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My Little Pony

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My Little Pony
My Little Pony G4 logo.svg
My Little Pony logo as of 2017
Created by Bonnie Zacherle
Original work My Pretty Pony toys (1981)
Owner Hasbro
Official website

My Little Pony is an entertainment franchise developed by Hasbro, originally as a toy line for girls. The first toys were developed by Bonnie Zacherle, Charles Muenchinger, and Steve D'Aguanno, and were produced in 1981. The ponies feature colorful bodies, manes and a unique symbol on one or both sides of their flanks. Such symbols are referred to in the two most recent incarnations as "cutie marks." My Little Pony has been revamped several times with new and more modern looks to appeal to a new market.

Following the original My Pretty Pony toy that was introduced in 1981, My Little Pony was launched in 1982 and the line became popular during the 1980s. The original toy line ran from 1982 to 1992 in the United States and to 1995 globally, and inspired animated specials, an animated feature-length film, and two animated television series. The first incarnation's popularity peaked in 1990, but the following year Hasbro decided to discontinue the toy line due to increased competition.[1] 150 million ponies were sold in the 1980s.[2]

The toy line was revived in 1997, but these toys proved unpopular and were discontinued in 1999. The brand saw a more popular revival in 2003 with toys that more closely resembled the original toy line,[3] which sold approximately 100 million ponies globally by 2010.[4] Hasbro launched the fourth incarnation of the franchise in 2010, which started with the animated series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. The brand grossed over US$1 billion annually in retail sales in 2015[5] and 2014,[6][7] and US$650 million in retail sales in 2013.[8]

My Pretty Pony

The predecessor to My Little Pony was My Pretty Pony, a pony figurine introduced by Hasbro in 1981. It was created by illustrator Bonnie Zacherle and sculptor Charles Muenchinger.[9] My Pretty Pony was a ten-inch-tall hard plastic figurine that could wiggle its ears, swish its tail, and wink one eye. The original My Pretty Pony was followed by My Pretty Pony and Beautiful Baby, which came with an additional smaller "baby" pony figure. This was followed by pink, yellow, and blue versions of the original that had the now-hallmark symbol on the ponies' backsides.[10]

My Little Pony (1982–1992)

After the relative lack of success of the My Pretty Pony toy line, Hasbro introduced six smaller and colorful versions of the toy in 1982, sold under the title My Little Pony. The toy line lead to many more merchandise under the My Little Pony brand, which later became unofficially known as the "Generation One" or "G1" of My Little Pony among collectors. This incarnation ended in 1995 in the United States, but was marketed internationally until 1995. Animations from mid-1980s (My Little Pony animated special, My Little Pony: Escape from Catrina, My Little Pony: The Movie and My Little Pony segment within My Little Pony 'n Friends anthology series) and My Little Pony Tales from 1992 accompanied the line-up.

Friendship Gardens (1997-1999)

My Little Pony (1997–1999)
Original work Toys
Video game(s) My Little Pony: Friendship Gardens (1998)
Toys My Little Pony

The 1997 incarnation was marketed by Hasbro as "Friendship Garden" and designated "Generation 2" by collectors. They were manufactured in redesigned poses with jewel eyes and turning heads and were smaller, slimmer, and longer-legged than their 1982 counterparts. The line was not successful in the U.S. and was discontinued in 1999, although it continued overseas for several years. Since the second generation was more popular in Western Europe, Hasbro continued to produce and sell them in Western Europe after 1998. Most were Earth Ponies, but a few unicorns were made internationally. Although no Pegasus Ponies were made, some adults had clip-on wings. In the early 2000s, several unicorns with clip-on wings (called the Magic Unicorns) were made. Two baby ponies were introduced, and none of the baby ponies were sold in the United States.

In Europe, the main location was renamed Ponyland instead of Friendship Gardens, and were discontinued with the inception of the "G3" toyline in 2003. Many ponies released in the last years of the line are considered rare. A number of playsets were introduced, including a mansion and a castle. Some of the licensed merchandise released in Europe included beanbag plushes, magazines, clothing, perfume, wrapping paper and coloring books. A CD-ROM game for PC, Friendship Gardens, was also released, which involved taking care of a pony and playing games along the way.

