Vinyl Toys, or more commonly referred to as “Designer Toys”, are a phenomenon that began with Hong Kong artist, Michael Lau, in the late 90s. A vinyl toy is basically a three dimensional figurine, which can come in various shapes and forms, that is essentially a canvas. The same form factor is usually repeated many times in a series but the canvas itself is designed by a multitude of artists depicting contemporary art and characters. Many companies have rose to high success manufacturing these collectibles ie: Kid Robot, Medicom. With such a distinguished form factor such as the Mickey Mouse silhouette and a plethora of notable characters and locations at its disposable, it’s no surprise that Disney has had exponential success since the launch of Vinylmation back in late 2008.
For those of you who have never heard of Vinylmation, well quite frankly you probably just haven’t been to a Disney theme park in the last three years. Vinylmation has created a somewhat cult following amongst both Disney and vinyl toy enthusiasts. There are many online forums, trade-shows, and blogs all dedicated to allow bartering and education of this beloved trend.
Although the various series of Disney’s Vinylmation collections are now widely available online, my opinion is simply put: “Where is the fun in that?” I first discovered the toys during a trip to Disneyland Theme Parks in Los Angeles, CA back in the summer of 2009. Being a fan of everything Disney growing up, it was hard not to quickly become obsessive. There were figures designed after every Disney character you could imagine. There were even figures designed after almost every ride or attraction in the park! At roughly $10 a pop, trust me your wallet gets slim quick. I was buying more and more, left and right, until my girlfriend at the time managed to wean me off by promising to purchase a couple of them for me if we rode rides instead of buying toys. What can I say I’m a child at heart.
Wait a minute… so why is more fun to buy Vinylmation in the theme parks? What’s the difference? If you are not familiar with the vinyl toy trend, the majority of the figurines come in unmarked boxes as part of a series. What does this mean? It means within a certain series there are roughly 9-10 different figurines (ie: Toy Story set above) and your unmarked box does not disclose which of the figurines from the series you will be receiving. This is what makes vinyl toy collecting so addicting. So what if I dont’ get the one I want? or what if I don’t like the one I get? This is where buying Vinylmation on location of the parks becomes exciting.
Trade-In boxes such as the one’s shown above are available in practically every store that sells Vinylmation within Disney Theme Parks and trust me when I say that it’s almost every store. The clear box displays three figurines you can swap with your unwanted toy. Your old figure now replaces your newly found one in the clear box allowing others to swap for it if they fancy. The numbered box works a little differently. You must agree with the Disney Store associate prior to making the trade. You hand in your unwanted figurine in exchange for a choice at one of the numbered doors on the Mystery Box. Supposedly the rarest of Vinylmation figures lie behind one of these doors.
It’s quite clear why Vinylmation has become such a hit. Combining the street culture of vinyl toys and the Disney classics we have all grown to love is a combination that people of all ages will love. It is truly difficult to fight the temptation to buy Vinylmation figurines whilst already in the Disney parks. With more and more series releasing every year, it may seem like a lot to keep up with as a culture for the regular shopper. But you should at least get one the next time you stop by the happiest place on earth. I know I grab at least one every time I go back, in contrast to the tens my first go around! Enjoy.
If you wish to find out more information on Vinylmation you can visit: http://vinylnation.net/blog/