And now, Scary-Crayon reviews... Fantasy Land

If you've been reading Scary-Crayon recently, you know all about my newfound interest in My Little Pony and ponies in general. Given the focus of a lot of SC content, you probably haven't been surprised that that interest has manifested itself in numerous toy purchases, both of official Hasbro ponies and me-too ponies from other companies. But you might be surprised to learn that (in addition to posting MLP fanart and toy photos on DeviantArt) I've also bought a couple of My Little Pony coloring books.

And one pony coloring book that Hasbro executives would commit seppuku before rubber stamping.

Fantasy Land

Enter Fantasy Land! As you can see from the price tag, I picked this up for 79 cents at Ollie's. (GOOD STUFF CHEAP!) It's not a bad deal for a coloring book with roughly 100 pages of ponies to color, and I could totally see a thrifty mom buying this for her MLP-loving daughters in the interest of saving a quarter. (You can get an actual MLP coloring book with almost as many pages for a buck.) I could also see a sinister mom buying buying this for her daughters because she wants to give them nightmares.

But let's not jump ahead! Unlike pretty much all other wannabe pony merchandise, this book doesn't even have the word "pony" in the title: it's just called "Fantasy Land." Which is kinda suspicious. I mean, whose fantasy land is this book supposed to depict? If you asked me to describe my own personal fantasy land, I might ultimately get around to mentioning a pony toy display -- long after I noted the presence of Lena Headey and Amy Acker in Illyria costume and a closet of trench coats in various colors and a greyscale amusement park and a working TARDIS -- but I can almost guarantee you there wouldn't be a single living pony trotting around and funking up the joint. Well, unless it were a cyborg pony with its stomach and intestines removed and replaced with an enriched uranium power cell. Cyberpony must also have Archangel wings.

But back to the question: just whose fantasy land is this book supposed to depict? Perhaps a closer look will yield an answer.

I love springtime and feasting on the souls of aborted babies in Purgatory!I'm a chunky pony and I fly in circles.
where this trail leads, you won't need any eyesCome closer! My horn's not that sharp...

Notice anything peculiar about the above pictures? They appear to be different ponies (well, the top-right and bottom-left ones might be the same, though the bottom one looks notably slimmer), but they all have the exact same face with the exact same creepy stare. Oh, and it is a creepy stare. Those ponies aren't just looking in your direction: they're looking at you. More than that: they're looking into you. It doesn't matter how you tilt the page or where you stand; it doesn't even matter if you close the book and bury it beneath a pile of pink-striped socks: no matter what you do, the ponies of Fantasy Land will always be stargazing into your very soul. And what they see apparently fills them with a manic, ravenous hunger that would freeze your blood if you knew the extent of its enthusiastic depravity.

I'm happy 'cause my legs are deformed!Mine too! Let's be deformity pals.

Back to the similarities between the ponies: if the above specimens aren't proof that there's some serious cloning happening in Fantasy Land, I don't know what is. Look at them! Yes, their hairstyles are different, and one's an earth pony and one's a pegasus. But they share the same body right down to their deformed and/or broken front legs, because I'm pretty sure actual horse/pony legs don't bend like that. Genetic cloning without regard for defects and horrific results, all in the name of scientific inquiry? I think we've answered our earlier question: these ponies clearly dwell on the Fantasy (Is)Land of one Dr. Moreau.

Find 2 that are the same.

So really, the book is just fucking with us with activities like this. "Find 2 that are the same"? This book is filled with nothing but ponies that are the same. The better activity for the above assortment would be "Find 1 that isn't suffering from arthritis."

Tall grass makes it easier for me to sneak up on you!It only LOOKS like it's sleeping...
Well, at least you're safe from vampires in the daylight.This pony is awesome and cool.

As eerily similar as all of these ponies look, though, the book does occasionally try to spice things up by showing them in various environments and in different poses. A couple of pictures have the ponies resting (though the top-right image is the only picture in the book in which a pony doesn't appear to be staring at you); others show them navigating flowering meadows and overgrown fields and cloud-filled skies. Sometimes the sun is visible behind them. And on just a few pages, you get a really dynamic -- and admittedly cool -- shot like the bottom-left image. Eat your heart out, Rainbow Dash!

because the dead shine all night longAttack me if you dare, gravity; I will defy you.Goodbye, cruel world!

Speaking of different environments and poses, a disturbing number of pages in the book depict the ponies poised as if to leap off of cliffs. Now, a good number of these images feature pegasus ponies, but a handful of these images have ponies with no wings -- and thus, presumably, no way of taking to the skies and thereby avoiding splattering on the rocks below. Oh, woe to these unhappy unicorns and downtrodden earth ponies whose agonizing physical defects and endurance of countless genetic experiments and guilt borne of feeding on the souls of so many innocent toddlers have driven them to these literal precipices of despair! Don't jump, My Little Clonies: it gets better.

