My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Pinkie Pie Slumber Party Bedroom Set and Cartoon Review

We were mistakenly sent this My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Minis Pinkie Pie Slumber Party Bedroom Set.

We have recently discovered the awesomeness of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (FiM). I was keen to check out some of the toys and we were supposed to be reviewing one with the FiM version of Pinkie Pie – however we received this one instead.

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls - Pinkie Pie Slumber Party Bedroom Set packaging

We hadn’t watched the Equestria Girls spin-off yet – and to be honest, I wasn’t keen to. The concept transforms the familiar FiM pony characters into girls at High School, and seems similar to many other tween properties – including issues surrounding the sexualisation of young girls.

But despite communicating my lack of enthusiasm, they were still keen for us to review the toy. Before we did I thought we should at least check out the tie-in cartoon, which – like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic – is available on Netflix.

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls review

The My Little Pony: Equestria Girls cartoon is currently a series of feature length TV movies. A direct spin-off from Friendship is Magic, the set-up involves Twilight Sparkle and Spike heading through a mirror portal to another world, to retrieve her stolen crown – or else the elements of harmony that protect Equestria will no longer do so. This will either sound crazy or as expected depending of how much FiM you have watched.

This ‘other world’ is much like ours, with human-like characters and a high school setting. Twilight Sparkle and Spike respectively transform into human and dog versions of themselves and undertake a mission to find the crown. The thief is masquerading as a girl at a local high school, and human Twilight finds it populated with some familiar faces from Equestria – only now they’re human.

This first film (of three) is made and voiced by the same team as Friendship is Magic – and many of the things I love about that show are present: the focus on female friendships; the magic and adventure theme; the individual characters.

But by almost literally humanising the characters, something special has been lost. While fairly true to their pony versions, they now have real-world high school interests. This concept limits the characters, so for instance instead of the colourfully adventurous speed freak Rainbow Dash (our favourite), she becomes simply a sporty type instead.

But most troubling, the look of the characters – while being on the surface coyly cute – seems deliberately sexualised. All the girls have the same combo of short skirts, long bare legs, and tight fitting tops. The relative conformity of their look reminds me of the peer pressure to dress a certain way – which increasingly for young girls can involve a move towards sexualisation and objectification, whether they realise it or not.

As well as what they wear, the plots also include boys, parties, and music. The trappings of modern Tween mass media overwhelm much of what makes Friendship is Magic such a great show for kids. I also can’t help but think that the rise of the Brony – the young males who are enthusiastic MLP fans – has in some way influenced this sexualised schoolgirl look.

It’s fair to say the enthusiasm I had for Friendship is Magic has not been replicated towards Equestria Girls.

So, on to the toy….

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Minis – Pinkie Pie Slumber Party Bedroom Set

The toys are of course the real reason this spin-off line exists. This set is one of the  Equestria Girls Minis – as their name suggests, they are smaller than the standard sized dolls. The sexualised look is not quite as obvious in these smaller versions.

My Little Pony Equestria Girls Minis figures dolls
My Little Pony Equestria Girls Minis from the packaging artwork.

If your kid (or you) is a fan of the Equestria Girls series, and especially the teenage girl version of Pinkie Pie, then this is a fine set to get.

It features a posable figure of Pinkie Pie, the high school party planner. As befits the slumber party scene, she is dressed in PJ’s with slippers. The playset features numerous essential slumber party accessories such as a bed, a laptop, and smartphone…

Who are My Little Pony: Equestria Girls for?

Other than my suspicion of appealing to the Brony market, perhaps this spin-off does serve another purpose?

Obviously, it’s an attempt to sell more My Little Pony toys, probably to an older market. But I can also see it as a way of continuing engagement with the themes and ideals of Friendship is Magic when children get older, and the focus of their lives changes from childhood fantasy to pre-teen high school reality.

So as the trappings of impending teenage life – such as how they dress, forming intimate relationships, and navigating the school hierarchy & cliques – takes over, it could continue to encourage and reinforce the positive messages of Friendship is Magic.

But for now Equestria Girls is not something I will encourage my pre-school daughter to engage with, whether onscreen or through play. We’ll happily stick to life in Equestria and the residents of Ponyville.

====

Disclosure:

We received this toy free of charge (and in error). After watching the cartoon, I decided not to give it to my daughter for the purposes of this review.

I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam program. Our household receives free Netflix for a year and I post about how our family uses the service.
====

Family Fever

Toy Review: Marvel Super Hero Micro Mashers

These Marvel Super Hero Micro Mashers are pint-sized versions (2.5″) of the standard sized Mashers line (6″). Hasbro’s Mashers line, which are where Marvel, Star Wars, and Transformers action figures that are designed to come apart anb be combined to create cross character and property mash-ups.

