MLP Generation 3: Ponyville
The third generation was produced from 2003 to the end of 2009. Hasbro released the associated Earth ponies from 2003 to 2005, the Pegasus ponies in 2005, and the Unicorn ponies appeared in 2006. Many of the original ponies were reissued in altered poses or outfits. Most ponies had shiny or pearly bodies and matte symbols, called beauty spots, on the back flank. The first ponies produced had a magnet in their hoof that triggered certain actions of the playsets. However, these magnets were so strong that prolonged contact could damage some electronic devices, and therefore are not included in later productions.
Again, since production of this generation started simultaneously in the U.S. and Europe, some country-specific ponies and breezies (small fairy-like ponies) were not available in every country.
Until the end of 2005, packages featured Pony Points that could be collected to receive exclusive ponies. This points program ended on January 31, 2006.
A special production run of 300 of the Pinkie Pie pony had the 2003 Licensing Show lettering in the flank symbol and was to be sold during the show of the same name. Due to a production error, some pieces of it went on sale to the general public in 2004. Another pony, Rosey Posey, was only given away at a charity dinner by Hasbro.
To cater to older collectors, Hasbro produced some modified ponies, called Art Ponies for various events such as the My Little Pony Collector's Convention and San Diego Comic Con. For example, for the 2011 San Diego Comic Con, the pony was black and pink and had a skull on the back flank instead of the beauty mark. Customizers were able to purchase a white pony to customize it to customer color and design preferences.
During the third generation, there was an abundance of merchandise. Bedding, tablecloths, clothing, or office and school supplies. Plush ponies were produced for theme parks for grabbers. For the Australian market there were special ponies like Rainbow Dash, Minty, Sweetberry or Kimono, which was given as a prize at Red Rooster restaurants. Some fast food chains gave different ponies as an addition to children's menus.
What was true for many cartoon characters of the 1980s was also implemented for the "My Little Pony" series. For example, there were various T-shirts with prints of first-generation ponies in a retro style with slogans like "Livin' in the 80s" or "I love Rainbows."
In 2000, Hasbro sold the rights to digital games (for example, My Little Pony, Magic: The Gathering, Tonka, Playschool, Transformers) to Infogrames for $100 million, but bought those rights back in 2005 for $65 million.
In 2009, there was a redesign and a limitation to seven main characters. These so-called "Core 7" were Cheerilee, Toola-Roola, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle and Starsong. The hair was changed, the bodies of the ponies were made smaller, and the heads and eyes somewhat to make the ponies appear innocent-childlike. To give the ponies more personality, some family relationships were introduced: Cheerilee became Scootaloo's sister, for example.
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