the Quest to Customize!
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The Quest to Customize!

So You Want To Make A Custom Pony?

Have you been bitten by the custom bug? Do visions of Baby Whizzer and Mommy Cuddles dance in your head? Do you now have the desire to create all 745 flutter ponies which appear in the last 8 minutes of "My Little Pony: The Movie"? If so, you have come to the right place! This page will give you a detailed description as to how to make a custom pony, including the materials, techniques and procedures which I have found work best for me.

A Brief Personal History

After discovering Dream Valley and Ebay in March of 1999, I had found and bought nearly every pony I had on my want list by August (not bad, eh?). I had checked Ebay one day in October during one of my mad hunts for the sea pony High Tide when I noticed an auction for a custom newborn Baby Heart Throb. I had seen customs before but had not been too impressed. But this Baby Heart Throb was JUST phenomenal. I couldn't get past how REAL she looked. A few emails to the talented genius who had created her, and I was officially bitten by the custom bug. Baby Moondancer (my bestest bud) and I brainstormed secretly during many English lectures and came up with the ponies you've just met. The ponies I've had made are mostly babies of the ponies I consider the all-time classics (which basically means pre-year 6, which is where my collecting basically stopped). I really don't consider the ponies made after Year 6 part of the magic of My Little Pony, more a forced and desperate continuation of a toy line whose glory days had long since passed. The picture above encapsulates everything that appeals to me about My Little Pony: the innocence, the magic, the nostalgia, the simplicity and, above all, the longing to escape once again to that world of unbounded imaginations and limitless possibility. I really don't think that, even if they tried, any toy company could ever recreate the magic and innocence we children of the 80s were lucky enough to witness in the first six years of My Little Pony. But I'm getting too philosophical . . . so on with the show!

Customizing Overview

Customizing is an incredibly creative process. For those of you foreign to the idea of customizing, surely you must be asking, “What, my dear, is the point?!" You're sure to find as many different answers to that question as customizers there are, but if you were to ask me, I'd have to say the reply is two-fold. First off, when you've collected all the ponies you want, there is sometimes an insatiable, monstrous craving for more. Yes, it is an addiction and I'm sure you know all too well the high I'm talking about. Customs help satisfy this desire for rare, collectable ponies. I mean, don't get me wrong- I LOVE Moondancer, but she isn't exactly at the top of too many want lists. So I dreamed up the Gusty-posed one you've seen among the Universal Unicorns, and my desire for a unique version of Moondancer is fulfilled. Moreover, I think she is simply beautiful with all that flowing, extra long mane. Second, and more important, is the fact that (for me at least) the entire point of customizing is to create a pony that is qualitatively indistinct from a factory creation. That's why color matching and technique are oh so vital to the process, which of course translates to three very important words: practice, Practice, PRACTICE! Customizing is not an easy craft, but nor is it anything near impossible, no matter how badly your early ones turn out. I've made many, many mistakes in my early days as a pony customizer (including using spray paint to turn Baby Moondancer into Baby Starlight- BIG mistake!) The truth is, it can be great fun if you know the appropriate techniques and TAKE YOUR TIME. Never rush a custom pony. She or he will arrive when she or he is ready. There will be many times when the pony just won't work the first time you try. Believe me, I know: Baby Pinwheel took no less than 35 (yes, thirty-five!) painting attempts- but it was time well spent since she is to date the very best custom pony I have ever made.

Creating A Custom: Part I

The very first thing you'll need to bring your vision to life is an idea: it can be anything under the sun, anything you believe will be a valuable addition to the realm of My Little Pony. Once an idea is set, you will need both hair and a donor body. My personal favorites for babies are the poses from the first set of Baby Ponies (Babies Glory-Moondancer (unicorn), Surprise-Firefly (pegasus), Cotton Candy-Blossom (earth)), which I'm sure you surmised from the repeated poses in the previous pages. To reroot the mane and tail of a baby you will need one adult tail. A baby's tail is usable, but it will only be enough for the mane of another baby. A full rerooting of an adult will require two full adult tails. Always get the best possible condition hair for your customs: frizzy donor hair will look frizzy on a custom as well. If the hair has minor frizz, it can still be used since it can be combed out or cut off when the rerooting is done. An important thing to remember is that when you are rerooting a custom pony which has multicolored hair (i.e. Mimic, Skydancer, Flutterbye, Gingerbread) it is best to get the hair in separate tails since it is too tedious a task to separate the mixed hair of multicolored tails. This may mean getting four different tails but it is well worth the investment since it will keep the hair separate and well organized. Some colored hair is rather hard to find since it is unique to one pony but I will help you locate which ponies have the harder to find colors in a later section. Also, if a pony has a really long mane like most of the Sweetheart Sisters, the manes can be used for rerooting as well, though through a slightly different technique.

