• HASCON: EQD First! Behind the Plastic

    WeAreBorg here with some highlights for a type of panel we've never covered before. A talk about pony toys with pony toy creators! This is one of the highlights of the convention. You'll see the movie, and you'll see the five or so EqG shorts we've spoiled, but for this one time the red tape, marketing managers, and 3rd party PR companies were pushed to the side for a face to face chat with the hands behind the plastic.

    Join me after the break for a look into mold...

    (Coconut Cream)

    Now as we all know the wonderful Bonnie Zacherle was the master mind behind the beginnings of My Little Pony which means the toys themselves. But do you know she designed almost every single one? She had planned for her little ponies to be black and brown and great for boys and girls but when pink and purple ponies started flying off the shelves ponies were destined for the pink isle. Bonnie wasn't alone. Working with her was a gentleman by the name of Kirk Hindman and was "the hands for Bonnie's vision." They sculpted those first toys out of foam and Bondo, clay, and a wax called Alpha Orange. Kirk would go on with MLP for a while and once made an animatronic pony that later became Pinkie Pie because his special rubber just happened to be pink.

    Bonnie will tell you about her difficulties pitching ponies to her bosses. It took her years and she about gave up. Between getting told that "little girls like to cook and clean and iron" for fun and giant, hard plastic horse, Bonnie's vision became a reality and eventually led to the ponies of today...

    (Coconut Cream)

    And speaking of today, a new team works hard, "embracing the magic of friendship" to work together to create pink Celestias pony toys for every age and gender. Andrea Egret, Yukon Hwang, and Kevin Evans all work on this new generation of pony plastic. While wax was used in the old days, the same sculpting talents are applied to 3D modeling to make toys. The same things we get excited about such as the Fan Series, the first MLP weapons, and articulating figures are what get them excited.

    Today's toys generally have an 18 month lead time, and while sometimes the show may include a toy, like Twilight's balloon in season 1, sometimes it's the other way around with something or somepony in the show resonating with fans. When that happens their usual 18 month lead time between concept and production can shorten to 12 months or less. It's all up to the project mangers to keep the artists, modelers and creators on time.

    Being able to get those fan reactions to make toys or being able to test out products is great but sometimes when you shake things up enough, such as with the My Little Pony: The Movie, you don't know how the toys will perform and the stakes are high.

    At the end of the panel they were asked a few questions from the audience. Like why there weren't many male pony toys, which is, or course, most everyone's favorite pony is a mare!

    They were also grilled about the "Hasbro Disease" where ponies are 'afflicted' and only have one cutie mark, which came down to the bottom line. "The pennies add up" when printing two sided.

    Throughout the panel they were asked "what about this toy idea" or "why none of this character" and while it may come down to only being able to produce so many toys a season, these guy's lips were shut tight. Kinda, in reality they would get really excited and go "you mean like..." or a gasp or groaning as if about to explode. While it's easy to see why they can't talk about what's coming, It turns out they can't even talk about the toys that never make it as sometimes, those toys come out after all! Often when exploring ideas they revisit old ones and "bring out the dead" to review older concepts and some of those make it. One of the panelists about exploded when someone mentioned a MLP themed line of Nerf guns. Fluttershy may have a new way to tame animals soon....

    Before the panel came to an end I asked about why the Fan Series was branded with Guardians of Harmony as a single roll out since they were models and not action figures. It turns out it was because they wanted a single marketing push of the latest and greatest of toys that break the barriers of gender and age. Pretty good reason. Also I learned a guy with a huge red beard was the genius who put the light windows on top of the Fan Series packaging.

    As a huge MLP collector, it was one of the best panels of any con I've been able to attend.

    Also, turns out they read my toy reviews....sorry about the peaches Celestia.