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UK PonyCon UK PonyCon 2018 feedback thread

Discussion in 'Conventions Discussion' started by Loganberry, 14 October 2018.

  1. Loganberry

    Loganberry Element of Custard

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    Okay, here's the thread as usual. If you were at UK PonyCon this year and have something you'd like to say about your experience, this is where you can do that! :)
     
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  2. Irregular Apocalypse

    Irregular Apocalypse Follo teh oranj hoers ...

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    My abiding memory will be blowing a hole in my bank balance at the charity auction.

    No, I wasn't the one who bought the £440 Derpy but I did blow £250 on a couple of comics signed by Peter New and Andy Price, plus one of Andy Price's sketches; the autograph cards from the GalaCon guests were an unexpected bonus (and Kelly Sheridan's signature incorporating an '=' sign was rather amusing). Also, after 3 years of hunting, I managed to find a good quality G1 Night Glider that wasn't eye-wateringly expensive.

    Icing on the cake was SWMBO getting placed in a couple of the craft competitions (3rd in the themed custom, 2nd in the pony crafts)

    Loved the venue, too - Nottingham is somewhere I'd like to explore further, just not after dark (walking back from the venue on Saturday night, town was extremely rowdy - and I'm used to going out boozing in Leeds ...).

    The only downer on the weekend was discovering that the National Video Game Arcade had shut up shop and is in the process of moving to Sheffield.
    And the weather (shirtsleeves on Friday and Saturday despite the howling gales, snorkel and flippers on Sunday)
     
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  3. vcgriffin

    vcgriffin the (Quie Deaf) mustached Subgenius pony

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    Can I just say THANK YOU to evreypony who was at ponycon. wvery second of it was wonderfull, from pannels on joing things (with nuts and bolts) to the pannels on media anlaysis & MLP the movie in literature (does anyone know the name of the ladu who have that talk?).
    I know tehre is a weird con phuysics where the people we talk to online all year and the people who we meet at cons, are totaly diffent sets of people and we fail to talk to either the other way around, and I know I suck a bit at interactions anyhoof, but Ponycon is the best place :)
    Catch you all later, again, I hope.
    TTFN, Griffin.
     
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  4. Loganberry

    Loganberry Element of Custard

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    I'll do my usual rambly posts on my blog at some point, but sticking to notes. Will happily expand on any of these if wanted. First thing is to say a huge thank you to everyone who worked stupidly hard to make UK PonyCon the great success it was; this was my fifth UKPC and it was also my favourite. :)

    Location
    Very handy for city centre, various pubs and eating places, trams and several hotels -- easier than Bristol and more like Leeds/Leicester. Trams very useful indeed and remarkably cheap with their £1 short hop tickets. Have to second @Irregular Apocalypse on the rowdy city centre, though -- even for a big student city it felt a bit iffy and glad getting to my hotel didn't necessitate walking right through it. Was kept awake until 4am on Saturday night by immense racket from the road three floors below. :mad:

    Venue
    I warmed to it as the weekend wore on, as I got my bearings. A bit confusing and strange at first, but plenty of space. Social spaces split up rather than Bristol's one big hall, but no problem. Enough toilets, yay! Balcony was a fantastic vantage point for the Crystal Ball. Venue staff good: professional and friendly, eg chatting at bag checks. Always felt safe, important given what I said about the city centre above. (Though Sat queue seemed to take quite a long while to process fully.) Cloakroom reasonably priced, and extremely useful on wet Sunday! Needs better air-con, though -- LT2 (the cinema) too hot even on Sun.

    Schedule
    Excellent. Lots and lots going on, and I never got bored. Inevitably a few clashes, but that's unavoidable. G1 movie a nice touch -- never thought I'd see that on the big screen! -- technical issue, though? eg Smooze song played too slowly. (Just checked, and speed was definitely wrong.) Finishing at 11pm as in Bristol, not midnight as in Leeds, very welcome. Stage events were well done, with PA easy to hear. Sun final singalong glorious, even if we did get told off at one point! :p Crystal Ball fantastic addition -- hope that returns. :) Charity Auction superb, especially that Derpy!

    Vendors
    Also excellent. About the same number as in Bristol, I think, and a very nice variety of merch on display. Very happy to see strong representation across generations; that's important. A few things I personally regretted (eg hardly any T-shirts) but can't ask vendors to have stuff they don't want/can't sell! Bought plenty of stuff (mostly art) on sale for attractive prices. Nice that vendor hall was reasonably spacious. UKPC seems to have hit on a winning formula here.

