There's no joy in collecting Breyer toy horses or horse models and keeping them in boxes. Unlike other collectibles such as Star Wars figurines or certain toys, Breyer horses don't increase or maintain their value just because they're in the original packaging. While you can certainly keep your models in their original boxes, displaying them offers more opportunities to enjoy your model horse treasures.
Display Ideas: Beyond the Bookshelf
Many collectors begin their model horse displays by using the available space, typically the top of a bookshelf. Quickly the herd overruns the space and spills onto the shelves, sometimes displacing the books! But there are many other ways you can display your Breyer horses and horse models.
- China cabinets: Used china cabinets may be purchased at thrift shops, garage or yard sales, or at auction for pennies. You can even find them set out at the curb for garbage pick up - and they're not in bad shape at all, and free for the taking! An inexpensive cabinet painted a new color makes a perfect display hutch for your Breyer horse models. Depending on the size and style, many china cabinets also include drawers, which can be used to keep model horse records or store tack, jumps and props.
- Damaged cabinets: Look for damaged china cabinets or special sales at discount furniture stores if you'd prefer to purchase a new piece of furniture. Many stores slash prices on items damaged during shipping or display. Others offer steep discounts just before a new shipment arrives.
- Wall shelves Most homes have unused space near the ceiling. Since Breyer horses rarely exceed 12" in height for rearing models, a wall-mounted shelf near ceiling height often adds precious space for your collection. Be sure that the brackets are mounted correctly; you don't want the shelf to topple and send your herd crashing to the ground.
- Shadowboxes: Those who enjoy other collecting hobbies or making miniatures often display their prizes in shadowboxes. A shadowbox is a wall mounted box with a depth of approximately 1". It contains different sized boxes or cubby holes of varying sizes and heights and may have a glass cover. If you collect micro mini model horses in china or pewter, shadowboxes enable you to display 12, 24 or more horse models in one small, wall mounted space.
Model Horses and the Domino Effect
The domino effect is a term that refers to the horror of watching one model topple and wipe out an entire shelf. One unsteady horse model wobbles, crashes into the model next to it, and before you know it your entire collection is smashed, scratched and broken. There are several ways you can prevent the domino effect. One is to make sure that every horse model stands securely on its shelf. Many factory-produced plastic Breyers are a bit unsteady. A bit of excess plastic under a hoof, a slightly bent leg, or even just the oddball position of the model can make it unsteady. You can gently bend the plastic or sand off any bumps from under the hoof. Museum Putty, or tacky wax a sticky substance used to hold breakables to shelves, can be affixed to the hooves to keep it steady on the shelf. It should peel off with a rub of a fingertip but do not use it on painted model horses just in case it takes some paint off with it.
Another option is to make a padded bumper that fits between model horses. This way if one falls, it hits the bumper and not its neighbor. Show strings at live shows are often kept on cafeteria-like tables inside custom-made bumpers. All you need to do is bend pieces of cardboard and set them between the models, or if you prefer something more elaborate, construct a frame of wood with 'stalls'. Many collectors pad the frame with cloth and cotton to prevent scratches and rubs.
Safety and Cleanliness
Some model horses, such as those with acrylic or mohair manes and tails, must be dusted regularly or their manes and tails kept covered to prevent dust buildup. Others such as fragile bone china and porcelain horses and very expensive customized artist resins should be kept on very high shelves, preferably secured behind glass. This keeps curious children and pets from deciding that your $1,000 resin is a great toy to gallop down the stairs. No matter which method you use to show off your collectible Breyer horses, use a soft cloth to dust them occasionally and certainly before photographing them to show or taking them to a live model horse show.