Barbies, Princesses and My Little Ponies

January 24, 2011

I was thinking about Barbies the other day, because someone on telly wore a dress that reminded me of Peaches and Cream Barbie. It was always between her and Crystal Barbie, wasn’t it. The latter was a shade more trashy, which worked in her favour as far as my six-year-old tastes were concerned, but P&C’s outfit genuinely looked mouthwatering.

I never ever had Barbie, I was only allowed Sindy – even now, a little embarrassing to admit. If only I’d had Barbies, I can’t help but think, I’d have turned out a different sort of person altogether. More confident, more conventional, certainly more attractive. See, Barbies were so pretty in their spectacular outfits. They had that alluring, creepy, American-ness about them. They looked at me with their funny flat eyes and they promised so much. My friend Joanne’s dad was an airline pilot and she had all the Barbies and the house and the car AND the horse. I went round there a lot. In retrospect, I wonder about my motives for that friendship. I was a tiny gold digger.

But, as with so many gold diggers, I had a genuine appreciation for the frills and the glamour. I still think about Barbie’s ear rings, and I still have a thing for princesses. Not real ones, I’m not mental. Pink, fluffy, long-haired, graceful ones. Needless to say, I am very, very excited about the forthcoming Disney Rapunzel film, Tangled. I think it looks absolutely perfect.

So no – no Barbies, but I did have two Popples, at least one Care Bear, and a growing collection of my absolute favourite: My Little Ponies. Ah, the Barbies of the equine world. I got one or two for every birthday and Christmas for years. Here are some of the ones I remember having:

Plus one with wings, a “baby” one, and quite possibly some of these – recently back  on sale at Firebox. I was slightly sickened by any with freckles, and Gusty on the left here was my fave, because a) such pretty colours and b) An actual unicorn! No contest.

In fact, they diversified from the standard pony model quite early on. There were, iirc, babies, flighted ones, sparkly ones, ones with terrifying gemstone eyes, ones with no back legs (mermaid ponies?)… I mean, even on the standard models in the mid-80s, there were dozens and dozens to choose from.

The interesting thing is watching how far they’re prepared to take the metaphor. There must be a list somewhere at Hasbro detailing what these ponies will and will not tolerate.

You see, the genius is making the horses mute, mysterious characters in themselves, and imposing some fairly strict rules about what they can be, which are then stuck to, rigidly, for decades. NB I have no real idea what’s going on with them these days, and to be honest, I’m too scared to look.

Tell me about your My Little Ponies. I don’t understand people who don’t love My Little Ponies. Why do you hate beauty?

18 Responses to “Barbies, Princesses and My Little Ponies”

  1. Punkcheekymonkey Says:

    I was the same way with Dinky Toys. My “best friend” had a huge collection. When I was 3 I saw him across the busy city street with a toy wagon full of them. I broke and ran from my mother. The lure was more powerful than my need to survive.
    My grandmother used to make beautiful clothing for my sister’s Barbies. what do you think folks? Is this a cry for help from Leila? Should we parachute Barbies over Borehamwood. I am willing to coordinate the mission. When I was a small child I also used to hit up rich people for colouring books. “How are you young man?” “I’m fine but I don’t have any new colouring books.

  2. Sarah Dobbs Says:

    I actually still have some of my MLPs. I got rid of a lot of them when I was a teenager, but somehow, a boxful survived. I have a mermaid pony, one of those gem-eyed monsters, and even one that was exclusive to the MLP fan club.

    The one kind of pony I never had, and still kind of feel the absence of, is one of the Big Brother ponies. They were ponies, but male!

    And apparently this one is “the only pony who could drive.” That sounds like madness to me. Your comment about the ponies being mute and mysterious suggests you never read the comics or watched the TV show/movies, though? The MLP movie where purple lava – “smooze”? – flooded the land was awesome, in my memory.

  3. enemyofchaos Says:

    Ah I did have some of the comics but I didn’t really like them, partly because I thought the ponies really wouldn’t speak or prance about in such an undignified way, so these comics were some kind of offensive “interpretation” of the ponies’ true personalities and lives. Am still clinging to that wishful thinking it seems.

    I am so jealous of your collection and knowledge, but glad to have stumbled across an expert. I wish I’d been in the fan club. Can you explain to me about the rubber ring ones? I have a memory of baby ones in rubber rings. Were they baby mermaids? Can you put a photo of your ponies up somewhere?

