Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Collector's Space - The Rise and Fall of D-Street

Today I've decided to reminisce about the holy grail that was D-Street. D-Street opened in Downtown Disney's West Side on April 16, 2010, with the Disney Parks Blog describing it as, "The premiere location for all things Vinylmation – 3” and 9” figures, apparel, accessories, and a brand new Create-Your-Own-Vinylmation Experience, the “Vinylmation Creation Station".

The atmosphere inside D-Street was unique. It had an underground basement type feel, but it was filled with all kinds of eclectic Disney items, largely Vinylmation. Merchandise Communications Manager Steven Miller said in a November 2010 interview with Kissimmee Insight, "Vinylmation is our mothership", just like with Disney Pins, there was now a whole store dedicated to all things Vinylmation.

(Outside of D-Street)

Vinylmation fans were really excited for the store to open. D-Street took really great care of Vinylmation collectors in the beginning. Not only could you buy Vinylmation, Vinylmation apparel and accessories, but you could also pick up stickers, markers and other items for designing your own figures. You could even try your hand at the Vinylmation Creation Station within the store and see several examples of creative Vinylmation works throughout the store.

Furthermore, at D-Street you could trade your Vinylmation with Cast Members and other collectors. There was a preview box (the clear box underneath the black question mark Vinylmation in the foreground of the below picture) where fans could take a look at upcoming figures in person before they were released. This got collectors excited about what was to come, knowing what the series would be, what the figures would look like, and the date they'd be released. A big deal was made about upcoming releases, so much so that people would line up outside ready to get their Limited Editions or to be the first to pick up a long anticipated blind box.

(Vinylmation Conveyor Belt)

The shelves were filled with every type of Vinylmation: Limited Edition sets, 3", 9", Jr. figures, Create Your Own, and of course there was every type of Vinylmation merchandise you could think of: bags, phone cases, USBs, clothing, journals, hats, the list goes on. I'm not sure in what order the following occurred, or what the reasoning was, but slowly the prominence of Vinylmation declined. Disney stopped updating their Vinylmation blog promoting releases ahead of time, leaving the releases a surprise and preventing fans from getting excited about future releases. There was no more queuing outside of D-Street, no more online parties where collectors would stay up all night waiting for the online release.

(Inside D-Street)

Disney also slowed down on the number of Vinylmation releases. While they needed to scale back somewhat (in the very beginning a new series was released every Monday and Friday!) there was no consistency to releases. Would there be a release just on Fridays? Just on Mondays? Once a week? Once a month? It was anybody's guess and still is. Trading was removed from the Disney resorts, then the Disney parks and D-Street.

Vinylmation trading nights also became a thing of the past. This separately ticketed event was a weekend extravaganza celebrating all things pin and Vinylmation. There was previews of what would be released over the next year with pictures and even prototypes. There were event exclusive Vinylmation for purchase, Vinylmation trading and even a breakfast for fans to get together.

As the Vinylmation world began to shrink, less Vinylmation were being produced and the stacks of shelves at D-Street couldn't be filled solely with Vinylmation anymore. Other Disney merchandise began to creep in. When I visited D-Street in the fall of 2013, only about half the store was Vinylmation compared to the whole store back in my spring 2011 visit.

The new merchandise was largely Marvel and Star Wars. Initially I was sad to see less and less Vinylmation sold in what once was the "Vinylmation mothership" (to quote Steven Miller) but I was happy that there were still some Vinylmation and I love Marvel and Star Wars so it could share my beloved Vinylmation's space.

Well I guess the Vinylmation section eventually became too small to justify the brand having its own store. I would also imagine that what they were selling the most of was the Star Wars merchandise because in December 2015 D-Street closed and re-opened as the Star Wars Galactic Outpost. All the Marvel merchandise moved to the nearby Superhero Headquarters. D-Street was no more.

(Photo Credit: WDW News Today)

The Star Wars Vinylmation remained at Galactic Outpost, the D-Street artwork moved to the Marketplace Co-Op store in Downtown Disney's Marketplace, and the other Vinylmation figures moved to Disney Pin Traders, also in Downtown Disney's Marketplace.

I don't think any one factor caused D-Street's demise, I think it was a combination of all of the above. However, all the items on that list fall on Disney. I truly think D-Street could have remained just as popular in 2017 as it was in 2010 if Disney continued to put the time and energy into D-Street that they once did. Instead, that focus has shifted to promoting Tsum Tsum like there's no tomorrow. I see a lot of similarities there in the merchandise they're producing and the way in which they're previewing and promoting the new releases. I guess they didn't have the time or didn't think it was worth it to keep promoting Vinylmation in the same way.

