"The 80's/Anime Twist!"
Why is it that anime is meeting up with the plastic icons of the 80's? I have several theories as to why Sailor Moon has met up with My Little Pony and why anime and the toy of the 80's. Constantly, I find people assimilating the toys of the 80's into anime style (which I think is a fabulous idea) and reintroducing them to those who were not fortunate enough to be a child or a teenager at the time.
Where did the anime fall into place? Hmmmm... It could be the large, glittering expressionate eyes, the almost sickeningly (I mean that affectionately *L*) cute spectrum of colors anime animators love to bombard you with, and the way they can turn basically any type of character into something so charming that they'll eventually win you over.
Anime also has the tendency to be less superficial than most American cartoons. The characters have a whole spectrum of emotions and usually come complete with backgrounds, families, and their own individual personality. Even their villians have a soft side and are well aware of what love and compassion is, but it's usually a troubled past that led them to be evil.
One of the theories was that there were already anime cartoons and toys in the 80's such as the Thundercats, Voltron, Hello Kitty, and many others. This would make the transition smoother and since everyone by now has a taste for anime, especially now since American television and toy stores are rapidly accepting the current Pokemon/Digimon/anime craze. The return of Sanrio's charm and the recent addition ofThe Power Puff Girls, too, could be a major factor as far as younger audiences are concerned.
Another theory is the cute factor theory. What are usually the things you see in your mind when you hear the words "Sailor Moon" and "My Little Pony"? More than likely you see hearts, stars, glittering objects, and cute characters with interesting backgrounds.
Hearts, stars, glittering objects, and cute characters with interesting backgrounds basically describes a good sized chunk of the 80's for little kids. I can think of a few toys that involved hearts, stars, and such like My Little Pony, Moon Dreamers, Herself the Elf, Care Bears, Glo Worms, Rainbow Brite, Rose Petal Place, and a whole mess of other cuties.
Anime's basic theme: Trust your heart, believe in your friends, and don't give them anything with too much sugar.
The theme of the toys of the 80's: Trust your heart, believe in your friends, and you can never have enough things that glow in the dark, sparkle, and glitter.
Back to Top
"My Little Pony Craze"
What's round in the middle, walks on four legs, wears ribbons and lace, comes in many colors, and had large round eyes? Well, practically all the animal toys of the 80's, but the one I'm addressing is My Little Pony. What was the charm of this little soft vinyl toy that made children drag their unwilling parents into the toy store to get one? I can tell, first hand, you what wove the magick.
When they first sought out to create a new toy, they questioned little girl after little girl of what they were fond of most - and most replied horses. What fascinates children about horses? Possibly their magestic shape, their large, expressionate eyes, and the one things most little girls adore - long hair!
With that, My Little Pony was born. The first designs were simple enough, dots, butterflies, flower print, and raindrops. They had a passive pose with their heads pointed down as if grazing, fat middles, and large feet. A typical real pony pose. But somewhere along the line, they realized that fantasy colors should allow more character into these toys. And that's precisely what happened.
There was an explosion of new ideas, colors, symbols, and pony characters all throughout the decade. Their charm also increased, almost every little girl (and some boys, too!) had at least one or several. They had a wide range of poses. There were soon unicorns, pegasus, and even boy ponies! Their hair got longer, their eyes became more colorful, there were all sorts of pony variations. From Sweetheart Sisters to Tropical Ponies to Baby Drink and Wet ponies, they tried everything.
They all came with a ribbon and a comb, it's the little accessories that help with the charm. I remember the Speedy I had came with little rollerskates. Each pony had symbol specific personalities and matching accessories. Mixing and matching things was a favorite past-time.
But what made them so popular, even through their changes, stages, and new colors? Their pastel packaging is a real charmer, personally speaking, that fat smiling sun, their pony rainbow, and the fantasy colors of the pastel rainbow. Recieving toys in their brand new packaging, spying them through their blister bubble with their accessories all neatly lain out beside them, is probably the biggest thrill of all. Playing with them, making them part of your childhood, is the second big event that adds to the charm. When you used to buy another or get another for your birthday or Christmas made you think "Great! Another to my collection! Now (pony name) has someone new to play with!"
Back to Top
"What Went Wrong"
I have my theories as to why the new version (1997-98) of My Little Pony did not sell as well as expected. The first and most obvious reason that when they finally did bring MLP's out of retirement, the next generation was so unlike the old ones that the people who had petitioned and requested their return responded with mixed emotion.
Is this a real My Little Pony?
Why is even the logo different?
Why are they so thin?
How come they don't have more hair?
Why do they have recycled names?
Where is the pegasus?
