Until recently, the Disney Parks promoted another kind of trading activity besides pin trading: Vinylmations.
These little painted vinyl figures (originally mostly shaped like Mickey Mouse although later introduced in different configurations), took off as a collectible when introduced in the parks in 2008.
Figures were soon being released monthly or even more frequently. They followed the pattern of pins in representing all kinds of Disney characters, films and attractions. However, they also branched out into random themes such as Circus, Wrestlers or High School. These non-Disney themed Vinylmations were instantly less popular and wound up filling the trade boxes at the parks as people tried to get rid of them in favor of more appealing or recognizable figures.
While Vinylmations (or “vinyls” for short) were traded in the parks, there were generally three ways of trading with Cast Members for them:
- Clear box trades – generally consisting of a small transparent plastic box with anywhere from three to six figures inside that you could trade 1:1 (These boxes for a time were also found in some Disney mall stores to promote Vinylmation collecting.)
- Blind box trades – generally consisting of a black plastic box numbered 1-15 where you would pick a number and then trade for the mystery figure inside
- Hip packs – some Cast Members in stores that sold Vinylmations would occasionally wear a hip pack with around three figures on it that you could trade 1:1.
Guests would also congregate at locations both in the parks and in Downtown Disney to trade with each other. But unlike pin trading which could be confined to smaller areas, vinyls by their very size took up a lot more room to display for trade. Like pin traders with too many pin bags, it is suspected that the visual blight of “spreading out wares” caused Disney to discourage guests trading vinyls in such a fashion – and that this slowing down of guest-to-guest trading contributed to its downfall in popularity.
And over time, the locations of vinyl trading in the Resorts dwindled and finally disappeared altogether.
While I was not a huge fan of Vinylmations, I do have a small collection that grew over time – mostly with the help of friends!
I enjoyed the extra opportunity of interacting with Cast Members and hunting for figures that might add to my collection and I was sorry to see the activity go.
While Vinylmations are still being produced, new figure releases have slowed and are not likely to continue for much longer now that Disney-supported trading has been discontinued. Their retail space in both the mall stores and the parks has shrunk significantly as the company has turned to support new collectibles such as Tsum Tsum plush, Disney Infinity figures, or the subject of my next article: MagicBands!
Did you collect and trade Vinylmations? Did you like to try to complete a whole set or just get individual figures that appealed to you?