Here is the original post I was writing when I was waylaid by the Western Horse Clock – sort of. It morphed again as I was writing.
Throughout Breyer history they, erm… utilized others’ works as inspirations for their own. There is much good information out there on the subject, so this blog post is a look at some actual comparisons between Breyer and Hagen Renaker molds (the company will heretowith be referred to as HR to save me from early carpal-tunnel). A must-read for collectors is the book by Nancy Atkinson Young – Breyer Molds and Models. It’s the most accurate and detailed book on Breyer available. It is out of print, but there are second-hand copies available at a variety of web sites.
In 1958 Breyer wanted an Arabian horse family. Chris Hess promptly obliged, but unfortunately the horses he produced were suspiciously similar to a family produced by HR. The two firms went to court and HR won. The Proud Arab Mare and Foal were ruled as copies, and had to be discontinued. They were originally produced only about 1958-59. The Arabian Stallion was decided to be different enough from the source mold and was allowed to continue in production.
This is an example of the Breyer ‘Old Mold’ Proud Arabian Foal and the HR large Zilla. The most obvious difference besides color is the head tilt. Both companies did produce the family in white or alabaster, so do pay attention next time you see a glossy alabaster PAF and pick it up to see if it is really a Zilla instead.
Sometime in the early 1970’s the two companies had a conversation and reached agreement about Breyer leasing these two horses plus 9 classic family molds, 5 classic race horses and 16 stablemate molds (now known as the G1 horses).
This is an example of the Breyer bay Thoroughbred Mare and the HR buckskin Thoroughbred Mare.
Here we see the standing Thoroughbred Foal (Breyer on left HR on right) and the Morgan Mare (again Breyer on left, HR on right). This is the mare I convinced an antique dealer to pull out of the trash. I have the leg and it is a clean break.
Many of these horses came in completely different colors when issued by the two companies, but the classic thoroughbreds in particular can be hard to tell apart until you get close to them. There is a slight size difference, but again there can be variations within each mold so that is not an indicator of company of manufacture. A few years ago either the lease was up or not renewed and Breyer has now retired these molds from regular production. You may see an occasional small special run or test, but it is unlikely that these molds will be produced again. HR no longer produces these molds in wide release either, but some are now available in limited numbers through specialty dealers.
This is the Breyer Mustang Stallion in chestnut and the new issue HR Mustang Stallion in chestnut.
In addition, some artists have taken the models and repainted them. Sometimes these repaints can be reproductions of original finish colors, sometimes completely new custom colors.
This is a Breyer Arabian Stallion in chestnut and a custom glaze HR by Karen Grimm. The custom piece is marked on the belly as such.
In addition, some of the horses made by HR were then produced by companies selling unfinished bisques to the hobby market. These copies are generally different enough from the original to not infringe on copyright law, but the differences can be subtle.
This is a Breyer stablemate Arabian Stallion on the right and a complete custom Arabian Stallion by Kristina Lucas Francis. She took two hobby Arabian molds, cut them in half and put the two back together to the opposite front or back. That was how the production company got around the copyright law. They took the HR mold, cut it in half and then added those halves to another mold to create something new. Put back together you can see the original mold they were working from. Now you can see the main difference is around the ears of the two molds.
This is just a dabbling of the works by the two companies. As with most figurines they can be worth anything from $1 to a few thousand depending on mold, condition, age and desirability. I hope you will take a closer look next time you are out shopping and see if you can uncover something you hadn’t noticed before!