Sunday, March 29, 2015

Damaged Goods Part 3: Plastic damage

Ah, the First World problems of a Collector.  Those of us who collect vintage (and modern) toys tend to get a little obsessive about flaws, problems, and wear.  What can we live with, what won't we allow across the threshold of the Pony Room?

The unfortunate truth about vintage Ponies is that very few of these 30+ year old toys has made it this far without sustaining some kind of damage.  The even more unfortunate truth is that we're only going to see more damage coming out on these beloved friends as time passes.  In the next few weeks, I'm going to explore some of the more common problems that we see in vintage ponies, with an eye toward educating new collectors and warning FIM fans about what they might expect from their Ponies in the coming years.

Chews, Dents, and Other Damage to the Plastic

Many ponies, unfortunately, have fallen prey to household pets.  It's not uncommon to find 2nd hand ponies with varying degrees of chews, dents, or other damage to the plastic.  Sometimes, these are minor and easily hidden with a clever hairstyle or displaying in a certain way.  Sometimes, they are more drastic.
In these drastic cases, there is little to do but to alter the pony.  It is possible to cut off the affected portion and replace it with clay, or to fill in missing pieces in the same way.  They clay can be formed and smoothed to replace the missing part.  In cases where I've done this, I've tended to customize the pony afterward.  This allows for some creativity in painting the new body part.  Restoration is possible, but matching the body colour with paint is difficult.
Elf

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Nigh 3 cover!

The Nigh series is continuing and here's my cover art for the third installment.
You can see the full, finished cover on Roomy's blog here.

While Nigh 3 is going live as an e-book later this week, you can now pick up the hardcover print edition of Nigh 1 now, with extra line art inside.  Here's a peek:
It's a great dark horror/fantasy story following a group of friends trying to survive during the fairy apocalypse.  Here are some links where you can order the hardcover edition:


Elf

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Damaged Goods Part 2: Plastic Breakdown

Ah, the First World problems of a Collector.  Those of us who collect vintage (and modern) toys tend to get a little obsessive about flaws, problems, and wear.  What can we live with, what won't we allow across the threshold of the Pony Room?

The unfortunate truth about vintage Ponies is that very few of these 30+ year old toys has made it this far without sustaining some kind of damage.  The even more unfortunate truth is that we're only going to see more damage coming out on these beloved friends as time passes.  In the next few weeks, I'm going to explore some of the more common problems that we see in vintage ponies, with an eye toward educating new collectors and warning FIM fans about what they might expect from their Ponies in the coming years.

Vinyl Breakdown

There are a couple of different symptoms of vinyl breakdown.  Probably the most common and most noticeable is colloquially known as "pony cancer."  This appears as brownish spots on the body of the pony, often, but not always, with a darker brown spot in the centre.  Certain ponies are more prone to this type of discolouration, to the point where it is difficult to find an example without at least one brown spot (in the G1s, Chief, Majesty, and Gingerbread, all pictured below, are extremely prone to this).  It is a symptom of the plastic aging and discolouring, but it can be aggravated by conditions of high humidity, heat, and a lack of air circulation.
There is a entrenched belief among some collectors that pony cancer can spread throughout a herd.  This is not actually true, a pony with cancer can be stored/displayed safely with other ponies without fear of the brown spots spreading.  However, if your herd is kept in the less than ideal conditions listed above, cancer can begin to develop more quickly in ponies that previously looked clean.  I suspect that this is the reason people believe it spreads from pony to pony.
Unfortunately, there is no way to correct this problem once it has developed.  Storing/displaying your pony in a cool climate with good air circulation will help to keep it at bay, but will not necessarily keep it out of your herd completely.  Thus far, I don't believe any G4s have been found with this type of vinyl breakdown.  The G2s, like the G4s, are made of a slightly harder plastic, and seem to be less prone to pony cancer, so we might hope that the G4s will fare the same.

Sticky Ponies

This form of vinyl breakdown is also fairly common, but difficult to photograph.  Generally, the pony's appearance doesn't change, but her body gradually becomes sticky.  You can wash the stickiness away, but it will gradually come back.  This is the "plasticizer," the chemical that makes the plastic soft, leaching out.  Eventually all the plasticizer will have leached out, and the pony's body will become extremely hard.  Although an irritating flaw, the appearance of the pony doesn't generally change, so this might be a flaw that's easier to live with.
Some G3 ponies, like Candy Apple above, are already becoming sticky.  Most G2 ponies (there are exceptions) seem to be less prone to this flaw, again perhaps because they are made of a harder plastic to begin with.  It is to be hoped that the G4s will fare similarly.

Elf


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Happy 2nd Anniversary, Geek Cave!

The Geek Cave turned two this week.  Only two years ago, it was an empty bedroom in our new house, now it's the room with the most stuff crammed into it.  And we wouldn't have it any other way.
Empty Geek Cave has no idea what's in store for it
Elf and Stormy, with the MLP stuff taking up the whole dining room
This is my third Pony Room, and the one I'm most pleased with.  Although it's not the largest Pony Room I've ever had, it's the best organized.  By sharing the room, it's forced both Roomy and I to stay on top of our collections, not letting things sit around forever instead of getting them up on display.  We've outfitted it with furniture bought specifically for the purpose of displaying the collection, which also gives the room a more complete look than any of my previous ones.
First Pony Room, in the old house
Second Pony Room, also in the old house
Of course, it's not perfect. The Cave will always be a work in progress, as Roomy's MOTU/POP and my MLP collections continue to expand.  I've got piles and boxes of accessories that are waiting to be organized.  Roomy has additional wall shelves to put up.  We both have things to unbox, and plans to improve the display.  But it's a joy to be in the Cave dealing with all of this, rather than a chore.  And that's the point of collecting, isn't it?  To enjoy yourself.
I asked Roomy if she'd like to weigh in on the Cave in light of this anniversary.  Her only comment was to tell me not to take over her space with the ponies, while giving me a suspicious look.

