Sunday, March 30, 2014

Vinylmation Stories - Hollywood Studios Clapboard

Hollywood Studios Clapboard
Series: Park #6
Artist: Caley Hicks

As a movie geek, I am a HUGE fan of Hollywood Studios (I'll be politically correct here, but to me it will always be Disney MGM Studios). I love all types of movies, from old movies like Footlight Parade down to the latest releases. When I saw this vinyl in Park #6, I had to have it! First off, it's so iconic to the park and movies in general, it's an old school clapboard, that I really liked it from the moment I saw it.

But how awesome this figure is doesn't stop there. The ears have been wonderfully used as film reels and the place on the clapboard where the movie title would go reads "Disney's Hollywood Studios" - a great tie in to the park. Plus, the director's name is "M Mouse" another subtle touch that makes me love this vinyl even more. It also reminds me of Mickey holding a clapboard on the Earful Tower.

Finally, the back of this vinyl is just as amazing as the front! It wasn't left plain black and it's not even the back of the clapboard, it says "Lights... Camera... and Action!" a great use of the back of the vinyl that I will talk about more in a future Backside of Vinyls post. It also reminds me of The Great Movie Ride, one of my favorite attractions at the Studios. Since the vinyl is such a fantastic design by Caley Hicks and a beautiful homage to Disney's Hollywood Studios, this vinyl had to join my collection.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Vinylmation Review - Indiana Jones Series

I was pretty excited for the release of the Indiana Jones series, especially because it's Raiders of the Lost Ark themed. I think that's probably my favorite. While it doesn't scream Disney to some people, I think it's a good choice for Disney fans. There's the Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland in California, there's the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular at Disney's Hollywood Studios (which I have had the honor of participating in) and there's a scene from Raiders in the Great Movie Ride at Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World, so this series can be a great theme park souvenir as well as some great movie memorabilia. 

Reasons to love this series:
  • Every memorable character has been included. The man himself, love interest Marion, Indy's pal Sallah, the evil Nazi Major Toht, villain Rene Belloq, the swordsman in Cairo who picked a fight with the wrong guy and the Nazi mechanic
  • The chaser is pretty impressive. Maybe it was just me, but I didn't see that one coming. The Golden Idol was a fantastic idea and although it's not perfect in my opinion, it looks pretty dang close to the real thing
  • The accessories - Indy needed a good hat and he got one, plus the Cairo swordsman by definition needed his sword
  • Good use of ears. If you've been reading here for a while, you probably know that being lazy with the design of the ears is one of my pet peeves. Sallah's and Marion's ears are a little plain, but I love the fire in Major Toht's ears, resembling the scene in Raiders where he burns his hand in a fire, the propellers in the mechanic's ear look like he's standing in front of a plane as he does in the movie, the bricks in the swordsman's ears really reflect his scene in Cairo, and Belloq's ears show the scene where he inadvisably opens the Ark
  • I think Thomas Scott did a great job with most of the figures. Major Toht, Indiana Jones, Sallah and the Cairo swordsman all look true to their human counterparts. The mechanic and Belloq still look good, just not as good to me
  • The combo topper is also awesome! Indiana in his Egyptian disguise was another great choice of figure and more what I was picturing for the chaser. The face is spot on with Harrison Ford's and the disguise is accurate too. The hieroglyphics in his ears are just perfect, an impressive touch, and adding the staff of Ra as an accessory? What more could you want?!

Things that aren't so great:
  • Not to be too repetitive, but again, it would have been good to see a better use of Sallah and Marion's ears, but that's just me getting picky
  • I'm sorry to say but I really don't like Marion. I know human faces are hard and I couldn't do any better, but the face doesn't look human or like Karen Allen

Thanks for joining me for another Vinylmation Review!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Topiaries Series Release

The Topiaries Series has been released today at the Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and at the Disney Store Online. This is Disney's first Revealed/Concealed series, where each blind box has a known Sorcerer Mickey figure on top, but the figure inside is unknown until you open the box. There will be 1 of 4 known figures inside each blind box but you can only buy blind boxes with Sorcerer Mickey attached. Each blind box retails for $24.95

Easter Oswald Release

The Easter Oswald Eachez Vinylmation has been released today at D-Streets and the Disney Store Online where it has already sold out. This is a limited release blind box figure with a 9/10 chance of pulling the colorful Oswald, on the left, and a 1/10 chance of pulling the black and white Oswald on the right. Each blind box retails for $14.95

An Overdue Mail Day

Can you believe it's March 28th and this is the first vinyl I've bought this year?! I think this is long overdue! Plus I'm excited to own another D-TOUR vinyl, I just love that series! Oh how I've missed mail days...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Basketball

In honor of the NCAA's March Madness...

