While Breyer horses remain the dominant brand collected by model horse enthusiasts, there are many other brands of plastic model horses on the market today. One brand that both children and adults love to collect is Schleich of Germany. Known for its realistic horses, domestic and farm animals, wild animals and action figure sets, Schleich model horses make wonderful toys for children as well as realistic collectibles for adults.
About Schleich of Germany
The company was founded in 1935 by Frederich Schleich. The company first produce cartoon figures including Snoopy, then added animals to its product line. It was a family-owned firm until 2006 and is now majority owned by a European investment group.
All of the animals including the horse models are designed in-house, and the company employs an estimated 250 people in its German headquarters. The prototypes are then manufacturer in China. Each model is hand-painted, creating wonderfully detailed models with very lifelike colors.
Schleich Model Horse Series
Schleich model horses stand approximately 3 to 4" tall and are manufactured in a hard, rubbery plastic material. They often have great detail for plastic models, including realistically sculpted coats and horse shoes. Models generally retail for under $5 each, making them a good 'entry model' for children and collectors on a limited budget. The model horses are sold under their "Nature" and "Farm Life" lines. Most models are roughly 1:18 to 1:20 scale.
Schleich produces many models each year, including popular breeds such as Arabians, Lipizzaners, Hanoverians, Andalusians and more. Some breeds such as the Arabians and Hanoverians are offered in family sets that collectors can acquire one by one to create stallion, mare and foal sets. Many feature interesting details, such as intricately braided mane on the Andalusian mare and curly mane and tail on the elegant Friesian stallion.
Collecting and Showing Schleich Model Horses
Schleich models are difficult if not downright impossible to reposition, but they can be repainted into new colors, making them an excellent prospect for customizing. They can show well in photo shows but generally speaking are not lifelike enough to compete in live shows, although they may do well against similar models from other smaller plastic manufacturers.
Schleich offers action figures and accessories in scale with their model horses, but these can be re-purposed for Breyer and other model horse lines. Their stable girl, groom, farmer and rider action figures may all make good photo showing accessories. Trees, stables, and fences may also be used with other lines of plastic model horses as photo show props.
Where to Buy
In North American, Schleich models are sold in toys stores and nationwide through Tractor Supply retail stores. There are also many online dealers.They are easily found in retail shops throughout Europe. Collectors outside of North America and Europe may need to purchase Schleich model horses through mail order sources. The Schleich website has an interactive map which links to retailers around the world.