Friday, 29 September 2017

UK PonyCon vendors list is out

It's always a big moment for a convention (in this case UK PonyCon) when you finally discover which stalls are going to be in operation. And here's the answer! Fitting in with the "biggest UKPC ever" theme, I think this is probably the biggest vendor hall ever. Not counting the con's own stalls and the RDA's charity table, I reckon there are getting on for 50 of the things this year.

I've been looking through the list, and I'm quite excited about the volume and variety of people selling this time. This being UK PonyCon, it's good to see plenty of G1-G3 vendors in there, even though I'm inevitably going to concentrate on G4 stuff. Art prints are a near-certainty for me, and if anyone's selling shirts I might be tempted. Plushies may be beyond my budget, sadly.

There's an odd gap where stall C2 should be. I guess either it's a vendor who booked a table but then had to pull out, or it's a place where a table doesn't fit because of a pillar or something. Not that it's important – it just looks a bit odd on the plan. Also, I wondered at first why K1/K2 weren't in the main hall. Simple answer: they sell CCG stuff, and that's where the card games area is!

Looking at the floor plan, I can't help but notice that the stalls area opens out into the bar. I suspect that will prove a popular decision with a number of attendees! I may write another post about the overall layout later on, though of course you never quite know how well it will work until you're there in person. Still, my hype levels are definitely higher after this stalls announcement!

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Text Review Roundup: "A Health of Information"

It's that time of the week again. ("Thursday"—Ed.) There's actually yet more UK PonyCon news to post about, but I'll do that tomorrow or Saturday. Unfortunately there was no sign of ArthurCrane or The Southern Nerd's assessments at press time. It's also starting to look as though Batbrony has moved to a later schedule, so I'm going to have to link to a forum post again.

From those who did review the episode, "A Health of Information" got a generally good rap. Nobody was outright negative about it, and most people enjoyed what they saw.

ArthurCrane – no review at time of posting

Batbrony (forum post) – wildly positive ("Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, that episode was AMAZING!!!")

Cuddlepug – fairly positive (graded B; "exchanges between Twilight Sparkle and Fluttershy are well-written ... varied facial expressions")

Derpy News – positive (graded A-; "a very good one that has a lot going for it [though] fans might get a bit disturbed by Fluttershy’s determinator status")

Louder Yay – very positive (four stars; "The episode title is horrible, but very little else is ... Despite ... minor complaints, this was Fluttershy's second excellent showing of the season")

MLEEP Reviews – extremely positive (rated 10/10; "simply sweet performances ... a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down")

TheDragonWarlock – mixed (graded B; "a good episode, but a step down from last week's ... it wasted another chance for another proper Zecora episode")

The Southern Nerd – no review at time of posting

The Super Mario Brony Blog – extremely positive (four-and-a-half stars; "a wonderful, endearing story, another good friendship moral ... one of Fluttershy's best episodes")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – very positive (rated 83%; "easily the funniest episode since at least 'Discordant Harmony' ... surprisingly high stakes ... Give me more like this.")

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 174: You Know When You've Been Ponied

Read it Later story count: 397 (nc)

Back down to three stories this week, partly as a result of a visit to the dentist and partly as a result of there being way too much movie-and-convention-related news for me to keep up with. The lucky(?) few that made it are:

Room by Zaid ValRoa
Starscape by Carabas
A Thousand Roses by Titanium Dragon

★: 0 | ★★: 0 | ★★★: 2 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

UK PonyCon schedule is out!

There have been occasions on which the convention events schedules have appeared at almost the last minute, but not this time around. Here is the UK PonyCon timetable, and it's immediately apparent that the "biggest UKPC ever" words are going to be backed with actions. It may not look huge to those of you used to the likes of BronyCon, but believe me, there's a lot going on here by the standards of previous UKPCs.

At first glance, I am very happy with what's on offer. There's a decent variety of panels, including (yay) some writing-based ones. The extra space available in this year's venue means that it's possible to run several events simultaneously – not an entirely unmixed blessing, as I'll get to in a moment, but definitely more good than bad. And I like the fact that the whole thing has been pushed slightly earlier in the day, meaning an 11pm close rather than midnight.

There is a lot of music this year. I am especially happy to see some live music, something I remember with pleasure from UKPC 2014. Unfortunately, the second half of this Musical Celebration clashes with the Pub Quiz, and the Pub Quiz is sacrosanct, but never mind. There were always going to be a few clashes. I'll definitely try to make the first part of the performance, at least. Also, those singalong sessions before the opening and closing ceremonies look great.

