Sunday, July 7, 2013

Arcane goes to My Little Pony Fair 2013!

Yesterday, I went to the 2013 My Little Pony Fair in Indianapolis and it was a great experience. I rode up there with fellow Ohio Brony Mkanke and when we got there we met up with DJ Chang31ing. We arrived around 9:30 picked up my pre-reg stuff and got in around the time the two-day convention opened at 10am some how I managed to be early enough to be able to buy one of the Pony Fair/SDCC exclusive DJ Pon3/Vinyl Scratches - I also picked up the EnterPLAY Scratch Poster and Foil card that they offered at the con along with the 2013 MLP Fair DJ Pon3 Pin.

One of the important things to know about Pony Fair is that is mostly a collectors and traditional fans convention having lasted 10 years and has the official sponsorship of Hasbro. It is also more of a relax-a-con with little in the way of programming but what they have in terms of programming includes official presentations from Hasbro and it's licensees.

After the initial rush it seems that a number of the 'Brony' fans left with their goods in tow and it was considerably less crowded which kind of made things a lot more awesome since it allowed one to talk to rather important people in MLP product production and more traditional fans. As a note the only musical guest was The Shake Ups.

Out in the main fair room Funrise had a booth staffed with one of their lead Plushie designer and showing off prototypes.

The ponies in the foreground with lights that project on the ceiling will be out later this year as will the Twilight, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash with light up cutie marks. The DJ Pon3 and CMC ponies are currently early stage prototypes with kinks being worked out. One main thing that will change is the DJ Pon3 plushies are a cream color which stems from an error on Hasbro's specifications sheet. The fully dressed Princess Twilight is being looked at by Toys-R-Us and it may or may not go into production based on Toys-R-Us' decision. The Large Spike is a very early stage prototype as it needs to be reworked to bring costs down because its price point would be too high for most major retailers.

The three Alicorn Princess Pony Plushies seen above are Toys-R-Us exclusives. Where is Princess Luna you might ask? The short answer is that she is too expensive to make for most major retailers. Her royal flank is a different color which would result in more material being used and more complex construction diving up the costs to the point that most toy retailers would not pick it up for general sale. Also currently the prototypes have removable collars & crowns with velcro in the production version they will probably have a couple of stiches so the accessories will not be taken off/stolen from the shelves. The light stitching will be so they can be removed and velco added after market - should fans want to do that.

Some more prototypes here including Applejack with Hat, Trixie, and Cheerilee. After the reveal of Octavia - who was kind of a gauge - Funrise has decided to look into releasing more fan favorite ponies like the prototypes of Trixie & Cheerilee. We were told about a few more that are in the early stages of work but they cannot not be shared. The 'Fan Favorites' they are looking at tend to be rather simple to make with the least amount complexity and materials needed - again in the interest of keeping costs down so that they will be picked up by mass retailers. 

A few items of note the Cheerilee plush has a different cutie mark from the show because that was what was on Hasbro's Spec sheets (Hasbro seems to have issues with them) and Funrise's designers are looking on possibly fixing that issue. With Trixie they were originally hoping to include Trixie's hat and cape but again the issues are complexity and for each different size the material and stars would have to be massively reworked size-wise so materials could not be conserved to drive down costs.

 As for why the prototypes never leak out via TaoBao - the factories are in Vietnam and are directly owned by Funrise so they can exert a lot more control over keeping factory prototypes from being leaked. 

Nearby was Hasbro's official both show off upcoming products - One of which is the new Cake Family collectors set:

This set includes a bunch of new molds including Nurse Redheart, the Cakes (Mrs. Cupcake has become Mrs. Dazzle Cake apparently for trademark reasons), and their baby twins.

Also on display was a number of already revealed products such as the Shadowbolt Dash Brushable, large talking Nightmare Moon, Princess Twilight & Cadance Fashion Sizes and the already 2nd Fan Favorite's Pack with a fun reverse side:

On the rear of the box Hasbro had on display Derpy/Ditzy's name is replaced with a muffin and Lyra is shown as a Twilight Sparkle recolor!

As for the official panels I attended the Official Hasbro Q&A Panel for this year was a non-event. Hasbro didn't really put anything on this year and it was mostly canned answers or outright non-answers to questions.

Ex: Will the Fashion Sized Applejack ever be re-released?
Hasbro: The Fashion Sized Ponies for 2013 include Princess Cadance and Princess Twilight Sparkle.

The hour-long panel concluded in 23 minutes - after Hasbro had finished non-answering their selected questions (which were given in advance). The only interesting bit is that they gave some interesting answers on the Mintygate issue (multiple G4 prototypes of G3's Minty has been spotted) - in response to questions asking if there will be Minty toys or if Minty might make it into Friendship is Magic Hasbro replied 'Minty is a fan favorite character and one can never know were she might turn up'.

This seems to imply that we might be seeing G4 toys based on G3's Minty and possibly Minty showing up in FiM. Minty being in FiM would be a rather simple matter as G3 Minty's voice actress Tabitha St. Germain already voices a laundry list of characters in FiM.

EnterPLAY's panel with the owner/CEO of the company Dean Irwin and one of the writers of the cards really damn good in contrast and he revealed a number of products that are forthcoming (or at least planned) including a playable 45 record (Vinyl Scratch - to be available through Hot Topic), bumper stickers (around fifty designs approved by Hasbro), dog tags, Mini-Smarty Pants Plush, snow globes, and showed off nine of the ten foil cards which he decided to share only with the panel and most of which haven't been revealed yet (sorry no picture or descriptions for now). Also he showed the new binders - one for mass retailers like Target and one for more specialty retailers like Hot Topic and Card/Comic Shop. The reason there are two designs is that more specialty stores want a different design from mass retailers and he empathized how insane it was to be able to offer binders in mass retailers like Target & Wal*Mart due to the usual lack of interest and costs.

Also he gave a nice history of the company from the original planned name B;doggle (some of his early backers were not too keen on the name) to the origin of making MLP cards in the failure of Transformers 3 merchandise and Hasbro alerting them to the growing Brony community as a new market for them to soothe the disappointing response to Transformers 3. Dean also went over some of his earlier work in cards and collectable card game including his work with the Star Trek: TNG CCG the 1962 Roger Marris artifact card in the Fajo collection was his idea and recounted how he acquired one and got the licensing from Topps for the image. And also it was his idea to add a little bit of gum behind it so it would smell like gum since in the show Fajo sniffs the card and mentions that it still smells of gum.

Also at the convention was the creator of MLP Bonnie Zacherle - who I got an autograph from - unfortunately I was unable to attend her panel which was on Sunday. However she has done panels before at MLP Fair and below are links to a video of her talking about the development of MLP from 2008's MLP Fair (which I recommend watching - as she details her struggles in launch pony toys in the early 1980s as her bosses told her that little girls would only be interested in toys that were based around cooking, cleaning, and child care):

We also took in the custom and handicrafts featured in the room (more pics in my album).

During the fair I brought a number of things of course - someone bought the few issues of the UK Comics that were available from a seller but I managed to pick the 1988 & 1990 comic hardcover annuals, books, a lot of ponies including a Not-So-Soft G1 North Star (UK Only), a Cel from My Little Pony Tales of Patch, and some other stuff.

All in all a great trip and experience.