IDW Solicitations for February 2018

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Solicitations for the month of February are now available! Check out what’s coming after the break.

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Whinny City Ponycon is back in 2018 with the theme of Old Chicago. Below is the official tease:

From the organizers of Ponyville Ciderfest, Aquatifur, and Anime Milwaukee, Whinny City Pony Con is back for our third year! Chicagoland’s biggest My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fan convention returns to the wonderful Hyatt Regency in Schaumburg, IL on April 13th – 15th, 2018!

Our theme for 2018 is “Old Chicago”, celebrating the best of the Roaring 20’s and Dirty 30’s. From Flappers and Jazz to Gangsters and Swing Dance, our event list this year will have plenty of new and fun attractions! We look forward to once again bringing the excitement of MLP:FIM and its fandom to Chicagoland for a fun filled weekend of ponies, friends, fun and entertainment!

The Hyatt Regency Schaumburg is near both I-290 and I-90 (Northwest of Downtown Chicago and O’Hare Airport) and across from Woodfield Mall.

Registration for all badges, applications for panel and community guests, and hotel reservations at $109.00/night are all open now.

StatManDan

Season Seven in Review

 

Well, that was a fun ride! While a lot of attention was placed on the Movie (and of leaks and other countries jumping ahead of the US schedule), Season Seven was a step up from the previous season. It was also unique in that the comics were tied-in more closely to the events of the show from Issues 51-53 (“From the Shadows” Arc) to the Legends of Magic series. Everything got tied up in a neat little package called “Shadow Play”. Oh, and we finally got to see Starswirl the Bearded, Rainbow Dash’s parents, and Applejack’s parents. I showed my hand a bit after the “Shadow Play” review on what was best an what was not, but here’s the full list from 25 down to 1:

25. Triple Threat: After two great episodes for Spike in Season Six, this episode reminded me of a Brady Bunch episode where Peter double-booked dates and he’s going out of his way to not have one see the other.

24. Not Asking for Trouble: Much like “Party Pooped,” this episode came down on the Yaks and how they absorbed the lesson in the end about asking for help. The comic that followed about Pinkie being an honorary yak was a bit better.

23. Marks and Recreation: A little switch from what I put down in the “Shadow Play” review upon further review. Rumble was being too much of a jerk in this one.

22. Honest Apple: This reminded me of an old Monty Python saying, “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.” That fits AJ to a T here when it comes to fashion.

21. Rock Solid Friendship: Here we have an example of Pinkie at her worst. Luckily, Starlight and Maud manage to hold things up in this one.

20. Forever Filly: Two words best describe this one: Helicopter Sister

19. Hard to Say Anything: I hope they are not typecasting Vincent Tong as a waifu thief. The song duel got very cringeworthy.

18. Daring Done?: Good lesson, but scene setup is too predictable even by this show’s standards.

17. Uncommon Bond: Sunburst was a little too inconsiderate of Starlight in this one.

16. A Flurry of Emotions: Twilight could have saved herself a bit of trouble by either delegating some of her duties to Spike and/or paying more attention to Flurry Heart.

15. A Health of Information: Fluttershy was a little too disturbing in this one. This was her “Applebuck Season”.

14. To Change A Changeling: This is where Starlight’s impulses are not a good thing, though her dynamic with Trixie was good here as was Pharynx.

13. Secrets and Pies: Rainbow did not have to overcomplicate things in making up with Pinkie. She also did not have to be so dishonest, either.

12. Campfire Tales: This episode initially set up the Legends arc for the show while the comics preceded it a bit. Just a nice sequel to “Sleepless in Ponyville”.

11. Fame and Misfortune: There are lessons here for both show staff and for fans however harsh they may be. The town ponies were too harsh in this one.

10. All Bottled Up: It was a funny episode. There were just nine episodes that were better than this one.

9. Fluttershy Leans In: I still enjoyed this episode a lot. I still say Fluttershy is in the right here. This is that Monty Python saying done a little better than in “Honest Apple”.

8. Celestial Advice: This was a good way to start the season with some focus on Celestia for once and a nice follow-up and breather to “To Where and Back Again”.

7. Discordant Harmony: Discord hasn’t been the best in single-part episodes (“Dungeons and Discords” an exception), but he was much better in this one with Fluttershy reminding him of how chaotic he is.