And of course there's My Little Karaoke, which I am being not-that-reluctantly forced to do again. I'm not sure how they're going to fit it in with Trotmania (which I am not going to do!) but I'd guess the singing will predominate as it allows others in the room to participate in a way that Trotmania doesn't so much. As for what I'm going to do at karaoke... that information remains classified, mainly because I don't know yet. :P

UK PonyCon is more fun if you participate (more on that in a future Tip!) and I'll be playing my small part there. Yes, a lot of it will involve singing, because I love doing it and it's not something I get a chance to do (in company, anyway) at other times. But I also see Rainbow Dash Attack is back, and I may not be able to resist that. "Who Said What Now?" looks like great fun as well, and a couple more things besides.

Still, the very best thing about a convention is seeing so many other people who are just as crazy about these colourful ponies for little kids as you are. I'm hugely looking forward to catching up with several old friends, as well as meeting new people, buying some nice merch, eating far too many muffins and just generally having a good time. This schedule looks like making the last one particularly easy.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Episode review: S7E20: "A Health of Information"

Fluttershy and Twilight outside Cattail's treehouse
"It's everything I've always wanted to be!"
The schedule for UK PonyCon has been released, but that deserves a full post of its own, which will be along either tomorrow or Thursday. The latest episode of the show, meanwhile, was written by Sammie Crowley and Whitney Wetta, the team responsible for the okay-I-guess "A Flurry of Emotions" earlier this season. This episode was released in Russian almost a week early, but my review is based on the English-language ep. Beyond the cut, then...

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Sia's "Rainbow" for the MLP movie – the video is now officially out

I live in the UK, and this blog is deliberately somewhat UK-centric. Therefore, I am easily irritated by people raving about stuff that only applies to the US as though no other countries existed. "I'm going to see the movie on Oct 6!" is fine. Telling me I should see it on Oct 6 is less so. I can't, okay? Right, whinge over. On we go.

I'm putting the video out in the open as the thumbnail doesn't give anything away, but the video itself is extremely spoilery, to the point of giving away one of the major twists of the plot. I would most definitely not recommend watching this if you're trying to stay unspoiled – although you're probably safe with just the audio, as it's not especially specific.

It's still more than a month until I'll get to see this film, thanks to a combination of the late UK release date, UK PonyCon and my desire to see the movie along with the Worcester meetup group. Nevertheless, I'm really looking forward to seeing it on the big screen, and the "Rainbow" video (which isn't about Dash, by the way) has just reinforced that desire.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Text Review Roundup: It Isn't the Mane Thing About You"

Here we go with the usual batch of assessments written by those fine people who aren't obsessed with shoving everything they do on YouTube. It's good to see ArthurCrane back – actually, he did eventually post a moderately positive "Daring Done?" review, but it came much too late to make last week's TRR. To balance that, unfortunately, Batbrony hadn't posted a review at the time of going to press. A pretty good reception overall for this ep.

ArthurCrane – mostly positive ("while its logic issues are inescapable, the episode delivers big time on its central message")

Batbrony Reviews – no full review at time of posting, but this forum post suggests he generally liked it but was a bit iffy about the hair loss aspect.

Cuddlepug – negative (graded D+, though the PDF consists almost entirely of a long quote from 2012. Um.)

Derpy News – very positive (graded A; "here's Rarity to get every pony energized again.")

Louder Yay – very positive (four stars; "refreshing change of pace")

MLEEP Reviews – wildly positive (rated 10/10; "a truly fabulous episode ... I'm sure to come back to [this] many times in the future")

TheDragonWarlock – mostly positive (graded B+; "Zecora was just dumb in not labelling her potions [but this] does feel like it's recapturing some elements of the first few seasons")

The Southern Nerd – mostly positive ("The writers ... seem to understand that caring about your looks ... is not necessarily a bad thing [though] the ending confused a little")

The Super Mario Brony Blog – positive (four stars; "a breath of fresh air from Haber's previous iffy installments")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – moderately positive (rated 65%; "At worst, it's watchable and inoffensive, and at best it's as charming as anything else this season" [Thrond generally dislikes S7.])

