“Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to the eyes of men. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake and sleep, we grow strong or weak; and at last some crisis shows what we have become”
This quote came to mind while I was watching My Little Pony. To be particular, an early episode from 2010 featuring “The Great and Powerful Trixie”, a character who is unusually complex for a children’s cartoon, so much so that I think it warrants further exploration. We’ll look at some merchandise along the way, too, because this is Toy Meets World after all, not blimmin’…. Pony… Love… World.
In the world of My Little Pony, Trixie is a travelling magician, wowing audiences across the land with her tall tales and dazzling magic. However, she’s really a fraud and a mean-spirited braggart. She’s never done any of the great and noble deeds she’s claimed to have done, and her powerful magic spells are nothing but cheap parlour tricks that she uses to humiliate and embarrass others.
Her big mouth and imperious attitude soon get her into trouble when the town of Ponyville is set upon by a giant, rampaging bear. The townsfolk believe it’s the dreaded Ursa Major and turn to Trixie for help. After all, she claims to have once defeated the beast.
Obviously, poor Trixie is no match for the monster, and turns tail with the rest of the village. Local wallflower Twilight Sparkle steps up and puts the bear to bed (literally) with her innovative and powerful magic, saving the town and humiliating Trixie in the process.
Twilight also informs us that it wasn’t an Ursa Major that attacked the town, but an Ursa Minor. A baby. When asked what the real thing looks like, she says we’ll all sleep better not knowing.
The Great and Powerful Trixie, learning nothing from the experience, has one last dig at Twilight and then disappears in a puff of theatrical smoke. Although as the haze clears, we see that she hasn’t disappeared at all, but is humorously running away into the distance.
This episode quickly established Trixie as a fan-favourite character. So we all did a little cheer and a little wee in our pants when she returned two whole years later.
In her quest to hold on to her self-appointed title, The Great and Powerful Trixie comes across a cursed amulet that grants extraordinary power. She sets her sights on Ponyville, determined to show up Twilight and establish herself as the #1 Magic Pony. However, the evil amulet corrupts her and she soon winds up committing despicable evil deeds.
She becomes a despot, ruling over Ponyville and forcing Twilight into exile. She also develops an acute mistrust of wheels (I don’t know why, either).
Ever the helpful and dependable pony, Twilight Sparkle soon returns to take on Trixie in a duel. Realising she can’t match the evil magic of the amulet, Twilight instead fights with cunning and guile, duping Trixie into removing it herself and giving up the power.
Freed from the amulet’s curse, she sees the error of her ways. Vowing – with her characteristic aplomb – to become the “Great and Apologetic” Trixie, she once again flees the village in a puff of smoke, this time tripping over her cape and falling on her face in the process. It’s a neat little touch, and illustrates that she’s finally learned some humility.
Trixie is pompous and boastful, but this is simply a veil to mask her deep insecurities. And in that way I think we can all relate to her. Aren’t we all afraid of being inferior? Everyone exaggerates now and then, or tries to punch above their weight. Sometimes it’s the only way we think we can be taken seriously by our peers. They say the first part of confidence is the con, and Trixie’s tale is a cautionary one, showing what happens if you go too far.
It’s easy to paint her as the villain of the picture, and say that she’s a smug bitch. But I think she’s really quite sweet, a bit of a softie under her hard exterior.
Speaking of soft things, plush toy peddlers Build-a-Bear give you the opportunity to go into the shop and give your very own Trixie a good stuffing. She even comes with her trademark floppy hat and cape! Sold separately, of course.
Pretty cool, and sure to give you sweet dreams at bedtime. Other plushes are available – if you don’t mind unlicensed goods – and these usually eschew the Barbie-doll hair for fabric.
If you like it a bit harder, Funko do good vinyl figures. They win points for being large, very cartoon-accurate and good value for money, but they lose points because they’re not that good for cuddling. You could lose an eye on that hat.
Also available is a statue of Trixie, by Karol Pawlinski. They’re mass produced and licensed, but essentially fan-made. Why Hasbro don’t make merchandise of their own characters, instead leaving it up to third parties and knock-off artists, I shall never know.
I think they’re wicked, and she takes pride of place on my shelf, alongside my expensive Transformer toys and that tag the policemen said I need to wear.
To sum up, I like Trixie a lot. Both as a character and because the episodes she appears in make me think deep thoughts. I think the stories in question were meant to make you side with Twilight and her friends, to see it from their point of view, but I think it’s fun to press your face to the other side of the glass once in a while and see things from another’s point of view. Good and bad are usually just a matter of perspective.
“Removing it herself”