What is My Little Pony?
Children of the ’80s no doubt remember the My Little Pony toys as an indelible part of their childhood. The franchise, developed by toy-maker Hasbro, began in 1981 with the introduction of My Pretty Pony, after which My Little Pony was launched in 1983 with the production of several more horses featuring hollow, plastic bodies in a variety of fun colors, manes and tails that could be brushed, and symbols on the flanks for identification and differentiation. If the idea was to create a toy, mainly for girls, that could be collected and traded, Hasbro did their job, because My Little Pony became an extremely popular kids’ toy in the early 1980s. In fact, in the 30+ years since the franchise first appeared, it has spawned several TV programs, video games, and other media based on the toys. And over the years My Little Pony has undergone four distinct iterations, known as generations 1, 2, 3, and 4.
The first generation (G1) included the original toys, starting with Earth Ponies and expanding to include Pegasus, Unicorn, Flutter, and Sea Ponies, followed by Rainbow, So-Soft, Twice-as-Fancy, and Brush-and-Grow ponies, not to mention Baby Ponies and Pony Friends (other animals made in the My Little Pony style). This era also spawned a slew of short, animated features and an animated TV show entitled ‘My Little Pony Tales’. Generation 2 (G2) is characterized by Friendship Garden Ponies with revamped bodies that were slimmer and features turning heads and jeweled eyes, as well as the PC game ‘My Little Pony: Friendship Gardens”. Generation 3 (G3) of My Little Pony includes the release of new ponies in several different parts of the world, as well as collector’s editions of prior ponies. This was the first generation to start referring to the marks on pony’s flanks as “cutie marks”. G3 saw the release of more than a dozen direct-to-DVD short films and features, as well as the advent of games for handheld devices.
And of course, the fourth, and current generation (G4) of My Little Pony, which has produced the largest fan base to date, includes a new look, a variety of new ponies, options for customization, an online community of followers, and a popular and ongoing animated TV program entitled ‘My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”, as well as video games and even a comic book series. And with this latest iteration has come an entirely new marketing plan, one that makes the My Little Pony franchise accessible not only to young girls, but also to boys and adults, both female and male. The current generation is characterized by collectibles, customization, and fan spin-offs that include fan fiction, brand new ponies, and even a video game.