My Little Pony: Friendship Gardens (1998)

My Little Pony: Friendship Gardens is a virtual pet game developed by Artech Digital Entertainment.[11]

Other merchandises

Some Generation Two ponies were sold as detachable key chains, including Morning Glory, Sundance, Light Heart and Ivy. The pony came with a comb attached to her neck by a string. The back of the package says, "My Little Pony Logo and Pony Names are Trademarks of Hasbro Inc. Copyright 1998." They were produced under license by Fun-4-All Corporation and made in China.

Ponyville (2003-2009)

My Little Pony (2003–2009)
My Little Pony logo: red letters on large and small white hearts, outlined in red
Logo from the "Generation 3.5" era (until mid-2010, but still used in some countries as of 2011)
Original work Toys
Films and television
  • Animated films and shorts
  • Once Upon a My Little Pony Time
Theatrical presentations
Musical(s) My Little Pony Live: The World's Biggest Tea Party (2006-2008)
Video game(s)
  • My Little Pony Crystal Princess: The Runaway Rainbow (2006)
  • My Little Pony: Pinkie Pie's Party (2008)
Toys My Little Pony

The third incarnation of My Little Pony, which is often referred to as "Generation Three" or "G3" by collectors, began in 2003. The revamped line of dolls was targeted to a younger audience than the previous lines.[12]

"Generation Three" is set in the fictional town named Ponyville, which is centered on Celebration Castle. Only Earth Ponies were released from 2003 to 2005, but in 2005 and 2006 Pegasus Ponies and Unicorn Ponies were respectively introduced.

Until late 2005, packaging came with Pony Points that were later used for exclusive mail orders. Unlike the "G1" line, the Pony Points had to be mailed in to order; a customer could not pay a flat fee and add points to it to lower the price. Some of the ponies available with the Pony Points program were Dazzle Surprise, Sunshimmer and Love Wishes. Other merchandise included posters or a play mat to put buildings on. The points program ended on 31 January 2006.

While the line was simultaneously released in the U.S. and Europe, there are a few ponies unavailable in the U.S., such as Winter Snow and some small, fairy-like ponies called Breezies who first appeared in the animated feature The Princess Promenade. One of the most uncommon ponies in this third line was released by mistake in 2004. A Pinkie Pie with the words "2003 Licensing Show" embedded into her symbol was used to promote the My Little Pony toy line at the 2003 Spring Licensing Show, and were intended to be released only at that show in a limited edition of 300. Due to a packaging error, a few were packaged as regular ponies and sold in stores. Other limited-edition ponies have been the Pony Project promotional ponies and Rosey Posey, who was given to attendees at a charity dinner held by Hasbro.

Ponyville figurines

The Ponyville figurines are fully molded plastic and smaller than the main "G3" line. Although they have their own playsets and accessories, many of the characters are the same as their larger counterparts.[13]

2008 and 2009 revamps (a.k.a. Core 7 and Generation 3.5)

In 2008, the number of characters were reduced to seven: Pinkie Pie, Scootaloo, Toola-Roola, Rainbow Dash, Sweetie Belle, Cheerilee and Starsong. The following year in 2009, Hasbro redesigned the characters to resemble Ponyville figurines.[citation needed]

Collector's edition after 2010

Recognizing the older fans of its line, Hasbro has released special collector ponies noticeably different from the regular "G3". While some had a general release as "Art Ponies", many are available through special events, such as the annual My Little Pony Collector's Convention and the San Diego Comic Con. These ponies are elaborately designed, such as the underwater-themed art pony which has fish and sea creatures printed all over its body, and come in matching display boxes. The 2011 SDCC pony is black and pink and has a kawaii skull instead of a "cutie mark". There is also a white pony available to customizers. Despite the redesign as "G3.5" and the advent of the "G4" line, Hasbro has continued the collector-themed "G3" ponies in their original poses.


