I was inspired to explore some non-horsey collectibles lately. These guys have a mystery pedigree, but they do figure into the family tree back in the roots. Don Manning was a designer of plastic tchotchkes back in the 1940s. His animal figures were produced in plastic by a firm called NOSCO.
Here we see some of his larger figures. The silver doe is the same mold that was bought by Breyer and became the Modernistic Doe. She is unmarked, although many other colors of this mold that I have seen have mold marks. The clear version is marked “Designed by Don Manning”. They have been found in clear, silver and bright gold. The other two, a deer and a unicorn, are marked USA, and the multicolored unicorn is marked Don Manning.
You can just make out the mold mark on this piece. The nice part is that the mold mark is on the outside of the leg which makes it very easy to find. Most of the pieces I own have the USA mark.
Here we see the name Don Manning on the outside of the unicorn leg. Of the animals I have on display, this is the only piece marked with his name. I have seen other animals with his name, but it is usually the larger animals and only a few of those. There is a horse that is essentially this unicorn mold without the horn which has the name molded on.
Next up is a menagerie of animals. All but the giraffe are marked USA. That fact and that there is a similar giraffe on thermometer in package found that was produced by Raymond Industries makes me question if that piece was made by another company and designer.
Finally a few more animals. The dog is marked USA and I have also seen him as a pin. The stork is unmarked and the outside of the legs are textured. That fact and the difference in styling imply that this piece as well may be by a different designer.
So there you have it, some fun art-deco era plastic animals. These are forerunners of today’s molded plastic animals and in my opinion have just as much charm and artistry as newer, more realistic sculptures.