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29 October, 2016

Filling You In #3: Classic Toy Lines

We continue our journey through the core toy lines of Filly in this sub-series of the Fill(y)ing You In series! Last time, we looked at the very first toy lines: Forest, Beach Party, Princess and Fairy. What unites these four lines is the element of realism, which, to be fair, weakens as the series goes on. The toy lines we will take a look today, while not being the most recent lines in the series, encapsulate what the Filly toy series are about to this day - this is the evolutionary plateau of the toy lines to this day, in many ways.

Filly Unicorn (2011)
Filly Unicorn website image
The first primary toy line after Fairy is Filly Unicorn, and at this point the series has dropped any and all pretense of being related to the real world, and has gone full fantasy. While Fairy was loosely connected to its predecessor (Princess), which in turn felt like a spin on its predecessors (Forest and Beach Party), Unicorn discards any connections and instead builds its own world with its own rules.
The six islands of Crystalia
Filly Unicorn takes place in the hovering kingdom of Crystalia: a set of five diamond-shaped islands (counter-clockwise from top left: Amoria, Belucia, Festivia, Amicia and Somnia) surrounding the central island (Iridia). The outer islands are connected to the inner one with magical rainbow bridges: they appear when the sunlight is refracted through the crystal in the central tower of Crystalia. Without these bridges, the land cannot operate, and this alone should tell you how strongly this setting is connected with magic.

Each island serves as home for its own family of Fillys: this time, instead of one or two family trees, the population is divided into five two-generational families, four Fillys each, plus the separate special Filly.
Family trees of Filly Unicorn
While Filly Unicorn is much more magical than the previous toy lines, the characters themselves, for the most part, are not imbued with magic to the max - they still either are devoid of magic, or possess nominal amount of it, with a few small exceptions and one big exception (the Somnia family, which hosts powerful magicians with the ability to manipulate dreams of Fillys and more). The bulk of magic comes in the form of the unicorns' environment: the aforementioned rainbow bridges, the fact that they live on islands in the sky, and some instances of magical flora and fauna.

One notable magical element is the crystals in the Fillys' crowns, realized in the merchandise (but not in the setting) as lead glass crystals known as Crystals from Swarovski®. These crystals grant the unicorns the ability to walk on the rainbow bridges. A crystal can be one of five colors, and it allows walking only on the section of the bridge of the same color. A wrong step means falling down into whatever is below Crystalia - and it is completely unknown what is there, if anything at all! The color of the crown crystal remains the same within one family. All subsequent toy lines would feature the crystals for every Filly, and the special Filly would have all five crystals in their crown. What exactly do these crystals represent?

While this is not inherently a magic concept, Filly Unicorn introduces a major element that still lives on in all primary toy lines since then: the Filly Rainbow.
The five colors of the Filly Rainbow
Starting from Unicorn, the overwhelming majority of Fillys are divided into five categories: Pink, Dark Pink, Yellow, Green and Blue. These colors do not have any link with the actual physical color of the Fillys - the connection is a bit more subtle than that. The meaning behind these colors change from toy line to toy line, but in Unicorn, the colors represent Love, Beauty, Parties, Friendship and Dreams, respectively. A Filly's connection to a color may tell you something about the Filly: for the most basic example, Pink Fillys are usually very fond and loving, while Yellow Fillys are excited and active. These colors are reflected in the crystals in Fillys' crowns, as well as other, toy line-specific ways. In Filly Unicorn, the color of a Filly's horn matches the color of the Rainbow the Filly is bound to.

Filly Unicorn is also the first Filly toy line with actual romance between some characters. The concept of pairing will later get its own dedicated Filly toy line, but even here the young Fillys from different families spend their time together and hope the love lasts for a lifetime.

Speaking of love!
Continuing with the tradition, Filly Unicorn presents its entry for the Main Five of Filly Funtasia: Rose, a young Filly from the Amoria family.
Rose of Filly Unicorn and Rose of Filly Funtasia
Even though Filly Princess is the iconic Filly toy line in the eyes of many, Filly Unicorn is very close to claiming this title as well - and in some regions, it has surpassed Princess in this regard. If you take all the details that make up Filly away and leave the absolute basics - they're equine, they have crowns, they are magical and they are friends - the result will be very close to what Filly Unicorn stands for.

