Sunday, May 27, 2018

Snapshot Sunday - Disney Theme Park Pops

I realized that I never shared my Disney theme park exclusive Funko Pops that I picked up last fall. I am a HUGE Orange Bird fan and he is absolutely adorable in Pop form! Sadly I had to get him on the secondary market because I'm not a WDW local and he was not available online or on the app. But I got him at a fair price.

Figment is my all time favorite character and he is an incredible Pop figure! I checked the app and ShopDisney about every 30 minutes when he was first released, and the second I saw him on the Shop Disney Parks app I didn't hesitate to purchase him!

I love them both and enjoyed taking pictures of them while I was at Walt Disney World last October, stay tuned to see some on the blog!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

My Thoughtful Spot - Disney Vinylmation vs. Funko Pop Vinyls

What better place to start as I begin adding Funko Pop articles to Vinylmation Isle than with a post comparing Pop vinyls to Disney's Vinylmation?

A quick summary if you're not familiar with Funko Pop, Funko is a company that produces numerous lines of collectible figures. I would say the most popular and well-known line is their POP! vinyls, which are vinyl figures from various aspects of pop culture including movies, television shows, cartoons, and music icons. Disney is very prominent in the Pop vinyl line.

I held out on buying Funko Pop for the longest time because I really didn't need yet another collectible item to swallow all my money. If my memory serves me correctly, the first Pop vinyls I remember seeing were The Big Bang Theory characters and I just didn't get it. They had weird square shaped heads, no mouths, and didn't look like the characters from the show at all. Later on I came across WALL-E and Eve Pop figures and realized Funko made Disney figures too. I still wasn't into it because I didn't like the WALL-E and Eve designs, they were also too boxy and square, but the Disney characters definitely got my attention.

So what made me jump right in to Vinylmation and why didn't Pop vinyls grab me in the same way? Are both collectibles created equal?

The whole concept of Vinylmation seems to me to be artistic representations of various Disney characters and Disney parks attractions, all in the shape of Mickey. It's in the name "vinyl" and "mation", taken from animation. Fans therefore collect these little pieces of art and nostalgia and form a beautiful collection of different designs all with the same uniform shape, which makes them look amazing on display. Funko Pop vinyls don't have the same alluring concept to me as Vinylmation. They don't have a unique purpose in the way Vinylmation do. In the same way that Vinylmation have the common factor of each figure holding a Mickey shape (with the exception of Park Starz), Pop vinyls have a common factor too, which is big, round, black eyes on every figure. But Pop vinyls are just vinyl figures of icons from pop culture. They don't tell a story, they're not uniquely designed. There's somewhat of a theme to them (pop culture) but it's a very broad theme, unlike Vinylmation, with numerous sub-themes.

What drew me to Vinylmation was the personal connection. Each figure is a 3" piece of art that holds Disney memories for me. Sure there were seemingly random sets like High School and Wrestlers that were ugly as sin, strayed from the main idea of Vinylmation, and were sorely unsuccessful. But I focused my collecting efforts on the strong Parks series line. I loved to collect these small representations of my favorite Disney attractions, places and characters. I have a Vinylmation of the Empress Lilly to remember my third birthday party held there, I have Colonel Critchlow Suchbench who represents my many happy nights at the Adventurers Club. I have gorgeous figures of Carl and Ellie from Up, the first Disney movie I saw with my husband. The personal connection to these figures is part of what makes Vinylmation a true collectible in my opinion.

By contrast, Pop vinyls are much less personal. They're not made to reflect places and attractions, they're not even artistic representations of characters, they're just pop culture icons in plastic form, which to me feels more like a toy than a collectible. There's no thought process or concept art from an artist behind each Pop. What made Vinylmation unique was the challenge of having artists paint a design on a Mickey shaped canvas. Sure the vinyl could be Cinderella and have no deeper meaning than that, but it would be that artist's vision of what Cinderella looks like, drawn on a set canvas. Furthermore, in the early days, you'd even get a small card showing the Vinylmation's concept art along with the artist's signature. Just like certain items of memorabilia come with certificates or artist autographs, that's how Vinylmation felt with this awesome little card - a true collector's piece. Pop vinyls have no creativity or deeper meaning. They are simply cutesy looking figures of well known characters. They don't come in a beautifully designed box, they come in more standard looking boxes with plastic open windows that I think, again, make them look more like toys.

Vinylmation always felt like a collectible to me because of their exclusivity. They were available at Disney Stores, the Disney Parks, and on the Disney Store's website, enough locations that they were accessible but still not everyone had access to them. Pop vinyls are much more easy to access. They're sold at Walmart, Walgreens, Target, Toys R Us, Barnes and Noble, Game Stop, the list goes on. The easier level of access to Pop vinyls once again made them feel like a toy to me and they felt less special. Walt Disney World vacations had increased hype as collectors looked forward to stocking up on the latest Vinylmation releases while they were there, people made special trips to the Disney Store purely for Vinylmation, and we would stay up late throwing online release parties as we waited for new releases on the Disney Store's website. Collectors had such a sense of pride that they finally acquired the figure they wanted through these means. It doesn't feel as special to pick up a Pop vinyl along with your groceries.

