• Hasbro's My Little Pony Family Lounge at BookCon 2017—An In-depth Follow-Up

    Beyond these doors lies the pony world lies something the Brony Fandom has rarely seen, let alone experienced. It is familiar, and yet completely different. It is a world of magic, but not one created by fans expressing their passion for colorful petite equines. Oh no, this is a door way to Equestria, one fully operated and run by the owners of My Little Pony itself, Hasbro.

    The possibilities of what Hasbro could cook up for a display boggle the mind. They control the franchise and if their SDCC and NYTF booths are anything to go by their budget seems endless. So I had no idea what to expect when I walked into the lounge to cover the event for Equestria Daily.

    What I got though, was something I should have expected from Hasbro. A fun creative environment, filled to the brim with My Little Pony Toys, Books, and activities to make a child of any age giddy with delight.

    You'll be able to see Equestria Daily's full tour of the lounge after the break!

    On a side note: I seriously need to take a photo of the Javits Center to use as a generic header for the cons which take place at the venue. This is the third time I've gone there this year and all I have to use for a header, are interior shots.

    As I entered the room, the first faces that welcomed me were familiar ones. Admittedly I felt a little weird walking on Twilight, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash, but the My Little Pony Heat Transfer Accent Rug ($29.96 at Walmart and currently on Clearance Sale) is designed to be trampled on by kids dragging their feet all day.

    So I just smiled and stepped right on through the doorway ready to see what I will find here.

    And immediately the first major standout of the room is something that I'm seriously surprised—to the best of my knowledge—hasn't been done at a Brony Convention before. Just look at that Coloring Wall! And more importantly look at how much of it has been filled in with crayons!

    I could easily see this as something which could—and did from what I observed at the MLP Family Lounge—entertain children for hours on end. Heck, you can even seen the bowls of crayons at the foot of the wall. Though, interestingly enough, I recall seeing both Andrea Libman and Ashleigh Ball spend about ten minutes at the wall coloring away before the MLP Panel. So perhaps it would be good fun for children of all ages.

    And speaking of fun for all ages, Hasbro was showing off these Cube Ottoman's ($77.99 each) which were created with their partnership with CafePress! Surprisingly those little cubes are really comfortable. I had a conservation with one of Hasbro's staff who oversees their MLP toy development for a solid twenty minutes—I was talking to her about the upcoming Friendship is Magic Collection Figures for the Movie—without any problems sitting on one of those.

    Though if you're considering getting one of them, I highly advise using the price link in the paragraph above. CafePress's website is not the easiest to navigate when you're looking for an exact item. Seriously it took me over half an hour to find the Cube Ottoman with the exact design showcased at BookCon and I only succeeded after doing a google search for the exact item.

    I will admit that I found a design featuring My Little Pony Comic Art by Ben Bates (specifically from the 4th issue of the My Little Pony Microseries) with not one, not two, but three whole webpages dedicated to products adorned with nothing but these designs. I now know where a portion of my monthly pay is going to go for the foreseeable future.

    And here we have a wonderful view of the entire left side of the room. The wall display in the back showcasing Twilight's Library actually being used was a really nice touch—and something very appropriate for a convention called BookCon! But the most important item in this shot is the tote bag currently sitting on chair next to Twilight reading a book from the very first episode of the series.

    The tote bag consists of the exact same design as the Ottomans, but from what I had gathered it was actually given out as a freebie as part of a slew of rewards you could get for completing a MLP Book scavenger hunt upstairs in the exhibit hall! Unfortunately I had arrived on Sunday, and BookCon is a Saturday/Sunday event. Predictably those tote bags had run out by the time I had arrived first thing on Sunday Morning.

    However, the Tote Bag in question is order-able from CafePress here (currently $14.95) if anyone wants to snag it.

