Thursday, January 30, 2014

Happy Year of the Horse, Wagner Style

The Year of the Horse, per the Chinese calendar, starts on January 31, 2014. What better time to take a look at some of Wagner Handwork's depictions of this marvelous creature?

Actually, if you're a horse lover, any given moment is a perfect time to think about/gaze upon/obsess about horses. And perhaps Fritz Wagner himself had a sweet spot for horses. (Indeed, the little brown and white pony depicted in the banner for this blog was chosen because it was his favorite among all his own creations.)

Wagner horses display perhaps the greatest variety in size of all the animals in the collection. There are tiny ponies scarcely an inch tall at one end, and 10-inch-tall horses nearly as big as a traditional Breyer toy horse. In between are standard horses about 2 1/2 inches high, bigger horses that handily step in to be their sires and dams at about 4 inches high, and, rarest of all, some beauties that are about 5 to 6 inches tall.

The horses also range from wild horses free of saddle and bridle to fully tacked-up horses with colorful felt saddles. Usually the tack is white or red, but horses with black tack turn up, too. The black horses are almost always kitted out in white tack, a very striking look. Some horses and ponies were given long reins because they were made to pull wooden carts--small, two- or four-wheeled ones for the ponies, a big blue-and-white wedding carriage for one pair of big white horses.

Colors span the equine rainbow, too. Most common colors are bay, white, and black for the standard-size, 4-inch, and 5-inch horses. The ponies are typically skewbald, chestnut, black, or Palomino. The biggest horses are bay and black.

The company made horses to order for toy sets made by other companies, so maybe that's why you'll sometimes find the odd horse flocked in a different color. The standard bay, for example, is usually a beautiful red-brown with black mane and tail, but I've seen Wagner horses flocked in a dark chocolate brown, too, in both the standard and the large size. Sometimes a Palomino turns up, too.

I once saw on eBay, but failed to win, a chestnut standard-size horse--it had a tan body with a matching, slightly golden mane and tail. To date I don't believe I've ever seen a spotted horse, only ponies. And though Wagner made a big gray horse in its early days, I haven't seen gray as a color among its later abundance of horses.

There are variations in the horses' stances, too. The ponies are always standing firmly foursquare, as if saying, "Nope, not gonna be caught in the paddock today, not falling for that oats-in-the-bucket lure!" The tiny horses, standard horses, and large horses typically do, too. The biggest ones, with plastic bodies under the flocking, have all four feet on the ground in a walking posture.

But sometimes you'll find horses that are posed in more of a running position, a gait achieved only by the Wagner horses that have paper-wrapped wire legs; the wooden-legged horses are always standing still. A few paper/wire-legged little horses are even caught rearing up.

I will put up more pictures of the great variety of Wagner horses in the future.


  1. Aw, I have the same little white and brown pinto pony (without tack), and it's my favorite too! :)

  2. Oh what a delightful blog! I love these little animals...have a few ponies and piggies with my dollhouses. Will enjoy learning all about more!!

    1. Thanks! I wish I had more time, I'd blog every day if I could :) I planned to have something for Valentine's day but somehow things got away from me. Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. Eee! I love this!! I used to adore flock ponies and only have 2 left- the little brown and white pinto pony and the slightly taller black pony who is in the show stance. I used to have the little bay too but I lost her a long time ago :(
    Sad day.
    You've inspired me to go in search of more ponies!! What about antique stores?? Ever found any ponies there??

    1. Ack, what happened to the little bay? Did a cat make off with it? Cats are the worst predators upon little flocked animals! (Though my dog crunched one up once...) Luckily, bay horses are pretty common on eBay so you might get lucky there.

      As for antique stores...well, I bet on the east coast, especially Pennsylvania with its German heritage, you'd find ponies. I used to live in New York State and New England and I'd find these animals new in gift shops, long ago. But now I live in the Pacific NW and only once in 25 years have I found a Wagner animal in one. It was an overpriced, shabby wolf that I felt I had to rescue :)
      Hearthsong toy catalog used to sell them, but they don't have any backstock (I checked a long time ago).