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Jul
11th
2023

TrotCon 2023: Admiral Biscuit & The Horse Marines · 1:55am Jul 11th, 2023

Another successful TrotCon has drawn to a close, and I thought I'd briefly share my experiences with you all who weren’t able to make it this year.

Once again there was an impromptu gathering of Admiral Biscuit and other fellow writers at the Con. We're easy to spot nowadays: the gaggle of people hanging about in the Admiral's custom T-Shirts. I’ve decided we need a collective noun so I’ve settled on “Horse Marines”. If you’re ever at a con and you see one of us… you’ve seen a Horse Marine! Perhaps you’ll even meet Captain Jinks...

But I digress. This year’s con was held in Dayton, a smaller city in Ohio that in spite of being hometown of Wilbur & Orville Wright isn’t somewhere that’s high on the tourists itinerary. That probably accounts for why on a Saturday it was almost deserted downtown. It’s a rust belt city much like Cleveland but much smaller. The architecture is very nice, quite typical of early 20th century urban design.

Whilst the city is smaller than Columbus, the convention center was enormous! I’m not sure that it was strictly necessary, in fact. There seemed to be about enough to host a convention about 75% the size of what BronyCon used to be… so things were spread out this year. It was nice to have a larger dealer hall, though. Sometimes the smaller hall in Columbus got so crowded there was barely space to think!

The facilities, large as they were, were a touch run down. It wasn’t too bad, but there were places where if you looked closely you could see there were places where things were make do and mend. Amusingly, one of the ways this manifested was a restroom which had the door replaced… with the door from the security office! Talk about robbing Peter to pay Paul!

In any case, the Admiral, OGM, and myself sailed into the dealer hall with plunder in mind. In any case I found a G1 Moondancer from NewGreyMane which she had purchased from a local vintage toy shop the previous day with her earnings from the con. Moondancer is in great condition and she’s got such lovely hair… just adorable!

Across the way was Fluffle’s booth, and I purchased a lovely little print of human Chrysalis and Flufflepuff embracing. I was even lucky enough to get the artist to sign it! I also swapped stories with his opposite number, who was minding the booth in his initial absence, about encounters with Dr Wolf! Apparently she used to live in Utah and was art director for a con that the good Doctor regularly attended as a guest of honor. I shared my story about meeting him at BronyCon one year… he was right behind me in line at opening ceremonies and I didn’t even realize it until afterwards!

I then broke ranks, to go catch a few panels. The best of these was a live CinemaSins style riff of a season 6 episode, and a decent sing-along at the music stage across the hall, where I had a blast singing “We’re Apples to the Core!”.

After a brief lunch (there was a typical concessions area… but nowhere to sit!), I went to watch the cosplay contest. This year’s competition seemed to have fewer entrants than last year’s, but some of the cosplays were really excellent. Particularly impressive was the young lady who at the age of 13 had put together a really nice, simple Chrysalis cosplay which got an honorable mention. There was also a gal who did a Fluttershy-as-Snow White-IDW-variant-cover cosplay that came in second. First place went to the admitted impressive Lunar Guard, whose clanking armor was only excelled by the magnificent hussar style black wings he wore. I’m half tempted to try competing myself someday since I think I could throw together a decent Big Mac using my collection of Victorian period clothes from re-enacting… but I’m not sure if that’d count? So many people make their own cosplay from the ground up that I always feel a bit inferior compared to them in terms of costuming. Basically all my Civil War stuff is off the rack, one of the great advantages of the hobby being it's easy to find ready made period clothes.

I then doubled back and linked up with OGM, and headed back to the dealer hall, where I ordered quite a few prints from TPM. TPM is one of the reasons I got into collecting pony art, and subsequently into getting it framed. This time around I got a lovely print of RD in a sort of vapor wave style, another of Fluttershy, and then two smaller pieces of Luna, one of her doing a mane flip in the water at the beach and another of her in her gamer den. One of these days I’ll finally have the space to actually hang all my art… but in the meantime I enjoy building up my little gallery, hunting down cheap frames, and practicing the matting skills I learned in my museum courses.

Speaking of which, as sad as it is that the TPM is closing down, I must say that they are handling deaccessioning their collection extremely professionally. As someone with a background in Museum Studies, I have a unique appreciation for the issues they face with weighing the responsibility as a curator to safeguard a collection with the harsh reality of the need to find it a new home. TPM has offered to return all pieces to the artists if they so desire, and has even done extensive research to identify some of them as their data was lost a few years back. In one case, they are even taking on the considerable expense and challenge of shipping a massive Pinkie Pie plush back to its original owner in Ukraine! All of this is absolutely the right, and professional thing to do, but unfortunately all too often greater institutions fall short of such standards. Kudos to the crew at the Traveling Pony Museum! It was a pleasure being their customer for many years, and they will be sorely missed.

After all that, I attended my last panel of the day: “Could A Pony Survive This?”. It was a fascinating look at the scrapes the ponies have gotten into over the years and highlighted some real conditions that horses actually suffer from. There were real surprises, like learning that yes, Luna, horses really do get sunburned (yeowch!) and that “swamp fever” is indeed based a real and sadly quite deadly disease that is spread by mosquitoes called Equine Infectious Anemia. The latter prompted a discussion on why wild horses seem not to suffer from the condition. I personally think they might have heard immunity, which could allow for some kind of vaccine to be developed. Get on it, horse immunologists!

