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!

No comments:

Post a Comment