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Cover Story

A visit to the My Little Pony Fair and Convention

The plastic pastel pony toys aren't just for little girls anymore

Photo: Christopher Balogh, License: N/A

Christopher Balogh

Aimée Findlay, a 30-year-old court reporter from Greenv ille, N.C., is not shy about expressing her love for My Little Pony.

Photo: Group Photo courtesy of Aimée Findlay, License: N/A

Group Photo courtesy of Aimée Findlay

Welcome to the herd: Conventioneers prove that My Little Pony fandom doesn't always end with childhood.

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There's a pony eating a panini in the café of the Rosen Plaza Hotel. She's not a real pony, of course – she's actually a 30-year-old court reporter from Greenville, N.C. Her name is Aimée Findlay, and while the rest of the people in the hotel café are sporting fanny packs and sunscreen, she's decked out in blue plastic pony ears, a rainbow mane made of streamers, furry leg warmers, fishnet stockings and baby-blue angel wings.

Findlay was dressed as Rainbow Dash, her favorite character from the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic cartoon series. She, along with hundreds of others, traveled to the Rosen on I-Drive in Orlando for the ninth annual My Little Pony Fair and Convention, "the world's first large-scale My Little Pony collector convention."

My Little Pony collectors and fans travel from all over the country – and even from other parts of the world – to meet others who share their passion for a toy that's plucked at the heartstrings of little girls for decades.

My Little Pony toys were first introduced to the toy market in the 1980s. The little molded ponies with big, anime-style eyes and soft, combable manes and tails, have inspired feature-length movies, animated TV series and spinoff toys, like My Little Puppy and a grown-up version of the ponies called Dream Beauties. The ponies were originally marketed to girls, and for probably most of the time they've been around, they've been thought of as a primarily girly plaything.

More recently, though, the ponies have gone viral – particularly over the past couple of years – and they've developed a far wider audience. No longer are they coveted only by pre-teens and toddlers – they're collector's items, art objects and the source of a crazy new fandom that's earned them an audience among 20- and 30-somethings who either grew up with them and remember them fondly, or who've fallen for the pony-loving meme that's sprung up around them.

Findlay, who drove to the convention with her father, says she's been a fan of My Little Pony since she was a kid and has been collecting the ponies for years. Like a lot of the attendees at this conference, she didn't leave the ponies behind in childhood, and today she's active on My Little Pony Internet message boards where she shares her passion for the toys with other adult fans. Today, My Little Pony is something of an obsession for her. Her costume is evidence of that.

"I heard about this convention back in April," Findlay says. "I am on a couple of the forums and couldn't wait to go. Since hearing about it, I have been working on this costume.  It's handmade."

It took her more than a month and a half to finish it, from the hand-stitched rainbow tutu to the fluffy ankle warmers and headdress.

She was, by far, the most tricked-out fan at the convention, but she wasn't the only adult pony-lover in this rodeo.

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