Mobo Bronco toy horse

Made 1947-1972

The Mobo Bronco pressed-steel toy ride-horse was first made in Erith, Kent, England, in 1947 by David Sebel and his son, Harry. It helps illustrate the change in toy horse production from timber to moulded plastic via pressed metal, a change that is also reflected in other types of ride-on toys, including pedal cars. The firm continued in production until 1971, being forced out of business by cheaper toys made in Asia.

The Broncos were very popular and from 1948 they were exported to the United...


Toy horse, Mobo Bronco, ride-on, painted pressed steel, made by D. Sebel & Co Ltd, in either Erith, Kent, England, 1947-1972 or Bankstown, NSW, 1951-1957

The Mobo Bronco horse is made of pressed steel in two halves which are joined down the centre. The details of the facial features, mane, tail, bridle and saddle are pressed as part of the overall horse with plastic reins (missing) hooked into holes in the closed mouth. The horse appears to have been repainted and now features a white body, black mane, tail, hoofs, and eyes, and a red bridle, saddle and saddle cloth. The horse is propelled by the rider sitting on the horse and pushing down on the stirrups then releasing them. It moved across the floor by a spring mechanism concealed inside the body of the horse. When pressure is exerted on the stirrups the front legs shoot forwards and the hind legs move back. As this pressure is released the mechanism retracts and the legs returned to the standing position. Propulsion was aided by wheels in the large hollow feet. Locking devices on the wheels prevent the horse from going backwards. A red and yellow Mobo company transfer decorated with a segmented clown would have been attached to the chest of the horse although this was probably removed before repainting. The word Mobo is pressed into the stirrups.


760 mm
350 mm
680 mm


A patent was taken out for the basic mechanism of the Mobo Bronco toy horse in 1942. Later, the sculptor, Charles Morewood RA, was commissioned to make the clay body for the horse suitable to go into mass production in metal. Full production began in September 1947 after the new factory in Erith, Kent, had been fitted out with large metal presses, dip tanks and spray booths. The choice of colours for the horses was chosen after market research with local school children from West Street School with yellow and red being the favourite. These children were also used for photo shoots in advertising and for testing the toys.

The range of colours eventually ranged from red saddles and blue saddle cloths on bodies of pale grey-green with randomly sprayed brown spots to silver bodies with softly sprayed black manes and tails and yellow saddles cloths. This colour scheme was reversed and black horses with silver manes and tails were produced as well. Gold saddle cloths with red saddles were chosen for black horses and theses had been introduced by the 1960s. Brown spotted horses remained in production with some sporting tartan saddle cloths in red, yellow and turquoise. Mobo Ponies were usually painted white with touches of colour decoration. These were manufactured as a complete shape without separate legs, and were attached to push-along handles. They featured two small wheels on the back axle and another concealed under a large hollow front hoof. A trotting pony, attached to a child-size cart, also of pressed steel, was known as the Pony Express.

From 1947 to 1950 the Mobo Bronco toy horse could only be steered in a straight line but in February 1950, 'Magic Steering' was introduced which enabled the rider to steer the horse in either direction by pushing down on either stirrup. The body for the Mobo Bronco was also used for a series of other toys: the Spring Horse (Prairie King), Night Rider, Prairie Prancer, Range Rider, Rocking Horse and Bronco Merry-go-round. However, the Mobo Bronco was so popular it stayed in production until 1971.

Cite this Object

Mobo Bronco toy horse 2016, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 22 November 2017, <>
{{cite web |url= |title=Mobo Bronco toy horse |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=22 November 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
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