Last Call: Port-a-Pony Sticky Goodness

Two close-up photos of tan and black stick pony heads and one overview photo of a stick pony with its pole extended.

A Port-a-Pony caught my eye at a toy store yesterday. "Ahh, clever," I thought.

It is a stick horse with an expanding handle. The big idea is that the stick collapses like a telescope into the horse’s head for compact storage. At its extended length the pony is 36 or 39 inches, depending on which online source you believe, rated for 3- or 4-year-olds.

A bandana secured around the pony’s neck obscures the point where the pony’s lifeless body was separated from its head. While the pony comes in several colors, the bandanas are apparently always red. The color helps simulate the gory illusion for anyone wishing to recreate the horse-head-in-bed scene from The Godfather.

Two AA batteries and a squeeze of the pony’s ear elicit whinny or galloping sounds.

Sadly, after scouring the web for background information on Port-a-Pony, I am left with the impression that the product has been discontinued. The manufacturer’s website listed on the in-store box, skmtoys.com, doesn’t display the toy and there was a date of 2003 in a copyright or trademark notice or somesuch on the box.

I wonder why Port-a-Pony wasn’t a hit. Was it the notion of a plastic-instead-of-wood stick horse, or did the telescoping handle start collapsing when used by especially short children? Perhaps we’ll never know.

A few online retailers still sell the toy, namely brandsonsale.com which specializes in "unique and hard to find items." Get it while you can, or not.

My daughter has a generic battery-assisted horse and (my personal favorite) an all-wood horse made by a mother and given to us as a party favor at her son’s third birthday party. It’s my favorite because it’s easy to clean and may still be in use 20 years from now. While electronic sounds excite kids, I try to avoid toys that depend upon them, so we remove the batteries whenever possible. Unfortunately, with stick horses that usually requires removing the horse’s ear because manufacturers don’t provide access to the battery.

Do your child(ren) enjoy stick horses, and did you opt for a battery-assisted one? They seem like a strong gender-neutral toy that marketers have mostly missed, except for a few girlish stick unicorns. Why not a stick camel or stick llama? Stick tyrannosaurus?

Comments

11 Responses to “Last Call: Port-a-Pony Sticky Goodness”

  1. Michele says:

    My son just uses a broom as a pony :)
    And he ALWAYS gets me a broom so that I can gallop after him too. Stick horses are great, but I really think I could do without the battery powered noises.

    August 14th, 2008 at 12:24 am

  2. anastasiav says:

    My son has a hand-me-down pony with a wooden stick and a button in the ear you can press for sound. However, on the battery compartment there is an on/off toggle switch for the sound.

    I like toggle switches. Wish more noisemaking toys had them.

    August 14th, 2008 at 5:20 am

  3. Paul says:

    Both my kids have enjoyed our stick horse, “Sally.” When my 11 year old was in pre-school I took him to a large toy retailer and told him he could pick out a toy as a reward for memorizing his Ten Commandments. I expected him to gravitate towards Legos, Hot Wheels, Rescue Heroes, or some other similar “exciting” toy. Surprisingly, he grabbed the stick horse and picked that. It does have the ear-squeeze whinny button, but for some reason the batteries are ALWAYS dead. :) . He has outgrown it, but our 4 1/2 year old girl loves to play princess, have picnics with Sally, and has even covered its stick with a blanket and put it down for a nap. Of all the money we have spent on toys over the years, this is definitely the best $20 we have laid down.

    Needless to say, AJ, I would DIG a stick llama! Maybe if you squeezed its ear it would spit! :)

    August 14th, 2008 at 12:18 pm

  4. MoJo says:

    We have a stick horse that my Aunt made for me when I was 5. My mom gifted it to our daughter for her 3rd birthday complete with cowgirl boots and hat. It is cumbersome to find a home for it, but it is really enjoyed when we bring it out. I don’t know if you have heard of the PoKnee, but for my son’s first xmas (2005), we just had to have one. We had seen it on Oprah and it seemed like a cute idea…a horse for your leg when playing horsey. Of course it was expensive and never played with. I think it is now stored in Grandma’s attic….

    August 14th, 2008 at 1:00 pm

  5. Kathleen says:

    Thinking that our 3 year old would LOVE to sweep, we got him a little broom. “Sweeping” lasted a whole 2 days….now the broom is used as a catapult…and a weapon when mom isn’t looking.
    Since stick pony would make an even better weapon, I think we’ll have to pass. “sigh”

    August 14th, 2008 at 5:39 pm

  6. jen says:

    The llama would be insanely delightful.

    I vote for a stick alligator. Makes for those wrestling sessions to be far more realistic.

    August 14th, 2008 at 6:52 pm

  7. CanCan (Mom Most Traveled) says:

    We have a stick horse that looks just like this with the plush head and the ear button, but the stick is wooden and painted black. Maybe they just discontinued the telescoping stick and gave it a new name?
    It is an awesome toy. The sound effects only last about 7 or 8 seconds, so they aren’t annoying. Usually my son is so busy “riding” the horse that he doesn’ t have time to press the button repeatedly.

    August 14th, 2008 at 7:15 pm

  8. AnjieNet says:

    We have two stick horses, both of which were hand-me-downs from cousins. At least one of them is from the Spirit horse movie. My daughter plays with both of them alternating which is her favorite week by week. With two, Mommy gets to play horsey as well. My daughter generally supplies her own horse sounds as opposed to using the sounds supplied by pressing the ears. She’s had these horses since she could barely walk and still loves them.

    August 15th, 2008 at 1:38 pm

  9. Lisa says:

    My daughter has a stuffed ride on horse that has a rocker base and yes, you pinch the horses ear and it whinnys and nays. Pinch the other ear and you get the tail to twitch. It’s cute and my daughter loves it. I have no fear of her falling off and hurting herself on something wooden. I have considered getting my kids a stick pony from time to time, but reconsidered. A long-ish anything turns into a weapon with my 4yr old DS…..and yanno, a horse’s head on a stick? That’s kind of morbid. How do you explain that?

    August 18th, 2008 at 10:53 am

  10. AJ says:

    A while ago someone told me she couldn’t give her kids a railway set because they would pull the track apart and hit each other with it.

    Here’s my uncomfortable reaction: that’s not an issue with the train track; it’s an issue with how the kids have been raised.

    If you’re worried about your kid using a stick horse as a weapon, you have a serious situation because virtually any object can be used as a weapon.

    August 18th, 2008 at 11:16 am

  11. tawni says:

    My youngest son just turned one last week. I never thought about getting him a stick pony until last night. Honestly…. He was standing there with the broom between his legs and fussing like he was mad. Daddy of course wondered what was wrong..I said he’s trying to fly like mommy! Yep, time for a stick horse.

    August 26th, 2008 at 3:31 pm

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