» Destination: Bronycon

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here. Bronycon has grown from a glorified brony meet-up to the first large-scale genuine convention for the pony fandom. The Round Stable will be in attendance, and next week you will find in-depth coverage of various events and exclusives from the show. What does Bronycon bode for the fandom at large as we march on towards season three? Read beyond the cut to find out.

Movement Of The People

Some Might Say™ that a convention for the fandom is going a bit over the top, and I’d be inclined to agree with them. The fact that the show has sprouted so many conventions in a relatively short period of time is, to me, nothing short of mind-boggling. I’ve been involved with several fandoms in the past, and none of them sprouted their own individual conventions… at least, none that I know of here in the United States. Sure, there’s been Star Trek cons, but Trek is a phenomenon that spans decades. Pony fandom is but a mere babe in comparison.

But that was a different time, ten years ago, before the dawn of social networking and the wider acceptance of the internet as a tool to organize. Now, we’re more interconnected than ever, and fandoms aren’t stuck in the ghettos of online forums. People share their likes on Facebook and connect with their followers, bringing this stuff into the open more than ever before.

The prior fandoms I took part in were things like Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Powerpuff Girls, and so on. Groups from forums would meet up at events like San Diego Comic Con or New York Comic Con, but there were never more than a few dozen total that managed to organize together. None of these shows had the kind of critical mass that ponies do, even well after the second season wrapped up.

Last year, the fandom train picked up steam during this same timeframe, and a big event like June’s Bronycon was an unlikely thought even then. The events then were mostly small scale meetups, and the pre-existing pony gatherings targeted to older generation collectors were largely unnoticed by generation four fans. If anything, bronies suffer from a not-invented-here syndrome, and instead of joining with a cadre of existing fans, they decided to build their own.

Of course, there’s been other fandoms smaller than Trek with their own conventions. I was surprised to see that there’s an official convention for Deadliest Catch, though I am unsure of its popularity, and they are skipping this year. BotCon serves Transformers fans and is probably the best analogue to Bronycon. It’s a long running con with the support of Hasbro and serves as a nexus for Transformers fans. If the fandom manages to survive into a theoretical generation five show, Bronycon or one of the other cons can hope to parlay its success into filling that role.

Now Bronycon has a documentary following it, over a hundred vendors in attendance, and four thousand people ready to break down the doors. It will certainly be entertaining, as a gathering of people ranging from actresses to the nerdiest nerds will be in attendance. The fandom’s arrived at the station, and life’s been good so far. Or has it?

A Bubble Looming?

Something that’s been nagging my mind is the sheer number of conventions that have sprung up in this very short amount of time. In the United States alone there’s five conventions coming up in the next few months: TrotCon, Canterlot Gardens, Everfree Northwest, Midwestria, and Equestria LA have all set up shop. Internationally, Galacon and BUCK are on the scene and ready to bow in service of the Europeans. Though the US is a large country with a lot of ground to cover, I wonder how many of these conventions will be around for a second pass.

Bronycon has the advantage of being first and having the most obvious name, as well as location near the most populous city in the states. Everfree NW is the first west coast con, and has the advantage of serving the Pacific, and had a long lead time in terms of promotion. The other conventions will have to tackle a crowded guest schedule and possible fatigue from fans. I think they’ll have some success initially, and I wish them the best of luck—they’ll certainly need it. Running a convention is not an easy task. Given the massive popularity of fandom-based meetups, I might be underestimating the appeal of larger, central conventions. If it turns out that the fandom can support these, then power to them, but don’t be surprised if there’s a contraction in the future.

Even with the best of intentions, this fandom has a shelf life, whether some would like to admit it or not. Bronycon might survive; like most with the virtue of being first, it has a head start that gives it a competitive advantage. Plus, how well the event actually unfolds will color people’s opinions on the fandom and further conventions down the line. For everyone involved, they better hope it goes smoothly. 

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