Jul 31, 2010

August 06 - Urban #4 Collection

August 6 will bring the release of two 9" Vinylmation™ figures and one 3" and 9" set from the Urban #4 collection:

The figures will be released at D-Street at the Disneyland® and Walt Disney World ® Resort.

Jul 28, 2010

Steven Miller [Chapter 10 / 10] - Celebrating a Decade of Magical Trades

Steven Miller is the Project Manager for Disney Trading and you can see his posts at the Official Disney Parks Blog

[all Text by Steven Miller]

posted on October 1st, 2009 by Steven Miller, Project Manager, Disney Trading

Hi, I’m Steven Miller, project manager for Disney Trading. I regularly look for things to celebrate. October 1, 2009 is one of those special celebratory days for me. It’s not my birthday but (cue confetti), it’s the tenth birthday for Disney Pin Trading! I can’t believe it’s been 10 years! The funny thing about trading is that it was planned to only last through the end of 2000.

The official logo for the 10th Anniversary of Disney Pin Trading

Trading was considered the perfect compliment to the “Celebrate the Future Hand-in-Hand” marketing theme for the Millennium Celebration. What better way to bring people together than by exchanging pins, hand-to-hand? The hope was that through trading pins folks would connect, share stories and make friends. I guess the plan worked as you are currently reading this story 10 years later.

Concept artwork for the visual display coming to Disney’s Pin Traders in Florida

I’m particularly excited to start our bi-coastal, 10th birthday celebration for Disney Pin Trading – a celebration we have been planning for the past year. The “Decade of Magical Trades” celebration will run from October 1, 2009 through October 10, 2010 (or 10/10/10 for those numerology fans). Though the official 10th anniversary of Disneyland Resort Pin Trading isn’t until February 17, 2010, we wanted to celebrate at both locations starting on October 1 (you know, it takes two to make a trade).

Limited Edition 100 pin pictured left; Tribute Collection pin pictured right
For the celebration, we made some incredibly fun pins that I think Guests will love – from the “Limited Edition 100s,” only 100 of each design were made and will be released on the 10th of each month from January to October 2010, to the limited edition “Tribute Collection” that spotlights highly desired or frequently traded pins we have released since the start of Disney Pin Trading.

Original concept sketch for a Cast Member trading lanyard

Speaking of trading, did you know the original Cast Member trading concept called for only one Cast Member to be the “pin trader of the day” in select locations? She or he would have worn a Millennium Celebration lanyard and only traded pins with Guests during that designated day. Can you imagine how popular that Cast Member would have been?

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by Marcio Disney Family Sites Network

Jul 27, 2010

Steven Miller [Chapter 09 / 10] - Would You Like to Trade?

Steven Miller is the Project Manager for Disney Trading and you can see his posts at the Official Disney Parks Blog

[all Text by Steven Miller]

Trading did not exist at Disney Parks when I started my career on the Walt Disney World College Program. As a Merchandise Host at Downtown Disney Pleasure Island during summer 1997, my conversation starter was a bubble blower. The conversation typically began with either a Guest or me yelling, “Bubbles!” Flash forward 13 years and today Cast Members have a phrase that works even better than bubbles – “Would you like to trade?” That “ice breaker to interaction” phrase continues to be the catalyst for trading pins. Now, the phrase has additional meaning with the introduction of Vinylmation figure trading.

Vinylmation Trading

Vinylmation trading was recently introduced to select merchandise locations at Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Cruise Line and soon Disneyland Resort Paris. The whole Vinylmation “spirit of mystery” naturally lends itself to trading. My goal was finding the easiest method for Guests and Cast Members to trade these collectible figures. We landed on using two different types of tools – an open trade box (pictured above) where a Guest can trade for any figure found in the box, and the Mystery Trade box (pictured below), which continues the thrill of the chase. I did try wearing the 3” Vinylmation figures around the office but I looked like Chewbacca (sans hair) with his bandolier.

