"My Little Pony" was created in 1982 by American illustrator and designer Bonnie Zacherle. Working with sculptor Charles Muenchinger and manger Steve D'Aguanno, Zacherle submitted a design patent in August 1981 for an ornamental design for a toy animal. The patent was granted in August 1983, when she began working for Hasbro. The original toy line ran from 1983 to 1995 (1992 in the US), and inspired animated specials, an animated feature length film and three animated television series.
The My Little Pony "generations" refer to toy lines, as classified by collectors. Their accompanying animated features fall into these generations by date.
The original line of My Little Pony began with the Earth Ponies in 1982. The Earth Ponies were later followed by Pegasus Ponies, Unicorn Ponies, Flutter Ponies and Sea Ponies. Flutter Ponies were smaller and thinner than Pegasus Ponies, and had fluttering wings. Windy Wing and the Summer Wing Ponies were smaller than the Flutter Ponies and were proportioned in a similar way, with larger, butterfly-like wings. The Sea Ponies resembled seahorses, and were produced as both adults and babies. There were also male ponies called 'Big Brother Ponies', which had slightly larger bodies and feathered hooves resembling those of Clydesdale horses.
Many different sets of Little Ponies were produced, the first of which were the Rainbow Ponies in 1983; other variations included the So-Soft Ponies (covered in flocking), Twinkle-Eyed Ponies, which had small rhinestones in their eyes, Twice-As-Fancy Ponies with patterns covering most of the body, Brush 'n' Grow Ponies, which had a longer-than-usual mane and tail stored inside the body, Pony Friends, other animals designed in the same style as the ponies, such as a lion, giraffe, kangaroo and zebra, among others, and Baby Ponies, some of which were smaller versions of previously-released ponies (their mothers). An animated television series, My Little Pony, ran from 1986 to 1987. The first generation of My Little Ponies were sold in the U.S. until 1992, but continued internationally until 1995. The final year of sales in the U.S. was advertised as the "celebration year" of My Little Pony.
My Little Pony Tales
My Little Pony Tales is a cartoon that premiered on US television on July 3, 1992. The main characters were female ponies named Starlight, Sweetheart, Melody, Bright Eyes, Patch, Clover and Bon Bon. Many of the episodes featured these characters attending school, having fun with friends and dating. The last episode aired on US television on December 25, 1992. No My Little Pony Tales DVDs were released in the United States, but they are sold in the United Kingdom and Australia.
The second My Little Pony line was introduced in 1997 and are known as "Generation Two" (G2) or "Friendship Garden Ponies." They were manufactured in redesigned poses with jewel eyes and turning heads and were smaller, slimmer, and longer-legged than their 1982 counterparts. The line was not successful in the U.S. and was discontinued in 1999, although it continued overseas for several years. Most were Earth Ponies, but a few unicorns were made internationally. Although no Pegasus Ponies were made, some adults had clip-on wings. In the early 2000s, several unicorns with clip-on wings (called the Magic Unicorns) were made. Two baby ponies were introduced, and none of the baby ponies were sold in the U.S.
The third incarnation of My Little Pony began in 2003 and is generally referred to Generation Three (G3). Hasbro released only Earth Ponies from 2003 to 2005, Pegasus Ponies in 2005 and Unicorn Ponies in 2006. The ponies live in Ponyville, which is centered around Celebration Castle. Many original ponies have been re-released in different poses or outfits. Most ponies in the line have shiny or pearly bodies and matte symbols resembling tattoos on one side, known as "cutie marks". Early G3 ponies have a magnet in one hoof, used to activate playset items. These magnets are fairly strong, and can damage electrical equipment and appliances with prolonged contact.
Generation 3.5 (Core 7)
In 2009 Hasbro redesigned the My Little Pony characters, and limited the ponies to seven main characters: Cheerilee, Toola-Roola, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle and Starsong. The ponies' bodies were shrunk, their heads were larger and their eyes took on a more innocent, childlike appearance. The hair styles of these ponies were also changed, and many relationships were altered in an effort to give the ponies more personality. For example, Cheerilee became Scootaloo's older sister.
The fourth and current incarnation of My Little Pony began in 2010 and is generally referred to Generation Four (G4). It features eight characters tied into the TV show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, which airs on The Hub: Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rarity, Spike the Dragon and Princess Celestia. Set in Equestria, the show centers around the unicorn pony Twilight Sparkle as she learns lessons about friendship. Most of the ponies on the show were designed by animator Lauren Faust, who also developed the show for television. Faust has also worked on other cartoons, most notably as a storyboard artist on Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Codename: Kids Next Door and The Powerpuff Girls.