Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Breyer Horses - A History

Most of us who are horse crazy collected Breyer Horses when we were growing up.  The "Cantering Welsh Pony" was one of my favorites (still have this one in seal brown!).

The first Breyer horse was created in 1950 and is commonly known as the Western Horse (#57 Western Horse).

This horse was created as an adornment for a clock created by the Mastercrafters company.  The model was retained as payment for molding the parts.  Orders starting coming in just for the horse, and well, the rest is history.

The models are made of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic, and most of them are horses although they have made various wildlife and domestic animals, including an extensive line of dog breeds.   Since 1989, the company has held a festival for model horse lovers at the Kentucky Horse Park, called Breyerfest. 

There are five basic scales of Breyer model horses:

* Traditional (1:9 scale) - models are 8" high and 11" long
* Classic (1:12 scale) - dollhouse, models are 7" H and 5" long
* Ponies/Pony Pal Gals  - same as classic
* Paddock Pal (1:24 scale) - now retired
* Stablemates (1:32 scale) - about 7 cm H and 6 cm long
* Mini Whinnies (1:64 scale) - about an inch tall

Each horse is cast in a two-piece mold.  The halves are put together and the seams are sanded and polished.  In older models, the markings were airbrushed by hand.  Brands or other individual markings are hand-painted.  Models can have different finishes, such as matte or glossy.  

Models can be graded or valued in several ways.  For selling and trading purposes, horses are graded by their packaging and condition.  Breyer has a very strong collector base, for which it publishes an annual collector publication, Just About Horses (JAH), and it has an online Collector Club.  Breyer also works with Hollywood and has been the "go-to" company for horse films.  You can find Breyer models for Flicka, The Horse Whisperer, Seabiscuit, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Dreamer and others. 

Today, Breyer brings about 300 unique horses, animals and accessories to the market every year.  Breyer has expanded to include jewelry, casual clothing and other equestrian-themed products. 

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