• Farewell From The Friendship Express

    It's with great sadness that we announce the end of another convention, The Friendship Express. While their time was short they did hold two wonderful conventions which I'm sure the attendees will remember in their hearts forever.

    The staff of the con have a very special message to share with you all after the break and for those who liked The Friendship Express, there is still SEAPonyCon coming!

    Three amazing guests. Two conventions. One amazing fandom. It was worth it. The journey of two years was difficult and tiring but we believe that we’ve achieved the main objective of generating smiles and have given people the opportunity to share their common interest in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic with other like minded people. Now the inevitable time has come to put down the torch that is The Friendship Express.

    We believe that new friendships were formed and it was worth doing this to be rewarded by being able to witness someone else experience that magical moment where you instantly click with another fan despite being just “online friends” previously. The conversion from an online friend into a real life one is an experience that can truly make someone happy. We know exactly how it feels first hand and we knew that was what we wanted to spread.

    What started the pony convention scene in Malaysia was a conversation between two of us in the community - Charlie and St. Pinkie. We both wanted a convention and after much debate and long talks over coffee and Coca Cola, agreed to make it happen. Thus, The Friendship Express was born.

    This was in no way the first attempt to run a convention in Malaysia. Failures and shortcomings littered the long road that led up to 21 March 2015 - the first day of The Malaysian MLP:FiM Convention.

    The Friendship Express was good. It was fun and memorable but however it wasn’t sustainable. As St. Pinkie once said that the return on investment for projects like these are smiles from so many bronies having a good time. So in 2016, we agreed to do it again.

    With the non-sustainable part in mind, Charlie wanted to channel some energy from this fandom into something which he is really passionate about, inspired by the online tenets of the community: charity and community spirit. Charity was a big focus at The Friendship Express 2016 and indeed, it made its mark.

    As the curtain closed on the 2016 installment of the convention, that marked the end of the journey for The Friendship Express.

    We’ve looked at it from the Western side; it’s obvious that our Asian side of the fandom isn’t the same as theirs. Our side isn’t quite seasoned for a convention culture such as theirs for many reasons but here is the key point: what made the most people happy, from what we observed on both occasions, is just simply being around other fans - the small talk, the fellowship, the laughter, the simple things. That’s what makes meetups fun.

    We believe that you don’t need a convention to have fun; a simple meetup would suffice. And to build up to a convention, meetups are essential.

    The growth of the local fandom was important to us, hence we would take time to organise the occasional meetup. Sadly as duty calls in our occupations, with both St. Pinkie and Charlie both working as full-time professionals in taxing environments, the number of meetups have started to dwindle. If meetups are the blood of the community towards the path of a convention, then in Charlie’s words he believes that the MLP:FiM community in Malaysia has been surviving on a transfusion.

    We need leaders - people to take their communities to the next level in this part of the world. To keep the fire of friendship burning high and bright for all to enjoy its warmth.

    Is the Malaysian fandom on the decline? The answer depends on you, the person reading this. As a fan of the show, how committed are you to carry on? If you are a casual fan, then it should be fine to carry on as per normal. If you’re a really dedicated fan, then you should take steps to improve the health of this fandom: it is entirely dependent on how you make it. At TFE 2016 we saw people giving 200%, maybe 300% of their effort towards making it a success. These people are the true heroes of the community, they strive to make others experience the joy of meeting other fans.

    While it may come across that we want to see other people step up to host a convention, all we really need are more simple meetups. That’s something that we would really like to see happen. You don’t need guest voice actors or a horsefamous personality as a reason to gather. You can have tons of fun with the company of new and old friends. You don’t need a dedicated vendor booth - you make an inaugural selling event though you’d need to plan it right. You don’t need art panels, you can do an art jam. There are plenty ways to make a meetup work with the components of a convention.

    Will there be future MLP conventions in Malaysia? Again, that depends on the fan base. With enough demand and support, who knows? It might happen. For now, TFE under the current management team is done. We would like to thank all staff and volunteers of TFE 2015 and TFE 2016 for their efforts and selfless contributions to the community. You are all our heroes.

    As the sun sets on The Friendship Express, we’re now setting our course towards Bangkok, Thailand for Project SEAPonyCon in 2017 - a collaborative regional effort to bring a larger convention experience to our shores. While we have laid The Friendship Express to rest, our journey continues towards making Project SEAPonyCon a memorable success.

    We believe that a place for friendship shouldn’t be for just one nation. It’s been real, Malaysia. Hope to see you all in Bangkok!

    Charlie & St. Pinkie
    On behalf of your friends here at The Friendship Express

    Twitter: Calpain