Think of the girliest thing you could imagine. For example, imagine a Disney princess barfing up rainbows while riding a unicorn through a magical land of lollipops, and you’ve imagined something close to the nauseatingly adorable My Little Pony toyline.
(It's so bright! So very, very bright!)
My Little Pony(ies) were brightly colored, (at one point, fat, I guess until even the toy industry decided OMG FAT (ANIMALS) IS NOT CUTE!!) ponies (because OMG LITTLE GIRLS LOVE PONIES!!!) with symbols on their butts (yes, really) that symbolized their names. They had names such as Star Catcher, Sweetheart, Starlight, Galaxy, Ribbon, Cupcake, Magic Star, etc. (Now you see that the Disney princess barfing rainbows is a pretty accurate simile, no?)
The My Little Pony toys really didn’t have much going for them. They were solid figurines, and the big improvement/addition was a turning head. They were kind of like the Troll Dolls in that way (including the ‘hair’ that you could play with), but definitely at least as cloying as the Care Bears (especially with all the focus on FRIENDSHIP and MAGIC and LOOK KIDS, COLORS!!! I mean, they lived in freaking Friendship Gardens).
For toys that were pretty uninteresting (but bright! Don’t forget bright!), they spawned a lot of spin-off merchandise (perhaps BECAUSE they were so uninteresting in of themselves?). There was children’s bedding, decorations, puzzles, books, plush toys (which were better than the actual figurines, in my opinion), two TV series, 11 direct-to-video movies, a…sewing machine (?), a…pomander…(????), just to name a few.
While My Little Pony initially came out in the mid-80s, they introduced a new line in the 90s (and again in the 2000s), and it’s hard to believe that little girls stacked up such a simplistic toy next to their Furbies and Tamagotchis on their shelves (or, y’know, in their toyboxes). Hasboro figured that little girls would be easily wooed by the bright, girly colors, adorable huge eyes, and brushable hair of the Ponies (perhaps assuming so based on the success of the Lisa Frank brand, which was similarly ridiculously bright and full of happy-happy adorable animals). And, sadly, they were right for the most part.
Does My Little Pony stack up to memory? Well…thinking back, I never thought My Little Pony was all the great. I mean, I definitely thought they were cute (yes, Hasboro got me, too…I shall hang my head in shame) but I also thought it was pretty lame that you couldn’t pose their bodies/move anything other than their heads. Even then, I accepted it for what it was—a mediocre toy. So, in retrospect, I suppose it does hold up, as I still believe it to be a mediocre toy. I don’t think anyone thought it would be the next latest and greatest thing (except the creators, perhaps), but for an average, middle-of-the-road toy, it was just fine.