Recently, Joyful Clover's mother sent her the old 1980s My Little Pony Dream Castle playset that she enjoyed playing with as a child, but, Joyful Clover wasn't sure what to do with it, so, she sent me a private message and generously asked me if I'd like to have it. I wasn't sure if I had the room for something that large, but Rainbow Dash took it upon herself to clear some space with a few well-aimed kicks and threatened me with punishments so terrible that I can't even type them here if I failed to acquire her the castle that a pegasus of her lofty stature so rightly deserves, so I agreed. Joyful Clover even shipped it to me for free!
Now, some of you, especially those of you that have small children, may fancy that you understand irritation. Try spending several weeks having this conversation every thirty seconds. Stuffing your ears with cotton balls and then duct taping them shut helps . . . a little.
The big box finally arrived on my front porch on March 8th. I was a bit surprised by the size of the package. While I roughly knew, from photos of the castle that I have saved on my computer's hard drive, how big the castle really is, I also tend to mentally default to the dimensions of the current G4 ponies (they're much smaller than the original G1 MLP horses), which messes up my sense of scale.
Like most felines, Princess Butter Crumb, our cat, can't resist a box. Besides, she's a princess, so castles are in her blood!
I have to say that I'm getting a little concerned about the company she's keeping though (Garfield & Grumpy Cat). Those two just can't be a good influence.
Just FYI, Princess Butter Crumb gives TERRIBLE doll pedicures.
Anyway, Hasbro released the My Little Pony Dream Castle playset in the early 1980s (between 1982-1984 if memory serves) and it was naturally on many little girls' birthday and Christmas wish lists. Aside from being a fabulous medieval environment for all of your little vinyl horsies to socialize in, it also included the regal white unicorn, "Majesty", and every pony's favorite reptilian sidekick, "Spike" the little purple dragon. Here's a shot of the original box and another photo of everything that was included in a complete set:
Now, Joyful Clover's castle was acquired from a yard sale when she was a little girl, and many years have passed since then, so, it's understandably not complete. The only accessory she had was Majesty's blue throne, and there's some relatively minor structural damage and wear-and-tear on the building itself as well.
One of the castle's white plastic flags was also missing, so, I decided to fabricate a replacement. Here are the papier mache flag pole components unassembled and assembled (but not permanently glued together yet). I ran an unbent paperclip through the hollow shaft for added strength, but everything else was fabricated from scratch out of nothing but newsprint, cardboard from a cereal box, tissue paper, and white glue.
Sometimes things work out a little too well. Once I had finished assembling and gluing together the five separate components of the replacement flagpole, I decided to do one last test fit before painting it. Well, I pushed the post a little bit too far down into the hole in the conical castle tower roof, the tabs (not shown in the images above, because I hadn't made them yet) cleared the hole, caught on the circular lip underneath, and snapped into position, exactly like they're supposed to, permanently locking the flagpole into place. That being the case, I couldn't remove the flagpole again without also ripping and shearing off said tabs and I sure wasn't in the mood to redo the bottom section of the flagpole, so, I just had to paint/seal things like that and call it a day. It's really not a big deal, as you can't see the unpainted end of the flag post unless you remove the tower roof and look way up underneath it, but even so, it shouldn't have happened. I even mentally warned myself not to push too far/hard so that the unpainted flagpole wouldn't lock into place, but I ended up doing just that anyway. Rainbow was not pleased.
Finally, here are the three finished flagpoles together, can you guess which one is the fake? The two original flagpoles were missing their purple labels, so I made new decals, out of painted newsprint, for all three. I really should have taken a photo of them in their "naked" state, for comparison purposes, but, it's hard to remember things like that with an annoying blue pegasus zooming in circles around your head telling you to hurry up. There was still some sticker residue left on the plastic flags, which was actually helpful, as that gave my new decals something to adhere to, as white glue doesn't bind that well to smooth plastic otherwise. The purple paint I used was too dark, compared to the original manufacturer's hue, which was more of a magenta, even though I tried to lighten it up by mixing in some red, but, it doesn't really matter. Oh, and the answer to my initial question is that the flag farthest to the right is the one I made from scratch.
This is what the closed, re-flagged Dream Castle looks like from several angles (the flag I made is on top of the left front tower). Something that kind of bugs me about this castle's design is that there's no way for normal horses to actually get up onto the second floor. Sure, pegasi can fly up there, but what about horses that can't? Hasbro should have incorporated a ramp or something. Sometimes multi-floor doll houses lack a staircase or elevator too, which also bothers me.
Here's some more pictures of the castle populated with ponies. The smaller horses are all McDonald's G4 (Generation 4, the current toy line) ones, because I just happened to have a big plastic bag full of them handy, and the plush are likewise G4. The castle itself is Generation 1, but, alas, I don't have any of those vintage horses (I currently only have G3, G3.5, and G4 ponies in my collection). Try to ignore that some of the same characters appear multiple times in the second photo-- Rainbow Dash has some kind of cloning operation going on, which she assures me is "totally legal", and its best not to ask too many questions about it. While I do have a lot more ponies than this, in various sizes/styles, I was too lazy to dig them all out of storage. And by "storage" I mean teetering, unstable piles of toys, books, and other crap that may collapse on top of me at any moment (it's like Jenga that can kill you--hoarding is exciting like that). I did want to take a photo of all of them together, with the castle, and some text reading, "How many ponies is too much?", and then Rainbow Dash replying "As long as the weight of your toy ponies doesn't exceed the weight of a real pony, you're within the legal limit.", but, that would have been just too much time/work to set up.
On another note, Joyful Clover also included this yellow structure, but it's not part of the Dream Castle playset, and, to the best of my knowledge, I don't think it's from another My Little Pony playset either, although I could be wrong. The walls detach from the roof, and it looks like there's supposed to be a floor section that's missing. I get the impression that it might have gone over a train track, or be the upper floor of a larger structure, but I really don't know. Do any of you recognize it? There aren't any copyright markings on it anywhere that I can see, as such, I'm completely clueless as to what toy line it might be from or who manufactured it.
I had grander plans for repairing and sprucing up the Dream Castle beyond the flags, but, unfortunately, life got in the way and I just didn't have the time or energy to follow through (it took me a little over two weeks just to make that one flag!) I promised Joyful Clover I'd publish a thread on Craftster about her gift by the end of the month, and, since I can't be online again until Monday, due to the Easter holiday, it had to be today.
Thank you very much again for your generous gift, Joyful Clover! Every magical horsey should have an enchanted castle for a home (so much better than a boring stable!), even if a certain rude little blue pegasus I know doesn't really deserve one . . .
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