Series: Sports
Artist: Randy Noble
Released: April 2010

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Universal Studios' Version of Vinylmation: Presenting Uni-Minis

It only makes sense (I guess) in the competitive theme park world that with the success of Disney's Vinylmation product, Universal would want to launch a similar merchandise craze. Vinylmation debuted in 2008 and on my trip to Universal in 2011, Uni-Minis had not yet surfaced. Fast forward to October 2013 and Uni-Minis were present in several locations around Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. They are certainly not everywhere you look like Vinylmation can be at Disney, nor have they been produced yet on the same scale as Vinylmation. In this post, I'll be explaining Universal's Uni-Minis.

Uni-Minis display case at the Islands of Adventure Trading Co.

Uni-Minis are 3" figures made of vinyl, that represent several characters found at the Universal Studios resort. The above picture shows the 6 most common figures: the film reel, Woody Woodpecker, Chilly Willy, E.T., Betty Boop and Spongebob Squarepants. Other figures include: Bart Simpson, Minions from Despicable Me, The Cat in the Hat and characters from Transformers.

The Uni-Mini boxes explain the figures this way:
"Each box contains one exclusive vinyl collectible figure inspired by your favorite movie and cartoon characters. You can collect them all!"

E.T. figures at E.T.'s Toy Closet

Most Uni-Minis are sold in boxes with a clear plastic window, which in the Vinylmation world we call "Open Window", so that you can see which figure is inside. Packaging is the same for each figure regardless of the character inside, and boxes do not have the character's name written on them., instead all the boxes say "Universal Studios - Mini Collectible".

However some Uni-Minis are sold in cardboard boxes that conceal the figure inside, like Vinylmation "blind boxes". These boxes list the series of Uni-Mini figures and the figures that make up that series, but the exact figure inside the box is unknown before purchase. I came across two series of these "blind box" figures: The Simpsons and Transformers.

Transformers Series One - sold at the Supply Vault

The box for this series listed 8 potential figures you could pull. It gives a ratio of 2/16 for the likelihood of getting each figure:

Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Jazz and Grimlock

Megatron, Soundwave, Starscream, Thundercracker

And on the back of the box it appears Universal have their own version of a "chaser" and "chaser variant" or "superchaser" like in the Vinylmation world:

Back of the Transformers box

The box shows silhouettes of three figures with the ratios 1/96 for the first silhouette, 1/24 for the second and 1/48 for the third. More details such as the name and appearance of these figures is unannounced.

I enjoyed finding different Uni-Minis around Universal Studios Florida and I was particularly intrigued by the "blind boxes" and how they worked. I hope you enjoyed this look into Uni-Minis and stayed tuned for my comparison and review post on Vinylmation vs. Uni-Minis

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Backside of Vinyls - Mickey Cartoon

Today's vinyl comes from Urban #2 and I really love it! So nostalgic and classic! It looks awesome from the front, but I love the subtle touch on the back:

The front is the opening credits of old school Mickey Mouse cartoons and the back of the vinyl is the closing credit.

Remember this?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Free Shipping at The Disney Store Online

This weekend only, The Disney Store Online is offering free shipping on your entire purchase when one of your items is a new arrival. Just add any new arrival to your cart and apply the code SHIPNEW at checkout to receive free shipping! The best news is, this promotion can be used with both The Jungle Book and Robots #4 Vinylmation, so now you can pick these up without paying shipping.

Offer is valid March 21 until 11:59 PST March 23, 2014

Vinylmation Figures Re-released Today at the Disney Parks

The following Vinylmation have been re-released today at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts:

Top Row: Agent P, Nerd Mickey, Nerd Minnie, Nerd Stitch
Bottom Row: Theme Park Favorites Autograph Book, Princess and Rainbow, US Flag

Nerd Mickey, Nerd Stitch and the US Flag have been re-released on the new mold, Nerd Minnie has been released on the Minnie platform and the Theme Park Favorites have had some minor color changes. Agent P has been re-released the exact same as before. All of these figures retail for $12.95. I will keep you posted on whether these figures release online.