    The MLP scavenger hunt is Hasbro's way to ensuring the visitors to the My Little Pony Family Lounge made their way up to the BookCon Exhibit Hall—or those who went straight to the Exhibit Hall made their way down to the My Little Pony Family Lounge. Essentially what you had to do was visit all four of Hasbro's publishing partners upstairs and collect four Reading Rainbow Dash stickers—one from each location. As an incentive for visiting each booth, a little blind bag pony was also given out with each sticker.

    Which is fortunate since the exhibit hall was rather lacking in merchandise for sale—save for one item of interest which I will get to in a minute. There is a very simple reason for this. There was an publishing industry only event which ran from Tuesday May 30th – Friday June 2nd called BookExpo. BookExpo is the event where publishers, licencors, and book sellers (which at this point in the US boils down to Barnes & Nobles and Amazon) wheel and deal for their products coming out later in the year. As such they generally don't bring a ton of merchandise with them to sell at the event, since they are making their money through the business deals they are striking.

    BookCon ran on Saturday June 3rd & Sunday June 4th at the exact same location as BookExpo. BookCon is BookExpo, just opened up to the general public, with famous authors on hand to sign their books, the merchandise that was for display only now on sale, and about of the exhibitors who were present for BookExpo long gone.

    It was surreal walking around BookCon realizing there was a much larger show just two days prior. However there was one item for sale at the con which was requested by Hasbro to make its debut at the event. And the scavenger hunt led you straight to it.

    That's right folks! The My Little Pony: Coloring Harmony (Adult Coloring Book) made its worldwide debut from Studio Fun International at BookCon 2017! This was something I had no idea was going to happen since it wasn't announced before hand. And this was a very pleasant surprise to come across while collecting the stickers for the scavenger hunt to collect fabulous prizes!

    Like a Nightmare Nights Poster featuring art by the very talented IDW MLP Artist Andy Price! Another MLP Blind Bag pack (which if you're counting means for collecting all the stickers you got a total of five those). A BookCon Exclusive sneak peek of The Art of My Little Pony: The Movie—the concept design work for the Storm King and a number of the backgrounds in this sample is something to behold. A coupon for 20% off your next purchase of My Little Pony toys at HasbroToyShop.com. A coupon for 25% off My Little Pony Gear from CafePress. One Series 4 My Little Pony Micro Comic Fun Pack from IDW. And finally since this is BookCon…

    One My Little Pony Book—your choice of either My Little Pony: The Princess Collection: Princess Luna and the Festival of the Winter Moon, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, Friendship Games, or Daring Do and the Marked Thief of Marapore—off of the Pillar of Books!

    I think we can all agree Twilight Sparkle would have completed the scavenger hunt at least three times to collect all three FREE books!

    And speaking of books…

    Hasbro had on display what had to have been the almost complete currently available My Little Pony Library! Which to take a really close look at you had to stand upon Pinkie Pie's head as a rug (Order here from Amazon!). The Books on display were mostly nothing new, except for the stuff on the top shelf.

    No I'm not talking about the My Little Pony: Pinkie Pie Seashell Lagoon Playset (Coming Soon) or the My Little Pony: Coloring Harmony: Dazzling Designs from Equestria Coloring Book ($12.99 Pre-Order here). Oh no. I'm talking about the Three Products that were on display for My Little Pony: Tails of Equestria! They had the Core Book ($34.95), the Tokens of Friendship ($6.95), and the soon to be released expansion Curse of the Statuettes ($25.95)!

    Oh and they also had My Little Pony: The Elements of Harmony Volume II on display, which was releasing on June 6th, 2017. A mere two days after BookCon wrapped up!

    From the bookcase I made my way over to the right side of the lounge, and noticed in the corner something on display I hadn't seen since NYTF! 

    On a side note, Rainbow Dash climbing a ladder to reach a book on a bookself is one of the cutest images I have seen of her in a while. I also can't recall seeing that image in the show. So maybe it was created specifically for the library wall?

