Many Mini Hooves

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Originally published October 23, 2015

Play Sets: Horse and Rider

With the introduction of a new generation of Stablemates, Breyer saw fit to invest in further diversification of the line. A pair of riders, similar to those produced by Britains, made an appearance in English and Western wear. Each style came with an appropriate saddle and bridle and was paired with a horse. The tack and riders were all made of rubber and were quite detailed for the scale.

The first batch of horse and rider sets appeared in 2000 and were available through 2004. There were two Western and two English sets.

The two Western Rider and Saddle Sets consisted of #5201, a palomino G2 Stock Horse and #5202, a bay G2 American Saddlebred. Both models went on to be re-released in several later play sets.

The models in the English Rider and Saddle Sets were a bit flashier than the Western sets. #5203 is a chestnut tobiano on the G2 Thoroughbred mold and #5204 is the G2 warmblood in dapple grey. These two were only used in these sets.

The rubber tack can be a bit fiddly, and the riders aren't quite to scale with the horses, but the effect is charming when everything is put together properly.

The sets came packaged on a hanging card like the Singles Assortment models, but several changes in the packaging occurred during the run. The earlier models came on a rosette-shaped care fully assembled with tack, rider, and horse all together. Later sets went for a more deconstructed presentation on a plain rectangular card; a trophy, ribbon, and paper fence were added at this time, too. The change likely made the sets easier to assemble and the plainer cards were less likely to be damaged than the more ornate ribbon-shaped cards.

I don't know the exactly when the change was made, but I'm guessing it was sometime in late 2003 or 2004 as the 2003 special run was released on the fancy ribbon cards and the new 2005 sets came on plain rectangle cards.

Speaking of the 2003 special run, instead of the usual Traditional or Classic model, the last Breyer Day Show Special release was a pair of Stablemates - this series was restarted in 2005 with the Breyer Fun Day Classic-scale special runs. Sold individually on a rosette card, #702003 Western Rider and Saddle set with Appaloosa - the G2 Stock Horse in buckskin appaloosa and #701003 English Rider and Saddle Set with Bay Warmblood - G2 Warmblood in bay - were simply re-releases of the Singles Assortment models, #5601 and #5607 respectively, with tack and a rider. These sets didn't attract much attention besides disappointment in the lack of the usual special model and are consequently rather difficult to find.

In 2005 a new batch of horse and rider sets replaced the old. These were more ambitious than the simple English and Western sets previously released. While the earlier sets originally only consisted of horse, rider, and tack, the new sets added a length of card-stock fencing and a few extra accessories - trophies and rosette in most cases. Two new themes were added too, racing and Native American, complete with appropriate tack and riders.

Least successful, design-wise, was the G2 Thoroughbred in the #5207 Jockey Rider and Race Tack Set (2005-06), many collectors were turned off by the white socks paired with the black hooves. These white markings were supposed to be leg wraps, but the design didn't translate well. This set came with completely new race tack and jockey.

#5208 Indian Brave and Appaloosa (2005-06) set was the only one to contain a fabric accessory, a colourful blanket. The bridle was the same as those used in the earlier sets, but the rider was new. This was the only time the G2 Stock Horse appeared in war paint, but it was not his last time to be given painted markings.

There was nothing new accessory-wise in the #5209 Cowgirl and Western Saddle Set (2005-06), but the palomino G2 Paso Fino was still a lovely prize. The colour on this model is a bit "roany", much like some of the early 1970s Stablemates.

Things got a bit complicated with the #5210 Junior Rider and English Saddle Set. At first the set contained a lovely red bay G1 Quarter Horse Stallion, but in the big switch at the end of 2005, a G2 Warmblood in the same colour replaced it only to be discontinued at the end of 2006 with the rest of this group of models. The tack and rider are the standard English set.

Many thanks to Sharon Walbridge and Seranata for providing pictures for this post!

