Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Third Company?

According to my work schedule, it looks like I might be taking another trip to happy fun researchland in another week or so. I won’t have the same amount of time to plow the stacks, but I’ll be able to make a little bit more progress, at least. Every little bit helps.

One thing I found rather distracting in my previous research excursion was the non-Breyer horse stuff. It wasn’t just the Hartland material, it was all of the other model horsey things I was running across, like this ad for Lido:

Lido wasn’t exclusively a model horse manufacturer; model horses were just something they added to their toy line in the 1950s. Most of the secondary manufacturers from the 1950s and 1960s were like that: Westerns were "hot," and it made good business sense to add a few horse and/or cowboy pieces to their toy lines.

What made Lido a little bit different from the others is that the other companies were, by and large, copying Breyer and Hartland. Lido was one of the few who was forging ahead with original molds and concepts.

Most of these secondary lines of horses died out by the end of the 1960s, and so did Hartland, before it was revived a short time later (and later, and later again.) Breyer almost gave up the ghost itself around that time too, but fortunately for us they did not.

Other known manufacturers from that time period included Pressman, Ohio Plastics, and Kroll. They turn up from time to time, usually as unidentified knockoffs. Like this odd, but not bad Pressman version of the Stretched Morgan, in Alabaster:

That one’s managed to fool me more than once, at the flea market! He has probably played a part in those "Alabaster Stretched Morgan" rumors that crop up from time to time. The actual existence of a few true Alabaster Stretched Morgans does, too:

(Marney’s album, again.)

Among my favorites are the "textured tack" horses by an otherwise unidentified maker, an example of which is seen here on, of all things, a knockoff of the original Breyer Western Horse Clock!

They’re referred to as "textured tack" models because the Western Horse and Pony copies that they made have an odd, wire mesh texture to their tack. They’re otherwise remarkably good reproductions. They even "feel" right: they’re either made of some type of Cellulose Acetate, or a similarly sturdy plastic.

Oddly enough, the clock case and the base seem to be made of a different type of plastic; it feels like ABS (Styrene) to me. (BTW, the plumber’s chain reins are original, but the saddle probably isn’t.)

The fact that the entire Breyer Clock was knocked off - not just the horse, but all the "trimmings" - fascinates me. Was the original Breyer Clock itself so popular that it inspired its own knockoff? Who was this third company that made these horses - and what happened to them? Why did they decide to go with Cellulose Acetate, when many of the other secondary manufacturers didn’t? Did they have bigger plans?

What a different landscape we could be living in, if only we had a third serious contender in the model horse market back then!

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