Thursday, 31 January 2013

Ponypic: Sweetie Belle, stop camping! by Dori-to

"Sweetie Belle, stop camping!" by Dori-to
Sweetie Belle, stop camping! by Dori-to. CC by-nc-nd 3.0
Just so that no-one can say I never give Rarity any attention, here's an amusing picture by Dori-to — the artist responsible for the brilliant Run CMC shirt. Come on, Gameloft, this is what we want to see in a pony game!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Oi, EqD, get orf my land!

I see that the mighty Equestria Daily is currently running a masthead with the tagline "All the pony that's fit to print". Now, they might have six hundred billion readers every day, as opposed to this 'ere blog's three and a half, but I would remind them that my own tagline has been "Some of the pony that might possibly be fit to print" for quite some while. I was here first, mateys. :P

The New York Times? What's The New York Times?

You know those finale rumours? Well...

I'd better not say very much here, as the news constitutes a a huge spoiler for the season 3 finale – but as it's something I was already fairly sure would happen in some way, shape or form, I read it anyway. Entertainment Weekly has this quite long article about something that will without doubt cause a great deal of discussion within the fandom. Don't even hover on the link if you want to stay spoiler-free, as the URL gives a bit away. And yes, it's official: none other than Meghan McCarthy is quoted at some length talking about it. Right; that's all I'm saying for now!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Review: "Just for Sidekicks" (S3E11)

Spike searches for Angel
Spike — airborne without Rarity being present!
This weekend's Friendship is Magic episode was written by Corey Powell, who surprised a lot of people with her ability to turn a seemingly unpromising setup into a great story with her debut episode, "Sleepless in Ponyville". The setup for "Just for Sidekicks" also looked rather filler-ish, but could Powell make it a double and repeat her earlier triumph? As ever, join me after the jump to find out the answer!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Blind bags, blind bags, what we gonna do?

After several lengthy, waffly reviews of this and that, it's time I made a shorter, more personal post. And yes, it's about blind bags. I'd never have expected you to get that. :P Anyway, my local branch of The Range has a small pony section, and I was surprised today to discover blind bags in it for (I think) the first time. Unfortunately they're still Wave 4. So are they in the nearby Sainsbury's. At this rate they'll be going straight from Wave 4 to Wave 7! A shame, as I personally slightly prefer the non-translucent waves.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Review: Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony

The film's title card
No, you haven't bought Peppa Pig by mistake
It's been a long wait — extended at the last minute by a week due to delays in obtaining clearance to use some of the music and artwork — but Bronies finally went public at the weekend. The "Core Edition" of Laurent Malaquais' film (without the Blu-Ray discs and other goodies that certain backers receive) is sold from the official website at US$12.99, which works out at £8.30 or so. For that, you get a DRM-free file in 400p, 720p or 1080p quality; you're allowed four downloads of each, which should cover any potential power-cut disasters.

If you have a reasonably fast connection and are watching on a screen big enough to take it, then you'll probably want to get hold of the 1080p version. Be warned: this takes up 3.5 GB! That does at least mean that it can be burned to a single DVD easily enough without any messing around. It's a standard H.264 file which I had no problems playing using any of the players I tried. For the sake of completeness, I mostly watched the film with the excellent, cross-platform VLC media player. You need have no fear here.

Enough technical geekiness; we have pony geekiness to consider! I shall, of course, be rambling on at some length in a minute, so out of the kindness (of course!) of my heart, I'll put the rest of this review after a jump. Follow me there for lots more waffling!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Midtown Madness

Look what arrived in the post for me today! :D Well, I tell a lie: I've had the Derpy cover for a little while now, but the Time Turner one did indeed turn up this very morning. It was that rarest of things, a genuine eBay bargain: £6.95 including postage and packing. The seller wouldn't have got any money from me if they'd been charging the usual £20 or so, though, so in fact it was canny business. I just love that TARDIS-shaped street lamp.

I really love Amy Mebberson's style; in fact, she's the one artist I've seen who I like as much as Andy Price for drawing ponies — and she's the one signed by IDW to draw the second MLP:FiM story arc! That's pretty much guaranteed that I'll remain a regular buyer, even if the world does seem to be conspiring against getting the darn things out on time...