Creating A Custom: Part II

Whenever possible, be sure to use a donor body which has the color you want or need, especially if you are creating the baby of one of the original creations. For example, Baby Cotton Candy is a good match for Parasol and makes an adorable Baby Parasol. If, however, you want the pony in a pose which was never made in the appropriate color, you will need to paint the pony. When painting a pony, you will first need to separate the head from the body and remove the tail and cut off the mane, removing the inner weave from inside the head with tweezers or scissors. When this is complete, use straight up acetone to remove the symbol. Acetone is simply ultra-strong nail polish remover and can be found at any drug store for about $2.00. When painting a pony it is best to make sure you never touch the pony while painting. For babies, I find it best to put the head on a standard Crayola Marker and hold the marker while painting. When painting the body, place the body on a flat, sturdy surface which you can hold in your hands (I use jar caps or vhs jackets!) Now comes the hard part . . .

Creating A Custom: Part III

The hardest part of customizing a pony is painting. It is best to use acrylic paints (I use Folk Art brands- Folk Art are relatively cheap and come in endless varieties so I tend exclusively toward this brand). In order to avoid the appearance of a paint job, you'll need to thin the paint out with water. Don't thin it so much that it drips off when you paint the pony, just enough so that when it dries it appears smooth and even. Rest assured, there will be MANY times when you'll want to chuck the pony out the window- DON'T! Painting will be difficult in the beginning but the more customs you do, the easier it will get. In time, you'll be able to get through the pony in less than three paints and repaints! It's taken me five months to get that good, so keep your spirits up! Almost as hard as painting the pony is finding the appropriate color. If you are making an original custom not based on an original pony, this does not apply to you. If, however, you are modeling your custom on an original, you will need to match the paint mixture to the pony's color. You must remember that paint dries darker than it appears in its liquid state, so white will be vital to any custom paint job. Painting can be both frustrating and fun. I myself enjoy it quite a bit. For example, when making Baby Tickle, I had to combine Heather (a medium purple), Dove Grey, and White to come up with the appropriate color combination. How did I know what colors to use? When I tried the original mixture it didn't match. Tickle looked greyer and lighter than what I had painted so I added the appropriate colors. The following page will give detailed paint recipes for the ponies of The Golden Autumn. One more thing: to get it right, you'll need the right kind of brush. I tried many types of brushes from fancy craft stores, but surprisingly, I've found that the best brush to use is the plain old Crayola paint brush which comes with any Crayola paint kit. I guess sometimes, simpler is better!

Creating A Custom: Part IV

When painting the pony, start with the body, not the head. It is best to test colors on the underside of the hooves of the pony. When you've found the right mixture, begin by painting the underbelly and inner part of the legs of the pony and working your way out toward the display side of the pony. YOU MUST BE SURE TO CATCH PAINT GLOBS which collect as the pony dries because the paint has been thinned and will certainly drip, albeit a little. Remove the globs with your brush or gently brush the globs off the pony. They generally collect on the edges of the pony's hooves. YOU MUST ALSO REMOVE ALL AIR BUBBLES because they will mar the pony's smooth body if left alone. Sometimes, all it takes is a gentle blow and they'll burst right away. Sometimes you'll need to remove them with a brush. If any blemishes are left when the paint has dried, you will need to remove the paint with acetone and begin painting all over again. When painting the head, be sure to stay away from painting on the pony’s eyelashes. The VERY last thing you want to do with a custom is draw in its eyelashes when you don't need to. Use a thin, smooth brush (or pointed toothpick even) when painting around the eyes. I prefer to paint around the eyelashes *first* and then the rest of the head though the final appearance of the pony does not differ much than if the eyelashes are painted around last.