6. It Isn’t the Mane Thing About You: If you suspected Season Seven was slacking off a bit, in comes Rarity and this episode to pick things up.

5. Parental Glidance: We meet Rainbow’s parents for the first time and they were quite the cards, but Scootaloo is the MVP of this episode.

4. Once Upon A Zeppelin: If “A Flurry of Emotions” didn’t do as good a job of showing that Twilight needed to balance duty to others and duty to herself and family better, this one did. Everypony in top form here.

3. A Royal Problem: A few episodes delivered on what fans were hoping for such as this episode focused on Celestia and Luna. This episode had everything except a song and it was still the third best episode of this season.

2. Shadow Play: This was an outstanding way to tie everything up this season and with the comics. It also sets up the potential for future storylines for the show if it wants to. That’s something for a show in its seventh season.

1. The Perfect Pear: While a Celestia/Luna episode was something much cdesired. One about Applejack’s parents was even more so. This episode went above and beyond all expectations for it and it is still the highest-rated episode on IMDB. Need I say anymore?

So that was Season Seven. I already mentioned the top five songs in the season—which were the only ones this season. Here are the top ten character debuts in the season:

1. Pear Butter
2. Bright Mac
3. Grand Pear
4. Pharynx
5. Starswirl the Bearded
6. Mage Meadowbrook
7. Somnambula
8. Bo Hothoof
9. Windy Whistles
10. Burnt Oak

Other Unofficial Awards this Season:

Most Surprising Return: Iron Will

Best of the Mane Six this Season: Twilight

Best Parents: Applejack’s

Lingering Question of the Season: How were Rainbow’s parents allowed to bring a cannon and fireworks to the Wonderbolts show?

Best non-Mane Six Character of the Season: Starlight Glimmer

Something I Thought I Would See in Season Seven, But Didn’t: Chrysalis (let alone her planned revenge)

Final Thought of Season Seven: This show has a lot of life in it, yet!

See you in Season Eight!

StatManDan

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Source: Season 5, Episode 26.

I was just thinking about the season five finale.  Each alternate timeline showed us what would happen if a different villain hadn’t been defeated.  In each one, there was some sort of major resistance.  During the fight against Sombra, Equestria essentially turned into WWII Britain, complete with giant battles, railroads to safety, and a society that has pointed every ounce of its industrial weight toward the war effort.  During the fight against the changelings, ponies took to the hills, and became merciless guerilla warriors – even Fluttershy.

Nightmare Moon, however, while clearly a tyrant, continued to command the loyalty of her subjects.  It’s not a pleasant timeline.  Based on the fear, and exhaustion we see in those around her, one gets the impression that a single day of serving Nightmare Moon is like an entire chapter of The Devil Wears Prada.  Still, this segment stands out because there was no resistance movement (that we saw), and because main characters serve the villain.

Personally, I find it difficult to extract easy answers from the situation, since I think that I, personally, would fare very well in a Lunarchy.  If my job were to follow Nightmare Moon around and tell her how beautiful the night sky is, I would consider it a dream come true.  Especially if this were a world where I didn’t know that there was such a thing as good Princess Luna.

However, my own admittedly ridiculous feelings aside, the episode itself raises questions about monarchism in Equestria. Is princess worship a more deeply-ingrained value than friendship, (at least in a world before the Elements are rediscovered)?  Do ponies accept tyranny more readily from leaders that they perceive to be “of their tribe,” than they would from foreign invaders with similar ambitions?  I think a lot of us do that very thing, so long as the societal infrastructure that we are accustomed to remains familiar.

I think the most important thing that we can take away from this segment is a lesson on the nature of ambition.  The two main characters that we see serving Nightmare Moon most directly are Rainbow Dash, and Rarity – easily the most ambitious ponies in the Mane Six.  Decorating for a princess – even an evil one – is a prestigious career move for Rarity; and Rainbow Dash has always endeavored to rise through the ranks – to become a prominent Wonderbolt – to prove herself.

In seeing Rainbow Dash serve Nightmare Moon with such ferocity, and Rarity serve her so tirelessly, there is an entire backstory – a whole elaborate lesson, right there in just a few short minutes.  What we are seeing is their virtues – parts of their very souls – being twisted, and used against them. Raritiy’s generosity, and willingness to give of herself creatively – it ends up getting abused, until she is absolutely exhausted.  Rainbow is even worse.  Her loyalty, when misdirected, turns her into a savage attack dog.