Vinylmation Trading

The original concept for the mystery trading involved three small silver boxes. Realizing we would need more variety and choice, the Mystery Box 12 was introduced at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, in September 2009. Donald Ferro, the developer for Vinylmation, had Guests trading non-stop for two hours each day during the Expo! We learned three things from that experience – Guests loved trading Vinylmation about as much as they enjoy trading Disney pins; Guests loved trading the Monkey from Park #2 (we had a whole troop of monkeys); and we would need a bigger mystery box. Thus, the Mystery Box 24 was born, and now appears as an extra magical and spontaneous trading experience in select locations.
Vinylmation trading is as easy and fun as Disney Pin Trading. Here are a couple of basic guidelines for Vinylmation Trading. Guidelines are one thing but my best advice is to have fun and collect what you like!

  • The main criteria to judge whether a Vinylmation Figure is tradable or not is that it must bear a ©Disney mark and either a Vinylmation Logo or Art of Disney Theme Parks logo on the bottom foot stamp.
  • Vinylmation Figures should be in good, original, undamaged, tradable condition.
  • Create-Your-Own Vinylmation Figures are not accepted for trade.
  • Guests may only trade for a Vinylmation Figure that is in the same proportion to the one being offered for trade (e.g. 3” Vinylmation Figure for a 3” Vinylmation Figure).
  • Additional items (e.g. packaging, product cards, buttons, etc.) are not required to be offered in trade when trading with Cast Members.
  • Guests may trade a maximum of one (1) Vinylmation Figure per activity, per location, per day.
If you have any trading stories either about Vinylmation or Disney Pins, I’d love to hear them! Happy Trading!

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by Marcio Disney Family Sites Network

Jul 26, 2010

Steven Miller [Chapter 08 / 10] - The Colorful World of Oh Mickey!

Steven Miller is the Project Manager for Disney Trading and you can see his posts at the Official Disney Parks Blog

[all Text by Steven Miller]

Oh Mickey! Vinylmation

This past Spring we introduced the first of our open window box Vinylmation series called “Oh Mickey!” Featuring several colorful designs, this series was first to incorporate the concept of choice with a splash of mystery. In other words, you can choose your favorite 3” figure and then be surprised by the hidden 1.5” figure that is packaged with it. Like that little extra surprise, you may be surprised to learn the “Oh Mickey!” series is part of a much larger program. I recently spoke with Eric Caszatt and Patty Landing, senior graphic designers with Disney Design Group, about the evolution of this art style.

“I started work in Spring 2009 on the ‘Oh Mickey’ style guide,” explained Eric. “It was part of a much larger Walt Disney Company initiative to reinterpret Mickey Mouse for a whole new generation while keeping nods to Mickey’s past. I developed the style guide for this program that would be used for the entire Disney Parks division.”
Oh Mickey! Vinylmation

“Oh Mickey” is part of a “global program,” and the style guide Eric created would be reference material for multiple categories such as softlines (things you wear) and hardlines (all the other items you use, play with, display, trade, read or watch).

You have probably seen these “global programs” before while visiting merchandise locations at Disney Parks and Resorts. They are designed to make statements (merchandise with a common theme) that tell a visual story within merchandise shops.

Oh Mickey! Vinylmation

While Eric created the overall style guide for “Oh Mickey,” Patty Landing worked on some designs aspects for the hardlines division. She explained that Mickey’s expressions were the key to the success of the program.

“We wanted ‘Oh Mickey!’ to be animated and filled with energy,” said Patty. “Mickey Mouse has so many great expressions especially from the 1930s animated shorts. We combined those expressions with bright colors that really popped that gave a fresh new approach to Mickey.”

After completing the style guide, Eric joined the Vinylmation art team. One of his first projects was the development of the “Oh Mickey!” Vinylmation series (talk about perfect timing). He used elements from the style guide he created to design the four fun, graphic intensive 3” figures and six additional 1.5” Vinylmation, Jr. mystery figures. He told me his favorite 3” figure was the white one with a variety of Mickey Mouse’s expressions.

Oh Mickey! Vinylmation

One last little known fact is that the Vinylmation, Jr. figures designed for this series were actually the inspiration for the later Vinylmation, Jr. key chain series.

