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What are Grand Champions?
~ A Brief History ~

In the simplest term, Grand Champions are model toy horses. The are made from hard plastic with brushable manes and tails, and come in a wide variety of styles, colours, and poses. They measure about 6" in height, which is comparable with Breyer's Classic-sized models. And they are beautiful!

The story of the Grand Champions began in late eighties. The American-based company was Empire Toys, and the first horses were manufactured by Marchon Industries, whose mark early models bare on their inside leg. Later models were simply stamped "Empire". The horses also sport a "GC" logo painted on their rump, but this mark tends to rub off with time. In their prime, these horses were widely available in Canada, the US, the UK, Europe, and Australia. Each horse came with a variety of accessories such as tack, grooming supplies, and even riders. By the late nineties the GC family had grown and expanded!

Beyond the simple originals, Empire Toy released many new and wonderful horses to the GC lines. "Sound" stallions had buttons that allowed them to play realistic horse noises; "motion" stallions could rear and kick. Still others had a jointed heads for cute "nuzzling" action, which could be used on special food or even each other! There were "mini" horses (about the size of a Breyer Stablemate) and "micro minis" (who were even smaller), and "Collector Classics" who were as big as a traditional-sized Breyers. Big or small, simple or complex, each horse was carefully crafted to be a realistic portrayal of a breed or type.

They were other, more astonishing family members, too. "Fantasy Fillies" were breathtaking unicorns and pegasi made on familiar GC poses. These ethereal equines were designed in fantastical colours, some sported flapping wings or crystal horns, and others even lit up when you pressed a button! Yet despite their beauty and charm these fillies went virtually unnoticed; the line lasted for a brief time in the mid-late nineties then vanished.

"Show Champions" were canine companions. Similar to Littlest Petshop critters, but sized to the horses, they had special "actions" that each dog preformed. From the sleek Shitzu to the playful Husky, these puppies were cute and fun, but like the fantasy fillies, they too only lasted a few short seasons. New!Show Champions are back for 2002!

Grand Champions' Horses, it seemed, were to be the sole survivors of a tough toy world.

Then, in the winter of 2000, Empire Toys declared bankruptcy. Horses all but disappeared from Australia and Europe; in Canada, only old stock was to be had. Some places in the US did find their horses, but it was few and far between. Was this to be the end of our beloved Grand Champion?

Not at all! Empire Toys was bought by Alpha International, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa in June of 2001. They vowed to make GCs better then before and more accessible, too.Mutiny Bay Enterprizes, a partner compmany, was in charge of mail order, customer service, and providing Grand Champions for sale online. So far, the new companies have been good to their word. 2002 promises to be a great year for the Grand Champions; I know I can't wait to see more wonderful horses join the family that so many collectors have grown to admire and love. Grand Champions... their story of survival alone shows just how great they really are!

Neena Bickram, 2001
The Grand Champion ID Pages

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