    Special male ponies! How did I miss that? I always got a kind of male energy from Apple Jack to be honest.

    Love that there’s a pony that can drive. What would that car look like, I wonder. Talk about putting the cart before the horse.

    • Sarah Dobbs Says:

      I wish I could remember more about the storylines. I used to be obsessive about ponies: I had a friend who would give the ponies her own names, or make them into little families, and I remember getting very upset that she wasn’t doing it right. (e.g. Baby Applejack goes with Applejack, obviously, and you can’t just ignore that and make up your own families!)

      God, it’s terrifying that I have the same personality now that I did at age 6.

      I’ll try to take some photos later. I’ve got a baby mermaid one with a rubber ring, and it’s never before occurred to me that that doesn’t make any sense at all. Why would an aquatic pony need a flotation device? Odd.

      Part of me wishes I still had all the accessories and stuff I used to have – there was a ballet studio! – but mostly I’m aware that I’m a grown woman and it would be slightly troubling if I did still have all that stuff.

      • enemyofchaos Says:

        Haha, ballet studio for ponies. I wouldn’t want to live underneath that.

        The only accessory I had (apart from a couple of ‘outfits’) was the Beauty Parlour. Did you have the castle? I remember seeing TV ads for that.

        I completely agree that your friend’s behaviour is unacceptable. You can’t give baby Applejack to another horse to raise. And you can’t give them YOUR OWN NAMES, Jesus! These are real people we’re talking about here, not toys!

  4. enemyofchaos Says:

    Took me a long time to remember the name, but the one with wings I had was definitely Honeycomb, one of the more neon of the gang.

    According to Wikipedia, it’s a “Pegasus Pony” rather than a “Flutter Pony”.

    And NOW I remember that I also had “The first boy pony, Lucky”

    • Sarah Dobbs Says:

      SO JEALOUS of your boy pony.

      Flutter ponies are the ones with the stupidly delicate wings, aren’t they? I’ve only got one intact (this one!).

      • enemyofchaos Says:

        That one has a cheek tattoo!

        I didn’t have any of the butterfly style ones at all, they were a bit slimmer than the normal ones, but I still can’t see those wings getting them off the ground.

  5. […] wrote about My Little Ponies this week, and it’s made me all nostalgic. I think My Little Ponies were my first obsession: […]

  6. Sarah Dobbs Says:

    I think my neighbours think I’m insane. Have some photos. That kept me entertained for an embarrassingly long time.

  7. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sarah Dobbs, L Johnston. L Johnston said: Writing articles, editing mags. You can't imagine how busy things are for me and Sarah right now […]

  8. enemyofchaos Says:

    Between Joanne (her again) and I, I’m fairly sure we had Posey, Lickety Split, Cherries Jubilee and Tootsie:

    Posey was always a favourite, like the ‘popular blonde girl’ of the ponies.

  9. enemyofchaos Says:

    I promise I’ll stop in a minute, but I looking further into this glorious cornucopia, I definitely had the “Pretty Parlour” –

    — and it came with a free little cat!

    Was always jealous of anyone with Majesty, who I think only came with the castle…and OH MY GOD OF COURSE SPIKE THE BABY DRAGON.

  10. Sarah Dobbs Says:

    What’s weird is that I have a dragon, but not the castle, annnnd I’m not sure I had Majesty?

  11. enemyofchaos Says:

    I’m pretty sure I got the parlour in 1988. Maybe they re-released things, or our parents were getting these things from charity shops…

  12. enemyofchaos Says:

    BTW i just hugely enjoyed reading through

    – and not much has changed in young girls’ toys since the 80s…

  13. OMG I have only just seen this post! Not only was I not allowed Barbie either (stupid square Sindy instead), but I also had an EXTREME My Little Pony phase. My sister and I used to play with them for hours and hours. I had the pink one with the white dots on her bottom that you have a pic of up there. I loved it more than my parents. My sister and I did different voices for them all when we played with them, and had lots of the baby ones. We knew even then that the gem-eyed ones were terrifying. I seem to remember that they are all, without exception, very ugly if looked at head-on. x

  14. enemyofchaos Says:

    haha, great. You know, I’ve been looking at some Sindy fan sites, and have developed a fresh appreciation for her as I realise that a) she was really cute and b) she was actually something of a style icon. Do you remember getting the Sindy outfits separately, pinned up on bits of card with cellophane over them?

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