Earlier this week, we posted an article asking for the end of Limited Edition Vinylmation. Many of your responded both pro and con. One reader submitted a strong rebuttal to our argument. Here is Brian’s Case FOR Limited Edition Vinylmation:
DV, as much as I love your site, I am in complete opposition to your cause. LE’s shouldn’t be made extinct. We shouldn’t overact based on one or two bad experiences. These bad experiences are only due to the increasing popularity of Vinylmation within the last 6 months. The Vinylmation world is becoming dense. At the end of last year, the Vinylmation world only had 2 or 3 active websites devoted to everything Vinylmation. Now there are 6 or 7 active websites. When I started collecting, just before Park 2 was retired, it took me over 100 blind boxes (bloxes) to get my first chaser and complete a set. Now, I can complete a set in less than a week by trading alone. I digress. My point is that our Vinylmation addiction is the root of the problem. Disney’s policy surrounding Vinylmation hasn’t changed since the inception of Vinylmation until the dreaded “Goof Troop” debacle. What changed? Nothing has changed but the intensity of our addiction and the realization that the LE’s help us up-trade to find our “holy grails”. Below I have offered my rebuttal to the points in your article. With that, I can’t offer criticisms to your points without offering up my own solution to the problem.
One of the reoccurring points, and hot button for many collectors, is that online auction house we have come to love. Many traders use it as the benchmark to determine if a particular trade is fair, most of the time. It is about the only safe spot to acquire hard –to-find Vinylmation figures aside from face to face trade. But the point that a “dedicated Disney fan who has no shot at one of these combos unless they have want to fork over triple retail” is based on the assumption that the seller sets the price. To me, this not the case. The buyer sets the price. If that individual demands that particular figure and is willing to pay 3X the price, then the seller will oblige. If the buyers aren’t buying then the price goes down. It is simple economics, supply versus demand. Plus, there are several great trading outlets that allow you the opportunity to trade for the LE figure you are searching for. Not all is lost.
As for online releases, they do give the opportunity for anyone not living near the parks. The problem is whether or not the opportunity is equal. In my opinion, Yes. As you stated, there are some problems with it such as “No stated release time, no purchase limits, slow computers, misplaced items online, fake sell outs, computer error”. Some of these points just don’t hold any water.
- No stated release time – Disney will never pigeon-hole themselves into that tight of a schedule. Disney wants to preclude any issues that may arise. The repercussions of not holding to that schedule could be very expensive. How many $10 or $20 dollar complaint vouchers would they have to fork over when people complain that it was listed at 12:05 instead of 12:00. This shrinks the bottom line possibly resulting in higher prices. Also worth mentioning is potential server problems. Imagine 5,000 -7,500 customers or more, possibly with multiple windows open on multiple devices all focusing on one product in a 1 minute window. Crashamundo! Is not knowing exact time annoying and inconvenient for us? Sure, but that’s the thrill of it all. My heart was racing when Goof Troop was released.
- No purchase limits – I will give you this one. Shame on you Disney. I guess they took the stance of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. This is a systems problem which is curable through some software changes or web coding. Supposedly it has been fixed with the recent announcement on the Vinylmation blog. We shall see.
- Slow computers – if referring to Disney’s slow computers, then the solution is upgraded servers or more of them. If referring to customer’s computer, then the playing field cannot be leveled. How is it Disney’s fault that one customer has a computer running an 6 core i7 Extreme processor with 12GB of RAM on a T1 internet line versus someone on a computer running a 1990’s Pentium processor with 128KB of RAM over a dial up connection?
- Misplaced items online – I will give you this one too. This has happened several times. Disney was sneaky as even a search for “Goof Troop” returned nothing for 25+ minutes after they were actually released. I personally think there is a conspiracy here, but I can save that for another time. They need to smack the web guy who hides the page. The solution is simple enough, code it properly to put the item where everyone thinks it should be.
- Fake sell outs – server and software issue. Hopefully fixed with recent update.
- Computer error – most likely a coding error, possibly relating to server problems. Smack the web guy again. Hopefully problem was fixed with recent update.
There are infinite solutions that we could come up with. Very few of them keep both Disney and the collector happy. Limited Time release is one of those solutions that only serve the collector’s ability to get the figure. Limited Time Release would be a production control nightmare. There are way too many issues with a solution like this. There will be times when there are tons in stock and times when there is not enough. If Disney underestimates the demand then collectors will be even more upset because they know it is supposed to last till some arbitrary date. If Disney over-estimates the demand, the excess is sold off at a discount. This also will upset collectors because of the reduction in value by increasing the supply. We all know Disney won’t destroy the production overages. I guess theoretically they could guess the demand correctly. You can’t mass produce everything. Look at Park 3, almost worthless to most collectors. Why? Because it was WAY over-produced.
I do not think Limited Time Release will reduce the crowded sidewalks at 5am. People are going to line up if they like it and want it regardless. Not only will it not reduce the front end frenzy, it will increase the back-end frenzy because people will have a finite date. Which is the lesser of two evils? The only time non-locals can assure themselves that they have the best chance of getting a figure they want while on vacation is to schedule around the release date. Lastly the limited time may possibly reduce the aftermarket up until just before the time is up.
My solution for LE’s… split release quantities between Disney locations (DLR, WDW, DLP, Hong Kong, Japan) and online. A lottery is put in place, essentially RSP. The terms of the lottery are up for grabs but here is what I think is fair and reasonable. Once a figure is announced, Disney Online opens sign-ups for a 3 day lottery with the close of the lottery 2 days prior to the figure being released. Entry into the lottery would require you to have an account with Disney Store Online. An important part of this is a shipping address and credit card or Paypal account for filtering double dippers. The number of online lottery winners is 80% of the quantity for online release with the remainder of 20% going into an open pool available to all for purchase online one week later. The lottery winners are notified that they have a certain window of time to purchase the figure on the release date. If the figure is not purchased within the window, the figure is put into an open pool. All of the non-lottery winners are notified and given a code which they can enter when trying to purchase from the open pool. The code protects against lottery winners from double dipping. The same could be implemented with some slight modifications to brick and mortar store releases. I think this system would be a little more sophisticated than Disney would probably want. But it solves almost every issue, reduced lines at brick and mortar stores, no stated release time, no purchase limits, misplaced items online, fake sell outs, and computer errors. It makes it as fair as possible because the opportunity is equal for all.
Sometimes we all forget that this is just a hobby and not a way of life. We must remember that Disney is a business. They are here to make money. They are not providing services and products for their health. That would be financial suicide. When was the last time you received something free for doing nothing? Sometimes I think people would see it totally different if they were on the opposite side of the transaction. Also, I don’t really see how LE’s at the parks isn’t fair. Is it not fair that Walt Disney decided to place his theme parks in Anaheim and Orlando? Is it not fair that your parents decided to live so far from either park. It is not Disney’s fault that most of us don’t live near San Francisco, New York, Dublin, Copenhagen, Paris, Honk Kong or Tokyo. I think LE’s offer financially less-than-fortunate collectors a chance at something really cool. LE’s keep Vinylmation fresh. How long can we continue collecting park and urban designs? I personally love variety and my LE’s. Keep the LE’s coming Disney! That’s the way I see it. Thanks for letting me participate and keep up the great work.