    Catering
    Slight step down from Bristol. Café cheap and staff were friendly, but it was small and understaffed -- wait times sometimes very long. Water cooler very welcome, even if it did run out of cups on Sat! Had no idea lower-ground vending machines existed for the first day. Nice to see some theming done, esp with cocktails. OTOH, evening bar not selling any food was annoying -- Bristol's bar had quite a few snacks, inc sandwiches. Resorted to dashing out to Tesco Express for food, and so having to eat in the street.

    Highlight
    Easy. EileMonty singing "I Am Octavia". I will be grateful forever for getting the chance to be there for that. :D
     
    #4 Loganberry, 15 October 2018
    Last edited: 15 October 2018
  5. Irregular Apocalypse

    Irregular Apocalypse Follo teh oranj hoers ...

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    Here we go, then - in a bit more detail:

    Location: can't really fault it - easy enough to get to either on foot or by tram/bus. We were in a hotel about 15 minutes walk away, so sadly I didn't get to ride on the trams :( Granted, the goings on after dark aren't something the committee can have any control over, but it was like Dodge City when we were walking home on Saturday night - as I've mentioned, I'm used to going out drinking in Leeds but the centre of Nottingham made me feel a bit uneasy. I shall attribute the general merriment to beginning of term hi-jinks, though.

    Venue: Again, cant fault it, really - universities are generally a good bet for convention facilities, and it's a major source of income for them out of term time, so they tend to be fairly well clued in. I feel that if last year's venue had been like this then I might have enjoyed the event more, but there were other factors in play too. Slightly better signage might not go amiss though - I often found myself wandering around in circles trying to find the loo. Whilst I stopped back for the Crystal Ball I didn't get into the thick of it so it was nice to watch proceedings from the balcony. I think the security staff deserve a special mention, though - I'm not a fan of bag checks or 'security theatre' in general, but without exception the security guys did their jobs quickly and efficiently without acting like complete jackasses so props for that.

    Schedule: I, personally, didn't experience many clashes so can't really comment on that . One of the panels I wanted to go to but couldn't for various reasons was the 'G1 for Bronies, G4 for oldies' panel - even so I thought that was a great idea and it would be good if it could be repeated. As for the charity auction, well, let's just say that you really had to be there ... I think the committee should adopt the 'Derpy' as a unit of currency from here on out :p (as in 'that lot sold for 0.5 Derpies')

    Vendors: Most of the 'usual suspects' where there - there was a good representation across the generations and it was nice to see some vendors from Europe too. Charity auction aside, most of my haul this year was G1-oriented so I felt well catered-for there, and the stallholders were more than happy to clue this particular newbie in on the ins and outs of collecting G1 merch.

    Catering: The good: it was cheap - surprisingly so, in fact. The bad: one small kiosk for 1000-odd attendees ... the queues were, at times, utterly hellacious. That being said, the range was good. Water coolers were a great idea too, especially given that it was very warm on Saturday and the AC was extremely hit and miss - I think that should be standard for all conventions (the water coolers, not the dysfunctional AC)

    Highlight: Finally getting my G1 Night Glider and the charity auction .... I'm just dreading the next time I log into my bank account :p
     
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  6. Oilyvalves

    Oilyvalves Railway Pony

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    I'd like to extend a ginormous THANK YOU to everyone who made this year's UK Ponycon possible, from the committee, volunteers, panelists, vendors, venue staff and of course my fellow attendees. I can safely say this was my favourite UKPC ever, overtaking my previous one which was Leeds.

    Location
    I think a city-centre venue works best, because there's bound to be good facilities like hotels and eating places nearby. Also it gives people a bit of flexibility if they want to head out of the venue for a little while. Nottingham has good rail connections, although I understand the road/parking situation might not exactly be ideal. The trams were brilliant; I loved having them come right past the entrance as we were queuing to get in. :)

    I can understand if the night-life made people a bit uncomfortable. I guess I'm fairly immune to it, as for 4 years I was the student going for nights out in Nottingham! I'm much more likely to feel uneasy around rowdy football fans in other cities, for example. Having noise outside your hotel room window in the early hours is never a good thing anyway.

    Venue
    I think the convention centre this year had the best of both worlds compared to the previous 2 years. Like Bristol, the space was self-contained from the outside world, unlike Leeds where we shared the Armoury with the public. But I also liked having reasonably separate areas for the main event stage, vendor hall, games area and other panels; unlike in Bristol where, being mostly in 1 big hall, things kinda felt on-top-of each other. The main stage events this year had very good atmosphere, reminiscent of larger cons I've been too, whilst hopefully not being overwhelming to young families. The venue staff were also friendly and efficient.

