Across the Pond – Change of Outlets

In the past few years the Outlets have become a major part of Vinylmation, those discounted stores have Vinylmation piled high at silly prices, 3 for $10, even 5 for $10 and 9″‘s for the price of a 3″ plus piles of pins, bags, juniors and other Vinylmation themed items.

The Outlets near the theme parks have delighted collectors with the opportunity to grab plenty of bargains and it brought about a general change in attitude, instead of rush out and buy everything, wait a bit, go to the outlet and get it for a quarter of the price.  But this wasn’t sustainable, Disney obviously don’t like it, the idea of collectors waiting for discounts isn’t good in the long run as essentially the Outlets are the way of distributing items which either were over stocked, badly designed, not popular or simply out of date.

outlet 3 march 5 But many Vinylmation collectors take Outlet shopping for grated, as it has become a bit of a tradition for collectors who are on vacation or even if your a local, pop into the outlet to grab some bargains, top up on cheap traders or custom fodder.    I know in my last two trips to the Disney World, I headed to the outlets but I really noticed a difference from the last trip and in the months since my last trip, every time I post a new story about what’s available, there seems to be less and less choice.

Outlet traders caused no ends of problems as the trade boxes in the parks become overrun with the discounted items that were in the outlets (and at Disney stores).  Trading became so bad, Disney actually had to start enforcing stricter rules and reduce the amount of overall trade boxes because they had so many complaints about the overall quality of traders.  But while the Outlet stock is reducing, the selection at the trade boxes has just flipped over to all the recent Non-Disney stuff.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that putting in a $2 trader into a trade box and pulling a $13 recently purchased new release or maybe a variant or chaser is too appealing.  People in general are out to get the best deal as possible, some people might argue that they don’t buy cheap traders for the parks, the majority of people do.  Having traded in the past in Disneyland Paris where at the time, discounted traders didn’t really exist, the trade box experience was fantastic, almost every single figure was a blind box figure from something in the store.  The newest figures dominated the boxes and collecting a series was fun.  But over time, that has changed as those discounted Outlet/.com vinyls spread across the pond to our shores.  Even we can’t escape them!

The 9″ Vinylmation has almost been wiped out with the assistance of the Outlets, it might not be the actual outlets fault as to why the 9″ dominated the outlets as overproduction of both LE and actual designs caused that, but with not a single 9″ on display at the recent Reflections of Evil event show we aren’t going to see anything like that again.  While new items like Dumbo and Jabba the Hut have ended up in the Outlets, at smaller LE’s and better designs, they haven’t hanged around that long unlike most figures but even t the outlets their price is pretty high compared to other 9″s.  But once this lot runs out, I can’t see them being replaced.

But what is interesting is that all of this in my view is changing, the recent changes brought in by the Vinylmation team is going to make Outlet shopping a very different experience.  Looking at the selection of vinyls available on my recent trip, one thing is very noticeable, there isn’t as many new items.

Yes, there are sometimes new items that haven’t sold maybe as well as expected and need to go to the Outlet to be discounted, but I seriously doubt we will see stock piles of Vinylmation at the outlets in a years time.  Taking a look at some photos of the stock selection recently show a pile of old Open Window figures that have taken ages to shift and we already know they aren’t making many Open Windows in the future, in 2013 we’ve only seen a handful made.  Also there was a pile of ugly 9″‘s that have been sitting on the shelves for years asit does seem like the 9″s that got released in the last year have been reduced (Jabba, Dumbo, Grizzly)).   And finally blind box series that have been in the outlets for well over a year like Robots 2 and Cutesters at the Beach, yet I saw none at the Outlet myself.  Disney has been much more proactive in making less of each series such as Monsters University, Beauty and the Beach, Park Starz 1 which have all been retired however I could see some future sets like the non-Disney Cutesters and Urban Redux, but it really depends on if they have lowered the production runs.  Again the Disney Store products come under a different division.

Disney have been learning from their mistakes, they made too many releases with to many designs with too high production numbers that ended up being reduced and hanging around for a long time in the Trade Boxes.  Recently the Vinylmation team have been making changes to make sure this stops, bringing in smaller case sizes, lower Limited Edition sizes and generally just trying to bring the chase back.  Sadly for some, that doesn’t go hand in hand with Outlets.  Disney got greedy and it backfired.

Collectors both love and loath the Outlets, many enjoy the discounted prices while others didn’t like how it reduced the Vinylmation brand, but I seriously doubt we will see a return to the Outlet prime.  And after seeing it first hand, I think if I was to return in a years time, I’d be lucky to find a few items (though I get the feeling those Open Window On Stranger Tide ones will be heading there soon, piles of them, I know I went through every pile I could to find a Jack Sparrow but sadly never did!).

What do you think?

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