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 173: Made in Scotland from Girders

Read it Later story count: 397 (-1)

Amazingly, I've found the time to read five stories this week. None of them are very long, but then I have Through the Well of Pirene and The Skyla Pseudonym to get through before I can start even thinking about that sort of thing. Under review are:

Only One Way to Know by ph00tbag
The Stolen Book by Monochromatic
What's Faster... Light or Sound? by Free Shavacado
A Short Story by Twilight Sparkle by Skywriter
Were We the Bad Guys? by CommisarAJ

★: 0 | ★★: 1 | ★★★: 3 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Movie: Sia video down, TV ads up

If you grabbed a copy of Sia's video to her song for My Little Pony: The Movie, you're lucky – as the Vimeo upload, which was tweeted by Jayson Thiessen at one point and so appeared to be authorised, has now been zapped by Hasbro for copyright infringement. It is a pretty spoilery video, so I wouldn't be surprised if they wanted to keep it under wraps until after the movie's release. A bit late to hide it away from people now, though, guys. :P

On the other side of the coin, Lionsgate's playlist for the film has now added three 30-second TV spots. These have a few short sections that haven't been seen anywhere else, though they don't give away such major plot points as the Sia video does/did. I won't spoil anything here, but one thing that's notable about all these is that the animation looks really good – and yes, the problems from the first trailer do seem to have been ironed out.

All in all, it's looking like movie will be a visual treat even if it isn't anything else. Obviously I'm hoping it will be more than that, but frankly with animation like this I'd happily pay for a cinema ticket even if all that happened was a scene of various ponies bustling around Ponyville's market area.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Episode review: S7E19: "It Isn't the Mane Thing About You"

I said I had something relating to HasCon I wanted to mention, so I'll do that now. I am distinctly iffy about the way VIP passholders got to enter a draw to pick an OC's colour, cutie mark etc for the DHX animators to feature in S8. No, it's not quite "We'll put your existing OC in the show" but it still feels uncomfortably like a rich kids' toy. I'd have been happier had this prize been auctioned off for the HasCon charity. (Was there one?)

Punk Rarity makes her entrance
So green is your colour now, eh?
Anyway, on to Saturday's episode. "It Isn't the Mane Thing About You" saw the return of Josh Haber to writing duties for the first time since the S6 finale, and not everyone was delighted when they saw his name on the title card. Personally, although he's not my favourite writer, I don't have all that much against him. Come with me past the break if you want a short waffle about this.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Bonus UK PonyCon tip: DON'T save your old £1 coins!

A very good point that's been brought up by a poster on the UK PonyCon forum is this: the old, round £1 coins cease to be legal tender after 15th October. That means you will not be able to spend them at the convention! Vendors are unlikely to accept them, so please don't try. If you've been saving up change, which is a good thing in itself, make sure any £1 coins you keep are only the new, 12-sided sort.

Until the cut-off point, you can still spend those old-style £1 coins in shops and so on, and you should be able to exchange them at your own bank. Each company will have its own rules, though, so you'll need to check locally. After the cut-off date, exchanging at your own bank will probably continue for a limited time, but this isn't like old banknotes (which can be exchanged indefinitely) so don't delay!

Friday, 15 September 2017

Tips for UK PonyCon-goers 7: Turn out the burnout

There's been a fair amount going on in the fandom recently, so I haven't got round to posting another of these. Time to rectify that.

Tip 7: Pace yourself – and take some breaks

A full weekend of solid ponying is actually quite a long time, especially if you stay from start to finish on both days. It's immensely tempting to spend the entire time active, especially given the con experience is like nothing else, but if you do you'll be asking for trouble. You really do need to avoid trying to run at 100% intensity all the time, otherwise your body's going to start complaining at you pretty fast.

Once you've registered and got your con pass round your neck, you're free to wander in and out of the venue as the mood takes you. The location this year is a bit less conducive than some to taking quick breaks, since it's a fair walk to anything of interest and much of the UWE campus will be off-limits to us. However, even a few moments out in the fresh air can work wonders. (Okay, freshish, given that it's by a busy main road!)

Food, which I'll cover more fully in a later tip, is also a useful way to break up your schedule. Yes, you can take your own in, but actually sitting down for lunch in the café or having a drink at the bar will give you a slight change of scene and a change of pace. After half an hour chatting gently to friends (old or new) you'll feel refreshed and ready to tackle your next session of connery.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Text Review Roundup: "Daring Done?"