The Marvel Super Hero Micro Mashers come in 2-packs, and we received two sets – Hulk vs Loki, and Captain America vs Iron Skull (Red Skull with armour).

As you can see, there are only male characters in these sets. In fact there are only male characters in the entire Hasbro Mashers line.

The lack of female Hero Mashers could be because it was deemed troubling to mix male and female characters in mash-ups; Perhaps excluding female characters was seen as making it easier to market the line to boys; Maybe the female characters were deemed to not be popular enough? Whatever the reasoning, the lack of female figures in all of Hasbro’s Hero Mashers line is obvious and unfortunate, as they are missing out some great characters.

Marvel Super Hero Micro Mashers
The Marvel Super Hero Mashers Micro series – like their larger counterparts – only feature male characters. This could be because it was deemed troubling to mix male and female characters in mash-ups, or another reason. This doesn’t preclude little girls from playing with them.

The look of the Marvel Super Hero Mashers Micro figures is very cartoony, but overtly inspired by their big screen MCU counterparts. My daughter hasn’t seen The Avengers movies yet, but has seen the first Thor and Captain America ones. She also has a few clothing items with the characters on.

While she also hasn’t seen the Hulk in any of his live action or cartoon versions – he is still probably one of her favourite characters. She plays with a few of my old Hulk collectables, and she has had a large posable Hulk on her wall since she was a baby. Green is also her favourite colour.

So he was the most important character draw to her. While she had some fun pulling the apart and recombining, she mostly enjoyed putting them back together the way they should be.

The figures lack most points of articulation, and the playability comes from being able to swap parts – which are basically the hands and heads, as well as some accessories. The only parts that move are at the joins with the removable parts.

Some of the Marvel Super Hero Mashers Micro figures come with specific accessories, such as Captain America’s shield, or Loki’s staff. The packs also include what I can only describe as additional action limbs, such as Cap’s shield with some energy around it, Red Skull with a Hydra weapon, and Hulk has a large translucent green fist. While these add a little interest, they are so oversized that most of the figures can’t stand up properly with them, because they are so imbalanced. It’s likely that these are intended for use more with the standard Mashers line (as these Micro Mashers are compatible).

Who are Marvel Super Hero Micro Mashers for?

If you or your kid like pulling your dolls and figures apart, and creating mash-up characters, these could be the toys for you. However, my daughter’s biggest criticism was that the legs don’t come apart like the arms – and in fact don’t even move at all.

That’s one of the drawbacks of this budget Micro line – they might be ok as mash-up fodder, but offer limited playability as action figures. And no matter how creative your mash-ups are, you still won’t be able to come up with a female character.

Marvel Super Hero Micro Mashers in pieces, Marvel Super Hero Mashers Micro Figure 2 Pack, Captain America and Red Skull, Hulk and Loki
If you or your kid like pulling your toys apart then these Marvel Super Hero Mashers Micro could be the toys for you

=====

Disclosure: We were given these toys free of charge for the purposes of this review.

Family Fever

 

Mens Jeans – Win a £30 House of Fraser Gift Voucher

If there’s one item of clothing that gets regular usage in the wardrobe of a stay-at-home dad it has to be the pair of jeans.

Yes, I know mums wear them too – but the iconic blue denim apparel is de rigour if you’re a dad with the kids, whether you’re at the park,  in a cafe, or on the floor playing LEGO – jeans are ubiquitous.

As summer approaches, many will ditch their jeans to give their legs an airing, but not me. I can be seen in jeans all year round. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

To promote their range of Mens Jeans, House of Fraser are offering you the chance to win a £30 gift voucher.

They’re even keen to make sure that men are wearing the right type of jeans for their body shape – why not check out the video on their site before you enter the giveaway. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

This is a sponsored post.

====

Are jeans a vital part of your wardrobe? Let me know in the comments below.

Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Bake Recipe (with Cherry Tomatoes and Chilli)

This Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Bake (with Cherry Tomatoes and Chilli) is a ridiculously easy family meal, that can be put together with store cupboard ingredients if needs be.

This is a vegetarian dish that should satisfy most meat eaters. I tend to have meat or seafood with every dinner, but find that iron rich spinach is one ingredient I prefer in vegetarian dishes only (such as Spinach & Feta pie and Fiorintina Pizza).

The key to a good pasta bake is to undercook the pasta prior to baking in the oven, where it will finish cooking.

