The 2013 Summer Pony Convention circuit continued June 14th-16th with TrotCon, held at the Sheraton hotel in downtown Columbus, Ohio. This is the second TrotCon, following last year’s debut event. Year one, located at the Ohio Union of the Ohio State University, drew 700 attendees. Year two increased that number to over 900, and if this weekend was anything to go by, the 2014 Trotcon will only be bigger and better. What happened in the backyard of OSU? Read more to find out.
There was more to see and do than can be fit into a single writeup without going endlessly on and on, so here are the highlights!
With 35 tables available, and a few tables hosting multiple artists, the artist’s acre was a panoply of creativity and awesome things to buy. Here are some of the highlights!
Creativity abounded in the Cosplay Contest, from the trio of siblings as Rainbow, Pinkie, and Derpy, to a Rarity who had three outfits over the course of the weekend, to my personal favorite : Scootaloo, with working wings and scooter.
The many costumes were wonderful to see – the amount of dedication and time some people put into these creations was astounding – the most unexpected award had to go to Snowflake/BigMcLargeHuge of all ponies!
Trotcon featured several guests directly involved with the show and comics! Much was learned across the multiple panels they held. The three attending in person were :
Dave Polsky : Writer for FiM, author of such episodes as Feeling Pinkie Keen and Too Many Pinkie Pies, and making his convention debut at Trotcon!
Peter New : Voice of Big Mcintosh as well as numerous other ponies, Peter has been a regular on the pony convention circuit and it was great to see him here!
Heather Breckel : Colorist for most of the IDW My Little Pony comics, Heather was also making her guest debut! A Columbus native, she will be attending Bronycon in August as well!
Dave Polsky’s first Q&A told plenty! We were treated to his journey through the world of writing – how serendipity began when a college roommate asked him to help out with writing for MTV’s Singled Out, beginning a career in comedy that included writing for South Park, where he was responsible for introducing Satan to a quiet Colorado mountain town. The transition from sardonic to sincere had its genesis in the early 2000s, as the events of the world instilled a desire to create something to build up rather than tear down.
The origin of Pinkie’s famous Generation 3 face came out during the Q&A! ‘Betcha can’t make a face like this!’ was within the script, giving DHX the perfect opportunity to place Gen3 Pinkie in the show – they had been looking to do something of the sort already, and it gave them the perfect opportunity!
Peter New’s first Q&A session was a quiet affair, taking place later at night after many had turned in to sleep – he has been a Doctor Who fan since the 1970s and absolutely would love to be involved with the show in some way. The new 12th Doctor and the first to be from across the pond? One can dream!
The second Q&A, on Saturday, was the birth of 16 Apples. It all started with a simple question : If Big Mac had an inner monologue, who would voice it? To me, it seemed natural Peter would do so himself. The only time that inner monologues consistently differed, after all, was 1980s coming of age films.
This led to me asking just that : What would a Big Mac coming of age movie in 1980s style be like?
With the help of Dave Polsky, the details emerged over the Q&A as 16 Apples fever caught on and others joined in the fun. Big Macintosh, a socially awkward and misunderstood colt who only speaks in his trademark Eeyup/Nope, attempts to ask out one of the most popular girls in school! Sadly, his limited vocabulary causes this to backfire, and after being mocked by her and her popular friends, he retreats! For some time now, he has had a locker next to a nice, quiet girl he has barely noticed, despite her having held him upon a pedestal. From her, he learns his third word : Maybe.
New word in tow, he tries again with the popular girl, who finds him enigmatic and intriguing – but Mac realizes she is not the girl for him. After he returns to his locker, the nice girl asks him if his quest worked out – to which he smiles, and in a low voice says Nnnoope… as their eyes meet and the movie ends.
The movie would feature such important 80s signatures such as the montage – set to either U2’s Where the Streets Have No Name; or Tears for Fears’ Everybody Wants to Rule the World, as well as Big Mac facing his greatest challenge : The 17th Apple.
Heather Breckel’s primary panel was early Saturday morning. Breckel has been previously interviewed for her work coloring the FiM comics. The questions were split between comics, coloring, and cats – Breckel is an avid cat fan, and her signature doodle is the ‘cat loaf’ due to a resting feline having an uncanny resemblance to a loaf of bread.!
Along with that, we learned how much of a timesaver photoshop is in coloring, her favorite face she’s colored for pony – Rarity’s as she is milking the cow in Micro #3 – and an amusing quote on how to get into the comics industry : ‘Friendship is kind of magic when it comes to comics – help out, network!’
The TPM exhibits artwork, sculptures, and all sorts of creativity produced by the fandom! If you were unable to see them at Trotcon, they will be at both Sweet Apple Acres Con in July, as well as Bronycon in August!
