If you’ve been in any fandom long enough, you’ve been there: the moment that the something crashes and burns.
As a Transformers fan, it happened to the fandom back in 2004 when the OTFCC (Official Transformers Collector’s Convention) imploded and 3H Productions lost the license because of shoddy production and promises that fell through. That hurt the fandom, scarring it in ways that are still felt today as people loyal to 3H or screwed over by 3H still argued about those couple of years that Botcon became OTFCC. Fast forward to 2013, and it seems that it’s happened again, although this time to the Brony community. Let us explain.
According to an article over at The Daily Dot, tells the horror story of LasPegasus Unicon, a very promising first year convention held in Las Vegas February 22-24, a convention that not only managed to ruin a weekend for many fans of My Little Pony, but also hurt relations with MLP talent due to the flagrant mishandling of their time and money. Well, make that no money. You can read the article for yourself, but for all you “TL;DR’s”, let us sample some of the chaos for you:
- A number of 2,000 attendees was quoted to be there, though the number that actually showed up was far, far less, which began the problems
- some attendees were kicked out of rooms and ended up having to pay the full cost of rooms, or pay for totally comped rooms, as directed by the organizer of the convention as problems began to arise
- some comped attendees were double and triple charged by a hotel eager to recoup their losses
- agents for some of the talent taking money from the registration till in order to pay their talent what they were due to receive (though almost all checks to talent have bounced since then)
- talent not picked up at the airport or given directions about where to be in the hotel for panels, meet and greets, etc.
- Vendors were forced to use “Vendor Bits” a fake currency that would be turned in later for real money….guess what they didn’t get?
- Even though vendors, talent, and the hotel ended up shafted, allegedly around $40,000 remains in the hands of the organizer, who has since deleted the website for the con as of March 5
- a first year convention tried to host 23 (!) talent guests, which was a huge mistake for a fledgling convention
There is so much more to this story than those bullet points can tell. On the last day of the convention, the Brony news media at the convention (represented by Equestria Daily, Everfree Network, DerpyHoovesNews, and lots more) led a massive assistance campaign to try and make sure the convention broke even, or at least got close. In just a few hours, the community managed to raise a little over $12,000, which was released to the agents so talent could be paid SOMETHING. The original coordinator of the event then WENT INTO HIDING as the final pieces of the convention collapsed around her. Sandi Haas, the convention organizer, has not been seen or heard of since the Sunday of the convention, leading many to believe that the con was really a scam in the making and that it did exactly what it was supposed to: make Haas some money.
Our hearts go out to the voice actors, show staff, musicians, vendors, and bronies who got sucked up into this huge drama just because they wanted to attend a convention, have fun, and celebrate a fandom, that up until now, has been a great fandom to be a part of. Will Bronydom recover? Absolutely! With Season 4 pretty much confirmed via Hasbro insiders and Meghan McCarthy on Twitter, the future looks bright. But, the future for first year cons may not be as bright now that LPU has ruined things for the rest of us. If you want to read more about the con and the events surrounding it, here’s some necessary reading to understand all of it:
- The Daily Dot’s article which collects several sources
- Another take on the disaster from DerpyHoovesNews
- A literal timeline of events from the convention, seeing how the madness began and ended over February 22-24
- An extensive Google Doc of research done from a financial standpoint that shows just how big a mess it really was