Some good news this week: I've added a couple of text-based reviewers who were fixtures in these roundups a while back, MLEEP Reviews and the Super Mario Brony Blog. In both cases, they've been reviewing S7 before this point; they just didn't show up in my searches for whatever reason. Still, they're back now, and as long as they keep reviewing episodes they'll stay back! This gives us the fullest roster for some time. A huge range of opinions this week:

ArthurCrane – no review posted at time of writing

Batbrony Reviews – very negative ("just a very 'meh' episode ... one of the biggest disappointments the show's ever had ... so much unrealized potential")

Cuddlepug – a bit negative (graded C; "View this episode as a fanfiction and it's easier to stomach")

Derpy News – mildly positive (graded B; "enjoyable, but it suffers from predictability")

Louder Yay – mildly positive (three stars; "Enjoyable filler again? Yup.")

MLEEP Reviews – positive (rated 8.5/10; "may not be the best Daring Do episode…but it was still a pretty great adventure in building confidence")

TheDragonWarlock – mixed (graded B; "a good character arc for Daring [but] third act is where things take a dive")

The Southern Nerd – generally positive ("showed Daring Do facing the one foe few superheroes ever meet: consequences for the property damage they cause")

The Super Mario Brony Blog – extremely positive (five stars; "intriguing, yet masterfully executed story, wonderful and quirky characters ... spectacular action ... another great moral ... chapter of perfection")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – very negative (rated 35%; "the worst of the Daring Do episodes, and it's not even a contest")

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

New movie trailer – some thoughts

This wasn't what I was intending to post about today, but it's not something I can really ignore! The second full-length trailer for My Little Pony: The Movie appeared yesterday. I don't think the thumbnail is particularly spoilery, so the embed is going up here. Past the break, though, I'll be talking about what I felt about this new promo, and that will have spoilers aplenty!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

No Ponyfic Roundup tomorrow

Apologies for this. Pressure of Real Life has rendered it impossible, and for the first time in ages I've barely read any ponyfic in the past seven days. I certainly intend to get back to it next week, and there's no way I'm going to let PR's absence become a regular occurrence. In the meantime have a yay. Yay. I will be posting something tomorrow – it just won't be a Ponyfic Roundup.

Meanwhile, if you want some amusement, read Batbrony's excoriating review of "Hard to Say Anything". It's a shame the Canadian scheduling thing left me unable to do Text Review Roundup at that point in the season, as it's fabulously entertaining. "I shudder to think of what an episode would have to do to make me hate it more than I hated this one" is how it ends, but you need to read the whole piece to get the full flavour. I gave that episode two stars, but compared to Batbrony I was nominating it for an Oscar.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Episode review: S7E18: "Daring Done?"

Daring Do and Pinkie by the slime pit
One of the few teams Friends Forever never got round to
I do have one or two thoughts about Hascon to bring up, but they can wait a little bit. The week's episode was accidentally released early by Hasbro, but in the event I waited until its due date to watch it. "Daring Done?" was written by G. M. Berrow* and its synopsis was one I found moderately interesting but no more than that. And now I've seen it, I find it...

Saturday, 9 September 2017

A straw in the wind or simply noise?

The Fimfiction statistics page is always interesting to poke around in. Annoyingly, they've changed the design of the "Stories Approved" display to a stacked bar chart, making it much harder to see at a glance whether E/T-rated stories have a higher count than M-rated ones. I hope that wasn't deliberate! :P

However, that's not my point here. In April, 986 stories were approved – the first time since December 2011 that the monthly total had fallen to three figures. That's the bad thing. But since then, the monthly total has risen every month. Not by much, but again there haven't been four successive rises in this figure since S2.

It's hard to tell whether these are just noise or a real trend. It'll be especially interesting to see whether this trend continues this autumn, since that might suggest that the movie is having an impact in either bringing people back to the active fandom or (even better) introducing newcomers to it. I don't expect Fimf ever to return to 2,000+ stories a month, but it's something.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Text Review Roundup: "To Change a Changeling"

Off we go again! I'm pleased to say that The Southern Nerd is back this week, so we have a decent complement of reviewers on board. Join me below as we discover whether Cuddlepug will give us an actual review, Derpy News will surprise us by disliking an episode or Alexander Thrond will surprise us by liking an episode...

ArthurCrane – positive ("the bond between Thorax and Pharynx is a well-balanced, endearing depiction")

Batbrony Reviews – extremely positive ("yet again another amazing addition to an already amazing season")

Cuddlepug – probably negative (graded C-, but there isn't much actual complaining in the review!)

