Variants have been part of the Vinylmation collecting world for years, the madness of the hunt for the Ghost Obi Wan or the different coloured Pink Elephants from Animation 1 were all huge issues for collectors to get their heads around.
Over the past year, we seem to have had an explosion of Variants and variant fever, as almost every single blind box series in 2013 seems to have had a variant (I can only think of Little Mermaid & Whiskers & Tails..ps I don’t include the Non-Disney High School type things!) Every time a new series comes out, some collectors go nuts to try and get all the variants. Buying blind box after blind box or even multiple cases just in the hope of getting variants.
Throw in the current trend of cases not just having one variant, but some having multiples of the same one, mean some collectors have been going on a rampage to buy up as much as possible.
Adding Variants to blind boxes makes a lot of sense, it keeps hardcore collectors keep coming in and buying more vinyls in the hope of getting them. It does however leave many collectors scratching their heads and thinking, why would I pay $100 for Thor with a beard? And many collectors just dismissing variants as unobtainable and moving on.
Then Disney went and came up with the Eachez idea, basically to make almost every event or single figure into a blind box with a variant. Every thing that was once in a open window seems to be moving over to the Eachez setup. Something I think is a pretty cool idea, it is drumming up so much more interest than a open window or tin could ever do. It’s creating a frenzy of collectors on day one buying as many blind boxes as possible in the hope of getting the variant edition. A LE1000 figure might have sold out quickly, but when people are buying multiples, they aren’t going to last as long. Which is music to Disney’s ears, they just bring out a figure, it sells out and they make their money.
The Chase is back and I think its generally a good thing that figures are more in demand and people want to get back into blind boxing. I don’t think a LE2500 open window Olaf would have been as in demand had it not been in a blind box, nor the Festival of the Masters figure. So from Disney’s point of view, this new blind box Eachez brand seems to be working.
But there is a darker side to these variants, people buying multiples then trying to charge people over retail for the non-variant edition, or trying to flip their extra variants to get as much cash or a hard to get Vinyl. Many collectors have a compulsion to be complete a set or not be missing a figure, and variants feed this addiction. Willing to pay big bucks for a variants and some collectors have cottoned onto this idea as a way of making a quick dollar. Collectors often want to buy opened blind boxes to have a little gamble themselves, which I completely understand, its the half the thrill of buying a blind box.
I’m not against people buying a couple of extra blind boxes in the hope of getting a variant and then trying to trade their extra normal versions. I did the same with the Food & Wine 2013 figure, but I’ve seen people buying dozens of figures in the hope of getting variants to sell. If I managed to blind box 2 variants, I too would be over the moon and happy to make a big trade to make the most of my luck. There isn’t anything wrong in someone obtaining two “Elastigirl” or “Summer Olaf” figures and trying to trade them for something good. That’s a major part of trading, my problem is with people buying dozens of boxes to try and make a quick buck.
However the market does control the price, its become very apparent that while there is a rush to buy as many blind boxes as possible, as quickly as possible, it doesn’t take too long for there to be a flood of standard figures which start pushing the prices down. If your after a Eachez figure and only want the common figure, my advice is to simply wait for the panic to drop off and you will be able to find one at less than retail. Its simply supply and demand.
Disney are making loads more cash out of Variants and some collectors are doing very nicely out of the variant rush, but there are plenty of other collectors sitting back, looking at this and thinking “why?” To me getting a variant is a bonus rather than an essential and I think Disney seem to have grasped a major point of Vinylmation in bringing that chase back in.
But as I mentioned, it does have an ugly side to it and I hope eventually the variant rush dies down once people start noticing a pattern of the variants often reducing in value as time goes on.
What do you think about Variants?