What has springtime brought us in the Vinylmation World? Not a lot in the way 3” blind box releases. We saw the entire month of May pass without a single 3” series release and so far we have only seen one release in June. Last week Cutesters Like You was (Or is it were?)released. There have been hints at a Robot series, but nothing official has been posted. So I guess we wait unti the July 1 release of Pirates. Or is it July 3rd? Sure, you could have spent your retirement on some Noah stuff. I know that I almost did. Or sacrificed your child’s college fund on a handfull other 1 of a kinds. You could have even picked up about what seems like 20 different 9” designs, but we have experienced a void. A void in blind boxing.
Sea Creatures, Sushi, Bakery, and Celebrations have all been released, but the last Blind box Series other than Cutesters LIke You was released on April 15. That was Muppets 2. Back when this site was first earning its wings. Only Baltar and myself patrolled these hallways.
The Heart and Soul of Vinylmation collecting is suffering. I want to do some more blind boxing. Afterall, that’s what it’s all about. Right?
So, yet again I must hop into the Delorian, fire up the Flux Capacitor and go back in time. Not too far though. I really have no desire to relive those High School days. Not that they were bad….OK. They were bad. So before my family starts disappearing off the picture and all my High School memories become my new reality, I better make a quick choice and high tail it back to the year 2011.
OK. I made it back. And just in time too. And who did I find in the back seat of the Delorian when I got back? Do Delorians even have a back seat? Well I brought back with me a most unexpected and under-rated set. The Animal Kingdom set.
The Animal Kingdom set?
Yep. The Animal Kingdom set.
This set was exclusively designed by Dan Howard and was released…oh I don’t know about a year ago. It still sits on the shelves throughout the parks, but some designs are much easier to find than others. You can even nab a few off DS.com for $7.99. Who knows if you will get them or what you will get, but you can place an order and see what happens.
The beauty and or downfall of this set is the fact that it is an open box, open edition series. Because of this open production, expect to see these animals rooming the aisles for some time. The shelves may never be safe again. Watch out Big Eyes, right next to you are some hungry lions, and they want to be fed ! Not sure how many collectors ran out to buy these the weekend they went live. No real reason to. Limited runs and specific edition sizes are always better for this type of collecting. GIves the release a buzz. Not like a bee, but an air of excitement. Not sure there was a palpable buzz with this series. But, you had to do some major searching to find a few of the designs.
Which designs were those Xero?
Oh, ye with little patience. Let me introduce you to my Zeros before getting to those.
My biggest problem with this little guy is that he just looks, well, black. Now there is nothing wrong with the color black. Black is the only color of pants that I own outside of khaki. Khaki. Now that is a funny looking word on paper isn’t it? And I have owned numerous black cars over the years. And boy are they tough to keep clean. Really tough. If you ever had one, you know what I am talking about. When I first saw this figure I thought that it was a bat. Look at the picture. I know that you can convince yourself you are looking at a bat. With beedy eyes none the less. I thought that a bat may be cool looking. Afterall they do have those big blood sucking, Dracula-looking, Transilvanian bats at the Animal Kingdom. I may get me one of those. I could hang it upside down in my case. That would look great next to the rest of the set.
Oh. What’s that? It’s a Black Panther. Really? Ok, I thought. But how will I keep it clean? And I really wanted a bat. Bummer.
Before writing this column, I never really noticed that a polar bear was moslty grey. Always thought that they were full of fluffy white fur. The grey parts were just dirty or wet white fur. OK. Did a quick internet search. All of the Polar Bear pictures that I pulled up were covered in snow white fur. Thank You. That’s what I thought. So why does this guy have a grey body? Is he just really old? Maybe he is a Grandfather Polar Bear. We shall call him. Papa Polar. It kind of even looks like Papa Polar is wearing his spectacles today as well. Or maybe he is just really tired. Maybe he has a 5 month son that keeps getting him up multiple times a night. Maybe that is why I am going grey too. Or maybe Dan (the artist) just wanted to make a dirty bear. Who knows. Well Papa Polar you and I do have something in common. No. I don’t have dirty white fur and I am not in need of a shower. It’s the hair. We both are going grey. And outside of some Grecian formula, I think we just have to accept it.
Or is it a Buffalo? Or a Wildabeast? I really do not know. And lack of identity is a quick path to the Zeros list. I guess that I could look up the difference and educate us all. But I really do not want to. Either way this is a big, brown, slow moving, range roaming animal that stinks, swats flys off of its back all day long and loses big patches of hair. You get the picture. And it’s not a pretty one. Not the most attractive of land animals. But before I get Vinylmation Kingdom on PITA’s short list or the good people of the NRA too excited. I will stop and move on to my Heros. That will make PITA happy right?
There is no way to separate these out. Imagine the popularity a white tiger variant would demand. If this was a blind box set (which it should have been), the white tiger would make the perfect variant to the Bengal. One of the best designs of the whole series + a variant = super sought after, super pricey vinylmation. Ebay sellers would love this little guy. Maybe even more than Goof Troop. You know you would be blind boxing these guys. Just to have a chance. Heaven knows you do not want to pay eBay prices. The vinylmation form lends to a perfect cuddly little tiger. In any shade. White or orange. Just makes you want to rub that little white belly. Doesn’t it? OK. So I like Tigers not white bellies. Got one of my own there. These vinylmations look like little tiger cubs. With those oversized MIckey hands making for the perfect oversized tiger cub paw. Cute. Little. Guy.
The Quick Cats
Sure the spotted Leopard looks cross-eyed. That’s the orange one. But just like the Tigers, they translate perfectly into vinyl form. I wanted to keep this list fresh and make the Gorilla Hero#2, but I must stay true to myself. We only bought a select few from this set. I was not even going to buy any. But after seeing these vinyl cats in person, I knew that I had to have them. Athough, I will tell you that they were not easy to find. I must not be the only one who thinks these cats are perfect. Bisons and Brown Bears were everywhere. Oh my. These cats disappear off the shelves quicker than a cheetah chasing a gizelle.
Something about stripes work rather well on a vinyl design and this zebra pulls it off. But ask any zebra what he thinks of himself and he will tell you how perfect he is. You see, zebras think very highly of themselves. I know this from personal experience. No. Not because I have talked to zebras. No Dr Doolittle here. Let me explain. In staying multiple times at Disney’s Animal KIngdom Lodge you get to know the personalities of animals rather quickly. Just by observation, you see that the zebras are in charge of the savannah. Or at least they try. My daughter loves to watch the zebras chase all the giraffes and bison/buffalo/wildabeasts/whatevers away. Punk Zebras she calls them. Well this punk zebra is pretty cool. No need to tell him. He already knows.
So there you have it. The Animal Kingdom Series. Xero style. I would have loved for this series to be blind boxed, limited and exclusive to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. Maybe even exclusive to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. That would give people reason to go there. Ever look at the faces of people getting back on that train. They all look like ‘ We just spent 45 minutes traveling around to get here and back, for what reason?”
In order to buy a box you would have had to
Follow this sign
and locate this tree
And you will find your self at Disney’s Animal KIngdom.
From there you are on your own.
A very underated park.
A very underated series.