New the DV reporting staff is Minnie Malice. She lives in Chicago and attended the Windy City 3″ Vinylmation release. Here is her experience.
Ever since I got into Vinylmation—which, admittedly, wasn’t all that long ago—I’ve been hoping and praying for a Chicago exclusive. In fact, not that far back my partner and I were talking, with a twinge of jealousy in our voice, about how it just wasn’t fair that the coasts—San Fran. and New York—got all the cool exclusives.
Well, when news broke that Oskar Mendez would be doing the “Windy City” Chicago exclusive, lets just say my excitement was hard to contain. I marked my Google calendar, and restlessly check off the days.
Earlier this week, though, I got some bad news: my partner wasn’t going to be able to make the release with me—something about their brother getting married, which, in my opinion, is not as cool or as fun as a Vinylmation release. So, to ensure that I didn’t have to go alone, I bribed The Cuteboy (a.k.a my best friend) with some coffee, and he agreed to join me in my epic, dorky adventure.
Saturday was a beautiful, crisp Chicago morning—a beautiful day to stand outside a Disney store. Despite waking up early, we were running a little behind because The Cuteboy just had to finish brewing his potion on Pottermore. Around 7:30 a.m., with coffee in hand, we caught a bus and headed downtown.
We got to the store a little bit before 8:00 a.m., and as you can see from the picture, at this point there was no line, and not many people waiting outside.
We stroled up and met two other collectors eagerly waiting for the doors to open, one whom I actualy was in correspondence with over on the Vinylmation Kingdom Forums. Instantly we began talking shop: old mold vs. new mold, the new Park Starz series, as well as the difficulties that come with being a collector who lives in the mid-west—a topic I hope to write more about in the future. We also talked about our collections, what figures we’re looking for, and what upcoming series we are excited/not excited about. I also had to explain Vinylmation to The Cuteboy, seeing as he wasn’t familiar with the phenomenon. His response was, “So, this is like if J.K. Rowling released Harry Potter figurines?”
While we were waiting outside, chatting, sipping coffee, and I chain-smoking, I snapped some pictures of the store. The sidewalk had a mosaic of my favorite female mouse, so, of course, I had to snap a picture:
I also took a picture of the Princess area of the store, jealous that I am no longer small enough to fit into one of the awesome Princess Halloween costumes the Cast Members were putting up, because, truth be told, I would look super cute in a pink Rapunzel dress.
At about quarter to 9:00, more people started showing up, each with the same question: “You here for vinylmation?” We all started talking, trying to fill time before the doors opened. One family came form a local suburb, and was shocked that I didn’t collect any of the Holiday figures—their family’s favorite series. Another couple came all the way from Wisconsin, but more impressive, they also just got back from The Florida Project—so of course everyone was bombarding them with questions: What figures did you get? What was the trading like? Did you get an Orange Bird? And then my question: “what did you think of—what I called— the “squished” Minnie?
As far as demographics go, most of the folks waiting were suburbanites from the surrounding area, and honestly, I think I was the only person in the line that was actually from the City!
With ten minutes till the store opened I snapped another picture in attempts to show the line that was brewing, or should I say not brewing.
As you can tell, even with as little as 5 minutes before the store opened, there still was only a few of us—I would say 15—waiting to get in. (FYI-The boy leaning against the pillar, in the black hoodie, looking at his phone—that’s The Cuteboy!!!).
At 9:00 sharp, a Cast Member came to the door and we were officially let into the store with a cheerful: “Welcome to Disney.” Luckily, I knew right where the vinyls were, so I left the Cuteboy and made a beeline for them. But I was met with a surprise! The tins weren’t by the Vinylmation display! The store had put them all by their Chicago-base merchandise, a smart marketing plan—one that plays off of the number of tourist they get in the store.
I was unable to get a picture of the display before the feeding frenzy, because I was a little too busy trying to make sure I had enough in my hands to fill my quota of requested figures, but the shelf had about 50 to 60 tins, neatly stacked above the Chicago Mickey stuffed-animals, but in 1.3 seconds the shelves were stripped and looked like this:
I think a lot of us there had a moment of panic when the shelf was stripped that quickly, and as a result tensions were high. It should be noted that there WAS NOT a limit on the number of tins you could buy, and I saw at least a few people with close to 20 in their hands. Sadly to say, because of this there was a little pushing and grabbing, which is disappointing to see at something like this—come on folks! We’re all in this together, right? Oh well, I guess not everyone can just enjoy themselves. In fact, one “gentle” man actually yelled at a Cast Member, which just makes me think that he doesn’t have a Jiminy Cricket on his shoulder.
With my tins in hand—well, actually in the Cuteboy’s hands—I looked around and took a picture of the store’s regular Vinylmation display.
NO, your eyes are not deceiving you—that is only ONE wall of Vinylmations with only one tray each of Lion King, Robots, Muppets #2, and Cutesters and a few random 9 inches. Oh the perks of being a Mid-western Vinylmation Collector.
At this time, I heard a commotion behind me. A Cast Member had pulled out the big guns. With the regular display stripped of all the tins, from the back they brought out a big, clear Rubbermaid container filled to the brim.
As you can see, some folks were grabbing arm fulls out of the tub!
The Cuteboy and I moved quickly through the checkout line, and afterwards I was fortunate enough to talk to one of the Cast Members about their expectation for this particular release. Seeing as this was the first time Chicago ever had a release for Vinylmation—with the exclusion of the Lion King and Robots and other in-store exclusives—I was curious if this was about what they were expecting in terms of turnout. She told me that they did have a few calls through out the month about the release, but not enough to warrant a wristband or a ticket system. Moreover, because of the Open Edition of the figure, they didn’t even feel the needed to put a limit on the number of figures people could buy. And as you can see, they had plenty of figures to go around, and were not sold out by any means. I think the most interesting thing that the Cast Member said was, they expect to see more releases like this in the future. Does that mean we should be seeing a second Chicago Exclusive in the future? Well, she said that she “didn’t know anything,” but I swear I saw a little twinkle in her eyes as she said it.
When all was said and done, The Cuteboy and I were at the store for about an hour and 30 minutes—about an hour and 20 minutes waiting outside the store, and 10 minutes grabbing tins, taking pictures, and checking out.
Maybe its because Chicago doesn’t have a high number of Vinylmation collectors, maybe its because of the Open Edition, or maybe its because there wasn’t an artist signing, but the reality of this release is—it was quick with relatively no line, and definitely more than enough tins to go around. In fact, when we finally left the store that Rubbermaid tub was still about half full.
By 10:25 the Cuteboy and I were back on the bus heading home, along with a new friend who got her own seat on the bus; but of course, we had stopped off for some breakfast and a diner photoshoot to cap off the morning.
All in all, a great morning and a great experience for my first official Vinylmation release.
BIO: Minnie Malice is a Chicago resident who just graduated with her Master’s Degree in Women & Gender Studies. She’s a blogger for a number of different websites, writing on topics as far ranging as Disney Vinyls to Feminist Theory. You can see more of her work at curiouserjane.tumblr.com