Sunday, August 25, 2019

Overwhelming, Part One

It took me a while to put my finger on it, but I finally found the source of my lingering dissatisfaction with BreyerFest this year: there were something in the neighborhood of fifty different Special Runs this year.

How you count them depends on whether you’d count the Stablemates Anniversary set as one item or ten, or whether you’d count the Plushie as an official Special Run or merely swag. Regardless, you still get at least halfway to one hundred.

First, the Store Specials: Rico, Hal, and Zipped in Black Magic. (3)

Then the Pop-Up Store items: Defiant (the Crystal), the RCMP Classic Horse, Sarge, the Anniversary Stablemates Set. (7)

The One-Day Stablemates: Toe Tapper, Andante, Arya, and Chiffon. (11)

The Tent Specials: Rocket, Pinto Variant Rocket, Loose Mane Diana, Braided Mane Diana, Splash Variant Diana, Pepper, Salt Variant Pepper, Bucky, Blue Variant Bucky, Natasha, Variant Liver Chestnut Natasha, Gloss Quill, Matte Quill, Amber Champagne Variant Quill, Banner, Blue Variant Banner, Matte Chestnut Pinto Surprise Andalusian, Matte Rose Grey Surprise Andalusian, Matte Dark Dapple Grey Surprise Andalusian, Matte Dappled Pearl Surprise Andalusian, Gloss Chestnut Pinto Surprise Andalusian, Gloss Rose Grey Surprise Andalusian, Gloss Dark Dapple Grey Surprise Andalusian, Gloss Dappled Pearl Surprise Andalusian, Lime and Silver Decorator Surprise Andalusian, Leopard Appaloosa Variant Surprise Andalusian. (37)

Prize/Raffle Models: Cap, Cavalcade, Leap of Faith, Top Hat and Tails, Victory, Triumph, Gloss Harley, Gloss California Chrome, Valour and Honour, North Star, Gloss Oliver. (48)

Volunteer Model: Man of the Hour. (49)

And finally, the Celebration Horse: Oliver. (50).

My first thought: thank goodness I am not a completist anymore!

My second thought: a large majority of these models I had no shot at attaining – I only had two Tent Tickets, and several of the contests I had no entry in (Live Show, Custom Contest, Diorama Contest). And about 40% of them were technically Micro Runs (that I’ll define here as anything less than 100 pieces) so purchasing them on the secondary is also not an option.

I was lucky enough to actually have models/choices left to me in the Tent Ticket lines when I went through – unlike some attendees on Friday, because (allegedly) somebody forgot to ship a pallet or two of Special Runs from the warehouse – and I had relatively few troubles attaining all of the Pop-Up Tent items I needed to get. And I of course got this beautiful boy for busting my butt for four days in the Kentucky July heat:

But yeah, after typing out that list of Special Runs, I can see why I felt the way I felt, and still do to a degree. It also reminds me that I need to do something to get back to happy – by getting back into customizing, or more live showing, or ditching the chase altogether and doing my own things.

The event itself – independent of my experiences – went about as well as I thought it could, outside of the usual technical and logistical issues. I was sort of surprised that, after last year’s big oops with leaving the Volunteer Special Churchills behind, that that wouldn’t be a problem again this year. (But this time, with Tent Specials!)

And the overselling of the event – both online, locally and through the usual media outlets – was also more intense than I expected. They predicted attendance at 30,000: I rolled my eyes at first, but after experiencing it? I believe it.

Normally a little bit of overselling isn’t that big a deal – as anyone who has been in the NPOD can attest, ticket redemption rates are never 100 percent – but when you throw in high-demand One-Day Stablemates (Andante, ahem) and rare variants in the Tent Specials, whatever cushion you have is going to disappear.

I also think that as BreyerFest approaches Disneyland-level size and complexity as an event, more effort needs to be put into making the event less taxing for everyone, newbies and pros alike.

I know Reeves does have signage, a flier at the Help Desk, includes all the relevant info in the program, ticket packet, blog posts et al, but as a volunteer I know all of that gets bypassed somehow by a significant number of attendees.

It’s not that the information is hard to find, but it is not clearly labeled or packaged as such in one convenient place. First timers especially are often overwhelmed, and hunting down all that necessary info is just another task added to a long list of other things to juggle.

While I’d still keep all signage and info – because even us pros need an occasional reminder – I think what’s really needed is either a simple bifold or trifold brochure included in the initial ticket packet (and also included as a PDF on the web site) that’s clearly labeled “A First-Timer’s Guide to BreyerFest” in big letters on the cover.

First and mostly importantly, it would have a picture of each ticket they receive in the packet and direct them exactly where and how they redeem each one.

I’d also include important stuff like: locations of all the bathrooms, air-conditioned areas, Lost and Found, ATMs, Breyer employee contact stations, and the most popular attractions – like Stablemate Painting and the Autograph areas.

I would also include some basic information: wear sunscreen, wear good walking shoes, drink lots of water, don’t try to do everything, ask volunteers for help, etc.

They already have something similar that they distribute at the Help Desk, but it’s very text-heavy and not user-friendly: most tired and overwhelmed people aren’t going to slog through several paragraphs of text to get the information they need. An illustrated brochure with one or two sentence explanations – preferably written at a fourth or fifth-graders level – gets right to the point.

(I say fourth or fifth grader level because you know that it’s the kids who are going to pour over it like a sacred text!)

What’s nice about that format is that once it’s been created, updating it yearly would be fairly simple: just drop in new pictures of the tickets, update the theme graphics, and tweak events as necessary (like the location of this year’s water station.) It wouldn’t even have to be in color!

Hmm. It’s getting late and this post is running longer than I am comfortable with, so I’ll take a break right here and finish up next time, mostly with my thoughts and predictions for next year.

1 comment:

timaru star ii said...

Good ideas all of these. Pore over, not pour over (unless you're coffee). But oh, do I have to give away the delightful fact that the Covered Arena Lounge bathrooms are accessible by the public, if they'd only dare go up the dark stairs and open an official-looking door?
Nobody's ever in there,
and they're AIR CONDITIONED.