• Guardians of Harmony: Will it Last?

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    Illustrious Q is as surprised as I am. Hasbro recently unveiled a new toy line called “Guardians of Harmony”, which looks to bridge the gap between boy and girl merchandise. We as a fandom have been slowly looking towards Hasbro to release toys that didn’t always have a brush taped to the cardboard, so what does this mean with this new series? Let’s talk about cross-gendered toys and what this could mean for Hasbro and the fandom after the break. As usual, a video is at the bottom.

    I lightly touched upon this subject in one of my first editorials on Target and their removal of gender labels. It’s admittedly weird to see this sort of transformation after such a short period of time. I know to others it might feel like Hasbro is jumping on a train that has already left the station, but I’d say the train has been delayed for a good reason.

    Let’s face it, not a lot of people were going to expect the bronies to last this long. This rings doubly true for Hasbro, who seem to be as disconnected as they can be from the fandom. It’s DHX and the staff behind the show and comics that tend to give us the shout-outs. While we will probably never have public numbers that state how much money bronies spend on the toys, I’d imagine that parents and little girls have bought a majority of the ponies.

    I’d bet that the reason Hasbro has released these toys (apart from the obvious answer that is increased sales) is that they have allowed their licensees (Funko, 4DE, Enterplay) to dip their toes in the water over the past few years with an ever-expanding amount of “for everyone” products. We’ve seen Hot Topic vinyl figurines sell out, while the Trading and Collectible Card Games have expanded over the past two years. “Slice of Life” premiered to overwhelming praise while the comics and even the Season 5 finale have experimented with darker themes that Hasbro would have struck down years ago.

    All of these new ventures had the chance to bomb, and they didn’t. Hasbro is not in the business to sell ideas or art or something that’s esoteric. If they were, then "Littlest Pet Shop" wouldn’t have been cancelled. While I want to avoid characterizing this new toy line as “a reaction to the bronies”, the appearance of a boy in the promotional pictures as well as the lack of brushes and more “action figure” type of design seems to point towards a reaction to something. There’s usually a bunch of factors that correlate to and cause this type of reaction, but again, Hasbro has the sales charts and data, and we don’t.

    I severely doubt that Hasbro is debuting this toy line for any other reason than to sell toys, but that doesn’t make me ungrateful for what they are doing. I think of it much like the comics and vinyl figures: they’re expansions of what we’ve previously had. “Guardians of Harmony” can fail just like "Littlest Pet Shop". The question that should linger in the back of Hasbro’s (and all of our) minds should be whether or not this decision is ahead of its time.

    “Guardians of Harmony” can be as ground-breaking as it wants to be with both design and advertisements, but funneling a bunch of money into an idea is not going to promise its sales. People from outside the fandom still question me about the brony phenomenon (5 years later), which makes me wonder if the general public is going to write off all of these awesome designs as “girly” merchandise? I’m not positive on how someone shops for their younger girl or boy, but if these new Spike and Shining Armor figures are in the same aisle as the other Equestria Girls merchandise and pretty pink brushable ponies, then will this toy line be disregarded by the average shopper?

    With Target’s stance to remove gender labels on toys and Hasbro’s (apparent) desire to have diversified toys bought more often, I can’t be positive that the cultural standards behind “boy” and “girl” toys are being shattered or even challenged enough for “Guardians of Harmony” to be economically viable. The comics (or other branching media) for the toy line could bomb or be uninteresting, which would cripple the brony’s desire to buy the toys. A competitive replacement for this toy line could debut (such as a new Transformers generation) and dampen the Spike figure sales. There’s a lot that can go wrong, which makes this series a risk for Hasbro.

    Only time will tell if “Guardians of Harmony” will reach out or interest enough people to stay in circulation. I will certainly be buying a few when they debut just because their designs look visually appealing to me. These figures have the chance to be a mainstay in the toy aisle, alongside Equestria Girls dolls and vinyl figures at Hot Topic. Hopefully they sell well, so that we can get even more awesome poses and cannons next year.

    What do you guys think? Is there a market for these types of toys? Will you buy these toys even if the comics for this line are unappealing or bad? Leave them in the comments below. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week.