An indepth look at the many different types of packaging Breyer has used over the years to package their models, dolls and accessories.

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Boxes of the 1950s and 1960s

To discuss the first types of Breyer horse packaging, I'm going to give a little Breyer history lesson.

Breyer Molding Company was  purchased in 1943 by Sam Stone (father of Peter Stone: maker of models horses) and a partner who died shortly after purchasing the company. No model horses were made back in those days. During World War II the company molded plastic parts and pieces for the federal government. After the war they molded plastic parts for radios and televisions.

Master Crafters Clock Co went to Breyer Molding Company looking for a plastic horse that they could put with their clocks. Hartland Plastics had previously made the horses and had now stopped making them. Christian Hess sculpted the new horse, though it was far from original. It was a copy with a few changes of the Hartland "Champ".

The metal mold was returned to Breyer from Master Crafters Clock Co as part of payment and in 1950  Breyer began producing and marketing horses on their own. Their first horse is what would be known as the #57 Western Horse.

The number 57 horse came in what was to become a standard for most of the models produced and sold in the 1950s and 1960s. These were white or brown cardboard boxes with Breyer’s name and information printed on one side. (edited image from image courtesy of Sara R)

The top flap of the box where you would open the model was stamped with the model number and color. For example #57 Palomino. (picture of 57 with box from courtesy Robin R)

 WF Woolworth was Breyer Molding Company's first customer. With moderately good sales Woolworth asked for additional models and to be made.

In 1955 Breyer added what to be known as the Fury or Fury Prancer mold. These models were available as clocks from MasterCrafters or separately from the clocks as sets of horse and rider or just the horse sold in stores and through catalogs. An example of packaging of a Master Craft clock and Fury horse was a brown cardboard box with a title of the contents, model number and the phrase” Another Master Crafters Product” (Davy Crockett courtesy of Kirsten W.)

Fury, Davy Crockett and horse, Indian Brave and pinto horse, Lucky Ranger AKA Kit Carson and horse and Canadian Mountie and horse were some of the sets sold through various stores and catalogs. The boxes showed a picture of the actual molded horse and rider in a hand drawn or photographic grayscale scene and the rest of the boxes were printed in eyecatching red, white and black. Fury was packaged in a plain box similar to the 57 Western horse.

Fury horse , Indian Brave and Pinto Horse and Lucky Ranger and Horse courtesy of Robin R.

Canadian Mountie and horse and Box courtesy of Glenda

Additional horses were sculpted and added by Chris Hess and Breyer had the idea of adding non horse related accessories such as combs and writing materials.  The grooming kits, as they are often referred to, were offered in the late 50s through catalogs.

These kits were boxed in brown cardboard boxes that also had the  model number and color stamped at the top and  some also had a one color illustration the model inside, along with "Breyer Molding Co, Chicago, USA".  Western pony (small version of 57 Western horse) grooming kit courtesy Kirsten W. (thanks to Sande for the correction about this being the pony and not the horse!)
Many boxes also had lines on the side of the box for addresses to be written in for shipping. (PAF grooming kit courtesy Kirsten W)

Boxes changed very little into the 1960s.
This can also be seen with the 1961  #85 Albino fighting stallion  (courtesy Sara R)

Some models had their number and color stamped at the top of the box with the addition of the name of a particular mold. (1961  Hope,  courtesy Sara R, )

Here is a 1961 King Fighting Stallion box, which is a bit fancier than the other plain boxes. Notice the red lettering again. This was the eye catching color during the 50s and 60s. Also the  number and color of the model is still being stamped in black on the top flap. Box courtesy of Sara R

Additional horses were consistently sculpted by Chris Hess, and became a part of the Breyer line. Collector's Manuals or Catalogs were also added to the boxes starting in 1968 so that consumers could see the full line of Breyer model horses available.

1968 began the first major change in packaging in nearly 20 years.  Breyer mentioned in their November 1968 price increase list to retailers about models being available in mailing cartons (regular brown or white cardboard boxes) or their new Display cartons. A January 1969 Price list shows a picture of the new display cartons stacked in two piles with a toddler in between them. Collectors often refer to this new display carton as the "Touchability box" Photo below of FAS in new Display carton with 1969 collectors manual courtesy of Kirsten W.

These new display cartons were made of heavy corrugated cardboard. Gone was the red text of the past and black and blue type was now used. The sides folded in toward the center and were held in slots with tabs. Only certain models were available in this box. The Family Arabians in Appaloosa, Alabaster, Bay, Charcoal and Palomino. The models were held in place by two thin elastics or ties. One which went over the center of the model and another which went over a hind leg.  There was no plastic or shrink wrapping over these boxes. These were an effort by Breyer to make more store friendly packaging instead of the solid cardboard boxes where consumers could not see the model.

Unfortunately, this was one of the those failed packaging ideas, I mentioned in the "Purpose of Packaging" post. The models were easily damaged and stolen. These were for display only and did not hold up well for storage for both stores and collectors.

This type of packaging only lasted about year which is why they are difficult to find. Not to mention they did not hold up well over the years.

Stay tuned for Part 1 of Horse Packaging of the 1970s!

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