There are some instances in which Pop vinyls are more exclusive. There are convention exclusives and other event exclusives, just like Disney had with Vinylmation. In that sense they are the on par by having limited releases. But when Disney had Vinylmation event exclusives for things like the Food & Wine Festival and trading events, they meant exclusives. You would not find those pieces at the Disney Store, or online. Conversely, Pop vinyls often have "exclusives" such as convention exclusives available at stores like Hot Topic and ThinkGeek, removing their convention exclusivity by being available outside of the convention they were designed to be exclusive to. That to me removes the reason to have the vinyl and the point of making it an exclusive.

Another similarity between Pop vinyls and Vinylmation is the rare figures. In the Vinylmation world there are "chasers", that one figure in every series that is more rare than the others, but with known odds. There's also "variants", an alternate version of a known figure with unknown odds, the rarest of them all. In the world of Pop vinyls, there's a "chase", an alternate version of a figure with known odds, similar to Vinylmation variants. The difference here however is that with Pop vinyls always being open window, it's easy for collectors to sift through a store's Pop vinyl offerings and snap up every chase in the store. With Vinylmation, they were sold in blind boxes, so the only way to get a chaser was to buy these boxes and try your luck. For me this made chasers and variants far more special as you opened your blind box not knowing what was inside, leaving you in pure amazement when you pulled that rare figure. Sure you can feel pretty special when you arrive at a store and spot a chase, but driving around from store to store until you find one doesn't have the same magic in my opinion as opening a blind box.

Then there's the production quality differences between Vinylmation and Pop vinyls. Disney were very strict on their production quality when it came to Vinylmation. If paint jobs were pretty bad, Disney would recall those Vinylmation, pull their product from the shelves, and start over. They would not sell what they considered to be a sub-par product. There were still occasional minor defects that I felt couldn't be helped, but for me those were few and far between. Pop vinyls however have much higher production levels than Vinylmation, which means they have much lowered quality. I can count the number of Vinylmation I have with minor defects, but I can count the number of Pops I have that don't have defects. The paint job on Pop vinyls is pretty bad on what seems like 98% of their figures. They feel more like a toy with low production quality like that.

Another highlight of Vinylmation was that with so much Disneyana out there, it felt special when something you loved became a Vinylmation, because Disney would only work on select licenses at a time. I remember my excitement when Disney made a Cranium Command 2-pack because I LOVED that attraction! But Funko work on tons of licenses at once, which means whatever you can name probably already has a Pop vinyl version in existence. It's not as special to be able to pick up a Pop of whatever you want just like that.

For those on a budget, Pop vinyls are much kinder on your bank account. 3" Vinylmation started at a $9.95 price point, but soon reached $12.95 to $14.95 depending on the line, with some more limited figures reaching $16.95, and Park Starz retailing at $18.95. Pop vinyls however are as low as $8.78 at Walmart - cheaper than Vinylmation ever were - and the highest price I've seen them reach has been $12.99 at ThinkGeek and Vintage Stock. (The super size Pops retail higher of course, just like 9" Vinylmation do). Vinylmation can get expensive pretty quickly, especially if you're blind boxing and don't even end up with the figures you want after dropping all that money. An advantage of Pop vinyls is that you know you'll get what you want and you'll pay a lower price for it.

Pop vinyls often looked more like toys to me because so many of them looked like plastic figures. Vinylmation rarely looked like that to me. They were designed and painted in such a way that they never looked cheap and plastic-y. The DC Comics line of Pop vinyls look especially bad to me, I don't like the chunky stance the characters have and how plastic they look. I also hate bobble head Pop vinyls and I'm not sure I'll ever buy one. Bobble heads to me are cheap and gaudy and reinforce Pops being toys. I make ONE exception to that rule, which is Baby Groot. Since Groot dances in his flower pot, a bobble head is warranted, but not for every Marvel figure. Even when I personally didn't like, or want a Vinylmation figure, they still looked like collector's pieces over toys to me the majority of the time.

In my opinion, if you are a Disney Parks fan wanting a collectible, Disney's Vinylmation are far superior to Funko's Pop vinyls. If you simply want a collectible figure, Pop vinyls are a good way to go. They reach a wider audience: fans of movies, video games, cartoons, TV shows and music, for the Disney and non-Disney fan. But having said all this, I do collect Funko Pop figures now. Why after everything I just said? Because I've settled. Vinylmation is no longer what it was and I miss that. I can't get it back, so I'm settling for the next best thing. It doesn't change a lot of what I've said in this article, but like I said, I'm settling.

