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Model Horse Success Story

Jul 5, 2008
Founded in 1950 in Chicago, Illinois, Breyer Animal Creations, often referred to merely as "Breyer", is a division of Reeves International (which acquired them in 1984) and one of the oldest model animal companies to date. Breyer Animal Creations began as the Breyer Molding Company. The company specializes in model horses, although they have produced wildlife and domestic animal models at various times.

Breyer model horses are among the most coveted model horses amongst collectors. They company manufactures in excess of five million models each year, and they're not only very realistic but highly affordable.

The company first garnered great recognition when in 1950 the F.W. Woolworth Company commissioned Breyer to create what is now known as the #57 Western Horse model to be used to adorn a mantelpiece clock. But Woolworth soon became inundated with requests from people who saw it and wanted to know if they could purchase just the horse as a stand-alone piece. Breyer's reputation was almost instantly solidified and it has only grown even better through the decades.

Today, Breyer supplies Reeves with its single largest line. Headquartered in Pequannock, NJ, Reeves International was founded by Swiss entrepreneur Werner J. Fleischmann in 1946, and entered the toy industry as the U.S. distributor of fine European toys and collectibles to the 'carriage trade,' or toy specialty stores and upscale department stores. Reeves carries several well-known toy and model lines including the highly collectible Stieffs.

Every Summer Breyer holds a festival for model horse collectors called the Breyerfest. 'Just About Horses' is the Breyer company magazine.

All of the Breyer model horses have their origins as sculptures. Every one is hand crafted, without the use of any machinery, and hand painted using both airbrushes and traditional paintbrushes. Approximately 20 different artisans handle each Breyer model horse from its inception to the final brush stroke. By way of all this artistic, 100% human handling, no two Breyer model horses have ever been exactly alike.

Breyer model horses are approximately 12" long by 9" high. The Breyer Horse Traditional models are scaled to 1/9th the size of an actual horse. Most of the Breyer horse molds are made in this size, and these Traditionals constitute Breyer's main product line. However, their total set of product lines is enormous.

There are some Breyer horses that sell at auction or on eBay for thousands of dollars. Scarcity, age, and condition influence the value of a given model horse. Experienced collectors consider whether or not a horse is part of a Regular run or a Special Run; a model's color scheme; and whether a model is painted in a Breyer Special Color, of which there are currently six. The most important model names when collecting by color are Gold Charms, Wedgewood, Copenhagen, Silver Filigree, Woodgrain, Antique Bronze, and Antique Gold. These models are not intended to be the usual realistic depiction of a horse, but are intended to be decorative pieces.

Experienced collectors also point out that a specific piece for sale may look different in some details from its model line as featured in a Breyer company photograph. This is due to the aforementioned fact that each Breyer horse is totally hand crafted by up to 20 different people.

Although Breyer is far and away the most collected model horse and the most sought after, there are other fine model horse makers that some collectors prefer to or hold in similar regard to the Breyers.

One of these model lines is that of Stone Horses. Founded in 1996 and located in the lush countryside village of Shipshewana, Indiana, by Peter and Elaine Stone, the Peter Stone Company makes collectible model horses that are almost always hand-painted right on site, with numerous artists coming from all across the nation to work together in the beautiful setting.

Peter Stone says of the horses his artisans make, "I never get tired of looking at them." One of the great appeal factors of the Stones is their limited availability, making them more prized. Like Breyer's, no two Stone horses are ever exactly alike and the company strives to make its models as life-like as possible.

Based in Greenwich, Connecticut, Paradise Horses states that its mission is to recreate the horse ownership experience, especially with an eye toward fostering and furthering children's seemingly natural love of horses, with a complete line of posable horses and ponies, as well as all of the tack, clothing, and accessories required to keep a horse happy and healthy. In May of 2008, Paradise was given two awards by the iParenting Media organization, with Paradise Horses and Barn Buddies both receiving awards for their exquisite craftsmanship and realistic appearance.

"We are thrilled to receive this prestigious award from iParenting. Having our product recognized for its superior quality as well as for the experience that it provides to children is an incredible honor for us," said Amy Pennington, President and CEO.

"I loved the concept of this product. I always wanted a horse growing up and, as it is for most little girls, was not granted my wish. Having a toy like this helps a child's imagination to bridge the gap between fantasy and reality," stated one of the iParenting reviewers.

Model and toy manufacturer ERTL began producing model horses and horse accessories such as trailers in 1997, adding them to its vast array of other toys and models ranging from cars to biplanes to toy farm machines. Although ERTL clearly strives to compete with Breyer and offer hand-painted, inexpensive model horses, they seem to use a flimsy and brittle plastic, unlike the quality hard plastic of Breyer models. But some of their models are nice looking all the same.
About the Author
Steven Beckerman is husband to a very obsessed Breyer Model Horse Collector. Vist our website at Best Model Horses.
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