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Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack—the wide-eyed, lustrous-maned characters from the ’80s animated children’s show My Little Pony—are back. But this time, MLP mania comes not from its little girl target audience, but from a group called the Bronies: a growing contingent of adult men (and some women) devoted to all things equine and magical.
“It has a whimsical charm to it,” says Ohad Kanne, 30, who can’t decide what he loves more about the show: the animation or the writing. “It has life lessons for kids and adults without being dumbed down.” The Bronies of Northern California, founded by a Hayward-based pony podcaster who goes by Apple Cider, now has over 1,000 members, all avid fans of the show’s most recent iteration (which began in 2010 and airs Saturday mornings on the Hub Network). Small groups meet up every two weeks to go to the movies, trade cards from the My Little Pony Collectible Card Game, remix MLP music, surf the fan site Equestria Daily, or buy newly released toys.
There’s also a thriving market for custom plushies—Kanne commissioned his latest on Twitter for $350. Other Bronies sew their own full-body pony suits. That the show was designed for a younger following is part of its allure, explains Kanne. “If they started marketing the show to Bronies, it would lose its appeal,” he says. “There’s just something in it that makes us smile.”
Originally published in the September issue of San Francisco.