It’s been a pretty tumultuous six months (and especially the last week) for Vinylmation fans. Many have rightfully been angered about many things about these changes. What does it mean? Some have said Vinylmations are over. That’s a possibility but that’s not the main discovery by the change (or lack) of direction. Like when you are in a relationship with someone…. sometimes we miss the signs that they are not that into you anymore. That’s exactly where we are: Vinylmations are breaking up with us.
The beginning of the relationship
When Vinylmations began, the team treated us special. They talked to us constantly. The Vinylmation blog treated us as like we werespecial. Primarily, that is because of Steven Miller. He’s a brilliantly talented man. More importantly, he understood the fans. Even if he was stressed or bothered by things, we wouldn’t know. He is without a doubt the best “upper level” cast member I’ve ever came in to contact with at Walt Disney World. Not surprisingly, this led to Steven moving on to bigger and better things (he nows posts a lot of the Disney Parks Blog).
But Steven’s leadership was why Vinylmations blossomed. His “scavenger hunt” for the announcement of Juniors, the first trade event, and especially his running of the Vinylmation blog is why Vinylmations grew. It’s why us fans didn’t treat Vinylmations as buying things. We began to fall for these little suckers. Just like when we you begin a new relationship, you get totally invested. At this moment you can’t ever see it ending. Oh how naive we are.
The relationship begins to have changes.
After Steven Miller moved on, next came Donald Ferro and I loved Mr. Ferro’s leadership as well. Then Mr. Ferro left for the Disney Cruise Lines. Since then, Vinylmation’s leadership has been one completely lacking. Some people have been cast into a position when they have zero ability to talk with fans or even understand. Even one particularly seems to have total disdain for collectors. I won’t say that it’s totally one person’s fault things changed but things changed during this time. And this change was bad. I’m not even getting into the mold changes but those did create the first divide in the hobby.
Let’s back up a bit. Vinylmations became to produce too many items. 9’s were always the best but they started making too many. They were everywhere. We were almost spending too much time with Vinylmations. We couldn’t buy em all so some Disney MBA’s must have decided that we didn’t like them anymore. 9s started to disappear because of market flooding and a short sighted opinion that all weren’t popular. Again, we get another fissure in the hobby.
Another bad sign was “Vinylmation date nights” er… I mean Trade events. We used to have trade events every few months where people could trade and more importantly, they would display new Vinylmations. News excites collectors. news makes me want to mail my pay check to Bob Iger. Again, this is when a short sighted MBA thinks ‘Hmm…. this costs money and it doesn’t have a tangible profit so let’s cut it.” I can’t say this strong enough: Idiots. This is advertising. Doing these little events doesn’t really cost Disney anything. It’s money being transferred from one division to another. Trading and previewing improves sales. This isn’t rocket science. But MBAs apparently don’t get it.
So through changes in molds, over production, canceling of a line and poor leadership, Vinylmations as a hobby begin to have major damage to the hobby but they could survive with hard work.
So just like a relationship, sometimes too much is a good thing and then there are knee jerk reactions that go back too far. Concerns are abound.
You’re getting dumped.
So the past 12 months our relationship has changed but all changes have came from one side. That’s never a good sign for a relationship. Vinylmations decided it wasn’t important to have trade events. They stopped reporting news. They dropped the trade night exclusives with no notice at D-Street. Then they started releasing Vinylmation at D-Street with prior knowledge. Why no build up? Why no excitement? It’s because the management team isn’t that “in” to you.
Plenty of people didn’t realize what had been happening. I pay attention to big picture things and not posting blogs was my biggest concern over the past year. That troubled me. Then when items started dropping without any prior knowledge, my business sense started kicking in. “This sounds like a product dump. They are trying to get rid of things.” is something I said to a few people.
Next we hear the worst news. Vinylmations have been cut from the annual trade event. Not only is it a great day to hang out with friends and collectors, it’s a day where we get to seen brand new products! I don’t buy for one second they didn’t make money over this one day overpriced trade event. It was the damage to the hobby that has happened the past two years that affected the number of people going. Instead of backing up and figuring out how to fix the hobby, they decided to cut the day. They just don’t care as much about Vinylmations. But as bad as that announcement was the removal of trading in the parks really disturbed me. Don’t get me wrong. I get it. The boxes were filled with stuff people wanted. Why? because trading is fun. From the first day of the hobby, the mystery and the trading possibility were part of the draws. You can’t beat Eachez to death and hope I buy 10 blind boxes of the SAME THING and say “on we are getting too many of the same thing in the trade box. ” Well, no crap. You hung your hat on Eachez because it’s the only good idea Vinylmations have had in 3 years. There are going to be issues.
Disney and the Vinylmation team aren’t spending extra time with you anymore. Now many people are in denial over this. “Oh they still are coming. You are crazy to think they are going away. The hobby is still going strong!” It’s sad how delusional we get when we realize our love is so one sided. So let’s review what changes have occurred. Notice that ZERO of these could be considered positive.
- No more news updates and previews for upcoming sets
- No trade events
- Unannounced releases of products. Especially products that were designed for trade events.
- No more Vinylmation Day at the annual Pin Trading event
- Enrique Pita saying he hasn’t worked on Vinylmations since July. Wha?
- No more trade boxes in the parks
These are the signs people. Disney is moving on. You’re dumped. You just haven’t realized it yet. For the people who think people freak out over the latest news, you’re wrong. It’s all the news cumulatively that is troubling.
Moving on doesn’t mean dead though.
Just to shock you, I want to end on a positive. Hope isn’t all lost. Sometimes relationships can be saved. I don’t think this automatically means Vinylmations are dead. They just aren’t the same. If they are going to die out, we should know more later in the year. The turn around time from creation to production is a bit long. If we’re still getting a lot of series in December then I think they’ll be around. But make no mistake about it. Vinylmations are transitions from “special unique products” to regular merchandise. You’ll still find great designs. Not as many people will care as much. And as this happens, I hope Disney realizes what they did and they fix it. I hope they don’t think “See we were right to remove things. Let’s kill the line.” That’s the wrong move Disney. People collected them because they loved them. They are inexpensive to make and for awhile, they were one of the highest profit margin items at Disney Parks. Find another steward to right the ship and the hobby can rebound. Nobody loved the hobby more than me. I was here from day one. I’m just not blinded by hope and pixie dust. It’s sad to see a relationship end. When the writing is on the wall….you have to decide can you fix it or do you move on. Disney, we’re still here. It’s not too late.