Breyer History
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I found this page on the Internet somewhere, I did not write it.  It does tell a nice bit of history, so I hope no one minds it being here.


BREYER HISTORY

During the 1940s, the Breyer Molding Company of Chicago was manufacturing custom-molded plastic parts like steering wheels and radio knobs. In 1950, they received a commission from the Master Crafter Clock Company to create a plastic horse figurine that could be used to decorate the top of one of their mantel clocks. Christian Hess, a Breyer employee, was chosen to "sculpt" the original horse figurine out of clay, which was then cast in steel to made Mold #57, "The Western Horse" - and the rest is history, as they say.

Two thousand plastic Western Horses were produced (this horse is considered by many Breyer collectors to be inferior by today's Breyer standards) and MasterCraft learned their clock held strong appeal to horse lovers.

Breyer quickly produced a "free standing" version of the Western Horse along with a Black Beauty and an Alabaster, many of which came with a cinched saddle. Breyer had discovered they had a "new" product. Previously, the two major model horse producers had been Marx and Hartland.

By the mid-1950s, the company had established a Breyer Animal Creation department to produce and market model horses, along with other animals including dogs, pigs, and bulls. They also produced a few hard plastic, unjointed rider dolls including a cowboy, a Mountie, an Indian, along with Kit Carson and Davy Crockett.

These riders are rare and coveted by Breyer collectors.

In the early 70s, Breyer acquired rights to Misty of Chincoteague and Stormy of novel fame, which were sold in gift sets that included a model horse and a book packaged in a box with a plastic handle. These sets now sell in the hundreds of dollars.

Soon after, the company launched their publication Just About Horses (Breyer, Division of Reeves Inter., 14 Industrial Road, Pequannock, NJ 07440). To date the company has created over 200 different model horse molds and issued close to 3,000 different "model horse versions" based on these 200 molds. The variations are in the paint and finish, including gloss and semi-gloss. Breyers come in four basic sizes: Traditional: 1/9 to 1/10 scale; Classic, 1/12 scale; Little Bits, 1/24 scale; and Stablemates, 1/32 scale.

Many Breyer collectors believe the models produced between 1950 and 1974 are of more uniform quality; but surprisingly, the more common 70s issues (including Misty, Man O'War and Rarin' To Go) often sell for under $50; rarer models such as those with wood-grained finish are well over $100 even with missing paint; and as a rule, glossies and "decorator" colors are the most expensive. The 1960s Gold Charm Fighting Stallion was listing on the WWW in the $500 and up range; and any of the 1950s models with rider are fast approaching that level and up.

CARE & CONDITION

As with most collectibles, condition is very important - BUT it is not always paramount with model horses. Produced from cellulose acetate, Breyers are subject to a number of "aging" problems, including yellow in, bent or broken legs, dirt buildup, and rub marks and scratches.

Yellowing seems to be the major problem, and although it often can be "cured", along with broken or bent legs, you can also "ruin" your model if not careful. Collector Sue Coffee recommends washing horses with a lemon-based dishwashing detergent, then using one cup of bleach in four gallons of hot water in a large bucket in a well ventilated area. Be sure to wear rubber gloves and completely submerge a yellowed model and watch it carefully - DO NOT use this method for pintos, appaloosas, etc. or models with gold paint or decorations! Instead try a more concentrated bleach solution (2 cups in 4 gallons of hot water) and trying "spot bleaching" using an old cloth or soft toothbrush. Horses yellowed from cigarette/cigar smoke may not brighten and if you try another method "recommended" by some model horse enthusiasts called "sunning" - be aware that you may degenerate the plastic and the horse could bloat, or turn brittle. Bright, direct even sunlight is required or the model may also develop lines, so beware if the horse is valuable! For minor "black" smudge marks, a clean pencil eraser often works well, and experimenting with various toothpastes is also suggested - but try them out first on a model horse or animal of minimal value to examine the effect. Some of the newer toothpastes have baking soda, peroxide and "whitening" agents in mixtures which could scratch the horse's surface.