ROCKIN' BEAT PONIES
The Rockin' Beat Ponies are some of the best known ponies from the later years, largely because they starred in a few episodes of the My Little Pony Tales series, in conjunction with the Seven Character pony "Melody". This connection between Melody and the Rockin' Beats was also duplicated across to the UK Pony Comic. Strangely, Tuneful was represented without her unicorn horn in the animation, and had somehow managed to turn green. The Rockin' Beat set had no pegasus pony, and I imagine this was because of the logistics of letting a pony wear a guitar. Like past unicorns, Tuneful had a streak of colour in her hair - but then, so did all the other Rockin' Beats, as well as symbols that spread up their body, almost Twice as Fancy style.
This revival of the Rockin' Beats some time after they no longer featured on the inserts may explain the number of cut price ponies farmed out across Europe at the termination of the line - I suspect Hasbro kept them in production longer so that kids could have their band. It's worth mentioning that this is probably the ONLY complete set I had as a child, and I'm certain that was because of the band completion aspect (although Sweet Notes was a gift, I'm pretty sure I bought the other three myself).
Of course, the original Rockin' Beats didn't need Melody as a singer, because they had Sweet Notes. In the original UK pony comic stories featuring these characters, Sweet Notes was renowned as one of the best singers in Ponyland.
In keeping with past comic precedent, this pre-MLP Tales world Rockin' Beat band did feature characters with magical abilities. Their personalities also changed somewhat - although there are differences again between the comic incarnations and the ones in the animated episode. For some odd reason, there also exist two versions of Pretty Beat. Both were sold in North America, whilst only one version was sold in the UK. Collectors often confuse this and get it the other way around ;)
Sold in lurid colours and each with a guitar that doubled as a hairbrush, one can't help wondering whether Hasbro were missing their Jem doll line when they came up with this set. There's something very 1980s about them, despite their 1990s release...