The Paradise Estate was the crowning glory of all My Little Pony playsets. Costing a whopping £60 in UK stores (which was the main reason I never had one, LOL), the Estate was first introduced in the My Little Pony Movie, as an alternate home for the Ponies after the Smooze wiped out Dream Castle. Technically, therefore, it belongs in 1986 - but it's UK release coincided with the characters from the film in 1987, which is why it's here. Equipped with furniture of all kinds - televisions, couches, clocks, lamps, tables, chairs - even a fridge of goodies and a swimming pool - this was literally, every pony's paradise.

The above photo is from the Hasbro promotional catalogue, courtesy of Pranceatron. Sharp eyed people will already have noticed Paradise in the foreground, as a regular pegasus pony. There has often been debate about this and whether or not this version of Paradise was either made or sold with the estate.

It's very clear that, at some point, Paradise was going to come with Paradise Estate. Not only the Hasbro catalogue, but also the insert for the year and the list Hasbro sent me mentions the playset "With Paradise Pony." The Fact File also includes Paradise, and its entry for Paradise Estate makes clear mention of her, indicating that she was originally going to come with the set. She can just be seen in the rear of the image, under the pool canopy.

(UK, 1987)

By the time the playset hit the store shelves, it was decidedly sans pony -which has been confirmed by many UK pony collectors who had the set from new. And the advert in the My Little Pony comic featured many of the year's little ponies - but Paradise was neither pictured or mentioned in the notes.

So what happened? Some theories suggest that Paradise the So Soft was to be sold with the estate, but got pulled at the last minute when So Soft Ponies were (for whatever reason) denied the UK line. But I'm not convinced by this. The evidence clearly shows that a prototype of Paradise exists - without so-soft flocking. This indicates that she was supposed to come out as a normal pegasus pony, much like Buttons and Magic Star.

Unless there was a problem with her name in the UK (and if marketing "Paradise Estate" wasn't a problem, I have no clue what it would be), the only reasoning seems to be that the playset was already expensive enough without a pony companion. There's nothing in the US literature that I have seen to intimate any intention for the Estate to have a pony over there. It is possible, I suppose, that that was the original idea, and it was just scrapped from all lines. But with the US release a year before the UK one, you would not expect to find mistakes in the UK marketing material by 1987.

Whatever the reasons, I think it was a tragedy that this version of Paradise was never released. Of all the pony characters I loved as a kid, she is the only one that yet remains unattainable.