Monday, March 30, 2015

Deal of the Day - BoardWalk

Welcome to the second installment of Deal of the Day! Today we have a 9" combo figure from Park #9 the BoardWalk figure with a 3" swimmer.


This figure has a Limited Edition size of 1,000 and an original retail price of $74.95. It usually sells for $60-$75 on eBay. It's available here for just $40, including shipping, and it's New In Box. The seller has 99.9% positive feedback with over 32,000 sales.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Deal of the Day - Adventures Thru Inner Space

Welcome to a new series of posts - Deal of the Day! In these posts, I will highlight a great deal that I've found on eBay. I will only choose figures that are in new condition, with a below average retail price. I will also do some homework and give you all the information you need to know on the regular going rate of that Vinylmation, the Limited Edition size (if applicable), plus the original retail retail price if I know it.

Let's begin with my very first Deal of the Day... Adventures Thru Inner Space a 9" figure from Park #4.

This figure has a Limited Edition size of 500 and sells for between $55-$140 on eBay. It's available new in box here on eBay for $34.48 including shipping. I have bought from this seller before and I recommend them! They currently have 99.9% positive feedback.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Davy Jones

Series: Pirates of the Caribbean #2
Artist: Casey Jones
Released: April 2014

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My Thoughtful Spot - 9" Vinylmation

I've been thinking a lot recently about 9" Vinylmation. I'm not going to talk in this post about the reduced production of 9" figures, which I know has happened, but instead I'm going to write about how I view them as a collector.

Right now I own one 9" Vinylmation from Park #9 and a Create Your Own Vinylmation that my wedding guests signed in lieu of a guestbook. What I love about 9" Vinylmation is how much more detail can be added to them. Several 3" figures have an incredible amount of detail that shocks me on a much smaller canvas. Sometimes that detail can be overlooked because of their smaller size, other times it's just not possible to do as much on a 3" figure. I think for example the detail on the Sci-Fi Dine-In 9" from Park #4 would be extremely difficult to have done on a 3". So I think 9" figures are a great addition to the hobby and popular with fans. However, the nature of them being bigger and more expensive means they need to be released in a different way to 3" figures in order to keep fans interested.

Which brings me to what I don't like about 9" figures. This is two fold. The first aspect is the price tag. Let's compare some of the more recent 9" prices. The Park #8 Contemporary set that was released in 2012, retailed at $89.95. Yes it came with a 3" figure, but I'm not paying $90. Strangely, Toy Story Mania was another combo set released that same year but for the cheaper price of $74.95. I said I wouldn't pay $90 and I wouldn't pay $75 either. I guess I'm not the only one because this set went to outlet. It's easy to pay $12.95 for a blind box, but it's not easy to spend 6 to 7 times that on a 9" figure, especially regularly.

Crush and Squirt from Pixar #1 was a 9" and 3" combo that was released in 2013. It cost $64.95, which is $25 less than the Contemporary set and $10 less than Toy Story, so getting better in price, but still leaning toward the expensive side in my opinion. I would pay $45-$55 for a 9" and 3" combo, depending on the LE. As for individual figures, The Animation #3 Chernabog 9" retailed for $59.95 upon its release in 2013. Only $5 less than the Pixar #1 combo set.

The most recent Park 9" (released in 2012) retailed for $44.95. In terms of 9" vinyls that's cheap! I think $39.95-$44.95 depending on the LE is a fair price. Of course it's still not cheap when you think back to 3" figures, and it definitely affects my ability to purchase 9" figures on a frequent basis. But no 9" price is as crazy as the Animation #3 Dumbo combo set which retailed for a whopping $99.95 when it was released in 2013. I am not at all surprised it went to outlet. I didn't think it was a very impressive figure to begin with, but there's only one 9" figure in existence right now that would make me part with $100.

The second reason for my small collection of 9" Vinylmation comes from a lack of space, not a lack of love for the bigger figures. There are several that I wish I owned and even more that I admire for their concept and creativity.

There are some 9" figures that I just had to have from the first minute I saw them because the artwork blew me away. Then there are figures that are still fantastically designed, but appeal to me more for the memories they encompass, as opposed to exceptional artwork.

I'm secretly happy that I can count the number of 9" figures that are a must-have for me, because I currently don't have the space to display even that handful of figures! I would have to rotate what I display and that makes me sad. But at the same time, I still really like the 9" line and hope it stays in the hobby.

It's great to have a variety of figures out there. Some people love Jr. Vinylmation because they can put them on their keys, their small size makes it easy to collect more of them, and some people think they're cuter than 3" and 9" figures. Other collectors prefer the 3" because they're arguably the easiest to display, they're big enough to get plenty of identifying artwork on there, without taking up too much room in your home. But there are also staunch fans of the 9", who love them for the incredible amount of detail they can hold.

