Saturday, 8 June 2019

Small Pieces

I love most things MLP and, in particular, I love the tiny pieces that come with them.  I am an accessory junkie.
That's not the half of them.
Collectors often refer to the small items that originally came with their toys as accessories or smalls.  These are typically harder to find than the toys themselves, often being lost due to their small size, and are generally not recognized by non-collectors.  What I mean is, while nearly anyone can recognize a vintage Princess Leia action figure, only collectors and toy dealers are likely to spot and recognize a vintage Star Wars laser gun in a pile of toys.

A multi-generational hot cocoa moment - accessories from all 4 generations are represented in this picture.
Smalls are often typically more expensive to add to a collection than the toys that they came with.  This is also due to their small size and penchant for being dropped, mislaid, or left behind somewhere in childhood.  One of the most interesting and frustrating things for me about buying lots of vintage toys from people who are selling their childhood toys is seeing what accessories are included.  I've often received lots that have ponies missing their accessories, while accessories are included but their associated ponies are not.  I often wonder why certain accessories manage to stay with the ponies while others simply disappear.

Pets and Friends
I can go into the Geek Cave and stare at shelves full of ponies all day, any day, but I also love the bits and pieces that came with the ponies themselves.  Most ponies in any era came at least with a brush or comb(often beautifully designed), but many came with other accessories as well, including barrettes, clothing, crowns, jewelry, bibs, bottles, toys, and games.  Many of them even came with pets.

Don't get me started on G1 original ribbons. *bliss*

I am particularly fond of the G1 baby accessories.
Why are these things so interesting to me (aside from sheer level of adorableness)?  I love that I can use these pieces to bring the world of MLP to life. I love that I can set up a playset and populate it not only with characters, but with items they can interact with.  If you've seen any of my display posts, you may have noticed that not all the accessories used are MLP.  I also regularly use smalls from SSC, Calico Critters, Li'l Woodzies, LPS, craft items, and other bits and pieces that I've picked up second hand that I thought would work well with the ponies.  This is part of the reason I don't collect MOC/MIB items - I really do want to play with my toys.

A Halloween party with costumes and accessories furnished by various MLP generations and some Li'l Woodzies playsets.
I also love the attention to detail that was put into these smalls. I'm constantly blown away by the quality of design in most of these toys (particularly the early generations).  Is it any wonder that so many Children of the 80's collect toys from their childhood when their chosen piece of nostalgia is also beautiful and entertaining from a design perspective?

The Party Pack accessories are some of the very few items I still have from my childhood collections.
It's been a little while since I've set up a display in the Geek Cave.  It might be time for a pony party.


Sunday, 19 May 2019

Con Prep

It's spring (allegedly), and that means con and toy sale season is beginning again.

I can't wait for the MLP Collectors Convention in July and the Canadian Collector Extravaganza in August (where I will no doubt be adding to my collection), but in the meantime, we're off to the Quinte Toy Force show May 26th in Belleville, Ontario.
Near-complete Spinnerella?  Yes please!
This will be the third time we've been vendors at a Toy Force show, but if it were possible, we would attend every one of their shows.  This is one of the best organized local shows I've sold at, with great communication from the showrunners, well-planned show floors, and always a great selection of vendors.  Also, it's a very civilized show, open from 10-4, giving the vendors ample time to get set up and tear down and be on our way again (we all have day jobs, and not having to take extra time off or give up an entire weekend really appeals to me).
This is the time of year when I think "why didn't I spend more of the unending winter prepping for cons?  Didn't I say I was going to do that?"  Well, it never works out as one would hope, but we will be arriving with a carload of great stuff anyway, including a few real gems.
Complete SSC dolls
Naturally, we're bringing mostly collectibles from our favourite franchises, which means MLP, SSC, MOTU, and POP, but we've also got some video game paraphenalia, LOTR, CPK, and various other things we've picked up along the way.  Hopefully it all fits on the table (not to mention in the car!)
Ponies, of course!  And there's more where that came from!
This will be a fun show. If you're in the area, I strongly suggest checking it out.


