Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday Surprise: Blind Bag Spirit Riding Free Horses!

Before I dive into today's review, I thought I'd mention that my Create Your Own American Girl clothing is on its way (it shipped--as promised--just shy of a month from when I ordered it) and should arrive sometime next week.  I'm excited to see how the outfits look in person!  I still don't expect Eliza herself to arrive until mid November.

In the meantime, I thought this Sunday would be a great time to write a companion piece to my Spirit Riding Free review from last week.  In this post, I'll contrast the blind bag surprise horses that are being offered by Breyer and Just Play.  I also have a few non-mystery Spirit toys that I want to share, including two unexpected Just Play horses that I found at Toys R Us today, and a small horse and rider set from Breyer.

To start things off, here's a sneak peek at one of the Breyer blind bag horses--this is Spirit himself!

Breyer Spirit Riding Free blind bag Stablemate, Spirit.
I love the mold that Breyer used for Spirit here.  It's such a contrast to the docile version in their large Lucky and Spirit set!  The model's coloring is not very much like Spirit's, though.  Where are all of those gorgeous black points?  Still, it's a great little figure and I love that Breyer gave these horses eyebrows.

I'll get back to this guy in a minute, but I'm actually going to start with the Just Play blind box toys, because those are the ones that I bought first.

The Just Play boxes are available (in theory) at Target, Toys R Us and Walmart, but they've been a little hard to find in certain locations.  They sell out very quickly.  They cost $5.99 each, which is very expensive for a blind bag toy.

The packaging is attractive, though, with a colorful cardboard barn-shaped box nestled inside a plastic stall:


The front of the box is decorated with a picture of Lucky and Spirit, but the other three sides are all made to look like the walls of a barn:



Once the plastic wrap has been removed, the box lifts right out of the plastic stall:


The stall is a nice touch, but I hate to think how much it added to that $6 price:


It has a horse head heart design on one side:


And the bottom has the DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free logo:


Enough with the stall, though.  Are you ready to see what horse we got?

The bottom of the box has a strip of tape, but once that's been cut, the flap opens easily...

I see some reddish-brown...
Oh!  There's a flash of orange!


That's a pretty strong hint, especially given the appearance of Just Play's larger Boomerang...


Sure enough!  It's the lovable Boomerang:

Yay!
With a very orange mane and tail:

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It's a mystery to me why Just Play interprets Boomerang's mane and tail as being orange.  I don't get any kind of an orange vibe from the animated character:

Looks brown to me.
Mini Boomerang has a brown patch over his right eye...

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...and an all white face on the left side:


But there's not much effort to recreate the other markings on this horse accurately.  Here's what the right side of the model looks like:

Boomerang

And this is the right side of the television character:


Here's the left side of the model:


And the left side of the television character:


Despite these inaccuracies, I still think this is a cute little model.  He's made out of plastic (not vinyl) and feels smooth and nice in my hand.  When I tap on his belly, it makes a solid sound, so he's not hollow--or at least not entirely so.  He balances very well, with no warped limbs or other obvious defects.

He fits into the plastic stall nicely, too:


Boomerang comes with a list of other available characters:


The problem is that there are no names listed with these horses!  I don't know who half of them are.  

This version of Spirit looks great for the most part...

I love the galloping pose!
Although his tail seems to be flowing in the wrong direction, which is hard to look at.

I also recognize Boomerang and Chica Linda, but had to guess on quite a few of the others.  Here are my best guesses:


I don't know who Flaca is (I've watched all of the episodes, but don't remember her), but I know the name because Just Play has a draft horse model for sale with that name on the box.

I don't feel good about my guesses for these two, either:


The white horse could be Hacheta (one of Javier's trick horses) but Hacheta should be more grey than white, and should not have black legs.  It could also be Mr. Prescott's horse, I suppose, but his horse is more grey than white as well.

The appaloosa could be Junipero, but Junipero is brown, not black.  I don't know of any other appaloosas.

