I've been thinking recently about variants and how I feel about them. My overall, summarized opinion is that I think they're a fantastic idea when they're warranted. If there's a legitimate reason to have them in a series, I'm all for it. I think it adds to the appeal of the series and can expand a series to include almost completely different figures.
To illustrate my point, the Dapper Dans are a wonderful idea for a variant! The Dapper Dans each wear a different color (red, orange, blue, purple and green) and to own each of the variants, plus the common figure, creates a complete Dapper Dans set. They make sense because the Dapper Dans actually look like that and there's reason to want to collect all of the variants, aside from wanting them just because they're variants.
On the other hand, the 100 Years of Magic variant from Park #8 was not really necessary in my opinion. There's no reason to have that same figure in red and white. It's not a new character like the Dapper Dan variants are. It's not the same character in a different scene like Spacesuit Figment, where the common figure is Figment in the original ride and the variant is Figment in the present ride version. The 100 Years of Magic "variant", I think, is a variant for the sake of a variant. It's designed and added to the series to make people want it because it's more rare, not because of the figure's design or what the figure represents. It's those types of variants I don't really like and will not make an effort to collect.
Sometimes variants are just fun. There was no real need to have two, or even one Wet Paint Donald variant in my opinion. I'm not sure many collectors want all three figures, but it would be cool to pull a variant if you wanted the original. Changing the color in this example makes sense and doesn't ruin the original common figure either. I wouldn't have minded which color I got, I just wanted that figure in some form. But since I didn't pull a variant, I am not forking out extra money to get an orange or purple figure instead of green. Green is fine with me.
Even if the variant is a good idea, like the Dapper Dans, I usually don't chase after them because they're just too much money. A quick search for the Dapper Dans variants shows a set of all 4 with a starting bid of $289.95 plus shipping. Spacesuit Figment is going for over $100. There's not a single variant I want enough to pay that kind of money for.
I can still appreciate a lot of the variants with meaning behind them, when they are more than just a color change, or Indiana Jones with "pit stains" (as he's being dubbed). Variants like that bring back the chase. They're almost always more coveted and worth more on the secondary market than chasers. Variants can be great for the hobby. I don't think bad variant choices can hurt the hobby, I just think they're a waste of a figure and are very disappointing.