    Yes folks. On display once again in New York City was the upcoming Friendship is Magic Collection Figures for the Canterlot My Little Pony: The Movie Set! No your eyes are not deciving you. Yes that is Derpy Muffins, and Thunderlane in a Wonderbolts uniform (which will be included in the upcoming Blind Bag set to go with the Canterlot Friendship is Magic Collection). Tempest Shadow and Grubber standing next to Pinkie Pie on ride-able whisks (I'm sure that's going to be in the film somehow).

    Next to that is what looks like a re-sculpted Shining Armor riding on Princess Celestia's chariot. I will make a determination once his sets comes out and I can compare Celestia's chariot next to the Chariot for the Best Princess of the night. Canterlot Castle feature the Blind Bag figure for the Storm King, Princess Celestia (who this time is a recolor of Princess Luna's Blind Bag model) Svengallop, Trenderhoof, and the Phoenix Philomena!

    Next to them we have a story set featuring the CMC… with their Cutie Marks! And blow them was something I missed at NYTF.

    Just look at that new Baby Flurry Heart Blind bag figure! I couldn't notice a single flaw in the figure's design, unlike Cadance which seems to be a reuse of her previously released figure. Hopefully if Hasbro releases a Crystal Empire Friendship is Magic Collection set we'll see a re sculpt for the Crystal Princess. Or perhaps a scaled King Sombra Figure. Now wouldn't that be neat!

    And yes, hidden behind Princess Cadance is indeed a recolored Twilight Sparkle Moon Dancer blind bag figure! Which in this case, making Moon Dancer a recolor of a Twilight Sparkle figure is the only way to make her 100% show accurate considering her character design in the actual show is a recolored Twilight Sparkle.

    It's almost as if the show intentionally designed her to be a future blind bag figure, and still be completely accurate. Genius! I love it!

    And speaking of a genius, Hasbro had invited MLP Comic Artist Tony Fleecs to BookCon to show everyone who had come to the booth how to draw My Little Ponies! It is appropriate Hasbro had nothing but his artwork on display on the entire right wall of the room. It was almost as if they had designed this particular section of the room to have Tony Fleecs be a superstar attraction!

    But of course no official Hasbro run IDW My Little Pony Comic Art event would be complete with a representative from IDW Publishing. And who better to send to help answer questions about the comics while Tony draws deceptively detailed colorful equines than IDW MLP Comic Book Editor Bobby Curnow!

    Tony and Bobby were both at BookCon for the Ponies on the Page: My Little Pony The Movie Prequel Stories BookCon Panel, and both happily went into this little drawing event at the My Little Pony Family Lounge Expecting to answer a ton of questions and show to draw lots of ponies.

    Which they both managed to excel at, with Tony doing most of the answering of questions, showing little tips and tricks on the various ponies, and being his overall entertaining self while Bobby shared a few behind the scenes stories for the production of the My Little Pony Comics and anecdotes about life as a comic editor.

    Like for instance how he quite understandably forgot about the MarbleMac Hearts and Hooves Day cover IDW did for Jetpack Comics back in 2016. He had a blank expression on his face when the little kid upfront asked him about that cover (and how SugarMac now makes the cover not going to happen). Once Tony reminded him about the cover, and what it looked like, Bobby had a dawing of comprehension, started to explain how the cover came to be, and how he forgot it existed for a moment.

    It boils down to simple math. At minimum he's editing and compiling at least 72 covers a year for the pony comics, not including retailer/convention exclusive covers, and has been doing at least that mush for over five years. Which means he's edited and approved well over 360 comic covers over the span of comic line. There is quite literally no way he'd remember them all.

    Heck, I own them all (save one), and I need a spreadsheet to keep track of them all.

    Hasbro had a neat setup to show how Tony was drawing the ponies. They connected an iPhone directly to the 36" Flat Screen LED Television—which prior to this event was playing a rotation of four My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episodes from across the life of the show—and had the camera record a video of Tony working his magic.

    I'm sure there is something Meta to be said about Pinkie Pie being drawn into existance above Pinkie Pie's own head, but for the life of me I cannot think of what it could be.