Creating A Custom: Part V

When the painting has been completed, the pony MUST be allowed to dry for at least 24-48 hours. Do not even think about rerooting before enough time has elapsed, or you will end up scratching and gouging the paint which will send you back to part IV. When a day or two has passed, you can begin the rerooting process. Once the tail has been removed from the donor pony, the metal clasp can be removed using a standard kitchen knife. Pry it off by getting the knife under the two tabs which hold the hair in place. For each plug of hair you'll need about 10-15 strands of hair (I like a FULL mane). It helps if the hair is wet to keep it from getting all tangled and messy. Tie a knot in the middle of the grouped strands. Tie another knot and maybe even a third so as to prevent the hair from coming out of the pony's head. Now, trim the very tip of the tied strands so it is even. With a sufficiently large needle (about 1.5-2 inches long) thread the hair through the hole of the needle until the hair is even on both sides of the needle. Insert the needle from inside the pony's head and push the needle through the hole. It helps to have tweezers or a small wrench to help pull to the needle out (this also keeps your fingers from getting sore- ouch!). Gently pull the needle out with the tweezers and you've got the first plug of hair installed! Repeat the process until the entire mane has been completed. It will take a good two or three hours (longer for beginners) but it is not particularly difficult, just tedious work. Rerooting can be completed more quickly if the hair strands have been tied before their insertion. You can do this the day before you begin to reroot as the pony dries. The number of strands on a standard baby is usually around 41 or 42 total. If the donor hair comes from a pony with long hair like the Sweetheart Sisters, you can use the mane to reroot ONLY the mane of the custom pony. Cut the hair off as close to the top of the head as possible. Take two of the snipped plugs of hair and tie them at one end instead of the middle as you would with tail hair. Now trim and thread the hair as is described above. When the entire mane has been completed, trim the hair to the desired length, but in very, very small intervals. You don't want to cut it too short and have to reroot all over again (shiver!) As for the tail, simply take the remaining hair and replace it into the original metal clasp. Close the clasp as tightly as possible with tweezers or a wrench and insert the tail. For custom babies, I prefer to trim the tails just a touch as I think it looks nicer on the custom babies (sort of their custom distinction). Trim the tail no more than half an inch at a narrow angle and comb the tail out. Phew! You're almost done . . .

Creating A Custom: Part VI

Now that the pony is painted and fully rerooted, you need to add the symbol. For a non-glittery symbol you will need to thin out the paint as described in Part III. I always find it best to draw the symbol on a small piece of paper the size of symbol area and try a variety of different styles and ideas. When you have arrived at one which you think will work, cut out the pattern so that you in effect have a stencil of the symbol. Using the stencil, draw the symbol on to the pony in the appropriate area and paint away! You'll need to do several coats to get it to factory quality. For glitter symbols, repeat the stencil process and this time paint in the symbol using glue. Once the glue is in place sprinkle the symbol with glitter and allow it to dry for a good 15 minutes. When that is done, wipe away the stray glitter with a dry cotton ball. And wah lah! You are DONE! Step away from the pony and do a happy dance to your favorite song.

All's that's left . . .

The final touch on any pony I think is the presentation of the hair. Too often I see delightful customs not looking their best because of wild, unruly hair which hasn't been combed and styled properly. After the symbol has been given a day or two to settle in and look grand and official, be sure to give the pony the best possible look, as though she or he just stepped out of his or her mint box if Hasbro had in fact produced a similar masterpiece back in the day. Apply soapy water into the pony's mane and tail (never douse, dunk, or drown!) and comb the hair until the hair runs smooth and silky in its wet state. Wash the soap out under lukewarm water and comb the pony’s hair into place. Next, take a thin, small piece of plastic and wrap it around the pony's mane and seal it off with a piece of tape while the pony's mane dries. This will keep the pony's mane in place when the plastic is removed a couple of days later. When this has been completed, introduce this newly created magical being to her or his pony friends and send them off on adventures unknown! And that's all folks!

somehow, somewhere

a glimpse of bliss

a case of melancholy nostalgia

when dreams collide

a forest awakens


the promise of perfection

and then there were unicorns

song of my heart

what if

visions of my soul

tribute to sunbeam

custom recipes

links for the pony shrouded

the world of customs

alternate visions

If you are so inclined, you may link to this site using the following link and banner created by Sunbeam of Emerald Valley!

And for those of you who are wondering (and those of you who keep asking!) none of the ponies of The Golden Autumn are for sale. They are part of a personal collection and are far too dear to me to ever be put on the auction block! Thank you for understanding. For other queries, contact me at:

the golden autumn credits