It seems to me that a lot of toy companies are a bit lazy when it comes to designing girls toys, especially when it comes to action figures. I would argue that those aimed primarily at boys tend to have more variation in the design of each individual toy in the range, whilst girls toys seem to be the same basic character produced in a range of different colours, as evidenced by toys such as The Care Bears and the subject of this post, My Little Pony. Maybe this isn’t such a bad thing though, as it at least means that the range of related accessory toys will work happily with any of a childs collection of figures.
Anyway, let’s talk about those little plastic equines. They first appeared in 1981 and are cute little horses with happy faces and massive eyes. They had long flowing manes and tails, and each came with a comb or brush to allow its happy owner to keep it well groomed. Each pony was coloured in a different pastel shade, and had a different picture stamped on it’s hind quarters. The picture was generally related to the name of the pony, and with names like Applejack, Sunbeam and Lemon Drop you can guess roughly what the images would probably be. Stamping pictures on the bottoms of girls toys seems to be a favourite trick used by toy manufacturers, presumably because it’s usually one of the large clear areas of a toy that is most easily visible.
The first range of My Little Pony toys was limited to just the horses themselves, but in later years playsets and other accessories were released, ranging from the more obvious equestrian accessories such as saddles and carriages through to the less horse related, such as hairdressing salons and ice cream parlours. Soft plush versions were also made available, as were Baby Ponies, smaller versions of some of the original pony line up when they were mere foals. There was even a range of Sea Ponies, which were cute aquatic sea horses, which were marketed as being a bath time toy.
Of course, the My Little Pony line up didn’t just stop at toys, and all the expected spin offs were available such as duvet covers, lunch boxes, books and the inevitable TV cartoon series. For more information on the ponies themselves and many of these off shoots check out the comprehensive My Little Pony Collectors website.