Urban Vinyl and “instant collectibles”
My old friend Doug collected Disney pins. In 1993.
Ten years later, an enterprising sharp pencil person decided that they could make a sub-industry out of “trading pins”. They released pins for the sake of releasing pins, and collectors gobbled them up. Every possible event was capitalized upon with a pin release. Lanyards became the normal wear for Disney fans around the park, and new customers were lured in with snazzy “starter sets”.
Is buying every rare pin that comes out just for the sake of owning it collecting…or is it more like hoarding?
Beanie Babies were quite the rage at the time. Disney took part in that, too. The Beanie Babies that people tore each other apart over, paid thousands of dollars for, are now going for about three dollars each on eBay.
And now there’s “Vinylmation”. Bear-shaped…oh, sorry…mouse-shaped generic figures stamped with different Disney-themed designs, let’s call it an “homage” to Medicom’s Bearbrick series. People who know nothing about Urban Vinyl are snapping these up by the blind boxload because Disney merchandising told them it’s the “next big thing!”
Let me introduce you to a very nice man from Hong Kong – big Disney fan as well. Michael Lau. Since the late 90s, “The Godfather of Urban Vinyl” has been creating vinyl figures based mostly on street culture, but also occasionally popular culture as well.
I hear he’s going to be doing something with Disney soon. Ah, the Circle of Merchandise.
As I said in “Miehana, Youhana…” Disney-based art is best when done by people who know and love it, instead of corporations whose collectibles can bring in synergistic revenues. So it’s good that we have Kevin and Jody. It’s good that Disney is working with Disney fan Michael Lau and other Disney fans.
It’s also important that people in the studios and Imagineering – people who are part of the history and culture – are recognized for their art as well. People like Larry Nikolai (who has a little something or other in the D23 auction this week, by the way), who have hands-on (and hearts-on) experience with Disney.
Don’t buy something because it’s a collectible – it might be worthless later on. Buy something you love, and no matter what eBay says, it will always be priceless to you.