Friday, 16 August 2019

Canadian Collectors Extravaganza - 2019 Edition

Just two weeks after this year's US MLP Fair was the Canadian pony con in Montreal.  Naturally, we headed off with the car full of ponies.
This was the second year of the con, and it has grown from last year.  Even though the weather took a turn for the wet midday, there were attendees arriving throughout the day.  There were also activities throughout the day, including bingo, paint-a-pony, guess the number of accessories in a jar, and trivia.
Some of the Paint-a-Pony entries
There were also treats including some beautiful cookies provided by one of the attendees, and a pizza lunch provided by the con staff.
Too pretty to eat!
We had great fun again this year, sold well, bought several things, and went home with the car slightly less full than when we'd arrived. My custom pony Moonrise won first prize in the Custom contest, and I also contributed two new Maple custom ponies to the Maple display (more on those later).
As a one-day con it was over far too quickly, but highly enjoyable (and there was a dinner afterward, to prolong the fun). I can't wait until next year.  You can find more pictures from the day here.


Sunday, 4 August 2019

MLP Fair 2019

Pony Fair!

This year the Fair was in Tampa, and for a change Roomy and I did something smart and flew down instead of driving for two days straight.  Although I'm not a great fan of flying, I'm glad we did, as it meant we actually had energy for the con.  And I managed not to overbuy, so we didn't have to ship anything home!
International Display (Spain and Macau)
Once again it was a fun filled weekend, full of friends, ponies, and interesting panels (and shopping!).  I particularly enjoyed the panel on Takara Ponies (which only made me want them more).  There was also a great international MLP display.  The always interesting Kirk Hindman and Stefanie Eskander, both toy designers for Hasbro (among others), gave some really interesting panels, as well as spending the better part of both days just chatting with collectors.
2nd place in Parade of Booths
Costume Contest Entries

All the contest entries really went above and beyond this year.  There were fewer entries than in past years, but the ones that were there were really phenomenal.  I was particularly fond of the Toys R Us themed booth decoration.  My custom entry Rainbow Daydream came away with a second place ribbon (more on her in an upcoming post).
Rainbow Daydream, 2nd place in Original Custom Category

Kirk talking with collectors

Amazing entries by Fire Helix, Roogna, and Soulcookies in the Handicraft Contest
Yes, the con was smaller again than its heyday a few years ago, but it had the feel of  some of the earlier cons, when the fandom was smaller (as it's again becoming) and nearly everyone knew each other.  I love the intimate feel of those days, and I enjoy having that experience again, provided that there are enough participants to keep the con afloat.  If you haven't been yet, try to go next year.  It's a great experience as well as a great way to meet other collectors in person.
Group Photo

More pictures can be found here.


Saturday, 20 July 2019

More con prep or, why didn't I do some of this earlier?

Next weekend is the MLP Fair in Tampa Bay, two weeks after that is the MLP Collector Extravaganza in Montreal.
That means that in a week I'll be in a room surrounded by two of my favourite things: friends and ponies.  And two weeks after that I'll be in another room surrounded by two of my favourite things: friends and ponies (and French!)

That also means that the next week is going to be filled with panic, and packing, and ponies (oh my!)
It's at this time of year that I always wonder "why didn't I do more of this earlier?"  It's not like I didn't know I was going to these cons back in...well last summer.  Why aren't my sales ponies organized and priced?  Why aren't my contest entries done?  Why did I think it was a good idea to work right up until the day before we leave?  (Answer to the last one: in April when I booked my vacation it seemed like a better idea to have more vacation during and after the cons to play with ponies than beforehand for prep.  Spoiler alert: that will seem like a great idea again as of Friday morning.)
We're also flying to the MLP Fair this year rather than driving.  This is nice because I won't be spending a week of my vacation driving there and back.  This is less nice because I don't have a car to fill with purchases (what?!?!) and will either have to fit everything into my luggage or mail it home.  This year I will be focusing on small purchases (I say this now...)  However Montreal is only a couple of hours away and, rest assured, we will be arriving with a VERY FULL car (should've gotten two tables...didn't), and probably leaving with a VERY FULL car (hopefully of new things).

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Gotta go.  Con prep.


