It’s no secret that Mickey Mouse has evolved in response to consumer pressures. Once a violent river-rat, he became the boy scout of rodents with good looks to match. Steven Jay Gould famously charted Mickey’s pedomorphosis over the years. The mouse reverted to a baby’s bigger skull, bigger eyes, and pudgier snout.
As a child of the 80s and 90s, I’ve noticed the same trend in the toy brands that once littered the floor of my suburban bedroom. Boys toys may be constrained to adult (and therefore masculine) characteristics, but girls’ toys are free to fall under the consumer pressures of the Mickey Effect.
The My Little Pony (MLP) reboot exhibits a classic retention of juvenile characteristics into adulthood, a process known as neoteny. The eyes are bigger, the face is rounder and flatter, and the body size and leg length are reduced. Compared to the more conventional equine outline of the original series, the new MLP appears based on an infant, even fetal stage of development.