Written by Amanda Gurall
I am going to start this by saying that while my 7 year old daughter loves the show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic I do not consider myself a fan although I am familiar with pony and Brony culture through friends and other events. We attended the 2015 Ponycon in Brooklyn, NY last week and it was nice being part of a smaller fan led convention as I am used to NYCC or other bigger events. That being said for a local con they were well attended I believe they had between 1200-1500 guests for the weekend and the fans seemed to be having a great time. There were many pony loving kids at the con and it was especially good for them because there was a lot of entertainment vs. too many panels they would have been bored in. For older fans there were some great panels like "Psychology of Bronies" and "Ponystar's guide to writing fan fiction" although I imagine they might have wanted more.
The con had the usual areas..gaming, music showcases, craft and kids games, adult crafts like shadow boxes and phone case making. The vendor area was well organized and the usual products could be found. Lots of custom or hand made pony plush that sell upwards of $150 but were beautifully made. I saw a lot of fun mashups of video games and other shows, particularly Doctor Whooves, or Doctor Who. One vendor was especially interesting to me, Igor Bass of www.mylittleties.com. He sells beautifully made silk MLP neckties and bow ties as well as clips and tie pins. I really liked the designs because you could be bold with a rainbow dash or go subtle if you wanted to keep your Brony status closer to the vest. The designer also has a VR Ponyville that was available to try on the Oculus and was a big hit. You can find this at http://www.kaitouace.com/
There was a card game tournament with very serious players as well as free demos for people new to the game like we were. I bought the cards and we are looking forward to playing in the future. Available from www.enter-play.com.
The highlight of the weekend for most fans was probably the Q and A with voice actors Andrea Libman (Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy), Vincent Tong (Flash Sentry, various) and Ingrid Nilson (Maude Pie). Some of the highlights follow:
Q: Will there be any new ponies in season 5?
Andrea: There are lots of new ponies, including some that I voice.
Q: How much input do the actors have into their characters?
Andrea: The first six were very clearly outlined but guest characters have more freedom because they haven't been drawn yet.
Ingrid: Sometimes the influence of the actor changes the script over time.
Q: How do you feel about Bronies as a whole?
Vincent: They are such a positive influence in the world, the essence of the Brony fandom delivers the positivity the world needs more of. Even though Flash gets a lot of hate online people who meet me are sweet despite my character.
Andrea: I feel really grateful to be part of an amazing community it is so interesting to meet people from around the world of all backgrounds and ages. It's really positive that there are people doing wonderful things to share and support each other through fundraisers and whatnot, I am happy to have a small part in that.
Ingrid: I am overwhelmed in the best way from this experience. Everyone has something to contribute of the fandom from artists to fans, all inspiring their creativity I am grateful to contribute in my own way.
Q: Who is the best pony?
The fan creativity was evident through some great musical performances and displayed art like theTraveling Pony Museum which brings fan made art of all kinds to various cons around the country. There was also a museum of vintage MLP toys, I got to see a lot of the ponies I used to play with and I had the chance to speak to one of the original artists from the 1980s. He showed us the last remaining master mold, the prototype for My Pretty Pony and other wax molds and models. The design and manufacturing was surprisingly entertaining for me, less so for my daughter who drifted off to watch an episode. I guess looking at old style ponies is for bigger fans and people over 30.
When I told a few people that I was going to attend Ponycon I got some negative responses, mainly to the Brony phenomenon. Sometimes it is easy to forget that not everyone I know understands these types of groups and fandom in general. It seems like people have the impression that the Bronies are perverts, freaks or sexual deviants in some way and it saddens me that this is still the general reaction. Perhaps it will never completely change but Ponycon left me with a stronger than usual feeling of community and bond between the attendees. I felt like everyone was welcome, and everyone was celebrating the values of the show and being kind to one another from the people running the show to the actors to the guests. Everyone has their place in this world if they try to find it and I am impressed with the Bronies that defy stereotype and come together in community. I hope that next year they are able to attract more voice actors and talent (comic book artists would be great) in addition to continuing to celebrate fan creativity and acceptance as the con continues to grow.