What is Collectibility?

by Gail J Berg

I was recently asked how I would define collectibility as there was no "standard" definition and some shows might use a different definition than others.

This article will provide my answer. I will also provide my criteria for collectibility judging, differentiated from breed standard judging.

While this article will emphasize Original Finish (plastic), it can be extrapolated to other finishes (china, resin, customized).


A Simple Definition

A simple definition of collectibility is not what makes one desirous of owning a specific (in comparison to others),at least primarily.

In essence, when judging collectibility, a judge is quantifying the rarity and desirability of the piece presented, in comparison to the other entries.



A first step for the judge is to identify (or be informed by shower-provided documentation) exactly what is being presented. With the proliferation of the number of colors produced on an ever increasing mold library, it is infrequent that a collectibility judge knows every possible release, much less all the variations, so it is good to inform or remind the judge by providing documentation.

At a minimum, the documentation should identify:

and optionally

Some examples:

There are numerous reference books available, and the manufacturer sections of the Model Horse Gallery, that may provide the information needed to identify a specific piece.


Judging Collectibility

So, here are my criteria when judging collectibility, in no particular order:

I usually rank them about 25% each of how I would rate a horse, but condition sometimes is the deciding factor.

(Compare this to my criteria for halter judging: breed (type, color/markings), conformation, condition/workmanship, desirability.)


Condition addresses the existence or lack of breaks, scratches, rubs, paint transfer, yellowing -- anything that might have happened after the piece left the manufacturer. Also any dirt or cobwebs left on the piece deduct further condition value.

But condition can also apply to manufacturing issues including excess flashing, missing paint, overspray, misplaced paint. (Some of these issues can also make a piece collectible as a variation, say if one layer of paint color was mistakenly skipped so a "bay" horse has no black points on his legs. Or "tri color" eyes only have two colors. Or a "chalky" which had to paint the white markings as a different plastic was used during the oil crises of the 1970s.)

Please note that some shows allow "touched up" or restored (original finish) pieces; some prohibit them. Be truthful and state any restoration done to a piece. It could be that repaired 1950s porcelain horse might be more welcomed than mint 1980s piece.


This is pretty self explanatory. Usually a piece that is older is considered more collectible than one that is newer.


Another self explanatory criteria: nominally a piece from a smaller run is more collectible than one from a larger run.

However, where/how a piece is released may also contribute. For instance, a piece issued in Europe may be harder to acquire than a purchase-only in person special run from an event.

And a piece from a defunct manufacturer or mold may also contribute to its rarity.


This has two parts.

The first is the general notion of how collectible a piece may be; the more folks who want it, the more desirable it is.

The second is the personal preference of the judge. If two otherwise identical pieces are presented, it may be the shading or coloration of one that a judge likes to determine the placing.


In Summary

Having a special horse is just that - special. And whether it is a very collectible horse, realize that the most important this is not winning, but enjoying the ownership of a piece.

Have a good time showing and remember that it's just one judge's opinion per class, and next time the placing might be very different.


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