Friday, 16 October 2015

UK PonyCon 2015 report: Sunday

The King's Hall early on Sunday
A quiet King's Hall early on Sunday morning. Idris in orange!
After a generally good night's sleep (despite a couple of students being annoyingly noisy far below), it was a slightly more leisurely start on the Sunday, thanks to not having to arrive early for registration. Admittedly this had been accomplished smoothly, but simply being able to wander in with con badge ready around neck once proceedings began at 10 o'clock was very nice. Leicester station was packed with people heading to the later Argentina v Namibia Rugby World Cup match, but I had no trouble getting to the Mercure.

I was very pleased to find Idris early on, and we had a short but pleasant chat before I wandered off to do a little early shopping. Despite being sorely tempted, I didn't buy Kuuru Pop's Filly Fluttershy plushie, as I felt one was enough! Instead, I picked up a couple more prints and a few badges. Back in the main hall, Idris and his remarkable cosplay made for quite an attraction, and our little group ended up hosting an impromptu fanfic-and-welding mini-panel. (No, really.)

A few of us were booked in for the pony-related Oculus Rift, but my health doesn't allow that and so I spent a pleasant while chatting with the others, trying hard not to squee about "Crusaders of the Lost Mark" in deference to those among us who hadn't yet seen the episode. After my camera had let me down the previous day, I managed to get a reasonable shot of the excellent Lyra fursuiter, as well as the extremely good JD Fox (with Micro paw-puppet) as "Fluttershy's Animal Friends".

Lyra and JD/Micro Fox fursuiters
Lyra does a little dancing with JD Fox
The Sunday panels were largely targeted at collectors (eg Nirvana Ponies with the con's special guest, Summer Hayes), so we gave them a miss. That said, we did have a very interesting chat with a seller of G1 ponies, something UK PonyCon has in abundance. Then a disappointment: the Charity Auction was significantly late, and some of us were so hungry that we had to give it a miss and go for lunch instead. Still, there was no chance that most of us could have afforded anything anyway!

This time, we did get a table in the pub, and much fun was had. I met some more new people, ate food, drank cider and talked ponies at great length. This is perhaps the greatest joy of a convention: you know that the people you're chatting to are as interested in all this as you are. Nobody cared that some of us were twice others' age, just that we were all MLP fans enjoying every minute. After a relaxed meal, I bought a really nice Rainbow/Tank print from StormBlaze, then we returned to the venue for... more singing!

The piano was pressed into slightly more service this time, though still not exactly much. Fiddlepony had requested the previous day that we hold off on "Apples to the Core" until she could join us, and she sang along with great gusto. Although we did repeat a couple of the classics, we also had a go at some newer material: "I'll Fly" and "In Our Town", for example. We even branched out into fan music with some "Nightmare Night" and "Great to be Different". It was huge fun, once again.

Idris in full costume
Idris in costume, including self-made mask
Unfortunately, all this meant I missed the second and last Rainbow Dash Attack contest, but no matter: the episode screenings had reached "Sleepless in Ponyville", and I wasn't going to miss that! By now, the stallholders were winding down a bit, and there were some nice closing bargains to be picked up. We were all trying not to think about how close the end of the convention was getting, but rather than go back to singing we got ourselves back to the main hall in preparation for the closing ceremony.

This went on much longer than the opening, as it incorporated the prize-giving. As one of the rosette sponsors (for the art contest winner :P ) I even had my name mentioned. Ooh, horse fame! ;) Archer and the committee received a rousing reception for running the con so well, and everyone I talked to afterwards said they'd had a fine time, whether they were a con veteran or a first-timer. We decided to go back to the pub for our post-con meal, rather than sticking around for the after party...

...which didn't happen anyway. The venue apparently decided, against previous assurances, that people had to leave as soon as the con had officially closed. I heard later that Archer was (quite understandably) livid at this, and that somehow all the helium balloons that had been carefully tied to chair backs ended up floating to the hall's very high ceiling. When we heard that, we knew that UK PonyCon 2016 would be looking for a new home!

Archer presides over the Cosplay Contest
Archer (as Derpy) presides over the Cosplay Contest
Our final meal together was very nice, if a little sad thanks to people gradually drifting away to catch trains as the evening wore on. I stayed until about 8 o'clock, making sure to have a little more cider, then – after a couple of goodbye hugs – made my way back to the station, picking up a sausage roll on the way for later consumption. I was a tiny bit disappointed not to run into any other obvious pony people on the way back to the hotel, but never mind.

And that was my convention. The rest of the evening and Monday morning consisted of nothing more interesting than trying (with eventual success) to stuff everything into my two large bags. After my curtailed con last year, I'd got through a full UK PonyCon experience. All I can say is that it's like nothing else – you certainly don't get dozens of eight-year-olds cosplaying at BUCK! – and if I can possibly make it to UK PonyCon 2016, then I would really like to do so.


  1. A great experience all aroud even if I did vanish a few times to watch cars go round in circles and fall asleep during the sing-a-long lol! Will go again next year.

    1. That's the good thing about city-centre events: you can take a break from the con when you need to. That's one of my concerns about BUCK 2016, actually -- it's out in the middle of nowhere, with nothing much else to do except go to the shopping centre. :P

  2. And once again, thank you for another extremely detailed (and very interesting, it has to be said!) report. I wasn't sure if you'd been able to actually meet Idris on the Sunday, but it looks like everything worked out there, which is great to know. It seems like the Sunday wasn't quite as packed as the Saturday, but there was certainly plenty going on.

    It really does seem a shame that the venue itself seems to have let the side down in such a big way. I don't know the full story of why they made that decision, but it seems surprising that they did that, considering they'd promised. In which case I just hope they won't be wondering why Ponycon will be choosing another place next year. Ah well... Stourbridge Town Hall beckons. ;)

    Even more so than last year, having read your report I can definitely see that I'd feel happier at this convention rather than BUCK. In no way at all am I having a go at BUCK there. Just that I strongly feel that Ponycon is more my kind of thing, on a personal level. So it's very very good to see that it's doing so well! And that you've enjoyed it so much.

    1. The Sunday was a bit quieter, since people who come for one day tend to choose the Saturday as there are better trains. That said, there were several panels on the Sunday; they were just arty ones (flocking ponies etc) that I didn't have much interest in.

      I'll definitely put a word in for Stourbridge. No promises on what that word will be, however. ;)

      Honestly, knowing you, I'd have to agree. Even if they were the same price, I think you'd prefer this one to BUCK. For all BUCK is great, it is very much more intense. UK PonyCon is certainly more laid-back.

  3. There is only one word suitable for Stourbridge, and that would be "FUN!" Naturally, I don't see them resisting.. ;)

    I think laid-back is definitely something that would appeal a lot, especially for a first convention. Also, the "all ages" thing seems that bit more inclusive, whereas I suspect that to some extent BUCK is geared, at least a little, towards the teen and twenty something fans.

    1. Yeah, though I never felt "out of place" for being older at BUCK, I was certainly well above the average. At UK PonyCon, ages were all over the place and nobody cared, which was really nice. :)

      I don't expect to hear the venue for next year until... I don't know, but maybe late winter/early spring. Hopefully it won't be Aberdeen. :P