Friday, 21 December 2012

Finding ponies: a shopper's guide

Rainbow Dash from the Rainbow Cards pack
The completed Rainbow Dash card from the Rainbow Cards pack
Until Hasbro gets its act together and actually launches the additional merchandise we in Europe have been promised for 2013, shopping for MLP:FiM items can be a bit of a chore. It's hard to tell what's likely to be found where, and if you don't want to go down the eBay route, you'll need to be prepared to do a fair amount of hoofwork. The situation varies from place to place, but my own experiences might help you a little:

The Entertainer is the go-to toy shop for many things. It's not usually the cheapest, but most branches will have a reasonable selection of brushables, fashion ponies and the like. The Crystal Design-a-Pony Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy have been spotted in several stores, and the Walking Talking Pinkie Pie is increasingly seen. Blind bags are usually in stock, though often several waves old. One word of warning: some branches are reportedly more brony-friendly than others.

Smyths, if you have a branch near you, is much like the above, only larger. You should be able to find some of the less common brushables (Sunny Rays, for example) and things like the talking Princess Cadance. Staff in these warehouse-like places are sometimes a little on the over-attentive side, so be prepared to tough it out or lie through your teeth when you're asked what you're looking for!

Toys R Us is the only place I've seen actual MLP-themed window displays — but don't bother asking the staff if you can take them home when the promotion's over. Several have tried, unsuccessfully, and one or two requests have been refused quite curtly. There is the odd item of interest to be found here, such as the Pinkie Pie hair extensions. (Not for me, I'm afraid!) Prices aren't terribly keen unless there's a promotion on.

Discount chains can hold unexpected delights... or nothing at all. Recently I discovered that Home Bargains in Stourbridge was stuffed with £2.99 brushables, and that The Range in Kidderminster had heaps of the Rainbow Cards set. (And heaps of G3 stuff, more even than there was related to G4, but I'll let them off... this time.) Pound shops are little use unless the dreaded "Princess Candance" [sic] tiara set, which often lurks in Poundland, is of interest to you.

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