|Occupation||Entrepreneur, inventor, Illustrator|
Bonnie D. Zacherle is an American illustrator and designer who now resides in Warrenton, Virginia. Zacherle is best known as the creator of the best-selling My Little Pony toy line and also as the creator of Nerfuls. Zacherle has done some outside consulting for Bliss House, an American licensing consultancy, on the graphics and product development side. In 2003, she became a member of 'Women In Toys'.
Her uncle, John Zacherle is a legendary American television host, radio personality and voice actor known for his long career as a television horror host broadcasting horror movies in Philadelphia and New York City in the 1950s and 1960s.
My Little Pony
Zacherle attended Syracuse University and majored in Illustration. After college, her first job was with Rust Craft Greeting Cards in Dedham, Massachusetts. At Rust Craft she worked in humorous cards and studio art, eventually becoming Art Director in charge of special projects. After nine years Bonnie left Rust Craft just after it was purchased by Norcross.
She had performed freelance work for Hasbro Toy Company since the mid-1970s and they had a standing offer of a full-time position for her if she ever wanted it. She took them up on the offer and joined Hasbro as an Illustrator in Research and Development at the company headquarters in Pawtucket, Rhode Island in 1980.
At Hasbro, Bonnie had the responsibility to come up with ideas for kids’ products. Her childhood desire to have a horse was still with her and inspired the idea of a miniature horse that would have a brushable mane and tail allowing children everywhere to have a slice of the experience she had desired as a child. The idea did not excite management in R&D at Hasbro, but Bonnie kept presenting it. She always wanted a horse and she knew other kids did too. She felt the idea had merit and she was not going to let it be ignored.
In August 1981, while working for Hasbro, Zacherle, along with sculptor Charles Muenchinger of Providence, Rhode Island and Manager Steve D'Aguanno of Smithfield, Rhode Island, submitted a design patent for "an ornamental design for a toy animal". The patent, U.S. #D269986, was granted in August 1983.
Although Zacherle's involvement with the franchise had long since concluded before the later development of the highly successful incarnation, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, in the 2010s, she has noted that she is pleased that the franchise has grown to appeal to a broader cross-demographic audience. In explanation, Zacherle has noted that she originally intended the franchise to appeal to both preschool girls and boys, although she never anticipated that it would later be written for an older child audience, much less catching the interest of the adult "Brony" fandom that has arisen.
In the mid 1980s, Zacherle submitted a series of patents which would later become known as the Nerfuls. Nerfuls were produced by Parker Brothers in the United States, Kenner Products in the United Kingdom, and Cromy in Argentina from 1985-87. These small toys consisted of 3-pieces - hat/hair, ball-face and plastic body. All the parts were interchangeable and the ball-face itself could bounce. There were eight characters in the original series of Nerfuls. This was followed up by more Nerfuls, playsets and accessories.
- Bliss House: Resources
- Women In Toys Newsletter, Spring 2003
- About.com: Inventors
- "Miss Apples". Tumblr.
- Ghost of the Doll
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