Horses Still Hold Sway: Breyer Animal Creations Then and Now
By Tim Connolly
Having been with Breyer Animal Creations for
ten years, Director of Marketing and Product Development Stephanie
Macejko has seen many new horses join the company stable. However,
with the scheduled July 2003 release of Universal’s new film Seabiscuit,
this summer is looking to be “a good time for horses.”
Tobey McGuire in Universal's Seabiscuit, premiering July 2003
“We’ve carried Seabiscuit products in the past, but
the horse had been retired for a number of years,” says Macejko. “We’ll
be working with Universal in releasing our new Seabiscuit [model horse].”
Part of that promotion will involve an exclusive arrangement with Wal-Mart
to sell the company’s new Seabiscuit Set. Stephanie took some time
to let us in on her company’s long history.
It Began with a Clock…
The Breyer brand began in Chicago as the Breyer Molding Company,
which specialized in contract plastics molding. In 1950, Breyer received
an order to produce a plastic horse to decorate a mantle clock. The horse
was so realistic that toy and model horse collectors began to ask how
they could buy the horse alone. Thus, Breyer's#57 Western Horse
became the first of hundreds of unique, realistic animal models that Breyer
has made, most often in plastic, but also in porcelain and resin.
In 1984, Reeves International Inc. acquired the Breyer Molding
Company. A privately held family-owned business, Reeves had built its
reputation in sales and distribution of fine European toys and collectibles,
such as Stieff, Corgi and Britains. Today, Reeves owns the Breyer brand,
Bosun Boats and The Big Dig.
Little Girls and Big Collectors
New Seabiscuit Plush
For our Breyer line, we focus on girls between the ages of 5-14 years.
We started a plush line in 2002 to introduce younger children to our horses
too. We also have a large and dedicated group of adult collectors that
are important to our business, and we make special edition product especially
for them. Our Breyer Gallery makes beautiful porcelain, resin, and bronze
pieces for anyone who wants to acquire a realistic and authentic piece
of equine art for their home or office.
Much More than Toys
We host retail events and publish a magazine, Just About Horses,
dedicated to model horses and the real horses that inspired them; host
BreyerFest, a model horse and equine festival that attracts more than
5,000 attendees (now in its 14th year); and [we] have a website, BreyerHorses.com,
dedicated to promoting the model horse hobby. Our product is carried in
toy specialty stores, mass-market accounts, tack and agricultural stores,
on the Internet and in catalogs.
A Storybook Horse
Because we reflect the horse world and make models of the horse world's
legends and heroes, many of our horses are perennial best-sellers. But
if I had to pick one, I would select The Black Stallion, inspired
by the classic children's novel The Black Stallion, by Walter Farley.
We have carried this model since 1981 and it is still very popular. It
is part of our series for young readers and is packaged with a copy of
Old School is New Again
Parents seem eager to buy toys that help kids use their imaginations
and stretch their skills. Kids who collect model horses have a whole hobby
world to get involved with that gives them a fun way to learn about history
and other cultures, and learn social skills and good sportsmanship by
competing in model horse shows. As a traditional toy marketer, we are
the happy beneficiary of that trend!
Writer's Bio: Tim Connolly has a degree
in film production from the University of Texas at Austin and writes screenplays
when he isn’t test-driving remote control speed boats in his bathtub.