I think it's sad, Vinylmation would have had me as an exclusive collector and I never would have bought a Funko Pop if the Vinylmation hobby was the same now as it was in 2011 when I started collecting. Maybe they felt they were already losing too many collectors to Funko and that played a role in why Vinylmation fizzled out? We'll never know. But despite my new Funko additions, Vinylmation will always mean far more to me and will remain the superior collectible.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Note on the Future of Vinylmation Isle

It has been a while since I posted so if you're still here reading this - thanks! I haven't posted in a while and as I quickly approach the 5th birthday of this blog, I wanted to write a short note to let my readers know (if you're still here) my future plans for Vinylmation Isle.

If you've been following for a while, you know that with all the changes in the Vinylmation world commencing in 2014, I've gone back and forth on whether or not to keep this blog going, and if so what content to feature. I started this blog for fun and had so much content in the beginning that I would post 3+ times a week, sometimes every other day! (Can you believe it?!) But that's just not possible anymore because there's not enough happening in the Vinylmation universe.

It started becoming stressful for me to rack my brain for something to post. I want good content here and I don't want to post for the sake of posting. To take away the stress of blogging and to keep it the fun outlet I intended it to be, I have decided from here on out that if I have content to post, I'll post it. If I have time for some Throwback Thursdays, I'll feature some of those. But if I don't have time for those things and I don't have ideas, I won't be posting. If that means weeks or even months pass by without a post, my apologies. I don't want filler content here and I don't want to stress myself out about how much time it's been since my last post. If this blog becomes too stressful, I will stop altogether, because there's just no need for that added stress. I work a full time job and I'm now a military reservist so my time is limited. This is the best compromise I can think of for not giving up on the blog altogether.

I don't want this post to be all doom and gloom, because I do have future content in the works! There will be more posts! I just want you guys to know that the frequency of new content here will be less than it was in the past, but at the same time I don't want you to think if you see that it's been a month or more since I posted that I'm over it and that's the end because currently it's not :)

I want to thank everyone who participated in the poll I had a while back regarding Funko Pop. Thanks to your feedback I will be including posts about Funko Pop lines here on the blog and I hope you'll enjoy those topics too. Thank you guys for continuing to read and follow along, and thank you for your patience and understanding! If you have any ideas or suggestions for future content, I'm all ears! Please comment or email me and maybe I'll make that happen! I appreciate you sticking with me :)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

2017 Vinylmation Isle Awards

Welcome to the 5th Annual Vinylmation Isle Awards! As an obsessive lover of Vinylmation, I decided there's no better way to honor the hobby I love so much, than to award some of the best figures and artists for their contributions to the Vinylmation universe this year. (Vinyls were only eligible to win in each category if they were released between January 1 and December 31, 2017).

And the winners are...

Favorite Disney Artist
Maria Clapsis

Favorite Variant Figure
Haunted Mansion Ghost
Series: Park Starz #5
Artist: Thomas Scott

Favorite Park Starz Figure
Computer Engineer
(affectionately dubbed "Foxy Brown")
Series: Park Starz #5
Artist: Thomas Scott

Series: Park Starz #5
Artist: Thomas Scott

Favorite 9" Figure
Haunted Mansion Bride
Series: WonderGround Gallery
Artist: Jasmine Beckt-Griffith

Favorite Minnie Platform Figure
Disney Store 30th Anniversary Minnie
Series: Disney Store 30th Anniversary
Artist: Marvin Lao

Best Chaser
Jungle Cruise Boat
Series: Kingdom of Cute
Artist: Jerrod Maruyama

Best Use of Ears
Holiday Goofy
Series: Holiday 2017 Eachez
Artist: R. Bristol

Best Eachez
2017 Holiday Goofy
Artist: R. Bristol

Best Human Likeness
Luke Skywalker
Series: The Last Jedi
Artist: Maria Clapsis

Best Accessory
Holiday Goofy's Hat
Series: Holiday 2017 Eachez
Artist: R. Bristol

Haunted Mansion Bride's Candle
Series: Designer Eachez #1
Artist: Miss Mindy

Best Packaging
Kingdom of Cute
Artist: Jerrod Maruyama

Surprisingly Appealing
Minnie Mouse Eachez
Artist: Caley Hicks

Most Creative Idea
Kingdom of Cute

I hope you enjoyed the 5th Annual Vinylmation Isle Awards and thank you to everyone who voted! Please join me again next year! You can also check out the new 2017 inductees that will be coming soon to the Vinylmation Isle Hall of Fame

Friday, January 26, 2018

2018 Walt Disney World Eachez Release

A 2018 Walt Disney World Eachez has been released at the Walt Disney World Resort, the Shop Disney Parks App, and ShopDisney. The Eachez features Mickey Mouse and contains one of two possible figures: a Black/Red Mickey Mouse (the common figure with 9/10 odds of being in the blind box), or a White/Red Mickey Mouse (the variant figure with 1/10 odds of being in the blind box).

This is a limited release Eachez with exact quantities unknown. Both figures were designed by Disney artist R. Bristol and each blind box retails at $16.99.