Mobo Toys – Bronco the Horse

The Donation

Recently donated to the museum was this very cute and very special little horse, Bronco, owned by the donor since she was a child. Since ‘tweeting’ the arrival of our new friend a flurry of messages from other Bronco owners demonstrated the toy’s popularity, charm and the obvious nostalgia it creates. It soon became apparent after delving into the history of this toy horse that it was part of a popular British-made toy company who developed a range of ‘Mobo’ toys, including Bronco.

Bronco the Horse

Bronco the Horse

Bronco, the toy horse was made of steel and painted white and grey, with a red and gold saddle, stirrup and reins and black mane and tail. The iconic label of the company, a clown in a yellow circle, was stamped onto the toys.

The Mobo logo is broadly the same on each toy.

The Mobo logo is broadly the same on each toy.

The Toy Manufacturer

The toy manufacturer D. Sebel & Co. Ltd, who made Mobo toys, was based in Kent where they produced toys from 1947 up until 1972 when cheaper products abroad out-produced those made by the British company1 2.

However, proceeding the company’s focus on toy production, the founder David Sebel originally established himself as a wheelwright in 1921, in London (after emigrating from Russia), before gradually expanding the business along with his son, Harry, to produce metalwork for commercial markets. During WWII, D. Sebel & Co. produced metal parts for tanks and aircraft and for buildings including towers and bridges. It was after the war that the company expanded further into furniture-making and then in 1947 into toy-making1. Mobo toys were finally born.

Although the company specialised in metalwork, plastics were adopted in toy production in the 1960s. It has been suggested1 that pressed metal was the bridge linking the development of wooden and plastic-made toys.

America became a strong market for Mobo toys where the sister company Sebel Products Inc. was established. However, similar toys also started to appear that were produced by other companies, including Marvel the Galloping mustang created by the Louis Marx Company3. Australia was another focus for D. Sebel & Co., and in 1951 they established their toy and furniture company in Bankstown, New South Wales. Furniture became the main focus for the company, even though the toys were quite popular. Interestingly, today, GWA International Group owns this company1 – and so in a way, the efforts of D. Sebel & Co. still live on.

Small rocking horse

Small rocking horse

Praire King spring horse

Prairie King spring horse

 The Toys

The Bronco horse was one of the most popular of their creations and could be ridden and moved by pushing down on pedals which in turn moved the horse’s legs backwards and forwards. In 1950 the company developed ‘Magic Steering’ enabling the horse to change direction by using each pedal independently. The colour of our Bronco appears to be the most common, but apparently other colours were also introduced by Sebel, including black horses with gold and red saddles, and brown horses with tartan saddles1.

Other ride-on toys were also produced by Mobo, including the ‘Walking Snail’2, ‘Mobo Ponies’ and the ‘Pony Express’ as well as bicycles, swings, scooters and peddle cars.

We put this Merry-Go-Round back together and it still works nicely - although sadly we are too large to play on it.

We put this Merry-Go-Round back together and it still works nicely – although sadly we are too large to play on it.

Within our collections here at the museum we have a few other Mobo toys, including a Prairie King spring horse, small child’s rocking horse, and Merry-go-Round (all pictured).

It would be interesting to know if anyone remembers owning or still has any of these other Mobo toys or a different coloured Bronco!

Sources:

1 http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/?irn=43336

2 http://www.dspedalcars.com/mobo_toys.htm

3 http://www.marxmuseum.com/home/marvelthemustang.html

11 thoughts on “Mobo Toys – Bronco the Horse

  1. Jayne

    We had the Prairie King spring horse. I think it’s still in my Dad’s attic. I’ll have to find it and donate it!

    Reply
    1. Cheryl Knight

      Hi Jayne, thanks for telling us about your Prairie King horse – the Mobo horse has brought back memories for a lot of people! If you’re interested in donating items to the museum, please give us a ring on 0191 370 4000, and ask for a member of the Curatorial team or email museum@beamish.org.uk to tell us about your items.

      Reply
  2. Ian Turvey

    Hi.
    I have stored in my attic, a Mobo rocking duck. It’s similar to the rocking horse in the picture. The rubber bumpers etc have rotted though. It’s complete and has the original paint. I not sure if it’s worth much or worthy for the museum.

    Reply
  3. Helen

    Hi, I have a prairie king spring horse although I didn’t know that is what it was called. To us it’s Trigger, named by my dad when he bought it us for christmas in 1971 when I was 1 year old and my sister was 4. We have a photo of us sat on it together. We now also have a photo of my son and her daughter sat on it together as toddlers.

    As I am a foster carer my sister decided I should hang onto it for the children and it is still in my living room and I’ve now lost count of how many children have ridden it. The handles that should be on the head are missing I don’t know what happened to them and the rubber bits round the frame on the floor are all gone and there are a couple of scratchers but appart from that it’s in pretty good nick.

    Reply
  4. Carole Payne

    Just as a point of interest , my father John Arthur Roberts of Herbert Terry & Sons Redditch designed the springs for the Mobo Bronco in the 1940′s and I remember going after school to test the prototype in the lab as they obviously needed a child to get the spring tension correct.

    Reply
  5. Ruth Chavez

    My son was given a Bronco the Horse by his grandmother when he was a baby. He was born in 1966. Unfortunately, my son has passed away, but we still have Bronco the Horse, which is in very good condition. Would like to hang on to it for sentimental reasons, but wondering if you could give us an idea of what it would be valued at today?

    Reply
    1. Phil Kingston

      Hi, I have been restoring these toys for many years now. I just love the over engineering. They weren’t painted very welland many have gone to a rusty grave.
      They will never be made again due to the costs involved.
      There is a show at the Birmingham N.E.C. on 28th September 2014 and there will be a stall selling restored Mobo toys including Broncos. These iconic toys will be the antiques of tomorrow. The Broncos are priced at £299.00 each fully restored.

      Reply
  6. Marilynn Friling

    I have a MOBO children’s metal seat that is attached to a reversible tray. One side is a chalkboard with the alphabet and bunnies, the other side is a writing desk. Still have it from when I was a kid in the 50′s

    Reply
  7. Marian Burbage

    I had a prarie king horse and absolutely loved it, spent hours playing on it. I don’t know what happened to mine. But I have just bought another one of ebay for £30… for the grandchildren to play with.

    Reply

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