In case you missed it, as part of Breyer's 70th birthday celebrations, we're taking a stroll through Breyer history all year round on our social media channels! June's theme was the 1990s. This decade was certainly one of the most innovative in Breyer's history!
Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, because this month we're taking a look at BreyerFest, of course! Then in August, we'll be moving along to a special double theme: the 2000s and Breyer at the Olympics.
At the very start of the decade, Breyer hosted a little event called BreyerFest. "BreyerFest 1990 is the start of what we hope will be an annual event," read a page in the May/June 1990 issue of Just About Horses. 31 years later, BreyerFest is still going strong!
BreyerFest in 1990 was quite a different beast than it is today. The event was obviously much smaller (although it did attract 10,000 guests in its first year, which is no small feat!), had only a small handful of exclusive Breyer models available, included a live horse show and adoption event, and featured a charity dinner on Saturday evening, which required an advance ticket purchase. Ever wonder why early BreyerFest Celebration Models were known as "dinner models?" This is why! The model was included with your ticket for the BreyerFest dinner and was picked up there.
Did you know that Bruce Davidson, the owner/rider of BreyerFest 1990’s Celebration Horse Dr. Peaches, is the father of Buck Davidson, the rider of our BreyerFest 2020 Celebration Horse Ballynoe Castle RM? It’s certainly a fun coincidence – we swear it wasn’t planned that way!
Many aspects of the event have endured, however – our host hotel, the room sales, the Kentucky Horse Park, the Vendor Marketplace, and the Live Auction, to name a few! BreyerFest will of course be a little different this year, but we can’t wait to be back in the bluegrass.
Dr. Peaches and the original reservation form for the "Old Kentucky Night Buffet," which is how attendees acquired their model.
Origina advertisement and an event wrap-up from Just About Horses magazine.
It's impossible to talk about the 1990s at Breyer without mentioning Kathleen Moody. Kathleen's first sculptures for Breyer were part of the "Evolution of the Horse" fine porcelain series, with her first plastic sculpt, Gem Twist, arriving in 1993.
Kathleen's distinct and expressive style celebrates the beauty of the horse. As plastics molding technology advanced during this decade, Kathleen was able to make her sculptures increasingly dynamic, and Huckleberry Bey, Breyer's iconic prancing Arabian stallion, is her crown jewel of this decade.
Sculpted in the likeness of the champion Arabian show horse Huckleberry Bey, "Huck," as he is often nicknamed, was the first Breyer model to utilize a stand to allow only two points of balance in the sculpture (previously, prancing models like Rich Rudish's Lady Roxanna needed to use their tail as a third point of balance.) Huck was also the first Breyer sculpture with "cutouts" in his mane and tail to create a more dynamic appearance than ever before.
Plastic and resin versions of Huckleberry Bey.
Huck debuted in 1999 with much fanfare, and continues to be one of our most popular sculptures to this day. A special resin version was also released that year through the JC Penney Holiday Catalog. Oozing with personality. Kathleen's models marked a turning point in Breyer’s history: beautiful, spirited sculptures were now the norm, not the exception, and this ushered in what could be considered a new era for Breyer Animal Creations.
Huckleberry Bey in the 1999 Dealer Catalog, and a compilation of images of "Huck's" creation.
The 1990s added another fun and interesting addition to Breyer's line: porcelain models. These beautiful pieces of equine art were commonplace in this decade and beyond (later known as the Breyer Gallery collection), and can be divided into three distinct eras:
The first porcelain Breyer models were actually exclusive to holiday catalogs! Sears and JC Penney hosted Breyer's initial foray into the medium in 1991 with "Spotted Bear," a black pinto San Domingo, and "Galaxais," a dapple grey Sham. The following year saw the release of "Fashionably Late," a liver chestnut Sherman Morgan, along with new releases of Secretariat and Misty.
1992 transitioned into the next era of Breyer porcelains with the "Evolution of the Horse" series. Available from all Breyer dealers, these sculptures celebrated breeds descended from the earliest primitive horses. These included an Icelandic Horse, Shire, and Spanish Barb, all sculpted by Kathleen Moody.
Kathleen was also the forerunner of the decade's final era of porcelain models with the "Premier Fine Porcelain Series." All of the models in this series featured elaborate (and often historical) costumes, from Native American regalia, to a Household Cavalry Drum Horse, to a pair of circus ponies. These sculptures have been brought back on occasion, usually for BreyerFest, and always look stunning in any color!
Models that represent the three major "eras" of porcelain models in the 1990s: Secretariat (holiday catalogs), the Spanish Barb (Evolution of the Horse series), and the Household Cavalry Drum Horse (Premier Fine Porcelain series).
In the 1990s, Breyer began looking back at its roots for inspiration. By this time, the models produced by the company in the 1950s and 1960s could be considered "vintage," and the collector demand for these pieces was in full swing. In 1990, Breyer produced its first vintage-style decorator in almost 30 years: the Florentine (dappled gold) Misty raffle model for the first annual BreyerFest. The 1990s also birthed a new take on vintage decorators - Silver Filigree, which is a silver version of Florentine!
At first, these vintage-style models were produced in very small numbers, usually for event raffles. This changed in 1999 with the introduction of the Collector's Edition, a series which ran through 2004. Each year, a beloved vintage mold would be painted in a vintage-style color to create a nostalgic combination that hadn't been done before - much like Breyer's Vintage Club today!
The Balking Mule made its first regular line appearance in over 30 years as Molly and Dolly, the first releases in the Collector's Edition lineup. Painted in glossy grey appaloosa and glossy charcoal, these stubborn ladies were the perfect introduction to the series for vintage Breyer fans! To add to their collectibility factor, each model was made for only six months, transitioning to the second color during the Mid-Year season.
With the company's 50th anniversary on the horizon, the Collector's Edition series paved the way for a creatively rich decade filled with many fun throwbacks of its own!
Molly and Dolly the Balking Mules, the first models released as part of Breyer's "Collector's Edition" series in 1999.