The only other named horses I know are:
SeƱor Carrots (Snips' donkey)
Sorrel (Mr. Prescott's other horse, and the horse Julian rides)
Equuleus (Lucky's mom's horse)
Xerxes (the bad guy's horse)
Tomahawk (brown pinto), Diabolo (grey pinto), and Bubblegum (another brown pinto)--all horses that Pru offered to Turo before he bought Junipero.

In any case, all of this means that when I opened the next Just Play blind box...I didn't know who I got.  He (she?) is super-cute, though!


This must be Flaca's foal, since he looks like a little draft horse.

I love his side-glancing eyes and foal-like body proportions:



He's almost as tall as Boomerang (hence the guess of a draft horse foal...):


And he came with his own light blue stall:


The last horse I got from this series is...Chica Linda!

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I was hoping for Spirit, but at $6 a pop, I could not afford to keep trying!

Chica Linda has her head raised, as though she's looking off into the distance:


She has one hoof lifted completely off the ground, but she still balances well:


I like her spray-painted muzzle and the intense look in her eyes:

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Here are Boomerang and Chica Linda together:

Just Play blind bag horses Boomerang and Chica Linda.
They're about the same size, although Boomerang is a bit stockier and has a larger head:


Here's mini Chica Linda with the larger version that I reviewed last time:

Just Play's large Chica Linda model and small blind bag Chica Linda model.
I really love these little horses.  It's very tempting to keep buying more, but the collection is so small, the risk of duplicates is high.  I'll confess to actually buying one more of these on my latest trip to Target...and I got another Boomerang.  Oh, well.

I feel like blind bag toys should be priced to reflect the randomness involved.  $3-$4 would have been much more reasonable here.  As much as I love surprises, I'd be happier to spend $6 if I knew exactly which horse I was buying.  In order to get three different mini models, I had to spend $24, which is the cost of two of Just Play's gorgeous $9.99 horses (like Junipero).  That makes no sense.

Happily, the Breyer blind bag horses only cost $3.99, which I think is much more reasonable for this kind of toy.

These horses come in simple pouches, with no gimmicky packaging or extra accessories:


The back of each pouch has small photographs of all the possible horses...with names!  Hurrah!


Here's a closer look:


First and foremost, there's a gold version of Spirit, who I have to admit that I really wanted:


There's also a regular Spirit and all of the other main characters:



The markings are spot-on.


There's Mr. Prescott's horse Sorrel:


And is Sagebrush Mr. Prescott's other horse?  I don't know that name:


There are two of the three horses that Pru showed to Turo:



And this is the bad guy's race horse:

He looks awesome!
And here's Javier's lovely trick horse, Hacheta:


Ok, now I feel like at least when I open the first pouch, I will know which horse I got!  That's exciting!

Let's find out who it is...


It's hard to see in there, but could it be?  Do you think...

It is!  It's the gold Spirit!  Oh, my goodness!


Yay!  He's gorgeous!

Breyer blind bag Spirit Riding Free Golden Spirit.
Ok, he's a little crooked.


He stands just fine, though, and has a wonderfully dynamic pose.


This version of Spirit does not have eyebrows.  In fact, his eyes are a little crazy, with way too much white for such a small figure.

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This horse doesn't look much like Spirit, but he captures the unbreakable personality of the character.

The second horse that I got in a Breyer blind bag is no surprise at this point, but he's still great.  It's the other version of Spirit:

Breyer blind bag Spirit horse.
I love that this guy has eyebrows, but again, he doesn't look much like Spirit.


It's funny how I couldn't manage to get Spirit from the Just Play blind boxes, but I got both of Breyer's versions of Spirit!

Breyer blind bag Golden Spirit and regular Spirit from Spirit Riding Free.
They really look fantastic together.  There's so much movement and personality!

The main criticism I have of these Breyer blind bag toys is that they're basically just Stablemates.  The molds have been used before, and the colors aren't necessarily distinct from those that are used for regular Stablemates.  Maybe that's why I get so excited about Spirit's eyebrows.  That's the one feature that makes these little horses unique to Spirit Riding Free.

The Breyer horses are a little bigger than the Just Play horses:

Just Play blind bag horses (left) and Breyer blind bag Spirit (right).
If I look at these are purely horse models, I prefer the realism of the Breyer figures.  However, the Just Play horses--with their simplified, cartoon-like features--are better souvenirs of the television show.  I just wish they weren't so expensive!