Friday, 5 July 2019

On cleaning vintage toys - a case for less is more

I clean all the vintage toys that come into my collection (and also the ones I'm going to sell on).  But I don't like the trend I see among many collectors to jump to more intense cleaning methods first, without trying some more gentle methods first.
Spa day
Particularly, many collectors have jumped onto the Oxyclean or peroxide cleaning treatments.  I am extremely hesitant to use either of these for cleaning vintage toys, despite some positive reviews.  The main reason for my hesitancy is due to Remove Zit.  This is a stain remover product, much used in the doll community to great success.  Several people in the MLP community tried it on ponies and it was found to remove stubborn stains.  Unfortunately, it was also found to remove the colour from the ponies' bodies, bleaching them white.  This damage did not become evident until quite a long time after the product was used (sometimes years later), and the damage was permanent and often far more noticeable than the original stains.  Although the Remove Zit website says that it can be used on vinyl toys, it is not safe for use on MLP due to the dying process the ponies originally went through. The residual chemicals in Remove Zit can also transfer from one pony to another.

Oxyclean and peroxide baths are not made of the same stuff as Remove Zit, but they still require caution.  For MLP in particular, we already know that Oxyclean will damage certain pony features (so-soft, tinsel, princess pony symbols, and twinkle eyes, to name a few), yet people continue to use it without first doing their research.

As far as peroxide baths, they may brighten up the colours on a vintage toy, but to my mind the process is too new to know what the long term effects will be to these toys.  I suspect that in years to come we will find that (at best) the colours have yellowed or faded again or (at worst) the toys have been damaged and will degrade much faster than those not treated.
I'm always hesitant to use these type of chemical-intensive treatments on vintage toys.  We are already dealing with vinyl that is becoming chemically unstable, and adding more chemicals to the mix may not be the safest way to go.

For myself, I stick to simple methods.  Dish soap, conditioner for the hair (well rinsed afterward), and magic eraser.  These are tried and true, and, if used with care and attention, will not damage the toy further.

I've also found, in my 22 years of collecting, that patience is a virtue.  I've had several G1s in my collection with "permanent" marks on them (pen, and in one case, a Sugarberry whom I'm sure made a trip to the strawberry patch at some point), who's marks have now faded so as to be completely unnoticeable. This without any special treatment; no sunfading, no chemical treatments, just being kept in the most beneficial conditions possible for years, after a gentle cleaning.

For more information on safely cleaning ponies, I recommend checking out the MLP Preservation Project website.


Saturday, 22 June 2019

Small Pieces - Storage and Display

Lately I've been considering what to do with my smalls.  Currently, I have them all sorted, bagged, and stored in various boxes (many of them MLP lunch boxes, tins, or carry cases - justification for keeping some of this merch).  This is handy when I am setting up displays, but it also means that I don't see these pieces that often.

I also have two different systems of storage going on.  For the G1s and G2s, I have the accessories stored by set (much as they are shown in my Flicker photo catalogue), but for the G3s and G4s, I have them stored by type (food, clothing, etc.).  I've done this for a couple of reasons.  For the G1s, because I've lived with these for 30+ years, I can easily identify which accessory goes with which pony.  When I started collecting G2s, it made sense to store the accessories in the same way.  But with the G3s and G4s, there were so many accessories that were reused and recoloured, that I decided it made more sense to organize them by type.  I was never going to remember whether the pink tiara went with Petal Blossom or Rainbow Flash, and with my Flicker photo catalogue, I didn't need to.  Far easier to keep a bag with all the tiaras together and pull out the one I wanted when I wanted it.

In addition to this, I have the G4s displayed almost exclusively within their playsets, and of course I've added accessories to enhance the display.  This way, the small ponies are filling in the large playsets, I don't have to worry about additional storage, and I can enjoy the accessories all the time.
G4s in a Li'l Woodzies bakery set
This got me thinking about the earlier generations.  Again, all the ponies are photographed with their accessories, so is there really a need to keep those accessories grouped together in storage?  And if I don't keep them grouped by pony, what do I do with them?

I've already started keeping specific hair accessories with the ponies who own them, so I can enjoy looking at the barrettes.  Why not do that with some of the other smalls?  I particularly love the baby accessories, and many of these are easy to sneak onto a shelf near the ponies.  A few are too small or too prone to be lost to feel comfortable doing that (tiny teething rings or xylophone mallets seem made to be lost), so these will likely stay safe in zip bags for the time being.  Also, the larger accessories, like rockers and playpens, will probably be staying in boxes because they'll take up too much shelf space.

I suppose this plan will make dusting in the Geek Cave even more difficult than it already is, but in the meantime I'm enjoying this look.


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.