When I first got into Vinylmation I started out in the usual way of picking some up in stores and picking up some cheap vinyls on the UK eBay site. I then started finding out more about Vinylmation which led to signing up to a couple of different forums (including VK) to learn more and started to dip my toe into buying from other collectors from the United States.
After a few months, my collection exploded in the run up to Christmas and a New Year trip to Disneyland Paris which meant I was able to swap every double I had in the trade boxes. From here on out, things really changed once I discovered Facebook had groups, finding the UK Facebook group completely changed how I brought and more importantly traded vinyls. Now I could buy blind boxes without the worry of getting doubles which I would have had to have sold on Ebay before.
At the time, the UK had a very limited selection of vinyls available through their online store, the occasional trip to a big city with a Disney store was a nice bonus, especially being able to pick up a blind box there and then. I had loads of little deliveries, picking up 1 or 2 at a time, especially from the US. Over the next 18 months, my postman got used to driving up to my café, me walking out to his van and picking up a new Vinyl. We had a routine (for some reason the Postman always liked never actually having to get out of his van to deliver them).
Trading doubles was also extremely easy for me but as any big collector will be able to understand, the bigger your collection gets, the hard trading becomes, especially when it comes to commons. When you start out, there could be hundreds of commons on your wants list but now that’s down to a handful.
Even my deliveries off of the official website have changed, where I used to buy about £50’s worth to get free shipping, now my orders are usually much bigger, picking up 12 blind boxes at once as the series might sell out within hours and at least if I have 12 or 13 bloxes, I have a good shot at a chaser and can trade for the other figures from the series with any doubles. Because so many other collectors in the UK are doing this, means the few days after a new release, can become a little mental as everyone scrambles to trade as quickly as possible to complete their sets. This is a recent change, simply because so many recent releases sell out in the UK so quickly,
The effects from how the Disney store stock and sell items, have made an impact on my buying habits, but the biggest reason why my habits have changed comes down to one major factor. Postage costs.
Years ago, I could get a vinyl from eBay or another seller in the US, with postage to the UK for less than a vinyl off of the official website, especially if I picked up 2 or 3 vinyls at once. And getting items from the UK from either other collectors or eBay also wasn’t too bad in terms of cost. I really enjoyed those days where I was getting a few mail days a week and I would take months to complete a set. Slowly building my collection up, bit by bit.
But then the postage costs started to creep up, each year the price of postage both domestic and international continued to go up. Which has had a major impact on my collecting habits, not just in terms of buying vinyls but it also became almost impossible to trade internationally because the cost of shipping was almost the same price as the vinyl. It simply wasn’t attractive to anyone on either side of the pond.
I started buying much more at once, it put the overall price of postage up for each shipment, but it meant shipping overall was less. In the past year I have brought 3 cases, Star Wars 2 while I was in WDW, then a case of Star Wars 3 from DLP mail order and then a case of Park Starz 2 through a third party. DLP mail order wasn’t an attractive option but the price of shipping has offset the price of the euro. And I’m also buying more sets in bulk, Park 11 was a perfect example of my changing habits as I brought a whole set of 12 plus a topper from eBay. And with the recent Park 12 release, I still haven’t decided on the best option for me.
In the past 6 months I’ve had so many series turn up in bulk, either from the US or in large piles of blind boxes from .co.uk, Muppets 3, 110th Anniversary, Classic Collection, Park 11, Star Wars 2 & 3, Park Starz 2, Pixar, Animation 3, Haunted Mansion and that doesn’t count the other special releases like the twin packs etc.
That has been all except for Whiskers and Tails, this set got released at the start of the year and wasn’t released in the UK, I wasn’t too sure of them at the beginning so just picked a few from the US and over 6 months eventually brought the final 5 I needed in bulk. It was much nicer to build this set up over time than just blasting it at once.
Will that change my habits, probably not, my buying habits have changed for a few reasons and I can’t see postage prices dropping, which is always going to force smarter buying. However should some adjustments to .co.uk come into effect such as the continuing trend of getting more new releases will effect how much I need to import which saves me money on shipping. And should .co.uk improve stock levels so things don’t sell out in hours or days could slow down my buying habits but that again is also effected by the current trend in the UK for trading. And if .co.uk started offering trays like they do in the US, I could easily me moving away from blind boxing all together.
But then there are other reasons my buying habits have changed over my time collecting, with the string of new releases and how so many of them from the past 6 plus months haven’t been Disney based which meant I just didn’t want them. Throw in I only have so much money to spend and only so much display space, means I probably am a little more pickier in what I buy, there are still a few handfuls of vinyls in my collection that I brought at the start of my hobby that I probably wouldn’t mind culling.
My buying habits over the years have adjusted to outside factors, plus I myself am buying differently, I’m buying smarter and trying to save money in the long run. Buying blind boxes is a lot more fun, but it has a extra cost involved with postage. Buying in bulk from .co.uk isn’t as much fun easier but with free delivery and the occasional promotional code plus the “sell out” factor, its something most of us European collectors have had to get used to.
I could go back to my old ways of buying, but I’m not sure I could now. Buying in bulk isn’t as much fun but it can be most cost effective in the long run. Which is exactly what Poncho Pete’s old Dollar’s and Sense columns used to say.