Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Let's Get Dangerous! Darkwing Swoops into D-Streets 9/16

Darkwing Duck Afternoon Cartoon Vinylmation finally has a release date. On September 16, the same day I'ts a Small World hits the shelves, Darkwing and Gosalyn will be available at both D-Streets for $26.95. Like all other Disney Afternoon sets, this will be LE 1000.
Gosalyn Mallard and Darkwing Duck are featured in this combo. All sets in this series have accessories. DW has his signature hat. When will Disney step it up one more notch and include capes? Come on, surprise us with the final release.

Puerto Rico Rising 9/16/11

Update: 9/16/11 Puerto Rico flag released today at D-Streets... It will also be released at the Disney Store in Puerto Rico on October 4. The store is located at the Plaza Las Americas, 525 Ave Franklin Delano Roosevelt, San Juan.

Update: 9/2/11 Pictures released:
Copyright Disney
Copyright Disney

Attention Puerto Ricans! Your flag will be added to the Flag set starting on September 16th. Like the other flags this release will be open window and will be priced at $9.95.

What other flags would you like to see?

Z to be revealed soon

Disney announced that Project Z will be revealed at the Florida Project in two weeks. Stay tuned for more info, live blogging from the show, and a podcast recorded after the show.

Also worth noting, the Vinylmation talk that was originally scheduled from 11:30-noon on 9/11/11 is now extended to 11-noon. Interesting...

Also, we're working on the details, but we're going to have a meet up after the event on Sunday. Look for more information soon!

Spotlight On: Custom Artist Gabriell

Look what we found on the internets a few weeks ago.
This is Wolverine. He's an X-Men, and sometimes part of Alpha Flight. He's pretty bad-ass. He's also a custom vinylmation made by Gabriell Lucchese. It took a while to track her down, but we found her and wanted to know more about her and her piece of artwork...

MC: Tell us a little about yourself...
GL: My name is Gabriell Lucchese. I am 20 years old and I am currently attending the College of Staten Island, where I was born and raised.

MC: What got you into art?
GL: I've always been known to have a good sense of creativity.

MC: What's your artistic background, training/education?
GL: Not much of a background at all. I haven't had any training, yet. I am hoping to get accepted into SUNY Purchase College and transfer for Spring 2012, where I can put my creativity to good use while strengthening my skills.

MC: How long have you been creating custom Vinylmation?
GL: Wolverine is my one and only so far. I recently vacationed at Walt Disney World with family and friends in June 2011. There, I found these adorable vinyls. When I spotted the custom "do it yourself" figure, I had to have it. Seeing all of the characters at Disney definitely inspired me to produce my own style of artwork. I am most certainly interested in making more. I just adore Disney!

MC: Do you collect the Vinylmation created by Disney artists?
GL: Yes, I absolutely love Vinylmations. My boyfriend and I go crazy for them. We consider it an addiction!

MC: Most of us do too! What is your favorite Disney Vinylmation design?
GL: I really love Ursula from The Little Mermaid. Although, I haven't been able to get my hands on her, I am keeping my eyes peeled for the Villain Series every chance I get. My favorite Vinylmation (that I actually own) is Pinocchio from the Animation Series. What really makes him my favorite is that he is Pinocchio from Pleasure Island, transforming into a donkey.

MC: How did you come up with the idea of the Wolverine piece?
GL: My brother, Damien Lucchese, works for Marvel Entertainment. Knowing that Disney has recently acquired Marvel, I figured it was the perfect collaboration of the two. With that being said, Wolverine has always been my favorite Marvel character.

MC: We're all waiting for the Marvel series also! Can you describe this figure? What detail went into it?
GL: Wolverine is equipped with three blades on each hand and his X-men suit, ready to defeat anyone that gets in his way.

MC: What is your favorite aspect of it?
GL: The Mickey ears, of course!

MC: What was the hardest part in creating this figure?
GL: The hardest part was deciding which costume/uniform Wolverine should wear.