Friday, 26 April 2019

Boxes, and Backcards, and Backlog, Oh My!

When it comes to new items in store, I think I'm reasonably good at judging which items to pick up before they disappear and which ones can wait until a sale comes up.  But once I have those items in hand, I become the Slowest Person Alive.
Ah, 2015.  That brief moment when Target stores were operating in Canada AND managed to have their shelves stocked.
I am not now, nor am I ever likely to be, a MOC/MIB collector.  And yet, I seem to constantly have a pile of unopened figures hanging around.  But why?
My current backlog. Some of these haven't been opened in 4 years.  I'm a terrible pony hoarder.
For one thing, I like to take pictures of everything in order to catalogue the accessories that came with each pony, and this is most easily done right when the package has been opened.  But I also like the pony to look her best, which means a shampoo and conditioning before she's ready for her close up.  This obviously means that I can only open a few packages at a time without risking mixing things up before I can get the pictures taken.
Another slow down involves the Geek Cave itself.  I've got to have space in the Cave to lay out the accessories and then the ponies while they dry, and finally to set up my very makeshift photo booth.  As the Cave is often a mess, it's not always practical to try and open several sets at once.

I also tend to wait for sales as often as I can, which means I'm sometimes picking up 3-4 sets at once (occasionally more than that).  And I often make a stop at TRU as we're running errands in the evening after work, which means I don't have time to open the packages the same day that I buy them.  This all contributes further to the backlog.
I was just as bad during the G3 era - you should have seen me when the sales were on.
On the plus side, when I'm going through my backlog, I don't often find a lot of sets that I've changed my mind about.  I find this encouraging, because it means I'm mentally curating pieces before I purchase them and that shows me that I'm paying attention to what I'm buying and not just picking up anything on impulse or because I haven't bought something for awhile.

Much as with the G3s, I imagine the wind down of G4 and ramp up of G5 will give me a bit of time in which to catch up and get more of these pieces on display.  I look forward to having the time to set up some new displays with these ponies.  Not to mention reclaiming that corner of the guest room where my backlog is currently waiting for some attention.


Friday, 12 April 2019

G4 - what happened, what's here, what's next

With the announcement from Hasbro that G4 is coming to an end, much of the collector community is already looking ahead to G5.  I haven't been looking at any of the online conversations because I'm not ready to rush G4 out the door yet.
My G4 collection circa April 2017
G4 is the 3rd pony generation I encountered as an adult.  During G4 I was gainfully employed for the whole run, I finished paying off my student loans, and I generally had spending money when new products hit the shelves.
And hit the shelves they did, with much more regularity in Canada than G2 or G3.  After years of frustration as G3 Target and TRU exclusives failed to make the trip north of the border, we found ourselves in the enviable position of having ponies on the shelves that weren't making it south of the border instead.  It would, of course, have been nice to have more individual background characters made into toys.
G4 also had strong support from a wildly successful cartoon series.  Although the show was strongest in its early seasons, it had some excellent writing, enjoyable characters, and plenty of throwbacks to the G1 era throughout.  Whatever else it brought with it, for good or ill, Friendship Is Magic gave MLP a mainstream presence it hadn't had before.  This level of popularity likely won't make the jump to the new generation, and I suspect that G5 will find a collectors community much more like what G3 was familiar with.
 I am not the hardest collector to please.  Overall, I have loved the G4 run.  There's no character in the cartoon that I really dislike, and many that I really love.  Aside from a brief foray into cheap, bad hair, I've been happy overall with the quality of the toys.  The playsets, although largely flat, are beautiful and make great display pieces (which is unfortunate, as they're also huge).  My only real complaint is with the lack of differentiation in poses.  I had a brief hope after the toy redesign that we would get more variety, but sadly there wasn't much.