(D-Street on the way out)
(Photo Credit: WDW Magic)

It upsets me that while Disney doesn't really market pin trading from what I've seen, there still seems to be a steady flow of pin merchandise released, albeit you don't always know what's in the works or when it will be available. The same could be done with Vinylmation, but that's a whole other story. At the very least, if D-Street was too big to solely house Vinylmation, split the store in two and create two stores. Keep D-Street and only sell Vinylmation and have the other half of the store as the Star Wars Galactic Outpost. That would have been my plan.

And so D-Street is no more, but I will always remember how incredible it was way back when. D-Street is still in existence at Disneyland, but what that looks like I can't say having never been. Feel free to educate me on that in the comments below and share any of your D-Street memories!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Throwback Thursday - Pirate Pluto

Series: Pirates of the Caribbean Mickey & Friends
Artist: Mike Sullivan
Released: January 2015

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

D23 Expo Vinylmation Preview

The D23 Expo will be taking place July 14-16 at the Anaheim Convention Center and a preview has been given of exclusive Vinylmation that will be available to purchase at the event:

Pirates of the Caribbean Eachez
This Eachez celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction and has a Limited Edition size of 2500 pieces with two potential figures inside the blind box. The Redhead is the common figure (pictured left) with 9 in 10 odds for a total of 2,250 Vinylmation, and the Blue Wench (pictured right) is the variant figure with 1 in 10 odds, for a total of 250 Vinylmation. Each blind box will retail at $16.99.

Marvel Eachez
The Marvel Eachez has a Limited Edition size of 2500 pieces and features a Spider-Man common figure (pictured left) with 9 in 10 odds, for a total of 2,250 pieces, and the Masked Peter Parker variant figure (pictured right) with 1 in 10 odds, for a total of 250 pieces. Each blind box will retail at $16.99.

Star Tours Eachez
The Star Tours Eachez celebrates the 30th Anniversary of the Star Tours attraction and has a Limited Edition size of 2500. The common figure in this Eachez is a Space Trooper (pictured left) with 9 in 10 odds of being in the box, for a total of 2,250 figures, and the variant figure is Red Rex (pictured right) with 1 in 10 odds of being in the box for a total of 250 figures. Each blind box will retail at $16.99.

Hipster Minnie 9"
There will also be a 9" Hipster Minnie Vinylmation released to accompany the previously released 9" Hipster Mickey figure, designed by Jerrod Maruyama. This 9" piece will retail at $69.99.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Throwback Thursday - Topiary Donald

Series: Topiaries
Artist: Caley Hicks
Released: March 2014

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Throwback Thursday - Diver

Series: Urban #3
Artist: Adrianne Draude
Released: January 2010

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Vinylmation Review - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was recently released in anticipation of the film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which opened last Friday. This 8 figure set includes: Gamora, Drax, Star Lord, Mantis, Baby Groot, Rocket Raccoon, and Yondu, with Nebula as the chaser. I think movie sets are pretty popular, and Marvel is for sure, so I think this is an appropriate set with a timely release. Thomas Scott designed the majority of these figures, with Jason Peltz designing Rocket and Star Lord.

Things to love about this series:
  • The characters - I haven't seen Guardians Vol. 2 yet, but I would imagine that every character from this movie you could want in Vinylmation form is in this set. We have seen almost all these characters in various trailers for the film
  • The wonderful designs - its always hard to design a human character on the Mickey platform and Disney artists have tried with varying levels of success for years. Although they look a little chubby, which is very difficult to avoid, I think Thomas Scott has really nailed Gamora, Nebula and Drax, who look like actors Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, and Dave Bautista respectively. Baby Groot, Rocket and Star Lord look spot on in design also
  • The variants - if you're big into variants, this series has two: Gamora and Baby Groot
  • The accessories - Gamora, Star Lord and Rocket all have fantastic weapon accessories, and Yondu would not be complete without his amazing mohawk accessory
  • The level of detail - it looks like there's metallic paint on Star Lord's mask, which is awesome! The level of detail on Drax is also very impressive, he might be my favorite in the set

Things that aren't so great:
  • As I previously mentioned, some of the human figures are kinda chubby. I think this is incredibly difficult to prevent, but if you are looking for direct likeness to the actor, Mantis and Yondu are definitely weaker than the other figures
  • The ears - they weren't left completely blank, each figure has the Guardians logo in their right ear, but it is a pretty plain design. While I don't hate it, that can be disappointing compared to other higher levels of detail in other figures
  • Personal preference here, but I think Mantis should have accessory antennae 

Thursday, May 04, 2017