Disney seems to be going variant crazy lately and I think it's a great thing. Giving many of the Limited Edition vinyls a variant is a great way to spice things up. Just don't go too overboard and make variants for the heck of it. Variants need to make sense in the context of the character as well as enhancing the vinyl itself. The most positive thing about all of this right now, is that the variants are well designed and make sense. There are several different ways the Vinylmation team has gone about variants, and I would like to dive deep into these methods and discuss what works, and what doesn’t work.
The most effective type of variant is changing the face or even more. In my opinion the vinyl that pulled this off the best was the Villians 2 Shere Kahn variant. The common was a great design on its own, but then the variant stepped it up a notch, and that’s the way I think it should be. The designers took an iconic scene from the film and adapted it onto the platform.
Another clever and successful variant choice came in the Park series with Disney World Park road sign. The inspiration for vinyl are the famous purple road signs you see when driving up to Walt Disney World. The sign for Magic Kingdom/Epcot was the common and then two more versions were created for Animal Kingdom, and All Other Guest Areas. This was a perfect opportunity to make multiple different versions that collectors will want because these signs are so iconic for big fans of the park.
There are a few variants that have followed this method in which I question their necessity; and they both happen to be in Animation 2. They are the Fantasia 2000 Donald, and John Henry Variants.
A common, but not always effective use for variants is changing the color. This method works best when there is another significant change then just the color. The variant that excelled the best at this was the Animation 3 Pascal variant.
Personally, I was glad they didn't produce the yellow variant because in my opinion it doesn't really add anything. Sure, he’s a chameleon and he changes color, but with the same facial expression it doesn't add anything for me. There are many variants that have gone that route; wet paint Donald, the Alice in Wonderland hedgehog, and many others. Again, not much changes are made other than a simple color change, and for me, it feels like variant for the sake of variant.
There have been several clear variants, and they have all made sense and are big hits for me. The new phasing Vision from Marvel 1 looks fantastic. While nothing design wise has changed on the vinyl, the clear image makes sense perfect sense, based on the character of Vision.
Recently, we have seen that variants are going to be more common, and in a new creative way. It seems that all of the limited edition vinyls, like the Food and Wine Festival and the Festival of the Masters, are all going to have variants. This is interesting because what was once an open window, you knew exactly what you were going to get type of deal, is now a fun mystery. I love the idea of this supplement Park 13 Tower of Terror set. Not only is it a great addition to this latest park set (especially because it is a smaller case size) but in this instance there are 2 versions.
So there you have it, a little breakdown of how the idea of variant figures has evolved over the course of this five year hobby, and where it seems to be heading in the future. How do you feel about variants, and the direction Disney seems to be heading? Would love to hear your thoughts!