[con report] Invasion of the Bronies? Dispatch from My Little Pony Fair 2011
Who goes to a My Little Pony convention?
year (and pretty much any year since 1983), the crowds would probably
have included middle-aged collectors and little girls dragging around
harried dads and nostalgic moms.
But then, in January of 2011, everything changed for the MLP franchise when the Lauren Faust-developed cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic premiered and exploded -- exploded! -- on the Internet. It developed a fanbase among /b/tards and redditors,
a group comprised largely of 20something males. And these devoted
apostles to the adventures of Twilight Sparkle n' friends christened
themselves "Bronies." And it was good.
Hasbro announced its My Little Pony Fair and Collector's Convention at
company headquarters in Pawtucket, RI, there was some talk that the fair
might be inundated with this new demographic of fans.
Summer Hayes, founder of pony-collection site mylittleponycollector.blogspot.com and author of several books on the subject, thought the popularity of MLP:FiM
would bring the bronies in droves. So she was surprised, initially, to
find that there were not that many at the convention this past Saturday.
"I thought that there would be more, but only the really devoted
collectors would travel from far away. The bronies that are here are
mostly from the area," she said.
there was certainly an unexpected demographic shift. Though not the
majority of attendees, there were smatterings of hipsters, and the
occasional twentysomething in a Nyan Cat T-shirt. I also spotted several
little boys -- Brony Juniors. Many were there with siblings and
families, but in their Red Sox or Transformers tees they looked less
than miserable as their sisters pointed excitedly at the cardboard
displays of Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle. My Little Pony is cool
now, after all.
there were the more hardcore fans. The con brought with it plenty of
cosplayers, or people in pony-inspired outfits: frilly collars, rainbow
skirts, candy-colored wigs, and pastel jumpsuits with cupcake decals
abounded. At their booths, they showed off their collections that were
either for sale or just for show. One woman displayed an entire
collection of her favorite pony, the Generation 1 Crumpet. A nearby table advertised "My Little Pony Talk," an all-ponies-all-the-time podcast.
As for the nods to FiM's rabid internet fandom? In one display of classic and vintage ponies, meme-character Doctor Whooves (battling a plastic Dalek) made a cameo appearance. DeviantArtist Dizziness was selling adorable FiM-based art that included popular background character Derpyhooves.
Pony-based art dealers were prevalent as well. Custom-designers like Jewel and Jenny McCarthy
designed exquisite custom ponies, repainting the bodies and refreshing
the manes and tails with interesting materials like ribbon or
But Kar Red Roses
-- herself a sight to behold in her pink felt wig and yellow getup --
was in a league all her own. Her show-stealing display of Ponies De Los Muertos included handmade ponies painted to look like Mexican Day of the Dead folk art. Only with pony heads. Her MLP sugar skulls were strangely beautiful, festooned with colors and flowers and candles.
Kar also makes shrunken pony heads, which were not in the display but can be found on her website. The juxtaposition of death and ponies may seem bizarre, but to Karen,
it just makes sense. "When I was younger, I was always that girl who was
obsessed with death," she said. And she also collected My Little Ponies
at the same time. "It's not really strange, because death is a major
part of life." And so, for these collectors, is My Little Pony.
for where she got all the pony heads, Kar was able to explain. It
wasn't like she had piles and piles of headless ponies in her attic: she
mostly got the heads from collectors at conventions like this one. Said
Kar: "Oh, you'd be surprised where you can find pony heads."