Other interesting points were discussions of horse prosthetics, ala Kerfuffle. They are quite rare but they are out there. A prominent user is Molly the Pony, a miniature horse who survived Hurricane Katrina. Her limited size and weight made developing her prosthetic easier, although subsequently there have been great strides in making prosthetics thanks to an equine podiatrist by the name of Dr. Ric Redden. His new prosthetics for full size horses are advanced enough to allow the horse to canter while wearing them!

As an aside, I’ve sometimes envisioned the ponies in the show, based on the brushable to EQG size ratio of the toys, as being around miniature horse size. So pretty dinky… which seems appropriate for a fairy land of horses! This would also mean that Celestia, Luna, Saddle Arabians &c would also be ponies, of a more conventional size.

After this last panel, I linked back up with OGM and BadHorse, as we were discussing going out to dinner with other fellow writers. The discussion was rather expedited because, as we were sitting there talking…

"F-f-f-fire!"

Okay, what actually happened was that the electronics over the theater (perhaps the mysterious black plastic covered areas on floor three?) fried themselves and set off the fire alarm sympathetically. But nobody knew that at the time of course. I must say the resulting exodus was reasonably orderly… although I did sort worry about the guy carrying the giant inflatable Eris. But he managed to get it out without getting stuck! My only concern was that the venue security seemed to not be doing much of anything to direct people. But perhaps this kind of thing happens a lot and so they don’t see any particular urgency in the situation. Still it was weird to see a dude in a security outfit just kinda milling around as if nothing was amiss.

We all gathered across the street from the convention center, after some light prodding from the PA, and pretty soon the Dayton fire department arrived. I wonder what they must’ve thought responding to our weird little con, and receiving a standing ovation (not that we could have given a sitting one) upon arrival.

I’ll admit that the FD arriving was a little never wracking as it is kind of a “oh yeah this is real” moment although of course everyone’s money was on “someone pulled an alarm” at the time.

Needless to say at this juncture we decided that perhaps it was time to get some dinner. After verifying visually that everyone we knew was out safely, and with nothing else to do we decided to go to a local Mediterranean restaurant not far from the convention center. The food there was delicious, I ordered the sishtawok wrap. We were subsequently joined by the Admiral and the rest of the Horse Marines, not long after Darkly gave the all clear over discord. We had a wonderful meal together sharing our latest writing techniques and endeavors. I particularly enjoyed talking with the Admiral again about horse harnessing, I have got to get a copy of the panel he did at Everfree he did last year on it. I’m sort of thinking about writing something about an Equestrian-American in line with Team Boat and Up the Ohio Canal, but focused on an Artillery horse at the Battle of Gettysburg now.

It was great to see everyone again! I wish I could have stayed longer, especially for the Charity Auction, where all the TPM's pieces were sold off. I can't believe we raised $40,000 for charity: wow! I had a lot of fun meeting people new and old, checking in on the fandom, and getting to learn new stuff about horses. I sort of miss the online version of the con, for allowing me to see more panels even if I’m not physically at them, but I really enjoy being able to meet and especially shop in person now. It's weird that the panels that sound most interesting to me seem to happen either on Friday or late at night? In any case it's nice to be able to do things like sing and dance along to music with fellow bronies, or rifle through bait boxes at New Grey Manes again! And the larger venue, for all its flaws, made this year’s event seem less crowded and hectic. Although that kind of makes things look a bit “dead” compared to previous years, it’s also nice break from being jam packed. Cons are fun, but they can also be stressful so I always appreciate a more relaxed atmosphere. Perhaps this is merely the result of nostalgia for the old hotel where so many great memories were forged, and in time we'll come to love the new place just as much.

So that was Trotcon 2023. I hope to see you all again at next year’s event!

Comments ( 2 )

It was good to see you there, my friend! :heart:

I spent the bulk of my money at NewGreyMare's booth . . . seems like the last couple of cons she's been the best at parting me with my hard-earned cash. Ah well.

I do like the idea of using your historical reenactment stuff for a cosplay, it's a twist that few do. That having been said, while I'm sure that I've seen plenty of the same cosplayers at con after con, I always remember Flim and Flam in their straw boater hats; they just stand out in a crowd.

I can totally get you a link to the harness panel!
(I thought I did a version with more comprehensive notes, but maybe I didn't)

Telling an author what to write is no bueno, but you could both consider that the Equestrian-American might be working with the normal horses/mules, and also some of the exploits of Sgt. Reckless. Not sure how Equestrian Ponies feel about eating poker chips, but there's always that one. . . .

Also, respect for TPM for handling the disposition of their collection with respect to everyone, most people wouldn't bother.

Looking forward to next year!

Thanks Admiral, that presentation looks like a really useful read for me.

An excellent thought about the potential of the whole talking vs non-talking horses issue in my little world. It definitely touches upon the issues of the war, in a way, and I do want to pull out the issue of why an Equestrian-American would be fighting, for in this case the Union. The idea of their being regular horses in the war too is an interesting one. I suspect they would take the view that improving the status of African-American humans would be the first step in improving their own station in life.

Perhaps Cavalrymen or Officers would prefer non-talking (they can't complain?)? I imagine the divide would come down to whether or not having a talking horse that you ride is a good or bad thing from a 19th century perspective. I imagine that more intelligent, self driving teams of horses would be an distinct advantage for both military and civil applications, since you could save money on hiring drivers.

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