There is a good chance that this is only of interest to me but I noticed on the Minifigs website that they have brought some of their 2nd gen horses back into production. Unfortunately there are no pictures at present and the different models are only identified by their codes. Now, I regard myself as something of an expert on 2nd gen Minifigs but even I can’t recognise the various horses from their production codes. (The codes were scratched onto the bottom of the bases and were never listed in the catalogues.)
However, I still think this is good news. As far as I know it is the first time any figures from the discontinued 2nd gen lines have been brought back into production and I live in hope that there are more figures (and some pictures) to follow.
I haven’t got a great deal of stuff by present day manufacturers to compare them with but I would say in general the 2nd gen range are smaller and the detail is ‘softer’. What I like about them is that they are well-proportioned (they don’t suffer from the big hands and big heads syndrome; flagstaffs don’t look like tree trunks) and the poses are straightforward (marching or advancing, looking straight ahead). The 2nd gen horses are almost all in walking poses and are elegantly proportioned (I think sculpting horses is an art and a lot of contemporary sculptors don’t appear to have mastered it).
The current Minifigs range (commonly known as 3rd gen) is rather different. The proportions of the figures are still very good and the artillery crews, officer groups and figures in firing poses are very well done. Unfortunately, the rank and file (marching and advancing) can be in quite weird poses and the horses are very different in style. They look rather like the horses you see in 18th century paintings, where the heads are quite small and the rumps are quite big. They are also often in exaggerated charging poses, which I am not very keen on.