There may be a Stallion and Foal to match in the not too distant future. Wouldn’t that be lovely? More about that another time - let’s get back to the history!
I found the thing I was looking for - an early design for the original Stablemates packaging. The scan has been tweaked a bit to improve legibility, because the acetate was a bit yellowed and covered with bits of crusted stickum:
But goodness - if there had been a "Buy [this many] Stablemates, get a [special?] Stablemates Free!" offer, I would have been all over that like my brother was with the original Kenner Boba Fett action figure.
Worse, maybe, if it had involved some super-scarce exclusive one and not just some random Stablemate from the warehouse. Though an ordinary Regular Run Stablemate would have been good, too, as long I could have specified which one.
Back in those dark pre-Internet days, that would have been almost as powerful a draw as something rare and exclusive.
If your local stores didn’t get certain items or colors, you didn’t have a lot of recourse. I remember that the Stablemate Foals were especially hard to get around here - only one local store (a Circus World!) got some in, but they were long gone by the time we visited again.
The Stablemate assortment at the Kmart across the street didn’t have any either - either they sold quickly, or didn’t get them in the first place. My parents had to physically drag me away from that display because I wouldn't leave until I found them.
I did, eventually - they were one of the first things I bought from The Bentley Sales Company, shortly after "discovering" the hobby a few years later. I bought the Chestnut ones, along with the Dapple Gray Saddlebred and Chestnut Morgan Stallion, off one of their Discontinued Sales Lists.
I would have gladly sent in several proofs-of-purchase for any one of them.
Again, I have a hard time imagining a BOGO-style offer would be feasible in the here and now, due to cost. The closest thing we have now are the Stablemates that come with the Vintage and Premier Club memberships, and with the Exclusive Events.
It’d be nice if they could extend it to a program that doesn’t involve massive outlays of cash, though. Because again, part of the appeal of Stablemates is that they’re cheap. And free is the best kind of cheap!