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Review: "Keep Calm and Flutter On" (S3E10)

Fluttershy tries to use The Stare on Discord
Fluttershy fails to read the title of the episode...
Fluttershy is Best Pony, as everyone knows, so it's great that we finally got an episode with her at the centre. This one was written by Dave Polsky, who has a mixed record in my book, ranging from the infuriating "Feeling Pinkie Keen" to the amusing "Too Many Pinkie Pies". The underlying story, however, came from a new name to MLP:FiM, Teddy Antonio. It's hard to tell who did what, but it'll be interesting to see whether he becomes a regular. Join me after the jump for the full review.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Ponypic: Scootaloo's Quiz Time by Bloo-Ocean

Scootaloo's quiz time by Bloo-Ocean. CC by-nc-nd 3.0
Scootaloo's quiz time by Bloo-Ocean. CC by-nc-nd 3.0
I won't have much to talk about for a little while, since I've only just seen "Keep Calm and Flutter On" and the Bronies documentary is still being uploaded so I doubt I'll see it until tomorrow. (And that's if Scrnland's servers don't crash...) However, in the meantime, have a nice ponypic of the undisputed (by me, which is what matters around here) Best CMC. The heart-shaped cutout in the desk is a nice touch.

Suggestions for future ponypics are welcome, incidentally, but there are a couple of catches. First, they must (that's must) be either licensed under Creative Commons or already have permission from the artist to be used like this. "I bet X would let you use Y if you asked nicely" is no good; I need things I can use on the spur of the moment. Second, nothing above a PG rating, please! No exceptions.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Saturday creeps closer...

...and that means the return of ponies, on two fronts. First, there's episode 10 of S3, which is one I've been looking forward to for quite some time now. Here's hoping it lives up to its billing — and gives Fluttershy a bit more of the spotlight than she's had in this season up until now. Second, there's the release of the Bronies documentary about our fandom, delayed from the 12th because of problems with clearance. Both will, of course, be reviewed here on Louder Yay.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

ArtsCow mouse mat

Mouse mat showing a scene from Hurricane Fluttershy
Fluttershy! Fluttershy! Fluttershy can really fly!
Someone on UK of Equestria pointed out recently that ArtsCow was offering custom mouse mats (or mouse pads, if you must) for a very good price. I took the plunge and ordered one, which you can see above. Despite coming from Hong Kong, it only took around ten days to reach me, which I think is pretty good going. I'm pretty happy with the quality — it's a floppy fabric mat, not one of those nasty shiny plastic ones — and so I'll mention it now in case anyone else is interested.

The ArtsCow service is a "design your own" thing, so you can choose any image to go on your mat, as long as it's of a reasonably high resolution. They also offer a range of other customisable products, though some of those are quite expensive, especially once you factor in international shipping; a mat like this comes in at US$10.98 including p&p. It might be a good idea to keep an eye out for more offers, though: as I type, they have a Special Sale promotion which offers free shipping on some items

Monday, 14 January 2013

Ponies stomp Dredd, again

IDW MLP:FiM comic #2 (Pinkie/Rainbow cover)
Why no, Mister Dredd, we are the law now...
From ICv2 comes news of December's comics sales figures, and I'm pleased to say that things are still going pretty well for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Coming in at number 54, it remains IDW's best-selling comic book, well ahead of 101st-placed Doctor Who/Star Trek TNG Assimilation #8 and Judge Dredd #2 in 147th spot. Only DC, Marvel and two Image comics (The Walking Dead #8 and Saga #8) manage to get ahead of our pastel-hued heroines this month. So, that all-important number?


That represents a drop of around 50.3% from issue #1, which is pretty much what I'd expected. I think it's extremely encouraging that the comic is still way out in front of any of its IDW stablemates (the aforementioned Assimilation sold barely 20,000 copies) and that it's still knocking on the door of the top 50. To add to the good cheer, issue #1 came in at no. 229 for the month, adding another 6,651 copies in December to its November total of 80,128.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Top 10 pony tracks of 2012, part two

Fractal Flame Effects Cutie Mark by uxyd
Fractal Flame Effects Cutie Mark by uxyd, Nov 2012. CC by 3.0
In the first part of this piece looking at my top 10 pony music tracks of 2012, I ran down from number 10 to number 4 in my personal rating. (Remember, only non-show music uploaded to YouTube in 2012 is eligible.) This time, we're looking at the medal positions. As before, the number in square brackets is the track's position in the Top 100 Brony Tracks of 2012 survey by Everfree Radio, and the song links all go to YouTube.