Just in case Farrah is reading: here's my American Girl showing off how both brands of horse might work as toys for 18-inch dolls: 

American Girl with blind bag Spirit Riding Free toys.
I've gotten pretty obsessed with the Spirit Riding Free show over these last few weeks.  I watched many of the episodes twice (listening for horse names), I took several trips to the store to scope out toys, and I bought more things than I ever intended.  But even though there are a lot of Spirit Riding Free products in this review and the last one, I still left out two big categories: Just Play's larger scale dolls (and large Scale Spirit), and Breyer's smaller scale dolls and horses.  I'm not drawn to the larger Just Play Lucky and Spirit at all.  Spirit is not articulated and I'm even less fond of Lucky's face in a large scale.  

I did snap some pictures of these guys at my local Toys R Us, though:

Large Spirit and Lucky set from Just Play.
I like the large Abigail doll much more than Lucky, but her hair looks like trouble:

Large Abigail doll from Just Play.

Pru looks ok, too, but she has the same neon face paint/orange eye trouble as her smaller counterpart.  Also, this doll's face paint is smeared all over the front of the box:

Large Prudence doll from Just Play.
I'm not really tempted by any of these toys except maybe Abigail.  I might be curious to see how good her articulation is some day.  But not today.

The smaller Breyer sets were intriguing to me.  The horses, in particular, appear to have the dynamic poses and molded manes and tails that I was wishing for in the larger sets.  I decided to end this review with a quick peek at the small Lucky and Spirit set:

Small Lucky and Spirit set from Breyer, $14.99.
These small sets cost $14.99--the same price as Just Play's large horse and rider sets.


Both Lucky and Spirit pop right out of their blister pack box:

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When I first got Spirit out of the box, I was disappointed to feel that he's very lightweight.  His construction is similar to that of the larger Breyer Spirit horses: he's made entirely out of hollow thin plastic.  In this smaller scale, that choice feels especially fragile.  I wish that the legs, at least, were solid.  That would improve the horse's balance and make him more durable.

Spirit has a prancing mold with his mane and tail flowing behind him:


His body mold is great, but some of his proportions feel a little off to me.  Most of all, his head seems too big, but that effect is probably exacerbated by the bulk of the flowing mane.

My horse also tips a little to one side...kind of.  If you look at him front-on, his entire body makes a pretty straight line up and down, but notice how in the picture, below, his back tips to the left and his planted front leg slants to the right:


Here he is from the other side:


Spirit's large head has a straight-edged blaze and big eyes with arched eyebrows:


His expression isn't fierce like the Stablemate version or goofy like the larger version--it's a nice compromise:

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Spirit doesn't come with tack, but the other two horses in this collection (Chica Linda and Boomerang) do.  The tack on these small horses is removable, which is nice.


One strange thing is that the horses have holes near the backs of their mouths (where a bit would go) but these holes do not appear to have anything to do with the attachment of the bridle.  Here's a promotional picture of Boomerang's bridle to demonstrate:


Spirit has this hole, too, even though he does not come with tack:


Here's a closer look:


The small Spirit is about four inches tall from his hooves to the top of his mane.  Here he is alongside the larger Breyer version:

Large Spirit and small Spirit from Breyer's Spirit Riding Free collection.
He's about twice as tall as the galloping Stablemate Spirit:

Blind bag Spirit (left) and small Spirit (right) from Breyer's Spirit Riding Free collection.
The Lucky that comes with this set is three inches tall.  She's the same height as my ring finger.  She has painted clothing and seven points of articulation (head, shoulders, hips, knees):


Lucky's hair is also painted, and includes the little curl of bangs on the right side of her forehead:

Breyer's small scale Lucky doll.
Her eyes are a little wonky, with a few areas of missing paint, but overall I'm impressed with the precision in this paint job.  She's very small.

The boots have an amazing level of painted detail for their size:


Lucky's shoulders are simple rotating joints.  Her hips mostly just rotate, but the legs can also move from side to side a little bit, so that Lucky can sit on the ground with her feet apart, like this:


Her knees have fairly thick, sturdy hinge joints that do not rotate.

