From a UK perspective, 1985 marked the official "inception" (to use Hasbro's word) of My Little Pony's UK line. Before this point, all My Little Pony items sold in the UK were *probably* distributed from Rhode Island, and were *probably* not that unique. It is really unclear what exactly comprised My Little Pony in the UK before this 1985 cut off, since cards and MIP ponies from the early years are scarce. My Little Pony definitely did exist here, because I had my Rainbow Pony Windy in 1984, but Hasbro themselves didn't seem to keep records on what they were selling until this year. Since Hasbro UK had an involvement with the issues in other places around the world, it's possible that 1985 is the year Hasbro became more than just a recipient country packaging for its own market, but a distribution hub in its own right. This is speculation, however.
It is notable that a lot of what we consider unique UK and European ponies start to emerge from around 1985.
When making the Scrapbook, I struggled to decide how to organise pony sets and years and still preserve the integrity of the US and UK lines. In the end, the menu of links to the right of this page and this year show ponies in their original release year globally, but, it must be remembered, that many ponies were sold a little later in the UK than they were in the US.
Years, as I have said before, are more complicated in the UK than the US, with less defined lines of release. Most lines did seem to begin in Summer, but some sets were launched mid season and so it is as well to remember that when looking at these pages.
Hasbro UK themselves divided ponies up by calendar year. The sets they list for the UK this year are:
Groom 'n' Style Ponies
Rainbow Ponies (first set)
Baby Pony Stroller including Baby Bow Tie
Baby Pony Play n Care Sets
My Little Pony Gymnkhana including Butterscotch
My Little Pony Waterfall including Cascade
Grooming Parlour including Peachey (sic)
Show Stable including Lemon Drop
Dream Castle including Majesty
It is not possible to know how many of these sets/ponies were already on sale when Hasbro UK began keeping their own records, but it is notable that ALL of the earliest UK variation or exclusive ponies featured in this year's release. It is possible, therefore, to theorise that NO variations in the UK happened before 1985, when the UK took control of its own My Little Pony line.
Backcard stories also appeared in the UK for the first time in sets dating from 1985, even though stories had been the norm in North America for a while. Earth Ponies and Rainbow Ponies on 1984 cards had no stories, just names, but 1985 provided truncated stories for many of the new additions, who would go on to become popular personalities.
It was the year that Hasbro UK found its identity. The Dark Ages were over, and there would be no going back. :)
Hasbro UK were also very conscientious sellers and they wanted to teach the children how to take care of their ponies' hair (!). On the backcards of many sets between 1984 and 1986 were featured instructions on how to braid a pony's tail. This year, one of the popular pony choices was Applejack:
(Cherries Jubilee's UK Backcard, 1985)
Hair styling tips had become even more important, for during this year, Hasbro also produced curly haired ponies for the first time. Of course, braiding a curly pony was not a sensible idea, (in spite of Hasbro's encouragement in that direction!) Other ponies shown in this graphical instruction style masterclass were the Rainbow Ponies, whose release continued from 1984 into 1985.