In April, I was visiting terrycloth and he mentioned having stopped at a local Toys 'R Us to look at My Little Pony(tm) figures. He lamented that they were mostly ugly ("Ugly? How can you make and ugly My Little Pony(tm)?" "I don't know! But they did!") and they didn't have all the figures from the show.
Since I am, of course, an oversized child, I wanted to go look at the ponies too. They did have a large and very pretty toy of Princess Celestia, and some rather ugly small ponies, and some medium-sized ponies that looked about right, and some tiny ponies with molded manes and tails instead of brushable ones ("What's the point of a My Little Pony(tm) without a brushable mane? Brushing them is the whole point!" "It's obviously for the adult male fans of the show that just want figures for their desks and don't want to bother with brushing.") They had a set for Friendship is Magic, which was bizarrely missing half the main character ponies (although including Celestia and Spike). We left somewhat discontent.
A week later when I was back home, I took a poke at Hasbro's website to see if the full selection was better than what one store carried.
And I discovered that Hasbro sold blank ponies.
I've known for some years about the community of pony-modders: people who make custom My Little Pony figures with wild accessories and modifications. What I had not known is that Hasbro actually encourages these people by selling unpainted ponies. I thought of pony-modding as something requiring, I don't know, power tools and modeling clay and m4d skillz, not a white pony and a marker.
... I had to have some.
I put off ordering any for a week to see if the urge to paint my very own pony would go away. It didn't (playing with the pony-maker paperdoll app probably did not help) and at last I broke down and ordered half a dozen. The figures are pretty cheap -- $5 each -- but shipping isn't, so I figured I might as well get several. The other advantage to buying several was that I didn't really know what I wanted to do with them. If I only bought one, I would angst over making the Perfect Custom Pony out of it. If I bought six, I could just experiment, secure in the knowledge that if I got a better idea later, there were MOAR PONIES just waiting to be painted.
This is my first one: Eclipse. I actually finished her last weekend, but it took me this long to get around to (a) photographing her and (b) pulling the pictures off my phone. You can click on the little pictures to see larger versions on my Flickr account.
I penciled in the flames for her and then started coloring her with markers, but while most of the colors worked, the black marker came out as a swirly grey-brown. Kind of a neat effect, actually, but not what I wanted. So I switched to acrylic paints, which came out well visually although did not dry quite right. She's still a little tacky to the touch and picks up dust easily; I need to buy a fixative spray to coat her with. Her mane was colored with my Tria markers, and I'm very pleased with how well that worked overall. I did have to use a flea comb on her mane and tail to get the hairs to separate completely after coloring -- the marker ink made them stick to each other at first.
I'm pretty happy with her overall. I already know what I want to do for my next custom pony. Eventually I will probably get ambitious and try clothing or wings or somesuch. Perhaps I will even (eeeee!) research pony-modding to find out how people who actually know what they're doing do it. But there's something about research that's less fun than just diving in and seeing what happens.