Monday, March 18, 2019

Southern New England Winter Round Up... Round Up

Long time no see! I'm doing my best to start reviving some of my hobby social media, including this blog, now that I've officially graduated college (yikes!) and am back home with my horses again. To kick things off, I recently attended my first local model horse show in over three years - Southern New England Winter Round Up in Spencer, MA!

SNEWRU, as we all affectionately refer to it as, has quickly become one of the highest-attended model horse shows in Region 10. Held by Brenda Bednar, SNEWRU began in 2013 and has grown into a two-day show spanning pretty much every division you can think of - OF, custom, performance, china - it's all there. It sells out at least a solid month or two in advance, and rightly so! This is exactly why it took me until 2019 to attend for the first time - I drag my feet.

The drive to Spencer was a tad bit hairy - thankfully I'm only about an hour away, but early morning snow sent my car into a half-spin on one of my last turns and my life flashed before my eyes, thinking of the precious cargo in my back seat and trunk. Ah, New England, where we can have a strangely mild February but the snow comes back with a vengeance once March rolls around.

I certainly was intimidated walking into SNEWRU for my first local show in so long - I've always heard the competition is stiff and I'm a bit rusty after such a long break! I was very pleasantly surprised by my results, though - the day started off with a reserve champ in collectibility by my preproduction sample model of Copperfox's "Loughnatousa Fabio" that I purchased a few months ago from the company's archive liquidation, affectionately dubbed "Dr. Strangelove." Not too bad for his first time out! And those rosettes were KILLER.

"Dr Strangelove" - Reserve Champion of OF Sport Breed Collectibility
I also had a lot of success in the pony breed division, taking away a nice handful of collectibility NAN cards for some of my rarer Newsworthys (Newsworthies?) and glossy Copperfoxes. However, my highlight of the day was taking the champion of pony breed halter with my Copperfox "Celtic Warrior," who was also at his first show ever. His show name is "Swyn Lwcus," which happens to be Welsh for "lucky charm." Coincidence? Probably. But fate works in mysterious ways. My Copperfoxes certainly did me proud!

"Swyn Lwcus" - Champion of OF Pony Breeds Halter

Although that was it for my big titles for the day, I was shocked at just how well my horses did overall. I totaled up 14 NAN cards and a fistful of placings. I'd say roughly 80% of my models received at least one ribbon, which is pretty impressive considering SNEWRU only places to 6th and many of the OF classes have at least a few dozen models in them. I guess my knack didn't quite fade away after all.

"Screamadelica" snagged a 2nd in a HUGE Arabian
class - it's been a while since her last NAN card!
Unfortunately, this year's SNEWRU also had a tinge of sadness to it - this was the last show to be held at what has been long considered the "center of the model horse universe," or at least Region 10's - the Spencer Knights of Columbus hall. As of April 1st, the hall will become... storage space for an appliance store (cue boos here). With that, we're collectively scrambling to find show halls that compare in both space and affordability, but it's already proving to be a difficult task.

One of my earliest model horse memories is wandering into the Spencer hall around 2006 to check out what I now know was a model horse show, but my dad and I figured it was just a place with vendors selling Breyers! I'm almost positive it was one of the many performance shows that were held there, because I vividly remember looking at a performance setup with a Tregoyd Journeyman model. Anywho, there was a single vendor there selling models and that day I purchased Spectacular Bid on the Man O War mold.

He desperately needs a new photo.
The KoC has been with Region 10 for basically as long as I've been alive, and it's a shame to see it go. Here's hoping that we can find a new home for plastic pony fun in southern New England, especially one that won't totally break the bank!

My next show is coming up quickly - Mid-Atlantic Regional on the 31st, which will also be my very first Region 9 show! I'm woefully behind on my show prep, so I think that will be my main project this week. Maybe someday I'll kick the procrastination habit.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Oh Dear...

Clinkies have always terrified me - I'm a long time admirer, but I usually gaze from afar. I have a small handful in my herd, mostly HR minis that I've picked up here and there, a couple DWs (Miss Pepper and Harry) that I've come across in my antique shop/flea market ventures, and a few of Breyer's Gallery pieces. Despite my fears my clinkies have mostly survived well, with the only casualties being a chipped ear on Moritz the Noriker and a broken mini leg that I successfully repaired.

During a regular browse of the model horse-dom of the internet last weekend, I discovered Animal Artistry's retail therapy page at roughly 3 o'clock in the morning.

Meet Mephistopheles:

Photo by Donna Chaney/Animal Artistry
Yep, I did what I told myself I'd never do. I bought an expensive clinky. (And at $200 due to him leaning slightly I'm considering that a good price. YIKES.)

