So, what could this mean? There are basically two schools of thought right now:
- This is just a bit of show-quality art to advertise the new toy range;
- This is an early indication of some new evolution in the Mane Six that is going to occur in Season 4.
The Argument - Just Marketing Artwork
There are good reasons to accept this. Certainly, it would not be unprecendented for marketing-only artwork and animation to be done that uses the show's iconic art style but that has no connection with the show continuity. One example that comes to mind was the 'Princess Castle' advertisement. There has been no indication just yet that Twi is going to get a castle of her own although some have pointed to the ongoing renovation of the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters as an indication that this may yet happen.
Another thing to notice is that Twilight is shown wearing the Element of Magic tiara, which was destroyed when the Element gem was returned to the Tree of Harmony. Once again, this is relatively simple to hand-wave away as being just a 'placeholder' as (when this advert was produced) the style of the new crown that Twilight wears at the end of Princess Twilight, Part 2 had not been finalised.
Nonetheless, I think it's fair to say that this could all just be a storm over nothing
The Argument - The Next Step
There are basically two lines of evidence that this picture represents a new form for our six heroines. Both are quite circumstantial right now but they cannot be ignored.
The first is the question of what is contained in the Box that blossomed from the roots of The Tree of Harmony after the Mane Six returned the Elements of Harmony. As far as I can tell, everyone has their own idea about what it might be in there, including myself. However, whatever it is almost certainly is meant to in some ways replace the Elements, which must stay on the Tree, as Equestria's final line of defence. Whatever it is, most fans agree that it will require the Mane Six to somehow find the keys to unlock this box. I, for one, feel that this will happen when they pass a test of their commitment to the principles of the Element they once bore.
Another is in the name "Rainbow Power". With what form does the power of the Elements of Harmony normally manifest itself? As a rainbow, of course - a rainbow of power. You can already see the point that I'm making. Maybe, opening the box will somehow lead each of the Mane Six to be imbued with the power of their element on a fundamental level. It will no longer be necessary to wear the Element because, in some ways, they will be the Element, connected magically to its power.
Thoughts on the Look & Powers
Do I think that this is going to be the permanent new 'look' of the Mane Six? No, I don't think so. I think that this is going to be their 'super' forms, that they transform into when they fully manifest the Element's power (possibly including a stock 'transformation' sequence between forms). I'm not going to seriously suggest a transformation code-phrase or shouting out attack names but... well, who knows?
What is important is that I suspect that this will mean that, to a certain extent the Mane Six are going to get super-powered alter-egos. Maybe the magic of the Elements will stop anypony from recognising them when they're powered up? In any case, it will be a difficult task to get the boastful Rainbow and Rarity and the blabbermouth Pinkie from spilling the metaphorical beans almost at once.
I suspect that we'll also see the Mane Six getting new powers associated with their element. Maybe Fluttershy will start being able to manifest healing magic and Applejack will gain a psychic 'lie-detector' sense. All in all, the adventure in Power Ponies may yet prove to be foreshadowing of the next phase in the march of the Six's ultimate destinies.
Ultimately, who knows? It's early days yet and there have been red herrings and false storms over misinterpreted official art-work before.
I'll say this much though: If the Six are to become the Super Sentai Ponyrangers, I suspect that the storm of "Ruined Forever!!!" will be as loud or even louder than that for Twilicorn!
I have to say that I'm looking forward to it!