The Toy Box Philosopher
Reviews and opinions about dolls and doll-related toys.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
The Our Generation “Poseable Morgan Horse” by Battat
Well, this review has been a long time coming! I purchased the Our Generation Poseable Morgan Horse back in the fall of 2013, right after I wrote my review of the larger Paradise horses . For one reason after another, this review has been postponed for over a year. One of the problems is that it’s tricky to photograph a large horse like this indoors, and it’s also rare to have the right combination of weather conditions to complete an outdoor review (at least here in Maine). I finally decided to just do the best I could with indoor lights and some pretty soggy outdoor winter weather.
Battat has three varieties of model horse for their 18″ play dolls : there are unarticulated large horses, unarticulated foals, and two articulated large horses (the Morgan reviewed here and the pure white Circus Horse). I wanted to review one of the articulated horses (because that’s my thing), and chose the Morgan because he comes with a full Western tack set instead of circus garb. All of the large horses cost $34.99 (on sale now for $30) and are available at Target.
I still fondly remember the year when there were two large Battat horses peeking out from under the Christmas tree for my own kids. It’s nice to write this review as I think about all of the lucky children who will add one of these impressive creatures to their stable this holiday season. The question I have been asked a lot recently, though, is which large horse is the best gift choice, the My Life As horses by Paradise or the articulated Our Generation horses? Let’s find out!
Our Generation “Poseable Morgan Horse,” $34.99.
Before I get started, I just want to clarify that in this review I will be comparing the Our Generation Morgan to a Paradise horse from the My Life As line that is sold through Walmart. I will refer to this horse simply as “the Paradise horse.” Keep in mind, though, that Paradise Kids has sold their horses with a variety of different features over the years (see the chart at the bottom of my earlier review ) and not always through Walmart.
The Our Generation Morgan comes in sturdy cardboard packaging designed to look like a small horse stable:
It’s been over a year since I purchased this fellow, so I wanted to be sure that the packaging and accessories are still the same. Sure enough, here’s the same horse at my local Target just a few weeks ago:
Everything looks exactly the same.
The box advertises the fact that this horse has articulated hips, knees and ankles (withers, knees and fetlocks, for horse anatomists):
It also promotes the fact that part of the box can be saved and used as a stall:
This horse comes with an assortment of accessories that are nicely arranged on the back of the packaging:
The pink part of the box is a detachable shell that is held in place with two large cable ties:
Underneath the pink, the box is a plain light woodgrain color with cutout fence shapes:
One of the fences opens out to reveal a yellow and orange landscape backdrop and a floor that looks like straw:
With the horse and backdrop removed, you can see the portion of the packaging that is meant to be saved for play:
Attached to this stall is a small booklet featuring pictures of the Morgan horse. One of the pages has a list of all of the accessories in this set, which is nice because it helped me identify a few of the more mysterious items:
There are also several color photographs of the horse and an Our Generation riding doll.
The thing is, the horse in these pictures is not actually the Poseable Morgan horse–it’s a similarly-colored unarticulated version. There are no visible joint lines on the horse in the picture, but that doesn’t necessarily prove anything. These lines are often edited out of catalogue pictures to make everything look smooth. The other clues are the lighter grey rings around this horse’s eyes and the slight bend in his neck. The horse I am reviewing does not have those features.
I think it’s funny that most of the booklet’s pages go to the trouble of mentioning that the doll and the “environmental decor” (heart-shaped flowers) are not included, but there’s no mention of the fact that the horse they’re showing is not included, either.
*Actual horse not as cute as the one shown here.
If you look at the online Target store, you’ll see that the horse shown under “Poseable Morgan” is not the articulated Morgan, either, but this same unarticulated horse. Why do I make such a big deal of this? Well, because I can remember going to the store and seeing both Morgan horses together and wishing that the articulated version looked as nice as the unarticulated one. So this feels like teasing. It’s also misleading for those who are shopping online.