He's an earthenware Vintage Striking Arabian Stallion in gloss bay, one of 30 produced in china with the sculpture's original flowing mane and tail. The AA Striker and I have a history together - when I was first entering the "hobby" and wading through all of the different manufacturers that *weren't* Breyer, I distinctly remember coming across a photo of one of these guys and falling in love with his awesome presence and cranky attitude. I've dreamed of owning one for over half a decade since. Aaand, here we are.

I'm hoping he arrives sometime this week. I need this shiny pony to get into my hot little hands STAT.

The scariest part is not the fact that I bought a fairly expensive and really breakable model that's a far cry from my usual collecting norm - it's the fact that now I want more. My current calling? Having an AA Rearing Andy custom glazed in some funky appaloosa pattern as an historical Iberian horse. I do need to downsize the herd a bit, after all...

I christened this guy Mephistopheles not only because of his devilish attitude, but the fact that he's likely going to drag me into clinky hell as well. Ah, the irony of this post coming just after an essay on why I will always be focused on OF Breyers!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Why OF Breyer?

A thread was started on Blab recently asking, "Why do you collect?" An excellent thread idea and it really got me wondering... well, why do I collect? Specifically, what draws me to OF Breyers so much more than Stones or customs or resins?

A trend I've noticed amongst younger collectors recently is wanting to "move on" from Breyers and onto customs and artist resins, as if there's a progression every self-respecting collector should go through. It's totally fine with me if you want to change the direction of your collection - but the uppity attitude of some collectors once they shed their childish toy Breyers is a bit off-putting.

In the OF realm, some claim that Stone's color and quality control is better than Breyer's. A well-done Stone does look fantastic, but I've acquired a handful of Jersey-painted limited run Breyers this year and they all have blown me away. The crazy amount of masking on Praline, the dapple grey veining on Dixie, the subtle shading and beautifully painted bi-eyes on Jump for Joy... Breyer certainly deserves some credit. (And come on, did you see Zydeco?! Good lord, he was a sight to behold in person. The bitterness of missing him by only a couple people still stings.)

Seriously... thumbs up to Breyer's painters. That must've been a pain.

Yes, there's problems with box rubs, masking, and paint flaws, but that's the nature of the beast when it comes to a mass-produced product. No model is 100% perfect, regardless of the company or the artist... which I feel some collectors (again, younger ones especially) lose sight of. Stone has its fair share of quality control issues as well - for example, it seems like these days you can't get a glossy model without some form of a painter's DNA embedded within, be it hairs, fingerprints or otherwise.

Let's be honest, Breyer's really stepped up their game in the past half decade or so. In 2007 or 2008, things like the Premier Club, with not one but THREE new molds a year from top hobby artists, would be completely unheard of. The addition of series like the web specials and highly-limited special event models has proved that Breyer can compete with more "high end" companies aimed at the mature/adult model horse collector. Some of their kid-centric promotional material can get quite cringey, but they've recognized the market and tapped into it.

Another thing I've always admired about Breyer is their continued collectibility. Of course, aside from a select few releases, the regular runs and more open-ended special runs tend to hover around or below issue price, but they release just enough small runs to hold their rarity. (There's a reason an OOAK Stone can cost $100-200 on a standard body while an OOAK Breyer is almost unheard of for under four digits.) The hunt for vintage pieces is arguably even more fun than chasing the newer limited runs - I've had a handful of good find over the years. Someday I'll get my hands on a vintage decorator.... someday.

I don't know why I'm wired that way, but for whatever reason I'm drawn more to collectibles (OFs) rather than art pieces (CMs and ARs). I'm an OF Breyer collector at heart, and I'm proud of it! Nay-sayers be damned.

At the end of the day, I collect what I like. What I like is a little bit of everything - it's just that about 95% of that everything comes wrapped up in a yellow and blue box.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Breyerfest Woes

Yup, haven't posted here in a while. I need to get my blogging butt back in shape.

As most model horse collectors know, this week is the week of the infamous Breyerfest. This week also marks the first time since 2008 that I'll be here at home rather than in Kentucky.

It's quite odd for me to think that I'm not going to be getting up at 3 tomorrow morning to embark on the 16 hour journey with my dad as we have been for the past four years. It's always been our big bonding experience every year, and even though he complains throughout the weekend, I know deep down inside he enjoys the whole experience. I totally agree with his gripes towards the drive, though. It is grueling.

I'll definitely miss the experience as a whole, but there are definitely some parts of this year's 'Fest that were definitely... unappealing to say the least. Denim and Diamonds? Really? It's basically Breyerfest 2007 except with a heavy emphasis on country music and lifestyle. No thanks, I'll pass. I've never understood the appeal towards country as a genre, so being bombarded with it for an entire weekend would most likely make me want to tear my hair out. Both the diorama and costume contests left me completely uninspired.

