Friday, 12 April 2013

Talking out of merch

It can't have escaped British bronies' attention that we don't do very well when it comes to My Little Pony merchandise. The stuff that's sold directly by Hasbro — the pony figures and so on — isn't too bad, even if we do miss out on the really unusual stuff. The Asda in Worcester, for example, has things like Luna brushables and the triple pack of Rarity, Hoity Toity and Photo Finish. (Actually, it's finally got Wave 6 blind bags in again; yay.)

When it comes to licensed merch, though, things get rather more ugly. Hasbro themselves announced in October last year that there would be new products "across Europe" in spring 2013. Okay, it's now spring, so where are they? I have seen suggestions that the company takes what might be called a Ukip approach to the matter, treating the UK and Europe as separate territories. Even if that's the case, why do we have to be the poor relation?

I was in the local discount shop today looking at stationery. There were basic packs branded with the likes of Ben 10, Spongebob Squarepants and Deadly 60. Was there any Pony? Actually yes... but only the colouring book that's been around for ages. It's surprising, to say the least, that there isn't an MLP stationery set too. Or a lunchbox. Or anything else much, really. Almost every other brand of even remotely comparable significance has something.

Of course, I'm not privy to Hasbro's financial calculations, and maybe nobody wants to license such products in the UK. Perhaps it's relevant that the backpack is frequently heavily discounted in Toys R Us, and that I've never seen a child wearing one. Maybe it's simply that old bugbear, a lack of even remotely adequate TV coverage for the show in the UK — and there seems absolutely no sign of movement on that front.

Let's not get too downhearted about this. has obliged by stocking most of this year's MLP book releases. The wonderful IDW comics can be bought easily enough at comic shops or via eBay. And we can import things from Germany simply enough, without the worries over duty you can have with American merch. Even so, it's frustrating: I want to buy Pony merch in UK shops, and all too often I can't.

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