Direct-to-video animated features

Between 2003 and 2009, the ponies appeared in a series of direct-to-video shorts and feature-length films. Most of them were produced by SD Entertainment. These are set in yet another milieu, and feature the "G3" ponies:[citation needed]

Early releases
  • A Charming Birthday (2003) - A direct to video release, it was not sold on its own but packaged with some of the early "G3" characters.
  • Dancing in the Clouds (2004) - This was a VHS included with the first Pegasus pony of the "G3" line, Star Catcher.
  • Friends Are Never Far Away (2005) - A DVD that packaged with a new Pegasus Pony, Hidden Treasure.
  • My Little Pony: A Very Minty Christmas (October 25, 2005) - The first video sold by itself, available in both VHS and DVD. It included Dancing in the Clouds as a bonus episode. Re-released in October 2008 with a bonus Ponyville Minty figurine.
  • My Little Pony: The Princess Promenade (February 7, 2006) - Featured the debut of the "G3" incarnation of Spike the Dragon. It also included Breezies, small, fairy-like ponies. It was available on VHS and DVD, and included A Charming Birthday as a bonus episode.
  • My Little Pony Crystal Princess: The Runaway Rainbow (September 12, 2006) - Featured the new "G3" unicorn, Rarity. Only released on DVD (promotional copies are available on VHS), it included "Friends Are Never Far Away" as a bonus episode.
  • My Little Pony: A Very Pony Place (February 6, 2007) - Three New Pony Tales including "Come Back, Lily Lightly", "Two For the Sky" and "Positively Pink". Each story features Lily Lightly, Storybelle and Puzzlemint.
2008 revamp
  • My Little Pony: Pinkie Pie's Special Day (2008) - Packaged in a set of the same name, with Pinkie Pie in an outfit resembling the one worn in the episode.
  • My Little Pony: Meet the Ponies (2008) - A DVD containing several mini-episodes featuring the "core seven" ponies which were first available online. Packaged with the first wave of the "core seven" pony toys.
  • My Little Pony: Starsong and the Magic Dance Shoes (2008) - Packaged in a set of the same name, with Starsong in an outfit resembling the one worn in the episode.
  • My Little Pony: Rainbow Dash's Special Day (2009) - Packaged in a set of the same name, with Rainbow Dash in an outfit resembling the one worn in the episode.
2009 revamp
Once Upon a My Little Pony Time

Once Upon a My Little Pony Time was produced by Kunoichi, animated in Adobe Flash. It included two 10-minute episodes, "Over Two Rainbows" and "So Many Different Ways to Play". It features the "Core 7" characters as Newborn Cuties, but Starsong and Toola-Roola are not seen in either videos.[citation needed]

My Little Pony Live: The World's Biggest Tea Party (2006)

My Little Pony Live: The World's Biggest Tea Party is a 90-minute musical produced by Hasbro and VEE Corporation,[15] first announced in June 19, 2006 and stars Pinkie Pie, Minty, Sweetberry, Sew-and-so, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Spike, Thistle Whistle, Zipzee, Tra La La, Tiddlywink, and Wysteria. The show opened later in October 2006, and was released on DVD on September 16, 2008.

Interactive software
My Little Pony Crystal Princess: The Runaway Rainbow (2006)
My Little Pony Crystal Princess: The Runaway Rainbow
Developer(s) Webfoot Technologies
Publisher(s) THQ
Platform(s) Game Boy Advance
  • NA: September 13, 2006
Genre(s) Adventure/Puzzle
Mode(s) Single-player

My Little Pony Crystal Princess: The Runaway Rainbow is an adventure/puzzle video game developed by Webfoot Technologies and published by THQ under license from Hasbro. It was released for Game Boy Advance on September 13, 2006 in North America. The game recreates events from the film of the same title, featuring mini-games and puzzles.[citation needed]

My Little Pony: Pinkie Pie's Party (2008)
My Little Pony: Pinkie Pie's Party
Developer(s) Webfoot Technologies
Publisher(s) THQ
Platform(s) Nintendo DS
  • NA: September 22, 2008
Genre(s) Adventure/Puzzle
Mode(s) Single-player

