Another trot down Memory Lane

Every time I read the old Pony Magazines I've acquired from the 1960s and 1980s (rather worryingly, I did get some from the 1970s but seem to have lost these somewhere in the chaos that is my office) I find more things I want to write about, but this is one I've had brimming in my head for ages.

For many pony mad girls, if you didn't have a pony, you had a model pony. Preferably lots. I was definitely in the lots camp, having a fine collection of Britains model horses, riders and stables. The big advantage to Britains was that they were cheap: my 5/- (25p) pocket money would buy one in the early 1970s and leave me some money over for sweets. Here is the Britains showjumping set. I did actually have this, but I am utterly ashamed to admit that I lost nearly all of it over the years.

The 35/- price (£3.25) was quite spectacularly reasonable when compared with the game Jump Jockey, which was produced by Minimodels-Triang Ltd, who also made Scalextric. This, as mentioned in the December 1969 edition Pony, was a steeplechasing game, which you could order with any number of jumps up to 5 - which doesn't seem a huge amount to me, bearing in mind the length of the average steeplechase course - and you had control over whether the horse refused, shied or landed safely. It cost a massive 7 guineas (£7.70); quite steep when you consider this would jolly nearly get you a pair of made-to-measure jodhs from a Bond Street tailor.

At the cheaper end of the market were Dream Ponies. I'm not quite sure when these appeared (they are still about, but under the name of Magpie Models) but they were larger than Britains, came with a whole load of accessories, but in rather strange colours. My Arab was covered in a dark brown sort of fuzzy felt material, and had a rather alarming cream mane and tail of incredible, and completely unbelievable length. You were supposed to trim this yourself. I do wonder now I am older and cynical if this was a money saver for the workshop in not having to do the trimming. Their ads were always very small, and lurked at the back of Pony. Here is one from the 1980s:

There was of course plenty for the richer child, or the child with richer relations. Most of these I simply salivated over. I never even managed a copy of the Beswick catalogue, as you had to pay for it, and my mother figured that there was little point spending money on a booklet advertising something I had no hope of getting, which was fair enough, I suppose. Beswick made china horses and ponies, which now fetch astronomic sums on Ebay. All sorts of ponies and horses were made, and I particularly drooled over the native ponies, as in the 1960s ad below.

The attraction has never dimmed: my present for passing my O' levels was a Beswick bay mare. I still have her, though numerous house moves have taken it out of the poor thing a bit.

Also pricey were the Thelwell models. These were sold in a shop called Wells, in Kettering, which ironically is now the Cancer Research shop in which I volunteer. Alas there is absolutely no sign whatsover of a lurking model not cleared out when the shop closed. This is what they looked like:

At 52'6 including p&p these were expensive. I never, ever had one, and again, they're another thing that is still way out of my reach on ebay.

Probably the most sought after model horses (apart from things like the Rydal Arabians and Isis models, which I can't find any mention of yet in Pony) were Julip.

The strapline of looking and feeling like a real horse was slightly odd, as unless your horse feels like rubber, it certainly feels nothing like a Julip. Love Julip though I do, they really don't look that much like real horses either. The Rydal ones certainly do, but Julip really don't (and if you want to spend your money, try bidding for a Rydal on ebay. One one went for over £700.)

As an interesting historical aside, Julip was also advertised for sale in that same magazine. Here's the ad:

As ever with my childhood, I longed for one of these. I finally got one when I foreswore all other birthday presents, and had an Arab mare. I have her still, though she's alas now gone completely hard and has to be kept in a dark drawer to prevent her deteriorating any further.

The ad didn't change much over the years: this one is from 1969, but it was definitely still going in the 1970s:

and this one is from the 1980s, introducing the dressage horse. I do like the dressage rider.

Another thing I found in the 1980s magazines were model stables from Country Style models.


These do look very splendid, and I would have loved the stable yard, though by the time these came out (1984) I was married. Still set on acquiring Beswicks though, and my then husband, knowing how I lusted after them, bought me one, saying "Just go and change it if you don't like it." Well, there are a few Beswicks I don't like, and this was a Black Beauty one, and I didn't like it, so, taking my husband at his word, off I trotted and changed it (for a labrador, in case you're wondering). He was furious. I think that must have been one of those times when male and female stereotypes get reversed: I just assumed he'd meant what he said, and he'd assumed I would understand when he said just go and change it he didn't actually mean it...

