Revaluation: One Year of the New Mold
About a year ago I voiced my opinion about the Disney Design Group’s decision to switch to a new mold. I was very much against the move, as were a great many vocal collectors.
So how do we all feel now? Some have been firm in their stance against the new mold, some even abandoning the hobby altogether. Others welcomed the new mold from the beginning. And of course there was the middle ground: people who still buy vinylmations, but do so more selectively. I find myself falling into that last grouping.
What I loved about the original mold was the sort of optical illusion that it created; you’d be looking at the design of the specific piece, when all of a sudden that Mickey form would just pop out at you, seemingly just to say hi. It was kind of like those ‘magic eye’ paintings that were so popular at malls back in the 90’s, where at first glance it looked like a random texture, but if you stared long enough a T-Rex would pop out at you. But when I look at the new mold? Mickey has left the building.
On the other hand, some of my absolute favorite vinylmations of all time have come on the new mold, and I’m not sure the execution of the designs would’ve been quite the same on the old mold.
So while I do miss the Mickey-ness of the original mold, it does seem that the new mold affords the artists crisper detail and more vivid color. And in my opinion the results keep getting better and better.
For a while now Disney has been playing pricing Jenga, seeing how high they can inflate the price of 9” VMs (and others) without making it collapse in on itself, i.e. ending up on clearance. Well at this point I would say the tower has toppled. For a while now many once over-priced 9” vinylmations have been showing up at outlets and on the Disney Store Online at a fraction of the original cost. When it first starts they call it the Once Upon a Dream sale, or the Twice Upon a Deuce sale, but now they’re calling it like it is: a clearance sale.
If you hadn’t picked one of these discounted vinyls up yet, this is good news. If you’d paid an arm/leg for a 9”/3”, well you’re probably feeling like you just took an unexpected Biff Tannen punch to the gut. But there’s one result that’s good news for everyone but the Disney exec who just ran out of gold-plated toilet paper: the price of current and upcoming 9” vinylmations has seemingly settled in at a $54.99 price point, and with lower LE’s to boot. Its not a great price, but its not horrible.
Calculation: Villains, Villaouts, Villains Again
Villains 1 was wildly popular, Villains 2 was a bit of a let down, and now Villains 3 seems closer to the level of Villains 1. Why? Here’s my theory:
Villains 1: 6 artists.
Villains 2: 1 artist.
Villains 3: 4 artists.
So it would seem Villains 2 was a rare case of not enough chefs in the kitchen. Nothing against Mr. Mendez (who I think is a terrific character artist) but very few artists can pull off a full 12-piece set all by their lonesome. Even the Maria Clapsis-exclusive Cutesters Too had a few weak links*. So while having just one artist create an entire 12-piece set may be a good idea for a more focused one-movie-centric set (see Alice in Wonderland) I’d like to see the Disney Store continue to mix things up, especially for the more ‘miscellaneous’ sets like like Villains and Animation. Oh yeah, and I’d like to see more Enrique Pita!*In Maria’s defense, the costume kids were not originally intended for the Cutesters series, but were transplanted from another set that never saw the light of day… or something like that.
As a partial follower of the Thumper rule, I’m trying to say more nice things. So here goes: the Mascots set looks fantastic. Does anyone draw a better face than Maria Clapsis?
Identification: The Big Three and Star Wars 2
Speaking of Maria Clapsis, pretty much anything she does these days looks great, as does pretty much anything by Thomas Scott and Casey Jones. Which reminds me, how awesome is it that we have those three The Big Three (Scott, Clapsis, and Jones) designing Star Wars vinyls now?!
Eleven of the twelve Star Wars 2 pieces have already been revealed, and they look fantastic:
I think they did play things a little safe, in keeping with the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean needs skeletons’ precedent; in other words, if the average Joe is buying a Star Wars product, he’s hoping for the old stand-bys like Han, Luke, Vader, etc.
But we did get a couple of figures for the hard core Star Wars fan, the one who’s typing up a comment at the bottom of this post right now complaining about how I used an Empire reference in the title of an article about A New Hope.
One such character is Ponda Baba (front row, 3rd from right in above picture.) I am ecSTATic that he’s in this set, and I may have formed my own rebellion if he wasn’t. In case you don’t know, Ponda Baba is the dude that unwittingly booked himself for limb-reduction surgery from Obi-Wan. Visually he’s got it all: bright orange jacket, dark furry head, bulging black eyes… a bright orange jacket. Aside from that, imagine all the bloody customs we’re gonna see (and no, I’m not speaking British.)
If you don’t get the reference of my little diorama, watch this video (though it won’t explain the umbrella, and neither will I.)
Speculation: Star Wars Series 2 Chaser
As much as we all like to think the chaser is going to be a magical out of body experience, let’s face it, many are just not that far outside the box. So while I’d love to see the Star Wars 2 chaser match the glory of ghost Obi-Wan, I think realistically it will be just a ‘nice’ piece and we best temper our expectations. So here are a couple of possibilities:
Holographic Leia – “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” If the DDG tries to recapture the magic of Ghost Obi-Wan, they could go this route (which I think would be a mistake, but cool nonetheless) I swear I wrote that several hours before this photo was released (if you don’t believe me I’ll make Baltar produce the draft date/time, ala Obama’s birth certificate!):
For the record, I didn’t think this vinyl was a bad idea, just a bad idea for the chaser, and apparently its NOT the chaser. So good.
Porkins – Yes, good ol’ Jek Tono Porkins (not typo’s), the guy who handles and X-Wing almost as well as he handles a chicken wing. If they could capture the gruff, still-lives-in-mama’s-basement nature of Jek Porkins I think we’d have a chaser that would long be remembered.
C3-PO V 2.0: THIS one is my real hope. If you go back and watch A New Hope (especially on Blu-ray) you notice some paint variations on C3-PO, which got me to thinking about Casey Jones’ recent Tapestry of the Nations set. Dig the metallic gold(ish) paints:
Now imagine that liquid gold on C3-PO. Ooooh baby. It’d sure beat an oil bath on the Lars moisture farm. Anywho, this probably won’t happen simply because things typically don’t go well for C3-PO when he leaves R2. But even if it doesn’t make the 12-piece blind box set, how about an LE ‘Droids’ two-pack with R2, yeah?
It shouldn’t be too long now, nor in a galaxy far, far away, before we find out. Til next time…