The most numerous of the look-alikes are the palominos. On the top-left is the model from the Just About Horses #790798 Special Edition Stablemates Gift Set (1998). This colour was advertised as "silver dapple", which in this case meant the silver gene acting on a black coat, but it could also pass for a sooty palomino.
The body colour is a rich caramel with somewhat blue air-brushed dapples. The mane, tail, and elongated star are all unpainted plastic; the star usually has rough edges as the paint is thicker than usual and didn't allow the masking to come away cleanly. The old plastic used to create this set gives the white areas a creamy, slightly translucent look. This model was later included in the BreyerFest Breyer Store Special Mystery Box (2004).
The other palominos on the top row are variations of the same release. #5904 Palomino Pony (2003-06) can be found in both regular and translucent plastic. Translucent models tend to have a satin, semi-gloss, or pearly finish while the regular plastic models tend to be more matte. The body colour is very yellow, with unpainted mane/tail, blaze, and near-fore sock. The hooves are dark, the muzzle is shaded, and the markings are all stenciled. This model was later released through Target as the #720116 Shetland Pony (2006) - these seem to be found more often in translucent plastic.
The bottom two models are the same except for one small, and often difficult to see, difference - one is glossy and the other is matte. They're both #704304 Wee Trio - Legally Blonde from the 2004 West Coast Jamboree, but the glossy model is part of the regular special run set while the matte is from the set given to the judges and other helpers at the show - much like the judges' models at BreyerFest.
The colour is a rich and creamy palomino with a metallic finish, unpainted white mane and tail, painted chestnuts, shaded muzzles, a small star, and pinkish eye-whites. The metallic coat can make it difficult to tell the matte from the glossy; the mane and the tail show the finish the best. In this case the glossy is on the left while the matte is on the right.
On the bottom is the only regular run of the black tobianos. #5605 Shetland Pony (1998-02) is usually matte, with a star/blaze/snip combo, four stockings, and pink hooves. The pattern is more complex than the other two models and has more white. The markings on both sides join to the stockings.
On the top are the West Coast Jamboree models, #704304 Wee Trio - Lazy Days Midnight Lightning (2004). As with the other models from this set, the matte is from the judges' set and the glossy is the standard special run. This model is the most difficult of the three to properly identify and the best way is to study the white areas as the black paint tends to be shiny on both (the glossy is on the left and the matte is on the right).
The pattern is the "cape" style of tobiano which extends over the back of the shoulders and barrel, the chest, neck, and haunches are left black. The four socks are disconnected from the rest of the pattern and the models have pinkish eye-whites.
The only appaloosa releases on this mold thus far are #704304 Wee Trio - Santee Dottaloosa from the 2004 West Coast Jamboree sets. These are the easiest of the three models to identify as the grey colour is very matte on the judges' models. The body colour is a medium grey with an air-brushed blanket which extends over the barrel, black spots which continue up the neck, stenciled hind-stockings, pinkish eye-whites, stripes on the off-fore hoof, and pinkish eye-whites.
The dapple greys are probably the easiest to identify. On the top is the model from the JCPenney #410528 Stablemate Parade of Breeds (2011). The model is a softly shaded light grey with painted white mane and tail, air-brushed dapples, four air-brushed socks, and dark shading on the joints, muzzle, and eyes.
#5411 Pony Care Set (2010-12) is a darker grey with bubble dapples, white plastic mane and tail, and no other markings.
Superficially, these two models appear to be variations of the same model, #5651 Stablemates Collection - Shetland (1998-00), but the model on the bottom was released ten years later as part of the Toys 'R' Us #760218 Stablemate World of Horses Shadow Box - Shetland Pony (2010).
#5651 is usually matte to satin with a soft pink-toned body, tiny misty roan spots, a thin blaze extending from the forelock to the tip of the muzzle, and fairly distinct air-brushed hind socks (these are usually the same colour as the body). The dark shading on the head completely covers the muzzle and extends onto the cheeks.
#760218 is a more muted version of #5651 and is consistent enough through the sets to be considered its own colour rather than a re-issue of #5651. The finish tends to be satin to semi-gloss and the body colour is more tan than pink, and darker overall. The roan spots are much larger, almost appaloosa-like. The blaze is wider at the top and the shading on the head is lighter and less extensive. The mane, tail and joint shading is also lighter, and provides less of a contrast to the body colour. The air-brushed "socks" like #5651 are body coloured, but generally much less distinct.
Another way to identify these two models is by looking at their foreheads. Early G2 Shetland Ponies have normal foreheads while later models, like #760218 have the smushed head, much like someone hit them with a hammer.