My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Sugarcube Corner toy review

After finally taking the plunge and watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic with my daughter, it remains a staple in our household. More often than not, it’s the answer to my question to our daughter “What do you feel like watching?”.

Visually, Pinkie Pie was probably my least favourite Pony. One of the six friends who make up the core group of the show, she is just so… pink!

But the thing is, her character is far from stereotypically girly. While she loves all things party related, she is also something that female characters are rarely allowed to be – funny.

More than that, she’s goofy, silly, whacky… Her character is the source of much physical humour, and she is rightly adored by many children – and not just because she’s pink, but because she makes them laugh.

This set is from the bakery and sweet shop where her character works. As well as Pinkie Pie, this also has another pony called Cheese Sandwich (!) and various accessories such as plastic cakes and balloons.

Included are items specifically for Pinkie Pie to be the loon we love – a ball to balance on, a propeller hat, a fake moustache, and even a rubber chicken. She also has her pet gator Gummy.

MLP Friendship is Magic Sugarcube Corner Sweet Shoppe with Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich
My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Sugarcube Corner Sweet Shoppe toy

As a toy, it doesn’t really do anything. Other than some doors opening, there are no moving parts. Even the figures are just figurines, with no articulation. I can’t imagine someone who hasn’t seen the show thinking much of it.

However, as a tool for imaginative play for children who do know the show, this works fine. I’m glad that the Pinkie Pie figure here is depicted as lovably goofy as her onscreen persona – I have noticed that many MLP toys do not reflect the tone of the vibrant tone of the show.

Pinkie Pie is a character who wants to make people happy, and this set certainly made my daughter happy.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Sugarcube Corner has an RRP of £19.99.

=====

Disclosure: We received this product free of charge for the purposes of this review.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Toy Assortment review

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has become a popular show in our house. My daughter loves watching it, and I was happily surprised at what an empowering show for girls it is.

While in many superficial ways it seem to embody some of the worst aspects of a brand targeted to girls, the TV series is a wonderfully vibrant and feminist show.

The world of Equestria – and especially the characters – offer such a rich resources for Imaginative play, that these toys – despite again appearing stereotypically girly – enable a child to act out themes and scenarios inspired by the show.

We were sent an assortment of toys to review – a blind bag, Twilight Sparkle’s Ice Cream Stand, and a Mrs Dazzle Cake figure and accessories.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Toy Assortment review packshots

Twilight Sparkle’s Ice Cream Stand

With her love of books and knowledge, Twilight Sparkle is one of my favourite characters on the show.

However, instead of a library here she is running an Ice Cream stand. Not sure of the relevance to the character, but hey – most of us like a good ice cream. In the set you get a Twilight figure, the ice cream stand, and a couple of what seem to be ice cream cakes.

It’s simple, and the best thing about it is that it’s Twilight Sparkle.

Twilight Sparkle’s Ice Cream Stand has an RRP of £9.99

Mrs Dazzle Cake

I was confused about who Mrs Dazzle Cake was, until I realised she is the character Mrs. Cup Cake. With her husband Mr. Carrot Cake, she runs Ponyville’s Sugarcane Corner bakery and sweet shop.

This set comes with a hint of that shop – a counter, cupcakes in a baking tray, and a fully decorated cake, to accompany Mrs. ‘Dazzle’ Cake. It’s part of a collection related to the pony Pinkie Pie, who works for Mrs. Cake.

There’s not much to this, but it’s a perfectly fine addition to any existing collection.

Mrs. Dazzle Cake has an RRP of £4.99

My Little Pony Blind Bags

Be careful. These blind bags are a potential money pit.

For those who don’t know, the concept is you can buy a series of collectable toys individually. However, instead of being able to choose which toy of the set you buy, your purchase is ‘blind’, in a sealed packet until you open it after purchase.

So while a collector may want just a few of these, you have to keep buying them blind until you get the ones you want. Same if you want the whole set. You may end up spending a lot of cash doing this.

Of course, there are also trades to be made – something that is a lot easier in this digital age than swapping Star Wars cards in the playground as I did when I was a kid.

The figure is compatible with the other figures, so again they make a decent addition to a collection.

My Little Pony blind bags have an RRP of £1.99 each.

=====

Disclosure: We received all these toys from Hasbro for the purposes of this review.

 

 

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

 

Review: Battle Action Millennium Falcon from Star Wars The Force Awakens

The Battle Action Millennium Falcon toy is full of great features and should please any young Star Wars fan – with one important addition.

(MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD)

While it’s great to see favourite characters returning in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, for me the most glorious returnee is the Millennium Falcon.