Still got the labrador though. And the Julips, and most of the Britains. They've lasted a lot longer than that marriage did.


Anonymous said…
Ooh - I've got two Julips and the riders, rosettes etc too. Wondering what to do with them as they're a bit hard and not really something I can keep for any children - do you know of anyone who collects them or if anyone commenting here does, please let me know and we'll sort something out, as I'd rather they went to a good home than sat in a box. Lovely article as ever!
Jane Badger said…
Lyzzy - like everything else, they're very collectable now and go for quite large sums on ebay. When I had to raise a bit of money to mend another bit of the house, my Welsh pony was among the things I sold, and I got £80 for her. I know there are Julip forums about (have just looked and there is one on the Julip website
Anonymous said…
Ah - brilliant - thank you. I will have an investigate. Cheers for that!
Anonymous said…
I love your Pony posts! This is a whole new world to me; never heard of Julips. I love the Beswick model of the Queen trooping the colour but perhaps that's one of your hates. I can't afford any of this stuff, of course.
Unknown said…
I had (and still have) and decent collection of Britain's animals. A lot of horses, naturally, which all had names, and also various farm and zoo animals. Most other toys in that scale were noting like as good but I did have a generic 'Made In Hong Kong' Arab horse that was lovely.

I got into the larger toy horses for action figures before I ever heard of the Julip figures. With the small Britains and the larger Sindy/Lone Ranger/Anna horses, I didn't need a middle sized range too, and I never really cared for the look of the Julips. They had oversized manes and tails that stuck out everywhere and the sculpting didn't seem as nice and as detailed as my other horses.

I love reading your posts about the old magazine and the adverts though. I have some 70's copies of papers like Melody Maker and Sounds, and looking at the adverts for cheesecloth shirts, flared trousers and T-shirts in the back of those is great.
Fiona said…
One Christmas I got the Jump Jockey game. I realised it was very expensive, my Dad was very excited. It didn't work, Dad took it back to the shop, adjustments were made; still didn't work, put in the box & forgotten on the top of a wardrobe.

Many years later after my Mum had died & I was clearing out the house Dad & I found it. He said "All that money & it was only used once" I felt quite sad; but it was really an awful waste of money.
Did anyone else have it? Did it work for them?

I also have a lot of old Pony magazines Jane. They do bring an awful lot of memories back; life seemed so innocent & easy then!
Jane Badger said…
Thanks CMM - I don't think I know the Trooping the Colour one. The Beswicks I like most are the matt ones, rather than the shiny ones, and I do like the large ones on wooden bases! Shame really as I shall never have one, but I'm content to admire from afar.

Gillian - yes, Julip are a love or loathe. I don't like the fact they're not that realistic, but I think for me the attraction was all the bits and pieces you could get to go with them. I used to spend hours making martingales and so on for my horses!

As far as cheesecloth goes, I have some marvellous ads for things like a black wet look riding mac which I will post soon!

Oh Fiona.... what a tragedy.I did wonder when I looked at the Youtube clip how they managed to make the horses "jump" but I wondered if they just went up a little hill, as it were. Maybe that was the tricky bit?

I do agree - the magazines do seem like another world. the 1960s mags are quite paternalistic, and very different to the more youth centred 1980s mags.
lyzzybee, I collect Julip horses, so I can advertise it. Just a quick note if they are made out of plastic (quite probable as you mention rosettes) they are not fetching very much these days as they used to.

Country Style Models are still going or at least they were until recently. They called themselves Ponies in Miniature in recent years.
MarianPenny said…
Ahhhh, nostalgia! I remember (and had - mostly still have - many of those models!)
I should be most interested if you come acoss adverts for Pegasus or Otway models, which were also made around that time.

You do know there are model horse collectors' clubs out here where we show our models, among other actvities ....?
Jane Badger said…
Thanks Marian - I'm pretty certain I do remember some adverts for at least one of those in the magazines so will post them at some point!

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