UPDATE: these figures are now available online. Please read this post for more information.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Tomorrowland Suit

Series: Park #4
Artist: Maria Clapsis
Released: April 2010

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Backside of Vinyls - Snow White's Adventure

I just love the back of this vinyl! When I first saw this vinyl, it was from the front and I thought it was a cute vinyl, but nothing special. The figure is made to look like the wooden cars that take you through Snow White's Scary Adventure, a former ride at the Magic Kingdom.

But turn over to back of this figure and it includes so much more from the ride! There's the casket Snow White is sleeping in when the prince finds her, the prince and Snow White, plus two of the seven dwarfs featured during the ride. This goes from a good vinyl to a great vinyl once you've seen the back!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Robots #4 Chaser Revealed

I don't think I'll be picking up any Robots #4 vinyls, because it's just not what I collect. But this is looking to be an amazing series! I was definitely curious to know what the chaser would be, especially with the Villains theme. Now we know...

It's Sid from Toy Story!

(Picture from Vinylmation World)

(Picture from Vinylmation World)

I continue to be impressed with this series!

Robots #4 Release

The fourth Robots series has been released today at Disney Stores and the Disney Store Online. This is an 8 figure blind box set themed on Disney Villains. Artists Gerald Mendez, Ignacio Rodriguez, Quincy Sutton, Enrique Pita and Oscar Mendez all had a hand in designing the figures for this series. Each blind box retails for $12.95

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Vinylmation Stories - Skeleton Helmsman

Skeleton Helmsman
Series: Pirates of the Caribbean #1
Artist: Casey Jones

I am a huge Pirates of the Caribbean fan! (The ride I mean, the movies are good too, but the ride came first). Looking back and remembering the first attractions I visited at Walt Disney World, Pirates of the Caribbean is one that really stands out. The first scene along the beach with the crabs snapping, seagulls cawing, the wind blowing, "dead men tell no tales"... that was always my favorite scene. When I think of Pirates of the Caribbean, one character stands out... the skeleton helmsman.

Here he is...


I really loved the whole Pirates of the Caribbean series and thought it was a fantastic idea for a series. But I forced myself to be choosy and not buy them all. But if you're interested, the other characters that stand out to me after the skeleton pirate are: the man in the well ("Don't tell him Carlos! Don't be chicken!), the hairy leg man and the pirate auctioneer. So there's the story behind why I had to add the Pirate Helmsman to my Vinylmation collection. I know there's also a Pirates of the Caribbean Helmsman from Park #5 but I prefer this one, it just looks more accurate to the character in the ride.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

My Thoughtful Spot: Vinylmation Re-releases

Disney recently posted details on their Official Vinylmation website of Vinylmation figures that will soon be re-released. The first figure we heard about was Nerd Mickey, followed by Nerd Stitch and Nerd Minnie. Maybe these figures were extremely popular and will be re-released not only to make more money on popular figures, but also because these old mold figures will receive an updated look on the new mold. Nerd Minnie especially.

Re-release pictured left, original pictured right
(Picture from Vinylmation World)

Next came news of the US Flag re-release and three Theme Park Favorites figures: the Rainbow, Princess and Autograph Book figures. There are some minor changes/updates to these upcoming figures also, but they are almost identical to the original releases.

So what's the deal with these figures being re-released? To be honest, I'm not sure. This is the first time this has happened. I would guess it's due to the popularity of the figures. I can't comment on the popularity of the Nerds Rock series, but the American flag makes sense for tourists and the Theme Park Favorites are pretty good park souvenirs. (Well, the Autograph book and Princess figure are. I don't see the relevance of the Rainbow figure, never have).


Since these are all Open Window figures, it's easy and accurate to judge the popularity of each figure and re-release the ones in high demand. But I find myself asking, why these figures? Re-releasing Park #1 would make a ton of money from newer collectors who missed out the first time around and don't want to pay hundreds of dollars on eBay for some of Vinylmation's original figures. I'm not saying I want Park #1 re-released, I'm just noting that from a profit perspective, Park #1 would probably generate a lot more money than Nerds and Theme Park Favorites.