Millenium Falcon, Star Wars The Force Awakens, Star Wars Episode 7, Rey, Han Solo

Probably the most beloved ship of the entire saga, Han Solo’s Corellian freighter has blasted it’s way through childhood intergalactic adventures for decades.

I had an original Millennium Falcon in 1979 or thereabouts, or possibly around the time of The Empire Strikes Back. Ever the hoarder, I never got rid of it (other than a temporary loan to my now 18-year-old nephew). Dusted off, my daughter has been playing with it for the last couple of years.

But not any more. The first thing she said when she unwrapped this new one was “This is MY Millennium Falcon, not daddy’s.” We  can’t help but compare it with the Millennium Falcon 80s toy – and we agree the newbie wins.

Both toys are designed for use with the standard 3.75” Star Wars figures (this set includes 3 characters – more on that later), and they share many features including a cockpit for two figures, removable rear roof to reveal playset inside, and revolving radar dish – though this Falcon has the new rectangular one since the round dish was lost in Return of the Jedi.

But this is not just a Millennium Falcon. This is the Battle Action Millennium Falcon!

The Battle Action Millennium Falcon Nerf Cannon and Gun Turret
At the push of a button, the Millennium Falcon is ready for Battle Action. Pew pew!

It makes sounds. Lots of wonderful authentic sounds. When you lift off or land it makes the appropriate whirring. When you tilt it to fly, it makes a whooshing sound.

It has a pop up gun turret (with room for a figure) with more sounds and led lights blaster action. Most distinctive of all a pop-up Nerf gun turret (by same toymaker Hasbro) that fires Elite darts. While the Nerf cannon is not strictly Star Wars canon – it is tremendous fun to play with.

Battle Action Millennium Falcon Hyperdrive
Finn: “Punch it!”

There’s also a lever to engage the hyperdrive – with the interplanetary vroom, or the forlorn clank it made in Empire when the hyperdrive motivator was damaged.

The removable roof is also part of the playset, upturned and connecting to the back of the Falcon. All these new interactive elements make this a very cool Star Wars toy.

My daughter plays with it daily, enjoying hours of fun with it – from flying the ship, staging parties, acting out bathroom breaks for her figures (a popular play theme for preschoolers), as well as various Star Wars adventures. Not having seen The Force Awakens yet, she is convinced it begins with Luke shooting General Leia by mistake, and her being treated onboard the Falcon.

The moving parts also offer another element of play. My daughter is currently enjoying figure flinging!

The Battle Action Millennium Falcon in Action:

My daughter has discovered a great activity with her Battle Action Millennium Falcon 🙂

A post shared by Man vs. Pink (@manvspink) on

But where’s Rey?

For me there is a Supreme Leader Snoke sized omission in this Battle Action Millennium Falcon – Rey.

Chewbacca action figures, BB-8 action figures, Finn action figures, Star Wars toys,
The Battle Action Millennium Falcon comes with a trio of figures from Star Wars The Force Awakens – Chewbacca, Finn, and BB-8.

Star Wars sets never came with figures when I was a kid, so it’s great that it includes Chewbacca, Finn, and especially BB-8. But missing are the characters who actually pilot the ship in the movie – namely Han Solo and Rey.

Rey’s flying of the ship is one of her, the Falcon’s, and the film’s biggest scenes, so her exclusion from this set seems especially unfortunate.

This may simply be a classic way to get consumers to buy the figures separately. As I mentioned, there’s no Han either. I’ve also read talk of spoilers, though I can’t see how including her would spoil anything, just like Finn and BB-8. Her inclusion would’ve gone a long way to counter the #WheresRey blowback.

At least this was easily fixed for us. I had already raced out and bought my daughter a Rey figure immediately after watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so now Rey takes her place in the Falcon’s cockpit as she should.

Rey pilots millennium falcon, Hasbro, wheresrey
Hasbro’s Battle Action Millennium Falcon doesn’t come with a pilot. FTFY.

If this Battle Action Millennium Falcon had included Rey, this set would’ve been a complete slam dunk. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great toy for any young Star Wars fan (and us old ones as well). Just be prepared to get a Rey figure too, so your little one can recreate the new Millennium Falcon’s biggest scene, the escape from Jakku, authentically – with Finn on the guns and Rey at the helm.

=====

The Star Wars: The Force Awakens Battle Action Millennium Falcon Toy has an RRP of £119.99, and is available from Amazon and other retailers.

Star Wars © & TM Lucasfilm Ltd.

=====

Disclosure: I received this item free of charge for the purposes of this review.

Family Fever