Wednesday 10 May 2017

Behind the scenes at Magpie Model Horses!

One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret,
Never to be told.

Eight for a wish,
Nine for a kiss,
Ten for a bird,
You must not miss.

I've been waiting a while to make this particular post!

The UK has produced a number of model horse companies over the years, only a scant couple of which are still on the go. Magpie Models (once known as 'Dream Ponies') was one such company, much beloved by collectors. I have a modest herd myself, almost all customs, but there are some folk I know that have loads!

 Magpie Shetlands

EA Ted Tonks

The company has changed hands a few times over the years but production ceased a while back and its future was uncertain.When then owner, Becky Benfield of Utterly Horses (and now Copperfox) put Magpie Models up for sale a few years ago, speculation was buzzing. Just who would take the reins of this much loved stalwart of the UK hobby?

After the initial excitement when word got out that it had sold, all went quiet and a couple of years on, nobody knew anything about the new owner's identity or even whereabouts, and it was all rather mysterious. It was around about this time that my friend Heather Forrest, who I've travelled down to the Lake District Julip shows with the last few years, dropped a rather large bombshell when she was picking me up from the station at Perth, having very kindly invited me up to stay with her family for Thanksgiving last year...

I can still taste that pecan nom nom

'Now, before we get home, there's something I need to tell you'

The way she said that as we drove down the road was so serious it genuinely had me worried. Was someone dying, or ill? Was a particularly horrible relation also coming to Thanksgiving and I had to watch what I said?
Dozens of possibilities were cascading through my head as I nodded for her to continue, but absolutely nothing prepared me for what came next.

'I am the new owner of Magpie Models'

I think I just kind of sat there in shock for a moment before having a minor flail and freakout. 



I was then told that not only was I the only hobby person other than Becky who now knew, but that Heather had been keeping it a secret since the first time I'd met her, when we went down to the Lake District show in 2015. Apparently she'd had a really hard time keeping a straight face as it wasn't long after we'd all heard that the company had been sold, so whilst chatting about the usual hobby gossip I was excitedly going 'OMG, did you hear that Magpie's been sold? I wonder who the new owner is!' whilst unknowingly sitting half a foot from that very person. XD


As everything was still up in the air I was sworn to secrecy myself, which I found extremely difficult at times when people were assuming that the long silence meant that nothing was happening and I wanted so badly to correct them! We had a good laugh at the idea that some people might think it was me, as she planned to release a sneaky photo of the van passing the 'Welcome to Scotland' sign as they crossed the border, close to the reveal date to whet people's appetites, and as I'm one of the few 'well known' hobbyists from up here, people might jump to conclusions. Rather hilariously, after the big reveal, it turned out that at least three people had thought just that! XD

(Just to confirm for anyone who misreads it, I am *NOT* the new owner of Magpie! You clearly don't know me well enough as I am in no way shape or form organised enough to even think about anything with as much responsibility as that, as nice as it would be, lol)

Big revelations aside, we had a great time for the few days I was up - delicious food, excellent company and scenery to die for!

Lunan Bay, Angus. . . #lunanbay #lunanbaybeach #angus #scotland #scottishscenery #scottishbeach #beach #sunset

More importantly...




...and plenty of ponies!


This is The Horse Room, and it's a more than appropriate moniker!

Having grown up with pretty lacklustre access to Breyers, seeing hundreds of them all at once was pretty overwhelming and I kept noticing more lurking in corners and beneath taller models the more I looked!



Heather's Julips

Her Julip collection has grown far faster than mine in the relatively short time she's been acquiring them, which makes me feel both relieved and also kind of envious. XD


Methinks these Magpie riders are on rather the wrong mounts!

A little while after I got home, this mysterious box arrived from Heather...


Inside I found a veritable treasure trove of all things Magpie!


A flat-pack stable with Donkey and foal shells...


A casual rider...


