The Retroist

Do You Remember The Proposed 1984 “My Little Pony” Pilot?

I remember a whole other time in the world of My Little Pony.  It was pre-brony, but just as colorful and cheesy.

Didn’t They Make This My Little Pony Movie Already?

So there’s this movie out this weekend, you’ve probably seen at least one movie poster for it on your way to the bathroom in your local movie theater…

*Snort* I wish.

It’s more like this…

If you type in the exact title My Little Pony: The Movie, you’re going to see two very different posters.  And depending what era MLP you like, you’ll likely react with nostalgic awe toward one, and revulsion toward the other.

Can you imagine that dividing line, moms versus their daughters?

Just Like Her Aunt…

I have a 2 1/2 year old niece.  Right now, she’s not watching My Little Pony in any way, shape, or form, but she has a sippy cup (courtesy of my mom), a MLP figure (also courtesy of my mom), a Ty Beanie Plushie (courtesy of me), and a t-shirt (again, courtesy of me).  The sippy cup was kept at my parents’ house, and my niece loved it so much, she took it home.  My sister-in-law told my mom on the phone a week later that all my niece wanted to drink from was her “pony cup” and she would yell “PONY CUP!  PONY CUP!” constantly.  Kid loves that cup.

Of course, I loved my cup when I was three years old, but mine had a spinning pony attached to the straw! I’ve tried to find pictures of that cup, to no avail.

Me with my brother (my niece’s daddy) at four years old (1986). That’s also the same year I started watching and collecting My Little Pony stuff.

I have my doubts that my niece will see the current (and same titled) My Little Pony: The Movie right now, but when I was slightly older than her, I saw the original 1986 movie, albeit not in the movie theater.  I know I liked it at the time, but time has made it look kinda cheesy, and well, the Cinema Snob made it look downright terrible.  I’m sure in 30 years, this new release will look just as bad.  And of course, the 1986 version will flat out look ancient.

In the Beginning…There Were Ponies!

35 years ago, My Little Pony took the toy world by storm, and it was only a matter of time before the toys became primetime specials, a movie, and then two TV series during Generation 1 (I should note that the original TV series actually came after the movie).  The toy series has gone through several generations’ worth of changes from that point to now, and my mom decided to tell me in a store that the newer generation (G4) is much cuter than the ones I played with 30 years ago (G1). I always knew that she believed they were ugly, but to say these new ones are cute…um, no.

Over on You Tube, I was looking (like my search for the cup, completely to no avail) for the 1984 special which was pre-movie and pre-orginal series, and I came across a promo for it (which was the proposed pilot)..including the special.  And as you know with anything nostalgia, I’m in my glory.

My Little Pony: Rescue at Midnight Castle Promo

This obvious end-of-another-video trailer is for the 1984 primetime special known as “Rescue from Midnight Castle,” and omits the scary part where the ponies get turned into dragons.  Good lord, that scared me when I was little!

If you need something to compare it to, I recommend that scene in The Care Bears In the Land Without Feelings where Professor Coldheart turns the little boy, Kevin, into one of his green servants.  That’s just scary now because the animation is terrible, but the dragons in this special are well-animated and terrifying.

This looks like a marketing trailer for retailers, based on the narration.  In fact, on a Vestron/Children’s Video Library video, this trailer and Rainbow Brite: Peril in the Pits (that show’s pilot) come complete with prices should you want to buy it…

Seriously?!  It’s not like Vestron was this amazing film company. People were buying these for their children – do you know how many kids watched videos until the tape eventually broke?  $29.95 USD in 1986 equals…$66.16 today.

WHAT?!

And don’t get me started on the Canadian price!

Now I understand why I didn’t own any videos that weren’t destined to become timeless classics.  Because this price!

Anyway…

My Little Specifics

Marvel (yes, THAT Marvel), Hasbro, Sunbow, and Toei produced the special, with Claster Television distributing it. The pilot originally aired on April 14, 1984, and was followed by “Escape from Catrina.” The feature film opened in theaters in the spring of 1986, was a box office disappointment, and combined with the disappointing box office returns on Transformers: The Movie (why, I have no idea), resulted in a proposed Jem movie’s cancellation, and GI Joe: The Movie releasing direct-to-video in 1987.

But don’t weep for the ponies! They had another chance when they got their own series! My Little Pony ‘n Friends. The “friends” were a B-side cartoon featuring either GloFriends, MoonDreamers, or Mr. Potato Head, his wife, and their children (the cartoon centered around the Potato Head Kids). The series ran in first-run syndication on weekdays from September 15, 1986 until September 23, 1987, spanning two seasons and 65 episodes. The GloFriends had 27 segments, Potato Head Kids 23 segments, and the MoonDreamers had 16 segments.

Fun fact: The first ten episodes of that series, “The End of Flutter Valley,” (airing September 15-26, 1986) served as the sequel of sorts to the feature film.

Of course, something had to come first, and after quite the search, I found the original special in its entirety!

I also made this. Because I can. :-)

Reaction

Um…

That’s just as freaky as I remember. And the songs are terrible! I remember this plot like I just saw it (especially that Sea Ponies song, which sounds like a commercial jingle), and it has been at least 9-10 years since I’ve seen it on You Tube. Like everything else we loved growing up, this hasn’t aged well in terms of the actual dialogue, but the animation is pretty.

I remember in the original cut, an overly excited voiceover informs us that Sandy Duncan and Tony Randall are the stars of this show! And no, they didn’t make it to the actual TV series, though Randall did play the Moochick in the feature film. As an adult, this feels dark.

And Tirek the Centaur…*shudder*. As for Scorpan, you could feel his humanity trying to surface when he helps Megan and the ponies escape Tirek’s Rainbow of Darkness. And if you can last until the end, you’ll understand why.

As a plot, it works, but the uncut version is the better version. For some reason, the cut version that aired within the TV series feels disjointed when split up. Plus, one of those terrible songs was part of that cut. I hate to say it, but if that was the reason it felt disjointed, then maybe it was worth it?

And of course, there’s a happy ending. Because why not? Tirek is destroyed, his dragons are once again the innocent creatures they originally were…and Ember is allergic to butterflies. And giggling…lots of giggling to go around.

Oh, and bonus points if you remember which of the ponies you had.

Ten extra bonus points if you had the Megan and Baby Spike dolls (I did!).

Of course, if you’d like to see the special, you can! Just click play below!

My Little Pony: Rescue At Midnight Castle

From Daily Motion, Upload via Ponyrokkusu Pony

 

My Little Pony, My Little Pony…Now It’s Time To Say Goodbye

I have no doubt in my mind that today’s kids will have no clue there was originally a My Little Pony movie some ancient time 31 years ago, or how the whole animated world began with a pilot episode involving turning ponies into dragons. They were dark times indeed.

Do me a favor. If a little MLP-loving kid really needs to be shown the dark side of the Ponies, show them this special. If they question it, tell them this is all we had in the Dark Ages.

Get it? Dark cartoons, dark ages?

It sounded funnier in my head.