want to add a bit of historical context to discussion, but my mobility issues have been putting a serious damper on my research abilities. (Note to self: buy smaller, lighter binders.)

But today I’ll spotlight what I hope is going to be one of my last eBay purchases for the year: a ca. 1951/52 Chalky Palomino Western Horse with black hooves, o-link reins and a high-grommet saddle!

Yeah, he’s not in the best of shape. That I attribute to his age: he was among the earliest Breyer models manufactured for sale independent of the clock, and Breyer probably still hadn’t realized that items sold as playthings will take more of a beating than a clock that sits on a mantel!

I had the opportunity to purchase a beautiful and near-mint Chalky White Western Horse at a very early BreyerFest and passed, and have regretted it ever since. This guy was cheap, and y’all know I’m not a huge stickler for condition.

But I know what some of you are thinking: What’s up with the Gray saddle?

Guys, it’s probably the least interesting part of him: it’s just a Brown saddle, faded to Gray. The only thing truly unusual about it is how nice and even the fading is, which suggests to me that it’s more than simply the result of sun-fading:

Again, it’s something I’d attribute to the earliness of his manufacturing. They were still in the earliest stages of figuring out this toy horse thing. Maybe this particular batch of brown plastic was not particularly color-fast?

We would not get true Gray/Graywashed plastic saddles until ca.1961/2, with the debut of the Western Prancing Horse, and it would not be until 1966/67 that we would see something similar on the Western Horse and Pony.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

On Golden Cows

Good grife, I hate reruns.

Went to bed before it went online Tuesday night, didn’t check anything model-horse-related for the five minutes I was online Wednesday morning, and when I finally got home from work Wednesday afternoon, the Gold Charm Cow and Calf were – of course! – sold out.

Again? Again??

Just lovely.

I wasn’t all that mad at Olaf – the Longhorn Bull is a shelf hog, and I’ve been trimming back my Bull collection a bit anyway. And my fun money fund really could go to other things. (In fact, I had transfer a chunk of my Paypal balance to another account the day before, for just such a purpose.)

I have access to multiple independent toy stores, farm stores, fabulous thrift stores, one of the world’s greatest flea markets and all that. This year I acquired numerous Monrovia H-Rs, several fabulous Hwins, another lovely Volunteer Model…

Yet relatively plentiful, first-come-first-served Holiday Animal Special Runs? It is starting to look like the Universe is telling me no-can-do.

I’m fearful it’s going to get put on the list of my other hobby no-can-dos, like getting picked from the Wait List for anything. (My win rate on Web Special draws is about average, but in the 200 or so of those drawings I have entered for, not once have I been pulled from the Wait List.)

As I predicted last year, the going price for Olafs today haven’t strayed far from the original issue price. I suspect Eldora and Sol will be the same in a year or so, when I’ll somehow probably manage to miss the next Holiday Animal Special Run.

It feels super weird that I can manage to score rarer things, but completely whiff on the stuff that’s specifically designed to almost be a “gimme”.

It’s not really that big of a deal. It’s not something that I was specifically pining for – it wasn’t a Deer Family, a Saint Bernard, or an Elk. And I do have a couple of kind and interesting offers to mull over.

But it still carries enough of a personal sting for me to consider washing my hands of the whole deal, as I have in the past with other models I shall not name.

Besides, it’s a Special Run that includes a Golden Calf whose name could also be interpreted as an acronym for how I’ve been feeling lately. I should just take those hints and run.

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Doozy of an Oozy

I got through another section of my inventory without any major surprises – other than one of my Little Bits Drafters spontaneously and spectacularly going “oozy” on me. What looks like a white plastic bag underneath him is actually the now-soggy tissue he was wrapped in:

(It looks like crime scene photo, doesn’t it?)

It was one made during the “Shrinky Era” – the late 1980s to early 1990s – so it wasn’t a completely random occurrence. Just a messy and inconvenient one.

Incidentally, everyone else in that box was absolutely fine. But just a few months ago, the Oozy One was fine too.

I got lucky with Shrinkies/Oozies: the late 1980s/early 1990s were exactly the same time period I was least active in the hobby, and buying the fewest models.

It had nothing to do with quality or production issues: I was busy with other things at the time, and simply taking a break. (In the SF/fannish communities, it’s sometimes called “gafiating”, or Getting Away From It All.)