The first shipment of the 1.5” figures included with the “Oh Mickey!” series don’t have key chains, yet the subsequent orders will. This should make the originals truly unique just like they mouse in which inspired them.

You can download some fun wallpaper and icons inspired by “Oh Mickey!” at:


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by Marcio Disney Family Sites Network

Jul 25, 2010

Steven Miller [Chapter 07 / 10] - This is Vinylmation, Jr.

Steven Miller is the Project Manager for Disney Trading and you can see his posts at the Official Disney Parks Blog

[all Text by Steven Miller]

Thomas Scott, lead designer for Vinylmation with Disney Design Group

“Isn’t it awesome?!” exclaimed Thomas Scott, lead designer for Vinylmation with Disney Design Group, when I recently sat down to discuss his baby, Vinylmation, Jr. I say his “baby” as Thomas was the creator behind this new Vinylmation collectible which is half the size of the original 3-inch figure.

You may recall we first introduced Vinylmation, Jr. at the opening of D-Street at Downtown Disney Westside in April 2010. The story of Vinylmation, Jr., however, began long before the first mystery box was ever sold.
The idea for Vinylmation, Jr. came about the same time as we were looking for ways to add some additional mystery to new open window figures we were creating such as Vinylmation Oh Mickey! and Vinylmation Sports.

The mystery box key chain concept seemed like a natural extension to the 3-inch mystery figures.

“After seeing the first Vinylmation, Jr. designs for ‘Oh Mickey!’ and ‘Sports,’ I realized we could create an entire series based on these simplistic designs that would appeal to a whole new fan,” continued Thomas.

Vinylmation, Jr., Series 1

Thus Vinylmation, Jr. Series #1 was born. Thomas created the concepts for the entire series and enlisted Lisa Badeen of Vinylmation Cutesters fame to assist. In fact, some of Lisa’s handwriting and doodles are found on the packaging.
“What many Guests don’t know is Vinylmation, Jr. was digitally sculpted,” said Thomas. “Unlike the original 3-inch and 9-figures which were first sculpted by hand using clay, the 1.5-inch figure was created on a computer. The manufacturer then used the digital file to create a three dimensional digital print, known as a rapid prototype. The prototype was used to create the mould. So the final figure is exactly how I envisioned it.”

Mickey Mouse Vinylmation, Jr.

Series #1 tells a story with complementing figures. Thomas and Lisa split development based on Thomas’ concepts. But I don’t want to explain too much about the series as I want to see if you can figure out theme.
I asked Thomas if he had a particular favorite figure from Series #1. “The eyeball is my all time favorite,” responded Thomas. “I also like the man eating plant because where else would you see a man eating plant at Disney.” When asked about future Vinylmation, Jr. series, Thomas smiled and gave a semi-cryptic response.

Vinylmation Jr., Series 2

“Vinylmation Series #2 is unofficially called ‘Color Block,’” he said. “The series features designs inspired by some famous colors combinations. I think our Guests will enjoy collecting them all. And it would not be lucky for me to share any information about Series #3.”

Vinylmation, Jr. Series #2 will be released at Disneyland Resort on June 18, 2010. It will be released in Florida on Friday, June 25 at D-Street at Downtown Disney WestSide. It will also be released on the Disney Parks Online Store at a future date. Like its predecessor, Series #2 will contain 16 known figures and two different mystery chasers. Each figure will be packaged in a mystery box, which leaves me asking, “Which one did you get?”

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by Marcio Disney Family Sites Network

Jul 24, 2010

Steven Miller [Chapter 06 / 10] - Creating Your Own Vinylmation and How does it Works?

Steven Miller is the Project Manager for Disney Trading and you can see his posts at the Official Disney Parks Blog

[all Text by Steven Miller]

Vinylmation Park #3 Release Party Guest Book

At the Vinylmation Park #3 release party in November, we introduced a 21st century Guest book – a blank, yellow 9” Vinylmation figure. Anyone who attended this party could sign the Vinylmation to proclaim “I Was There.” The response was overwhelmingly positive and the comments were awesome to read. I’m particularly torn between “Vinylmation Rocks” and “Greetings from Switzerland” as my favorites (yes, the Guests really were from Switzerland – how cool!). This new release party tradition got me thinking about all the things one can do with a blank Vinylmation.