Do I like the thought of re-releases? I guess I don't have a problem with it right now. If they don't sell and end up in the outlets, I don't think the hobby will be hurt. Maybe they'll be sold for a while, perhaps indefinitely if they really are that popular. I think this will start to bug me if it happens too often with poor figure choices. There's no reason to re-release a figure that wasn't popular and I would prefer it if Disney put their money into producing new figures over old figures, so I won't be happy if most "new" releases are take two of old figures instead of new ones.

But we're not there yet. Where will this end? How many more figures will be re-released? It will be interesting to see how often this will happen. All of the figures mentioned in this post will re-release on March 21.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Bean Bunny

Series: Muppets #3
Artist: Monty Maldovan
Released: February 2010

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Backside of Vinyls - Toy Story Midway Mania

The back of this vinyl isn't all that different from the front, in fact, it's almost the same. There's just a couple subtle differences on the bottom of the back of the head and also the feet. But I think it's still a great back side of a vinyl because the back wasn't neglected. The same high level of detail carries around the whole figure - front, back and sides. No cutting corners here! It's a true reflection of the ride vehicles in Toy Story Mania, which have a similar design going all the way around.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Vinylmation Review - Cutesters #6 Snow Day

Released: January 18, 2014
Blind Box Series

I was pleasantly surprised by this series! I don't own any Cutesters figures because almost all of them don't appeal to me. I do enjoy the figures in the Cutesters series that have little Disney touches, but that seems to be almost the Cutesters #1 series only. However, I am starting to see why Disney makes these lines and I don't wish them away like I have with series such as Zooper Heroes, High School and Extreme Wrestlers. These figures are cute! I'm sure kids want to start collecting vinyls too and maybe a series like this is more appealing to them than a series like Indiana Jones that is probably unappreciated by children under 10.

So for Cutestsers overall, I've been fine with Disney making them, but haven't bought any for myself. Cutesters Snow Day almost became a different story. I liked the look of them from the previewed concept art shown at Reflections of Evil, but I really liked them after seeing the 360 pictures on Disney's official website. In keeping with the theme, they are definitely cute and I think they brighten up horrible wintery days. (Which we've had far too many of in my neck of the woods this winter!)

Reasons to love this series:
  • The figures are designed very well artistically. I love the use of the clear on the narwhal, cloud and especially the seal figure. The arms work so perfectly as the seal's scarf along with the ears as a splash of water, that I almost forget it's a Mickey mold
  • I like that this series has a theme. Arguably, Cutesters #1, and Cutesters Too didn't have themes and appeared a little like a hodgepodge series. The theme here is snow and also animals for the most part. A much more solid Cutesters series in my opinion
  • Good use of accessories. I love the skates on the polar bear and the ear muffs on the seal! Very cute, appropriate and unique to the Cutesters series

Things that aren't so great:
There's not really anything that I dislike about this series. In fact, I would happily add 5 commons and the chaser to my collection (although I haven't yet). I guess all I could say on the critique side would be that I think the Owl is the least cute. If I had to change something, I'd give him a cuter expression. (But he does a lot like a real owl)

Friday, March 07, 2014

Vinylmation Review - Park Starz #2 Variants

Welcome back to Vinylmation Review! Today I'll be giving my opinion on the four Park Starz #2 Variants. First up...

Tower of Terror Glow-In-The-Dark Bellhop Variant

This variant was extremely predictable, most collectors had guessed that this would be one of the variants. I don't think it's a bad idea, I think a glow in the dark Tower of Terror bellhop is very appropriate, considering the haunted, eerie nature of the attraction. However, in practicality, this vinyl just isn't for me. How often do you see your vinyl glow in the dark? I can see why a collector might want this variant and the original figure, as they do have very different appearances. Looking at this variant in the light, I much prefer the original figure. I don't like the weird color of glow in the dark material, not to mention that these colors don't match how the Tower of Terror bellhops actually look. So to summarize: great idea but I'll pass on this figure.

