If there is one breed that catches every horse lover’s imagination, it is the friesian!
Now lets cut right to the chase. Schleich in their infinite wisdom have tirelessly spelt it “frisian”...and it drive me nuts! Does anyone else out there think the same? If so, let’s all do a big shout-out to their graphics department and get it corrected. Moving on...
The first friesian was introduced in 1999, and has evolved through 4 further pieces, plus a foal. They include:
1) Frisian Stallion (13242), 1999-2004
2) Frisian Mare (13604), 2006-2014
3) Frisian Foal (13622), 2007-2013
4) Frisian Stallion (13667), 2010-2016
5) Frisian Mare (13749), 2014-current
6) Frisian Stallion (13792), 2016-current
ONE: The first friesian is a gentle, quiet and beautiful incarnation. This unsupposing piece it typical of the 1990s Schleich horse style. As with these early horses, the coat grain in the pvc is subtle, often appearing quite smooth and shiny. What I find surprising is how small it is in comparison with the other horse breeds from this era. It needed to be that bit bigger to be proportionate with the other horses release around this time. It does add a delightful quirky charm to it though. All horses are typically at a 1:24 scale.
TWO: Flying mane and tail, and those beautiful feathers - this one caught my imagination when I first saw it. It was dynamic! It was beautiful! Power and grace at the right scale at last. It even had painted shoes. The coat hair is quite nicely done too.
THREE: Then came the foal. I don’t know about you folks, but I used to always get muddled between the frisian foal (13622) and camargue foal (13628) every time I was trying to quickly find it amongst my collection. I think it’s those bent knees, they both have them. When put together, they are clearly very different. But hey, it means I’m human (no traffic sign authentication needed here thank you very much). It is interesting to note that a new foal has not been released for this breed since its retirement in 2013. A difficult one to get right maybe?
FOUR: The stallion! I loved this one, but in the same breath, I found it far less dynamic than the mare before it. It’s a beautiful piece...and they certainly marketed the crap out of it (with the limited editions, etc)...but. Around this time, Schleich started changing their market audience and this piece begins to reflect some of those changes that we now see in full swing in today’s pieces. They start to feel more static in their pose and exaggerated in their detailing (becoming more tactile with the coat), and less fluid and real.
FIVE: And bring on the mare with red ribbons. In the evolution of the Schleich friesian, I think this is my least favourite, and representative of the change in audience. It’s gone from a realistic subtle style to a flamboyant peacock designed to catch the child’s eye. Great for the kids, sad for the the adult collectors. This style has it’s merits and place, true, true. But in the history of Schleich, and as a long-time collector, it is a sad day indeed. This model has lost its sense of realism in my opinion, and is more about being a “toy” than a serious collectors piece.
SIX: After that let-down, enter The Master! Ironically, for me, this latest stallion straddles the new-old style fence quite well. It combines the dynamic of the second with the finesse of the fourth, and thankfully doesn’t have the embellishment of the fifth. It certainly grew in scale compared to the first too, being the tallest of the six pieces. This piece radiates pride and dignity to me. An awesome addition to anyone’s schleich collection.
The great thing is, these models are all available at Schleich Village. How great is that! No import tax or stress over overseas postage and possible damage or theft. You can buy them right here in Australia. As a collector, you come to appreciate the benefits of buying local.
What do you think the next friesian will look like?
Can Schleich top the current piece (13792)?
Which one is your favourite in this breed’s evolution?
Feel free to share your feelings on this topic in the comments section... :)