Anyway, here’s the horse I got, still attached to his backdrop:
The biggest reason that I prefer the unarticulated Morgan horse’s appearance is that my version has very large, dark brown-ish red circles around his eyes, which I don’t think of as being a common feature on buckskin or dun-colored Morgans (or any other horse for that matter…):
Here’s the booklet picture again for comparison:
No demon eyes.
Anyway, the horse is attached to its backdrop with a few cable ties and one small plastic tie. It’s easy to get him off if you have a strong pair of scissors. Here’s the backdrop by itself, showing off the collection of accessories:
Here are all of the accessories removed from their plastic shell:
The paper accessories are an Our Generation clothing catalog, a trail map, and a certificate:
The certificate is for completion of an equestrian trail course:
The set also comes with a plastic bucket and working sponge:
A pink plastic canteen with a brown ribbon handle:
And also a spray bottle and a funny-looking wristwatch:
I wasn’t positive that this was a wristwatch at first, so it was nice to double-check the booklet to be sure. Here’s the watch up close:
On of my favorite accessories is this little brush–it has actual bristles that are quite soft.
The accessories fit the Our Generation dolls fairly well. The canteen hangs nicely around Kendra’s neck, but the wristwatch is a tight fit and doesn’t seem to lay against the doll’s wrist very naturally.
Kendra can hold the brush, but only with her three middle fingers:
I like this nose bag, but had to check its identification in the booklet, too. The holes seem too big for holding grain, but I guess it could hold hay:
The bag has a small working plastic buckle:
The feed bag fits around the horse’s head with a little bit of room for adjustment of the strap:
The feed bag can also be used on the Paradise horses, but the fit is tighter and the strap just barely closes. Here’s my Paradise horse, Avena, modeling it for you:
Here’s the Morgan as he looked right out of the box. I think I’ll name him Curry–after the spice mix, and also after a horse I used to ride when I was a kid.
Curry’s mane and forelock come sewn into a plastic strip. These strips are always a pain to remove, but with toys that are displayed out in the open like this one, I understand the need for some sturdy form of hair control.
Removing the plastic strip caused a certain amount of hair loss, but this didn’t continue at the same rate throughout the review.
Curry’s mane and tail are very smooth and silky. This hair fiber feels nicer than what is on the Paradise horses. It also seems less tangle-prone.
Without even touching the hair, it’s possible to see the difference in mane texture between these two types of horse. The Paradise horse, Avena, has a scraggly-looking black mane that is coarser to the touch than Curry’s silky hair:
Our Generation (left) and Paradsie (right).
Here’s Curry’s long tail:
The tail attaches through a hole in the midline. You can also see in the picture below that the midline seam on this horse is rough. That’s pretty much what it looks like when I try to finish drywall.
A little more time with the sandpaper, perhaps?
The mane appears to be rooted into a plastic holder that clips into the midline seam of the neck. This allows the mane to be flipped back and forth to hang equally nicely on either side of the horse.
A few stray hairs got caught in the clip at the bottom.
For anyone who is curious, the Paradise horses have their manes attached directly to the fur body covering. This can be revealed by opening the large stitches along the back of the horse:
From this vantage point, it’s also easy to see the underlying plastic of Avena’s body. The two halves of her body are screwed together from the side. Because the midline seam isn’t sealed closed like it is with the Our Generation horses, the sides sometimes shift and click a little, giving the horse a slightly less sturdy feel overall.
Here’s the mane flipped to the far side of Curry’s neck so you can see his body a little better:
Curry has a few minor paint defects on his body. There’s paint drop on his withers (left, below) and several orange spots on his rump (right, below):
Curry comes wearing a detailed vinyl bridle that looks quite realistic. The fit of this piece is not great, though. The browband, in particular, is very loose and sticks up, leaving a large gap between the bridle and Curry’s forehead:
If you look at this picture of the imposter Morgan again, you can see that his head appears to be much wider than Curry’s. It also looks the the bridle fits this head shape much better than the articulated horse head:
The bridle is made mostly out of flexible brown vinyl, but the reins are a lighter brown fabric ribbon:
The bridle has three adjustable straps with silver-grey plastic buckles.