The 9" vinyls that I love (for the most part) include more intricate detail than a 3" ever could (although the artists are really pushing that boundary right now!) However, 9" figures are undeniably more difficult to house and display than their 3" counterparts, so I have to limit myself personally to 3" figures, unless a 9" comes along that I cannot live without. I'm glad to see that contrary to popular belief, the 9" has indeed gotten much more rare, but is not extinct. We will see the release of another 9" combo set for Star Wars Weekends 2015 and for a much more attractive price than some of the sets I've mentioned in this post.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Star Wars Galactic Gathering Vinylmation Previews

This year, Star Wars Weekends will feature a separately ticketed event called "Galactic Gathering", similar to the Rebel Rendezvous event that look place during Star Wars Weekends 2014. The most exiting thing for me about this event (bearing in mind that I will not be attending) is the fantastic Vinylmation merchandise slated to release!

Here's what the Disney Parks Blog has previewed:

First is Star Wars #5. These three figures are all we know right now, but based on the TIE Fighter Pilot and the binary sunset in the Storm Trooper's ears on the side of the box, I'm thinking this might be another A New Hope inspired series. This set will be another 12 figure set of 11 commons, 1 chaser and "the possibility of a variant". Each blind box retails for $12.95. I'm super excited by these previewed figures alone, and how awesome the Storm Trooper on the side of the box looks!

Next is the Star Wars #5 Eachez. Last year the R2-D2 and R2-MK Eachez was released for Star Wars weekends. This year we have an X-Wing Pilot Eachez with a Limited Edition size of 1,500. The common is Biggs Darklighter (pictured left) with a 9 in 10 chance of being pulled for a total of 1,350 figures. The variant is Jek Porkins (pictured right) with a 1 in 10 chance of being pulled for a total of only 150 figures. Both figures were designed by Casey Jones and each blind box retails for $16.95. I think this is a fantastic idea for a Star Wars Eachez!

Finally, there will also be a two figure combo set, like there was last year with the Rancor and Keeper set. Designed by John Henselmeier, this set has a 9" Death Star figure and a 3" Death Star Trooper. The set has a Limited Edition size of 1,000 and retails for $59.95. I am so excited to see another 9" because I really don't want them to die out. If we only get 1 a year for Star Wars weekends, to me that's something. Oh my goodness this one blows me away! So much love for this figure!

All of the Vinylmation previewed will be available first at the Galactic Gathering event. A Random Selection Process (RSP) will be used to reserve items for guest purchase. Items will then go on sale at Darth's Mall for the remainder of Star Wars Weekends 2015.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Rapunzel

Series: 25th Anniversary
Artist: Jim Valeri
Released: May 2012

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Friday, March 13, 2015

Mickey Mouse Cartoon Series Release

The Mickey Mouse Cartoon Vinylmation series has been released today at the Disney Store Online and is also available at D-Street locations. This is an 8 figure blind box series with 7 commons, a chaser, and apparently a variant also. If you look at the revealed figures on the side of the box, the Mickey figure in between Goofy and Daisy is wearing a green pilot helmet, but the figure pictured on the box is wearing a knight's helmet - a variant?

This series is based on Mickey cartoons and was designed by Billy Davis. Each figure retails for $12.95

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Master Gracey

Series: The Haunted Mansion
Artist: Casey Jones
Released: September 2012

Monday, March 09, 2015

My Thoughtful Spot - Walt Disney World Vinylmation Trading

Given the recent news on Vinylmation trading being removed from Walt Disney World, I've been gathering my thoughts on this executive decision, and I've been trying to process and make sense of it. In this post, I'm writing that all down.

The Why:

Why has Disney removed the trade boxes? They haven't said. I think there could be a number of reasons. Many people complained at the quality of the figures in the trade boxes and rightly so. Many people would buy vinyls at outlets for less than $5 a piece, that were unpopular (hence their presence at the outlets), and trade them in to the boxes where instead they'd pull out a more desirable $12.95 figure. BUT - that doesn't mean all the figures were bad. I saw people pull out much more desirable $12.95 figures that didn't go to outlet, even variant figures.

The outlet issue was also mostly Disney's fault. If they didn't produce so many undesirable sets (which has stopped now I'd like to point out) we never would've had that problem. Another issue was figures moving to the outlets quickly, not because they were undesirable, but because Disney had so many releases it was out with the old, in with the new, to make room. Again Disney's fault. It seems Disney's answer to this problem was to remove trading boxes at resorts, so you at least needed Disney park admission to dump your crappy vinyls in exchange for better ones.