My Little Pony: Pinkie Pie's Party is an adventure/puzzle video game developed by Webfoot Technologies and published by THQ under license from Hasbro. The game was released for Nintendo DS on September 22, 2008. Similar to "Crystal Princess: The Runaway Rainbow", the game also features puzzles and mini-games utilizing the Nintendo DS's capabilities.[citation needed]

Other merchandises

The tie-in merchandise has been released for the third generation. The characters can be found on bedding and home decor, clothing, dishware, stationery and school supplies. Plush ponies have been given away as theme-park prizes and used in crane machines. There is a 3-foot (0.91 m) plush-pony line which was first available for sale in Australia; the characters include Rainbow Dash, Minty, Sweetberry, and the special Kimono, which was used as a prize by Red Rooster restaurants and Target. McDonald's has also featured ponies in its Happy Meal promotions, as have other fast food chains. Eight characters were used in the first U.S. McDonald's promotion, while other countries' chain restaurants had four.

Friendship is Magic (2010-Present)

The current incarnation of My Little Pony, unofficially known as the "Generation Four", was launched in 2010. It is set in a fictional location named Equestria, and the main characters include Twilight Sparkle, Spike, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rarity and Fluttershy. Television series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, theatrical film My Little Pony: The Movie, as well as other related media accompany the current line-up. This era generated a fandom among grown-ups with the success of the television series.

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, the anthropomorphic spin-off, was launched in 2013.

Adult fans


My Little Pony toys drew the attention collectors from their initial release.[16](1:1–5) Media coverage in the 2000s reported on collectors' conventions, finding it odd that adult women are interested in My Little Pony. The 2004 My Little Pony Collectors' Convention reportedly had only one man among the attendees. When updating the toy line, Hasbro reassured collectors that it will produce My Little Pony editions for collectors.[16](2:3–4)

Friendship Is Magic fandom

My Little Pony inspired cosplay.

Despite Hasbro's target demographic of young girls and their parents,[17][18] the fourth incarnation of the franchise has become a cultural and Internet phenomenon as the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic television series generated the unexpected fandom, with many male fans between 13 and 35,[19] creating a large fanbase and a multitude of creative works, fan sites, and conventions.[19] The fanbase has adopted the name "brony" (a portmanteau of "bro" and "pony") to describe themselves.[20][21] The older fanbase had come as a surprise to Hasbro and staff members involved with the show.[22][19][23][24] They have appreciated and embraced the fandom, adding nods to the fans within the show and the toys.[25] Sherilyn Connelly and others have noted that bronies alienate other fans of the franchise by focusing on the fandom itself rather than the show.[16](2:3)


In the United States during the 1990s, other toy companies desired to benefit from the success of the My Little Pony line; imitations were produced and sold after the discontinuation of the "G1" toys in 1992 and before the "G2" incarnation was produced and sold in 1997.

When Hasbro discontinued the "G1" My Little Pony line in 1992, some pony molds fell into the hands of other toy companies, who made their own "pony" toys. The second generation was not popular in the United States, and there are few imitations; however, "G3" imitations exist. There are websites to help people identify genuine My Little Pony toys manufactured by Hasbro, and recognize imitations. Many, but not all, imitations are sold at dollar stores.

Of many imitations, the four listed below were popular with young girls in the early to mid-1990s and were available at toy stores. These toys had similarities to both the My Little Pony and Dream Beauty lines. In the My Little Pony collecting community, these are known as "fakies" or "bootlegs"; however, some are sought after by collectors:

Secret Wish Horse

Released by Tyco (now a division of Mattel), Secret Wish Horse was a toyline of colorful, plastic horses with rooted eyelashes and a bejeweled saddle that would open up to reveal a surprise such as earrings, a bracelet or a ring. They also came with a necklace similar to a magic 8-ball that was said to make a girl's wishes come true.