She balances quite well for such a tiny figure, even when her legs aren't perfectly centered underneath her body:

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Here's the larger scale Breyer Lucky holding her mini me:

Breyer's large Lucky doll holding the small Lucky doll (Spirit Riding Free).
Lucky rides Spirit pretty well, and is a good size for his body:

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Because Spirit's back tips a little to his right, Lucky also tend to slip towards her right when she's riding:



I really like Spirit's pose and his molded mane and tail.  His size is also nice--he'd be easy to carry around.  Even a full collection of all six Spirit Riding Free characters in this scale wouldn't take up much space.  However, as we saw with the larger Breyer products, Spirit feels fragile.  He's made out of thin hollow plastic and is lightweight.  

Lucky is very cute for her size.  She has a happy face and no glaring paint defects. Her hip joints feels a little loose, but overall she's surprisingly sturdy for such a miniature doll.  In fact, as small as Lucky is, her knee joints feel more durable than the thin knees of the Just Play riders.

Overall, if Spirit's body were made out of solid (or more durable) plastic, I think this would be my favorite scale of Breyer Spirit Riding Free toys.

Small Lucky and Spirit set from Breyer.
This was supposed to be the end of the post, but I happened to be at Toys R Us this afternoon and stumbled upon a really fun surprise.  This is actually the best surprise of the whole review for me!

I apologize if my descriptions seem rushed here, but I had to share this with you immediately!

Look at what I found!!

FLOCKED Pru and Chica Linda set from Toys R Us!!!
It's basically the same Prudence and Chica Linda set that I reviewed last time, but Chica Linda is flocked and has a vinyl mane and tail!  Ahhhh!  How awesome is that?

Also, look at Pru's face:


Her lips are not neon pink, but more of a bright coral color!  It's a big improvement, if you ask me.  These sets cost $17.99, which is $3 more than the ones I found at Target.  They are exclusive to Toys R Us.

I could not resist bringing a few of them home!

First, here's Spirit with Lucky:

Toys R Us exclusive Lucky and flocked Spirit set from Just Play, $17.99.
Right off the bat, I like these sets because it could not be any easier to get Spirit out of the box.  He's held onto the backdrop with just a thick band of plastic...which can easily be cut:


I assume that Just Play used this method of packaging because plastic ties and wires would have made ugly marks in the flocked coat of the horse.  Good call.

Here's the cute pair:

Toys R Us

This Lucky is essentially the same as the one I've already reviewed, but her hair did not come out of the box super-sticky.  In fact, it's not sticky at all.  She also has slightly less hair, so it's less poofy and easier to control.

Target Lucky (left) and Toys R Us Lucky (right).
 But let's focus on Spirit:


First of all, he's the heaviest of all the Spirit models I've reviewed.  I guess the vinyl mane and tail and the flocking combine to make a heavier body.  He's probably still hollow, but he feels and sounds solid because of the soft coat.

His balance is good and he stands up straight...


...even though the bottoms of his hooves have a bit of flocking on them:


I think that the molded mane looks great.  It has more of a red tinge than the dark points on Spirit's legs and muzzle, but my camera accentuates this color.  The mane and tail are not quite as red as they appear in these pictures:


The packaging left some areas of flattened flocking.  These look like small patches of lighter fuzz:


I could not smooth these areas back to normal.

Spirit's mane, forelock, and ears are all made of flexible vinyl.  The vinyl mane actually lifts away from the neck a little when I pull on it.


The vinyl tail is molded to be swishing dramatically to one side.  I love it.  The tail can be pulled away from the body a little bit, too.


The blaze, dark muzzle, eyes, and eyebrows are all painted.  The eyes do not have any flocking, but in all of the other areas, the paint is applied on top of the flocking.


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The painted muzzle looks good.  It's nowhere near as abrupt as what we saw on the un-flocked version.  The blaze does not look so good, though:


The paint is patchy and the seam line looks like a crack.

