How My Little Pony toys are named & how Hasbro snuck the name Waterfire in under the radar

At the 2008 My Little Pony Fair, some of the MLP team were kind enough to talk to us about some of the details that go into making any MLP toy a reality. At the time, collectors were concerned why some G3 ponies had changed names between waves of the toys and the discussion of this lead to some interesting insights into how My Little Pony toys get their names. I’m going to try to recap this info as best as I can but someone may have a video of this discussion up on YouTube somewhere if you want the whole thing from the source.

The MLP team explained that naming ponies isn’t as simple as just making up a cute name. They actually have to go through a rigorous approval process for each and every name because My Little Ponies aren’t just cutie marked… they’re also trademarked. Before any pony name can be finalized, they have to make sure they aren’t running afoul of any other company’s trademark or copyright and many seemingly innocent names never made it past this stage.

They also mentioned that, for international markets, it’s easier when the pony has a nonsense name (say, Scootaloo) instead of a name made of real English works (such as Ivy or Firefly). If you notice, while many pony names in the earlier generations were common English words, the focus with the later generations has increasingly been on these “created” names that combine multiple words to make the name. The reason, according to Hasbro, was that they both ran into less issues with translations (imagine if a cute pony name in English meant something horrifying in another language) and, in many cases, didn’t need to translate the name at all. It must make it much easier on their marketing department if they can use the same name in both the English and international markets (not to mention how much less confusing this is for us collectors in the international world of the internet).

While all this was a fascinating look into the world of MLP to begin with, the woman we were speaking with shared fun little bit of trivia. Many times, the staff has tried to sort of sneak inside jokes or internal references past the censors and, though they rarely succeed, they succeeded at least once with Waterfire.

See, the Hasbro HQ is located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Nearby Providence, RI has an annual tradition called WaterFire which is a favorite of tourists and residents alike. You can read about this unusual tradition on the official website here. But here is a picture of the nightly display to give you an idea of what it is like.

Photo by David Amadio

It’s cool. We were lucky that WaterFire coincided with the 2008 MLP Fair and many of us got to see the display in person that year. It was impressive.

WaterFire is exactly the sort of name that never should have made it through because of the ties to this annual event but somehow the MLP team managed to sneak it past the approval process. Waterfire is the name of a pretty cool MLP from the third generation.

Waterfire. Photo courtesy of

While the average person may see her as just another MLP, collectors have come to hold her in special regard because its like we’re in on the inside joke. More than that, it’s really neat to know that she means something special to the team behind My Little Pony and is more than just a nonsense word they created to be able to get their trademark. From a collecting standpoint, this has effected her value and she ends up being one of the higher priced ponies from this set.

What do you think? Does knowing her history make you appreciate this pony a little bit more?

Hillary got her very first pony in 1983 and has been hooked ever since! When she isn’t obsessing about ponies, she can be found all over the internet as she writes for quite a few blogs. Hillary is also a playwright, fiction and non-fiction writer as well as the author of the first and only price guide to She-Ra collectibles.

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  • Cayci Suitt Robold

    The Hasbro Rep who told us this at the fair was Michelle Paolino who was Sr. Director, Girls Marketing during most of the G3 years (she has since been promoted to Vice President, Global Brand Marketing & Strategy). I talked to her on this subject for a while with Toola Roola being our example (and I got her to sign my fair pony). Fun Fact: Shell-Belle is named after her; it was a childhood nickname.

    • Hillary

      Thanks for writing that up, Cayci! I wished they’d let us do that sort of one on one Q&A at the 2011 Fair in RI as well. That was really my favorite part of the whole thing, especially getting to talk with Bonnie. :-)

  • Jim Raynor

     it’s easier when the pony has a nonsense name (say, Scootaloo) 
    that poor chicken :/

  • Daniel Smith

    Fascinating read, makes me glad to see Hasbro putting so much care and effort into their products!

    • Patricgardner321

      in the names yes i wish they put the same effort in the g4 toys as they did in g3, i am not a toy collecter but it seems the toys  should match the qualitie of the series. G3 show was really bad but i will admit it had some great toys. 

      • Hillary

        G3 never really had a “show” persay, just some specials, direct to DVD, etc.

      • Cayci Suitt Robold

        Keep in mind that G1-3.5 revolved around the toys, and the shows only existed as marketing. FIM/G4 is the other way around, with everything revolving around the show and the toys being secondary.

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