Calling all My Little Pony addicts

Calling all My Little Pony addicts

Over the following six months, My Little Pony collector Tanya Marriott will be sharing her passion, and knowledge about her collection with us. Part of Tanya’s collection is currently on display at Te Papa in the Inspiration Station Discovery Centre on Level 4.

My Little Pony has been around for thirty three years, and there are a large variety of colours and shapes. They are hugely popular with children around the world, as well as having a massive fan base of men and women of all ages. It’s Tanya’s expertise and personal stories about the ponies that make them all the more fascinating and brings the collection to life, so I’m very excited to be able to share this with everyone.

Hello I am Tanya and I am a My Little Pony Addict

Tanya Marriott with Firefly. Photo: Kate Whitley, Te Papa.
Tanya Marriott with Firefly. Photo: Kate Whitley, Te Papa.

I have over 500 generation One (G1) My Little Pony toys within my collection, including all play-sets and ponies from the main product range, and many international variants and mail order ponies.

My Little Pony was developed by Bonnie Zacherle, Charles Muenchinger and Steve D’Aguanno for Hasbro and launched in 1981 as “My Pretty Pony”. The original toy was much larger than the subsequent pony designs, made of hard plastic and had a mechanism to enable the eyes to blink and the tail to move. It was popular, but not quite the girls toy range Hasbro had wanted to develop.

My Pretty Pony. Photo by Kate Whitely, Te Papa
My Pretty Pony, made in 1981 by Hasbro. Photo by Tanya Marriott.

In 1983 Hasbro took a range of smaller colourful ponies to a toy fair, as a possible expansion of the pony product line. Within the year they had sold $25 million worth of ponies, which was all they could manufacture. The My Little Pony toy license went on to become one of the most successful toy products for girls behind Barbie; and is still going strong after 33 years. My Little Pony has undergone three subsequent iterations to the original design, which are known to collectors as “generations”. The fourth generation “Friendship is Magic” is the current version available.

The success of My Little Pony is not only due to their global appeal and ability to tap into the desire of every little girl to own a pony, but also the company’s licensing and promotion controls. These can be applied to almost any product from the TV series, film, games and apparel, home-ware, stationery and more. More recently the My Little Pony licence has transcended its genre and age demographic to appeal to a wider male audience known as the “Bronies” and adults who fondly played with ponies as a child.

I got my first pony Firefly when I was about 5, I distinctly remember being at the Toy Warehouse with my mum and being told I could only pick one toy. I couldn’t choose – Firefly was pink with lighting strikes on her flanks, but I also really loved the sea green and musical Medley – both are pegasus. I chose Firefly – pink toys were still a dominant force for me. But years later I was to have both.

The first My Little Ponies
The first My Little Ponies made by Hasbro in 1983. Photo by Tanya Marriott.

Lynette Townsend
Curator History – Communities & Diversity

Find out about Te Papa’s Discovery Centres

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