There’s so much to think about in what we saw of Nightmare Moon’s Equestria – who we are as individuals, what we have the capacity to become if we aren’t careful, how troubled times can sculpt us.  I think the problem with a situation like this, is that nopony can prepare for it.  In real life, everyone has very specific ideas about what they would have done had they lived through INSERT HISTORICAL PERIOD HERE.  The fact of the matter is that none of us really know.

The paths before us are not straight lines.  The best that any of us can do is to follow our own hearts, and be sharply aware of the fact that they can be used against us.  Our ambitions can lead us to dark places.  Our virtues can betray us, if they are not guided by principle.

-Sprocket

Please support Heart Full of Pony on Patreon. You can also follow my essays on FimFic and tumblr.

MLP Review: Shadow Play

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For those of you who argue that there are episodes of the show that were better than the Movie, here’s another one to add to the list. Sunburst discovers Star Swirl’s journal (not to be confused with his spell book in “Magical Mystery Cure”). It turns out that he, Rookhoof, Flash Magnus, Mistmane, Sonmambula, and Mage Meadowbrook were brought together to serve as pillars of Equestria through sorcery, strength, bravery, beauty, hope, and healing. The six pillars sacrificed themselves against the Pony of Shadows to send it and them in limbo. Before doing that, they left a seed that would grow into the Tree of Harmony.

Astonished that the legends are real as well as the Pony of Shadows, Twilight sets out to set her mentor and the other pillars free. To do that, she, the rest of the Mane Six, and Spike set out to retrieve the following: Rookhoof’s hammer, Flash’s shield, Mistmane’s flower, Meadowbrook’s mask, and Sonmambula’s blindfold. Twilgiht, Starlight (who has her doubts about this), and Sunburst make the final preparations. They succeed in bringing the pillars back, but also the Pony of Shadows.

The Pony of Shadows retreats after being held back by Star Swirl ,Twilight, and Starlight. The Pillars and Mane Six move on a plan to banish the Pony of Shadows for good, though Twilight is hesitant to sacrifice the Elements of Harmony and Starlight is wondering about whether this is really a friendship problem. The map calls every pony to Hollow Shades where the pony named Stygian who was exiled by the Pillars for taking their instruments. Just as the Pillars and Mane Six attack, Twilight sees Stygian trapped inside and goes in. Stygian maintained that he only took the instruments to replicate them and gain their respect after bringing them to take on and trap the Sirens. With an assist from Starlight, the rest of the Pillars and Mane Six free Stygian and send the shadow back into limbo.

Star Swirl reunites with Celestia and Luna and the Pillars will go out exploring what’s become of their lands and of Equestria. He also thanks Twilight for helping him understand friendship and Twilight thanks Starlight for helping her see things beyond her idol worship.

So where to begin with this? After he was first mentioned 138 episodes ago, we get to see Star Swirl in the flesh. We had the Legends of Magic comic series as well as the episodes “Campfire Tales”, “Daring Done?”, and “A Health of Information”; but didn’t know it would all come together in this fashion in the finale. And it all worked very well. One thing that didn’t work well was the root of the conflict which came down to poor communication between Stygian and the Pillars. While the Pillars got all the glory for defeating the Sirens, Stygian got none and tried to do so through somewhat nefarious means and went on a downward spiral from there. But really, that was the only flaw in this episode.

Every single character was in top form and it was interesting to see the Pillars interact with their respective successor in terms of the Elements of Harmony. The continuity not just with the season, but the comics and “Rainbow Rocks” as well was spot on. Recall that Twilight was able to complete a spell that Star Swirl couldn’t because he did not understand friendship like Twilight in “Magical Mystery Cure”. It was a nice touch to have each of Twilight’s friends demonstrate their elements as reflections of each of the Pillars’ elements.

So this was a top class finale to cap off a wonderful Season Seven. It is a definite step up in class from Season Six and how it compares to Seasons Four and Five is anyone’s guess. We certainly cannot wait for Season Eight!

