This past couple of weeks, I have been told by a few fellow UK Vinylmation collectors that they have been told by their local Disney Stores that they won’t be carrying Vinylmations in the future and that they will only be stocked online at Disneystore.co.uk.
At first, many reactions have been “why?” but there are a lot of reasons why Disney could have come to this decision and not all of them are to do with Vinylmation.
The first reason that comes to mind is Disney have been slowly pulling out of physical shops, as leases have expired, those stores have been closed down. In my area, they’ve closed almost every single one in the past few years and it appears they are making the decision to have a stronger online presence as more and more other retailers are now carrying Disney merchandise and simply don’t need the stores in the same way. And this isn’t just happening in the UK, its happening everywhere.
Since I started collecting a few years ago, the UK market has changed greatly as originally we had hardly any releases over here and collectors had to import almost everything. 2012 and 2013 saw the UK getting almost regular releases with almost a new series every month, with most Disney Stores that stocked Vinylmation, getting a couple of cases. But often collectors would be there for opening to buy the cases and those stores would sell out pretty quickly. Alternatively they would sit on the shelves for months, if not years, just gathering dust.
The Vinylmation hobby has changed so much in the past year, we now have smaller sets and less releases which have led to an overall change in direction. Here in the UK, we didn’t have the big BOGOF/discount culture on our figures as the majority of items would sell out, but the after effects of what was happening on the other side of the pond would eventually ripple over here. All those stockpiles of unwanted Vinyls clogging up US Stores and being sold online for just a couple of bucks was eventually going to catch up, resulting in the Disney Store doing a complete 180 and changing direction. Now the Disney Store only has a few selected releases, which are also released within the theme parks and all those non-Disney series that filled the shelves are long gone.
Here in the UK, currently we have a selection of just 5 Vinylmations to buy online, Aladdin Juniors and Robots 4 are the only new figures from this year with a UK flag and a couple of long standing figures such as the 2013 Christmas Vinyl and a 9” Robot Mickey that’s been sat on the website for over 18 months. The selection is pretty dire, especially as we seemed to miss the Jungle Book series (though many of the American figures actually had the London address on them?).
However, looking on the US website, if you removed all the Park Authentic items, the selection wouldn’t look much better as the UK had at one point seen the majority of those items here.
Disney has changed the direction Vinylmation was going in, its going back to its roots, its going back to being a niche park release that is very profitable for Disney. But sadly for the casual collector who doesn’t live near the parks or likes to import from the USA, they are going to struggle to collect Vinylmation. It’s almost done a full circle from when I first started to collect.
It’s a shame the UK Disney Store can’t be in communication with the team at Disneyland Paris who get a few more releases a year (ie this year they’ve had Cutesters 6, Valentine’s Day Twin Pack and Indiana Jones), as the big announcement from 2 years ago about loads more Disneyland Paris Park Authentic items has pretty much been meaningless in the eyes of a Vinylmation collector.
This isn’t the first time Disney has pulled a niche collectible from stores to go online, as Pins also were removed from stores. But the problems Disneystore.co.uk have had with many new pin releases (especially those limited edition items) is a whole other story.
For me, I don’t have a major issue with the Disney Store getting less items but it does mean I’m going to have to spend more money per figure due to the increase in shipping costs but with less releases, that’s less of an issue compared to a few years ago.
The UK Vinylmation community will carry on and I hope it might also go a full circle, as Vinylmation in the UK got a big audience, the community changed and I think it will continue to evolve and adapt to a different way of collecting.
But anyway you look at it, the days of UK collectors popping into a store to buy a blind box are gone.
What do you think?