    Though I do wonder if anyone might be able to recreate this wall display if they had the assets, access to industrial printing technology, a single dimension for which to work from, and a child's playromo to decorate. I am not endorsing recreating Hasbro owned assets, but I do wonder if any could possibly do it.

    After the Ponies on the Page: My Little Pony The Movie Prequel Stories BookCon Panel, there was a signing event in the My Little Pony Family Lounge featuring Tony Fleecs, Ashleigh Ball, and Andrea Libman. However, since Hasbro anticipated a vast majority of the attendees for this event wouldn't have something to get signed by these wonderful people, Hasbro had IDW print up something exclusive for the event.

    Which happened to be this beautiful poster of the cover to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #43 with artwork by Tony Fleecs. As far as I know, this cover will not be available again at any events after BookCon, so if you were at the convention and managed to snag one, consider yourself lucky.

    Now don't think for a second the line for this signing event was small.

    It wrapped around the room, went out the door, and continued down the hallway for a little bit. It was crazy! The room was packed! And Hasbro… really managed to keep the line moving efficiently. I was highly impressed by the speed at which the autograph line moved. Perhaps limiting the number of signatures down to one item, and quickly passing the item to everyone at the table helped. Perhaps it helped the signatures themselves were free, which cut out the transaction time that goes into getting signatures from Guests of Honor.

    Or perhaps it was the expert Hasbro staff who made sure everyone had their item ready for signing before they got to the table, and kept everyone engaged and smiling with jokes, games, and overall engagement with everyone in line. It was a rather refreshing experience to not be herded around like cattle with little to no engagement from the staff in the autograph line beyond the occasional look of contempt for those who might be trying to cut in line.

    As for me, I got something other than the poster from IDW signed at the event, and really only needed to got one signature from Andrea Libman for it.

    Though I do owe Tony Fleecs a big thank you for the save with the gold pen for Andrea's signature. I forgot my silver sharpie at home when I went to the con.

    So, how does Hasbro's My Little Pony Family Lounge rate as a destination for a My Little Pony themed event? Part of me thinks back to my experience at SDCC 2016 and specifically the Hasbro Booth at the con. The booth was huge, it had Discord's throne but it wasn't dedicated specifically to My Little Pony. It was Hasbro's Booth, so all of Hasbro's properties were represented. This lounge was 100% dedicated to the My Little Pony Franchise.

    Sure it was apparent aside from the Library Wall, The Coloring Wall, a couple of custom designed signs, and reprints of Tony's artwork, the lounge was created with mostly items that already exist and can be purchased straight off the shelves of Target, Walmart, and Amazon. The whole room didn't look it was something that would have existed in Equestria. It certainly didn't feel like Twilight's library. And nothing was custom designed for the room itself that couldn't be reused for another event elsewhere.

    But ultimately that didn't matter. What mattered was seeing the eyes of the children light up when they walked into the room with their parents. Those children who dashed over to the coloring wall, grabbed a crayon, and started scribbling over their favorite characters. Those parents who got to sit at the picnic tables while their children sat the ottomans to watch Spike and the Power Ponies defeat the Mane-iac for the 10th time. To see those budding artists ask insightful questions to a professional comic artist as he gave them a lesson on how to draw.

    It was being able to walk into an environment, put your feet up, and feel welcomed to stay as long as you'd like with a caring and attentive staff who know this franchise and property probably better than a good number of bronies in the fandom.

    I recall a conversation I had with Mike Kelly (The Head of Hasbro Publishing, and the person in charge of the family lounge) and he made a comment about how the My Little Pony Franchise is one of the best he's ever worked with. He said this because of how fun the characters are, and how it is a show that doesn't exclude anyone from enjoying that fun. That there is something for everyone to enjoy and experience with their families.

    I agree with him. And for those very reasons, Hasbro's My Little Pony Family Lounge was a monumental success. I tip my hat to Hasbro's team at the Family Lounge for putting together a well organized event, and wonderful fun environment to relax and play.

    Here's hoping for more events like this from Hasbro being done in the future!