The Reiner is my pick of the litter so far; he and the Bucking Horse/Rivet are easily among my favorites of the newer Stablemates. As someone who grew up on the G1 Stablemates - and remembers fondly plowing through piles of them at the local Kmart when they were first released - I cannot get enough of these new and more dynamically posed ones.
You have to remember: for the first 20+ years of the Stablemate line’s existence, we only had 16 different molds. Sort of. One of them - the Quarter Horse Mare - was taken out of production by 1988 because of molding issues. The two foal molds - the Standing and Lying Down Thoroughbred Foals - were out of production for most of the 1980s and early 1990s.
So in reality, us Stablemate hoarders really only had 13 molds to choose from for years.
The pose choices were limited: outside of the Saddlebred, the running Seabiscuit and the pawing Quarter Horse Mare, most of these "Generation 1" Stablemates were rather tame. The Quarter Horse Stallion jogs a bit, the Morgan Stallion walks calmly, and the Morgan Mare prances a little. (She was one of my favorites, consequently.)
That conservatism was partly a result of the selection of molds they had available to them: all of what we now refer to as the "G1 molds" were derived from Hagen-Renaker miniatures. H-R did have some wilder and crazier equines, including an awesome Rearing Horse. Since the scale was new and unfamiliar to Breyer, I guess the more sedate ones seemed less risky.
There’s no shortage of standing or walking molds among the 40-plus post-G1 molds but the running, jumping, bucking, rearing and all-around vitality were a welcome sight to of us who grew up with the G1 molds.
This fact brings up another important point: it wasn’t just the OF collectors who suffered through this lack of variety. Think of the customizers. You think it’s a challenge trying to come up with something dynamic, beautiful and correct now? Back then they labored mightily to sculpt G1 Stablemates into more vigorous poses with little more than plastic wood, plumber’s putty, and spackling compound.
What some of these newer molds may lack in fineness of detail or anatomical accuracy (compared to the original Maureen Love Calvert sculpts), they make up for with their sheer variety of positions and body types.
The narrow range of molds and colors of the G1 molds does come with one distinct advantage: for the Original Finish collector of Stablemates, it’s not too difficult or expensive to acquire a complete or near-complete set of pre-1998 Regular Run pieces.
Even the Christmas Catalog Special Run sets aren’t difficult to find, by and large.
The earliest Special Runs - like the Black Quarter Horse Stallion, the Silver Saddlebred, and the Emperor’s Gold Bar (aka "The Poop Paperweight") - are another story entirely. Sometimes I think the ready availability of the earlier Stablemates is partly to blame for pushing the prices on these rarities up so high.
More Stablemates = more collectors. ("Must. Complete. Collection!")
These lovely paint jobs sure aren’t hurting, either. Don't even get me started on the quality of the SM paint jobs back in the early days ...