Consequently, when other hobbyists started talking about models shrinking and oozing, I had very little first-hand experience with the phenomenon, beyond the Black Horse Special Runs – the Indian Ponies and Proud Arabian Stallions, specifically.

I’ve made up for it since then, and I’ve even bought a few Shrinkies intentionally. (I am sure some of you remember... The Toad?)

But that Little Bit Drafter caught me by surprise. I had last seen him back in June when I was pulling items out for my display at BreyerFest, and I noticed nothing amiss then. The weather has been unusually warm and humid this year – two things that adversely affect Shrinkies – so maybe that kickstarted the process somehow.

He has been the only one, so far, and the boxes that I’ll be going through next are mostly newer items and vintage items outside of the “Shrinky Era”. The only other surprise I can see lurking in those boxes is exactly how many more Bay Jumping Horse variations I still have. (How many did I buy over the years? Yikes!)

Being a Little Bit/Paddock Pal, he won’t be difficult or expensive to replace, though I am just a wee bit hesitant all the same.

The little Oozy One isn’t going anywhere, either. Since he already happens to be here, I’ll use him as a test subject for possible treatments. If there’s some way to stop it, or at least slow it down significantly, that’d really come in handy. There were some really nice Special Runs during that era, and I would hate to see them all meet an earlier-than-necessary demise.

If you have any yourself, just keep them cool and keep them dry in the meantime. And tuck a few extra paper towels in the bag if you have to keep them in storage, just in case.

Thursday, November 30, 2017


I was pretty excited when, after a nearly 20 year hiatus, the Classics Lipizzan mold returned in the Zodiac Series in 2015. I was hoping that the Sagittarius was a harbinger of the mold returning to production as an actual horse, and not strictly as a base for more fantasy releases.

So I was rather bummed when I walked into the NPOD this year and saw a big stack of the new Pegasus release Cosmus:

The lavender shading is very appealing, but this is not what I was hoping for. In fact, it’s the exactly the opposite of what I was hoping for.

Horses are awesome and fantastical creatures on their own; while I am all for funky colors and gloss or metallic finishes – I would have bought him in a heartbeat if the paint job was all the “fancifying” had been done to the mold – the wings squashed my enthusiasm for Cosmus from the get-go.

It’s a bit of a stretch to call the Lipizzan my favorite Classics mold, but I do have most of them. I don’t have the last two releases prior to the Sagittarius – the Toys ‘R’ Us Special run “Pegasus III” on 2000 and the Regular Run “Mystical Pegasus” from 2002-2004 – because I was done with seeing him as a flying horse by then.

Nothing against Flying Horses or Unicorns – I just wanted more Lipizzans!

As the recent Premier Club releases of Carina and Selene show, you can extend the acceptable palette for Lipizzaners by simply going historical. Or with different shades of gray, different types of dappling, different finishes (Chalky, Glossy, Iridescent, Metallic…)

Or even a basic Bay or Chestnut. Why that hasn’t happened, when rare or less desirable colors on other breeds have had their time in the sun as Breyer releases, I don’t know.

FWIW, I will probably get a Cosmus eventually. Just...not right now.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Newest Old Gray Mare

You can also count me among the unimpressed with the Breyer Cyber Monday sale. Free shipping is great, but since I’m lucky enough to live in an area that affords me the luxury of handpicking, it’s not that big a temptation for me personally.

I thought they would have pulled out one or two moderately interesting “new” things to spice things up a bit, unless they’re saving them up for Grab Bags. They did come out with some pretty decent Grab Bags in early December of last year – featuring BreyerFest Specials, the French WEG Classics, Zodiac Series Classics and some of the Holiday Mare and Foal sets.

So my little “fun money” fund remains intact for now. Good.

Here’s a picture of the other Warehouse Find/Reissue I purchased along with the Bluegrass Bandit – the Stock Horse Mare in a particularly carbonated version of Dapple Gray:

There are no obvious flaws on her I can see, beyond the ones inherent to the mold itself and the Resist Dapple painting technique.

