Vinylmation 360

About the Column

The biggest new Disney collectible craze is Vinylmation. These little vinyl figures resemble Disney characters and they're eagerly sought by thousands of folks some of whom know in their sleep the terminology, release dates, and arcane facts necessary to become a Vinylmation master. For the many who aren't so vinyl savvy, Kelly Firth is here to help. Her new column, Vinylmation 360, will indeed provide a full 360 degree experience from the bare basics of blind boxes to the tippy top of cutting-edge tips and teasingly true trivia. Ready? Get your Vinyl on!

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FROM: Vinylmation 360 Published Mondays

Ins and Outs of a Vinylmation Release Days

Release days of anything, not just Vinylmations, tend to be crowded, chaotic affairs, with the diehards jostling the novitiates. During a recent Disney World vacation, Kelly queued up for a coveted new vinyl release. Here's what happened.

During my May WDW vacation, I was in town for two releases: some of the Urban 6 Series 9" vinyls on the 20th and the LE 1000 Disney Afternoon: Chip 'n Dale, Rescue Rangers 3" set on the 27th.

First Time for Everything

As mentioned before, Urban 9" vinyls are not my thing, but the Disney Afternoon Series is right up my alley. I am a child of the 1980s, so cartoon series like DuckTales and Rescue Rangers hold special places in my heart. The TaleSpin and Goof Troop sets were released only on the Disney Store website, but the rest have been exclusive to the two D-Streets.

Because the shows are popular across many age groups, and because many other Disney 80's babies are big time vinyl collectors, this series has been prone to speedy sell-outs. Going to a release yourself is ideal for these park-only releases to ensure that you get a set and don't pay an arm and a leg for it later.

With that in mind, I planned the final day of my vacation to include time at D-Street for the release.

In recent years, I have been going to all four parks on that last day, catching up on things I missed earlier in the trip. This time I planned things out so that I would only return to three parks. I thought that would work fairly well, and I would still get to my first park of the day, Hollywood Studios, at a decent time. All I needed to do was watch the Voyage of the Little Mermaid, then see the Star Wars Weekends parade at 12:40 P.M., and finally go see Lights! Motors! Action! Extreme Stunt Show (LMAX for short). I needed to make a mad dash from LMAX over to World Showcase in Epcot by 2:30 PM for a lunch reservation.

Time-wise, it was very possible based on information I had at the time, but it didn't quite turn out that way. Here's why.

Check the Schedule

If you are an out-of-towner on vacation, check the release schedule on the official Vinylmation site immediately before you leave. Disney has gotten better about getting in-park release days right the first time and giving a decent amount of notice if a release date was pushed back. However, things still change, thus making it imperative that you keep an eye on that website.

I am seemingly one of the last cellphone users steadfastly remaining in the "I don't want the internet on my phone" camp, so I was sore out of luck once I left home for Florida. (I am also firmly in the "I don't want a laptop" camp, in case you're wondering.) The best thing you can do in this situation is to stop by D-Street a couple of days before the scheduled release and ask if Item X is still coming out, and ask about the store operating hours. Sometimes D-Street opens early, and sometimes they open as regularly scheduled.

Do not make the mistake I did and rely on the Cast Members at your Disney Resort to find out the times for you. Since I had no Internet access, I planned to stop by D-Street the night before the release to find out when the store would open the next day. Unfortunately, I couldn't get over there before they closed. In WDW and DLR, a guest cannot call most stores in order to ask or order something, so you have to rely on information given to you by others. The Cast Members at my resort were helpful and searched for the information themselves. They then told me D-Street was scheduled for a 9:30 A.M. open the next day.

So, I showed up at about 10 A.M., thinking I had missed some of the opening rush and would be able to get out of there fairly quickly. Imagine my surprise when I saw a long line wrapped around the side of the building, past the construction for the new Harley Davidson store and practically across from the entrance to Planet Hollywood.

I found out from the others in line that D-Street didn't open until 10:30 A.M. Was I upset? Oh, indeed I was. If I had known the correct time, I would have gotten there earlier to be closer to the front of the line. Was I upset with my Resort's staff? No. They went by the calendar information they were given, which someone somewhere filled out incorrectly. Lesson learned: Make sure you talk to D-Street Cast Members directly before the release. For good measure, ask a friend to keep an eye on the official Vinylmation site for you. They can text or call you with any schedule updates.

