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Does the toyetic nature of the show hold it back?

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Today, I want to ask if the nature of the show holds it back. I mean, let's not kid ourselves, the show's main purpose is to sell toys. We're lucky that the show is as good as it is despite that. 

 

I ask this because I feel that the show shoehorns some items in so Hasbro can sell more toys. Good examples would be the Castle of Friendship and Flurry Heart. Flurry Heart was added solely to sell toys. really hasn't added very much, and I feel she could be removed, and nothing would change.  

 

So, what do you think? Does the toyetic nature of the show hold it back?

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In a way.  A grand narrative certainly takes a back seat to marketing decisions.  Twilight's Castle Fugly, the decision to make Twilight and Cadance Alicorns, etc.  The show has to work around the marketing.  When marketing forces retcons of stuff (like the extra Alicorns) the show staff has to try and make it work as best they can.  I think that's why the show sticks mostly to Slice of Life adventures.  the grand narrative can be derailed by the marketing, but a one off story can't really.

 

Certainly not the first show to have to face the demands of marketing.  Beloved as it was, The Transformers Movie (the animated one from the 80's) was made entirely as a means to kill off a bunch of characters and introduce new toys characters to buy. 

 

By contrast, you can look at a show like Steven Universe.  There's been some merchandise from the show, but not much, and it certainly hasn't affected the narrative, allowing the show to be incredibly serialized and something that was clearly planned out from the beginning. 

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This season is the least toyetic of them all apart from the barely used "Explore Equestria" moniker, and it's somehow managed to be the worst easily.

 

I think it's safe to say that toyetic ideas can work if they're willing to to put the effort to make them work

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I don't think it does. At least I never noticed it. I have a tendency of thinking that it does, but I can't really put my finger at how this would work. I think that Flurry Heart is an asspull but Twilight's palace kinda fell naturally into the narrative. Cadance kinda felt like another character parachuting into the cartoon to sell toys, too. Of course, the "story" itself exists to serve the marketing department, but that is what keeps the whole thing wrapped.

 

Could the cartoon be "better" if it was different? I think so. Well... SW Rebels exists for the same purpose of selling toys but the storytelling part of it seems to be more important and there certainly is an overarching story being told that MLP just lacks.

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I think it does to quite a bit.

The most evident areas were the first few seasons, where the show had to work around marketing by making stories and adding elements to episodes featuring toy designs. However, the number of "BUY OUR TOYS" moments has dropped significantly since the end of Season 4 and by large the marketing department seems to be looking at the show itself for toy ideas. I feel like the staff have been given more creative freedom, but all in all the show is still made to sell toys, so the story department will be held back. That said, I feel like the staff themselves don't know what to do with this freedom as S6 seems to be a real roller coaster of good and meh episodes. They seem to have relied quite a bit on marketing to fill episodes and now that that's stepped down they fill the gaps with mediocre Slice of Life stories.

 

Shows like Gravity Falls and Steven Universe prove that you can write an amazing story for a kids show with complicated plots, characters and story arcs. But those have older target demographics and the creators had full creative freedom over their respective series from the get go. Meanwhile DHX's staff has gained a lot of freedom, but at the same time they have to find what they want do do with that freedom all the while conforming with the standard given to them by Hasbro, the target demographic and keeping the show easily approachable by the young demographic it's intended for. Honestly, I think the show itself can use a bump in rating from TV-Y to maybe TV-Y7 to help open more options in the storytelling department, but that's just wishful thinking.

 

Oh, and another thing...

34 minutes ago, The Doctor said:

Twilight's Castle Fugly, the decision to make Twilight and Cadance Alicorns, etc. 

For the love of all things, Faust herself has repeatedly stated that even in her plans for the show Twilight was always going to end up as an Alicorn, this wasn't purely a "BUY OUR TOYS" moment, just the natural evolution of a character.

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Did she ever say that?  I was under the impression that Faust said her plan was to have Twilight eventually succeed Celestia.  That does not necessarily mean she ever would have become an Alicorn.  Faust has also said clearly that in her world, there were only two alicorns.

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16 minutes ago, The Doctor said:

Did she ever say that?  I was under the impression that Faust said her plan was to have Twilight eventually succeed Celestia.  That does not necessarily mean she ever would have become an Alicorn.  Faust has also said clearly that in her world, there were only two alicorns.