Now Disney have stopped with the horrendously unappealing sets, but they can still be too quick to send things to outlet, so that part of the problem remains. But I think if this was the reason for the removal of the trade boxes, the correct answer would be to give it more time for the bad figures to filter out, or just take them out of the boxes.

Another reason I think the boxes may have been removed is because of the inconsistency in the trading rules. This was another complaint among collections, and I too have experienced it. When I traded at Disney Traders in EPCOT, I got to pick 3 times and the Cast Member kept all 3 on top of the trade box for me to choose at the end. He also said I didn't have to trade if I didn't want to. Over at D-Street, I had to keep the figure I picked, and I only got to call 2 numbers.

This inconsistency didn't bother me that much though, I knew what I was in for, and I still just wanted to trade. I can see why this would be discouraging if you have to give up your figure potentially for something you have already or don't want. However, I don't think this issue is reason enough to remove the boxes. I'm sure Pin Trading faces the same issues. How many times can you trade with a CM? Does the CM have to agree to trade with you? Yet Pin Trading continues.

The Impact:

I don't think Vinylmation is headed to the grave. Maybe I'm wrong, but it still seems hugely profitable for Disney. They retail at $12.95 and I bet it costs them pennies to make. Even when tons go to outlet, I bet Disney have not lost much. If they have, it's easy to just reduce the quantities produced. Not to mention that every new release this year of a combo set or Eachez has sold out the same day online. People are still going crazy for Eachez - and those retail for $16.95! Plus there's rumors of popular sets like Frozen on the horizon.

Having said that, if Disney are concerned by the previous state of trading and merchandise is going to outlet, the decision to remove the trade boxes is only going to make problems worse. I can tell you right now that the days of me buying blind boxes are over. I found it a little hard to trade in the first place with most people wanting the same thing and getting it quickly to avoid crazy secondary market prices. Now I'm thinking it will become near impossible. Especially with some people giving up on Vinylmation and selling off their collection.

The parks were by far my favorite place to trade, where I knew I always could, and where I met some great people and had some fantastic interactions. Now that's gone. How am I supposed to trade? I am not spending $12.95 to be stuck with a figure I don't want that Disney won't let me trade any more. It's unacceptable. Trading is the linchpin of Vinylmation - that's why you buy blind boxes. It's fun not knowing what's inside, it's amazing when you get what you want, but you can always trade. Well, not anymore. If others like me are going to stop buying blind boxes, Disney really will think no one cares about Vinylmation anymore. Apparently it's too difficult to make the connection that it's because of the removal of the essential trading outlets.

The knock on effect of removing trade boxes is big enough to warrant its own post, and I will be posting that. Suffice to say, removing the trade boxes will make collecting and buying blind boxes a lot more difficult for people. It also sends out an ambiguous message that many are interpreting as the hobby is coming to an end.

I have so much to say on this topic, that I will draw the line here and pick up in another post. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Disney Store Update - Cinderella and 101 Dalmatians

Here are some pictures of my local Disney Store's current Vinylmation offerings:

Cinderella Series

101 Dalmatians Series

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Abu

Series: Animation #4
Artist: Caley Hicks
Released: December 2013

Monday, March 02, 2015

Vinylmation Review - Toy Story Series #2

Toy Stores Series #2 (not to be confused with the movie Toy Story 2) features characters from all 3 Toy Story movies. The series was announced at the Imagination Gala and I think it's held up to collectors' expectations.

Reasons to love this series:
  • The design - I know that sounds broad and obvious but here's what I mean. The figures really look like toys! Somehow Ron Cohee has made Trixie, Twitch and Buzz look like plastic toys, but without making the Vinylmation figure itself look cheap and tacky. In the same vein, Dolly looks like she has a soft, plush doll texture, and Mr and Mrs Potato Head look like toys with 3D body parts
  • Great accessories - I think the best accessory is Buzz's arm and the way he can hold it. I also like that his other arm is clear, I think it looks better. The other great accessories are Mr and Mrs Potato Head's hats and Buzz's helmet
  • The mix of old and new characters - we've seen Buzz, Woody and Jessie before, but this time they all look different, giving you reason to want another "duplicate" figure. There's nothing worse than wearing out a figure by repeating it too many times. There's also some new characters too
  • Good choice of variant - I like variants to make sense and not be created for the pure sake of a variant. The former has been done here with the Mr Potato Head variant and I think it's a hit with collectors
  • Good use of clear - like I said before, it was perfect to make one of Buzz's arms clear. I also like the clear ears on Twitch to show off his antennae appropriately 

Things that aren't so great:
Overall I think this is a really strong series. The only downside I can think of is a personal opinion. I don't think Twitch is an amazing chaser. I think he's a fantastic figure that's spot on, but I don't think he's memorable and popular enough to warrant being the chaser.