Food and Cocktails
Trotcon had a special menu of both food and cocktails available at the hotel, and of the many on display, I would particularly recommend the ChimiCherry, which was positively delicious. For those who enjoy spirits, the recipes for each are as follows : (Note : A splash is up to ½ oz)
Peanut Bucker : 1 oz Irish Creme, 2 oz Butterscotch Schnapps, ½ -1 oz Cream
ChimiCherry : 2 oz Gin, 2 oz Vodka, 1.5oz Cherry Pucker, Splash Sweet & Sour Mix, Splash Sprite, Splash Grenadine
Big Macintosh : 2 oz Vodka, 1.5 oz Sour Apple Schnapps, splash Cranberry Juice
Ms. Peachbottom : 1.5 oz Peach Schnapps, 2 oz of Iced Tea Vodka, 2 oz Lemonade
Appleoosa Sarsaparilla : 2 oz Vanilla Vodka, 1.5 oz Butterscotch Schnapps, Splash Coke
Musicians & the Rave
The last hallmark of Saturday night, beginning at 9 PM and running all the way to 7:30 the next morning, was the rave. Headlined by Eurobeat Brony, and featuring the talents of 14 musicians in total, it was hour upon hour of dancing, glow sticks, and rainbow-hued lighting. The energy of the crowd constantly rose and fell with the music & musicians – one minute would be quiet and in the next you could feel the floor vibrating beneath you. I ducked in and out throughout the course of the night, until around 1 AM where I stayed through Eurobeat Brony’s set. Fan favorites Discord & Luna were the high points of his set, although his remix of Zedd’s Clarity was quite well done as well – though in the noise of the crowd, ‘Clarity’ sounds a good deal like Rarity. As brought up the next day, one hopeful change for Trotcon 2014 is splitting the musician acts into 2 nights – there were multiple people scheduled after 3 AM, but by then almost everyone had gone to bed and the room had unfortunately largely cleared out.
The entire weekend was chock-full of events to go to, and though I was only to catch a few with the busy schedule going on, several stuck out. On Friday, There was Matching Ties and Throwing Pies, a panel originally submitted by the panelists as a joke, involved much shaving cream and many pie tins, and despite the late hour was standing room only. Though I caught little, the sight of someone popping into the gaming room covered in shaving cream was a rather amusing sight. Throughout the weekend, there was Pony Feud, a Family Feud inspired variant where contestants were asked to come up with the most popular answers from the community to questions such as ‘What did Rainbow Dash crash into?’ and ‘What is Celestia’s favorite kind of cake?’. For the curious, the most popular answers were ‘The Ground’ and ‘Chocolate’ respectively. The one weakness was a relatively small sample size – it would be interesting to see the game played with a pool of ~100 surveyed to give a more accurate distribution. There were those I missed I wish I could have seen, such as Chaotic Brony being scheduled at the same time as Dave Polsky, but there is always next year!
Tabletop/Video Game Rooms
The tabletop & gaming rooms offered the opportunity to play in pony-themed video games & tabletop RPGs, as well as demoing new games such as Are You a Changeling (AYAC), a Mafia/Werewolf-variant party game.
In Mafia/Werewolf, the goal is for the players to eliminate the traitors in their midst. AYAC applies a Pony Spin on this, with the antagonists being Changelings & the protagonists being ponies. The interesting innovation is each role has a point value assigned to it, in an effort to balance the game. A normal pony is worth 1 point, the Mystic, who can investigate alignments, is worth 8 points, and hostile roles such as Changelings are worth negative points. It is a creative idea, though due to the nature of Mafia, finding the ideal point balance is difficult.
AYAC has one flaw, though : In Mafia, eliminating a player reveals their alignment & role, vital information for making informed decisions as the game goes on. AYAC omits this, relegating it to one of the optional roles a player may be dealt, which unfortunately limits much of the game to flailing in the dark as there is nothing to work with. Without the card flip, AYAC lacks the strategic depth of normal Mafia. The game has much potential, but still needs development to achieve it.
The game room also featured Trotmania, a Pony variant on DDR! Especially popular with many of the musicians who were performing Saturday night, this game captures much of the spirit of the original DDR, only hurt by a need for additional song selection as well as some songs that either would benefit from better synchronization with the music, or that are only tangentially pony related at best.
All things must come to an end, and the weekend was no exception. The closing ceremonies started out as many do – reminiscing over the good times and looking forward to what the future could hold. There was discussion on how the convention had grown and been such a success. There were T-shirts, buttons, and other prizes thrown to the crowd. Eventually, though, things took an unexpected turn – revelations of personal hardship brought on a torrent of emotion that showed how even when enduring great personal tragedy, people could be a beacon of strength to those around them, and in turn draw strength from the friendship of others. I was fortunate to bear witness to such strength of spirit on the parts of both one guest and one member of the convention staff. Though each was faced with a vast mountain to climb, they both kept walking forward, refusing to let themselves be conquered – it was both touching and inspiring to see and they remain in my thoughts.
After those moments had passed, the final minutes were upon everyone, and though it had been two and a half days since registration had opened Friday morning, it still felt like too little time – it was a great weekend, and an event I look forward to attending next year! ■