    Catering
    The cafe had a good selection and was reasonably priced. They were quit slow, although there's not much we could have done about that. The Saturday evening bar did a good job with the themed drinks and seemed to get through people quickly enough. The lack of food in the evening (apart from the vending machine) was the only downside.

    Events
    There was plenty to do I felt, and I only experienced a couple of scheduling clashes. The variety of activities meant that people could make the convention their own (whether it be shopping, listening to panels, playing games, singing karoake etc). And Saturday's Crystal Ball was truly excellent! If it hadn't been for the pub quiz/cartoon riff, I'd have happily stayed for the entire thing. I'm not sure how it can be topped for next year. The quiz and cartoon session were great fun again.

    We had technical difficulties in one panel, not being able to use a built-in visualiser for art demonstrations, but otherwise the techy stuff like PA systems seemed to go OK.

    Highlight
    Watching EilyMonty singing live pretty much every song I could've dared to hope she'd sing!
     
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  7. Aldersgate

    Aldersgate Honorary Pony

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    Thanks to all of the volunteers, organisers, panelists and venue staff - a great con as usual!

    Location - Nottingham was a good choice for both north and south, and train connections were good. I was staying near the venue, so didn't experience trams, or have any trouble with nightlife. However, I'm used to walking through Manchester on a Friday or Saturday night, so I block a lot of stuff out. I met up with some (non-pony) friends who've lived in Nottingham for the past couple of years, and both said (unprompted) that they refused to be anywhere near the city centre on weekend evenings, so it seems to have a reputation.

    Venue - I was really impressed. It was a good size, with lots of spaces for chatting and chilling between things, and no sound bleed from the main stage/karaoke. The vending area was superb, and all the vendors I spoke to seemed thrilled with it. There was space to properly walk between stalls and look at things properly, and was definitely the best of any of the four ponycons I've attended.

    Also, the venue staff were brilliant - the security guards were very nice and friendly through the whole event.

    Catering - I only bought a coffee there, but it was cheap and not overly busy at that point. The queues earlier put me off a bit. One advantage of the city centre was that there was plenty of choice for food/drink around though.

    Events - I thought this was the widest range of panels I'd seen at the con so far, and nothing disappointed. I had a few clashes, but these can't be helped. Things like the escape room were a bit different, and good fun (although we were rubbish...) The only thing I regretted was that I had to skip the last two acts at the Crystal Ball for the pub quiz - but I'm not sure there was any way to avoid a clash with Saturday night events.

    Highlight - ElieMonty singing "Pinkie's Brew" (the first fan song I heard, and still an all-time favourite) and "My Funny Valentine" (a song I love, and was really surprised to hear!).
     
  8. Loganberry

    Loganberry Element of Custard

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    (Quick mod note: it's not at all compulsory to use this format! While I'm happy if you want to, and it may help you get your thoughts in order, you're welcome to post however you prefer. :))
     
  9. Candy Yunagi

    Candy Yunagi Wishes she could be a cat

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    I knew it would be good, but I had no idea my first convention would be so amazing! I couldn't do everything I'd hoped to for personal reasons, but the whole thing still blew my mind. I don't know if I've ever quite felt that kind of sense of belonging before. A massive thank you to everyone who made it happen!
     
  10. Up-Draft

    Up-Draft Recognised Pony

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    Hello everyone, this was my third Ponycon and it was the best one I've attended so far. I'd like to thank all of the staff, volunteers and vendors for making this year such an extravagant and brilliant weekend. You guys really do a fantastic job and I'm already looking forward to 2019. (Going to be plundering Loganberry's format for this next part.)

    I'm not at all a fan of large cities but Nottingham for the most part was okay. The convention site this year (Nottingham conference centre) was a really good host. It had plenty of room for all the people, stalls and panels. The building itself was situated in a brilliant area of the city too, everything crucial was within a twenty-ish minute walk. (Didn't have to go hunting around for somewhere to eat.) I also found it rather amusing that we were technically in a basement for the majority of the weekend.

    As far as I'm aware the only places to get food and drink inside the convention was the bar and the stall next to the stairs. Either that or live off of the water dispensers around the conference centre. I only brought a hot chocolate inside the centre on Sunday so if there was other places to buy food from I didn't know about them. Wasn't a problem though because again, plenty of bars and restaurants in walking distance of the convention.

    The events and panels were good too. The usual staples remained such as the opening/closing ceremonies and the charity auction. The crystal ball though, that was fantastic. They had an extremely talented line up of musicians. Only thing I would say is the second half clashed with the pub quiz and cartoon riff but that really can't be helped. There's only so much room in the schedule after all. The other panels not taking place on the main stage I enjoyed too.

