Recently, the Aladdin series and the Toy Story Jr. series were released. I don't know about you, but when I first saw these new series they looked pretty familiar. Upon closer examination, I noticed that it looks like both series are identical to previous releases, as if the exact same artwork was just printed on to a bigger or smaller figure. I think the Aladdin series definitely looks like more convincing evidence of this theory.
Arguably, there are only so many ways you can translate Rex, Buzz, Woody, Jasmine, Abu and Iago on to a Vinylmation, and the Toy Story Jr. series does seem to have more of a "cutesy" spin on most of the characters. But with Aladdin, things could have been done to spice up the figures, such as positioning Jasmine's hair differently, or have Abu hold something instead of have he same jewels in his eyes. When you look at the pictures below, you'll see that the figures are not in the slightest way different between the 3" and Jr. molds.
(Left: Rex from Toy Story #1. Right: Rex from Toy Story Jr.)
The Aladdin series was recently released as a 3" series, but before that we had an Aladdin Jr. series released in January 2014. With Toy Story, it's the reverse. The most recent release was a Jr. series, but before that a similar 3" series was released in September last year and June of 2010.
In a way, this seems like Disney are being lazy, regurgitating previous releases as a different size - maybe because they knew it was popular before, so it will be a success again, or maybe because they're not sure what else to do and these themes at least tie in with DVD releases. I'm not sure what the reason is for these series "repeats".
(Left: Jasmine Jr. Right: Jasmine 3")
I don't think it's all negative though. For starters, something is better than nothing in this age where many people think Vinylmation is "dying", soon to become a Disney past. At least it's a Disney series, and not a terrible, unappealing set of the Medieval and High School ilk. Secondly (with Aladdin at least) I remember hearing and reading many collectors express their desire to own Aladdin as a 3" series. Now their wish has come true.
There are a few differences between these series: Toy Story Jr. has 2 new characters that are not featured in the 3" series - Sid and the Alien. The Aladdin 3" series has a different chaser to the Jr. series - Genie instead of the Cave of Wonders and Genie Jafar.
(Left: Abu Jr. Right: Abu 3")
Ideally, I would love to see fresh, new series produced. There are still plenty of collectors out there who haven't thrown in the towel (like me, and I assume like you since you're reading), with new collectors still joining the hobby. I think it's less likely that people would want a repeat. Partly because if they bought it the first time around, they probably don't want multiples in their collection. On the flip side, if they didn't like the series the first time, what would change their mind now? But of course, that's not always the case, as I mentioned with Aladdin.
However, these repeats so far have been very well designed, and are still great Disney sets. It could be a lot worse, and at least there have still been recent Vinylmation released. What were your feelings when you saw another Aladdin and Toy Story set?