1989 newspaper article – courtesy of Emma Kelley

Magpie Models is a British owned and operated company that has traditionally been managed by just a handful of dedicated staff. It produces realistic and affordable, hand painted model horses that are slightly smaller than 1/12th scale.

The models were originally made under the company ‘Dream Ponies’, in the 1970’s who left the models with very little detail with the intention that the customer would custom paint the details themselves.

The company was sold to Emma Kelley in 1988 and resurfaced as ‘Magpie Models’, whose models were far more detailed and realistic and came with an extensive range of matching accessories. Operation was located in the beautiful rolling hills of South Devon, with Emma and her small team. Emma introduced the ‘Personality’ collections (also known as Persies), which was a small collection of models with extra detailed features that were launched on an annual basis. Once the year was over, they were no longer available for purchase and the new years Personality models replaced them.

The original foal mould – image courtesy of Heather Forrest

In 1995 the company was sold on to Sarah Mylne, who continued for three further Personality collections and ceased production in 1999.

The company was again sold in 2001, to Jan Adams, a former employee who had worked at the company in the 80’s and 90’s, and who became the Devon coordinator when the business moved from Devon to Surrey in the 90’s.

The company reemerged in 2003 under the new management, this time with an online presence. Products were kept much the same, although there were differences in the artistry, such as sprayed markings rather than hand painted markings and the detail of the eyes. The business was closed again in 2008, as the process of manufacture was very time consuming and costly and a recession had caused sales to drop.

Donkey shells sitting pretty in a box – photo courtesy Heather Forrest

Magpie Models was then sold to a company called Utterly Horses, who had intended to relaunch Magpie Models. Although blank shells were sold as sets, nothing further was able to be done due to time restraints.

In 2014 the company was sold again, this time to Heather Forrest, the name changed to ‘Magpie Model Horses’ and production has been moved to Scotland. Heather will take the company forward with an online presence and the highly detailed ‘Personality’ collections.

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