» View from the Ground: BronyCon 2012

This article intends to take a step-by-step overview of BronyCon 2012 from the eyes of a reporter on the floor. It’s a review of all of the major events from start to finish. For more of a retrospective overview, be sure to read Emotions Running High by The Round Stable’s Headless Horse, and for the view of a vendor, check out KefkaFloyd’s The Artist’s Perspective.

I’m at the world-famous Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City, and I am lost as Hell. My bus ride there ended up being nearly 2 hours late, turning my time of arrival from 11 PM to 1 AM. While waiting for the 320 bus to Secaucus, NJ, a gentleman informs me that after 1 AM, they move that bus to a basement gate. I get down there to find the gate he mentioned was incorrect, and because this was a recent change in how they handle bus schedules, I can’t seem to get a straight answer on where I need to be. I start to lose my grasp on sanity, question whether I have the ability to reach this hotel, and reconsider the general thought process that had led a twenty-five year old dude to a My Little Pony convention in the first place. Was this some cosmic form of karma?

However, when all hope seemed lost, out of the corner of my eye I see an unlikely savior: a gentleman with Rainbow Dash on the center of his shirt, with the word “BRONY” written out above.

Suddenly, I know everything is going to be okay.

We’re Just Getting Started

To do the executive summary: BronyCon is technically the fourth event of its kind, despite being just over a year old. Originally a somewhat glorified meet up in the realm of 30 people, it has since blossomed to a two-day New York City pony oasis, attracting a sellout crowd of four thousand fans and a wide range of talent both from the show and the larger fan base.

Once the bus situation had worked itself out, I made my way back to my room. My roommates had already set up a large collection of alcohol, being guarded over by a quality Rainbow Dash plush. The gentleman who helped me set up this particular room greeted me in a half-asleep manner; another seemed borderline passed out; another was in the corner, doing some work on (I believe) a custom toy. One can only guess whether any other hotel room on the face of the Earth that wasn’t in Secaucus had a similar scene.

Pony Protects The Alcohol. Photo by Jhaller2.

Waking up about four or five hours later, I headed off to the convention hall to witness the calm before the storm.

Immediately upon entrance, an attendee was visually besieged by the vendor army, in full display across 7 aisles. Merchandise ranged from prints—lots and lots of prints—to shot posters, shot glasses, commissions, mouse pads, t-shirts, pony-themed “mane” hats, buttons, toys, and just about anything else you could get a brony to pay for. Many of these booths would wind up either sold out or reduced to less popular items; some, such as the mouse pads, would be gone within an hour or two. Comments such as “Do you have anything with Celestia?” could often be heard in the distance. An easily walked series of aisles at 9:58 AM were mostly full by 10:10; they would remain that way for the entirety of the con. Some booths, such as popular artists John Joseco and willdrawforfood, could not be seen from the aisle because of the overflow of customers and lookers-on.

Saturday began with opening ceremonies, where the various guests of honor were introduced. Most used it as an occasion for a snappy one liner or an easy crowd pander. The winner of both categories was likely John de Lancie, whose “Let the chaos begin” was wildly appropriate. The look of pure amazement, visible in the eyes of the guests of honor at what the show had wrought, was at once fascinating and hilarious.

However, no introduction was more emotional or worthwhile than Lauren Faust’s. Originally somewhat “sneaking” to the table, coming from her early day autograph session, Faust was quickly noticed by a portion of the crowd. Slight cheers quickly gained the attention of the entire crowd, who responded with a standing ovation – interrupting Nicole Oliver, who began narrating the proceedings. Faust was so overcome with emotion that she had to be helped her to her chair, and she took in the remainder of the crowd reaction in a quietly thankful manner. I severely hope a shortened video of just this moment becomes available, as it was a moment of pure sincerity and deserved artistic recognition, and needs to be widely seen.

Voices in the Crowd

Shortly afterwards, the voice actors in attendance appeared for the first of two VA panels. The attendees included (for simplicity’s sake, summarizing both panels in this section):

  • Andrea Libman gave off a vibe of more ‘Fluttershy’ and less ‘Pinkie;’ soft-spoken and reserved. The dual characters gave her double the ammunition for scoring audience points with impressions.
  • Nicole Oliver, as she did in January, fell into the role of authority figure befitting of the voice of Celestia. Oliver’s best moment would come on day two, when she “prepared” herself for Andrea Libman’s best SQUEE.
  • Cathy Weseluck won the “make the best joke about the fire” competition when she took credit for it, in Spike’s voice. There probably was some better one-liners about Spike doing it, but when it’s the voice actress herself, the game is forfeit. Weseluck, who discussed both her previous work and her school of voice acting, impressed with a “voices of a girl from youth to old age” routine which was executed flawlessly and earned a well-deserved ovation.
  • Peter New (Big Macintosh) has perhaps the single easiest applause line in the world, but managed to strike the balance between clever usage and avoiding overkill. With Everfree Radio’s Final Draft doing a sub-panel on Pony Podcasts on Sunday, Peter New would take on the role as panel moderator on Sunday – information that was told to him, supposedly, on Saturday.
  • Lee Tockar (Snips, “Sea Serpent”) had a bit of a predicament: he came off as funny and charming, and his Fan Built Project is a worthwhile concept – but at the end of the day, he voices a minor character that doesn’t command a large presence in the fandom. Lines done in Snips’ voice never really seemed to connect with the crowd; though, anything done as Steven Magnet (and yes, Tockar directly referred to the character by his YouTube closed caption inspired name) was an instant hit. Figure that one out.

That being said, it won’t be all that surprising that Tara Strong stole the show for the VA panels. She seemed the most at ease with utilizing a character line and getting laughs from the audience, and her storied career made the occasional reference to a previous role easy to do, not at all surprising given her complete embrace of the fandom via Twitter. When she started interacting with fans on Twitter, some speculated Strong was a “troll”. This is incorrect: Strong is more of a queen. She’s dangerous precisely because she is fully cognizant of, and not afraid to utilize, her power over the fandom. The crowd response to a request for a group rendition of “Twilighticious” – which compromised the entirety of the sung tweet rather than simply the word itself  – was clear evidence of that. Even Tara seemed a little surprised, still calculating the extent of her own power.

Continued on Page Two…

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  1. “I severely hope a shortened video of just this moment becomes available, as it was a moment of pure sincerity and deserved artistic recognition, and needs to be widely seen.”

    Done.

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