Hands On with New Vinylmation Mold; Review and Reaction

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Destination Vinylmation was allowed an exclusive hands on with the new Vinylmation mold this morning at D-Street. We also had the chance to talk to Vinylmation Project Manager Donald Ferro. This weekend on the DV podcast, we will share with you the complete interview with Donald, including Disney’s take on the new mold, but first, here are my first impressions of the new mold after getting to handle it in person.

Side by Side. New Mold on Left
***Please note that the Vinylmation are on a slightly slanted surface; in person, they are the same height.

I was able to view a Sea Creature 3″ (first series to be released on the new mold), a blank white new mold, and blank white original mold. Please note, the New Blank Mold is NOT a Create Your Own… we will talk about that later. My first reaction to seeing the new mold in person was a positive one. The most striking feature is the amount of flat, open canvas the artists will be working on. With the removal of the buttons and the facial contours, artists are left with a noticeably broader, flatter canvas. Donald says artists will now more accurately be able to translate their designs from 2D to 3D. Look at these close ups of the body:

New Mold
Original Mold

You can see the amount of smooth, usable canvas that has been created. The photos do not do this justice and you will instantly see what I mean when you see it in person. The second thing I noticed is something I missed with the photographs Disney released. Take a look at the neck, bottom of head, shoulders and arms. The pieces just fit much better. Cleaner lines. When I asked Donald about this, he said this will all translate into a better looking final printing of the design. The tightness, he said, also allows for a smoother looking design as the art transitions to the the different pieces of the body. I have to say, once you get one of these in your hands, you will notice how tightly everything fits together. Come on, how many of us have figures with loose arms?

New Mold

The top of the head is more rounded. Donald says should be able to more accurately translate things like human characters onto this canvas. The ears are more defined, circular and well spaced. The face is also less chubby. Look how it drops straight down on the sides. Again, the theme here is making it easier, not for the artists to design, but for the artist’s true designs to accurately wrap around the 3D vinyl figure. In talking to the artists at the signing, so many designs are altered because they could not be translated onto the original mold.

New Mold on Left

I’ll be the first one to say, the Vinylmation loses a bit of its “Mickeyness” in the profile view… it actually looks a bit ugly. The shape just seems a odd without the nose, buttons or cheeks to define it. This is one opinion that wasn’t changed in person. Many of you have commented on this as well. Donald answers this concern by saying all the changes that were made will give us a more polished finished product. And he remarks that this is still very much Mickey from straight on… and I can not argue with that. It seems to me a bit of a trade off, lose some definition for a better final product. I will be giving the artists the benefit of the doubt here. After all, according to Donald, it is the artists who initiated this design change. You can see from the profile view above how the head fits more neatly onto the body. Note the forehead, it takes a steeper dip… again, allowing for more visible canvas to be facing you.

New Mold
Original Mold

Next is the arms. They have been made much smaller. The first thing I noticed here is that more of the side body is visible now because of this. Like the rest of the body, Donald says the smaller and smoother shape, again allows for easier wrapping of the design. And of course, the right hand now is more obviously shaped to hold things. Donald says accessories will now be easier to make and fit much better. Like them or love them, they are here to stay.

New Mold
Original Mold

Now down to the feet. We know they are removable, but what does that accomplish? Donald says with the removable feet, the artists are now able to wrap the design around the feet and legs and hide any paint lines. They are very excited about this feature.

New Mold
Original Mold

The feet are noticeable smaller, square and not as deeply indented in between allowing for a more seamless design.

New Mold
New Mold

At first, like many of you, I was very apprehensive about this new design. I didn’t like them taking away some of Mickey’s more defined features in place of a less defined piece of vinyl. But at the end of the day, it’s still very much Mickey Mouse.

New Mold on Left
New Mold on Left

Once you are able to hold one in your hands, you will see what I mean about the tightness of the construction. I can now see how the design will be more seamlessly wrapped around it. I also can not discount the attitude of the artists. They are great people, who I can tell care greatly about their work, and have fun doing it. They want the best possible representations of their designs on the final product. Donald wants people to know that the decision to change the mold was not done lightly. He assures us that the designs to come are remarkable and worth the change. Only time will tell. What I can tell you is that I was impressed. Please believe me when I say I don’t like change. I like my Mickey Mouse and that shape is what makes these collectibles so unique. We are not losing that. I was not happy when I saw the photographs of Sea Creatures Disney released. But seeing it in person and witnessing the excitement that Donald and the artists have, I have every reason to believe this is a positive step. That being said, I don’t think Sea Creatures will be a good first example. The Turtle looked amazing in person, but the shape of these animals lend itself to this new mold very well. Parks, Urbans, and others will be the true test.

New Mold on Right

Please tune into Episode 18 of Destination Vinylmation, to be released this weekend, for a full interview with Donald Ferro. He addresses some of your concerns that you left at our website, tells you from the Disney perspective why these changes were made and how they will affect the final product. He also discuss what this new mold means for 9″ figures and Create Your Owns. After the podcast, we will post an article with quotes from the interview.

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About the author

Nick LoCicero

Nick LoCicero has almost 20 years experience in the media industry. He has worked on numerous Disney related media projects, most know at WDWNT for WDW News Tonight. He has been visiting Walt Disney World since 1982. After moving to Orlando in the late 90's he became a passholder, developed a fascination with the history of the vacation kingdom and has spent way too much money on park merchandise.

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