Part of the fun of collecting model horses is buying, selling, and even trading models. Although Breyer horses are made of plastic and are fairly durable, jounces and jolts during their trip through the postal system can leave even the most well packed model the worse for wear. Many porcelain and china models as well as Artist Resin model horses are quite fragile and expensive, and painted Artist Resins may be irreplaceable. Knowing how to pack models for shipping is an important skill to learn for any hobbyist.
Choose Good Quality Packaging Materials
The first step to packing model horses for their journey to their new home is to find sturdy outer cartons large enough to accommodate the model and a layer of cushions several inches thick around the models. There should be at least one to several inches of clearance around the model after it is wrapped for shipping when it is inserted into the box. The U.S. Postal System offers some free boxes for Priority Mail; these are good choices for smaller models. The flat rate shipping box is also an excellent choice for heavier items such as shipping model horse props and groups of pewter micro minis, which can get heavy.
Try not to use cartons that have seen extensive wear and tear. Each trip through the shipping system breaks down the rigid fibers in the carton, leaving it more vulnerable to damage.
Remove any external stickers, bar codes and address labels from the outside of the box. If you can't remove a bar code entirely, take a black marker and black out the bar code so it is not mistakenly scanned by the shipper's equipment. Reseal seams with clear packing tape approved for shipping.
Wrap the Ears and Tail
The most fragile areas of model horses during transit are the ears, legs, and any mane or tail parts sticking out, particularly on Artist Resins. Many people wrap the head and tail in toilet paper. Choose an unscented paper; avoid lotions, too which may damage paint. Use plain white and draw out a strip from the roll about a foot or two long. Fold it in half so that it is half its original width. Now, holding the end next to the horse model's eye, and gently begin wrapping it around the head and ears, pulling it between the ears and under the jaw in a figure-out motion. Secure with clear tape when completely wrapped. Tails may also be wrapped with toilet paper.
Make a Leg Buffer
A leg buffer is a piece of bubble wrap or packaging material with air bubbles on it surface that is folded and fit between the legs of the model. It may cushion the legs against big jolts. Take several squares of bubble wrap and fold them until they form a rectangular piece that fits under the model horse's belly and between the legs.
Wrap the Outside of the Model
Breyer horses, Stone horses, unpainted Artist Resins and most other horse models may be wrapped directly in bubble wrap. Take a sheet about five squares long and place it on the table. Many collectors prefer that the smooth side touches the model only; they're afraid that the bubbles can leave an imprint on the surface of the model, especially on painted models. Lay the model on the far end and gently wrap it around and around lengthwise, from nose to tail, until it has a nice thick cushion of bubble packaging. Take another sheet and repeat around the horse from left side to the right side of the belly until it's completely wrapped several times around in the other direction. The result will be a model horse totally encased in a plastic bubble-wrap pillow.
Use Packing Peanuts
Packing peanuts are by far the best cushioning material. Shredded newspapers may be sufficient for sturdier plastic horse models, but for Artist Resins and breakable models, a good layer of packing peanuts adds additional cushioning. Place a layer in the box, add the model, and then tightly pack the peanuts around it. Seal the box with clear tape. Add insurance on the package if your shipping carrier does not provide it in the cost of shipping or if the item is irreplaceable, such as a custom painted model horse.
Understand International Shipping
Model horse collectors come from around the world, and models frequently ship to Europe, Australia, and many other destinations. The U.S. Postal system is usually the most economical method to ship to other countries. Be sure to ask at the post office or visit their web site for the proper customs forms and any restrictions on shipping into certain countries.
Protect Valuable Collectibles
Learning how to wrap a model horse sounds silly until the first time you open an eagerly anticipated box and find nothing but rubble underneath. Stories abound of boxes crushed and partially opened from careless shippers but with models intact inside thanks to the careful wrapping and packaging by the sending collector. Take a few minutes now to understand how to wrap and ship valuable models, and act confidently later when it's your turn to send a few to someone eagerly awaiting them!
The U.S. Postal System offers information on international shipping and free Priority Mail shipping materials on its website.