Play Tic-Tac-Toe with a friend.Every breath you take...

Another activity! Here, you can play tic-tac-toe with a friend... or with an enemy, since I can't imagine anyone knowingly subjecting a friend to the hooved horrors of Fantasy Land. Even so, however, I question how the hell the creators of this book expect kids to be able to concentrate on the game with that pony staring at them the way it does. Seriously, that pony appears elsewhere in the book twice, and every time it's hella unnerving. Yes, every pony in Fantasy Land is staring directly at you, but this pony isn't simultaneously trotting through the meadow or flying through the sky or striking a pose or contemplating suicide: it's only looking right at you and it doesn't give a good goddamn if you know it. If you ever meet this pony at the club, ladies, don't accept any drinks from it and make sure someone walks with you to your car.

Cut out and make your own pegasus

Cut out and make your own pegasus! Or make your own pile of butchered pegasus pieces. Your call.

Finish drawing this castle for me.Draw some fruit on the tree for me to eat.

More games! But note the rudeness of these ponies. There are no magic words printed on these pages, because they're not politely asking you to feed them and construct their homes. They're fucking demanding it. "Finish drawing this castle for me." "Draw some fruit on the tree for me to eat." "Kneel and worship and draw your fingers to the bone in the service of your clone pony overlords."

Om nom nom.

There, pony -- there is your fruit on the tree. Bon appétit.

That pony sure looks familiar...yay

Also, if that castle-demanding pony above looked familiar to you, you're not alone! The same pony (or one that shares its genes and stylist) appears elsewhere in the book -- and with some added digital coloring, the pony looks remarkably similar to My Little Pony's Fluttershy. Yay? More like neigh. Still, it probably shouldn't surprise us that the lunatics who'd create an entire island of cloned ponies would incorporate DNA from superior specimens into their work.

That's some quality H2O.There's a moon over Bourbon Street tonight

Speaking of color, it's interesting how color can entirely change one's interpretation of a picture, isn't it? What was once a generic unicorn drinking from a stream is now Twilight Sparkle after discovering the secret to Princess Celestia's longevity. Not pictured: the still-warm corpses of the Cutie Mark Crusaders. :(

Can't sleep; pony'll eat me

I like this maze because it's impossible to finish without encountering the giant horror pony in the center -- which means it's impossible to finish, because any parties who rolled into that clearing and saw that creepy stare fixed on them would turn right the fuck back around. At least we now know what the Fantasy Land of Dr. Moreau has in common with the DOS version of TMNT1.

Draw me some wingsConnect the dots, la la la-laFuck it, I'LL DO IT MYSELF

And we've skipped a lot of pages along the way (feel free to reward my mercy with cash) -- and the images posted above have been somewhat out of order -- but here are the final three pages in the book in the order in which they're printed. Note how hilariously insulting they are. First, kids are tasked with drawing wings on a pony. (And they'd better do it fast, since that pony is clearly falling through the sky without a safety net. Could this be one of the depressed ponies we discussed earlier? Maybe this activity will be good training for future suicide hotline counselors.) But apparently the creators of this book thought drawing pony wings freehand was too hard for idiot children, because on the very next page there's a pony with wings (well, a wing) for kids to complete by connecting the dots. Also telling? This is the only connect-the-dots activity in the book, which clearly marks it as stemming from a lack of confidence on the part of the authors.

And then, finally, you've got a pegasus pony standing proud and winged (and at the edge of a cliff) without any assistance from your stupid kids. Fantasy Land ponies don't need help from outsiders, goddamnit! So maybe it's not just Dr. Moreau's Fantasy Land -- maybe this land where every pony looks the same and foreign aid is scorned and limited government reigns (because big government would certainly have placed restrictions on the rampant genetic cloning taking place here) would appeal to Ron Paul libertarians as well.

This is not my fantasy AT ALL.

On the back cover, we leave Fantasy Land with a final image of four ponies -- which is also, notably, the only picture that shows multiple ponies in the same place together. Unfortunately, that confirms our cloning theory (but would it have been more comforting to think that every image in the book was the same schizophrenic pony with a retractable horn and detachable wings and a whole bunch of differently styled wigs in its wardrobe?), and it's in line with the latter suggestion of Ron Paul's beliefs as well: note that no earth pony was deemed worthy to have its likeness appear in color. Perhaps this is because, according to the magical pony upper class, 95 percent of the earth ponies in Fantasy Land are either semi-criminal or entirely criminal.

Or perhaps we're just reading way too much into a book filled with pages upon pages of near-identical clonies with malformed limbs staring intently at us with hungering eyes and manifest desires to greedily feast upon our immortal souls. And really, under those conditions, who could blame us for being a little paranoid?

-- Wes --
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