GRADE: A

Top Five Season Seven Episdoes:
1. The Perfect Pear
2. Shadow Play
3. A Royal Problem
4. Once Upon A Zeppelin
5. Parental Glidance

Bottom Five Season Seven Episodes:
5. Rock Solid Friendship
4. Marks and Recreation
3. Honest Apple
2. Not Asking for Trouble
1. Triple Threat

(NOTE: It was very hard to name the bottom five, especially where there were just two obvious choices.)

The Season Seven Songs:
1. Flawless
2. You’re In My Head Like A Catchy Song
3. Best Friends Until the End of Time
4. Battle for Sugar Belle
5. Blank Flanks Forever

(These were the only five songs in the season. “Pinkie Pride” itself had six songs.)

A more in-depth Season Seven review is coming up!

StatManDan

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725 & 726 – “Shadow Play”

Written by: Josh Haber
Part 1 – “When Sunburst discovers the lost journal of Starswirl the Bearded, Twilight becomes obsessed with saving her magical idol from a thousand year old prison.
Part 2 – “With Starswirl and the other Pillars of Old Equestria back from limbo (where they’ve been trapped for a thousand years), Twilight and all of her friends must work together to defeat the Pony of Shadows.

Transcript
Direct Video
  • DN 1080: 725 | 726
  • DN 720: 725 | 726
  • DN 360: 725 | 726

Guides

OnDerpmand→

Whatever way you look at the box office receipts from My Little Pony:  The Movie, one metric in which Hasbro does measure the success of the movie is in toy sales. On that end, it is doing its job. MLP broke its quarterly losing streak in the 3rd quarter as it was listed as one of the franchise brands leading Hasbro’s growth in the quarter alongside Nerf, Transformers, and Monopoly. Franchise Brands increased 7% as a whole while Gaming (which also included Monopoly) rose 22%. Emerging Brands were up 9% led by gains in Furreal Friends and Baby Alive. Partner Brands declined by 2% as gains in Star Wars, Sesame Street, Beyblade, and Disney Descendants were offset by declines in Yokai Watch and Dreamworks’ Trolls.

Hasbro as a whole grew revenues by 7% while operating profit was relatively flat and was negatively impacted by the recent bankruptcy filing of Toys R Us. Hasbro is reported to receive 9% of its revenue from sales at Toys R U and is exposed to $60 million of the toy retailer’s $5 billion debt in terms of unsecured claims for payment.

“My Little Pony revenue increased behind the release of MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE and successfully drove point-of-sale gains around the movie debut,” said Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner as transcribed by Seeking Alpha. “Our content to commerce model delivers multiple revenue streams, including entertainment and merchandise and we are well positioned in our investment.

“The film was successful in reinvigorating and energizing our core consumer base and our fan base, while inviting new fans into the brand. The film is yet to be released in a number of international markets and will be followed by the Home Entertainment window, an important element of expanding the audience.”

Goldner also shared that the movie was made on “modest budget” and that Lionsgate pre-sells the film in “substantial part of the global marketplace” and self-distribute in the UK and most of Latin America.

“The rest of the markets they are pre-selling, so you get that recoupment right up front around your production expense,” Goldner continued. “The movie itself, if you take it through the waterfall should be a contributor to the company over time. Obviously, it may not occur in the — by the fourth quarter this year, because obviously our expenses for producing the movie will hit in the fourth quarter this year, but again, remember it’s a modest budget. However, all the streams of income that it’s creating, including consumer products are toys and games business. The digital game that’s performing at a very high-level from Budge Studios and new games that are coming we think it’s a great model for the brand. And of course we continue with the 7th season of the television that’s appearing globally on linear television services as well as in stream services, it’s a very strong performer on Netflix and other services. We see this as a very good model for us go forward.”

Goldner still has belief in the model for MLP going into 2018 and thinks “the team is beginning to think about what our next movie might look like” and that brand will continue to halo strongly. Goldner also stated in the earnings call that revenues for MLP year-to-date are also now on the plus side.

Because of the Toys R Us bankruptcy, Hasbro expects more modest growth in the fourth quarter. However, they also expect MLP to be a big player in the months ahead as MLP heads to video in the near future and the show enters its eighth season in 2018. We are not certain as to interpret Mr. Goldner’s comments about what the ’next movie’ he mentioned will be a new MLP Movie, though fans wouldn’t mind that in the slightest. He feels that there was enough to reinvigorate the core consumer base and fan base, so we’ll see what happens over the next couple of quarters.

StatManDan