...a selection of jump stands... (something I've always admired in other people's collections)


...some miscellaneous cones, hinges and proppy things...



...and finally, the best part of all...




Fresh off the vine, too! XD

To an outsider, my excitement over plastic buckets may seem more than slightly bizarre, but they're honestly the most realistic the hobby has ever produced and they're ridiculously popular amongst collectors. I wasn't expecting such a generous gift, but I really, really appreciated it, and I can't wait to start customising everything!

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. Heather had already told me that she'd be officially announcing the relaunch of Magpie Model Horses on Sunday, as originally we'd all have been attending the Copperfox Stirling show and it would have been done there, but since that was cancelled she decided to keep the same date and very kindly invited me up once again for the occasion. Of course she ended up bringing everything online at a ridiculously early point in the morning so I slept through it all, but never mind. XD There was method in the madness though, due to the time zones it allowed the Australian Magpie fans to see the launch first!

The best part about being in on this was being able to see the new models in person and they're all lovely! (and I've seen super duper secret previews of future Personalities and gahhh, you're all going to love them!) My photos are all terrible as the inside lighting really doesn't do anything for them, but still...

This is the gloriously shaded 'Ghost of Glamis'
(a mohair test piece)

Behind the scenes at Magpie Model Horses

My personal favourite, 'Lunan Bey'

Behind the scenes at Magpie Model Horses

Behind the scenes at Magpie Model Horses

The striking 'Kirriemuir Skirlie & Neep'
(these are early test models so will look much different, I didn't see the final prototypes)

Behind the scenes at Magpie Model Horses

....and this little guy who will definitely be on my wishlist!

Behind the scenes at Magpie Model Horses

 I'm super envious of her little studio/workroom by the house - just enough room to work in and plenty of projects on the go!

As any Magpie collector will know, the Donkeys were always one of the rarest moulds, only being available for a relatively short period of time so don't get too jealous of the next picture... :P

Behind the scenes at Magpie Model Horses

A donkey in the hand is worth...? 

Behind the scenes at Magpie Model Horses

Aside from the big box 'o donkeys, there were shelves full of boxes of models, half painted shells and lots more...

Behind the scenes at Magpie Model Horses

Not to mention motivation, courtesy of the resident four year old!

Behind the scenes at Magpie Model Horses

Lots of tests, of both paint and finish - several of these poor horses have been quite literally thrown around to see if the paintwork holds up. XD

Behind the scenes at Magpie Model Horses

Behind the scenes at Magpie Model Horses

Behind the scenes at Magpie Model Horses

I love that really dark headed one in the middle - that mould would look SO good in roan...

Behind the scenes at Magpie Model Horses

Behind the scenes at Magpie Model Horses

Some non-Magpies were in there too, like these vintage Julip restorations - can you believe the Welsh in the middle was once missing a limb and has been completely repainted?!

Some Julip restorations in progress

As we talked Magpie for ages, I spoke about my own collection and must have mentioned something about looking forward to finally adding a Hunter to the herd as its a mould I've never quite managed to acquire...and five seconds later I was handed a body to keep! :D :D :D

Behind the scenes at Magpie Model Horses

I'm thinking of making him a really rich bay and plaiting him up...but that might take a while, you've all seen the state of my body box after all... XD

So, this was an extremely long and rambling post, even for me, but I suppose what I want to say is that I think that Magpie is in more than capable hands and I can't wait for the new collection to be officially available in September! There are so many plans in the works that I'm not allowed to mention but suffice to say, there's a very bright future ahead in the Magpie world!


  1. WHAT a MAGNIFICENT COLLECTION and how Wonderful that the company that you love is back in business and owned by a personal friend! I think that this new venture of hers is a match made in heaven!:))
    Congratulations Heather! :D


  2. I think your friend Heather may also be Batman...people who can keep secrets well nearly always have a super hero alter ego :0D
    I have a feeling you may need to move house, or at least rent out a garage for all of your collection :0)