Thursday, November 19, 2009

Anyone remember Steha?

Another short one today - I’m in the final throes of a big, complicated non-horse, non-writing project, and I don’t want to lose my momentum. (It’ll be done today, and then I’ll move on to the next big, complicated non-horse, non-writing project. Yes, I do have way too many hobbies!)

Some hobbyists think that Reeves’ involvement in the wonderful world of model horses began in late 1984, when they acquired the Breyer brand. This is not so: prior to that, they were the exclusive U.S. distributor of Steha Horses.

I didn’t know this until recently, myself. A few years ago, I purchased a couple of Reeves’ Great Lines Catalogues on eBay. These books contain bound copies of dealer catalogs of all of the lines that Reeves imported and distributed. I found a Steha catalog bound in the 1981-82 edition.


I don’t have a lot of data about Steha in my archives, aside from this bound-in dealer’s catalog. Stehas were flocked and haired horses made in West Germany, and were available from the 1950s to (at least) the early 1980s. Here’s a link to a good-sized picture of one:

http://www.instappraisal.com/content/steha-horse

Stehas were never a big part of the model horse world, at least in the U.S. First of all, they weren’t very realistic: some were nicer than others, but none of them could pass competitive muster, even in the more forgiving earlier days of the hobby. Second, they were rather expensive compared to Breyers: the wholesale prices for Traditional-scale Breyers in 1981 ranged from $3-6; the wholesale prices for comparable Stehas were $14-19! Yikes!

Some Steha items did find a place in the hobby: their carts and wagons were surprisingly nice, and of much better quality than hobbyists were able to create for themselves at the time.


I remember at least one local toy store that carried Stehas in the 1970s, but I never actually owned one. Aside from being expensive and homely, I was never a big fan of flockies in general: they’re hard to keep clean, and they have a nasty habit of yellowing, shedding and disintegrating.

Stehas are rather expensive and hard to come by nowadays, presumably for the same reason. If I had known back then that they’d have a Breyer connection now, I might have parceled out a bit of my allowance money and bought one.

7 comments:

Carrie said...

I remember Stehas. There was a local upscale department store that sold them. I never got one since they were 5 times the price of Breyers! I have some catalog pages showing various models and, while looking at them a couple years ago, was surprised to find that Reeves had been their US distributor. They even have one traditional-sized copy of the FAM!

Tehana said...

I left an amazing set of these at my flea market due to price/condition. there were two horses, riders, and foxes (Seemed like a fox hunting scene). The guy wanted $100 for them but the horses were literally missing legs and just in the worst condition I had ever seen a horse in. Shame too...

QuzqosMa said...

I have a large dapple grey Steha hunter I bought in 1977. He's kept his condition very well, except for some major light-fading on one side of his red felt saddle blanket (no staining on the white flocking underneath though). They're fun, if just for their quirkiness!

fposte said...

Ooh, just found this and I'll make a much-belated comment. I actually had several Stehas, as the toy store in my town carried them, so I was surprised to discover that I was in a rare pocket--thought if I had them everybody did! Mine are from late 1960s or early 1970s, and they also had early equine "heelys"--they had wheels in their hooves. Unfortunately, what made them desperately desirable also made them fragile--the flocking wore off with youthful affection, and the beautiful hair tails would pull out amid brushing. I think I do actually have a few boxed away, and I bet they look just horrible. I should probably stick to remembering them.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I've come upon this posting and would like to say that I love these horses. I have two from the early seventies and yes they were upscale in price. I remember sorting thru my Dad's nuts, bolts and washers as a job to save up for one dapple grey Steha. Now I have about 30, because I couldn't afford them as a kid! I didn't have a clue that Breyer was importing them. I wonder about the history of this company and whatever happened to them.

greenbox91 said...

I'm late to this thread too because I couldn't remember the name of those "German horses with wheels." I have at least three of them dating from 1964-1972, one each bay and chestnut saddle horses and that bay with the two-wheeled buggy pictured on this site. (I seem to recall that one costing a small fortune.) I also have another set which I THINK is Steha that I've had since I was 5 years old. That would be (GULP!) 1951. They're buckskin draft horses with leatherette harnesses pulling a large hay wagon (no hay.) They have wheels just like the others but no flocking. Anybody know if they're Steha?

Anonymous said...

Yes, there are many unflocked Stehas too. Some are of the compo material, some are plastic. The most popular are the drafters.