There’s no actual mouth bit, but the reins attach to the rest of the bridle with bit-shaped grey plastic rings:
The bridles that come with the Paradise horses are made out of imitation leather. There are two detachable straps on these bridles, and they close with velcro. This style of bridle doesn’t look as realistic, but it’s much easier to get on and off:
Also, since all of the Paradise horses have the same head mold, the fit of the Paradise bridles is the same on every horse.
Curry can wear the Paradise bridle, but it’s slightly loose through the cheek. The Our Generation bridle fits Avena well. I think it actually fits Avena better than it fits Curry.
Our Generation horse with Paradise bridle (left) and Paradise horse with Our Generation bridle (right).
Curry is also wearing a Western saddle with a pink print saddle pad:
The saddle comes cable-tied to the horse, with a protective layer of plastic under the girth:
The vinyl saddle comes plastic-tied to the saddle pad:
The pad is edged with pink piping and dark red trim. It has an embroidered working pocket on one side:
The pocket closes with a small square of velcro.
The underside of the saddle pad is lined with a sheer white synthetic fabric. This material is very smooth and shiny which, after playing with the horse a bit, I realized is not very practical. The saddle pad slides around a lot on Curry’s hard plastic back. A material that created some friction would have been a wiser choice.
The saddle itself is made out of dark brown vinyl and has a nice heavy weight to it:
The saddle has some molded embellishments, but no painted or colored detail. I think it would look great if the rivets were painted silver or the top of the saddle was a slightly different shade of brown.
Most of the saddle is solid vinyl, but a small area under the seat is hollow.
The straps of the girth appear to be glued to the underside of the saddle, with two pegged attachment sites for added strength.
The stirrups on this saddle are thick and quite pretty. They are made out of grey hard plastic, and have dark red scrolling decorations:
The stirrup straps can be adjusted, but this doesn’t make much of a difference. Here’s the stirrup strap in its longest position and, as you can see, the grey part of the stirrup is pushed right up against the edge of the saddle. It can’t really get any shorter.
Now, here’s the stirrup strap in its shortest setting. Since the length of the stirrup can’t get any shorter, the tread just curls under:
This saddle is very similar to the vinyl saddles that come with Paradise horses:
Paradise saddle (left) and Our Generation saddle (right).
In fact, at first glance I assumed that these two saddles shared the same mold. There are actually quite a few little differences between the saddles, but the basic construction and design are the same.
The Our Generation saddle’s girth strap has a small peg and a series of holes that secure the end of the strap and allow the girth to be tightened:
This design seems precarious to me. That little vinyl peg is just desperate to pop out of its hole. Indeed, especially with a rider shifting around on the saddle, the girth does not stay fastened very well.
The Our Generation saddle can be adjusted to fit Avena:
Paradise horse wearing Our Generation tack.
You can see that the girth was loosened a notch to fit Avena’s larger belly. It looks less ready to pop in this position:
The peg is in the second hole on Avena (left) and the third hole on Curry (right).
The Paradise saddle does not have this peg-and-hole design. It relies on the ridges of the girth strap to keep everything in place. The Our Generation saddle also has these ridges on its girth, but they’re not large enough to actually grip the girth buckle.
The ridges work pretty well to keep the saddle tightened in a range of different girth lengths, so even though Curry has a narrower belly than Avena, he can wear the Paradise saddle:
Our Generation horse wearing Paradise tack.
Now, let’s take a look at Curry with all of the tack removed:
This horse has a nice shape, and is much more realistic than the Paradise horses. Curry’s head profile, in particular, is more majestic than Avena’s cute-and-fuzzy face:
The weakest area of Curry’s conformation is the front of his head. From this view, the eyes seem especially large and set too close together. I feel like he should have a much broader forehead area (which would help with the bridle’s fit, too):
He looks mad!
