From time to time I would like to review some of the vintage toy lines that I enjoy collecting. Although not a review in the typical sense (you can’t run out and get these at Target after reading about them!) I hope to give a little history and insight into some of our favorite toys.
As I started my collecting with My Little Pony, it seems fitting to begin this series with the start of that one: My Pretty Pony.
Before the smaller, colorful ponies that many of us are familiar with came the original My Pretty Pony. Released by Hasbro in 1981, she was designed by Bonnie Zacherle, who would go on to create the My Little Pony line.
My Pretty Pony has some big differences between the MLP line that would shortly follow. In addition to size (see what I did there?) MPP was made of a hard plastic. She has a downward pose that would be reproduced in the first MLP line (now often called Collector’s Pose), with all legs straight and together and her head fairly bowed. She also sports inset eyes that can open and close, and very thick soft lashes. Like the ponies that would follow, she had soft, thick, and brushable play hair. Original accessories included a hat, blanket, brush and comb, and hair ribbons.
The pony also has an internal mechanism triggered by the somewhat awkward but not awful lever on her chin. Pulling down as if you were giving your pony a chin scratch lets her blink her eye, wiggle her ears, and swish her tail.
Some versions of My Pretty Pony were brown, with white on the legs and face, and blonde hair. Other versions were more like the My Little Pony toys with a pink or blue/lavender body and symbols on the flanks. In fact those colorful versions would later be copied in the MLP line.
Because of the size and the hard plastic body, I personally find her to be something of an unwieldy toy. This might just be in direct comparison to the later ponies, but she seems a bit awkward to me- too big to hold in one hand and ‘gallop’ around, to round in the body for Barbie-size dolls to ride, and the downward facing expression limits imaginary ‘talking’ to me- you have to her at an odd angle to have her look in the ‘face’ of other toys. Not to mention the noticeable lever under the chin that would have really bothered me as a somewhat picky kid. That being said…
Those eyes! Oh my goodness, they are gorgeous. Mine are a beautiful pale green color and look like high quality, large doll eyes- they have a lovely soft expression that does really remind me of live horses. And the lashes are amazing- thick and soft. They eyes are weighted and so ‘sleep’ if you lay the pony down, and the blinking mechanism adds liveliness to her.
Also, the hair! Another high quality feature, the hair on my 35 year old toy that I found at a flea market for 3.00 (!) is soft, shiny, and thick. It is incredibly playable and I think perhaps a slightly different fiber than later My Little Ponys. The feel of it is soft and slippery and the strands are thicker than the MLPs that I have. It cleaned up easily when washed with shampoo and conditioner.
Finding Today and Things to Look For
As I mentioned above, I found my girl at a local flea for 3.00. She was pretty dirty and had no accessories, but was otherwise in good shape.
To find her you would need to hunt on sites like Ebay, or local thrifts and flea markets. The nice thing is My Pretty Pony isn’t nearly as well known as MLP, so in person you can often get these larger toys for very cheap. Finding her cheaper on an auction sight will be a little harder, but are still usually inexpensive. Just watch the shipping, as this is a bulkier item. A quick browse of Ebay sold prices put the brown MPP as going from between 15-40.00 depending on condition and accessories (not including shipping, searched 1/8/17). The more colorful versions sell for considerably more as they are not as common.
Common problems include the hair being dirty or cut, mechanism no longer working (very very common), and cracks in the body which can get quite brittle. You will also see the usual wear and tear of scuffs and scratches to the plastic, and stuck sleep eyes.
To Buy or Not to Buy
If you are an MLP fan and have the opportunity to pick on of these girls up I would recommend it. They are inexpensive and the toy that started My Little Pony! That being said it’s a larger toy and you’ll want to make sure you have room for it. The backstory, as well as the quality of the hair and eyes, make it a worthy purchase to me.