The Skeleton Pirate and Red Head variant combo pack

Interesting idea here, our first two pack combo variant. On top of that, the skeleton pirate is from Park Starz #1. More and more originality here! I really love the vintage look that these figures have, but then I'm into that kind of thing. I'm actually not sure which version of the skeleton pirate I prefer - this one or the original common. So in an of itself, I think this is a great and desirable set. (I heard it went to outlet, but that's not to say that it isn't a good set, a lot of the time outlet figures are just way overproduced). But, if you already own the pirate and the Red Head, I'm not sure why you'd want this too. The Red Head is iconic because of her color, why make her sepia?! I can see reasons why a collector would want this set and I can see reasons why a collector wouldn't. I passed, but I'm not big into Park Starz anyway. I do commend the idea though of a two pack variant combo set that crosses two series.

Fossilized Carnotaurus Variant

I just LOVE this figure!! Again another predictable choice, I heard rumors that this would be the variant, but what more can you do with a dinosaur? What I will say is this figure came out miles better than I thought it would! I can't put my finger on what I don't like about the common figure, but for some reason it's not that appealing to me, despite the great character choice and Dinosaur being one of my favorite attractions. The variant is a completely different story! I love the colors, the skeleton, it really looks like a menacing Carnotaurus fossil and that's exactly what it should look like. It's so different from the original in a good way, that I think collectors who have the common figure would still want to add this variant to their collection too. I really want this figure, but haven't been able to pick one up yet. I hope I can soon!

Clear Gus Hitchhiking Ghost Variant 

Again, another predictable variant here. After the clear Haunted Mansion Bride Variant (Constance) from Park Starz #1, many collectors thought the fourth Park Starz #2 variant would be a clear Gus, one of the three Hitchhiking Ghosts. Indeed it was. I don't like the common of this figure and I never have. It just doesn't look at all like Gus. Gus has hair on his head, he's not bald like this figure and he has a ball and chain attached to his foot. He doesn't have what looks like a bowling ball for a hand. I digress. But this variant I like a little more. It still doesn't look like Gus of course, for reasons I just mentioned, but the clear makes him look a lot more like a ghost which is cool. But as with some of the other variants, I'm not sure if a collector would really want the common and the variant of this figure, but each to their own.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Little Dragon

Series: Urban #3
Artist: Maria Clapsis
Released: January 2010

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Star Wars Eachez Preview

The Rebel Rendezvous Event's Merchandise Catalog has previewed a Star Wars Eachez figure that will be released at Star Wars Weekends. (Available for purchase via Random Selection Process if you attend the Rebel Rendezvous Event). The common figure is R2-MK (pictured right) and there's a 9 in 10 chance of pulling that vinyl. The variant is R2-D2 (pictured left) and there is a 1 in 10 chance of pulling that figure.

Each Star Wars Eachez blind box will retail for $16.95 and these figures have a Limited Edition size of 2,500. Both figures were designed by Thomas Scott.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

The Backside of Vinyls - Cinderella's Castle

I'm not the biggest fan of the Cutesters series, but I just LOVE the back of this vinyl! It makes this figure! In my opinion, it's cute and girly from the front, maybe you could make the Disney connection with the twinkles and sequins being magical, but overall it doesn't create the "must-have" factor... until you see the back.

The best figure in the Cutesters 1 series in my opinion and one of the best designs for a Chaser. It really has that Disney touch. It reminds me of this:

And I just love that! Of course it reminds me of Walt Disney World and the Magic Kingdom too. Such an overlooked backside of a vinyl.

Happy Mardi Gras!

Monday, March 03, 2014

Star Wars #4 Preview

Steven Miller posted a preview on the Disney Parks Blog last week of the upcoming Star Wars #4 series. The series will release during the Star Wars Weekends event in May this year. The picture he posted shows us 3 of the figures and indicates that the series will be based on The Empire Strikes Back. (The Rebel Rendezvous Event's Merchandise Catalog states that this will be a 12 figure set comprising of 11 commons, 1 chaser and 1 variant).

I am loving the look of the R2-D2 figure on Dagobah that's illustrated on the side of the box! The figures pictured (going left to right) are: a Snowtrooper (or Hoth Stormtrooper), Han Solo on Hoth and Luke Skywalker on Hoth.

Steven Miller also announced (although no pictures were posted on The Disney Parks Blog) that a Limited Edition combo set will also be released during the event. Similar to last year's Jabba and Salacious Crumb set, this year's set will feature a 9" Rancor figure and a 3" figure of his keeper.


This all sounds like great stuff for Star Wars fans! I Can't wait to see more!