My Little Pony Then and Now


I’m twenty-two years old. As such I don’t assume I’m entitled to a very large portion of nostalgia yet- those waves of wistfulness that I DO experience usually involve Super Mario World, Disney films, and of course, childhood toys. It’s the latter that I would like to discuss today, in particular a very strange thing that seems to have happened to one of my favorite childhood toys, My Little Pony. I am not prone to hyperbole, but I will warn you that the phrases “towheaded abomination” and “put it out of its misery” both make early appearances. Now without further ado, please look at Exhibit A: a precious little chunk of plastic that, viewed through the soft diffusion filter of my childhood memories, was perfect in every way.

my little pony

What you see is the adorable childhood toy My Little Pony: bright, cheerful looking ponies which were stylized enough to be fun (pretty designs on the flank, brightly colored mane and tail) but also still looked like, you know, horses. But at some point some executives decided that this made too much sense. I like to picture the meeting as having gone something like this:

Executive 1: Taking a sip of a latte and wiping his mouth with a hundred-dollar bill. “Gentlemen… we need to redesign the My Little Pony for a new generation.”

Executive 2: “I’m thinking we enlarge the eyes to the size of ostrich eggs, shorten the nose until it’s virtually nonexistent, and lengthen the ears until it resembles a frightened nocturnal marsupial.”

Executive 1: “Get this man a raise!”

Now please drag your eyes reluctantly down to Exhibit B:

pinkie pie

What is this towheaded abomination? Why are the ears so big? Were the colorful little ponies not cute enough before? This is no longer cute; it’s weird. There is nothing remotely equine about the shape of this toy! If it could make any noise at all with its pink vinyl throat it would be crying in agony for someone to put it out of its misery. I would. With fire. It’s entered into some kind of pseudo-Uncanny Valley by crossing the line from “just cute enough” to “WAY too cute.” If the original My Little Pony is a Barbie, the new version is a Bratz doll. And no self-respecting parent would let their little kid play with a Bratz doll.

And of course… along with the new toy line came the new show- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Unless your head has been planted firmly beneath a rock, you are aware of the Internet phenomenon spawned by this new show.

Here is the original show:

my little pony classic show

Magic. Just magic. And charming and beautiful I WANT A PONY OF MY OWN.

And the new show:

my little pony friendship is magic

I…I do not want one of these. I haven’t brought myself to watch the show yet (although you can bet your curly purple mane I will), but I am imagining that their voices lean less towards “majestic” and more towards “helium.” Please ponies, prove me wrong. I am extremely curious about the new show because it inexplicably has an enormous male fan base (yes, you read that right). As you may have picked up on a teensy-weensy bit, I fear that my opinion will be tainted by my nostalgic adoration for the original show.

I am not going to trash the show itself yet, but again I ask: why the redesign? At the very least, Hasbro, could you not also continue the original line of Ponies, or resurrect them in some way that will also satisfy the original fans? Because I’m telling you right now, if you did, I would buy them. For my future daughter, of course. Ahem.

blank pony

The only thing Hasbro still sells that looks like the original is this Decorate Your Own Pony toy, which I admit I would kill for. THE POSSIBILITIES.

These? Well… I can make no such promises. This is not a My Little Pony; this is a My Little Bush Baby.

my little pony bush baby


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  1. I am 11 and I personally think these toys are adorable + I personally think I am waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more qualified than you to say what the children of this world are waaaaaaaay more interested in this show than the old “my pretty pony” thing… I personally have seen my pretty pony and I think the characters are cute but it is REALLY cheesey compared to 4th gen. MLP

  2. “sexified”? Um, i don’t know what “sexified” means to you, but to me it suggests curvy humanlike bodies, come-hither eyes, and fashion clothes. there’s nothing sexually suggestive in the entire frachise, the eyes are round, suggesting “cutsey” not “sexy” (study animation sometime), and the only character into fashion is an artist, not a buyer. Another fail.

  3. I agree with Ms. Pranger! I remember the sweet little ponies from my childhood and saw my pre-schooler playing lovingly with one in her class and put “My LIttle Pony” on her birthday list… When we just opened the package with these emaciated little doe-eyed creatures I was appauled – really – do we really need to sexify a toy pony??? Yes – my daughter thinks they’re cute – but she is not aware of the underlying message that only anorexic creatures with thin limbs and humongous eyes are worthy. I’m tempted to take them right back to the store and go on ebay and search out some legit MLP’s!!!

  4. @Sascha

    really? Because i personally know a 4-year-old girl, you know, the target demographic, who just LOVES these toys. Now, since we’re talking about toys for little girls, i would think the opinion of a 4-year-old girl is a bit more credible than that of a cynical adult….

  5. I agree the new toy design is horrible. They don’t look like horses. They look like demented marsupials with serial-killer eyes. I don’t care who designed them. They are just plain fugly. I honestly never took to the originals as a child but they’re a damn sight nicer than the “I can’t believe that’s not Bambi” cutsie fest we have now.

    Even if the show is amazing the toys are still demented looking, as you rightly point out!

  6. EmSeeSquared on

    the redesigns you so despise are not the work of Hasbro, but by animator Lauren Faust. Lauren Faust is the wife of Craig McCracken, who created such succeses as the Powerpuff Girls and Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends, both of which were top-notch shows, and miss Faust worked with her husband closely on both of them. Like you, MLP was always one of her fav toys, but she felt the original show didn’t meet the standards of her imagination, as all the characters on the show seemed to do was have tea parties, giggle, and defeat enemies with rainbows or whatever. Trying to sell another concept of hers to Hasbro, she was offered the opportunity to revamp MLP her own way, and this is the result. The designs were all hers, not hasbro’s, the prototype designs were even on her DA page before the show took off. And it’s a dang good show, no, DAMN good. The characters are all developed, the humor is spot on, it acknowledges and supports its own fanbase. As for your theory of “squeaky-voices”, try the vocal talents of Tara Strong, Ashleigh Ball (playing TWO main characters), Andrea Libman (also playing TWO main characters), and Tabitha St. Germain. Really, give the show a try. Just because a new style is different from what you grew up with, that doesn’t make it BAD. To insist that everything remain exactly as you remembered it as a child is rather snobby.

    Oh, and every non-Friendship is Magic image you pointed to is NOT from the ORIGINAL show, but rather the third generation of the franchise. Peace-out!

  7. Speaking as a fan of the show( by which I mean Friendship is Magic, obviosly) I have to say my own theory on the massive changes between Gen 3 and now is because of MLP’s public image. For most of my life when I thought “Girlie show with girlie toys for girlie girls” I thought My Little Pony. Now, with the massive hike in quality, it has a acheived an audience MUCH broader than Hasbro or anyone else could have ever percieved. Just my personal opinion, but I think it makes sense.

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