Another Friday brought another VInylmation release. This time it was Robots 2. The first Robots series was released back on July 22 of last year (same day as the last original mold series–Urban 7). It came with a moderate response as it’s fan base consisted primarily of semi-geeky males. The run seemed somewhat limited as it only lasted a couple months at local Disney Stores, but it was actually on-line for quite a while (cases were even sold for 1/2 price at one point).
From a personal standpoint, I really enjoyed the series. It came with a $9.95 price tag and the designs were quite intricate. I also loved the elaborate story lines some fans created as they got to know this little social army. With time, however, interest has waned significantly. Ebay sales are few and far between and except for the Circuit-bot chaser, they can all be found for less than retail. In last weeks Ultimate Power Rankings, the series came out at #38 out of 39 series. Personally, I think the lack of a true Disney connection hurts things. With over 40 blind box series now in release, people eventually run out of room, money or both. When people are forced to let go of something or say no in the first place, these non-Disney series take it on the chin (6 out of the bottom 7 series in the rankings are Cutesters, Urban, Clears or Robots). With this back drop of a disinterested fan base, let’s take a look at Robots 2 and see if Disney juiced things up to excite the masses.
At first glance, I think this group is nicely done. They, thematically, work as a whole. I love the bright, vibrant colors, and feel they are on the same playing field as the first Robots series. Unfortunately, Disney did some serious tinkering to this series that I am afraid will leave this group of Robots on the shelves for a very, very long time.
Mistake #1–Mix and Match
Unfortunately, these vinyls don’t come out of the box like the one’s above. Instead, they come out like this:
I’ll be honest, while I was semi-interested in the first batch, I am not interested in this motley crue. The colors are haphazard. They actually make my eyes hurt. Of course, this is due to the latest Vinylmation gimmick–MIx and Match. Each box includes an instruction booklet which shows you how to assemble them into the official designs.
This makes it impossible to blind box your favorite Robot with out buying 4 different vinyls. Normally, you have a 1/12 chance of picking your favorite (1/24 if you want the chaser). Now, you not only need to buy 4 robots to get the parts to build one particular vinyl, but you have to pick the exact ones with the exact parts you need. The common passerby who just picks up 1 or 2 blind boxes will always be disappointed (if their goal is to have correctly assembled design). Basically, people are left with only one option….buy a case.
Mistake #2–No Chaser
Personally, the chaser is what makes the blind box concept fun. None here, which I can understand, since it would spread out throughout the case. But where is the allure to press your luck and try to pull that hard-to-get chaser or variant?
Mistake #3–Release at the Parks
One of things that made the Robots 1 series special was that it was only out at the Disney Stores. It was less widely released, the edition size was low, and it didn’t languish on the shelves like Cutesters. Robots 2, however, is going to the Parks, Online and in the Stores. Recipe for disaster for the niche series. No urgency to purchase early like previous “Disney Store only” releases (Lion King and Villains 2). Once Disney puts something at the Parks, .it is out there in a big way. Cutesters At The Beach is another similar release. Large quantities are at gift shops everywhere. Nothing feels special in this type of situation (some series don’t need a smaller release to make them feel special, but Robots needs every break it can get).
Disney has been pretty smart with the price tags as of late. High demand series get the $12.95 price tag (Park Series, Pirates, Animation 2), while the more niche and Disneystore only series go out for $9.95. They appeared to recognize that people at the Parks are more likely to pay more than the the passerby shopper in Disney Stores). Robots 1–a series with decent buzz, a limited release and $9.95 price tag, still had to be clearanced for half price. I do not understand the rationale of a $12.95 price tag for a series that involves mix and matching, will be available everywhere, and is a sequel to the least popular series of all time (other than Cutesters Like You). My only thought is that they did this to hedge their bets and get the die-hards to pay $12.95 at first and then the rest will be sold on sale down the road.
I truly like this set and hope to some day own it, but I am afraid Disney made some serious mistakes that will destine this series to the clearance aisle later this year. Save your money and get these robotic friends on the cheap when they go on sale. As much as I enjoy buying Vinylmations on sale, I am afraid they hurt the hobby overall. The better thing is to produce a supply that matches the demand. It is very disheartening for a fan to pay $310 for a case of vinyls and then find them on sale 3 months later for $150. You feel like you threw away money. This is a mistake most fans only make once.