What are never trendy, but always in fashion with the current generation of kids? We’re talking about animal replicas, of course.
Unlike licensed characters that can be hot one day and not the next, generic animal figures offer opportunities for evergreen play patterns that don’t rely on predefined stories or passing properties.
According to child development experts, fun with animal figures inspires imaginative, open-ended play that encourages creativity, as well as everything from vocabulary and social skills to knowledge building.
Popular fantasy and medieval themes aside, two basic segments reign in the figures market today. Since the early 90s and the release of Jurassic Park, dinosaurs have, without a doubt, dominated with young males.
Horses Rule Girls’ World
However, when it comes to little girls, horse figures in all their incarnations, lead the herd. Like their dinosaur-loving male counterparts, horse crazy girls have a wide variety of sizes and features to choose from. In addition to inspiring pretend play, some figures offer nurturing doll-like play – requiring dressing and grooming.
Whether purchased for their collectability or their playability, girls of all ages love horse figures — generating several millions of dollars in North American sales each year. Certainly a quick stroll around the recent New York Toy Fair bears out the strength of the equine figures segment. This year, seemingly more exhibitors than ever were displaying new collections or significant additions to established lines. Of course, Breyer, whose display of life-size Palominos stopped Toy Fair traffic, leads the way with an ever-expanding lineup of collections, sizes and breeds. Also Schleich, the world’s largest replica supplier, introduced 14 horse models in Q1 2013 alone. Others are scheduled for release throughout the year.
Below, Toys & Games takes a look at just a few of the great products available for horse lovers this year.
CollectA’s 1:12-scale Andalusian, designed for 3+, is a dapple grey beauty standing 6.7 inches. Available May 2013, it comes packaged in a deluxe window box. From Kroeger Inc.
Sport Horse Family
Part of Breyer’s Classics Collection, this new set is perfect starter set for horse lovers. It features a 6-inch Sport Horse stallion, mare, foal (in 1:12 scale), fencing, bucket, barrel, hose and hay bale. From Omnigroupe
This beautifully detailed figure, new for 2013, holds a hint of fantasy with her intricately braided mane and tail. From Schleich-North America
A 2013 introduction to Safari Ltd.’s Winners’ Circle collection, this mighty Percheron, which stands 5-inches high, is hand-painted and realistically sculpted. From Everest Wholesale
Rider & Horse
New for 2013, Papo’s Young Rider and Horse (sold separately) set features hand-painted quality and realistic detailing. From D’Artagnan Distribution
Cookies ‘n Cream
An earlier introduction, Cookies ‘n Cream is one of 12 soft-bodied, poseable figures in the Only Hearts Club Girls’ Horse & Pony Club collection. He comes with realistic riding accessories and features brushable mane and tail. From Brands in Balance
Barrel racing is a hot sport with thousands of North American girls and boys. This beautiful 1:20-scale figure and rider, designed for fans 3+, features realistic detailing with horse in full-sprint mode. Also includes barrel. From Big Country Farm Toys
Designed for kids 5+, this fun set includes a 1:12-scale, bendable horse, a fully poseable Princess-style rider, a saddle, bridle, horse blanket, brush, carrot and wand. From Paradise Horses