|Examples of vintage Breyer packaging
A few years ago at a large live show, I tried to explain to the show hostess the importance of original packaging as it relates to collectibility showing and judging. When I told her that some rare boxes were worth substantially more than the actual models that came in the boxes, in my case, a Breyer Mountie with the original cardboard picture box, she scoffed and told me she didn't believe that.
I found her attitude quite disheartening, but eBay prices have absolutely borne out my assertion. For example, a mint Mountie set sans box might fetch around $75-100, but the handful of sets with boxes I've seen sell have brought well over $500. Recently, a Mahogany Proud Arabian Mare in a blister seal shadowbox sold for more than $5000. In counterpoint, the mare alone without the box can be acquired for as little as $20-30.
Showcase boxes, most of which feature run-of-the-mill $20 models like Clydesdale Stallions or Family Arabians routinely sell for over $1000. And just to really drive the point home, a touchability box with no model in it whatsoever sold for more than $1200 a few years ago. I could quote many more examples, but you get the point.
That said, this question about original packaging is important for collectibility judges for two reasons: 1) because original boxes are an integral part of the collectibility and provenance of a piece, and 2) because it demonstrates a fundamental understanding of Breyer's history.
|1950s mailer boxes with rare grooming kits
|A plain To/From mailer with the PAM grooming kit
|An example of a mailer with a line drawing
|A rare mailer for a Wedgewood Running Foal
|Lucky Ranger box
|These hard to find boxes for TV stars Rin Tin Tin and Lassie were also
|A 1960s Brahma box
|Touchability box and alabaster Family Arabian Stallion
|Clydesdale Stallion in showcase collection box
|An optimistic ad featuring the Showcase Collection
By 1972, Breyer had given up on see-through packaging and had returned to cardboard boxes. These "white" boxes featured a reversed color photo of the model inside against a line-drawing background in various colors.
|An assortment of white boxes from the 1975 Breyer dealer catalog
|Appaloosa Gelding with white box
|Hard to find PAM, halter, and carry case set made 1972-1973 only
|This Lady Phase gift set came with a book and blue ribbon. Some sets also
included a 45 rpm record with a song by Lynn Anderson.
|Breyer issued a number of gift sets featuring a book by Marguerite Henry
and the matching model, such as this Misty of Chincoteague set.
|A set featuring a horse, tack, and doll introduced in 1980
|A Classic Arabian family with a carry case box
|This packaging is unique to the Benji and Tiffany set
In the mid-1970s, Breyer issued a number of their smaller models on "blister cards"---cardboard backing with the model secured under a molded plastic bubble. These included the Classic Arabian and Quarter Horse foals in a variety of colors, the Stablemate line which was introduced in 1975, and Benji the movie star dog. (Benji's girlfriend Tiffany was intended to be released individually on a blister card as well, but it never happened due to poor sales of the paired set above.) This display packaging was a great success and is still in use today for Stablemates and other small models.
|Palomino, chestnut, and black Classic Arabian Foals on blister cards
|The earliest Stablemate packaging had a plastic tray to help keep the
model in place under the plastic bubble cover. This Arabian Stallion
was sold as a stand-in for Citation whose mold was not ready.
Breyer didn't entirely give up on line-drawing mailers for horses in these years. This rare Stablemate box was sold through the Sears catalog as a special run in 1975.
And this Proud Arabian Mare and English Saddle set was also a special run for Sears in 1977.
|The leather of this saddle is too brittle to correct the position of the girth.
In the late 1970s, Breyer experimented with a third style of display packaging for traditional scale models, the blister wrap shadow boxes. They are square or rectangular cardboard shadow boxes in which the model is affixed to the back by a vacuum-formed plastic film. Like the earlier attempts at display packaging, these boxes were also short-lived. Despite instructions on the back of the box on how to safely remove the models, they were very easily broken when collectors tried to remove them from these boxes.
|An Overo Paint in a blister box
|An alabaster PAM box
|A Standing Stock Horse Foal (photo from eBay)
In the 1980s, Breyer once again experimented with see-through packaging. The flocked chestnut Rocking Horse (1985) and Kipper (1986) were both issued in a green backed box made of a clear plastic top that fit over the plastic bottom in the same fashion as the cardboard boxes. The Kipper boxes are the same size as the Rocking horse boxes and were probably left overs. Sam I Am was issued as a special run in a similar (but far more flimsy) box in 1984.
In 1986, Breyer introduced the now well-known clear-fronted yellow boxes, their first really successful see-through packaging design for the large scale models. The boxes have become more colorful over the years, but the same basic design has lasted now for going on 30 years.
And there you have it! A (hopefully) mostly comprehensive list of Breyer packaging from the beginning until the advent of the yellow boxes. Coming next will be a post about the rising popularity of vintage customs and how collectibility applies to them (before we return to the judging test questions). Enjoy!