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How to Identify a Matchbox Carousel

Updated July 19, 2017

In an effort to compete in the very profitable My Little Pony market, the Matchbox company introduced their Carousel Collection (circa 1989-1990) of collectable ponies designed to fit into a plastic, windup miniature carousel, providing a re-creation of the full-size carousels popular at carnivals and fairs around the world. The acceptance of these toys by consumers was limited and as a result production only lasted a few years, so these carousels are a favourite find among vintage toy collectors.

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  1. The 18-inch-high carousel was painted in pink and purple with white and metallic faux gold paint trim. The design is identical to that of the full-sized carousels, complete with faux mirrors and centre pole. Consistent with a little girl's desire, the Matchbox version included a hidden plastic-jewel canopy crown containing a "secret" jewellery box.

  2. Identify the hand-crank music box that is positioned on the base of the carousel. When fully cranked, the carousel would spin while raising and lowering the pole horses, similar to a life-size version.

  3. Examine the horse characteristics. Horses were sold in individual blister-packed boxes clearly marked Carousel Collection and contained 1 to 3 plastic, 6-inch horses permanently and individually attached to a metallic gold painted pole. The horses were sold in base colours of black, pink, baby blue, yellow, white and green. The saddle, bridle, hooves and mane were painted in a variety of bright coordinated acrylic and metallic paint colours consistent with the flourish of the original life-size counterparts. The tails were always made from synthetic hair in the colour of the base body.

  4. Look for the stand or base of each horse. Each horse was sold with a free-standing base with its name on a plaque at the bottom. The bases were designed to display the horse when not in the carousel.

  5. Check the horses' positions. There were only three positions of horse moulds, which were labelled as trotters (head tight to the body), runners (body stretched as if running) and posers (prancing pose with head held high). The labels were printed on the front of the original packing box.

  6. Tip

    In an effort to expand market interest, Matchbox created additional Carousel Collection pole animals, including unicorns, camels, lions and reindeer all painted in metallic colours. A small plastic horse charm and ribbon were included in the top left of the original packaging with each horse.

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About the Author

Sue Krippner started writing professionally in 2006, with work appearing in various online publications. After teaching high school art for several years, she became a licensed realtor and a certified home staging and interior redesigner. Krippner studied art history at Thomas Edison State College and advanced studio studies at the University of the Arts in Pennsylvania.

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