Originally published January 16, 2016

Play Sets: Horses in Harness

After the all the sets with horses under saddle, it only made sense to start putting them in harness, too. With the new releases in 2003 was the Stablemates Horsepower! collection - three different horses in harness. These sets were chock-full of accessories and the tack and wagons were detailed and appealing, but since the sets only contained re-releases of recent models, they didn't make as big of a splash with collectors as would have been expected.

#5986 Doctor's Buggy (2003-05) was a classy affair with a black G1 Silky Sullivan and a black wagon with gold lettering. A trunk, doctor's bag, sleeping cat, and sitting dog rounded out the set. The G1 Silky Sullivan is the same as #5177 from the 1995 Stablemate Assortment. Some models have white feet, while others are solid black, but this variation is also seen in the #5177 releases and is not a means to tell the two models apart.

A bay G2 American Saddlebred, the same as #5202 Western Rider and Saddle Set was harnessed up for the #5984 Delivery Wagon (2003-05). The closed wagon is dark green with cream writing, the harness is brown, and a bale of hay, a lantern, and a dog are also included.

For the second of his three appearances, the palomino G2 Stock Horse, originally released in the #5201 Western Rider and Saddle Set, graced the #5985 Buckboard Wagon (2003-05) with his yellow presence. In this set the wagon was an open delivery-type with slatted sides, a bright green body, and a brown harness. The small accessories included a pair of pumpkins, a bushel of apples, and a bale of hay.

While the other 2005 horse and harness regular run releases were realistic western show sets (covered in a different post), the #5989 Princess and Carriage Play Set (2005-06) stood out as the only fantasy set. Coming as it did on the brink of the great Generation Swap, two different versions of this set can be found.

The basics are the same - both sets came with a pink and white, flowered carriage, pink harness, princess, assorted treasure, and a sleeping black and white cat.

And the adult horse, a G2 Andalusian in a pearly fantasy-type cremello with exaggerated pink shading and gold-toned mane, tail, and hooves, remained constant. The pink on this model can range from barely visible highlights to "someone should have used some sunblock" all over heavy shading.

It was the foal which experienced the big swap. The pearly cremello G1 Thoroughbred Lying Foal with its pink shading, gold-toned mane, tail, and hooves became an identically coloured G2 Trotting Foal.

Many thanks to Sharon Walbridge for providing pictures for this post!

Originally published January 22, 2016

Play Sets: Holiday Harness

2005/06 proved to be a big couple of years for the horse and harness sets. Not only were a new batch of regular run sets released, but several special holiday sets made their appearance as well.

In 2005 Breyer began to experiment with other holiday promotions besides their usual Halloween and Christmas offerings. An Easter-themed "Spring" collection included a variety of models and toys, including the #5990 Cottontail Express (2005).

The G2 American Saddlebred included in this set is a slightly metallic, pale palomino. Her ribbons are white with yellow and pink Vs. Her wagon is pastel yellow, pink, and purple with a purple harness. Also included are baskets of flowers, a bunny, and a tiny bundle of carrots.

The first Christmas-themed Stablemate also appeared in 2005 with the #700315 Home For the Holidays Christmas Wagon (2005). There have been several dapple grey G2 Paso Fino releases, but none as softly dappled and delicate as the snowy mare in this set. The wagon is a festive green and red with gold trimming and brown harness. When Santa is placed on the seat "song" plays. Gaily wrapped presents and a "real" Christmas tree make up the cargo.

Christmas 2006 found the G2 Paso Fino again decked out for the holiday in the #300560 Holiday Sleigh (2006) play set. 2006 must have been a snowy year, because the peppermint-coloured chestnut appaloosa G2 Paso Fino was pulling a sleigh instead of a wagon this year. The colours - green, red, and gold - were the same as last year, but instead of Santa we have a jaunty little man with a load of wrapped gifts and a Christmas tree to deliver.

Many thanks to Sharon Walbridge for providing pictures for this post!

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