Oh, my stars. Here is me, in the very early 80s, with messy unwashed weekend hair and my old bifocal glasses, playing with my giant horde of cheap plastic toy horses.
My dad made us kids a sort of hobby table in the basement—my brother and his friends used it to race slot cars for a while, then once they grew out of that, I came in and added a fake “grass” mat to it and it became my “ranch”. The table was technically in my brother’s section of the basement, and I just sort of took it over. In these pics you can not only see me and my toy horses, but a great batch of old 1970s toys in their boxes stacked along the wall.
I collected and displayed these horses in a way that you can see I obviously didn’t know the structure of horse families, haha. You can see I have a lot of little family groups, many of which match.
I’ll get to those toys back there in a sec. First, for the horsey folks, a closer look:
I really don’t know what the heck is going on this pic. I had so few foals, I often used smaller horses of other playsets for all my mares to have babies. Here is an example: The black mare in the middle is actually a Breyer Stablemates Thoroughbred mare–one of the few items of real value in this mess. Her name I gave her, I think, was Black Velvet. Sculpted decades ago by the late great Maureen Love, she’s a gorgeous model to be so small. Her “foal” is a simple black and white pony that you’d see in almost any cheap plastic farm animal playset today–the mold has been used probably a billion times over the years. There is an identical mold, buckskin colored pony right in front of it.
The way I got many of these horses, which were vintage, was from my dad–he is a model railroad buff and often bought large lots of old Lionel trains with other toys mixed in the boxes. Many of these items were cowboys and Indians from the 50s, and of course those came with lots and lots of horses.
It’s hard to see, but the white horse at dead center is Creme. She is a horse unlike all my others, a more fragile plastic with molded-on tack. She was all one color when I got her, and one happy day I clearly remember:
….Painting her and many of my other horses.
A lot of the horses had molded-on tack, and were all one color. Wanting to spruce them up a bit, I borrowed some model paint from Dad and took everything to my grandparents’ house when I was there for my usual weekly visit. I can clearly remember sitting at the kitchen table, newspaper spread out, horses all over the place, happily painting on my (possibly valuable today) horse figures. I picked up Creme and I asked Grandmother what color I should paint her tack, because she was special, the only one like her in the whole batch. The colors on creme are the ones Grandmother suggested, as she thought Creme looked like a fancy parade horse. I still have her today, and she sits on a shelf in my office.
Another Breyer with a special memory is in this pic, but I don’t remember her name. She’s the white horse off to the left. She is a Stablemates Arabian Mare, given to me by my grandmother on my mother’s side(we called this grandmother Bubba).
In the back you see some of the many many horses I had with that molded-on saddle and bridle and that bow-legged plastic cowboys snapped perfectly onto. A miscellaneous cowboy is running after No-Tail, who is yet another molded-on-tack horse with, of course, no tail.
Here’s a great example of those horses I painted. I made this one palomino, with bright blue tack. A red snap-on cowboy rides him after two matching “farm playset” gray horses and a slightly hidden foal, while Chief, the orange shepherd dog, joins in. The palomino horse is Tango, but that’s all I can remember.
Boy, this pic is a hot mess. All the horses going across the front of the pic are made by Marx and were also the kind with snap-on cowboys–notice that only one cowboy is present, however..he seems to be leading all these saddled horses someplace on a horse that isn’t looking very cooperative. I might have named the tan horse in the front Buck. A group of cheap plastic “animal playset” deer are right in the middle of everything, and in the back two more “farm/animal playset” draft horses who are smaller than everybody are pulling a big red cage of some sort. That cage might have been a G.I. Joe piece. The cage is holding a black bucking horse I called Steel–I remember that very clearly. A yellow plastic pickup truck is in the background–it was the only one I had, and I still don’t know why I had it.
This red horse, appropriately named Red, is actually a little valuable and is made by Marx. She is a “wagon horse” and would have also come in black. I had a black one, too, named Blackjack, and she is elsewhere on the layout. Red has a palomino foal that was one of the prettiest actual foals I had–since Red was one of my favorites, she got it. 🙂
This is Copper, also made by Marx in the same line as Red is. I have seen him in black and even white! Copper and Red are made of a solid, hard rubber.
STUBBS! Oh, poor Stubbs. He is a Stablemates Arabian Stallion, sculpted by Maureen Love like my other two Stablemates, and he suffered quite the indignities at my young hands. See,Bubba gave me the Arabian mare and stallion when I was only four and the legs were just soooo teeny and fragile I broke Stubbs’ off very early in the game. Because Bubba died when I was four or five and I barely got to know her, these horses were very precious to me. But Stubbs never had a name other than Stubbs that I can remember. Still, he carried himself with dignity even though he was placed in the “handicapped” tent. My horses’ shelters were little green army man tents held up with small building blocks.
To the center you can see three small white horses–the two standing up were the smallest on the whole layout, and I think they went with a Matchbox horse trailer. The one lying down was an actual train layout horse.
Sort of over to the right, in the front, is a really weird horse I can’t identify yet. He is made of what looks like two different colors of plastic swirled together. I called him Ripple.
In the back you can see two plastic “farm playset” goats, and an Indian teepee. Everyone lived happily together on this ranch!
Last but not least that I can recognize in the above pic is Dynamite. He is another style of early Marx ranch playset horse, and is made of a really hard, solid plastic. I had a brown cow and calf from the same line, and they’re on this board.
Dynamite was obviously well-loved even before I got him; he was very very scuffed and worn, and that front leg that sticks out was a little chewed.
Good grief, there I am again with my crazy hair. Anyway, here’s a blurry view of No-Tail running right at the camera. A few inches over are Red and her palomino foal, and you can see Blackjack at far right with a cowboy running in front of her.
Right in front of me are the Marx cow and calf. I actually had these two as long as I can remember, even before I had any horses. I might have stolen them from one of my brothers.
There’s an army truck being put to use back there. Why is there a little yellow ladder propped up against it? What was I playing?
And no, that isn’t a unicycle hanging on the wall in the back; it’s the front wheel of a three-wheeled chopper tricycle.
Okay, let’s check out those 70s toys!
The main ones I can point out are the CB McHaul Rig, and the yellow and dark blue box is a Matchbox City car carrier and playset.
Just beneath Matchbox city is a 2 in 1 Stunt Drag Race Set, but I’ll have to ask my brothers more about it.
The box that reads AFX is the slot car set. My brothers might be able to tell me what some of the other items are. I’m really curious about the things at far right.
So there you go, a little peek into a Saturday if the life of me in the early 80s, and the toys I loved.