Many Mini Hooves

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Originally published September 27, 2013

Gift Set: Mares and Foals - Return of the Thoroughbred Foals

1996 was a bit disappointing as far as Stablemate fans were concerned. The excitement of the new singles line had worn off and the big Saddle Club switch didn't exactly make headlines. When the 1997 line was announced, the mini doldrums would be completely forgotten. Not only were there new sets, but the sets contained the long-lost Thoroughbred Foals!

This was the first time the Stablemate foals had been seen in the regular line since 1988 when the Stable Set was finally discontinued. Four "mare" and foal sets were issued in a variety of new colours. Three out of the four sets used Stallion molds, so the names of the sets weren't terribly accurate, but who could care when they came in such a fabulous variety of colours? My guess is that they had the following criteria in mind when choosing which molds to use: 1. most popular, 2. easy to package, 3. looked well paired with one of the two foal molds.

The #59971 Morgan Mare and Foal set consists of a buckskin Morgan Stallion and a matching Thoroughbred Lying Foal. They both sport distinct socks, shell-coloured hooves, and blazes complete with little pink snips. The buckskin colour on both models is that shade yellow Breyer seemed so fond of in the late 90s, but it doesn't detract from the charm of the set.

An Arabian Stallion and matching Thoroughbred Standing Foal make up set #59974 Arabian Mare and Foal. The Stallion, err mare, is a deep red chestnut and his foal is the loveliest shade of pale baby chestnut. While the other sets sport crisp, stencilled markings, the vague, airbrushed socks and bald-ish face on the foal are more reminiscent of Stablemate days of yore.

The bay frame Arabian Mare and her matching Thoroughbred Lying Foal in the #59972 Pinto Mare and Foal set both have nicely stencilled markings. The mare has a big bonnie bald face while her foal sports a slightly more conservative blaze ending in a little pink snip. Incidentally, this was the only set to actually use a 'mare' mold.

Of course, if you have pintos, you must have appaloosas. #59973 Appaloosa Mare and Foal has a black leopard appaloosa Quarter Horse Stallion accompanied by a smashing black blanket appaloosa Thoroughbred Standing foal with an adorable little blaze and four socks. Though the design was a good one, the execution in this case fell a bit short. The 'spots', which looked to be hand-painted, have an unfortunate tendency to be more dash than dot.

In 2000, these sets were replaced with new ones when the Generation Two Stablemate Foals appeared on the scene.

Though the Thoroughbred Foals would never again be sold in the Singles Assortment as they were in the 1975 line, they continued to play a significant role in gift sets, play sets, and as special runs until the mold lease expired at the end of 2005.

Originally published October 2, 2015

Gift Sets: Mares and Foals - New Foals on the Block

With the popularity of the Generation One Mare and Foal sets and the addition of a small herd of G2 foals to the line, a new collection of Mare and Foal sets was the only logical choice. The first collection of the new sets, released in 2000, followed the usual Breyer formula: frame, tobiano, appaloosa, and solid.

The pairs in the sets weren't too matchy matchy; the adults made believable parents to the foals, but each model had its own individual look. Although both models in the #59975 Appaloosa Mare and Foal set were chestnut appaloosas, the mare was a flaxen chestnut leopard appaloosa while the foal was a more orange-toned blanket appaloosa.

Oddly enough one of the two solid foals was paired with the pinto stallion in the #59976 Warmblood Stallion and Foal set. The G2 Warmblood stallion is a flashy chestnut roan frame while the foal is a much more subdued, though sweetly soft, solid baby bay.

Both models in the #59977 Pinto Stallion and Foal are colourful tobianos. The G2 Trotting foal is a light chestnut tobiano with a complex pattern for the size. The bay tobiano G2 Prancing Morgan had a simpler pattern, but with more detailed, ruffly edges to the markings.

Compared to the other sets, the #59978 Saddlebred Mare and Foal models are a little subdued. The G2 American Saddlebred is a nice medium dapple grey with bubble dapples, four stencilled high-white stockings, an airbrushed bald face, and solid cranberry ribbons. Black can be such a plain colour, but the G2 Scratching Foal is saved from this with a perky star and some soft brown shading around the muzzle.