The eyes look inset from a distance, which is cool, but closer inspection reveals that my horse has some missing fur around his left eye:

Demodectic mange?
It doesn't look too bad, but I wonder how easy it would be to just scrape the flocking off.


I did not have the heart to try and scrape the flocking off this guy, though.  I like him too much.  Sorry!

Here are the two versions of Spirit together:

Flocked Spirit (left) and regular Spirit (right) from Just Play.
Flocked Spirit (left) and regular Spirit (right) from Just Play.
I love the flocked Spirit.  So many of my criticisms of the other model do not apply to this new fuzzy guy: his muzzle looks good, he doesn't seem angry, and his mane and tail are awesome.  My only reservation about him is that the flocking might not hold up very well.

Flocked Spirit (left) and regular Spirit (right) from Just Play.
In the last review, Junipero was my favorite horse of all...by a long shot.  I really wanted to see how the flocked version of this character measures up:

Toys R Us exclusive flocked Junipero, $12.99.
He also costs $3 more than his un-flocked counterpart.

He has the same wonderful pose, but now he's fuzzy!


The soft coat comes at the expense of some realism, though, I think.

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The painted appaloosa markings, in particular, stand out to me as looking a little fake on this guy.


He also has an area of scuffed flocking on his right side:

I almost started picking at that spot...

It was hard to photograph Junipero's eyes, but they also look inset from far away:


This horse does not have any flocking defects around his eyes.  He does have a lot of hair fragments on the painted parts of his eyes, though!


Here's a better look:


Here are the two versions of Junipero together:

Flocked Junipero (left) and regular Junipero (right) from Just Play.
The flocked horse has a redder coat and less detail in his coloring.

Flocked Junipero (left) and regular Junipero (right) from Just Play.
It's harder to pick a favorite here.  I think I still have to choose the un-flocked Junipero as my favorite.  I just love all of the detail in his paint.

Flocked Junipero (left) and regular Junipero (right) from Just Play.
Whew!  This brings me to the actual end of my efforts to understand the expanse of Just Play and Breyer Sprit Riding Free merchandise.  It's even more overwhelming than I originally thought.

I'd better finish up soon, or this won't be much of a Sunday Surprise, but here are a few thoughts:

Blind Bag Toys: The Breyer blind bag toys are more affordable, more dramatic, and more realistic, but they're basically just Stablemates with eyebrows.  The Just Play blind bag horses are more unique and more true to the television show...but they're pretty expensive at $6 each.

Breyer small scale horse and rider: this set exceeded my (somewhat low) expectations. Spirit has a great mold, a nice mane and tail, and Lucky is far cuter and more flexible than what I'd expect with a three-inch doll.  Unfortunately, Spirit is made out of thin hollow plastic and feels quite fragile.  These sets also cost the same as the larger, (un-flocked) Just Play horse and rider sets, and I feel that the Just Play horses are a better deal for the money.

Flocked Just Play sets: Oh, my goodness, these are great.  The flocking feels nice and gives the horses a little something special (and soft!), without burdening them with overly-long manes and tails.  The horses look lovely.  I have some reservations about how well the flocking will stand up to hard play.  Will it be as durable, as, say, the flocking on the Calico Critters?  That would be amazing.  Since I'm unwilling to scrape away at the fur on any of my new horses, I guess only time will tell how durable the flocking is.  I have a hard time choosing a solid favorite between the flocked sets and the three-horse gift set from Target that I recommended last time.  That will ultimately come down to individual preference.  Personally, I'd get the three main horse characters in their lovely flocked exclusive versions, and then fill in the accessory horses with the beautifully-painted smooth models from Target.

Because there's such a diversity of choice here, and because I was only able to scratch the surface of what's available, I'm especially eager to hear from any of you who have picked a scale/style/brand of Spirit Riding Free toy and learn what you think about your choice!  As for me, it's really hard to be super-critical with so many new horse toys flooding the market.  I love all of these models to some degree...just because I love horses.  They make me feel like a kid again.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I need to gallop around the Old West for a little while on one of my beloved Red Dead Redemption horses.  Happy Sunday!

So many horses!

