Welcome to the second edition of the Vinylmation Exchange Report, or V.E.R. It’s no secret that part of the allure of Vinylmation is the ability to trade for the ones you want; however, sometimes it’s hard to be sure you’re getting a fair trade. This article, which will be posted weekly, will contain reports based on several websites that sell and trade Vinylmation in order to give YOU, the faithful reader, an idea on how hard it will be to get the figure you want!
This week’s article is going to discuss one of the newer concepts in Disney’s Vinylmation collecting: Variant designs. If you’re reading this article you already know that most Vinylmation “closed-box” series consist of 11 known figures and 1 “mystery chaser”; a figure that only comes 1-per-case and is more rare (and thus usually more valuable) than the others. However, Disney not being content with the concept that if you buy a case you have every figure, decided to throw variants into the mix. The rarity of these figures are hard to pinpoint, but we’ll do our best*** to let you know which are more rare than others, and which are easier to find.
*** A note on Variants. The best guess that this writer has on possible configurations on a particular case is 5 different configurations. If this theory is true, that would mean that any particular series might be boxed in one of five different ways; also making true that the rarest a figure could be is 1 in 5 boxes, or 1:120 figures. This guess is based on different known configurations of Animation Series 1 boxes, and could be way off, and thus should only be used for comparison purposes.
1. Star Wars “Ghost of Obi-Wan” chaser
The Star Wars series was a very delayed group of Vinylmation that had been promised almost six months before release. Collectors had seen previews MONTHS before the release was hinted at, and with the exception of the well-guarded chaser, no one was ready for any surprises when it was finally released on January 13th, 2011. However, we got one; the world’s first Vinylmation SUPER CHASER. While every box contained a chaser, certain boxes were replaced with the same Obi-Wan design over clear blue, creating the ghost effect seen in the original Trilogy of Star Wars. The value immediately skyrocketed, going for up to 30 times the retail value of the figure! Subsequently the Star Wars series sold out, and thus the value has remained high… to this day one of the few figures that can command such a price.
POSSIBLE variant ratio: 1 in 5 boxes, or 1 in 120 figures.
2. Cutesters Too – Green Apple Variant
Cutesters is a strange set in Vinylmation world. Quite deliberately this set is geared towards girls, the first series (designed by the now missing-in-action and under appreciated Vinylmation artist Lisa Badeen) was on the shelves for over a YEAR. So when the second series was announced, designed by Maria Clapsis known for her “cute” figures, there was some question on whether or not these figures would be highly collectible… and variants took care of that. A set with 3 variants, two “regular” figures, and also the green apple chaser variant; marking only the second “Super Chaser” next to Ghost of Obi Wan. Still, Star Wars has a wider appeal among collectors, so the Ghost remains higher, but the Green Apple Variant is a close second.
POSSIBLE variant ratio: 1 in 5 boxes, or 1 in 120 figures.
3. Park 6 – Donald Duck Purple “wet paint” variant
Back in the day, which refers to any day in the 1980s and 90s in this case, Wet Paint signs littered the Disney parks with Donald chasing after one his nephews wielding an orange paintbrush; warning visitors to stay away from that area. (Now the sign is a rather lame Stitch one.) So the Park 6 Vinylmation that was released was a big hit among long time visitors… except that it had “green paint” instead of orange; a problem fixed with a variant. However, collectors were surprised to learn that this figure had a “SECOND” variant, this time with purple paint. For reasons still uncertain, but likely based on rarity, this purple version skyrocketed in value, going for as much as 3 chasers or 10 times the retail value.
POSSIBLE variant ratio: 2 in 5 boxes, or 1 in 60 figures.
1. Urban 6 – Blue Thumb variant
Urban 6’s Green Thumb is a unique Vinylmation to say the least. Designed to look almost like a realistic, life size thumb, it’s shaded green to indicate that the owner of said thumb has, according to the dictionary; “an exceptional aptitude for gardening.” So, the natural variant for this would be a flesh colored thumb, right? WRONG – Disney threw a curveball and instead gave us the same thumb only in blue hues; a “blue thumb.” So what is a blue thumb? Well, it refers back to the 1990’s computer giant IBM being nicknamed “Big Blue” because of their blue IBM logo. Those adapt at computer skills then were nicknamed “Blue Thumbs”, a joke towards the Green Thumb name. Anyway, an awkward design, in green OR blue, leads this one to be less sought after than other figures; and thus being slightly easier to find.
POSSIBLE variant ratio: 1 in 2 boxes, or 1:48 figures.
2. Animation 1 – Multi colored “Elephants on Parade” chasers
Another “Super Chaser”? With FOUR different designs? Sounds like a figure destined for rising stars, but instead it’s not. Animation 1’s chaser was, quite honestly, a lackluster design compared to other figures in the series; based on a sequence in Dumbo, and unlike the other figures in Animation, it wasn’t even based on a main character. So, then when the same figure was produced four times, with four SLIGHTLY different paint colors, it’s no wonder collectors didn’t clamor to try to complete the set. Combine this with a VERY easy to find chaser, based on the number of cases created (this set is sold at Disney Stores, Parks, and online), most of these (less than) Super Chasers are worth less than a regular chaser, with the exception of the rarest solid light pink design.
POSSIBLE variant ratio: The Clear Pink is the most common (the “regular” chaser, followed by Solid Dark pink. Clear purple is even harder to find, and the Solid light pink chaser is the hardest to find and the only one with much value.
3. Animation 1 – Pinocchio “Real Boy” variant
Along with the Elephant variants described above, Animation had a fourth variant, based on a common figure in the set… that was less interesting than the one it was replacing. The regular Pinocchio figure in Animation represents the scene where the main character is turning into a donkey, and the figure even has a 3-D molded tail to boot, making it one of the coolest designs in Vinylmation. The variant however was the same figure, sans tail, and with blue painted over the donkey ears. That’s it. The only reason most collectors even want it is because of its rarity, and because of reasons pointed out above, it really isn’t even that rare. It goes for barely twice the retail price, and casual collectors have been actually disappointed to open this figure instead of the regular version.
POSSIBLE variant ratio: When you find a case that has one, you’ve found a case that has two – both Pinnochios are always the same in a box. Best guess is 2 in 3 cases, or 1 in 36 figures.
So that wraps up week 2 of V.E.R. IF you’re reading this, pop a note in the comments to let us know what you think, and possibly what areas you’d like to see covered in future V.E.R.s? Remember to collect what you like, and until next time… Make Mine Vinyl.