Plus, the weather's going to be nasty (90s, hot and humid), but then again, that's not unlike Massachusetts right now. This summer's been gross.

This year also marked my official aging out of the Youth Show, which has been a part of my Breyerfest experience since I started going in 2009. I toyed with the idea of entering the Open Show this year, but it's quite daunting to say the least.

I'm hoping that next year will have Breyerfest in the cards once more. That, and it will also be a Kentucky NAN year, so I can kill two birds with one stone. Even though the theme's not everything, let's just hope that it isn't something even worse... if we get Breyerfest Pink-a-palooza 2014, I don't know what I'll do.

Until next year, Lexington...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

10 years in the Model Horse Hobby

Everyone has to start somewhere when collecting model horses. Whether it's a birthday gift, a hand-me-down, or just a toy that caught our eye at the tack shop, many of us collectors can pinpoint exactly where and when we picked up our first horse.

2013 marks 10 years since my first model horse purchase. I still remember it vividly: my dad would often take us to a favorite hobby store of his, and I always admired their impressive wall of Breyers. After a while, both of my sisters got a horse, so it was only fair for me to beg and plead for one of my own. When my dad finally gave in, I picked out Susecion and Le Fire, figuring I could get two horses for the price of one! One disgruntled parent and $50 later, they were mine.

Susie is still in impressive condition despite being an 8 year old's plaything!
As a kid, my herd was admittedly not that big. By the time my collecting leveled off, all of my horses could still fit on top of my dresser. Some horses I specifically remember buying around 2004-2005 include the fox hunting Gem Twist, Trigger and Topper, a vintage lemon yellow FAS, and two Old Timers.

I was always known for being very gentle with my horses. Even my earliest ones have only tiny rubs and black marks. I mostly used my sister's horses for the intense "mustang battles," and they have the scars to prove it. Even so, my time playing with Breyers was short-lived; by about 10 I was mostly just displaying them and maybe putting a blanket on one or two. It's probably the inner collector in me!

In 2005, I purchased my first Special Run: the JAH 50th Anniversary Saddlebred. I was particularly taken by the Copenhagen, with blue being my favorite color. Imagine my surprise when this fellow showed up on my doorstep:

Blue Monday: the pride and joy of a 10 year old's herd!
Around 2006, I attended my first model horse show without really realizing it. It was in Spencer, Massachusetts, and the show was most likely NEPC solely because I remember seeing performance set-ups. Yes, I was one of those little kids that show up at the hall completely oblivious to what's going on. I bought a Spectacular Bid from a dealer who was present and don't remember very much besides that, to be honest.

This was about this time where my collecting pretty much dropped off. I mostly blame my Webkinz craze, along with the fact that I mostly just lost interest. It wasn't until spring 2008 when I picked up a JAH that I'd just gotten in the mail (couldn't just let a newly-renewed 2 year subscription go to waste!) that I found a sudden renewed interest in the hobby.

This is about the time where I joined forums such as Blab and Fallen Leaves and discovered the numerous facets of the hobby besides Breyers, including Stones, customs, resins, and model horse showing. I dusted off my old carpet herd and started buying new horses. I frequently stalked flea markets and antique shops and snapped up nearly every model I could find... something I now regret doing. But hey, it was the thrill of the hunt!

In September 2008, I showed at my very first model horse show and I was completely enthralled. Despite my meager show string of 13 horses, I still managed to get overall breed champ with Fiddle Faddle, a little G1 thoroughbred mare stablemate I pulled out of a bag of junk for $2. She's since been featured in the JAH Winner's Circle and comes with me to every show, whether she's competing herself or just acting as a good luck charm.

The notorious Fiddle Faddle!
 I've since attended numerous Region X shows, and have taken home many awards for various horses of mine. Showing still continues to be my favorite facet of the hobby to this day.

2009 marked my very first Breyerfest, a tradition my dad and I have been keeping up ever since. After years of begging, it finally happened. Each year we brave the 16-hour drive to Lexington through standstill traffic, extreme heat, and once even a torrential downpour. It's always been a great bonding experience for us; my dad's a collector himself (although not of model horses) so he is wonderful with understanding and supporting my hobby. Bless him.

I wish I could say I was completely overwhelmed at my first Breyerfest, but the truth is I did so much reading up ahead of time that I was a Breyerfest pro before I even set foot in the Kentucky Horse Park! Each year we've stayed at the CHIN to be right in the center of the action and room sales, and have recently started selling out of out room as well.

Since then, I've mostly just been showing and expanding my collection beyond Breyers, although they will always be the heart of my collection. My focus continues to be OFs with a spattering of customs and resins here and there.

It's been quite the interesting 10 years in the model horse hobby - here's to 10 more!