Fantasy Fillies

Fantasy Fillies was a line of colorful plastic horses that were produced by Empire/Marchon. The designer of this line also designed Fashion Star Fillies released in 1987 by Kenner (which was, together with Tonka, later acquired by Hasbro in 1991). They came as pegasi, unicorns, horses and mini-fillies. One, called Princess Growing Hair, had hair that could grow, and a filly was sold with a carriage.

Magic Touch Pony

Magic Touch Pony toys were made of plastic and came in different colors. They had symbols on their flanks, like My Little Ponies and Dream Beauties. Some had hooves that would light up, a necklace that lit up, plastic flowers in their manes that would light up, and some played music.

Cabbage Patch Ponies

Cabbage Patch Ponies toys were made by Hasbro, which had a license to manufacture Cabbage Patch Kids from 1988 until 1994. They were made of rubber and came in different colors; some had glittery bodies. Some had hair that could be combed, while others had yarn for hair. There were unicorns, pegasi and regular ponies.

Social impact


My Little Pony is often derided for promoting consumerism. When the media adaptations of the franchise first debuted, there was much controversy in the United States about television advertising targeted at children. Relaxed regulation in the 1980s on cross-referencing between programming and commercials led to toy-based shows, such as Mattel's He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Hasbro's Transformers, G. I. Joe, and later My Little Pony 'n' Friends.[16](1:5–8) While He-Man initially drew the most controversy, My Little Pony remained controversial for many decades later, even when it was not being produced; the criticism is much more harsh and enduring than similar franchises with toy lines. Sherilyn Connelly cites examples from authors and journalists who single out My Little Pony for being tied to toys and merchandise, often putting it "first against the wall" while sparing such criticism from the aforementioned Hasbro franchises, or franchises such as Star Wars, Toy Story, and Lego.[16](2:5) Connelly notes that professionals who work with children, for example psychologists and librarians, often have a positive view on the franchise; psychologist John Rosemond described My Little Pony toys as "great, soothing, quiet-time toys", having none of the violence or sexuality of other toy franchises. The first animated series is often given as the worst example of a Saturday-morning cartoon, despite never airing on Saturday mornings. Even though no My Little Pony adaptation was airing on television for much of the 1990s and no toys were being produced, it was still often brought up as a contemporary example of aggressive marketing through television.[16](1:3,5,8)


Connelly contends that My Little Pony is singled out not because the franchise's business methods or content standards are particularly different from other franchises', but because it is overtly girly. Replying to criticism that My Little Pony is "junk" while Star Wars stems from "integrity and creative vision", cartoonist Craig McCracken noted that both franchises can have integrity or be junk, depending on how they're produced. Character designer Chris Battle pointed out that the media adaptation of My Little Pony is seen as less valid because it's aimed at girls.[16](2:5) Director Lauren Faust, who was creative developer of the relaunch of the My Little Pony franchise in 2010, wrote that she expected people who haven't even watched the animated series "to instantly label it girly, stupid, cheap, for babies or an evil corporate commercial." Faust feels that the show's femininity makes it a target of derision, regardless of its other qualities.[16](4:3) Ellen Seiter, professor of media studies, observed that girl's television shows are a ghettoization of girl culture, and the attacks on these shows is often aimed at their femininity.[16](1:1) My Little Pony has been perceived as an icon of femininity and "girlie-girls", particularly in the United Kingdom. The franchise has alternately been described as asexual and too sexual by the UK media.[16](1:8)


