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

Search This Blog

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Packaging of the 1970s Part 1

After the failed attempt of the touchability box, Breyer Animal Creations was looking for a unique way to make their products look attractive on the shelves and for their customers to see what they were purchasing. Remember in previous years that Breyers came in cardboard mailers.

During the 1970s Breyer used several different types of packaging. Part 1 will explore the Showcase Collection.

Starting in 1970 Breyer introduced the Showcase Collection. Here is an ad from the Toys and Novelties Trade Magazine from March of 1970. (Courtesy of Sharon W) This exact ad also was part of a brochure that Breyer released in 1970 to promote this packaging.

The Showcase Collection was a series of regular release catalog horses packaged in according to the 1972 catalog " sparkling clear plastic". "Each case is sealed, hinged and has a molded in handle which can be used by collectors for stabling or hauling. This collection of model horses is available at many stores selling Breyer Animal Creations."

 Photo from the 1972 Box Catalog.

The front and back covers of the 1972 Dealer Catalog also show this Appaloosa Yearling in a Showcase Box . the 1970 catalog shows no box information and there was no catalog for 1971.
(photo is a anonymous contribution)

The Showcase boxes were embossed with "Breyer" in the plastic toward the bottom. They had molded handles and were stapled on the top and hinged on the bottom. Some of the earlier boxes had nothing to keep models from moving around and many horses ended up with broken ears or ear tips. Later Styrofoam was added on the bottom beneath the horses' hooves which lifted the models in the boxes but ear rubs still occurred.

Some boxes had a sticker in the top left corner which said "Breyer Animal Creations Showcase Collection" *Break Resistant*  Model No____ and Made in the U.S.A" such as this Clydesdale Stallion photo courtesy of Stacy B.
 Others had the model number stamped onto the Styrofoam on the bottom left. In place of the white sticker was a square sticker with a blue border, blue rosette and "Showcase Collection by Breyer. Made in the USA" as shown below on this QH box courtesy of Stacy B.

The Showcase Collection consisted of Regular Run Models which were given special numbers. Anywhere from One to three zeros added to the regular run number. ie. Adios # 50 became #500.

The following models were listed as part of the collection in the 1970 Showcase Collection Brochure:

Arabian Stallion (FAS) and Arabian Stallion (FAM) in the following colors:
 Appaloosa  Palomino  Alabaster  Bay  Charcoal

 Clydesdale Stallion in Bay
Clydesdale Mare in Chestnut
Clydesdale Foal in Chestnut
Adios in Bay
Man O War in Chestnut
Yellow Mount in Chestnut Paint
Five Gaiter in Sorrel and Palomino
Grazing Mare in : Bay, Black, Palomino
Indian Pony in : Brown pinto, Buckskin, White
Morgan in Black and Bay
Old Timer in White and Dapple
Quarter Horse in buckskin
Running Mare and Running Foal (sold Separately) in Alabaster, Smoke, Dapple and Chestnut
Western Horse in Black Pinto or Palomino
Western Pony in Black Pinto, Palomino or White
Western Prancer in Smoke, Buckskin, Palomino, Bay and Appaloosa    
After 1970 additional models were added such as the Proud Arabian Stallion and Quarter Horse Yearling. New colors were added to some of the previous molds including Red Roan on the Running Mare. For a complete listing of all molds, colors, product numbers and the dates released see Marney Walerius' Breyer Models Reference and Insurance Guide.

From photos the models look impressive in these new packages, but there were several major flaws with this packaging design.

The "clear sparkling plastic" became yellowed over time. This of course wasn't a concern at the time of production. They most likely remained clear for some time before they started to yellow in shops and personal collections. But what was of concern was the fact that they were not so sturdy for "stabling and hauling". The boxes cracked and broke easily. The plastic is similar to the plastic trays many cookies come in these days.

As per Nancy Young's (Breyer Horses, Riders & Animals Molds and Models pg 253) conversation with Peter Stone in 1995, the packaging was discontinued because it was too expensive. (remember the oil crisis  began around 1973 and these were plastic packages) and they also did not sell well. Since the regular run models in the Showcase Collection were given special numbers, it was too much work to keep a separate inventory. The line was discontinued in December of 1972.

Today these boxes are very sought after by collectors and finding them in good shape is a rare bonus!

With the failure of the Showcase Collection and the impending oil crisis ahead, what was Breyer to come up with next? Stay tuned for the next part of packaging of the 1970s to find out.