The magic of friendship takes on exciting new forms at Toy Fair 2016’s Hasbro showroom. Sometimes it’s little ponies. Other times, giant dragons.
But first we’ve gotta get through these.
The Equestria Girls line of toys and animated movies take place in an alternate dimension where equine characters from the hit show are human beings with strange skin colours. Some of them can spontaneously sprout ears and tails through the power of friendship.
This is too much friendship and magic for many adult fans, which is just fine, because young children love them, and that’s pretty much the demographic Hasbro was going for.
This year sees the release of the “Legend of Everfree” line, in which the humanised pony people go to camp and become hippies. No one likes hippies except young children. Hasbro knows what’s up.
Hasbro is aware that most adult fans aren’t too keen on the human figures, so recently they have started releasing smaller, more cartoonish versions of the human pony people.
Maybe it’s the big-headed cartoon proportions or the plastic hair, but this line feels a lot more fun and a lot less like Monster High wannabes.
So far stores have seen single figures and a few light playsets. This year Hasbro is going all-in on the big heads and plastic hair squad.
The more I see them the more I’m convinced the Equestria Girls hate wouldn’t be as strong had they debuted in this form instead of traditional doll form.
Of course the regular ponies aren’t going away. They’re just getting a bit more gimmicky. Like ponies with holes in their flanks you can look through to see scenes of Equestrian adventure and not the horse intestines one would expect.
Hasbro really loves giving Twilight Sparkle vehicles for some reason. Here’s a train, with rolling wheels, opening doors and room for three ponies in the back.
They have got shimmery ponies, sparkling translucent ponies, ponies with telepathy that are really low-key about it and never show off, ponies that probably breathe.
You may have noticed the baby. That’s Flurry Heart, the child of Princess Cadence and Prince Twilight Sparkle’s Brother. I guess that makes Twilight Sparkle her aunt? Either way, Hasbro is really excited about the baby and baby-related toys. There’s a stuffed doll that giggles when you tickle her and makes feeding noises when you feed her.
She’s also got her own little crystal figure, which matches the large crystal palace playset with light-up features and sound.
Hasbro is also continuing to release their smaller collectible figure sets. These are waves of figures released at various price points, from $US3 ($4) to $US20 ($28), which all fit a central theme. It’s the ultimate “collect the whole set” series.
But the coolest addition to the Friendship is Magic line this year by far are the articulated figures. These started trickling out late last year, and are a direct response to fan demands that the toys do more. Now they have got articulated, multi-jointed legs. Some of them have action features.
Even the larger “fashion” line figures are getting moving parts, along with their awesome headgear.
Which leads us to the recently-announced Guardians of Harmony line. These aren’t dolls. These are action figures. Some are sold in two-packs with foes to battle with. They have got weapons and armour.
And finally we have the coolest My Little Pony figure being released this year. He’s not little. He’s not a pony. At some point the little green and purple dragon, Spike, is transformed into a full-grown beast, and he looks pretty spectacular.
My Little Pony remains one of the most powerful toy brands in the world. It shared the stage during Hasbro’s Toy Fair presentation with Transformers, Star Wars and Marvel toys, while properties like Yo-Kai Watch or the company’s new line of Disney’s Frozen toys weren’t mentioned (though they were present at the show).
Now that the initial waves of adult collector fever have calmed, Hasbro’s focusing more on more on giving children toys they can actually play with beyond brushing their hair and stomping them across the carpet. The line’s looking better than ever.