MC: Will you create more comic book vinylmation?
GL: I would be glad to! It was a very fun activity to work on.

MC: Is there a place where people can go to find out more about your pieces and see your work?
GL: Maybe in the near future, when I create more pieces. I would absolutely love to work for Disney one day. It has always been my dream job and luckily for me, Disney is a company where dreams come true!

MC: Thanks for much for your time, and we look forward to anything new you make it the future! Maybe you can get a Marvel set out before Disney actually does.

D23 Exclusive Vinylmation Review

Some figures exclusive to the D23 Expo in Anaheim were released last weekend. Here is an up close look and our take on the group.

3" D23 Logo
Maria Clapsis
LE 4800

With the design and very high quantity available, this one hung around all weekend long and was still available late Sunday at the Dream Store. A very simple design, this one actually grew on me. I like the color and the stars outlining Mickey's features. I'm also a sucker for Sorcerer Mickey and he is part of the logo on the back of the Vinylmation. This one gets a low grade for me because it isn't exciting, but it's a nice souvenir of the event.

3" Davy Crocket 
Casey Jones
LE 1200

Casey created a Masterpiece with his 9" Park 5 Davy Crocket, this 3" version doesn't hold the same wow factor. It did however sell off the shelves just a few hours into day 1 of the expo.

I will say the attention to detail is phenomenal, and without the 9" to compare it to, this one would be even more incredible. I don't really understand the muted tone on this 3". The 9" is brown, but it's a lively coloring scheme that yells old west.

The hat is wonderful. Again, comparing it to the 9", it doesn't have the layered tail the bigger figure has. But the fact that we now have this coon skin cap for combo contests can not be understated. Overall, a brilliantly detailed 3" that is a must own for any Disney fan.

3" Gladstone Gander
Thomas Scott
LE 1200

If there is anywhere that a character this obscure can work it's a large gathering of Disney geeks. So D23 was the perfect place, as Gander sold out first within hours of the expo opening on Friday morning.

Gander, among other places, is from the Disney Comics and Thomas Scott did a fantastic job at pulling Gander out of the comic and slapping him on a vinyl collectable.

Care about the character or not, this figure has a perfect colorful, comical look with clean lines and big duck bill perfectly placed. It really does look like a cool drawing on a Vinylmation instead of a design printed on it.

9" Butch
Eric Caszatt
LE 750 

Sorry Eric, but a great design couldn't overcome a larger than needed LE and a high price tag on an obscure character. There were plenty of Butch's on the shelves late into Sunday. The design works. I'll say it every time, putting the chin on the nose just looks great on many figures. Nothing fancy, it's just a straightforward design. In my opinion, 750 was WAY too high an LE. Put it at 500 or even 450 and sell it out at the event. Neither M.C. nor I purchased this one, but we probably would have purchased a 3" version.

3" Disney Store 25th with Pin
Enrique Pita
LE 2500

Another high LE, but this one appealed to a much wider audience. I saw these fly off the shelf at the Disney Store inside D23, although I couldn't verify if they sold out and if not, where the quantities would go.

To me, nothing fancy about the design. In fact I don't like the outlines on Mickey's face. Also, in general, the Disney Store logo doesn't do anything for me. It holds no special meaning. But to many it does. Many current and ex Disney Store Cast Members are excited about this figure.

The pin I do like. It's large and has a nice high quality feel and design to it. This set was a pick up for me. Not necessarily a long term keep, this one might be up for trade.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

D23, Disneyland and L.A. in Pictures

It's been a week since D23 and we have had time to settle back down into our normal lives. I've also finally had time to put up some pictures of our trip. No breaking news here at this point, but just a photo tour of our trip. Once again, thank you to everyone who we meet at D23 and to those who gave us tips for DLR. It was an amazing trip we will never forget.

