Monday, October 5, 2015

Collectibility test: Companies Breyer copied

Question 2 from my sample Breyer collectibility test

2) Name four companies Breyer copied models from in the 1950's and/or 1960's.

This is a bit of a trick question in that there are more than four answers

Hartland: Though the exact details remain a bit murky, we know that Breyer took over a contract with Mastercrafter Clocks in 1950 to produce a plastic horse to stand over said clocks on a faux-marble base. The contract originally belonged to Hartland, and while the reason for the split between Hartland and Mastercrafter has been lost to time, the horse clocks remain. We don't know if Breyer was asked to duplicate the Hartland horse as closely as possible or if they simply chose to do so, but whatever the case, Breyer's Western Horse is a very, very close copy of Hartland's "Victor" horse. The differences are subtle, but they include slight differences in the hooves, mane and tail, bridle, and breastcollar. (But more on that in an upcoming post.)
Hartland on the left; Breyer on the right

Grand Wood Carving: The Grand Wood Carving Company of Chicago began producing a line of wooden horses in 1939. A number of them were portraits of famous racehorses from the 1930s, 1940s, and early 1950s, such as War Admiral, Armed, and Native Dancer. At some point in the 1940s, they produced a model of Whirlaway, the 1941 Triple Crown winner. And in 1954 or 1955, Breyer released their Racehorse, an obvious copy of the GWC piece. A few years later, they also debuted their woodgrain color, very likely inspired by the real mahogany GWC pieces.
GWC Whirlaway on the left, Breyer Racehorse on the right
Breyer's traditional Man O' War model, first issued in 1967, was also obviously inspired by GWC's own portrait model of the great horse. More on that here.

Boehm: Though probably best known for his birds, Edwin Marshall Boehm also sculpted a number of animals for production out of his New Jersey porcelain art studio. One such was a Boxer dog first issued circa 1952. Only two years later, Breyer issued a copy directly molded from the original Boehm piece. Though the Breyer Boxer's paint job was not as detailed as that of the Boehm piece, it too was clearly copied from the original.
Boehm on the left, Breyer on the right (Photos via etsy)
In 1950, Boehm produced a walking Hereford Bull which will also be familiar to Breyer collectors. Breyer's copy was first released in about 1956 and was a direct copy like the Boxer. Some of Breyer's Herefords were chalky and glossy to duplicate the look of porcelain.
Boehm on the left, Breyer on the right
In about 1956, Breyer also released their Brahma bull which while similar to the earlier Boehm piece was not an exact copy. Perhaps Breyer was not able to acquire a Boehm to copy? Maybe Boehm had issued a cease and desist? Whatever the case, Breyer's Brahma has very similar foot and tail placement, but small differences are present---the Boehm has a turned head, slightly different horns, different detail in the wattle of the neck, etc.
Boehm on the left, Breyer on the right
Rumor has it that Breyer's Small Walking Angus was also copied from a Boehm piece, although this is the least similar of the four pieces mentioned here. Boehm's Angus is standing while Breyer's is walking, the Breyer Angus has a halter, and Boehm's piece is a trifle crude in comparison. Breyer's Angus in fact looks like a pointed down and slightly modified copy of the Walking Hereford. Breyer's Angus was not released until 1960, after Breyer had dealt with a copyright lawsuit from Hagen-Renaker, so perhaps they did not copy the Boehm closely so as not to repeat that experience.

Boehm on the left, Breyer on the right
Lastly, Boehm copies can not be discussed without mentioning Adios. Contrary to popular opinion, Breyer did NOT copy Boehm's Adios model. In fact, both the Breyer and Boehm piece were copied from the James Slick statue of the horse at the behest of his owner, Delvin Miller, at the same time.

Hagen-Renaker: Speaking of Hagen-Renaker, it is well-known that Breyer's Proud Arabian Mare, Proud Arabian Foal, and Family Arabian Stallion were copied from Hagen-Renaker's Large Zara, Zilla, and Amir. HR sued Breyer mostly successfully in 1959, resulting in the discontinuation of the PAM and PAF. The FAS was deemed not similar enough and remained in production.
HR Zara on the left, Breyer PAM on the right (Zara photo courtesy of Ed Alcorn)
In the 1970s, Breyer legally re-released the PAM and PAF, and they also obtained a lease from HR to produce a number of other HR designs in plastic. These include the Classic Arabian, Mustang, and Quarter Horse families, Kelso, Man O' War, Terrang, Swaps, Silky Sullivan, and the G1 Stablemates. The Little Bit Thoroughbred model sculpted by Chris Hess was probably loosely based in the G1 Seabiscuit.

Rosenthal: Breyer's (Large) Poodle, released in 1958, was another direct copy, this time of a piece sculpted for Rosenthal by Professor Theordor Kärner at an unknown earlier date. Rosenthal's Poodle was for sure available in the early 1950s in white and dark grey/black, colors which Breyer also copied.

Rosenthal Poodles in white and dark grey/black
Breyer Poodles in white and black
Next time, I'll tackle Breyer packaging from the 1950s-1980s. Lots of interesting and weird stuff to be discussed!