16 comments:

  1. I love the just play blind bags the best. I've even bought a few. I now have two Spirits and the grey one. I like the look of the Breyer blind bags, but I used to collect the stable mates and these look like recolors with eyebrows. I don't know how I feel about that.

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  2. Is it bad that as soon as you mentioned flocking, I really started hoping you wouldn't decide to scratch it to see how easily it came off? I was so sure you would. The horses look a million times better without the silly, overlong, rooted hair.

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  3. Thanks. This was a really fun review. My favorites are the flocked horse but as you mentioned, who knows how long it would last (or stay clean) considering this is a toy that's meant to gallop on surfaces.
    The blind bag horses are very well done for something so small. I didn't understand how tiny they were until you had your American Girl doll holding them.

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  4. the vinyl hair makes such a huge difference! I like the fuzzy flocked ones for those vinyl manes, the molds are also much more cartoonish and full of personality I feel, more like cartoon characters. It's a shame about the durability though.

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  5. Thank you, that was fun! I liked the small Spirit best, but then I saw flocked horses and they are great!

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  6. Great review! I've been loving all the Spirit Riding Free toys, too! I love horses so any new horse toys are always a welcome addition to the toy aisles. I collect model horses (mainly Breyers) so plenty of the Breyer and Just Play Spirit toys have already trotted into my collection haha (The Just Play Junipero is one of my favorites, too!)

    The holes in the mouths of the smaller Breyer horses are actually air holes! They make sure that air has a way to escape the inside of the model so it doesn't get bloated with air. If you google "Breyer Bloaty" you'll see some pretty crazy photos of (especially vintage) Breyers with air hole defects that have swollen up due to trapped air.

    Also, the Just Play Blind Bags have codes so you can know which horse you are getting! They are on the bottom of the box. Here they are if you are interested!
    A8: Equueleus A4: Chica Linda A5: Boomerang A7: Spirit A6: Draft foal
    A3: Flaca A2: Grey with dark legs A2: Junipero

    Hope this helps!

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    1. Oops! I put A2 twice! A2 is Junipero, and the grey with dark legs is actually A1.

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    2. This is awesomely and entertainingly useful!! Thank you so much, Hannah! Now I can go on a quest for the Just Play Spirit! And, I can have nightmares about Breyer Bloaty. ;P

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    3. Thank you!! After 2 duplicates, I finally got smart to see if there was any way to identify what horse was inside. I noticed the number/letter combo & was hoping someone had posted this info. You're a money saver! :)

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  7. This review is so fun! I've been so into this cartoon on Netflix lately as well. My 5 and 8 year old watch an episode or 2 in the morning while they are eating breakfast and getting dressed before school. I totally get sucked in and then I have to turn it off so we don't miss the bus, haha. I really like these new bling bags as I love miniatures of miniatures and the flocked horses are awesome! I'll have to keep my eyes out for these. :)

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  8. I would like to mention as a long time model horse (it use to be just plastic but I've also got resin ponies now), the hole in the mouth is so the model can "breathe", I don't know the exacts but I'm pretty sure models without a hole become bloated (look up bloaties, they do not disappoint), on resins it's normally places near the genitals, the belly (near the hind legs/genital area, I have yet to see a resin with a hole in the middle of his belly), or the tail but breyer generally put it around the mouth/nostrils. It's just a model horse thing.
    - L

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    1. 'model horse collector I mean

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    2. I also feel it necessary to mention that the bridles in the show and the one on the particular boomerang you showed are referred to as sidepulls, they're bitless and very mild if it's a leather noseband, they're actually my favourite type of bridle, working like a snaffle bit, there's no leverage, so they're very mild on the nose.
      - L

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  9. Make sure not to get the flocking wet! I made that mistake with a LPS seal once...

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  10. Wow! So cool! I love that you showed the size of the blind bags with an 18" doll. They will be perfect additions to certain collectors' doll houses.
    ~Xyra

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  11. I have the "black and white" horse from the stable shaped boxes- it's actually brown and white in person (tho the mane and tail are black). Haven't seen the bagged ones any where I'll have to get looking!

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I value and welcome all opinions, but comments with abusive or offensive language will be deleted.