  1. ^ Werbner, Donna (September 10, 2004). "Campaign: Hasbro resurrects My Little Pony brand". PRWeek. Retrieved February 1, 2017. 
  2. ^ Seiter, Ellen (1995), Sold Separately: Children and Parents in Consumer Culture, Rutgers University Press, p. 153 
  3. ^ McNeil, Sheena (September 1, 2006), "My Little Ponies", Sequential Tart, retrieved February 2, 2017 
  4. ^ Hasbo (October 7, 2010). "Hasbro's Iconic MY LITTLE PONY Brand Excites a New Generation of Girls with Its Message of Friendship and Adventure". Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  5. ^ Lisanti, Tony (May 2016), "Top 150 Global Licensors", Global License!, p. T9, The My Little Pony brand drives over $1.2 billion in retail sales 
  6. ^ "Hasbro 2015 Investor Update at Toy Fair". Feb 13, 2015. Retrieved May 19, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Hasbro 2014 Annual Report" (PDF). Feb 26, 2015. p. 6. Retrieved May 20, 2015. 
  8. ^ Lisanti, Tony (May 1, 2014). "The Top 150 Global Licensors". Global License!. Retrieved May 19, 2015. 
  9. ^ Hasbro (2012). "My Little Pony History". Archived from the original on November 14, 2012. Retrieved May 20, 2015. 
  10. ^ Alkemade, Patrick (2013). "My Pretty Pony - 1981". Archived from the original on May 20, 2015. Retrieved May 20, 2015. 
  11. ^ "My Little Pony CD-ROM". August 22, 2015. Retrieved April 16, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Hasbro Revamps My Little Pony to Draw Younger Girls". Marketing Week. 10 July 2003. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  13. ^ "My Little Pony MLP Fleece Throw Blanket 50" by 60" Officially Licensed Hasbro". Retrieved 18 April 2016. 
  14. ^ "Shout! Factory Store". Shout! Factory Store. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  15. ^ "My Little Pony Live". March 12, 2007. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Sherilyn Connelly (2017), Ponyville Confidential: The History and Culture of My Little Pony, 1981-2016, McFarland, ISBN 9781476662091 
  17. ^ Vara, Vauhini; Zimmerman, Ann (2011-11-04). "Hey, Bro, That's My Little Pony!Guys' Interest Mounts in Girly TV Show". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 2011-12-01. Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  18. ^ Gennis, Sadie (2013-08-01). "Give Bronies a Break!In Defense of Adult My Little Pony Fans". TV Guide. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  19. ^ a b c Watercutter, Angela (2011-06-09). "My Little Pony Corrals Unlikely Fanboys Known as 'Bronies'". Wired. Retrieved 2011-06-09. 
  20. ^ von Hoffman, Constantine (2011-05-31). "My Little Pony: the Hip, New Trend Among the Geekerati". BNET. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  21. ^ McKean, Erin (2011-12-02). "The secret language of bros". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  22. ^ Rutherford, Kevin (2012-04-20). "Behind the Music of Pop Culture Smash "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic"". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-04-20. 
  23. ^ Ostroff, Joshua (2011-08-03). "All-ages show: Hipsters love children's programming". National Post. Retrieved 2011-08-03. 
  24. ^ Turner, James (2012-03-20). "Is TV paying too much attention to fans?". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  25. ^ Strike, Joe (2011-07-05). "Of Ponies and Bronies". Animation World Network. Retrieved 2011-07-06. 

Further reading

  • Sherilyn Connelly (2017), Ponyville Confidential: The History and Culture of My Little Pony, 1981-2016, McFarland, ISBN 9781476662091 
  • Summer Hayes (May 1, 2008) The My Little Pony G1 Collector's Inventory: an unofficial full color illustrated collector's price guide to the first generation of MLP including all US ponies, playsets and accessories released before 1997 with a foreword by Dream Valley's Kim Shriner. Priced Nostalgia Press. ISBN 978-0-9786063-1-2
  • Summer Hayes (2007) The My Little Pony G3 Collector's Inventory: an unofficial full color illustrated guide to the third generation of MLP including all ponies, playsets and accessories from 2003 to the present. Priced Nostalgia Press. ISBN 978-0-9786063-5-0
  • Hillary DePiano (2005) The My Little Pony Collector's Inventory: A Complete Checklist of All US Ponies, Playsets and Accessories from 1981 to 1992. Priced Nostalgia Press. ISBN 1-4116-2165-4
  • Summer Hayes (2009) The My Little Pony 2007–2008 Collector's Inventory. Priced Nostalgia Press. ISBN 978-0-9786063-6-7
  • Debra L. Birge (2007) My Little Pony: Around the World. Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7643-1749-1

External links