Most of Breyer's model are made out of cellulose acetate, but they also make resin and porcelain models. Breyer not only creates horse models, but lines of wildlife and domestic animal models as well. Breyer started creating dog models in the 1950's and then branched out to other animal models in the 1960's. The Breyer company mainly creates model horses and tack for the models however. They also create barns, stables, and grooming supplies for the models.
Each horse is casted in a two piece mold that is put together and sanded and polished. Markings are normally created with a stencil called a mask. Older models were airbrushed by hand with markings like undefined socks or bald faces left unpainted. Detailing like eye-whites, which were popular on 1950's and 1960's models, brands, or other markings are hand-painted. Because of this, sometimes a difference in paint jobs can occur.
An example of this is the Proud Arabian Stallion models (shortened as PAS). For years Breyer produce this model as a horse with a dapple gray coat and a gray mane, tail and hooves. For an unknown reason, a few of these models were released with black manes, tails, socks or stockings, and hooves. These are considered variations of the Dapple Gray PAS model and are very rare.
Breyer has many different molds that are normally painted many different colors. The commonly used mold called Family Arabian Stallion (or FAS) is a great example of this. Models can also have different finishes, such as glossy or matte. Each version of a mold is normally given a name and number by Breyer. However, in some cases the model is not given a number and these can be known as "special runs". New molds are introduced often and old molds will sometimes be retired. Retirement can happened because the mold is old and not created anymore or even because the mold was broken or lost. Breyer recently introduced two new metallic colored paints on their models. Models painted with this paint are often considered limited edition.
Models can be graded or valued in several ways depending on the purpose. For trading or selling purposes, Ebay is a good example, models are graded on their packaging and condition. Models can be "New in Box" (NIB), "New in Package" (NIP), "New", "Like New", and more. The highest level is called "Mint Condition". Keep in mind that this doesn't mean the model is still in the box however, this means the model has been removed from the box and has been on display/used/etc. Some models are removed from the box with flaws already. Unlike many toys, Breyer models normally do not have more value in the box. There are some issues with the per-2000's package that causes harm to models within boxes after a period of time by rubbing off the finish or paint against the box, therefore lowering the model's value.
Common flaws include rubs, scratches, breaks in ears, tails, or legs, yellowing, seam splits, and bent legs. These flaws can come from use or storage. Flaws can also come from the factory. These flaws include, but aren't limited to, off-target painting, sloppy detailing, bent legs from improper cooling, or badly sanded seams. Though factory flaws aren't all bad. Some collectors search for ones with painting flaws on purpose to collect them as oddities.
Knowning the rarity of a model also helps when grading it. A model is considered "rare" if only sold for a limited time in the past. This means there are very few in circulation. Models released in very limited numbers are also considered "rare". In extreme cases, there are models that are one of a kind (OOAK). They are given out as prizes or auctioned at Breyerfest. These are the most collectible models.
Model horse shows are a good way for collectors to show off rarer models. In a show, models are competing for one of two grades. One grade is called Live Show Quality (LSQ). The other is called Photo Show Quality (PSQ). LSQ means that the model and tack on the model depict a real animal and is in good condition. The model will be inspected from all sides for any flaws (including those from the factory). PSQ is the lower of the two grades because the horse and tack are only judged from one side in a photo. The standard is also not as high for PSQ.
There are five common scales of Breyer horse models currently.
- Traditional: 1:9 scale (around 8" H x 11" L)
- Classic: 1:12 scale (dollhouse; around 7" H x 5" L)
- Ponies/Pony Gals: same as Classics
- Paddock Pal: 1:24 scale (about 6" to 4") - now retired
- Stablemates: 1:32 scale (about 7 cm H x 6 cm L)
- Mini Whinnies: 1:64 scale (adult horses about one inch tall)
The "Ponies" line was replaced in 2008 by the "Pony Gals". This line differs from the other because the models have brushable manes and tails and may have jointed heads, necks, or legs. They are marketed towards younger children.