By now everyone has asked at least one of these questions, whether they accepted the newer ones or not. They are attractive in their own way, but they are clearly not designed the way they originally had been. To the younger generation, these changes are easily accepted. The images on the boxes, the drawings and illustrations, and the stories are fresh and new. So what's not to like about them?, you wonder. Well, I can find a few things that didn't give this line the charm the previous generations did.
Other than the new look, the only boy looked exactly like the girls. There was not even one attempt to create him again as a bean bag figure or as part of a playset. He is probably or will probably be among the rarest to find in the future, he did have a typo on his card, I'm not sure if there were even any newer ones made with this typo corrected. Poor Clover, he should've gotten more spotlight.
They are so small that they can't really be held the same way you can hold an original. Their heads may swivel unlike the old pose, but a non-swivelling head was a small price to pay for a pony made of soft plastic with more room for designs and plenty more hair for you to braid and comb. One of the main reasons MLP was created was for little girls to have plenty of hair to brush, comb, and style. Their bodies were larger and plump, making it easier for little kids to handle and they weren't as easily misplaced.
Their eyes may sparkle, but you'd have to look very closely. They've seemed to have lost their classic, "I'm looking at you with love" glance and have taken on a bold, "I'm not really staring at anything" stare. As a fantasy/cartoon artist I can tell you that it's all in the eyes. If their eyes have depth and detail, people are generally forgiving about the rest of the creature. MLP had large eyes to emphasize the child-like features that bring on a nuturing "take care of me, mommy" feel. They were designed wholly as fat, round little creatures because that, too, represents childhood qualities found in humans - ie, little babies with round, rosy cheeks, large eyes, round tummy and behind, and curly locks of hair.
The newer MLP's expressed none of these traits and only emphasized on the story behind them, which means they are probably bought by older children or die hard collectors. My guess for the future is that now that the newer MLP's are only available in the UK, American and collectors from other countries will have to either buy them off EBay (that often sells items for way more than they're actually worth according to a price guide) or order them off the Hasbro site online.
There will probably be no cartoons or movies made from this line. I've no idea how well the interactive CD-Rom game went upon its release. There will probably not be any pegasi or unicorns other than Princess Silver Swirl created.
Back to Top
"Ideas for the Revival of Classic My Little Pony"
If it's policy they're worried about, they'll never revive MLP's. When I wrote to Mattel years back about a suggestion for a new type of Barbie, the response was that they basically tooks your ideas "placed them in a box and put them away". Consumer/fan suggestions were not accepted on the grounds that they would have to give you some sort of credit. I give my suggestions for free and my suggestions just may be the opinion of the majority.
I have many ideas that could resurrect and repopularize the MLP, one of them being to - *gasp!* - accept the suggestions of the fans. If they had any idea how much money people pay for classic MLP's on EBay, they would realize that some of that money could possibly go for buying new MLP's with a classic appearance. They don't necessarily do everything people suggest, but rather take a tally on what almost everyone would like to see and play on the majority as far as colors, designs, poses, hair styles, and type of ponies brought back out.
It could very well be that after so many years that they lost the factory molds, but considering the last ponies were created in 1993 there should be at least a few molds still available out there. I know for certain there are artists and sculptors that have far more resources now to create the protype figures and molds than there could've been in the early 80's. If Hasbro owns the rights to MLP how could they possibly be violating copyright on themselves by attempting to re-create the older poses? And if they can't, new poses with the classic look would still be really something.
It is virtually impossible to run out of individual character ideas, I know this due to the fact that there's a monthly e-mailed newsletter specifically for MLP collectors packed with fan created fiction with "invento-ponies" or ponies that were never created but probably should have been. With all the new colors and styles of 2000, I sincerly doubt they would have a problem thinking up names and color schemes. Anything from Retro to Goth colors are accepted by modern toy collectors, those who collect Pokemon and Digimon should know this.
If they were to take in instead of push away the input of collectors and toy fans, perhaps they would realize that by listening to the consumer that they'd actually profit. If it's money that they're so concerned about, my prediction is that if they took a look at all the sites on the internet that specialize on MLP alone that there are many, many people into them - including myself.
Back to Top
"Case of the Missing Classics, 90's Nostalgia?"
As I walk through the toy aisles of the local Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and even some toy stores I notice something missing. Instant classics. Sad to say, most of the toys that aren't Barbie or action figures will never be seen or heard from again. This gets me wondering? What will the next generation, those younger kids who have "90's nostalgia" webpages (feeling old yet?) feature on their websites?