The 2000 collection of Horse and Foal sets were available through 2002 when they were replaced in 2003 by four new sets; these were a bit lighter on the patterned models than the previous sets.

The patterns on the models in the #59979 Horse and Foal Gift Set - Bay Blanket Appaloosa Mare and Leopard Appaloosa Foal set were switched from those in the 2000 set. This time the mare had the blanket pattern while the foal was the leopard. The G2 Thoroughbred is a bright bay with a small, airbrushed blanket. The G2 Trotting Foal in the set tends to vary, a lot. The example shown is a fairly typical one, being a varnish bay colour with grey shaded points instead of black. Other models can be much darker or lighter and some have chestnut shading instead of the grey. The airbrushed hind socks are more often present than not.

A mini-me pair in the Horse and Foal genre was inevitable. The models in the #59980 Horse and Foal Gift Set - Buckskin Lusitano Stallion and Foal are both a bright yellow buckskin with inky black points. The G2 Andalusian is completely solid and has a creamier colour while the foal is more yellow and has an off-hind sock.

#59982 Horse and Foal Gift Set - Red Dun Morgan Stallion and Dark Bay Foal was a little more interesting than the Lusitano set. The G2 Prancing Morgan colour, a shaded chestnut dun, is complimented by the much darker foal, a G2 Scratching Foal in a very dark, shaded bay. Both models are completely solid, except for the short near-fore sock on the stallion.

This time two different pinto spotting genes were showcased in the pinto set. The stallion in the #59983 Horse and Foal Gift Set - Blue Roan Pinto Stallion and Bay Foal is a black dun frame; the moderate size of the markings serves to emphasize the darkness of the body colour rather than lighten it. The G2 Cantering Foal serves to put a bright not into the set with its light baby bay colour and splashy tobiano pattern.

These four sets were available through 2006 when a new quartet with a complicated history filled the Horse and Foal hole in the 2007 catalogue.

Originally published December 16, 2016

Gift Sets: Mare and Foals - The Mighty Morphing Mares

* The 'Blab' mentioned below refers to The Model Horse Blab, a popular model horse online community. *

On August 03, 2006, I spotted four mysterious mare and foal sets at my local Target in Arizona. I didn't know if they were special runs, regular runs, or a sort of fluke release (a girl can dream, right?), but I did know I would be buying them all that day.

I have since found a Blab post on July 27, 2006, from an East Coast member mentioning these sets, so people were finding them on the shelves at least a week earlier than I did.

It is well that I purchased the models when I did because two of the four sets saw some fairly major changes very soon after their release.

The most dramatic alteration was to the Paint Horse set, called #720599 Horse and Foal Set - Sport. This set originally consisted of a G2 Thoroughbred in a lovely and detailed dark bay frame pattern with off-hind stocking, near-hind pastern and leg patch, and an apron face and her G2 Scrambling Foal in an equally complex chestnut dun frame with apron face, off-hind stocking, and near-hind sock.

Around this time Breyer moved away from the metal mold masks and adopted the new sticker-type masking, through this process a whole new level of intricacy in pattern designs became possible, as illustrated in the above models.

Sometimes the remainder of these stickers or their residue is left on a model. A rub with the finger is generally all that's needed to remove the stickiness, stickers, or coloured (often red or blue) edging. The stickers will be painted over with the body colour, so it will usually look like the model has a paint flaw. My little paint mare had quite a bit of the red edging to remove and a horrible paint flaw on her leg which turned out to be a whole marking that had been left covered up.

When you have a Target with a well-stocked Breyer section within an easy walk of your apartment, you find that your evening stroll takes you in that direction at least once every two weeks or so. With that in mind, I am fairly confident that the release date of first variation was close to my date of purchase.

While doing some date checking, I found a Blab post on Sept. 1, 2006, from a Minnesota member, discussing the new variations, so I wasn't too far behind in finding this out.

A little over six weeks after purchasing my first set, on September 17, 2006, while I was giving the local Target's Breyer shelves a quick check over, I noticed something odd about the new family sets; they had changed! The lovely paint horse set was now just a solid pair with extensive facial markings!