Before I show you Curry’s articulation, here’s a horse anatomy diagram for reference:
The terminology surrounding horse limbs can get confusing, so I’ll stick mostly with the words shown here. For the front limb, the joints are the shoulder (top) the knee (middle) and the fetlock (bottom). For the hind limb, the picture says “haunch” but it’s the hip or stifle joints that move the top of the leg. I’ll go with hip. There’s also the hock (middle) and the fetlock (bottom).
As advertised, Curry has three points of articulation in each leg. His left front leg has modest forward and backward movement at the shoulder:
His knee joint bends backwards a little, as does the fetlock:
The Paradise horses do not move at the shoulder and have slightly more limited lower joint movement:
Curry’s back legs can move forward and backward at the hip:
But, my goodness. Look at this:
A horse’s hock can not move backwards like that. At all. The hock joint is equivalent to our ankle joint, so Curry’s backward leg movement in the picture above would be like a human foot doing something like this:
The worst thing is, Curry’s hock doesn’t even bend the correct way (i.e., forwards). I can forgive models that allow too much movement, but not ones that allow only the wrong kind of movement. Pet peeve! I mean, this style of toy horse is being purchased by thousands of young horse lovers everywhere. Why can’t Battat do thirty seconds of research and get the leg movement right?
This is the most natural pose the hind limb can strike (other than straight up and down):
Avena’s hips also move back and forth (a tiny bit!) and her hock moves backwards and forwards. She does tend to collapse a bit in the hocks, so I suppose this could be why Battat chose to eliminate this joint’s forward movement in their horses, but if it’s a stability problem, just remove the joint completely. Don’t make it bend backwards.
Curry’s right front leg is shaped a little differently at the withers, but the movement is the same as it is on the left, with moderate forward and backward movement in the shoulder joint, and flexion at the knee and fetlock:
This shoulder joint is not as rounded as it is on the left, though, and so a gap forms when the leg is moved forward.
And a little bump is revealed when the leg is moved back:
Here you can see the uneven positioning of the two front legs. I can’t think of a good explanation for this:
One last difference I noticed between these two brands of horse is in the shape of their hooves:
The Our Generation horses have better-defined coronary bands (the ridge at the top of the hoof) and a larger surface area on the bottoms of their feet. The Paradise horses have raised horseshoe detail on the bottoms of their hooves, but as a result they are balancing on a horseshoe shape–not a flat hoof.
Here are a few pictures of Curry outside in the mild (dark and rainy) Maine winter:
As I posed both horses outdoors, I noticed that Curry’s wide hooves make him very stable in the snow. Avena is pretty sturdy when all four of her hooves are flat on the ground, but she does not balance as well if any of her legs are bent.
Paradise horse (left) and Our Generation horse (right).
I think both horses look nice standing in their full tack sets. I love Avena’s dark bay coloring. Curry has noticeable joint lines all along his legs, while Avena’s upper joints are concealed by her fur. The tradeoff is that Avena’s fetlock joints look funny–with that bulky seam where the fabric covering ends. In most of the Paradise horses, this seam is concealed by colorful leg wraps (like the ones on Avena’s front feet).
Another things that stands out to me here is Curry’s more realistic body shape–especially through the neck and head. I like how Curry stands with his neck slightly arched, revealing some nice muscle detail. Avena has a more cuddly, stuffed animal appearance with her simplified lines and teddy bear eyes.
Curry has such a funny facial shape from the front, I really prefer Avena from this angle. I also like how Avena’s ears have a wire armature and can be moved back and forth expressively.
Curry’s slippery saddle was much more noticeable when I was manipulating the horses and trying a few doll riders outside. Unless that saddle girth is cinched as tightly as it will go, the saddle slips down around Curry’s belly. In contrast, Avena’s saddle stayed nicely in place.