Perhaps things like Pokemon, Digimon, Ty Beanie Babies, Tamagochi, Nanopets, Furby, and all of their spin-offs. But are those just fads and not classics? Only time will tell what toy collectors of tomorrow will look back on and say "What ever happened to those?" Will they be embarassed when they recall their crush on the boys from N'Sync, Backstreet, and all the mass of girl/boy bands the same way a lot of the people of the 80's were with the New Kids on the Block?
Will their toys be something you can't really dress up, brush, cuddle, or buy playsets for? Will they lose interest in them after their microchips tarnish, their gears wear down, and the batteries run dry? And am I beginning to sound like those kind of people that sit on the front porch and do nothing but relate things now to "the good old days"? Scary thought!
Something I feel missing about a lot of these toys is ambiance. I feel that Tamagotchi's protege was Pokemon and Digimon which have pretty definite ambiance because of their nature, toys designed after an idea where you control a pet be it digital or not that evolves, grows, and changes when there comes a time of need. Not to mention that they're Japanese anime influence is pretty impressive. These will more than likely meet or earn the ranks that the Transformers, Voltron, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had for the 80's.
Furby didn't have much ambiance, not much information on their world, no real personalities beyond what was encrypted in their gears, and they eat batteries like we breathe air. Ty Beanie Babies, they have a strange way of growing on you, I've noticed. I feel they make better presents than they do "buy-for-yourself" toys and they are also fun for little kids to learn how to handle an investment.
It's comforting to know that Hello Kitty isn't about to fade at any time, not with her new friends and seemingly unending source of rainbows, flowers, hearts, and stars. Sailor Moon will probably be a topic on all the nostalgia pages for the children of the 90's and will more than likely join the Sanrio ranking.
As for things that could join the ranks of Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, Sea Wees/Shimmers, Charmkins, Glo Worms, Rainbow Brite and Care Bears.... I've yet to see anything as charming as they were so far.
So here I've come up with the following equation, that basically says, "What THIS is to THEM, is what THAT was to US."
N'Sync, Backstreet Boys, etc. = New Kids on the Block
Pokemon, Digimon = Voltron, Ninja Turtles, Transformers
Sailor Moon = Hello Kitty
Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, My Little Pony, Rainbow Brite = none so far
Back to Top
"Thra Lives! (The Realm of the Crystal)"
It's always been my belief that there will never ever be anyone with the creative style and talent of Jim Henson. His collaborations with Brian Froud produced two of the most beautifully portrayed movies of the 80's - Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal.
Of the two, The Dark Crystal was their biggest endevour. It was human free and sheer brilliance. My only complaint; they never showed enough! How could you possibly cram so much beautiful workmanship and dedicated puppetry into only ninety-some minutes of footage? You can't! It was wrong! It always left me wanting more! Okay, I'll calm down now and get to my list of wants and needs.
What was needed was more insight other than "You have to heal the Dark Crystal." It's a pretty hard concept to follow for first-time viewers, despite the narration. Either you're listening to the narrator or you're watching the captivating scenery. It's been my exeperience that you can't quite concentrate on both and if it weren't for VHS, you couldn't rewind to catch details.
I had to sit there and tell my friends who were watching it for the first time what the deal was with Jen and Kira when they were dreamfasting. They don't go into *any* detail about their parents or why they were destroyed until the scene where the Skeksis talk about the prophecy and then only again after the Chamberlain tries to trick Kira and Jen which is halfway into the film.
My biggest complaint about the VHS edition is it should have been letterboxed and they should've included bonus footage of the Skesis funeral. My complaint about the DVD edition is it's super hard to find and when you find it, expect to pay twenty-plus dollars for it.
What I'm about to say next is in by no means complaining, however. This belongs in my list of "Need to See Done". First, off, I wish wish wish! that materials for this movie weren't so elusive. Hopefully the Odessey Channel will be merciful enough to bless us all with a reairing of "The Making of The Dark Crystal". The book "The World of the Dark Crystal" cost me well over one hundred dollars, it was limited to only one-thousand copies and I was fortunate enough to have the chance to get it. I couldn't possibly stress more to reprint this magnificent book and to show people just how in depth the planet of Thra really is!
Did you know the props and puppets for this movie are sitting in a warehouse? It's enough to make you cry. No prequel (for it was a rumor), no sequel, ne'er a plan for one, once bitten?? I say, "No way!" They went through so much trouble for this movie. They even had a whole new language developed for this movie that never got used! It was supposed to be a Star Wars-type epic complete with subtitles, backgrounds, histories, Gelfling cities built of stone unlike the stones of this Earth. Aughra was as old as the planets, the podlings lived in giant seeds! See what I'm talking about? There are tons of things about this movie that the world is doomed not to know about! Can't *something* be done? What's worse is even the fan sites are slowly fading... "In a blur of forgetfulness."
Back to Top