And now, the Cave at 2 years of age:
Elf

Friday, February 27, 2015

Damaged Goods Part 1: Discolouration and Fading

Ah, the First World problems of a Collector.  Those of us who collect vintage (and modern) toys tend to get a little obsessive about flaws, problems, and wear.  What can we live with, what won't we allow across the threshold of the Pony Room?

The unfortunate truth about vintage Ponies is that very few of these 30+ year old toys has made it this far without sustaining some kind of damage.  The even more unfortunate truth is that we're only going to see more damage coming out on these beloved friends as time passes.  In the next few weeks, I'm going to explore some of the more common problems that we see in vintage ponies, with an eye toward educating new collectors and warning FIM fans about what they might expect from their Ponies in the coming years.

This week's episode is on Discolouration and Fading.  These are probably the most common problems collectors encounter.

Discolouration

 MLPs are subject to numerous types of discolouration, and many of the problems discussed in later posts will cover these.  This week, I want to talk in more general terms.

Hasbro has, unfortunately, long used different types of plastic in manufacture of the head and body of individual MLPs.  Although the toys often look fine right out of the package, time will often show the difference as the dye used to colour the pony leeches faster out of one part of the pony.
Twilight and Feathermay will, unfortunately, someday resemble Wingsong
Head/body mismatch is one of the least popular flaws among collectors.  Unfortunately, it's something we've had to learn to live with.  G2 and G4 ponies are particularly prone to mismatch and I suspect this has something to do with the fact that their plastic is a bit more firm than G1 and G3.  However, you will see the same flaws in G1 and G3 ponies, but it's easier to avoid.  The unfortunate truth is, that certain ponies (Twilight Sparkle, Wingsong, Feathermay) are more prone to this flaw and it's quite difficult to find one without.
The two Peachys on the right are the same release, but the middle one is sun damaged.  The Peachy on the left is the Italian varient.
It's also possible for a pony to become discoloured rather than faded through  prolonged sun exposure.  Some ponies become darker rather than lighter with the sun, and are prone to "sun burn" and often discolour evenly across their bodies.  Some collectors may mistake these subtle changes in colour for a variant version of a pony, but really it only shows that a pony enjoyed outdoor playtime with a child.

Fading

It doesn't take much exposure to light to cause the bright colours of MLP to begin to fade.  Certain colours can begin to lose their vibrancy with only a few minutes of sun exposure.  Camera flashes and indirect light can also hurry fading along.

The most notorious colour for fading on MLP is a hair colour that collectors refer to as "fading pink."  Fading pink begins life as a bright, vibrant, almost florescent shade but if exposed to sunlight it quickly fades away and can turn completely white in a very short time.  In fact, it fades so quickly that often collectors discover that a pony whom they've always thought was made with white hair was actually rooted with fading pink.  UK Mountain Boy Tornado and Argentina Baby Ribbs are two such ponies, who are often so often seen with completely faded hair that they are thought to originally have had white hair.
Believe it or not, all of these ponies started life with the same bright pink hair that you see on the left
Although fading pink is (obviously) known for it's lack of colour-fastness, any colour can fade or yellow over time.  Red hues (including pinks, and purples) are known to leach out faster than other pigments.  This can cause pink or red paint to become white or disappear completely and purples to become blue.  These changes in colour can also be mistaken for variants.

Elf

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Baking Party

Just for fun, a pony display inspired by my own baking party that's taking place this weekend:

Some Pony Friends decided one day to have a baking party.  They met in the kitchen on a sunny morning and got right down to business.  They were making pies, cakes, and cookies.
Cherry Sweet kept an eye on the pie in the oven so that it wouldn't burn.  It was her favourite flavour: cherry, of course!
Vanilla Treat and Cupcake were deciding what to make next.  They looked over the ingredients and considered what kind of cookies would taste the best.
Meanwhile, Bon Bon stole a taste of the batter already in the bowl.  Mmm...those cookies would be yummy whatever other flavours they added!
Looks like the friends are going to have even more help shortly.  Li'l Sweetcake and Li'l Cupcake are wondering if any of the baking is ready to taste yet.

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Current Customs Progress:
Commissions: 0
Personal: 7
Swaps: 1
Planning Stage: 1
Gifts: 2

Sales Ponies to Clean: done!  MLP Fair here we come!

Collection photos added to album (recently): over 200 moved to new Flickr account

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Nigh 2

I've been busy with pen and ink as well as the paintbrush lately.  Part one of Roomy's serialized novel, Nigh, is now available for purchase on e-readers, and Roomy has revealed the cover for the second part.  Here is the art I've done for that cover.
Once again, you can see the finished cover on Roomy's blog here.  And if you're looking for a good fantasy-horror read, consider buying part one.

Elf