I enjoyed being around other vinyl collectors, but the negatives outweighed the positives for me. Time spent was one of three major negatives. After the store opened, the line would sometimes move at a good clip, and other times it would seem like it wasn't moving at all. At one point, a couple of Cast Members left the store with a rolling cart-type thing, and later returned with what was presumably the last of WDW's Rescue Rangers stock in large boxes. Not even knowing if I would get a set after spending all that time in line was negative number two.

The third negative was the heat and the sun! During my vacation, the WDW area was experiencing near or above record-breaking temperatures, and naturally there was nary a cloud in the sky on release day. Some folks had the foresight to bring umbrellas to shade themselves from the sun. Smart thinking!

Luckily, I had sunscreen and a baseball hat with me, but I still wound up with a slight sunburn. I wish that Disney would put up some type of awning for the really popular release days, but everyone going to these should still take precautions of their own. Be proactive and protect your skin: bring an umbrella, a hat, and sunscreen.


About an hour and fifteen minutes later, I finally made it to the front of the line and got to buy my Rescue Rangers set. I also bought a backup set for good measure, so I could save it and hopefully trade it to someone for a new parks-only Disney Afternoon Series that I really want.

Apparently, I cut it pretty close, too. I was told when I got back home that the set sold out before noon. I didn't make it back to the parking lot until 11:30 A.M. I didn't get inside the gates of the insanely packed Hollywood Studios until 12:05 P.M.

I wish Disney had a better way of handling these events so that people would not have to wait so long in line. I also wish they would treat Vinylmation like they do many other collectible lines: allow anyone to pre-order them over the phone. As long as the first day or pre-orders is clearly advertised in advance, this gives everyone, regardless of where they live, an equal shot at what they want to buy. Until that changes, or until all releases are put on the Disney Store website, expect the really popular releases to continue to be at least somewhat time-consuming for people in the area and expensive to obtain for those who live elsewhere.

While I didn't care for this experience overall, at least I got these little guys!

Is It Worth It?

The answer is: It really depends on your situation. If you are a local and have the time and means to go, by all means do so.

Save yourself some money and guarantee that you get the latest must-have release at retail. If you are a tourist on vacation, I don't know whether it's worth it. I struggled with this myself while I waited in line.

Some people are fortunate enough to be able to take multiple trips to WDW per year, so missing a few hours of park time is no big deal in the scheme of things. For me, a WDW trip is very much a once-a-year thing (if I even get to go in any given year). Park time is precious and limited. Am I glad I got a vinyl set based on a TV show I grew up on? Yes. Am I glad I got said set at retail plus tax? Definitely yes! Am I glad I have a second set to trade for another in-park-only Afternoon Series release? You bet. But am I glad that I lost two hours of park time? Absolutely not.

I ended up getting to Hollywood Studios so late that I had an awful spot for the Star Wars Weekends parade. I also wound up in the situation of having to choose between seeing Voyage of the Little Mermaid or LMAX. I went with Mermaid, but because of how that was scheduled, I also missed out on a lunch reservation in Epcot that I had been looking forward to all trip.

All things considered, if I had the opportunity to be in town for another popular release, I would buy the set on eBay when I got home and not concern myself with getting a second for trading purposes. I would essentially spend the same amount of money on one set as I paid for two, but that extra two hours of park time means more to me than 25 bucks.

And therein lies a valuable lesson I learned this trip: I love vinyls because they remind me of the parks and movies. I don't love vinyls more than said parks and movies.

If you are going to the World or Disneyland Resort for vacation at the same time a Vinylmation release is scheduled, think carefully beforehand about how much time you are willing to sacrifice in exchange for getting your vinyls. Some people like collectibles better than the parks, and wouldn't mind missing out on some attractions.

I am not one of those people!

I'm glad I went, though. I now know what a popular release is like, and I also know I will not be going to one again.

Next week's column will be Part 1 of Trading in WDW. Where did I trade? What did I find? What were the trading rules? Check back next Sunday!

Until then, happy trading and collecting!

Mark Your Calendars

Friday, July 22: Urban 7 scheduled for release at D-Street WDW and D-Street DLR, and on DisneyStore.com. 3" blind boxed series. Limited Release. Retail price: Unknown.

Friday, July 22: Steam Park 3" boxed set scheduled for release on DisneyStore.com. LE 1000. Retail price: $99.95.

Friday, July 22: Mystery 24 box trading scheduled at select Disney Store locations. Call or stop by your local Vinylmation-selling store for more information.

On the last Sunday of every month, I'll devote this column to your questions and my answers. You can leave questions here as comments or else send them directly to me.