"Flockies" are models covered in a fuzzy coat with hair manes and tails. The original Breyer flockies were popular in the 1980s, and were often sold through department store holiday catalogs. Some are realistic, like a flocked bay Clydesdale Mare. Others are pure fantasy, like the Running Mare and Foal in white with pink hair!
The concept of flocking is simple: add a sticky coat and poof fuzzy fibers on top. The original flockies were coated with oil-based enamel paints. Flocking is ideal for older models that are less competitive in the show ring but are still favorites - and the results are just plain fun! For custom flockies, the possibilities are endless.
Today, a clear glue coating is more often used to attach the fibers, applied over acrylic paint. The idea is to paint the horse a “base” color, apply a coat of glue, and flock away. It sounds easy, but it can be tricky. Here are some hints!
Prepping the Model
Before you flock any model, you will need to remove the mane and tail. This is easiest to do with a Dremel tool. After removing the tail, you'll need to create a "tail bone" to attach your hair to later. This can be done with wire, epoxy, and superglue - you'll need to make a bone at least a few inches long, depending on the scale and hairstyle for your model. You may also find it helpful to create a cut along the top of the model's neck to glue your mane hair into later - this can be done with a Dremel tool and cutting wheel.
Painting the Model
Mask off markings using blue painter’s masking tape. Do not use regular masking tape - it will be difficult to peel off. Base coat the horse in an acrylic color that matches the flocking. I wanted a “two tone” effect, so I used a lighter color underneath and a darker shade on top of my basecoat. Clear coat the model for extra durability. Mask off eyes with tiny bits of tape.
Model ready for flocking, with acrylic basecoat applied and white markings masked with painter's tape
Glue and Fuzz
In theory, the clear glue method sounds like a winner! In practice, though, it's a little tricky.
You’ll want to flock the horse inside a cardboard box, as you can save and collect the fibers that fly everywhere to use them later. This also cuts down on mess. Materials for flocking can be purchased from various online retailers, and possibly at your local craft or hobby store.
In addition to the flocking itself, you'll also need a flocking tube, which is simple to operate. Point the tube at the model at a 45 degree angle, pull back, and poof
air and fibers through it, like a pump. Buy two flocking tubes if you want to do multiple colors on the same horse - have both colors of fuzz loaded and ready to go to save precious time as the glue dries.
When applying glue, slap it on as thickly and quickly as possible. The glue can dry quickly! You can apply it with paintbrushes or sponges.
Tests of different glues showed “Aleene’s Clear Gel Tacky Glue” to be the best for flocking models in my experience. Mix it almost 50/50 with Acrylic Extender to give you a few extra minutes to work - you’ll still need to hurry. The glue is clear, so be prepared to miss a couple of spots to touch up later.
Remove Tape and Continue Flocking
A soon as your first coat of fuzz is applied, you’ll want to remove that tape before it sets. Otherwise, you will have actually glued the tape to the horse! Peel it off while the horse is still wet, being as careful as possible not to rub off the flocking you just applied. Tweezers help. Set the horse aside for 24 hours to dry. Go back and reapply glue to fix errors, and then add white flocking onto face markings and/or body spots using the same technique used earlier for the main body color.
Hair and Enjoy
Be sure to keep hands clean and dry when hairing. Slipped pre-glued bunches of mohair into the slot along the neck that was created earlier, applying more glue at the base. Let it dry fully, then style the hair with water and wrap loosely in toilet paper while damp to make hair lay flat. To skip this step, cut pieces of long craft fur and glue it to the neck for a fast and easy “hair” mane and tail.
NOTE: There are health warnings associated with many oil paints, including enamels. If you decide to use oil enamels in your flocking project, please use these supplies in a well-ventilated area with a respirator and gloves for protection.
Prep the horse as described above in the clear glue method, but do not worry about painting a base color - just leave it in white primer and draw the outline of your white markings with a pencil.
With the Shetland Pony below, I used “One Shot” sign painter’s enamel. Do not use the tiny jars of enamel sold at hobby shops for model cars and airplanes - these dry too fast. You need a thick, sticky enamel.
Flocked Shetland Pony created with oil enamel paints
The enamel flowed on smoothly and easily. I still worked quickly, applying in a fast, thick coat that stayed tacky long enough for me to apply the flocking with no issues. The process is the same, only the materials are different.
Unlike the clear glue, you can see where the enamel is being applied so you don’t miss any spots. The coating of flocking looks even and professional. It is faster to use this technique, because there is no underpainting or masking of markings required - just paint and flock in one step!
Not that you will need a separate color enamel for each and every color of flocking. Enamels run $7-$10 per jar, which can add up quickly with many different colors.
• • • • • • • • •
If you would like to goof around and don’t really mind if the horse is less than perfect, have fun with the clear glue gel method. These models won’t hold up well to play, but would look fine on a shelf from a few feet away.
If you’d like to sell your flocked horses, invest in the more expensive enamels. Once you have the right supplies, the enamel technique is easier and faster with better results.
Have fun with your flockies, whatever method you use. Pretty soon you’ll have the urge to flock everything in sight!