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Manly Magic? My Little Ponies gallop over rainbows and onto the soft-toy radar screen. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Friday, 19 April 2013 08:59

Aurora and Hasbro are partnering to debut a series of My Little Pony plush delights. Some will be coupled with carrying bags, and others will stand on their own four feet.
The sentiment of “Friendship Is Magic” has touched TV viewers of all ages. Children have responded positively to the good message. And, interestingly, so have grown-ups.
Tattoos that immortalize the MLP characters and their credo are quite popular. Some are straight testaments; others are personalized variations. Here is an MD Tattoo Studio rendering.
In early April, the MLPs romped into Build-a-Bear Workshop. They arrived with an array of clothing choices, too.
On the Build-a-Bear Workshop website, there was a lineup of lovely My Little Ponies.
Hasbro has enjoyed huge success with their plastic versions of the MLP gang. The toys have been a staple in their stable!
At Halloween, it’s not unusual to see a child costumed as an MLP . . .
but the audience of the HUB cartoon has expanded to include grown-ups. (The male fans are known as “bronies.”)
Bronies love the message of the TV show, and the thrill of the hunt is appealing also. They go wild for collecting toys, puzzles, games, and anything with the MLP branding.
Oh, in a world filled with rainbows, magic, and music, wouldn’t it be nice to have Snuggle lend a hand with folding your MLP hoodie?
Aurora and Hasbro are partnering to debut a series of My Little Pony plush delights. Some will be coupled with carrying bags, and others will stand on their own four feet.
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I wish I lived in a world permanently filled with sun-dappled rainbows and fluffy, puffy, floating clouds. It would be fabulous to emerge through my front door and be greeted by cavorting Care Bears and sweet, smiling, somersaulting Snuggles (the laundry detergent) teddy bear as well. Imagine strolling through a summer’s day, surrounded by gamboling woodland critters and flitting, fluttering sky dwellers. Magic!


Sadly, though, I don’t live in such a world. And neither do you. We were all reminded of that by the horrible events of April 15—the day that the Boston bombings occurred. When such evil can strike on a clear-skied, breezy and beautiful day, one’s confidence and optimism can be shattered.


Perhaps that is why the four-legged beasts known as My Little Pony have been enjoying such an amazing surge in popularity. As the news of the day has become more horrific and ghoulish, the ponies (I’ll call them MLP) have stampeded back into the country’s consciousness. They have had a new lease on life courtesy of their animated series that airs on the Hub network. (Hub is owned by the toy and game giant, Hasbro.)
“Friendship Is Magic” is the theme of the MLP program, and its viewers are what you’d expect—and, strangely enough, what would completely catch you off guard.


Naturally, tiny pigtailed and corkscrew-haired little girls comprise a large portion of the audience. After all, many preteen and teenage girls are “horse crazy.” So, it makes sense that these early equestrienne seeds get sown by magical, musical, and marvelous MLPs.


What is surprising is that there is a vast number of young guys watching the ponies and becoming obsessed with them the way only a true “fanboy” can. These guys are young men. They’re not kindergarteners or elementary-school cowboy wannabes. No, these are men in their twenties, thirties, and even early forties. They watch these shows with their children (some have assumed the roles of Mr. Mom in the new economy) and others tune into the program on their own. They are not babysitting or chaperoning a toddler or a first-grader. They are viewing the episodes for their own enjoyment, and they label themselves “bronies.” (Yep, a blending of “bro” and “ponies.” I kid you not.)


These bronies have conventions—two were held in New Jersey, and some have touched down in NYC—host Facebook pages, assemble at prearranged meetups, and openly blog about their emotional reactions to the MLP phenomenon. At the conventions, which are attended by both men and women, there are tons of merchandise to buy, fund-raisers for worthy causes (“Charity Is Magic” is the overarching theme), and a metal band named NeighSlayer often performs. On one hand, this idea of a “brony” seems odd to me. Aren’t men supposed to be swaggering around and seeing themselves as stallions, not ponies? On the other hoof, if they truly are responding to the message of camaraderie, loyalty, and friendship, is that a bad thing? It seems a “unique” place for a grown man to be finding solace, but then again I want to live in a world where Snuggle the Softener Bear helps me to fold clothes and puts away my laundry! I guess I might just be one helium balloon and smiley face away from asking: “WWPD?” (“What Would a Pony Do?” That acronym is actually available on T-shirts and bracelets.)


Aurora is joining forces with Hasbro to unveil a line of My Little Pony collectibles. (http://www.auroragift.com) “We are thrilled to work with Hasbro again, and just as excited to introduce our My Little Pony plush toys to multi-generational fans and collectors. The line is designed to appeal to all ages that embrace the brand,” Michael Kessler, Aurora’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, announced.


Lynda Connell, director of toy and game licensing, echoed Kessler’s enthusiasm: “Aurora is committed to making the My Little Pony brand relevant to today’s soft-toy consumer. Aurora’s new plush ponies make a great gift and companion. It’s a fun way for friends to show each other the magic of friendship and that they will always be there for each other.”


Aurora will initially release 18 MLP styles with suggested retail prices ranging from $15 to $20. There will be 12 small ponies, each with a personalized carrying bag (think Aurora’s popular Fancy Pals style, measuring 6 inches) and 6 soft plush ponies (just over 10 inches in size).


I was at my local Build-a-Bear Workshop when the pony-palooza debuted in their outlet’s stuffing stations and on their website as well. Per the usual BABW experience, young girls were lining up to look at the pony options and their wardrobe choices and accessories. Little girls seemed to be charmed by the plush opportunity—I didn’t see any dudes browsing or buying.


The My Little Pony world is a mythical one. It’s filled with the best behavior and the most heart-tugging scenarios. The toys and collectibles that key into this will be sweet in appearance and the very definition of cute. I imagine it will be a big hit with little girls, who will politely request one for a special occasion, and a collectible mania for fanboys everywhere.  Here’s wishing them happy trails and colorful rainbows!