• Pony History of the Day: Las Pegasus Unicon - And the Near Collapse of Convention Guests

    The year was 2013, and the Brony fandom had just begun ramping up it's convention domination.  We had a few major successful events under our belt, but behind the scenes, Hasbro was still trying to figure out how open they should be in terms of show guests attending community sponsored events.

    When Las Pegasus Unicon first contacted us, we were pretty excited. The thought of taking our pony friendship entourage to vegas sounded absolutely awesome. Even if the event itself was boring, we had an awesome city to explore.

    How could a convention in one of the cheapest vacation destinations to stay at and fly to, possibly fail? Somehow, this one pulled it off! Learn the behind the scenes tale below the break!

    Lets start with the organizers. I don't think they ever had any malicious intentions like some of the rumors surrounding them seem to have brought up over the years. The idea of a convention in Las Vegas really should have gone better than it did, and they expected a much higher turnout than what actually showed up.

    Unfortunately, this didn't stop the need to pay for what was going to be a much larger event. LPU promised the world, with a boatload of voice actors and show staffers invited to attend. These people aren't cheap! For a first year convention, having more than a few is always a massive financial challenge. In true Las Vegas style, they went all in, and it didn't pay off at all.

    While doing our usual social pony thing and wandering the vendor hall, we heard many a rumor that things weren't going well. This isn't uncommon at first year cons though. Things explode, and the people running it learn from it for next year.  If I had a custom Trixie for every convention that told me things were right on the verge of collapse, my room would turn blue.We decided to just ignore it and enjoy ourselves, report on panels, and have as much fun as possible.

    Unfortunately... the peace didn't last long.

    During a room party with the show staffers and their agents, everything was suddenly put on hold as all in attendance were pulled into a side room for some serious "state of convention" talk. It turns out every rumor was, in fact,  true, and even downplayed. We weren't calling the end of days just yet, but things were looking pretty grim. The event was bankrupt, the hotel was ready to kick everyone out, and none of the invited VA's or show staffers were sure if they were being paid.

    With Hasbro eyeballing every possible thing their talent was involved in, and still extremely uneasy about an army of adult men obsessing over their IP that was originally planned for little girls, the entire invited crew failing to receive compensation was pretty much going to be the end of their ability to visit brony-hosted events.

    We all decided to sleep on it. Everyone was tired after a long day, and we here at EQD still had plans in the morning. When we woke up, things seemed uneasy, but the vendor hall and planned panels were still functioning. We weren't completely sure where the organizers were, but the army of volunteers were keeping the peace.

    While wandering around the city, I got a call from someone back at the hotel. The con chairs were nowhere to be found, and the hotel was making true on it's threat to boot everyone. Comped rooms were being charged out of nowhere, which targeted quite a few invited guests (Musicians, artists, media, etc) that found their bank accounts drained of the entire weekend as the hotel did everything in it's power to recoup their losses from the MIA organizers. Many of these people didn't have much money in there to begin with, much less up to five days of room charges.

    After grabbing the nearest cab we could find and speeding back to the hotel, we arrived to what could only be described as chaos. People had no idea what was going on, and it pretty much turned to the media, volunteers, and voice actors in attendance to keep the peace. Everyone banded together to try their absolute hardest to pay off the hotel, help the people with surprise negative balances in their bank accounts, and appease Hasbro by getting the show staff their money. Charity auctions, silly fundraising panels, and more were suddenly replacing what was originally planned. Vendor hall people had fire sales, and competing forces in the brony world banded together to do our very best to alleviate the nightmare that Unicon had become.

    It was kind of inspirational in a way to see such collaboration. Fires were slowly being put out, and while the convention was absolutely over, the outreach both online and in person to assist everyone helped saved many from financial hell.

    The show staff in attendance got enough to satisfy their Hasbro overlords, though there were some pretty scathing remarks on Twitter from Tara Strong especially. Many of us just had to bite the bullet on extra fees, but in the end, it didn't look like it was going to have any major lasting damage on future conventions.

    The Brony fandom's usual giving nature was flexed, and the idea of massive pony gatherings seemed safe, even if Hasbro was a bit more wary. Doom and gloom slowly ended, and the convention scene as a whole was stronger for it. Will we ever see another Unicon? It's something people fear for most first year cons. Luckily,  things have been stable, and I don't see anything exploding anywhere near as bad as what happened on that fateful weekend in February 2013.

    Unfortunately, we still have no idea what happened to the con chairs... At least we still have Unicon bucks.

    And as requested, this too: