Monday, July 8, 2013

Muddy Monday: Rejected Love

Muddy Monday July 8

This example of the Hagen-Renaker Miniatures Head-Up Pony #A-314 has decent detail, for his mold. Hints of throat wrinkles and mane details are present. This color was produced in Fall 1956 to Spring 1957.

This one has copious body shading. Most Head-up/down ponies are a clear, less-sooty sorrel. All in all, he's one of those pieces that looks better, in person.

Readers may be surprised to learn that this oft soft mold was submitted by HR to Breyer, for consideration to lease for their plastic Stablemates line. Quite a few HR Miniatures horse molds were submitted. Ultimately, 16 molds were selected for lease, and some mold sales began in 1975. The extremely popular line served Breyer well over the decades.* The submitted bisques sat, collecting dust, in Breyer's archives, until a major reorganization changed their fate. Almost no one cared about or understood the bisques' significance, and they were headed for the dumpster. Hobby historical figure, and former Breyer employee, Marney Walerius rescued the bisques from being discarded. Over the years, she dispersed them to collectors. Back then, there was virtually no custom glazing, so the pieces remained in the same condition as they came from the HR San Dimas factory. I purchased some from collector Joan Berkwitz in the mid-1990's, and she told me that they had come direct from Marney. I have a thing about HR history, so I never glazed them. Thus, they have remained exactly as they were in 1974.

When I turn him around, his provenance shows. Some of the surviving Marney bisques were marked with their mold number, so the two companies could know which mold was which, in their lease negotiations. But what does this number mean, it isn't 314? This is the earlier HR mold number for him, in his former vocation as a Circus Pony, #A-266.

As it happened, both HR former circus pony molds were submitted, and rejected, for the Stablemates line. It is funny to think that it took until 1998 for Breyer to add a pony mold to their plastic Stablemates line, and how their mold looks like an unintentional mash-up of these two designs.

It is unknown how many sets of bisque ponies exist. I do not know why some lack the mold numbers. I have heard that more than one bisque set of all of the mini Thoroughbreds exists, but that could be a rumor. I would be interested to hear from anyone who has them with the same provenance. Some bisques, of course, may have entered the hobby more directly from HR's own mold archives, where they kept multiple bisques of many pieces.

This is probably the most detail you will ever see on any castings of these molds, as these were made to be representative of the sculpture to a potential licensee. It's neat to see how many fatty pony neck wrinkles Maureen sculpted on them. Seeing them like this, how could someone say no to these pudges?

Thank you, Tiffany Tran, for parting with this roly-poly sorrel pony!


Identify Your Breyer. Web site.

Roller, Gayle. Hagen-Renaker: A Charlton Standard Catalogue. Third Edition. Pages 294, 314. The Charlton Press: Palm Harbor, FL, 2003. 

*Breyer has since discontinued the leased molds. As of 2005, they no longer lease molds from HR.

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