Derpy News – very positive (graded A-; "a very good episode thanks to the humor and the [character] dynamics")

Louder Yay – positive (three stars; "Starlight and Trixie ... make an amazing double act ... more good than bad" but mildly iffy about the message on bullying)

TheDragonWarlock – fairly positive (graded B; "good characterization ... jokes are pretty good [but has] character issues, particularly with Trixie, and ... feels too similar to The Times They are a Changeling.")

The Southern Nerd – positive ("interesting because of the mistakes Starlight made")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – mixed (rated 53%; "saved by its good dialogue and solid comedic timing, because what's here story-wise mostly falls apart under any scrutiny")

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 172: It's Me Nono, Small Robot You Know

Read it Later story count: 398 (nc)

I'd quite like to have more time to relax with ponyfic, but right now I'm even busier than I was last week, so I'm doing fairly well even to fit three stories in. Never mind; here's today's little selection.

Special Delivery by ILurvTrixie
Finding My Wings by DaringDo-Productions
Tuesday by MrEnter

★: 0 | ★★: 1 | ★★★: 2 | ★★★★: 0 | ★★★★★: 0

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

The first G4 PMV ever made!

 ( Text link )

When people talk about the dawn of the PMV age, the video they tend to mention is "Trouble Is a Friend" by LM1313. It's by some distance the best known of the very early PMVs, but it's not the first. It's not even the second, but that's something I'll talk about on another occasion. The first, I believe, is the one embedded above: "Your Love Is My Drug" by MLPBubbles, published on 30th September 2010.

And no, that's not a typo. This video was put together from trailer footage that aired more than a week before Friendship is Magic premiered. This inevitably means that the video is very short (only just over a minute) and reuses animation – but hey, the show does that in some of its songs too! I'd love to know if anything older is out there, but for now, this is the PMV I consider to have started it all.

Also, technically this means the G4 fandom didn't start on 4chan after all. ;)

Monday, 4 September 2017

Episode Review: S7E17: "To Change a Changeling"

Starlight rallies the changelings against the Maulwurf
Sometimes I worry about Starlight. Well, all the time, really
Last week, I was in the unusual position of liking an episode less than the majority of the fandom. I was hoping I'd find more enjoyment out of this week's ep, which was written by Kevin Lappin – whose only previous Pony writing credit was for the fairly entertaining "Honest Apple". Would "To Change a Changeling" do the trick for me?

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Text Review Roundup: "Campfire Tales"

Yes indeed, this post is late. I could make some excuse about how I've been horrendously busy recently, and that in itself would be true – but in reality, I just forgot. So, here's a belated TRR. I note with interest and mild amusement that I'm the most negative of the text-based reviewers here; I'm really not used to that!

Unfortunately, The Southern Nerd doesn't seem to have reviewed this one, but it's nice to see ArthurCrane back. I've also restored Cuddlepug as this week some of his review actually deals with the episode. :P

ArthurCrane – mixed ("It was fun while it lasted, and it packs plenty of style and action, but it’s still not as satisfying as it could be.")

Batbrony Reviews – very positive ("I found myself very, very appreciative for everything this episode did.")

Cuddlepug – fairly positive (graded B; "standard set-up [but] the tales themselves are entertaining")

Derpy News – positive (graded A-; "a pleasant episode ... and a nice tie-in to the comics")

Louder Yay – fairly negative (two stars; loved Rainbow's affection for Scootaloo but found much of the rest lacking)

TheDragonWarlock – mixed (graded B-; "does a decent job [but] doesn't hold a candle to ['Sleepless in Ponyville']")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – mixed (rated 53%; "some charm to be found in the framing story [but] flimsy"; Scoots is terrible)

Friday, 1 September 2017

Pony Music Library 46: "Sweetie's Big Race - FiW REMIX"

What? "Sweetie's Big Race - FiW REMIX"

Who? Toastwaffle

Which? Friendship is Witchcraft remix

When? April 2012

Why? I've always loved Friendship is Witchcraft. It remains my favourite abridged series – ahead of Mentally Advanced, ahead of Scootertrix, ahead of everything. And among its best features were the original songs that gradually became more interesting as the series went on. "Sweetie's Big Race" (from episode 5, "Neigh, Soul Sister") is a fun little piece even in its original form, with Sweetie Bot putting a whole new spin on the events of "Sisterhood Social". Toastwaffle's version, though, picks up the pace, adds some unbearably catchy instrumentals and makes Sweetie Bot's vocals seem a little more menacing – as, in the context of FiW, they probably should be.