Tuesday, February 16, 2016
My Thoughtful Spot - The Current State of Vinylmation
It's been 1 year since trade boxes became a thing of the past at the Walt Disney World Resort, hot on the heels of an announcement that there would be no annual Vinylmation trade event last year, this amalgamation of news caused many collectors to proclaim that Vinylmation was "dead" and gone. I want to reflect on the current state of the hobby with that in mind.
I've written before why I disagree that Vinylmation is nearing the end, and how I think they're simply moving the focus of their marketing and promotions to Tsum Tsum - the latest Disney craze, instead. (You can read that post here). Obviously there has been change in the hobby, but for now I think it's mostly good.
While I'm sad that there are no trade boxes at the parks (and I do worry about the long term effect that will have on the hobby) part of me thinks less reputable collectors are at least partly responsible for that change. I won't go too deep into that because I've said it before, but to recap briefly: the majority of collectors had only bad things to say about the trade boxes because the quality of the figures in them was so bad. Collectors complained about outlet figures, damaged figures, figures missing their accessories, and being forced by Cast Members to trade their $12.95+ figures for these undesirable vinyls. I can see why Disney would think "no one likes trade boxes anyway, it's more effort than it's worth, let's get rid of them".
Having said that, I did enjoy trading at my local Disney Store, where I never saw outlet figures. It was great to be able to buy new release figures in store, and trade them there too. I would visit a couple times a month or more. The opportunity to trade Vinylmation brought me to the store when I wouldn't otherwise have gone. The Cast Members seemed very knowledgeable on Vinylmation and I had a great time. It still upsets me that the trade boxes were removed from Disney Stores too, without notice.
So trading has gone, but Vinylmation hasn't. We are still getting consistent releases - at least one series each month since trade boxes were removed, plus other releases like twin packs and combo toppers. Thinking back to the horrors of series like Behind the Mask, High School and Nursery Rhymes, I would like to think that Disney are learning from their past mistakes and releasing more appropriate Vinylmation series, on a more realistic schedule. We can't have a release every single week, or several sets a month, because collectors can't keep up, and even the most brilliantly designed sets will become outlet fodder.
I am still not too concerned by the changes in the Vinylmation. They're just changes. Depending on the day, there are equal or fewer pin products on DisneyStore.com than there are Vinylmation products, yet pins still seem to be going strong. I think Vinylmation will continue also. Duffy isn't being pushed as hard anymore either. The Duffy the Disney Bear social media pages seem to be abandoned, fewer Duffy items are being sold online, Duffy had his Epcot meet and greet removed recently, yet in October the ShellieMay line was released, which goes to show that Duffy is still an ongoing and viable product.
There have been huge success with Vinylmation, such as The Little Mermaid and Beauty And The Beast series, plus collectors still go nuts for Eachez. While it's profitable, Disney will continue to do it, and I think that goes to show that Vinylmation is still popular, in demand, and therefore profitable. Sure, some will go to outlet, everything does. Disney mugs, plush toys, clothing items, backpacks and accessories all go to outlet from time to time - but Disney doesn't stop making them just because they go to outlet. Why should Vinylmation be any different?
And that pretty much sums up my current feelings on the Vinylmation hobby a year on from 2015's announcements. I think Vinylmation will be sticking around for a while longer and I will be sticking around too.