First, we all need to just admit that the ’80s had some of the best kid’s programming. Today’s programs are not on the same level by a long shot in terms of plot, characters, and teaching lessons. So maybe it should be no surprise that a reboot of an ’80s program about colorful ponies has created a massive herd of adult fans. In fact, right here in Seaddle (Seattle to you non-pony folk), pony enthusiasts from all over come once a year to Everfree Northwest (EFNW) – a three day convention for fans of the My Little Pony (MLP) franchise. Jasmine Hayes, a local collector, had a booth at the 2016 convention and gave a talk on the 33-year history of the show and toys.

Jasmine Hayes
Jasmine’s friend Colin gave her her “grail pony” (the pony on the top of a fan’s wish list for Fourth of July). Photo courtesy: Jasmine Hayes

Since right around 30-years-old, you may assume that Jasmine grew up with My Little Pony and just happened to carry her love for the adorable characters into her adulthood. But that’s not the case. Like many fans of the show, she did not become a fan until the reboot, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic in 2010. Prior to that, she had been a collector of Pokemon. She says she didn’t have a single pony before she watched My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and fell in love.

“I actually put off watching My Little Pony for a while, I thought it might be crossing the line and would be too childish,” Jasmine says. “But Friendship is Magic is very well written and soon I found myself wanting the merchandise and the rest was history.”

Like most MLP enthusiasts, the pretty ponies are just part of the reason she is drawn to the show. Fans say it has a lot going for it. “The writing is so well done,” Jasmine explains. “The animation is solid. The voice acting is stellar. Really I could go on and on, but I’ll stop with: it’s great and really deserves a chance to be watched by any age and any gender.”

It’s true the show has not skimped when picking writers, composures or vocal actors. It may be “just a kid’s show” but the talent is real – many of them have degrees in classical music. For example, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy have singing voices given to them by Shannon Chan-Kent who has a Master’s Degree in Opera. And the master of chaos, Discord, is voiced by none other than John de Lancie, whom many know as Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The upcoming feature-length film will even feature Kristen Chenoweth voicing a new pony.

My Little Pony
One of the most prized ponies in Jasmine’s collection is her My Pretty Pony. This large plastic horse was the very first My Little Pony ever made. Hers is signed by the creator of My Little Pony, Bonnie Zacherle. Photo courtesy: Jasmine Hayes.

After getting hooked on the new series, Jasmine says she “worked her way back” through the generations and now collects toys from every decade. She has more than 300 in her collection, which is constantly growing.

“I’m always on collector groups looking at what comes up for sale,” Jasmine says. “Many times other areas of the country get their shipments of pony toys before our area does, so I’ll purchase them online. I’ve slowed down to maybe buying three or so a month now. In the beginning of my collecting, it was more like three times a week!”

While she doesn’t have a budget, she says she won’t spend over $100 for any particular piece from the vintage lines. (Some rare My Little Ponies can fetch in the hundreds and even thousands on Ebay).

Her favorite character from the show is Pinkie Pie (as evidenced by the number of Pinkies in her collection) and while she is one of the most popular ponies on the show, Jasmine has a very personal reason to love her. “My Grandpa, who has passed away, would call me ‘Pinkie’ when I was a little girl because I would dye my hair pink,” she explains. “I have a whole section of my collection just dedicated to her.”

Original character My Little Pony
Almost every fan has an Original Character that in some way reflects their own personality. This is a plush version of Jasmine’s OC, Heartful Harvest. Plush Artists can make a good living making these ponies, some of which cost hundreds of dollars. Photo courtesy: Jasmine Hayes

Jasmine not only collects the toys and attends the cons, she even has her own OC (Original Character) named Heartful Harvest. “She loves fall and is a good friend,” she explains. “A chubby Pegasus, she can’t fly very far, but she helps out on the ground with the fall harvesting of the corn and pumpkins.” And yet Jasmine prefers to not be called a “Brony” or a “Pegasister,” both common terms for fans. She says these are people who are usually only fans of Generation 4 (the newest one) and not of all the generations. She prefers “My Little Pony Enthusiast.”

So why do adults, like Jasmine, and the thousands that attend conventions all across the country (and even Canada) each year love My Little Pony? Jasmine believes it has to do with nostalgia.

“A lot of people chase that nostalgic feeling. Whether it be through childhood toys or certain shows. Friendship is Magic makes me think of my childhood watching Saturday morning cartoons. It has a very honest and endearing feeling when you watch it that shows nowadays don’t have.”

My Little Pony Collection
Here are some of Jasmine’s pony collection, which takes up a large portion of a room in her home. Photo courtesy: Jasmine Hayes

Jasmine is lucky. Her friends and family support her collection, even buying her ponies on her wish list as gifts. In her case, Jasmine says her husband and even her brothers like it. Not all pony fans are as lucky. Some face ridicule and even teasing about their devotion to a kid’s show.

At its core, the new generation of My Little Pony, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, teaches lessons about friendship, love, honesty, and loyalty, mixed in with happiness and laughter. It’s about acceptance and getting along. So instead of looking oddly at those who choose to watch an animated series that happens to use brightly colored, talking ponies to deliver messages the world desperately needs right now, maybe everyone should not only watch, but practice the lessons that they teach. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic airs on the Discovery Family channel with season 7 coming this spring. Seasons 1-6 are on Netflix.