• Too Old for Message Tees?
    The other day a friend and I were discussing message tees and how she has requested that her husband move on to more suitable age appropriate attire since he is in his thirties. This sparked a whole debate on the appropriateness of message and character tees in general.

    I fondly remember the days when I was in high school and I could stroll into Hot Topic and purchase a fun retro character tee (in a junior fit small, no less). Over the years, I’ve allocated all message and character tees to either gym wear or around the house/ quick grocery run lounge wear, and now I find myself choosing plain boring workout dry fit tops for my workouts. It isn’t that I don’t find message tees funny. In fact, I find myself giggling at shirts on www.80stees.com and www.welovefine.com all the time, but I just can’t bring myself to make a purchase. I think that ship may have sailed.

     When we first got married, my husband bought a message tee that said “Cougar Bait” and it had a graphic image of a cougar printed on the front. We thought it was hilarious…  until we woke up one day and realized that he was now at a respectable age and no one would blink an eye if he ran off with a woman in her 40s. That shirt quickly found its way into the Goodwill pile.

    Out of curiosity, I did a tee search on google images of (what else) My Little Pony tees to see if I could find a few to stash in my closet for the occasional collector outing or pony meet and I managed to find a few that I might considering wearing. First off, all FIM tees were pretty much automatically crossed off the list of contenders. Don’t get me wrong, I love the FIM show, artwork and characters, but since it has become so mainstream, I find myself looking at shirts sporting Pinkie Pie the same way I look at those tacky decals people paste on their truck windows of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbs peeing on a Ford or Chevy logo.

    Then, I decided to look at retro pony designs and was a little saddened to only find a handful of options. Plus, most for these had some message emblazoned across the image like, “Daddy Buy Me a Pony” or “Princess” that would only be suitable if I was 12. After a little digging, I came up with the following purchasing options:

    I could possibly see myself wearing this under my powder blue fleece zip up, but it is doubtful I’d wear it by itself. It is kind of intensely girly.

     I can see myself wearing this to a pony outing, or the gym with ridiculously bright neon shorts.

    This is probably, my least favorite of the  bunch (because of the word “love” written on it), but I could possibly imagine myself wearing this paired with black yoga pants around the neighborhood.

     I think this one is really funny and a little more subtle than the other options (If there is anything subtle about having My Little Ponies printed across your chest.)

     I really like this one even though it resembles a shirt I had when I was 5. I might wear this around the house or to a pony meet or something.

    Also, www.Zazzle.com has some Hasbro submitted retro designs that are a bit more simplistic. They have a few fan favorites including Glory, Gusty, Sundance, and a few others. I imagine I could pair these with jeans and wear one to a pony event.

    What do you think about wearing message and character tees, specifically My Little Pony tees in everyday life? Do you think there is an age where you should resign yourself to being message tee free or are you the type of person who will still be sporting Rainbow Dash, “20% Cooler” proudly at  age 79?

  • Navigating a Brony Convention
    I returned home from Seattle exactly a week ago and I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around the whole experience. I had never been to a typical convention before, just the MY LITTLE PONY Fair (which I now realize is a far cry from a typical convention) and I had never experienced a “Brony” event.

    Mary and I set up our booth on Friday. It was pretty simple with some Fair info, merchandise and books. At the last minute, I threw in some “unblinded” blind bags and my binder of extra FIM trading cards into my suitcase since I had some extra space. By the end of the first day of sales, Mary and I had completely sold out of our “unblinded” blind bag ponies and I had off loaded some extra FIM trading cards, but not much else. It was interesting that when Bronies came to look in the blind bag bin, they were primarily looking for the “Mane 6” ponies and didn’t have much interest in any of the other characters. Collectors tend to look for the other characters first, so this was a new perspective for me.

    The vendor room consisted of about 30 tables of handmade pony items. Hats, scarves, fan made plush ponies, necklaces, keychains made out of the blind bag ponies, custom tee shirts, and fan art. Official merchandise was offered by WeLoveFine and Enter-Play cards, but other than that everything else was custom/fan made. It was a little strange to be in a room full of pony stuff and none of it be toy ponies or Hasbro produced.

    Since we were classified as Vendors, we didn’t have to wait in the epic registration line. It seemed to go on forever, but the Bronies seemed more than happy to stand in line for hours to be admitted into the event. We found that standing in really long lines is really typical at most conventions and it isn’t considered a big deal or an inconvenience. Mary joked that we would be strung up by our shoelaces if it took six hours to complete Fair registration. I guess collectors aren’t as patient (myself included).

    We took a little break for lunch and attended a paper pony craft panel where you could make your own paper “bwob” pony, but had to wait for about 40 minutes after the scheduled time because an organizer had misplaced the supplies and they had to go buy scissors, crayons and glue. We actually welcomed the break to sit back and relax, and it was just as well since my first foray into pony themed paper crafts resulted in an epic fail. Poor Pinkie Pie “bwob” pony found her way into the wastebasket after about 30 minutes of struggling to get her pieces to stick together with little success. The finished product that was shown by the host of the panel was really cute. Mine… not so much.

    After our unsuccessful go at paper crafts we went back to manning our table. We were able to chat with several Bronies about why they feel a connection with My Little Pony, and what motivates them to band together with other Bronies. The vast majority pointed to the sense of belonging that they felt among the Brony culture. Something that was lacking in their everyday lives. A few noted the quality of the Friendship Is Magic animation originally piqued their interest, but that they identify as a Brony because of the community.

    Later that evening, we attended a bit of Ponystock, a showcase of artists who create music inspired by My Little Pony (yes, this is a real thing!) We stayed for a bit listening to Brony musicians sing ballads about rainbows and friendship and some singing about more serious topics like bullying and feeling lost and forgotten, but finding solace with their friends. It was kind of heavy stuff. Then a new artist took the stage and began a version of “Baby Got Back” but with modified lyrics that paid homage to pony “flanks” and hindquarters. I’m sure it was supposed to be tongue in cheek and funny, but it was a little too much for us and we decided to call it a night. We decided to bow out of the festivities on Saturday and Sunday and instead explored Seattle (Awesome city and awesome food!) We did check out Ponystock on Saturday night and witnessed a whole room of Bronies singing “The Smile Song” and Michelle Creber (who voices the character of Apple Bloom) sing some songs from her new CD. She was adorable!

    While most of the Bronies were very nice and we enjoyed our conversations with them in small groups and we had fun, the experience was a bit intense and frenzied overall. However, the Bronies seemed to embrace this atmosphere by belting out songs in the hotel elevators and mooning over voice actresses. They had a great time and that’s what counts. Everfree was their event and they loved it!

    I’ll admit that gaining a better understanding of the Bronies was my focus of attending Everfree Northwest (Well, that and having a fun weekend getaway with a friend.) I now tend to think that the Brony phenomenon is kind of a perfect storm that could have just as easily attached itself to any other pop culture icon, Pony just happened to be the catalyst. Without the organization of the community aspect of the Bronies, I seriously doubt that these same teens and 20 something males would sit at home and spending countless hours on  Pony fan art, Pony fan fic, and Pony inspired music. Some maybe… but it definitely wouldn’t have the same following.

    Also, if I was even remotely interested in getting a doctorate in sociology, I’d so write my thesis on Bronies. There is a gold mine of material at these Brony conventions!