Anaheim Convention Center

Nick at D23

First stop was Vinyl, Pin and Ear Hat Showcase

Florida Project Pins

A look at the past, present and future of Disney Theme Parks

The new Mickey Head that moves and speaks
More pictures of D23, Disneyland and LA after the jump

Spotlight On: Vinylmation Custom Artist Tayner

Destination Vinylmation: Tayner, at only 14 years of age you are creating some nice looking custom Vinylmation. How long have you had a passion for art?

Tayner: My passion for art really started coming out at the age of 12, when I was given a sketch book and good sketching pencils for Christmas, which I instantly took to!

DV: Beside Vinylmation, do you paint or sculpt or create other forms of art?

Tayner: Mainly, I like to draw and animate, and in both, I like to keep them cartoon like, rather than life like. I enjoy sculpting as well, but due to cost and availability of the clay I like, I don’t sculpt as much. My animating is usually with Vinylmation, as you can see on my website, but I also like to try and draw my own animations, rather than model the Vinylmations the way I want. Occasionally, I also paint!

DV: It's still early, but what kind of career do you see yourself in down the road?

Tayner: I am attending a special high school next year, which is dedicated to the arts, and also has great links to amazing art colleges and universities! I am hoping that both of these will greatly help and improve my art skills, which will lead me to being a product designer at Disney World! If not, I would like to work on animated movies with Disney Pixar! In essence, I want to work for Disney!

DV: Tell us about this Sailor Mickey Custom. You say it was the hardest custom you have ever done. Why?

Tayner: As you can see, Sailor Mickey is a slightly more complicated design than my other Vinylmations. I didn’t expect as much of a challenge as I received. The first challenge was the body. I couldn’t get the lines straight for his shirt, and his jacket was uneven, as well as the buttons being larger/smaller than the other. No matter how much I tried, the problems didn’t get better. Eventually, I gave up on touch ups, and went straight to a new body. His body became FILLED with lines to make sure every centimetre of him was rightly placed! I also learned a technique from watching Evilios’ videos, in which you place down painter’s tape, to keep the lines even, which is how I made the lines on the shirt straight. The last challenge was sculpting his Sailor hat to look just right! It took me a few tries, and 2-3 hours to do this one! Overall, a much harder challenge than my others!

DV: What was the inspiration for this figure?

Tayner: Well, my family had just booked the Disney Dream as part of our next Disney World vacation. Right away, I went to Google, and began looking up any info and images I could find of this magnificent cruise ship! One of the many images that came up was, of course, Sailor Mickey. The only problem here was that there were so many variations of him, that I didn’t know which one to choose! I ended up choosing the one you see, as I liked him the best!

DV: You also have a very special non-Disney Vinylmation set you created. It was for your parents 17th wedding anniversary. What was the process to make sure you captured your Mom and Dad's look from almost two decades ago?

Tayner: This was indeed a difficult process. As it was a surprise, simply saying “Can I see photos of you on your wedding day?” would certainly raise suspicion. My siblings and I had to make up an excuse to see them. We knew that there were some photos other than their wedding day in the album, so we said we just wanted to see those. Still might have given them their suspicions, but not as much, we hoped! We then sorted through many photos until we found just the right pictures of them. Once this was done, I sketched out the main characteristics of each of them onto a piece of paper, and then combined it all into a Vinylmation sketch (which would eventually be re-done 5-6 times each).

DV: I heard you had a little help with this one?

Tayner: I needed to purchase a lot of materials for this project, and I also wanted to make sure the sketches looked just right before taking the sketches to the figure. I decided the best thing to do was get my siblings involved with the project. We all split the cost, and because I added them, I had to do another 5-6 sketches per figure, until my brother and sister approved them! There was no help with the painting, but I think that adding them on was a great move, and the gift was more special coming from all of us, rather than just me!

DV: And the final product came out great. Talk about the display case.