Vinylmation Create-Your-Own Figures

As you may recall from previous articles, Vinylmation began with blank, white Create-Your-Own figures. This month, we’re expanding the color pallet of these blank figures to include Mickey Mouse’s colors – black, red and yellow – as well as pink and purple. The addition of these colors, especially pink, was inspired by a custom figure that Debbie Damato, a fellow product developer for children’s apparel and costumes with Disney Theme Park Merchandise, made “just for fun.”

Jeweled Vinylmation

Debbie decorated these 3” Vinylmation using a toothpick to attach each jewel. She said it took about four hours to complete each figure (two hours were spent just decorating the head!). After she completed the pink jeweled one, she showed Donald Ferro, product developer for Vinylmation, and remarked that the figure would have “popped” even more if the base color was pink. He agreed and thus the blank pink Vinylmation was born.

Chocolate Vinylmation

Our Disney Design Group artists have also created some unique Vinylmation figures. These one-of-a-kind custom figures have been sold at previous release parties. Quynh Kimball from Disney Design Group created the 3” figure pictured above using acrylic paint. I love the way he described it – “a sweet taste of strawberry tops the melted milk chocolate and rich, smooth dark chocolate ‘mouse.’ Savor the chocolate buttons and delicate shavings. A one-of-a-kind indulgence, without the calories.” Wow – I’m hungry.

But you don’t have to be an artist to express your creativity. Here are a couple of other ideas that may inspire you:
  • Newlyweds – In stead of the traditional “guest book” at your reception, use two blank 9” Vinylmation – one for the bride and one for the groom. Have attendees decorate or leave good wishes which can be displayed in your home for years to come. The 3” blank Vinylmation make great cake toppers too.
  • Traveling the World – When visiting Epcot, bring along a blank Vinylmation to have International Cast Members at each of the World Showcase pavilions write greetings in their native languages.
  • 3-D Photo Book – Decoupage a blank Vinylmation with favorite photos or ephemera (theme park maps, FastPass tickets, etc.) from your vacation at Disney Parks.
  • Graduates – Graduates can have fellow classmates sign a blank Vinylmation as you embark on the next chapter of your life.
For those unfamiliar with the “Vinylmation,” don’t worry – here is a brief introduction.

“Vinylmation is about expressing creativity and the mysterious thrill of the chase,” said Donald Ferro, Product Developer for these new vinyl figures, when I asked him to summarize Vinylmation in one sentence.

It’s a thrill for our Disney Artists to who see the Vinylmation figure as a blank canvas. Their inspiration comes from everywhere – Disney Park icons, urban landscapes and even holidays (like the new set mentioned above).

With each figure having a distinctive art style and personality, the difficult part for me is choosing a favorite. I’m still looking for that SMRT-1 figure from the Park Series #1. Any help?

So how does this Vinylmation thing work?

There are a variety of figures to collect – from 3” limited releases to 9” limited edition figures. For 3” limited releases, there are typically 12 figures per series. Eleven figures are known while the twelfth is called the mystery “chaser.” Each 3” Vinylmation is packaged in a “blind pack” – which means you won’t know which figure you’re getting until purchased. The 3” figures are sold individually or you can get a whole tray (which means you’ll find the chaser, and potentially become the best friend to many collectors).

For the Holiday Series #1, there are four additional 9” limited edition figures. Unlike their 3” cousins, the 9” figures are sold sans mystery (or in a window box). The 9” figures have a finite production run, meaning only so many were made. Once a limited edition figure is gone, it’s gone. Sorry.

One of my favorite 9” figures from the new Holiday series was inspired by the “Skeleton Dance,” the first Silly Symphony cartoon released in 1929. I loved the music by Carl Stalling from that animated short. Add it to my favorites!