The face and leg markings remained the same (though the mare lost her leg patch), but those lovely frame patterns were gone, and after only around a month or so, which is like five minutes in the lifespan of a run. Though the mare was now a little on the dull side, after all there were already several other bay G2 Thoroughbreds out there, the G2 Scrambling Foal looked rather sweet in a simple, solid chestnut dun.

Not too much later, this set underwent another change. The colours were the same, but the mare had become a stallion, the G2 Warmblood to be exact. The foal remained unchanged and unamused. I didn't purchase this set until October 2009, but I have found Blab posts referring to the change as early as November 27, 2006.

This set was later released in the catalogue as the regular run #5924 Sport Horse - bay and chestnut foal which ran from 2007 to 2015. The regular run doesn't seem to differ significantly from the special run issue besides the usual inconsistencies caused by different paint batches, extra shading, and misapplication of the sticker-masks.

The same time the frame mare and foal were turning solid, the #720599 Horse and Foal Set - Appaloosas - Grullo and bay foal (2006) set underwent a few changes of its own.

The G3 Cantering Warmblood started out as a golden-toned black dun with four stencilled socks, an apron face, eye-whites, and a lacy, bisected, stencilled hip blanket with masked spots. Her plastic was of the translucent variety, giving her a slightly yellowed look next to white plastic models. The G2 Trotting Foal was a pink bay roan with a blaze, white muzzle, stencilled off-fore and near-hind socks, and a lightly speckled body.

In September this set changed names to #720599 Horse and Foal Set - Appaloosas (2006) and the horses changed too. Now the G3 Cantering Warmblood had four air-brushed stockings and an airbrushed blanket with chestnut splatter spots covering her rump. Her body colour and facial marking remained the same. The foal was now a plain bay with air-brushed off-fore and near-hind socks, and an air-brushed hip blanket with splatter spots. The facial marking remained unchanged.

This set was later released as the regular run #5921 Horse and Foal Set - Appaloosas (2007-15)

The final two sets have remained unchanged throughout their history.

Target special run #720599 Horse and Foal Set: American Quarter Horse - Palomino (2006), later regular run #5922 Horse and Foal Set: American Quarter Horses - Palomino (2007-2015) consisted of a G3 Stock Horse in metallic palomino with off-white mane and tail, blaze, and an off-hind sock. It was accompanied by a G2 Cantering Foal in palomino with stark white mane and tail, star, and near-hind and off-fore socks.

Target special run #720599 Pinto - grey sabino and white with black and white foal (2006), later regular run #5923 Horse and Foal Set - Pintos (2007-2015) had a G2 Prancing Morgan in a soft water-resist dapple grey tobiano with star, snip, and bi-coloured mane. The G2 Scratching Foal was a black tobiano with a large blaze, eye-whites, and bi-colour mane and tail.

Originally published January 13, 2017

Gift Sets: Mare and Foals - Something Special

Those who ventured into Tractor Supply Co in January of 2008 might have found an exciting surprise - four new, unannounced mare and foal sets! These sets later appeared in a variety of retail stores and were only produced for a year.

#5601 Rose Grey Arabian and Foal (2008) featured a rose grey (bay going grey) G3 Walking Arabian and a matching G2 Trotting Foal.

The stallion has a snip, eye-whites, and white and tail with black shading. The foal is slightly darker and has a star, eye-whites, black points, and off-hind and near fore socks.

The G3 Mustang and G2 Scrambling Foal in the #5602 Appaloosa Stallion and Foal (2008) set are both bay "semi-leopard" appaloosas.

They have black points, white shading in their tails, blazes, and polka-dot spots. The Stallion has hind socks while the foal has three socks, not including the off-fore.

Both horses in the #5603 Pinto Sport Horse and Foal (2008) set are tobianos, but their base colours are different.

The G3 Standing Thoroughbred is a black tobiano with a star, snip, and four white legs. The G3 Standing Foal is a dark bay tobiano with a star, four stockings, and eye-whites.

#5604 Palomino Peruvian Paso and Foal (2008) consists of a palomino G3 Peruvian Paso with three socks, not off-hind and eye-whites.

The G2 Scratching Foal is a sooty palomino with flaxen mane and tail, darkly shaded legs, eye-whites, and a near-hind sock.

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