Again, the Paradise bridle is better-fitting and easier to get on and off than the Our Generation bridle. However, the Our Generation bridle looks more realistic. Also, when I was outside I noticed that the reins on the Our Generation bridle are longer, and tend to look better. The imitation leather of the Paradise bridle only looks good from one side, so when the reins flip over (which happens a lot) they don’t look as nice:
With the tack removed, the difference in the two horses’ body shapes is even more apparent. Curry’s hard body allows him grey whale illustrated vintage art doll to have a much more realistic, detailed shape.
I think the difference is especially striking in the faces, where Avena’s eyes and plastic muzzle take away from her realism. If only Curry didn’t have those silly over-shadowed eyes!
The regular Our Generation dolls don’t ride very well. First of all, their scale is completely wrong for these horses…but that’s true of most 18-inch play dolls and their equine friends. The bigger problem is that the hip joints on these dolls don’t allow them to sit in a saddle without their feet sticking straight out in front of them:
Our Generation also makes a few poseable dolls. These girls have wire armature in their arms and legs and would be much better at sitting in a saddle and holding the reins.
As an aside: when I went back indoors, I played around with Kendra and Curry a little more and discovered that if Kendra leans back in the saddle, she can actually jam her boots into the stirrups:
Or, better yet, if she leans forwards and gives Curry a big hug, her feet manage to end up in the correct position:
When I reviewed the Paradise horses, I found that the BFC Ink dolls are wonderfully suited to horses in this scale. Not only do their joints allow them to ride realistically, but their smaller bodies are more in proportion to the size of the horses:
Bottom line? There’s a lot to compare with these two brands of horse, so I broke my final thoughts down into smaller categories–so that you can pick out the things that are important to you.
Overall appearance: The Our Generation horse has a hard plastic body with visible joints. The contours of the body are quite realistic, and the muscular neck, detailed facial profile and well-shaped hooves are particularly nice. The face mold looks funny from the front, though, with a forehead region that is way too narrow and eyes that are large and plain. The buckskin coloring of the Our Generation Morgan is fine (a little yellow in some light, perhaps) but those over-darkened eye rings really ruin the look.
The Paradise horse has a simplified plastic body with a fuzzy fur covering that conceals most of the joints. There are a few awkward seams where the fur covering ends. The fuzzy coat is very suggestive of a real horse, but the shape of the body (especially the face) is not particularly realistic. I really like the rich bay color of my Paradise horse. I should also note that overall, the Paradise horse line has a better range of color choices than Our Generation. My Paradise horse’s plastic teddy bear eyes and movable ears give her a very lovable, stuffed animal-style appearance that inspires affection and makes up for her lack of realism.
Who did it better? Paradise.
Body construction: The Our Generation horse has a nice weight and stands solidly on his feet. The horse balances well on a hard surface, even with one leg bent up off the ground. The balance is less consistent with a rider or on a carpeted surface, but the horse can still be made to stand with only three feet on the ground. This horse’s body is made out of hard plastic, with the mane and tail attached securely inside the body along a midline seam. The midline seam has a sloppy, rough appearance that looks like a bad spackle job.
The Paradise horse is lighter weight than the Our Generation horse, and her balance is less reliable. My horse tends to collapse at the hock joints, and also can’t stand very well if any of her joints are bent. Her body is made out of plastic and has a few squeaky seams. The plastic is covered by lightweight furry fabric. The mane is stitched directly to the fabric along the neck and the tail is rooted into the plastic body. This horse does not strike me as being as solidly made or as well-balanced as the Our Generation horse.
Who did it better? Our Generation.
Durability: as a play toy for younger kids, there are a few important differences to consider with these horses. The Our Generation horse stands up better than the Paradise horse, but when he falls over, that painted body is at risk for scuffs, chips and color loss. In contrast, the Paradise horse tips over a lot, but the fur body can’t be scuffed (and makes less noise when it falls over!). The hard body of the Our Generation horse would be easier to wash, though, and could be taken outside. It might also be possible to re-paint the Our Generation horses, opening up some fun possibilities for restoration and customization that would be difficult with the Paradise horses…but this isn’t widely relevant to young kids. Last, my Paradise horse’s mane and tail are getting scraggly, and the Our Generation mane and tail look great, but I haven’t had the Our Generation horse for long enough to make a fair comparison yet.
