Before your mind goes to dark and dirty places in order to decipher what “MLP” stands for, let’s get this straight: MLP is Hasbro’s pastel-sweet cartoon My Little Pony, and a brony is a male My Little Pony fan. More specifically, they are fans of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic incarnation of the franchise.

While the subculture is believed to have started in the United States, Singapore alone has more than a thousand members in the Singapore Bronies Society Facebook group.

In 2014, a documentary called A Brony Tale explored the phenomenon and shed light on the American community of teenage and adult fans. That same year, The New Paper (the old version) reported on the spread of the fad to our shores.

So, bronies could be among you when you catch the latest My Little Pony The Movie in theatres. Here’s what you should know about them.


1. How did it start?

Just another day at BronyCon 2016. (Image credit: BronyCon Facebook Page)

Just another day at BronyCon 2016. (Image credit: BronyCon Facebook Page)

The community is said to have started innocuously enough with a bunch of fathers and uncles who chanced upon My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic when they were made to sit through the cartoons with their daughters or nieces. This new television series premiered in October 2010, decades after the initial creation of the MLP girls’ toys by Hasbro in the 1980s.

Pleasantly surprised by the TV series’ complexity and depth, the men went on to a web community called 4chan to praise and discuss the show. You might think that “brony” is simply a portmanteau of “brother” and “pony”, but the term actually came about because the discussion had started on the /b/ 4chan message boards.


2. BronyCon is a thing

Ending BronyCon 2017 on a high in August. (Image credit: BronyCon Facebook Page)

Ending BronyCon 2017 on a high in August. (Image credit: BronyCon Facebook Page)

Thousands attend BronyCon, an annual fan convention held on the east coast of the United States for bronies. The inaugural BronyCon started with about 100 fans in midtown Manhattan in 2011, and grew to a peak of more than 10,000 attendees in 2015.

Most attendees are male, but there are also girls who consider themselves bronies. Hundreds of panels and activities are available at BronyCon, ranging from cosplay, music concerts, card game tournaments, and presentations. Presentations of what? Fanart, music, writing, and video productions. Bronies actually create their own original songs about the series, and have animated videos which could beat the original animation in terms of sophistication.


3. Are Bronies gay or queer? Are they paedophiles?

When you make friends, you make magic. (Image credit: Lionsgate)

Apparently there’s a scene in the movie where the ponies trade their wings for fins. (Image credit: Lionsgate)

Answer to the first question: Not necessarily. Answer to the second: It’s not a paedophilic group. Bronies in general do seem to be genuinely huge fans of MLP, though if, you stumble upon the Singapore Bronies Society Confessions Facebook group, you could get really weirded out.


4. Bronies in Singapore

The Straits Times last reported on them in 2015 with a RazorTV video which we cannot load now, and The New Paper’s article dates back to 2014. At the time, bronies liked to gather in Rapid Culture, a collectible toys store at Funan DigitaLife Mall, and in *scape. Since the demolition of Funan DigitaLife Mall last year, Rapid Culture has transitioned to be a community-building portal with weekly events, but the last MLP event seems to be a (card game) tournament held in June 2014.

That said, Singapore’s most famous doll collector, @jianyang1979, seems to have started collecting MLP merchandise of late. Pictures of MLP merch have appeared on his Instagram feed of late – might he be a brony? Somebody, ask the man.


5. Why do guys love MLP so much?

Two guys at a photo booth during BronyCon 2016. (Image credit: BronyCon Facebook Page)

Two guys at a photo booth during BronyCon 2016. (Image credit: BronyCon Facebook Page)

Because they want to believe that friendship is magic. Bronies do not like to fulfil the stereotype of an average man – they want to be themselves and like what they like. Some have shared that the MLP universe is liberating.

But perhaps the best way to find out why MLP is so appealing is to watch the winged horses in action yourself.

The latest full-length MLP feature, My Little Pony The Movie, sees a new dark force threaten Ponyville. Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rarity have to embark on an unforgettable journey beyond Equestria where they meet new friends and exciting challenges on a quest to save their home with the magic of friendship.

Just bear in mind that the person with long purple hair next to you in the cinema may not necessarily be a girl.

Sources: The New Paper, Straits Times, Daily Beast