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Friendship is Magic gift set

My Little Pony
by yo go re

Here's a question for you: if you participate in an activity, can you choose to reject any labels that come with it? If you like to walk on mountains, are you automatically a hiker? If you spend time preparing food, aren't you by necessity a cook? And if you're a guy who likes the new My Little Pony cartoon, does that mean you have no choice but to be a "Brony?"

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was developed by Lauren Faust, wife of Craig McCracken (of Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends fame). She'd gone to Hasbro to pitch them a series based on her original creation, Galaxy Girls, but the company was more interested in reinvigorating properties it already owned, and asked her to take a crack at MLP. She'd always hated "girl cartoons," because they were really stupid, and she decided to prove that a show aimed at girls didn't have to be "a puddle of smooshy, cutesy-wootsy, goody-two-shoeness." Yeah, Lauren Faust is just that kind of awesome.

There are "full-sized" MLP FIM toys, with real rooted hair and tiny accessories, but the designs of those don't look anything like the show. If you're a fan of the new cartoon and its stylish designs, you only have two choices: you can either buy blind-bagged, inch-high ponies, or you can hunt down this Friendship is Magic Gift Set.

For a unicorn who's new to the magic of friendship, Twilight Sparkle gets an "A+." She uses her magical powers to help her friends, and she's always ready to lend a helping hoof. Sometimes she gets on her high horse, but her love for her pals makes her a natural leader.

Twilight Sparkle is the main character of the show - or at least, she's the POV character. It's not like any of the six members of the main cast are less important than the others, after all. She's purple, but not as dark as she is in the show. She needs more blue and less magenta. Honestly, the dark portions of her hair are the color her body should be, and her hair should be even darker than it is. WHO IS STEALING TWILIGHT SPARKLE'S COLORS?! That sounds like the plot of an episode. Her butt symbol (which is called a "cutie mark") is a pink star surrounded by five small white stars. Her mane and tail are sculpted with a thick, chunky style that does a fine job of matching the animation model.

Spike is a baby dragon with a big job - he is Twilight Sparkle's Number One Assistant! The two have been friends forever since Twilight Sparkle's first day at Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns in Canterlot.

Yes, that's an X-Men reference. Just in case you thought the show had no nerd cred. The character Spike originated in G1 (yes, just like Transformers and GI Joe, MLP has generations), where he was apparently the Orko or Scrappy Doo of the cartoon. He also sat upright and looked like a pale pink dumpling, so this is a good update. He's almost the same purple as Twilight Sparkle, with dark green for the spiky ridge on his back, and light green for his ears and underbelly.

Pinkie Pie is a free spirit who prances to the beat of her own drum. Actually, she prances to the sound of her own singing. She's playful and full of energy. She can talk till the ponies come home. She loves to invent silly songs, giggle, skip, and make her friends laugh.

When Twilight Sparkle went to Ponyville, Pinkie Pie was the first pony she met. Her mane and tail are sculpted with bushy curls, though it's still not as wild as it is on the cartoon. Her cutie mark is three ballons: one yellow with a blue string, two blue with yellow. Her skin is brighter pink on the toy than on the show, and her hair is not as vibrant as it should be - yeah, they're both pink, but there should be a larger difference between the shades.

Applejack is a country pony who grew up on her family's apple farm. She's down to Earth and dependable, and she's not afraid to get her hooves dirty. To her, any job can be done with a little horse sense and hard work. Applejack has a knack for figuring out how to fix a problem - fast!

Applejack is the only pony who's kept her same name from G1 - all the others were renamed because Hasbro didn't hold onto the trademarks. They also didn't have handy ways to work around the loss, like they did for their boys' properties, so most of the characters' names come from G3. Applejack is the right color, but don't worry, they still did something wrong: in her final animation model, Applejack wears a brown cowboy hat; the toy is lacking that, just leaving her with the red ties holding down her yellow mane. Her cutie mark is three apples - on the "real" horses, the marks are on both sides, but the toys only have them on one.

This magnificent princess pony is the ruler of Equestria! Princess Celestia is the most magical pony. She's responsible for raising the sun to create light in Equestria. Wise and kind, she is a mentor to Twilight Sparkle. All of the ponies look up to her and depend on her. Some say she is so wise because she is over 1,000 years old.

In one of the stupidest pieces of writing ever put on the internet, Kathleen Richter of Ms. magazine found imaginary sexism in the fact that "a monarch invested with supreme ultimate power [had] a phallic symbol strapped to her forehead." So, so stupid. In her wonderful rebuttal, Lauren Faust pointed out that there are three races in My Little Pony - Earth Pony, Pegasis and Unicorn - and that they're ruled by someone who embodies the traits of all three (in the mythology, that's known as an "alicorn").

On the show, Princess Celestia is white (which was another of Ms. Richter's idiot complaints - that the show was promoting racism!). Every toy of her, however, has been pale pink. The same pink Pinkie Pie should have been, in fact. When this set was shown off at Toy Fair 2010, Celestia was the proper colors, so why was it changed? The armor on her hooves is unpainted, and though her crown is removable, she's missing her necklace. Her mane and tail are rainbow colored, though more pastel than the cartoon, and her mark is a golden sun.

In addition to the five figures, this set includes a 24-page book that tells a highly truncated version of Friendship is Magic's opening two-parter. Only two problems with that: 1) it shows just how off-model these figures' paint apps are, and B) it makes you wonder why Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy and Rarity don't have toys in this style yet. We're missing half the cast!

A big part of MLP FIM's appeal is the stylish character designs - meaning not only the ponies' bodies, but also their hair. There's no way to duplicate the stylized appearance when the toys have rooted hair, so the toys end up looking nothing like the property they're based on. Even though these are complete unarticulated PVCs, they're still the best representations out there. Come on, Hasbro, you've got an entire audience out here waiting to buy My Little Pony toys, and you're leaving money on the table.

-- 04/01/12


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