We've all seen the models that sell for hundreds of dollars each, and begin to think we're getting priced out of the hobby, but you don't have to spend a fortune to be a collector! Collecting is about the hunt - trying to find that elusive model we've been looking for - and about the joy in displaying our treasures, either just for ourselves or to show off to others. Whether you (or someone you care about) is just starting in the hobby or wants to keep collecting despite a tight budget, there are ways you can create a nice collection for very little money. Following are three ways you can build a collection on a shoestring budget:
Buy Less-Often Collected Breyer Models ~ Some models are collected by more people than others, and with a finite amount of models made in each release, some become harder to get than others, driving their prices up. Owning these pieces can become a badge of pride, but for someone just starting out or on a budget, they may not be currently attainable. Maybe you'll add them someday, but for now, look around for molds you like that don't seem to get as much attention from collectors. There are some molds that you can collect a whole range of releases on without spending much money at all... Even Special Runs in limited numbers can be easily attainable! Here is a list of our favorites for beginning collectors and those on tight budgets:
- Family Arabian Stallion, Mare and Foal - This is probably the set most people think of when they think "budget-friendly models." As Breyer's first family set, they date back to 1958! They have been done in countless colors in the almost sixty years since, and nearly all of them are affordable. The Family Stallion was my first Breyer, as he was for many, many other collectors. He was also my second Breyer, an accident of fate that started my collecting obsession: "They make them in other colors?!?" These models were even produced in the highly collectible Woodgrain finish in the late 1950s' through early 1960s... but because they were the longest-running of the Woodgrains, even they are reasonably priced today! Starting with any one of these models can allow a collector to focus on just that mold or expand to collecting the whole family in each color - That would be an impressive collection, and not to hard on the budget.
- Phar Lap - This galloping racehorse mold, originally designed as a portrait of Australia's superstar Thoroughbred, is surprisingly affordable. IDYB lists 22 releases (not counting Breyerfest Auction models) that would make a great conga, and almost all of them can be purchased for very reasonable prices. We have several currently at Triple Mountain, including three Special Runs that only had 500 produced each. Even these are available for less than $70 each, and should hold or increase their value over time because of their scarcity.
- Quarter Horse Gelding - Chris Hess's iconic walking Quarter Horse has been around since 1961and has 18 easily found releases in a rainbow of colors. This model stands solidly and most releases can be purchased for very little money. A Special Run by Eighmey's Wagon Shop with a run of 1400 (according to IDYB, many were flocked by Eighmey's, so the number of original models in existence may be much lower), are often available for less than $50.
These are just three (well, five if you count the Family Arabs separately) molds that you can collect on a budget. There are many others, including Morganlanz, the Pacer, and Stock Horse Stallion, Mare and Foal. The list is always shifting as a lovely new release on a not-so-popular mold can spur more collectors to go back and find some of the older colors on that mold as well, driving prices up. That's part of the fun of collecting!
Collect a specific color or breed across several brands and different sizes ~ Another way to collect on a budget is to collect only your favorite color or breed, but find the ones you like across several manufacturers. This gives you a greater variety to choose from and will create a beautiful, themed collection. Also, smaller-scale models are almost always cheaper (and you can fit more into a smaller display space!) so don't limit yourself to just the largest scale.
Love Arabians? Breyer's Sham is a good start budget-wise, but don't forget to look into Breyer's Classic and Stablemates Arabians as well. CollectA Arabians (at $7.99 - $24.99) are a great value, and you might find a deal on Peter Stone's Pebbles size. A fan of Appaloosas? There are plenty of Breyer molds done in spotted patterns that can be purchased inexpensively, but also check out Hagen-Renaker's miniatures, and the Appys from CollectA or Schleich. Of course, with a little time spent hunting flea markets and antique shops, you may also supplement your collection with the random "made in Japan" china horse that fits your theme.
Collect Models in Imperfect Condition ~ We say it all the time: "Condition is everything when it comes to value." Models in pristine condition sell for considerably more than those that aren't. That's because most collectors are always looking to upgrade to models in better condition and are willing to pay more to have flawless pieces. Many of these collectors also compete in model horse shows, where condition is incredibly important. What does this mean for someone starting out? Models with a few rubs, or even a chipped ear or repaired leg can often be purchased at a fraction of the cost of a perfect specimen. Many imperfect models display beautifully, and you can expand your collection on a shoestring budget this way. ...And if your budget grows in the future, you can always upgrade models one at a time as money permits. This is how many of us got started, and some of these "imperfect" models have grown on us so much that we'd never consider selling them, even when we purchase an upgraded version.
Collecting doesn't need to break the bank! It can be as expensive as you allow it to be, but just as much joy can be had by collecting less expensive models. So, if you know a young horse lover, don't be afraid to help him or her begin a collection with some of the tips here. You may ignite a passion for collecting that will last a lifetime!