Thursday, August 14th, 2008
Last Call: Port-a-Pony Sticky Goodness
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?