Monday, 25 March 2013

BUCKing the trend?

Spike holding Grand Galloping Gala tickets
This is why dragons hoard all that gold
The road to BUCK 2013 has taken another step, with tickets now on sale from the official site. This is obviously a very welcome development, although reaction from bronies has been rather mixed. Part of the problem has been the way in which the start of ticket sales came very suddenly, in the middle of the night UK time, rather than anyone having said, "Right; tickets are going on sale at X o'clock on Y March", which would perhaps have been a rather better idea. After all, it was late April before they appeared last year.

The other big concern from a lot of people has been the cost of tickets. No-one needs to be told that economic times are hard right now, and it's fair to say that prices for the premium-level packages in particular have been much higher than many people had expected. Standard admission this year is £55, which compares reasonably well to the €69 you'd pay for a basic weekend pass at GalaCon. That said, because of the lack of an "Early-Pegasus" discount this year, it's effectively £20 — or 57% — more than in 2012 if you're on board from the start.

The really startling prices appear when you look at the premium packages. The "20% Cooler" ticket, for example, was £75 last year but is £135 this time around; that's not far off a doubling of the 2012 figure. For this, you get a priority queue to get in, an exclusive T-shirt and a buffet lunch with community guests. There are some big names there, such as The Living Tombstone and LaserPon3, but it's worth noting that "community guests" does not include any show staff BUCK may or may not have managed to attract to the con.

Is that worth an £80 premium over Standard admission? Frankly, I'm having trouble seeing how it can be, especially as you still have to pay another £35 if you want entry to both the "Summer Sun Celebration" on the Friday and the after-party at FAB. Even more eye-watering is the Celestia-tier ticket, which does include those things, as well as a mysterious "VIP dinner" on Friday. I'd guess that one might include some official show guests... but at £250 a pop, very few of us are going to be finding out!

It's not really fair to compare BUCK to BronyCon, which benefits from lower American costs and from an attendance figure in the thousands. Instead, look at ConFuzzled, the UK's most important furry convention. A standard non-residential ticket to go there is £80, though the con lasts for more days than BUCK. However, the top "Sponsor" level of ticket is only another £50, and for your £130 you get considerably more freebies than "20% Cooler" customers will — and you don't have another layer on top of you.

"So, what are you going to do, Logan?" I hear my three readers ask plaintively. The answer is that I don't really know. I like the idea of going to BUCK, since I'd like to meet some new bronies but the only nearby meetup group (Birmingham's) is really not my cup of tea. And although there's the smaller, simpler and cheaper UK PonyCon this autumn, its venue has not been announced yet. So I may well still go. All I can really say at this point is that I wish more than ever that I'd been to BUCK last year!

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