For Thanksgiving, my family went on a trip to Rome. It was pretty cool! There’s something special about visiting a city that is literally thousands of years old. It is one thing to read about the Renaissance, and it is another thing to realize that the sculpture in the town plaza predates the Declaration of Independence by over 300 years, and it’s right there.

The one downside is that although my parents liked the scenery, they weren’t the biggest fans of Italian food. They didn’t dislike it, but, well, let me put it this way: the only restaurant we visited multiple times was a Chinese restaurant.

To be fair, the Chinese restaurant catered to Chinese exchange students, meaning their Chinese food was authentic and actually pretty good. Still, I wasn’t expecting to eat Chinese food in Rome, and I especially wasn’t expecting eating Chinese food multiple times in Rome.

But I digress! During the trip, we visited a supermarket to buy some fruit. While there, a family member pointed out these boxes.

My Little Pony boxes

I was against buying it. They argued the following.

  • According to the packaging, there was “a surprise inside”.
  • It only cost 2 Euros.
  • Buying MLP merchandise in Italy is intrinsically funny.

I bought two boxes.

* * *

Let’s take a closer look. The front and back have the same picture, but the two sides are different.

Front of box

Side 1 of box

Side 2 of box

The first thing I noticed was that the character art looked…off, somehow. In what world does Fluttershy wink like that? In what world does Twilight smirk like that. Expression-wise I’m pretty sure neither has made that face in the show, and it feels out-of-character for both of them. Fluttershy seems too reserved for a playful wink. Twilight seems too nice for a knowing smirk.

Rainbow also looked off, and after staring at it a while, I figured out why. Normally her mane hangs over her left eye, but here it hangs over her right.

Rainbow Dash comparison

Literally unbuyable. I’m only kind-of joking, actually. Look, here’s my view: fans have the right to call out shitty merchandise. Like, if you’re going to monetize your show, you should at least have your merchandise reflect what your show looks like! Don’t even tell me that the target audience of young girls won’t care. I suspect the target audience does care. One, I believe children are more perceptive than people think. Two, when you’re a kid, you don’t have as much going on in your life, which makes it easy to obsess over the details of your Saturday morning cartoons. The moment they changed Ash Ketchum’s voice actor in Pokemon, I was done with that show.

Take Brave as a case study. The goal of Brave was to create a Disney princess that avoided the gender stereotypes of the old Disney princesses. The movie succeeded. The marketing didn’t.

Character design comparison

The marketing made Merida slimmer, made her a bit older, removed her bow, and made her hair less curly. Anecdotally, my Facebook feed had a few comments from parents, saying their daughter didn’t like it because “her hair wasn’t as curly”, and “it’s not the same Merida as the movie.” (You can read comments from Brave’s director here, if you’re interested in further ranting.)

The details matter. Don’t mess them up.

* * *

Opening the box produces this.

Box contents

What looked like a chocolate muffin, and a few pony cards. The chocolate muffin…was not that good. Derpy would be ashamed.

Derpy hooves

Okay, so it’s not actually a muffin. It’s “panettoncino with chocolate chips”, But my headcanon is that if Derpy can make good muffins, she can make good panettoncino too.

Let’s take a closer look at these cards.

Front of cards

(Card fronts.)

Back of cards

(Card backs. It’s identical for all of them.)

Awwwwww, they’re so cute! I have no issues with the art here. But wait a second, there’s only 5 cards. Isn’t it supposed to be the Mane 6? Where’s Applejack? She’s not on the front. She’s not on the back.

Speaking of which, is Applejack even on the box?

Scroll up if you want. She isn’t. Applejack doesn’t appear anywhere on or in this box. Every other pony in the Mane 6 is there. The top bar has plenty of side characters.

Side characters

…and no Applejack.

Sad Applejack

Strike the “Chinese food in Rome” thing. This right here is a What the hell were you thinking? moment. Applejack certainly isn’t that popular, but come on, she’s part of the main ensemble! There are plenty of Applejack fans!

There are dozens of us! DOZENS!

This is funny at a meta-level, because people like to joke Applejack is “the best background pony”, but it’s sad for fans that have to see her getting treated as a second-level citizen. Either this is a mistake of colossal proportions, or Applejack is just that unappealing of a character. I’ll be generous and go with the former.

I’ve bought other MLP merchandise, but it’s primarily been fan-created merchandise. Fan merchandise tends to match the quality I expect, because it’s made by people who actually care about getting the details right.

Look, Hasbro, just do it better next time, alright?