Tuesday, 5 January 2016

French cons BronyDays and PonySouth will not happen in 2016

The largest MLP convention in France, BronyDays in Paris, will not take place in 2016. Neither will the PonySouth con in Toulouse. The organising group, Hoofmade Events, made the announcement a couple of weeks ago, but I'd missed it until Silver Broom pointed it out yesterday. The official post is in French, but here are some of the key points:
  • Team fatigue is a major reason for the announcement. Running a convention inevitably means a great deal of work, and even with public support it's hard to stay motivated indefinitely.
  • Attendances for both conventions fell significantly in 2015, making running them a riskier business. The Hoofmade team have made a conscious decision not to speculate on why this might be, as they want to avoid being drawn into "state of the fandom" arguments·
  • Hoofmade Events will continue, perhaps with smaller events such as 3PS (Party Pinkie Pie Style). Also, the PonySouth team are working on a new project, the details of which will be published soon.
Some interesting stuff there. The first point won't come as a surprise to anyone in the UK, given that a major reason for BUCK taking 2015 off was the huge workload staff members were taking on. Sooner or later, people have to put their health first and say "no more", and that moment has arrived.

Regarding the second point, it will be very interesting indeed to see how many people BUCK 2016 attracts. UK PonyCon enjoyed a record attendance in 2015, and BronyScot was also highly successful, but they're smaller events – and, in UK PonyCon's case, not tied exclusively to the G4/brony part of the MLP fandom.

Unlike Hoofmade, I will talk briefly about the fandom itself. I think the signs are that it is indeed shrinking, and it may be that (at least in Europe) the big extravaganzas' days are numbered. Some people suspect this year's BUCK may be the last, and in truth I wouldn't be entirely surprised.

That's not to say we should become downcast, though. Even if our fandom's medium-term future is as a considerably smaller, quieter place, that doesn't mean it will become a wasteland. G1 fans are still around after more than 30 years, so we G4 fans should be inspired by their example!


  1. Okay, moody glumbutt bits out the way first.

    *Cracks knuckleoids*

    First and foremost, it really is a shame that those two events won't be going ahead next year. As we know from BUCK, the amount of effort needed to hold a convention is staggering. It's not like MCM which has huge numbers of staff and a lot of corporate sponsorship (I'm guessing) which undoubtedly makes a difference. Even MCM must be exhausting, so that applies double to things like BUCK etc.

    One possible factor for less attendance could be purely financial. I don't know what the financial situation is like in France, but certainly here almost everyone I know really struggled for money last year in particular. So maybe, if France is in a similar situation, that had a big bearing on things. It was definitely a big reason why I couldn't have even considered Ponycon last year - I just did not have the money to spare.

    But sadly I do think the fandom is shrinking. The enthusiasm for the merchandise, even that old staple, blind bags, seems to be almost rock bottom. I could be woefully wrong but even UKoE seems somehow far less "busy." I've heard quite a few comments from people who have said the series has lost its way since the end of S3 (I don't agree, personally) and that there's not really anywhere left for the characters to go. I've also heard comments saying that the show has been going too long, or it hit saturation point with all the episodes, merchandise, artwork, Equestria Girls, etc and some people are just tired of "the constant barrage of pony." Again, I can see the point even though I don't really agree *personally.*

    It also seems to me that some of the big names have drifted away and moved onto other things. Mentioning no names but a few of those are people who have left comments on this blog. Also, Aviators seems to have moved on, Living Tombstone has gone very quiet with pony music, TheDashdub hasn't made any pony themed goodies for 2 years... That doesn't really help, when you see the big names seemingly losing their enthusiasm or moving on, although obviously they have every right to do so.

    But... the vital point is the one you mentioned yourself. G4 is not going to just fizzle out and vanish, simply because a) G1 is still going strong with the fans and b) the fandom grew so big so fast that there is no way it will just disappear again. There is so much creativity out there with artwork and stories and music, and plenty of people still love making those things. With anything, it's inevitable that eventually only the really hardcore fans will be left, but I've no doubt at all that the MLP world is just so big and varied, and the characters are so well loved, that there is no way it will simply vanish. It will always be around, and remain a big enough fandom that it'll still be worth creating pony goodies, I'm certain of that.

    Alright, who just said "oh just shut up." ;)

    1. Now that was quite a reply! :) I'll just pick out a couple of sections to reply to:

      1) UK of E has been fairly quiet, but I've always found something to talk about fairly easily, so it doesn't bother me. It'll pick up again once S6 draws closer. As for the fandom as a whole, I think S5 may actually have reinvigorated it a bit, especially thanks to the CMC. :)

      2) I'm actually planning on making a pretty optimistic post about the fandom sometime soon(ish). For example, I just checked Fimfiction and there have been 800 complete stories posted there in the last month. Sure, it's down from the peak, but a lot of fandoms would kill for numbers like that.

      3) I think G4 will eventually take its place as one aspect of the wider MLP fandom, just like the various bits of Star Trek or Doctor Who do in theirs. As such, I think UK PonyCon is in the strongest position of any convention in Europe to remain healthy (even if a bit smaller) in the longer term. :)

  2. Whenever I hear about the pony fandom dying, I always remember the fact that Star Trek seems to be doing just fine and it doesn't have nearly the amount of creative production out of its fans. So I think pony fans will do just fine.

    Another thing to remember is just how fast the pony fandom skyrocketed. It took my local anime con ten years to get up to 5 digits attendance numbers, and that was after anime was a thing for a while before it started. Modern pony fandom started from pretty much zero and rocketed up to 5 digit convention attendance in like 3 years. That's pretty impressive and not surprising there might be just a little burnout. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a dip in enthusiasm and then a more gradual growth. Perhaps not up to the peak, but certainly not going to be just a slow decline and then plateau.

    I also suspect that even though some of the big names (most of which I'm still unaware of) might be drifting away, there is still plenty of new creators doing stuff that are just lost in the noise. Not to mention that even if all pony artists stopped doing things, there would still be enough pony art/music/stories to last for years before we ran out.

    ...though it would be a shame if the conventions died down to small scifi con levels before I got to experience one.

    1. Your post reminds me that the experience on my side of the Atlantic may well be different from what it is in North America. It certainly is with cons: five-figure attendances are the stuff of wild fantasy for us. UK PonyCon's 600 last year made it easily the largest pony event in Britain in 2015.

      I agree with you, though: the pony fandom isn't going to die. It won't be as large or vocal in the years ahead, but at worst it will retain a nostalgic attraction. Besides, I can't see Hasbro abandoning the MLP brand. Eventually there'll be a G5, and then FiM can take its place (as I said to Nicky above) as one of many aspects of the wider fandom.