Serves 4-6

Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Bake Recipe

Ingredients

  • 400g  pasta (large tubes such as Rigatoni work best)
  • 250ml tub of ricotta cheese
  • 500g  frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
  • Grating of  nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 500-700ml sieved tomatoes (Passata)
  • 1 tsp chili flakes, or finely chopped red chilli
  • 1 tsp  dried basil
  • 1 tsp  dried oregano
  • 1 tsp rosemary (finely chopped)
  • 250g Cherry Tomatoes
  • Parmesan (to taste)
  • Breadcrumbs (from a slice or two)
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  1. In a large saucepan, cook the pasta to 2 mins less than al dente – usually about 4 mins under packet instructions.
  2. Mix in Riccotta, spinach, and nutmeg, then add the cherry tomatoes.
  3. At the same time, in a medium pan on a medium heat, fry the garlic and chilli in a little olive oil for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the Passata and herbs, stir in, and keep on the lowest heat.
  5. Place the pasta mixture in a baking dish, and then spoon over the tomato sauce to completely cover.
  6. Top with breadcrumbs and grated parmesan.
  7. Bake at 180c/350F for 25-35 mins.
  8. Remove from oven, and leave to settle for a few minutes. The pasta will absorb more flavour and liquid, and will lead to a firmer texture of pasta bake.

=====
Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman movie tie-in Schleich figurines

These figurines tie in with the characters appearance in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) movies, such as Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. They are from the Anglo-German company Schleich who also make animals, dinosaurs, and Smurfs, among others – as well as DC Superheroes.

These are small figures, about 4 inches or 10 cm high, roughly the height of a Star Wars figure – but these are figurines, so they have no articulation.

Batman Superman Wonder Woman Schleich figurines Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice toys
Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman Schleich figurines compared to their onscreen counterparts they’re based on in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

The body sculpts are good, with lots of fine details on the outfits especially. The paint jobs are ok – a few liberties have been taken with the colours, and some details look a little rough in places. These are cheaper than their equivalent action figures though, so perhaps that’s to be expected.

Unlike the other DC Superhero figurines Schleich make, these movie tie-in ones also attempt bear the likeness of the actors playing the characters. Some are more successful than others.

Superman Wonder Woman Batman Schleich figurines

Batman looks close enough to Ben Affleck’s caped crusader, which is also reminiscent the iconic 1980’s The Dark Knight Returns look. Superman looks a lot like Henry Cavill, which is a strike against it in my books (I’m not a fan of his interpretation of Superman). It also has an unfortunate paint job which makes him look rather perplexed – as well as having a pretty pasty complexion (compared to Wonder Woman especially). The Superman figure also appears to be leaning back a lot, seemingly weighed down by his flowing cape.

It could be argued that the Wonder Woman figure is the least successful likeness-wise. However, I really like the way this figure looks – it has a less skinny and stronger looking frame than Gal Gadot (especially compared to the packaging artwork), and her face has more classically Mediterranean in look, in keeping with Wonder Woman’s greek origins.

Gal Gadot Wonder Woman toy compare
This Wonder Woman tie-in toy looks very little like Gal Gadot – especially compared to the packaging artwork.

The Wonder Woman figurine seems to be based very specifically on the first promo image of Gal Gadot as the character.

Gal Gadot Wonder Woman Schleich Figurine
The Wonder Woman figure’s pose closely resembles that of the first promo image of Gal Gadot as the character, released in 2014.

Perhaps because it’s based on this early image, where the outfit’s colours were unclear, some license has been taken with the figurine’s colours. It is a shame that the vibrant blue and red colours of the Superman figure are not repeated in the Wonder Woman paint job, where those colours become pale blue and pink!

Batman V Superman – Dawn of Wonder Woman merchandise

I love the amount of Wonder Woman products we are finally seeing in the shops. For so many years, she has been an obvious omission from the shelves among all the Batman and Superman toys.

I am yet to be convinced about Wonder Woman’s movie outfit, but I am still to see it fully in action. I miss the vibrant primary colours of her classic costume, here looking more like a less earthy Xena Warrior Princess. But seeing Wonder Woman portrayed as a strong, proud, and athletic character is great.

girl playing with Wonder Woman and Batman v Superman Schleich figurines
These figurines, while lacking articulation, provide ample opportunity for character based imaginative role play.

My daughter likes the figures. I was worried the lack of articulation would mean her interest would wane quickly, but she is enjoying lots of imaginative role play with them. Coupled with her other sets of this trio (such as this one and this one), it is firmly established in her head that Wonder Woman is as important a part of this team as Batman and Superman.

Perhaps even more so – as far as she’s concerned Wonder Woman is stronger, cleverer, and has greater leadership skills than either Batman or Superman. Who am I to argue with that?

=====


Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice ©2016 WARNER BROS. ENT. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Disclaimer: We were provided with these figurines free of charge for the purposes of this review.

Family Fever