An Introduction to Vinylmation Collecting

This blog was originally posted on Come Home to Disney.

Chances are, you’ve probably at least heard of vinylmation, even if you’re not a collector yourself.  If it’s something that you’re curious to know more about, or something you’re not familiar with, here’s some of the basics you should know about vinylmation!

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What They Are

The name vinylmation comes from combining the words “vinyl” and “animation.”  They are small collectibles made out of vinyl that are shaped like Mickey Mouse.  However, every vinylmation is decorated in a different way.  There are a number of different series and themes – so you could have some decorated like “urban,” including everything from a gnome to an ice cream come, or more Disney-related series such as “Animation,” which features characters such as Baloo, Alice, and Prince Naveen.  The majority of vinylmation are 3″ tall, though many series include one or two 9″ vinylmation, and there are also some “junior” series that are 1 1/2 inches tall.

How Buying Works

For now, let’s just talk about the standard 3″ vinylmation.  Some series are in an “open window” box, meaning you can see exactly which figure you are getting.  Many series, however, come in “blind boxes.”  Most of these series come in sets of 12, and when you buy one box you don’t know which of the 12 you are getting.  It’s a fun surprise to see what’s inside!  Some series now come in sets of 8 instead of 12.  You will most likely get a common, or one of 11 figures in the set.  Or you could be lucky enough to get the chaser, which is the 12th figure in the series and is twice as rare as the commons.  Even more rare are variants – though not included in every set, variants take a common figure and change something up about it.  For instance, donkey Pinocchio was part of the animation set, but there was also a real boy Pinocchio which was a variant.  In addition to single boxes there are also combo packs, which are always open window and can include 2 figures, 3, or more.

Most 3″ figures range from about $9.95 to $12.95, depending on the series.  There are some special edition items that cost more – many holiday vinylmations will be around $16.95.  For many, the thrill of the chase is what vinylmation is all about, and they’ll buy multiple individual blind boxes.  However, if you know you want the whole series you can buy a case.  This will give you 2 sets of 11, the 1 chaser, and an additional common, known as the “filler.”  It’s a great way to guarantee you get every figure including the chaser, but it may take some of the fun out of blind boxing.  It’s also no guarantee of a variant, if one exists.  A case usually costs around $250-300.

vinylmation clear box

How Trading Works

If you don’t know what you’re getting, you may be thinking about the possibility of getting duplicates, or even vinylmations that you don’t really want.  And that’s where trading comes in!  There’s a variety of ways to trade.  The first way is in Disney World.  Many stores have vinylmation trade boxes.  There are two kinds – the mystery box and the clear box.  The clear box has 3 vinylmation in it, and you can trade one that you have for any one of the 3 in the box (as long as the one you’re giving isn’t already in there).  The mystery box has doors with numbers on them, usually 1-16.  You pick a number and give in your vinylmation for whatever is behind the door that you picked.  There are a few rules that go along with this trading.  The first is one trade per method per person per day in each location.  The second is if you ask to do a trade, you must give up the vinylmation that you want to trade for the new one, even if you don’t like what you get.  This rule is not always enforced by Cast members, but be aware that it exists and can be enforced.

Most Disney Stores also have a clear trade box.  In addition to going through Disney, you can trade with other collectors.  Ways to do this might include an online forum or website where people can post their trades, with friends you know that collect, or through social media sites.  Just keep in mind that if you’re trading with someone you don’t know, there is never a guarantee that the trade will be completed, so be careful!  Especially on facebook.  A good site to do some trading is Vinylmation Kingdom, as they require their members to have joined the forums for at least a month and have made 50 posts or more in order to be able to trade.

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What’s Out Now – and What to Look Forward To

Have you decided you want to get into vinylmation collecting now?  Great!  Unfortunately, series that have been released in the past eventually get retired or are no longer released, so if you’re looking for items from earlier you will have to trade or resort to eBay.  Some series that are currently out now include The Little Mermaid, Pixar 2, Animation 4, Frozen, and Indiana Jones. Some series are only available in the Disney parks, some are Disney Store exclusives, and still others are available multiple places, including disneystore.com.

There are also many new sets coming out soon!  These include Mickey through the years, Park 14, Star Wars 4, and a long-rumored and highly anticipated Princess set.

Do you collect vinylmation?  If so, what is your favorite series that has been released?  If not, is there anything else you’d like to know about vinylmation?  Let us know in the comments below!

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