Tayner: The right display case was finally found at Michaels Art Store! We had searched dozens of websites for display cases, including Michaels, and a nearby favourite, Curry’s! None of them were good enough for what we wanted. On one of our trips to buy supplies for this project, we walked by the Display Case section and I ran over to one I thought was great! My brother said it was too big, and suggested the smaller version of it. We instantly picked it up, claiming it was to go on my shelf, hoping that would cease any suspicions! It is a baseball holder, but the circular parts to hold individual baseballs fit the Vinylmation feet so perfectly, it made the project so much better to be able to keep the Vinyl’s still!

DV: Do your parents have it up on display at the house?

Tayner: Yes! It is sitting proudly on my dad’s desk in my parents’ room!

DV: For more of Tayner's work, please visit

Cars 2 Combo Review

The Maria Clapsis designed Cars 2 Combo was released at D-Streets on August 26. It also showed up in the London Disney Store, on the UK Disney Store Online and in Tokyo. It will hit Disney Store Online September 2 and Disney stores September 19.

The packaging is nice if you want to just keep them boxed up. It has a backdrop behind the figures of one of the racing locations in the movie. The design is flashy with logos that pop right out at you.

Lightning has one of the flashiest paint jobs I have ever seen on a Disney Vinylmation. He has a sparkle to him in the light. The red paint looks really good and all the other features painted on have a bold look to them. It's a busy figure, with things going on all over it. He is designed after the Cars 2 version, so he has the Hudson Hornet Piston Cup logo on the "hood". That's the only design oddity, and I'm not sure if it would have looked good if Maria place things correctly. But in the movie, the mouth would be below the hood design, but on the vinyl its more a representation of the characters as the hood design is below the mouth.

The side has wheels on the feet, the lightning bolts and the number 95. No detail left unturned. Event a 95 on the roof.

The back has the rear view window, tail fin and says World Grand Prix. Overall, this is a flashy piece that has a lot of character. A happy addition to my collection.

Mater is one of my favorite Pixar characters and his Vinylmation hits in spots but misses in some important ones. The face is just a tiny bit off to me. I know this is a small thing, but I think if the eyes where more open and the mouth a little bigger and more open, that would have helped. I do enjoy the details like the missing headlight.

A look at the side shows how Maria had to walk the line between putting these characters on the vinyl and just representing parts of them. She decided to put Tow Mater horizontally on the arm and I think that works well. And another great detail, Mater's one different tire is painted on his left side.

The back represents his tow hook and bumper. Looking overall at the back, side and hood, things seem to look very blocky. Just kind of place there instead of really feeling like they belong. Not being a designer, I can't say what's best, but I think I would have enjoyed a grittier, more real feel to Mater.

It has to be so incredibly hard to capture a vertical car on horizontal canvas and the flashy Lightning piece works well for me, but Mater is just missing some of the characteristics that would make him feel like a whole figure instead of just blocks of design around the mold. As a set, its a nice addition from a move franchise I love.

Disney North: Collecting Vinylmation North of the 49th

OK, so I don't actually live north of the 49th parallel, but most of Canada (land wise) is.

You may have read other articles about collecting Vinylmation outside of the US, but I wanted to give some specific challenges of what we face as collectors in Canada. So here we go...

For obvious reasons, we have only two options for purchasing Vinylmation: The Disney Stores and online (official websites and secondary). I'm lucky enough to have 1 Disney Store 2 minutes away from my office and 2 more 45 minutes away from home. Most Canadians are not as lucky as me, as most Disney Stores are in southern Ontario (where I live).
Disney North's local Disney Store
Of course we have no restrictions buying online. We have all vinylmations available to Canadians that are available to Americans. But availability is not the issue buying online.
Disney North's local Disney Store Vinylmation Display
The only other option for Canadians is to purchase Vinylmations in person at the parks. But that can make for an expensive shopping trip.

Custom/Duty fees:
When having something shipped to Canada, collectors run the risk of having to pay for Custom/Duty fees and taxes. The challenge here is that you never know if you will be hit with those fees. Sometimes the packages flow through with no fees, sometimes we have our mail carrier waiting at your door wanting money.