3. Vicious Lies (d.notive) [N/A] — I'm no fan of anti-Celestia sentiments on the whole, and I find the whole "Lunar Republic" stuff rather boring, if I'm honest. So why does this song make my top three? Quite simply, because it's brilliant. "Vicious Lies" genuinely sounds as though it was Depeche Mode, in another reality where Depeche Mode had been bronies. Quite why it didn't chart at all in the Everfree list is a mystery; perhaps its early upload date (3 Feb) counted against it.

2. The Fear of Flight (Aviators) [35] — It may not have escaped your notice that I quite like Fluttershy, and indeed "Hurricane Fluttershy" is my favourite episode of all of MLP:FiM. Perhaps it's unsurprising, then, that this masterpiece should gain a place so high in my affections. Although the singer had a cold during recording, something which might just be the reason for the song not taking gold here, he can really sing, and this is one spine-tingling piece of work.

1. A Pony Like Me (Replacer) [N/A] — Replacer did make the Everfree list, with his cover of d.notive's "Let Your Mane Down", but this wonderful original song didn't score at all. Quite, quite absurd. "A Pony Like Me" may be one of the most beautiful pony songs in existence. Gentle and affecting, it has strong echoes of The Beach Boys in their Pet Sounds era. If you can't see past dubstep, you'll hate it. Otherwise, give it a listen. I really don't think you'll regret it.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Pony #1 makes the top 100 comics for 2012

Diamond have released the list of the Top 500 comics sold to North American comic shops in 2012, and here it is. And yes, MLP:FiM #1 is there at no. 90! It's one of only two non-DC/Marvel comics to break the top hundred, the other of course being the market-leading The Walking Dead #100 by Image. Pony is also by far IDW's most successful comic, with the publisher's second-placed entry being Mars Attacks #1 down in 417th place!

Given the billions of variant covers for the debut issue, I'm sure there'll be a considerable drop in sales for #2, especially with all the confusion about release dates, the Nook leak, etc. I really hope, though, that it maintains a healthy circulation. This is a great comic, and one you should be reading. Now, if not sooner.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Short absence

Just a quick update: for personal reasons entirely unrelated to MLP, I won't be updating this blog for a little while. I honestly don't know when I'll be back — it could be tonight; it could be a week. But I do intend to be back. Thank you for your understanding.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Top 10 pony tracks of 2012, part one

Semi-stylised picture of Octavia with her cello
Octavia by Dahtamnay, Apr 2012. CC by-nc-nd 3.0
This is, of course, inspired by Everfree Radio's Top 100 Brony Tracks of 2012, but with a few differences. One, I'm too lazy to pick more than ten. Two, it is a pick, not (as Everfree's was) a public vote. Three, remixes of show music are not eligible. And four, the only date criterion is that their YouTube upload is datestamped 2012. (A song written in Dec 2011 but posted in Jan 2012 is eligible, but one written in Dec 2012 and posted yesterday would not be.)

Here are numbers 10 to 4; I'll make another post in the next few days with the top three. The links all go to YouTube, and the number in square brackets after each title is the position the track attained on the Everfree list mentioned above.

10. Hay Ms Derpy (Forest Rain) [33] — There are any number of Derpy-related songs to choose from, but I didn't particularly like any of the (sometimes overly) emotional "Save Derpy" ones. This is a much happier song, and one that seems entirely appropriate for our beloved grey pegasus.

9. Fluttershy — The Voice of Nature (Legendary) [N/A] — This beautiful, floaty, vocal piece failed to make the Everfree Top 100. That was, frankly, a travesty. The version on YouTube has some slightly irritating show vocals near the start, but you can download a "clean" version. Do it.

8. Discord (The Living Tombstone Remix; orig. Eurobeat Brony) [1] — It was hardly surprising that this song topped the Everfree charts, given its enormous popularity. I like both this and the original version about equally, but the punchier remix has nudged ahead very recently.

7. Sweetie's Big Race (Toastwaffle's Remix) [N/A] — Everfree listeners went for "Gypsy Bard" in a big way, pushing it up to no. 17, but this is my favourite original song from Friendship is Witchcraft. The version used in the show is good enough, but Toastwaffle's remix is quite stupidly catchy.