She's stated so on DA and during cons a few times, even on one of her AMA threads on 4chan as well, as you can see here.

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Says right there that that might not have been her who gave that answer.  But if she's said it elsewhere than I guess she's just been incredibly inconsistent with her responses on it. 

 

Things like...

 

 

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To put it simply, no, I don't think the show being "toyetic" has ever held it back. Sure, being a show designed to promote a line of toys, Hasbro does request some things be featured in the show in some way. However, the nature of this doesn't actually limit the show in any way, or impare the staff from telling the stories they want to tell.

 

And really, I don't think the toy inserts are really all that bad or prevalent in this show; certainly not as bad as many others. 

 

The staff has handled most of the toy inserts really well IMO, and most of the time they're integrated into the story well, or otherwise are only briefly on screen. Like the paddle boat from this season was a toy insert request, but it made sense for it to be there and was only on screen briefly. 

 

Other things such as Cadance have grown into their own in the show, and I still really liked Canterlot Wedding, personally. 

 

Now, the most recent thing that people will use as an example is Flurry Heart. I actually think she's probably one of the least things that seem like a toy insert. Why? Simply because her presence makes perfect sense in the context of the stories that the staff has told. Sure, it's easy to view her as simply Hasbro trying to shoehorn a toy in. But really look at it in the context of the show's story. Shining Armor and Cadance got married quite a few seasons ago, so it makes perfect sense that they would eventually have a foal. And it's not outside the realm of possibility that that goal would be an alicorn given its mother. I hardly see this as Hasbro putting a toy in-- it just seems like a natural progression of Cadance and Shining's arc. People get married, people have kids. 

 

 

In addition to all this, more recently Hasbro seems to be turning the tables on the whole "toyetic" thing even. They have begun releasing toys and toy lines which are directly inspired by stories the show has told, rather than the other way around. The "Friendship is Magic" line is a perfect example. Some really great looking toy sets and characters based on actual episodes from the show. We also have the new Wonderbolts line of toys based on the show. I'm really happy that Hasbro has begun looking to the show for inspiration for new toys, rather than just coming up with stuff on their own. It's led to some fantastic stuff the past year!

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Yeah, the staff have rolled with the toy stuff pretty well. Also, I'm pretty sure the alicornication was believed to have been the end of the series when it was written (episode 65, the magic number for syndication, a lot of cartoons end there).

 

I mean, we just have to look one generation prior to see what's literally an ad:

 

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On 9/15/2016 at 11:11 PM, Steamworks said:

Yeah, the staff have rolled with the toy stuff pretty well. Also, I'm pretty sure the alicornication was believed to have been the end of the series when it was written (episode 65, the magic number for syndication, a lot of cartoons end there).

 

I mean, we just have to look one generation prior to see what's literally an ad:

 

 

Yeah, MA Larson has stated at conventions that when he wrote the episode, it was supposed to be the series finale. However, after it was written Hasbro ordered another season. The episode was then heavily rewritten without Larson (since he had moved on to other projects at time time). 

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I actually think they could be doing more with the toys based off the series.

So many things of the mane 6 made over and over, and yet we have tons of characters and locations to use. The Fim collection is doing a decent job of this, but they really over produced the apple set, stores still can't sell them to move on to the Nightmare Night wave, and most places skipped the Pinkie wave due to the same issue. Couldn't move the first batch.

Garudians of Harmony is doing a pretty good job at going past the mane cast, even included a changeling. Hope more from the line later on.

 

But the show has gone above and beyond being an ad, something G3 really never could do, and G1 didn't really create any ponies who were not already a toy, or planing to be that I know of.

I think that's what makes G4 what it is. A show that deserves the merch based on it, not simply a licensed show to sell the toys. I think the more creative they get, the better merch they can actually make.

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I have honestly never noticed anything that made me think, "Obvious toy insert" in MLP. I admit that I haven't really cared much about toys in a couple decades, and I never played with MLP toys as a kid, and didn't really know what kinds of toys the show even advertised (I only really knew about the brushables). I still see the occasional EQD post that shows toys, and think, "OH, that thing from episode XXX was a toy? I had no idea."

I think a lot of people blame executive meddling for story elements they just don't personally agree with. For example, in one interview, Jim Miller said that the concept for Flurry Heart came from a storytelling opportunity, not as a mandate from Hasbro.

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