Shipping fees:
This, above all, is the biggest road block for buying Vinylmation in Canada. It's great to have everything available to us that Americans have available but it is ridiculous when the shipping fee doubles the price! And this issue applies to all online venues.

For instance, for me to purchase the 9" Animal Vinylmation from the Disney Store, shipping would cost me $19.99.  This in contrast to my fellow collectors south of the border who enjoy free shipping, on most occasions.  I've tweeted the Disney Store President about the issue and they are "apparently" looking into it.

eBay is a little better, but it depends on the seller. For some reason some sellers won't even ship to Canada. Those that do, will sometimes charge you the right fee where others will take advantage of the incorrect eBay shipping estimations and overcharge you.

But the worse shipping offender is Disney World Mail Order Services. As you can see in the chart below delivery charges automatically double the price of the item. It doesn't matter if you order more items because the delivery fees increase exponentially.

Merchandise ValueInternational Shipping Charge
$00.01 to $20.00$10.00
$20.01 to $30.00$25.00
$30.01 to $40.00$40.00
$40.01 to $60.00$50.00
$60.01 to $100.00$75.00
$100.01 to $250.00$100.00
$250.01 to $500.00$125.00
$500.01 to $1000.00$150.00
*Add $10 for each additional $100.00 over $1000.00

Why is it so expensive? Three letters: DHL. I have complained many times to Cast Member both on the phone and in person at Guest Relations (which they have encouraged) and yet nothing has changed. I have asked for them ship it via USPS but it isn't an option.

Final thought:
I know I am lucky enough to have Vinylmation available to me, but there are opportunities for the Walt Disney Company to right a wrong and change their shipping policies and pricing for Canadians.

A Goofy Summer Vacation

DV reader Jacob sent us some summer vaction photos:

My family and I recently took a vacation to the beaches of Galveston, TX.  Goofy went along with us, and we thought you would like to see some pics!  Enjoy

This is Goofy checking out the aquarium at Moody Gardens in Galveston, TX.  He loved it!!

This is Goofy checking out the Fallen Heroes Memorial at Seawolf Park in Galveston, Tx.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Preview Center: First Look at the Vacation Kingdom

The Preview Center was where many people saw Walt Disney World for the first time. Here is some background info on the Preview Center that we hope to see recreated for the upcoming Florida Project event at Walt Disney World. We will also take another look at the FREE gift for guests to the Vinylmation Day.
Screen shot taken from WDW film

On display at D23
This Minnie Mouse Vinylmation above is the FREE gift guests to the Vinylmation Day of the Florida Project will receive. Minnie is designed with the clothing the "Disney Girls" wore at the Walt Disney World Preview Center. The Preview Center opened on Jan. 16, 1970, and was the first building to open on Walt Disney World property. Located on Hotel Plaza Boulevard, today the building is home to the Amateur Athletic Union. More than 1.4 million people visited the Preview Center to check out what was to become the Vacation Kingdom of the World. The Disney Girls were on hand to answer all the questions people had. Guests could also buy Disney souvenirs, like pennants and guidebooks.
Preview Center Photo owned by Chuck Schmidt
I like the idea of this figure, the history behind it and the clothing is perfectly captured, but the complaints about the face are valid. It doesn't look right. It's not because it's Minnie on new mold. She looks great on the new DCL figure. I also think a generic female's face would have worked. Kind of like the Cast Member Exclusive Ambassador figure from awhile back.

Florida Project Vinylmation Auction Catalog

Today, Disney released the catalog of items up for auction at the Florida Project. Along with one of a kind items, they also have lots of chasers and variants. We picked out some highlights below. Take a look at the entire catalog here.

Pete's Dragon signed by Mickey Rooney
Not produced Haunted Mansion Tote and Make-up Bag
Stormtrooper, Boba Fett and Darth Vader cutouts from midnight Star Wars release
Molds pulled from mold machine
Not produced Tink variant