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

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