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.
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.
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!