    I hope 2019 is just as good or even better than this year.
     
  11. Ace

    Ace New Pony

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    This year’s UK Ponycon has honestly been one of the best weekends/conventions of my life
    Everything from ‘Team Custard’ to con staff, was truly an unforgettable experience

    one of my favourite moments was the pub quiz on Saturday, we all laughed so much and was truly an enjoyable night. That and some cave rave

    karaoke was enjoyable too even though I losted my voice afterwards lol, it was also my first experience on a tram since Nottingham had them so wasn’t a bad little journey when I rode on it :)

    wasn’t a deep review as I would like to speak about but I just wanted to point out the best parts of the weekend
     
    #11 Ace, 16 October 2018
    Last edited: 16 October 2018
  12. Up-Draft

    Up-Draft Recognised Pony

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    "Cave rave." :D
     
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  13. Hawker Hurricane

    Hawker Hurricane Well-Known Pony

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    The con was probably the best time I've had this year. However, this morning will be by far the worst day of it. This morning I got a phone call from my sister to tell me my mother had died. She was just 54.
     
  14. Loganberry

    Loganberry Element of Custard

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    I'm so very sorry to hear that. My sincere condolences to you and your family.

    Two other things I'd like to add regarding UK PonyCon: first, maybe I just missed it but I didn't see an official poster this year, apart from the print I got included with my VIP ticket. I've always bought and enjoyed the posters in the past, so if they have been discontinued then that's a shame, though I can understand it if it was decided that they hadn't been popular enough.

    Second, I thought the con book was really nicely designed this year -- and not just because my OC ended up in it! :p Comparing it with the books from previous years, it feels noticeably sturdier. The venue plans and schedules were clearly printed and there was generally enough info to decide on panels etc. (I wish everyone running a panel had put their name in their blurb, though!)
     
  15. Hawker Hurricane

    Hawker Hurricane Well-Known Pony

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    Thank you.
     
  16. Eunos the Fool

    Eunos the Fool Proud Hater of Sparity

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    This was my 2nd UK Ponycon (I did the one in Bristol last year)

    and I had a great time.

    Whilst it was a slightly longer drive from where I live down in Kent, the journey itself was nice enough, mainly a long straight up the M1.

    I really liked the venue and wouldn't be upset if they decided to come back here again.. I stayed about 0.9 miles away in a Premier inn in Nottingham Arena which was a simple enough walk.. But I must agree it did seem a bit dodgy at night thought no worse to anywhere else I've been.. Still decided to hide anything pony ref I was wearing.

    The staff at the venue were very friendly including one of the guys who checked your bag as he came in.. Had a nice convo with him :)

    Enjoyed looking at all the stalls and meeting up with people I have met at previous conventions.. That's the thing when you do loads of MLP conventions you start to run into familiar faces, Though always surprised when they recognise me for whatever reason.

    Anyway one of my favourite things to do at Conventions is Commission Artists.. and I got some awesome commissions from the likes of Jowybean, Mad Munchkin and Ponebooth..All of whom remember me from past conventions.. There were 3 more but I'm sorry to say the names escape me right now >.<

    Anyway here is a look at some of the commissions if you're interested.

    [​IMG]
    By Ponebooth

    [​IMG]
    by Jowybean

    [​IMG]
    by 8 Bit Galaxy

    [​IMG]
    by Mad Munchkin

    [​IMG]
    By Dormain (the French artist.. I apologise if I got your name wrong >.<)

    [​IMG]
    I Apologise the artists name escapes me right now >.<

    Some of the panels I attended included:
    How to survive conventions (Irish guy that held it, I do apologise for forgetting names >.<)
    History of MLP G1
    Dr Ponies panel.
    The Comedy Panel.
    Fallout Equestria
    Stormblaze's Art Panel
    Mad Munchkins Q&A

    also attended a Britiannia Buddies which I enjoyed.

    If I had to make a few minor criticisms

    The Speed Drawing Challenge was very disappointing this year and poorly organised.. No disrespect to the person running it but it was just unorganised.
    The Café at the venue whist had friendly staff lacked compared to last year in Bristol.. The Paninis were nice on Saturday but on Sunday I ended up popping out to Burger King.

    But these really were my only 2 gripes and certainly did not ruin an otherwise great convention.

    This is my 4th of 5 Pony Conventions of 2018.. I have done Hearths Warming in Holland, Griffish Isles and Galacon with Bronyscot still to come.. This one is always pretty unique as it focuses on all generations of MLP not just G4 and whilst I still wouldn't call myself a massive fan of earlier generations of MLP I do have a new found respect for them and some of the stalls do make me feel old ;D. I also appreciate how family friendly this convention is.

