Friday, December 20, 2013

1960's Toy Store Fantasy

I have this fantasy of finding a picture showing a 1960's toy store Breyer display, complete with decorators.

Back in the 80's, before the current clear window Breyer boxes, toy stores would take out one of each model, for display in glass cases or sometimes even on open shelves.  Sometimes the open displays resulted in dismembered display models, but it was still wonderful to be able to compare your options side-by-side, on the floor, on the counter, paired with models you already have, paired with models you want, and in every imaginable scenario, prior to making a decision.

Once you made your decision, you would then need to ask for the model from the back, or choose an unopened box from nearby. With all of the color and shade variations of the day, you didn't necessarily always get what you saw.  Sometimes your model was much darker or lighter, or painted less neatly than the display version. Going back to my fantasy, I suspect that displaying one copy of each model would have been standard in the 1960's too, when each model came in a sealed cardboard box, later with line drawing of the item, and more often with just the name and number of the model.

As a child, I purchased my model from about ten different nearby toy stores. We had a Circus World Toy store in the Yorktown Mall in Lombard, IL until the early-1980's. This store was only about ten minutes away. Another Circus World location was a bit farther, a 30 to 40 minute drive.   It was this farther, North Riverside Mall location that my father drove me to one evening in roughly 1981when I was nine.  I had saved enough money for my next new dream horse, the dapple grey Old Timer.  For some reason, apparently low popularity, most stores didn't carry that model, so once I found him by phone, my Dad spent his evening trekking to Riverside just to help me purchase him. The "sample" model was behind the glass, but I got a boxed version.  It felt like forever between asking the clerk to get the boxed model (which was kept in the back), paying, and when I could finally tear off the cellophane and open the box to "meet" my very own Old Timer. How I wish I had taken pictures of that moment!

At least I have the memories of the model displays of the 1980's, but I still dream of seeing what toy store Breyer displays looked like in the 1960's. Some searching led me to an interesing site, . Two photos from this site intrigue me (all credits to the site and photographers listed there).

Photo source:  Full Credits provided there. 

The Breyers are in that first glass display on the far left! Is that the grazing mare I see? Are those the boxed models on the shelves below? This looks like the late 1970's and early 80's Circus World stores that I remember. 

Another photo appears to be much older. Look to the right and left of the shopper's head. Are those the charcoal Family Arabians that we are seeing to the left? Is that a black Fury model that we are seeing to the right? What is on the next shelf down? I enlarged the photo but still can't see the horses very clearly.

Photo source:  Full Credits provided there. 

My fantasy is still unfulfilled, but these old photos delight me, and I'm still hopeful that my "dream photo" will turn up someday.  


  1. Love the trip down memory lane. I miss the days of seeing Breyers in malls and small toy and hobby stores.

  2. This actually made me cry! I was born in '62 and couldn't wait to go to the toy store and see what was new. A friend's mother used to call the Breyer section our "shrine". :-) I do remember the displays from the late sixties/early seventies at "Woolworths" that were on the end-caps. I was so small I couldn't see to the top shelves. They displayed all the models right out in the open, so what you picked was what you took home. Some of the drugstores would also have small groups of Breyers. I also remember later on "Toys R Us" used to have practically a whole isle full of Breyers and Hartlands, all stacked up in boxes.

    These pix are a wonderful Christmas present!