Good evening – I hope your computer screen is bright enough to read by because you don’t want to turn one of these nightlights on. The heat generated from the older nightlights is enough to melt and bubble the models plastic. They are collectible enough to not want to update them for an actual light source, so if you must have a Breyer nightlight to use, please buy a new one made with modern lower-heat emitting lights.
Breyer nightlights are an odd species. Generally Breyer collectors do not count items that simply used a Breyer model in an after-market production setting as an ‘official’ Breyer collectible. Anything home made goes in the custom category, and any item produced by a company that bought Breyer models wholesale and then made something with it tends to fall in this category as well. There are many items, however, that are counted in Breyer ‘canon’ that are simply a model that has been used in another item’s production. The sewing poodle, grooming Arabians and candy ponies all fall in this category. They never were in a Breyer catalog, and the general consensus seems to be that since they were advertised in national Christmas gift catalogs, the models were likely special-ordered from Breyer for the purpose and that is enough to count them as a Breyer ‘sanctioned’ product. Again, there are differences of opinion, so this is just a general trend.
Here we have a glossy bay Family Arabian Mare nightlight on base. The nightlights could be on base or off and had very distinctive assembly characteristics, indicating that they were likely all produced by the same company. I am going to show these characteristics across a couple of models so you can see the similarities.
This is a detailed closeup of the FAM belly/left side, showing how the nightlight is assembled. She has a rotating switch on her shoulder, the cord comes out from between her front legs, and there is a large belly hole for the nightlight. The nightlight clips in for security, and the hole is large enough to get the light out when you want to change it.
This is an example of the black pinto Western Horse nightlight. This horse is not on a base, but has a similar technical arrangement. The switch has moved to the middle of the withers instead of the shoulder, and the large hole is now in the back where the saddle covers it up. The plug wire still comes out from between the front legs.
Here you can see the top of the horse with saddle removed. The nightlight clips in to the large hole where it can be changed out easily, and this one faces forward so the light is still in the middle of the belly area. I don’t really touch up models or fix them, so this one has the same nightlight as when I bought it at the antique store. I have never plugged it in and turned it on, so I have no idea if the horse would glow red or not. All Western Horse nightlights show these characteristics.
This is a palomino Western Horse nightlight. Again, no base with these, and in this case the model has no electrical wiring, so from first glance you would never know it was a nightlight. Only the slight concave spot in the mane just below the saddle horn indicates what this model is. I was on a kick one year of literally picking up every horse I saw for sale (except at Breyerfest, where it it likely physically impossible). That year I found a ton of rare models that I would have passed up otherwise. From almost any angle this model looks very common. It was just because I took the time to pick it up I discovered its secret.
Here we see the model from the top with saddle removed. There really isn’t much damage or chipping around the holes to determine if the model was ever wired or not. There is some scuffing along the top about 1/2″ back from the large hole, leading me to believe it was wired at some time, as that is where the light clip would have rubbed. It is on the project shelf, if I ever find a damaged nightlight I can disassemble and rewire this model. I would prefer to use vintage wiring, as it shouldn’t really be used, so wiring with modern electrical wire would be a bit pointless.
From the models found and the advertisements in magazines these models were likely produced from the late 1950s to at least the mid-1960s. There are glossy PAM and PAF models to matte sorrel 5-Gaiteds, elk and poodles. Again, there is some debate over which nightlights are a part of Breyer history, I have seen nightlight disqualified from shows simply because no-one there had seen that particular nightlight before. I have also seen some pretty obviously home made nightlights presented as Breyer products, so you have to be knowledgeable and buy because you like it, not because it is showable. When you see one pick it up (with permission) and check out the assembly and materials used. They can easily be rewired, so modern wiring is not necessarily a tip off that a model is modern or home made. This category of model is always under discussion and new information comes out fairly regularly. It is a fun and different type of Breyer to collect, so I hope you found something new and interesting.