    I really like this conventions and I hope to do it again in 2019.. Preferably more south east this time but if I do have to travel then so be it :p.. Of course I am planning Galacon/Bronycon double next year so 2019 is already looking not cheap.. Going to have to be super boring for the first half of it :p

    Anyway thanks to all the team and volunteers on a successful convention and for all the hard work.

    I look forward to UK Ponycon 2019 :)
     
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  17. Equinox

    Equinox Pony

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    Hi Loganberry, I feel a bit awful for not thanking you sooner from your advice from the other thread - I haven't memorised my password here yet and I keep putting off logging in to make some posts :') It was very helpful though! (Though I didn't follow the advice about the shoes because my costume called for boots and the other shoes I have are trainers that would look very much out of place - at the end of the day I could really see... well, feel why you mentioned it though!)
    As to the review, I'll follow that format that you've got going in your post:

    Location
    It was a reasonably long drive - I was in the passenger seat and still started getting leg cramps, and lost track of how long it took to be honest. Though we drove up the day before and figured out where everything was so it wasn't too confusing on the day (thankfully - the satnav really screwed us over. The fifth time we passed the same Tesco Express I really started to be at risk of losing my sanity)

    Venue
    About what I expected a convention venue would be like (please keep in mind it was my first convention so I have no idea what the average/norm actually is). A bit confusing to get around at first as even the staff couldn't make heads or tails of the map (they ended up reading it upside down) and didn't realise there was a cosplay changing room - it was the Sunday as well. Though since it was reasonably sized and I didn't go to the events in the rooms (didn't have much particular interest in the talks and whatnot) it became easier to get around as the day passed. I really spent maybe one or two hours browsing and a large chunk of my time was spent learning the CCG... and waiting on the poor lad who was trying to do three other things in addition to teaching us.

    Catering
    Didn't actually buy any food there. The queues were far too long, I had my own water and just thought it wasn't really that worth it for a sandwich or coffee. You know, it'd be really fun if they could do pony themed catering sometime but it'd probably be highly unlikely :')

    Events
    As I touched on earlier, I'm not too big on the fandom culture at the moment and unlike a lot of people I came across wouldn't faint at the sight of some "famous bronies" like EileMonty (though I acknowledge she is very talented!) So I wasn't that into the panels and for that reason and otherwise, didn't really attend any events either. That and I was a bit peeved by the "I'm so very much above you so I will ignore you completely" attitude of a different "famous brony" who I shall not name.

    Overall
    It was quite nice as a first convention! I think that it would've been worth going on the Saturday as reading the schedule I found it much more interesting, and a lot of the merch I wanted was sold out by the time I got there. Though I did manage to pick up some pin badges, an art print and a commission from Dormin of my OC which I've put up on my wall now : ) As well as expanding my CCG collection again!!! (I really need to cut out the ones I don't want/need to make room for these new cards)
    I was slightly surprised that people wanted to take pictures with me - I was in costume, sure, but it was really cobbled together and not professional at all. This person took a picture of me and another cosplayer but left before I could ask him to send me the picture, so I just have to hope it pops up somewhere.
    The ideal situation would be for a convention to pop up in my area so I could save on that hotel fee and all the mess of that (the hotel was much more expensive than the ticket AND THEN THERE WAS NO WATER IN THE TAPS) but I don't think it's too likely as I can't really think of any venues they could hold it in. No way our local university would ever let a pony convention in - it wouldn't fit their reputation : P

    Anyways, overall good job to the committee! I'm considering going again or even holding a stall to sell my own commissions and admittedly some of my CCG collection :')
     
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  18. Loganberry

    Loganberry Element of Custard

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    No worries -- you're very welcome! If you don't mind saying, who were you cosplaying as? I may even have said hello without knowing! (If you'd rather not say, that's fine of course. :))
    This is as big as it gets in the UK these days, though a few cons abroad (eg GalaCon in Germany) are larger.
    They did, to a small extent: the café had "Filly Vanilla cake" or something along those lines, and the bar on Saturday night had pony-themed cocktails/mocktails, eg a bright blue "Rainbow Dash" one.
    That's sad to hear. :( You might consider giving the con people some feedback privately about that, either in the feedback form they've been sending out or by email. They'll all be very tired at the moment, but they definitely take feedback seriously.

    Despite that, I'm glad you had a good time overall and that you're considering returning. We probably won't know the location of the 2019 con until the spring, so it could end up pretty much anywhere!
     

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