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Here on hobbyDB we have slowly been building up the number of Breyer model horses on the database. You may have seen these plastic horses (and other animals) appearing, some even having eye watering values, and wondered where they’ve all come from. Well let me share!
Breyer Animal Creations, owned by Reeves International, is an American company that has been producing realistic model animals, predominantly horses, since the 1950s. So yes, if you’re in the US or Canada especially, there is a chance a Breyer or two may be lurking in parents or grandparents’ attics.
Breyer began its life as the Breyer Molding Company, a Chicago-based plastics manufacturer. The very first horse was #57 Western Horse, which galloped onto the scene in 1950 as a special order, originally made to adorn a mantlepiece clock. All of a sudden Breyer was flooded with requests from people who just wanted the horse and a company was born!
Since then Breyer has produced thousands of model horses in a range of sizes, with “Traditional” 1/9 figures being the most popular. As well as other animals including dogs, cats, moose, bears and cattle. They have also produced play sets, buildings such as toy stables, dolls, and plush toys.
In 1990 Breyer launched its own collector convention, Breyerfest, which has now been running annually every July and attracts hundreds of collectors to Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. The event has model horse live shows, demonstrations, you may even get to meet the real horses and the sculptors behind some of your favourite models.
There are many Breyerfest exclusive figures released, with the Breyerfest Live Auction of one-off pieces being extremely popular, with proceeds going to horse welfare charities. In 2022 it broke records with one figure, the “Glossy Dun Silver Pegasus” raising an astonishing $65,000!
You certainly don’t always need to dig that deep to start your own equine collection, with more common 1/9 “Traditional” models ranging from $20 to $50 and smaller “Stablemates” 1/32 models starting from $5 to $10.
As they have been around for so many years, it’s also fun to check out charity shops, thrift stores and vintage shops as you never know what you might find (yes, I’m still mourning the fact I didn’t buy that Breyer Moose I once saw in an antique shop in the UK, you just don’t see them much in the UK!).
Thrift finds can start as low as $1, but you never know if that $1 might have found you a rarity! As Breyers are hand painted and have a range of finishes, there are some quirky hard to find figures out there, maybe the eyes are painted a different colour than standard; maybe it has a “chalky” finish rather than the standard matte finish; maybe the tail mould is different, these little quirks go on and on and on, and can be quite desirable. There are, however, quirks that are less desirable.
Some moulds are known to have a wobble, legs and ears can be bent or warp or break, there are also “shrinkies,” a term used to describe models which have shrunk in size to be smaller than standard.
Shrinkies tend to be found among models from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s due to the type of plastic used during that time. There’s a good blog on spotting shrinkies on Triple Mountain here.
There is a thriving custom Breyer community out there though, so even the broken ones can go on to have a second life. We are working really hard to try and catalogue all the Breyers we can on hobbyDB, but with the thousands out there, it is taking some time!
Please let us know if your favourite model is missing! Are you a Breyer collector? We look forward to seeing your collection on hobbyDB!
With that name, I always thought they were German! They’ve had a very long life! That’s great!
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