6. Loyalty (Acoustimandobrony) [2] — This is a fantastic rock number devoted to Rainbow Dash, and it absolutely deserves its enormous popularity. The Aviators remix is decent, but I think the original is better, if a bit long. It also includes the best guitar solo of any pony song I've yet heard.

5. So Much Left to Know (MandoPony) [N/A] — This just sneaked in (upload date 3 Jan) and maybe it was actually written earlier, explaining its absence from the Everfree list. This is a lovely song that really captures what it is to be Twilight Sparkle... but also to be Twilight learning with her friends.

4. The Moon Rises (Ponyphonic) [10] — This is another song that did well with Everfree listeners, and quite right too. Although it's disappointingly short, what is there is astonishing. Probably the closest we've come to a ponyfied Phantom of the Opera, and utterly dramatic with it.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Simon says... ponies!

Simon Pegg's tweet mentioning ponies
The correct answer is "Fluttershy", Mr Pegg
Yes, this is real. Dodgy language uncensored in the original, of course. If only Pegg were female, so he could be a genuine "Pegg-a-sister". Ahem. Props (mad or otherwise according to taste) to Ultraboy94 on UKoE for noticing this.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic issue 2

IDW MLP:FiM comic #2, Twilight/Fluttershy cover
Twilight actually looks rather epic here
It's been rather later than we'd have liked, owing to a port strike in California, but at long last issue #2 of IDW's comic is out. I picked up my copy for £3.15 in a somewhat busy Nostalgia & Comics in Birmingham, and you can see it above. Having received rave reviews for the debut issue (including right here!) could Katie Cook and Andy Price (not to mention Heather Breckel and Robbie Robbins) bring home the bacon for a second time? Short answer: yes! For more, follow me past the jump.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Review: "Spike At Your Service" (S3E09)

Spike bows to Applejack
Spike attempts to explain to AJ what "graceful" means
Well now, this was the last episode before the show takes a break for a couple of weeks -- and it was a strange one and no mistake! Dave Polsky and Merriwether Williams teamed up and gave us... something. Spike episodes generally have been slightly odd, come to think of it. I can't think of a lot more to say here that wouldn't be spoilery, so follow me beyond the jump to learn more...

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Welcome to 2013!

Vinyl Scratch by Troggle
Vinyl Scratch by Troggle, Sep 2011. CC by-sa 3.0
I hope everyone had a nice Hearth's Warming break, but now it's time to get back with the pony. No need to stop celebrating just yet, as Vinyl herself demonstrates, but before getting on to the latest episode review (coming soon!) we can also have a quick look at some things that might be of interest in the year ahead. So, what might we see in 2013, especially from a British point of view? Well...

Season 4
It's speculation, of course, but it would seem at least likely that, at some point in the next few months, the existence of S4 will be confirmed. After what to some (though by no means all) fans was a slightly shaky start, S3 has come up with some excellent episodes, so there's clearly still the requisite fund of ideas. You'd also think that Hasbro would be most reluctant to let go of such a cash cow just yet. I doubt we British bronies will get proper TV coverage any time soon, though. One other fly in the ointment might be that we might again have to put up with a 13-episode season.

A two-pronged approach by Hasbro
It's fairly clear that what sells to bronies and what sells to six-year-olds does not always overlap too well. In the UK, for example, the monthly magazine is most definitely aimed at the target demographic; conversely, I doubt that many kids read the IDW comic. We can already see this happening, if officially unacknowledged, with Derpy: she's in the IDW comic, on trading cards, on con-special toys... but nowhere to be seen in kid-friendly merch and apparently also on the way to being completely dropped from the show itself.

BUCK 2013
After the great success of last year's inaugural edition, next year's British con looks set fair to be... well, a great success. Holding it around the August Bank Holiday weekend has its pros and cons, especially for those using public transport, but the decision to keep it in Manchester seems an excellent one. As far as I know, no guests, events etc have actually been announced yet, though there is hope that this might be the first BUCK at which "official" people might be guests. My personal wish? Someone associated with the comic.

More Euro merch
There will be more licensed merchandise in European markets in 2013 than there was in 2012: we have that from the pony's mouth. We don't yet know the fine details, though we can hope that there'll be at least some acknowledgement of the very significant chunk of the UK market provided by the periphery demographic. (That's us!) Stationery is my own personal wish, but it would also be nice if next Christmas there were actually MLP calendars in Calendar Club!