Who did it better? Paradise.
Articulation: For the most part, the Our Generation horse has superior articulation. This horse has shoulder movement while the Paradise horse does not. I also feel like each point of articulation in the Our Generation horse’s legs has slightly more movement than the equivalent joint on the Paradise horse. The exception here is the hock joint. The Paradise hocks move forwards and backwards, but the Our Generation hocks only move backwards…which is completely incorrect. Despite this flaw, I have to admit that I prefer the overall look and feel of the Our Generation horse’s movement.
Who did it better? Our Generation
Mane and tail: the hair fiber on the Our Generation Morgan horse is nicer than the mane on my Paradise horses. The Paradise horses have slightly coarse hair that is hard to keep looking tidy. The only complaint I have with the Our Generation horse’s mane and tail is that they’re prone to static and tend to stick to the plastic body of the horse. I am not positive about the quality of the mane and tail on the other Our Generation horses, but I can remember touching the Circus Horse’s mane in the store one time and thinking it felt pretty coarse. So, this comparison is for the Morgan horse only.
Who did it better? Our Generation
Accessories: the Our Generation horses comes with a variety of accessories while the Paradise horses only come with tack (and sometimes a carrot). I don’t find all of the Our Generation accessories that useful, but the bucket, sponge, brush and feed bag are great and would be nice to have for horse-related doll games.
Who did it better? Our Generation
Saddle: the saddles are quite similar–they are both molded Western style vinyl saddles with some kind of fabric saddle pad. One difference between the two saddles is that the Our Generation saddle has large, plastic, decorated stirrups while the Paradise saddle has plain vinyl stirrups. The other difference is that the Our Generation saddle girth has a peg-and-hole closure design while the Paradise saddle relies on large ridges to hold the girth in place. The peg-and-hole method on the Our Generation saddle isn’t very secure and will easily pop out of place, causing the saddle to topple. The Paradise girth design holds its position better. The Our Generation and Paradise horses can share these vinyl saddles.
Who did it better? Paradise
Bridle: the Our Generation bridle is made out of flexible vinyl and has several working plastic buckles that look very realistic. The buckles are not hard to use, but at least two of them need to be undone every time the bridle is removed. The reins on this bridle are made out of brown fabric ribbon. The bridle’s browband does not fit very well on the narrow face of the articulated Morgan horse. The Paradise bridles are made out of imitation leather and fasten with small squares of velcro. The fit and ease of use are superior with the Paradise bridles, but I don’t think the overall look is quite as realistic as the Our Generation bridle. Bridles can be shared between these two horses.
Who did it better? Tough call. Paradise for younger kids and OG for older kids.
Price: The articulated Our Generation horses cost $34.99 and the Paradise horses in the My Life As collection at Walmart cost $27.97. The accessories in the Our Generation set aren’t worth an extra $7, but the quality of the Our Generation horse is higher. I’d say both prices are fair.
Overall? After I reviewed the Paradise horses last fall, I felt sure that I would prefer those fuzzy cuties to the serious-looking plastic-bodied Our Generation horses…but now I am not so sure. Each of these brands has something quite different to offer. If you want a sweet, cuddly-looking horse that’s soft to pet, then Paradise is a better choice. If you’re after a more realistic steed with some customization potential, then Our Generation is probably more your style. As for me, while I still feel a lot of affection for the adorable Paradise faces, the Our Generation Morgan has realism, balance and movement that make him very appealing to me. Lose the eyeshadow, widen that forehead, and this guy could be a real winner.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit The Our Generation “Poseable Morgan Horse” by Battat