Filly Elves (2012)
Filly Elves website image
Filly Elves continues with the formula established by Filly Unicorn, but develops the fantasy theme further: the Filly Rainbow is given a physical appearance in the form of the rivers of Moods that flow through the land of Emocia, and the magic within each Filly is now much more apparent.
What's interesting about Filly Elves is that, excluding the primordial Filly Forest and Filly Beach Party, it is the first (and so far the only) Filly toy line that lacks a map of its setting. The geography of Emocia is not shown anywhere, and what we're left with are the images of the houses the Fillys live in.
Family trees of Filly Elves
Like Unicorn, Filly Elves divides its inhabitants into five families, one family per the color of the Filly Rainbow. The colors this time stand for qualities of the Fillys: Loving, Pretty, Happy, Lucky and Tricky. Unlike Unicorn, however, in addition to the color-coded crystal in the crown (which now has wings!), each Filly now also has another crystal: either in a golden bracelet or in a golden necklace. Which Filly has which option depends on their gender: bracelets for boys and necklaces for girls.
Pretty much every character in the toy line now has access to some kind of magical ability. For the most part, these abilities do not manifest as spells that the Elves learn and use - instead, most of the abilities are inherent skills that are implied to have been with the bearer since birth. Some of these abilities sound really broken - mind reading, going through walls, controlling the weather, shapeshifting, teleportation, talking to animals - while some are more tame: mostly a bunch of helpful tricks that make the life easier, such as magical beautifying.

Speaking of beauty!
Filly Elves gives us Isabella, better known as Bella, of the Pretty family.
Isabella of Filly Elves and Isabella of Filly Funtasia
Compared to the big jump between Filly Fairy and Filly Unicorn, the jump between Filly Unicorn and Filly Elves wasn't that big. The qualities of Filly Elves and Filly Unicorn are almost identical, and the real difference between them lies in the setting. And this, for the most part, stays true with the next toy line.

Filly Witchy (2013)
Filly Witchy website image
Released in the appropriately numbered year, Filly Witchy takes us on an adventure to the hidden land of Zimsala, where the mysterious Filly Witchys live.

Filly Witchy is one of the most striking Filly toy lines, clearly identifiable by its darker and more mystical tone, in the land where night reigns supreme, where venturing into some parts of the land carries a real risk, and where everything is tied to a 13-hour clock on the main castle in the center of Zimsala.
The characters of Filly Witchy (German version)
The structure of Filly Witchy is very familiar: it's still five families, each family still has a color, but this time the title of the Special Filly is taken by two Fillys! They are sisters: Abra and Cadabra, the contrasting duo of caretaker and troublemaker. The Fillys no longer possess necklaces and bracelets - instead, each Witchy wears a magic mantle that allows them to fly through the starry sky, and the color of which matches Witchy's Rainbow color. The Swarovski crystals are now located on the clasps instead of crowns, even though Filly Funtasia shows crystals in both places.

I have mentioned that there are five families in Filly Witchy. It was indeed the case initially, but later on Filly Witchy introduced its own twist to the Filly structure, which was utilized in the future toy lines as well, and which will be covered in a later article. With one twist gained, one was lost: the Speed/Beauty/Intelligence system, which was present since the very beginning, finally disappeared in Witchy.
The colors of the Filly Rainbow now correspond to the natural elements. It's not quite the classic Fire, Water, Earth and Sky, but it is fairly close, with the Filly flavor to it: Love, Flower, Light, Wind and Water. The Witchy Fillys, being witches, can summon magic at will! Spells (as well as hexes and even curses) are the fundamental element of Filly Witchy, around which the lives of the Fillys revolve. They grow, learn magic, and organize ceremonies when Fillys become fully fledged Witchys. The spells shown in the toy line don't seem to have any limits: a spell can do anything and everything (including rather interesting things like protection from fear and granting sapience to inanimate objects), as long as it is properly cast.
Filly Witchy was the most recent toy line when Filly Funtasia was announced, and, coincidentally or not, it completes the Filly Five by introducing Lynn, the Wind Witchy.
Lynn of Filly Witchy and Lynn of Filly Funtasia

The primary toy lines that came after Witchy also came after the announcement of Filly Funtasia, and would've also come after the release of Filly Funtasia, if it wasn't for the delays. Next time, we will take a look at the three subsequent - and so far the latest - Filly toy lines.