Here’s the first installment of something I hope becomes a semi-regular feature: Breyer Urban Legends!
There’s always been a lot of information of dubious quality circulating in the world of Breyer model horse history. This is due to a lack of existing documentation, the sometimes less-than-stellar quality of material published (especially online), and the utter hugeness of the topic (hundreds of models, some in dozens of colors, and some of those colors with multiple variations and releases!)
In the absence of reliable or consistent information, legends grow. And boy, there are a lot of them. I wince at some of the want lists I see published on MH$P, full of models that are little more than artifacts of bad research, rumor and wishful thinking. Perhaps this Urban Legend feature will help some of you cross off a few unattainable things from those want lists.
I won’t even try to cover the ones I don’t have any reliable information on; where I have an opinion stand in for a fact (usually in order to make a plausible argument or deduction,) I’ll try to make that clear, too.
Since we were all abuzz about the Old Mold Mare this week, the topic of my first Breyer Urban Legend seemed pretty obvious: the Gloss Palomino Old Mold Mare!
The original Old Mold Mare and Foal were made in four colors. In ascending order of rarity, they would be Alabaster, Bay, Gray Appaloosa and Woodgrain. (Alabasters are relatively easy to find; Woodgrains, not so much.)
It was assumed, back in the dark days of Breyer History research, that the Old Mold Mare and Foal came in the same assortment of colors that the Family Arabian Mare and Foal did. They were, after all, their replacements, right? Marney Walerius (the original Breyer history diva) thought so, and listed them in her reference guide published in early 1992. The fact that nobody had one in their collection, or had found any pictures or documentation of them - well, that just meant they were rare. Really, really rare.
Now we know better: the Palomino and Charcoal weren’t even introduced until 1961 - well after the mare and foal were switched over to their Family Arabian versions. There might have been a test color or two made back then - the Western Horse and Pony were solid sellers in gloss palomino throughout the 1950s, so it was in their repertoire. But there’s no known physical evidence that the Old Mold Mare or her Foal were ever formally released in that color.
But as is almost always the case with Breyer history, the story isn't quite that simple.
In the early 1970s, when Breyer was considering bringing back the Old Mold Mare and Foal as companions to the newly introduced Proud Arabian Stallion, there was at least one test color Gloss Palomino Proud Arabian Mare made. Here’s the picture I have, from Marney Walerius’s photo album:
(No, I don’t know her current owner or whereabouts. Sorry!)
There are test color reproductions of other Old Mold colors on the newly retooled mare in this album - Alabaster, Bay and Gray Appaloosa, at least - so I’m guessing that she was created to duplicate another member of the assumed pantheon. Instead of replicating an actual production piece, however, they ended up creating a legend.
It’s possible a few others were made - test colors from that era were rarely unique. (There’s another future debunkable legend!) And Marney had almost free rein to paint whatever she wanted in the Chicago factory until the move to New Jersey in the 1980s, so she could have conceivably created more of the pretty little lady pictured above. I have no concrete evidence one way or another, though.
And as for how we’d define the models Marney made on her own, for her own devices - true tests, mini-SRs, factory customs, or something else? That’s another very lengthy topic entirely.