My last post covered newer Breyer packaging and suggested removing models from boxes and tossing (or recycling) the box. New models are more valuable removed from boxes where flaws can be seen and the danger of box rubs eliminated. There are simply more models being made today than in the past and so new boxes are more common. Older packaging however can be collectible in its own right and there is the question, leave it in the box or remove, and keep the box or not.
This is a nice example of a model and its 1970s era box. The models were in solid cardboard boxes with either line drawings or photographs of the model on the outside. The models were shrink-wrapped and sealed into the box so the buyer was going by what was on the outside of the box as a representation of what was inside. Many of the boxes are collectible in their own rights. This colorful box of an elephant is probably more rare than the actual model. During the 1976 election Breyer played on patriotism and released the elephant and donkey in these special boxes.
Next we have another cardboard box, this time for a stablemate Saddlebred. Usually the Stablemate series was released on blister cards, these boxes were mainly used for catalog book sales. Being more rare than the usual package, this box is just as collectible as the model inside. All of the cardboard boxes sold in retail stores were shrink-wrapped and sealed. There are collectors who want these unopened boxes, perhaps for the excitement of not knowing what is inside (there may be a chalky, variation or a rare model in there by accident) or for the simple rarity of the unopened box. Some very rare models in unopened boxes can fetch good sums. It is up to the collector to decide to open the box or not. Once opened, take the model out and display on a shelf. Rattling around inside the box, even in the lightweight plastic bag, will cause rubs. You may want to keep the box, they fold flat and don’t take up much room. A model with the original cardboard box can be worth more than one without.
Here is Benji on his original blister card. Benji also came in a cardboard box with his friend Tiffany and a setup of a scene in the movie in Greece. In this case the packaging even in rough condition adds value to the model. He wasn’t produced for long (and really isn’t the best-looking model out there), and the card is cute with a picture of the dogs. This model is an example of a cross-collectible, that is there are movie fans who do not collect Breyer’s who may collect Benji merchandise or famous dog collectibles. Generally this type of collector places a higher value on the package than a Breyer collector, and wants the card just as much as the model.
This Family Arabian Mare is in one of the most valuable boxes Breyer made. She is an example of the Showcase Collection. Previous to this time the models came in plain cardboard boxes with only the number and name of the model inside. Retailers had a display in the store showing an example of the models they carried, and consumers would look at the display to choose the model they wanted to buy. In the early 1970s Breyer wanted a package that showed off the model inside but also protected it from damage from handling. This box was one of their early efforts. It is a clamshell clear plastic with indents to keep the model from moving around too much in the box. A catalog of their offerings for the year was generally included and there was a label somewhere on the box with the model name and number (in this case it is on the bottom of the box under the model). These plastic boxes were quite flimsy, so after a few restylings Breyer moved to the solid cardboard box with a drawing or picture of the model on the outside instead. The Showcase boxes are extremely rare, particularly in good condition and are usually far more valuable than the model inside.
So we see that older boxes and packaging can be just as collectible or more than the model inside. I enjoy the artwork on the cardboard boxes and the uniqueness of the Showcase Collection. There are more box and package styles out there, almost as many as models that are available. I once bought an entire shipping case of standing donkeys from the 1960s with the original shipping label from Breyer and I think the receiving firm of a zoo. I have sold almost all the models for higher price than any single unboxed example. I sold 2 unopened to allow the buyer the fun of finding out what was inside. Of the remaining models one was almost black the shading was so dark, one had forgotten black details such as eyes and hooves, and one was spectacularly shaded and won overall other animal champion at a live show. The story of finding the entire case at an antique show was fun to tell and several people chose to buy a model after hearing the story. As with most collectibles condition is a big determinant of value, and the older and more rare the box, the more forgiving collectors are of flaws. I suggest keeping almost all older vintage packaging as there is someone out there that collects it.