• BABSCon Retrospective: Calpain

    Attendance at BABSCon was something I had never really given much thought to to be honest. After a move back to Michigan and a change in employment I was rather low on cash and considering it was a whole coast away I had little hope of making it there. Within the final four weeks till the big event some very lucky events fell into place and suddenly I had a ticket to BABSCon.

    I had never been to San Francisco before and I was excited to go, but I had some reservations. This was my first big convention since my BronyCon fiasco last year and I was nervous about how this first year convention would go. Only when I got there was I glad to see my reservations were unfounded and I have to say it was probably the most fun I've had at a convention since Everfree Northwest last year!

    The Journey

    The day before the convention was filled with travel, starting with a two hour drive to Detroit and ending in San Fran after seven hours in the air. You couldn't ask for a better day to travel: the sun was shining, it was actually somewhat warm in Michigan, there were no delays to be seen during the flights to San Fran, and my first time flying with Southwest was a pleasant experience!

    You guys have delicious peanuts!
    While I did not meet any pony fans while flying, I did briefly stop off in Phoenix where our resident Trixie lover Sethisto hails from (I've got to say, it's hot as hell down there and very brown). But I was soon whisked away from the land of Trixie and back in the air again landing a short time later in San Fran, incredibly tired and glad my luggage made it!

    This time around I had packed all the necessities: bathroom items, plenty of clothes, the labcoat (of course) and even a poster tube (seriously, I recommend everyone buy a poster tube before going to a convention!). I was ready for the next three days of fun and adventure! But first, I had to drop all my gear off which required making my way to the Hyatt where the convention was to take place.

    The Hyatt! Nice location really, even better inside!

    When I got to the Hyatt, registration was still booming and I saw my first pony fans! Clad in shirts, luggage, and pony apparel I couldn't help but smile. It really was nice to be around fans again! Heading over to the line with my luggage I claimed my press badge and made hotel arrangements. There was some problems with the room, but the convention staff was incredibly helpful and got it sorted out. Exhausted, I dropped off my bags and flopped on the bed, waiting for the rest of EqD to knock on our door so I could give them their keys. It was a night of reunions that's for sure! Seeing Seth for the first time since BronyCon 2012 was lovely, and meeting Xyro, PK, and our web app programmer Leon was icing on the cake. We quickly settled down (with Seth fretting about the internet and doing posts) and drifted off to sleep. Tomorrow was the big day and I was eager to see what awaited us.
    Day 1 - It Begins!

    I had always heard that San Fran was a misty city so I expected things to be rather gloomy, but to my surprise we awoke to a lovely sunny day peeking in through the shades. Seeing this as a good sign (and noticing the diner across the street) we quickly got ourselves together and headed out to see what was what! As usual, I was there for the artists and seeing my friends so I immediately made a beeline to the vendors hall only to find it closed due to a small mixup with scheduling. This was fine though as I got to hang out with a number of old friends in the line, meeting Mic the Microphone, Braeburned, Tsitra and Tetrapony in that short time span plus many more!

    We ate at that place a lot!

    But while the vendor hall was opening up, the artist alley across the way was open for business and was flooded with pony fans. I had never been to a convention with two separate halls like this, but I liked it. When one was a bit too full you could retreat to the other and hang out, plus it meant much more room for vendors overall. There I met a bunch of friends I had never had the chance to meet in person: RatofDrawn, Drawponies, AniRichie, SlifertheSkyDragon, Ponywise, GetchaNoodleWet, and so many more! Not only were there friends, but merch aplenty with everything from plushies and perler, to posters and prints. The most awesome thing about the artist alley though was the number of artists offering commissions for their work with even Andy Price and Heather Breckel chipping in! Seriously, if you want your OC done, going to a convention is a fantastic way to get a cute pic of your pony.

    An example of artist alley. It was full most of the convention.

    This little sketch for only $20 from Andy!

    This sketch of Calpony only $50 from Heather. Great deal I think!

    After meeting and greeting everyone in the artist alley I took off for the vendor hall. It was much bigger than I imagined and had much more than I could have dreamed for sale and to try out. Everything from massive, beautiful plushies from EquestriaPlush, to ties, bath soaps, Build-A-Bear, customs, sculpts, and even tattoos (seriously, an honest to goodness tattoo parlor had setup shop). The place was booming and made my wallet cry.

    Ahhh! So much to buy!

    MyLittleTies had an Oculus Rift to try out. Expect it at EFNW and BronyCon!