I have a slightly higher than average fondness for the Hess Stock Horse Family: they came out in the early 1980s, at the peak of my early hobby “career”, and they made up a significant percentage of my purchases then. I didn’t realize how much of a fondness I had until I was reorganizing my boxed models over the weekend:

That’s just a small portion of the Stock Horses I have – most of them are not boxed. Then, as now, boxes weren’t that high a priority for me. These boxes may look a bit rough, but what is important is that all the models in those boxes are top notch examples of their respective releases. And not going anywhere, either. (A few of the later arrivals, maybe…)

I just realized that I have Tests or Oddities of three of the four Stock Horse Family members, but none of the Stock Horse Mare yet. Hmm. I’ll have to keep that in mind, should the opportunity ever arise.

And it should, eventually. If any vintage Test Colors are “easy” and/or inexpensive to acquire, it’s the Hess Stock Horses. Marney’s albums and ephemera is full of them, and this one is a particular favorite of mine:

I often wonder where she is, now. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Other Black Bear

So far, so good on the Black Friday sales – I was initially tempted by the Premier Club Stablemates and was actually online when they were still available, but I managed to wait it out until they went away.

Actually, aside from a handful of eBay transactions I’ve been real good – no Rosalind and Rigel, no Griffin, no Fletchers, no Goblin, no dubious Craigslist deals, no side trips to farm stores, and the only actual Black Friday sale I attended was at the JoAnn Fabrics. (Kona Cottons were on sale! And I had a coupon!)

But we all know something else is coming shortly, right?

I’m trying not to think too much about it – I’ve got a few other things that take financial priority this time of year – but still can’t help but worry that the Elk, Saint Bernard or Deer Family I’ve been hoping/campaigning will turn up either at an inopportune moment (like last year’s Olaf) or show up as another frustrating Micro Run.

(I am kind of baffled that everyone is so convinced that this year’s special Animal is going to be a Moose. It’s not going to be a Moose, people. That ship sailed with Ghost.)

Since I’m not feeling terribly chatty today and I need to re-check my final count for the Dun Scotty contest (ha!) here’s a picture of my Warehouse Find Reissue Bear on the Bluegrass Bandit mold:

I’m kind of surprised she’s still available on the web site, but we’ve been so bombarded with new product over the past few months that maybe we shouldn’t.

She does have a few flaws and goobers – nothing I can’t live with, but if I can upgrade sometime in the not-too-distant future, I’ll do it.

There’s a higher-than-average incidence of manufacturing flaws on the Warehouse Finds/Reissues. That’s because they are/were manufactured from unpainted bodies stored in the warehouse for an indeterminate period of time, then shipped to China – and back. All that travel (in time and space!) is going to take a toll on a body, plastic or otherwise.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Trakehner Family

And… that upgrade isn’t an upgrade: it’s about the same condition as my existing piece, once I clean it up.

You’d think that after all those previous failed attempts to upgrade something good I already have into sometime great, I would have learned by now.

C’est ma vie. While I think I won’t lose any money on the deal in the end, I’ve managed to screw up sure things before.

In more cheerful news, I made some pretty good progress on the inventory over the past few days. I pulled out a few more duplicates and legit upgrades, a few scarcer pieces I really never fell completely in love with, and I’m in the process of sorting out some of my more obscure Classics.

A few of the Classics I’m letting go – more likes that never really turned to loves – but the “Trakehner Family” (from 1992-1994) is one set that’s sticking around:

There are a few reasons why. First, of course, is that there’s a Duchess in it. Second, the colors on all three molds are really well executed: the Jet Run looks especially good in Liver Chestnut, and the light, roany Dapple Gray is one of the prettiest colors the Duchess has ever come in, in my opinion.

And thirdly, it amuses me that this family was constructed from members of three completely different and unrelated “family” sets: Jet Run from the USET Gift Set, Duchess from the Black Beauty and Friends Set, and the Mustang Foal from the Classics Mustang Family.

That was borne out of necessity: this set came out at a time when there still weren’t all that many Classics molds, or at least not the variety we have today. Breyer had just started introducing new Classics molds right around this time – beginning with the Cheney Mestenos – after nearly a ten-year gap.

There was a slow trickle of new Classics molds after the Mestenos (the Western Performance Horses, some of the Nonplastics, the Draft Horse, and so on) but it’s only really been in the past ten years that we’ve seen a regular procession of new Classics molds.