There was also a plethora of Mane 6 toys, while many popular background characters either weren't made into toys or were only featured once or twice.  While I'd have liked to see other characters as toys (whether or not they appeared in the show), I wasn't as bothered by this as some collectors.  I do understand the logic behind making sure that you main characters are always available for children just getting into the brand.  But perhaps there's such a thing as too many Pinkie Pies.
I hope that the last year of G4 will offer us a few nice surprises, a few really good figures (I've already picked up three that I really love), and a satisfying finale.  And then I'll be ready to see what G5 is made of.


Friday, 29 March 2019

More G3 updates

With the G3s being the closest to complete of anything in my collection, you would think I'd be happy to just let them be after their recent move and reorg.


I wasn't totally happy with the display and started fiddling around with it during Geek Cave weekend.  This past weekend I went back and finished reorganizing everyone again.
I moved the con exclusive and other special release ponies up to the top of the bookcase, where they can hang out with the 25th anniversary G3 set.  I adjusted the playset shelves as well, and finally got the hot air balloons onto a shelf.  Everyone else got a bit of a rearrangement that has resulted in a little more breathing room between ponies on all the shelves.
The G3s are arranged generally by themes.  They're the only Generation where I've done this to this extent, somehow it seems to really work for these ponies.
Tropical and Nature (flora and fauna) Ponies

Miscellaneous Ponies (including art, music, clothing, and fireworks)

Breezies and Castle Ponies

Pegasus Ponies on Butterfly Island

Food Ponies, Winter and Spring Ponies, and a Nursery

Valentine and Halloween Ponies, Foodie Ponies, and Celestial Ponies
I'm much happier with how this section is looking now.  I think the G3s can get comfy now and settle in to their new home.


Friday, 15 March 2019

Strawberry Party

It's late winter, it's still dark, it's still chilly, it's time to liven things up with a little get together.

Strawberry has invited some friends over for snacks and stargazing.  Strawberry and Custard are getting the rest of the food ready while Frosty Puff and Raspberry Tart set up the telescope.

Everyone else is chatting away in the living room.

Well, nearly everyone is chatting.  Huckleberry Pie is already perusing the snack table.
Don't touch that cake yet, Huckleberry!
Time to get the party started!
These dolls are some of my Brazilian Shortcakes.  They are the more modern Brazilian dolls that were done in the 2000s and are based on the same characters as the Bandai Shortcakes that were sold in North America.  Unlike the Bandai dolls, these ones were made using the same body design as the original Shortcakes, which adds to their charm.  I love the design of these dolls.  They are so cute and the clothes are just fantastic.


Friday, 1 March 2019

Geek Cave Weekend Wrap-Up

When last we left our intrepid heroes, they were preparing for the annual Geek Cave Weekend.  Since then, things have been accomplished.
OK, this was not the most productive weekend.  There was a fair bit of organization, which makes for a satisfying day, but not much in the way of photo ops.  The biggest change, however, was the switch over of the giant display table.  Grayskull is now on a smaller, but still ample display space while the Berry Happy Home has space on the giant table and still leaves space for other displays and photo ops.
We also got one of the new narrow shelves in.  A second one will go beside it, which will help to balance the room a bit and also give Roomy more display space for the Great Rebellion.
Under the table, there is lots of display and storage space, but it's all being used for storage at the moment.  A lot of accessories were organized and put away this weekend, which was a long time coming.  Several things have been identified to move on to other collectors in due time, and these will slowly be moved out of the Cave. And at some point in the near future, I should finally be able to get my anniversary ponies out on display.
The shelf above the closet that previously held the 25th anniversary ponies is now home to the large and specialty G4s.
Finally, the EQG Minis have a permanent home under the pony minis (and under the table).

I'm never completely happy with the progress on these weekends, because I always want to do at least twice as much as I have time for.  However, I'm really glad we got the furniture moved and some proper organization and clean up done.  Any weekend spent in the Geek Cave is a good weekend.