    Moving on from the vendor halls I basically moved around meeting friends I had promised to meetup with and just generally hanging around and getting lunch and dinner (pizza woo!). The convention was going smoothly and people seemed to be having a lot of fun!

    The convention was always full of pony fans!

    While I would have hung out more that evening I was bushed and still handling a bit of jet lag. So off to bed I went, ready to see what the second day promised us all! My expectations were high after this first day plus we had our panel that afternoon so there was much to be excited about.
    Day 2 - How to Run A Panel With No Preperation

    Day 2 dawned much like the first except it was new episode day, something that rarely happens during most conventions. During the morning there was an unofficial viewing of the episode and much fun was had! For the start of the day it was mostly heading around to the few vendors I had missed as well as greeting who I could and getting more signatures for my coat as I waited for the EqD panel in the afternoon.

    Business was still booming and I noticed something that made me really happy, lots of kids roaming the vendor hall purchasing merchandise, getting faces painted and just having a great time. Heck, I ran into this young miss below while I was buying a Spike plush from Build-A-Bear.

    Yay! Love for Spike!

    It's really cool to see the target demographic appearing more and more at these conventions! I hope they all had a blast this past weekend and got to hang out with a bunch of other kids.

    While I waited I was pulled aside by some staff introduced to some very special people: the San Francisco Suicide Prevention group!

    These guys are heroes.

    After the problems with bullying and suicide that have popped up in recent months after the Michael Morones incident, these guys showed up on the scene. Providing help for people that need someone to talk to and need resources to help themselves, these guys are helping turn the tide against suicide and it was really nice to see them there!

    San Francisco Suicide Prevention Program

    Finally, it was time! We headed over to the panel room and got ourselves setup. I've got to say, pony conventions have really evolved since my first panel back in 2012. The room was sound proof and had good lighting and seating and a great audio system. It was perfect!

    As we settled in we were expecting a small crowd, but once again you guys managed to surprise us as the room filled to bursting and we began to worry a bit about what we were to do; we never really had a plan for this. So we improvised! While doing our Q&A we called up our friend Tetrapony to do drawings for the audience and we eventually got a computer going to run Goat Simulator on the screen while we talked. It turned out to be a blast and much fun was had. Thank you all for coming to the panel and dealing with our silliness!

    So many ponies at the panel!

    The rest of the day comprised of having supper with the gang at a Red Robin where we feasted on burgers and fries before heading back to attend the Horse News party. Now there are two types of parties at conventions: the ones that are big and have everyone and ones that are small affairs with your friends. The Horse News one was certainly the former of the two. It was a load of fun! Filled with stories, silliness, and alcohol (of course). After awhile I headed on off to our room and slipped off to sleep.
    Day 3 - A Special Surprise

    The final day was one of resting for the most part. Seth and Xyro had to take off so it was up to Leon and I to plan our day having lunch and just wandering the convention. We eventually split up to do our own thing and I hung around checking out the costumes as well as meeting some of the last folks I needed to meet to make the convention complete.

    Excellent cosplay was out in full force!

    Brony Aerospace Represent.

    Everything was going swimmingly and I retired to our room to relax a little bit before the convention closed. While I was up there the most amazing thing happened! We received a surprise visit from not only Jayson Thiessen, but Big Jim as well, the two directors of the show. It was wonderful getting to meet them, talk about whatever, and have them sign my coat. If you guys are reading this, you both rock!

    These guys were the best! Thanks for visiting you two!

    The rest of the day was calm and lovely. Leon and I went out to dinner with the wonderful Alan Back, the go to transcript guy for the fandom, and then a party with some friends which was much like the latter of the two options I mentioned above. It was nice to crack open a beer with some great friends and watch some old cartoons, including some G1! With the day ended, I got myself a couple hours of sleep before heading off to the airport around 4am.

    Good bye San Fran!

    The Aftermath

    In the end I arrived back home feeling very satisfied and quite motivated, filled with con after glow and not the usual con crud I get after each convention. It was a fantastic convention and I ended up meeting not only a large amount of my friends, but making quite a few new ones as well. If you're looking for a convention to go to next year, I think BABSCon is a great choice and I highly recommend checking it out when it swings around again! With a great location, great friends to meet, in a great city you will be hard pressed not to have fun!

    The swag!
    That new coat filled up fast!
    Thanks for reading if you got this far! A gold star to you! I look forward to hopefully seeing some more of you at conventions in the future!

    Twitter: Calpain