Before My Little Pony, Hasbro produced a 10-inch-tall toy horse in 1981 called My Pretty Pony, intended for little girls to groom and admire. The smaller, colorful My Little Pony line was conceived by illustrator and designer Bonnie Zacherle in 1982, and launched as a Hasbro toy line in 1983.
The Easter-egg-colored Ponies, usually between 5 and 6 inches tall, were made of vinyl with rooted hair that came in a rainbow of shocking day-glo hues. Each Pony was identified by symbols branded on its hide, which might a grouping of fruit, balloons, or stars. Later, Hasbro coined the term “cutie marks” to describe these symbols, a phrase many serious collectors find distasteful. The first Ponies were garden-variety “earth ponies,” but soon horned unicorns and winged pegasi were added to the line.
But the variations didn’t stop there: Flutter Ponies had transparent, moving wings, while Sea Ponies resembled seahorses. So-So Soft Ponies came covered in flocking, while Brush ’n’ Grow Ponies had manes and tails that appeared to get longer. Pony Friends were other animals done in the same style as the Ponies, while Baby Ponies were smaller versions of previously released characters. Ponies usually came with brushes or combs, and a wide variety of play sets were also produced.
The first generation, called G1, of My Little Pony ended in the United States in 1992, but continued to be sold around the world until 1995. G1 inspired two cartoon series, “My Little Pony ’n Friends” in 1986 and “My Little Pony Tales” in 1992.
Hasbro introduced the second generation, or G2, of My Little Pony in 1997 under the Kenner imprint, with entirely new bodies that were more lean and long-legged. These “Friendship Garden” Ponies, as they were called, fizzled in the United States by 1999, and are among the least collected Ponies.
The third generation, or G3, released in 2003, more closely resembled the vintage My Little Pony look. Then, in 2009, the line was revamped once again, with drastic changes to the Ponies’ bodies and faces. These new Ponies, with their extra-large anime-style eyes, only came as the “Core 7” characters: Cheerilee, Toola-Roola, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle, and Starsong. Collectors refer to this update as G3.5.
The 2010 debut of a new cartoon series, “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic,” created by Lauren Faust, brought another breed of fans to My Little Pony. Young men and teenage boy...
Some bronies like smaller ponies made out of PVC with molded hair, such as the Blind Bag Ponies, which more closely resemble the cartoon characters. Popular characters from “Friendship Is Magic” include the thoughtful unicorn Twilight Sparkle, the diva-ish unicorn Rarity, the athletic pegasus Rainbow Dash, the celebration-oriented earth pony Pinkie Pie, the bashful pegasus Fluttershy, and the rancher Applejack—a character that first appeared in G1.
Vintage G1 Ponies can be valuable out of the box, but only if the play wear and tear is minimum and the Pony is a rare model. Certain '80s Ponies, like Peachy, are so common they sell for a couple dollars at most.
Some of the most rare Ponies were only available through the Horseshoe Points mail-order program. For example, the limited-edition long-tailed Rapunzel, a Pony from the Fairy Tale series, was only offered through this program, and even then Hasbro didn’t have enough stock, and sent Goldilocks as a replacement.
Other Ponies coveted by collectors were produced in countries like Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, or Greece under license by Hasbro. These Ponies often come as characters or variations that were not available in the United States. For example, a Pony known as Baby Lofty was only sold with open-and-close-eyes in the states, but was produced with regular eyes in Brazil.