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by Marcio Disney Family Sites Network

Jul 23, 2010

Steven Miller [Chapter 05 / 10] - Vinylmation ’55 – The Mickey Mouse Club

Steven Miller is the Project Manager for Disney Trading and you can see his posts at the Official Disney Parks Blog

[all Text by Steven Miller]

Band Leader Mickey Mouse Vinylmation

I love Disneyland! My wife and I spent our honeymoon there, and I’ve visited the Resort nearly every year since the start of the new Millennium. There is something so special about the place where Walt Disney walked. That is probably why I’m excited about the new Vinylmation figures inspired by the 55th Anniversary of Disneyland Resort which we are calling “Vinylmation ’55.” I recently spoke with Susan Foy from Disney Design Group about the first two figures from this series – a 9” plus 3” set celebrating the 55th Anniversary of The Mickey Mouse Club (a television show that also made its debut in 1955).

Susan Foy from Disney Design Group

“I started work on the figures in March 2009,” explained Susan. “I remember watching the original series as a child. The first concept I had was a tribute to the Days of the Week which evolved to the little girl and little boy Mouseketeer figures. I watched the show intro many times and remember seeing their cute faces on the curtains.”

Susan was first hired to work on designing merchandise for the opening of Disney California Adventure in 2001. She also created many outstanding designs for the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland Resort in 2005 (has it really been five year since then?). It only seemed natural to have her work on these first two figures for the nostalgic Vinylmation ’55 collection.

Vinylmation ’55 Collection

Susan shared that the girl and boy were originally going to be the 9” figures. Funny thing is the girl kind of reminds me of fellow Disney Parks blogger Michelle Harker (but don’t tell her I said that). The Mouseketeer kids eventually became 3” figures after the idea of creating a combo set was suggested by Donald Ferro, developer for Vinylmation.

Mouseketeers Vinylmation

“With the new combo set in mind, I wanted icons from the show that Guests would remember and would complement the young Mouseketeers,” continued Susan. “I liked the randomness of the Mousegetar. My husband is a musician so maybe that is why I chose that one. I also wanted to feature a character, so band leader Mickey Mouse seemed like a great choice. He is the leader of the club after all! ”

The original design for the Band Leader Mickey Mouse did not contain the baton and plume. Those features were added much later in the design process. Of all the figures we’ve created, the Band Leader Mickey is one of my ultimate favorites. The detail, design and overall look are striking to see in person.

Referencing her original design concept, I asked Susan if she had a favorite day of the week. Some of you may recall each day on the show had a different theme.

“Certainly not Mondays,” laughed Susan. “Fridays are always great but I also like Tuesdays.”

These two figures will be released exclusively at D-Street in Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort. Each set has an edition size of 555. Stay tuned to http://www.Vinylmation.com for a release date and look for more figures coming from the Vinylmation ’55 collection this year.

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by Marcio Disney Family Sites Network

Jul 22, 2010

Steven Miller [Chapter 04 / 10] - Too Cute-sters!

Steven Miller is the Project Manager for Disney Trading and you can see his posts at the Official Disney Parks Blog

[all Text by Steven Miller]

“How cute!” This is the phrase I most commonly hear when someone sees the newest 3-inch Vinylmation figures – the Cutesters. I have to agree – they are pretty cute (it’s probably why we named them “Cutesters” and not the “Girly Series,” which was once a possibility for their name). This series is a departure from the previous Park, Urban and Holiday series we’ve released. I caught up with Lisa Badeen, the artist responsible for their design, to learn more.


“I submitted six designs around December 2008,” explained Lisa. “I thought these figures would make a nice addition to a future Urban series. I never thought they would become their own collection.”


As it turns out, timing is everything. The development team was looking to expand Vinylmation in a new direction by offering a “bright, over the top sweet and cute” (there’s that word again) collection. Before Cutesters, the Vinylmation packaging featured a rather dark palette with mostly black and gray colors. Cutesters would add a much needed “pop” to balance the various series
Lisa explained that she was responsible for not only the 3-inch figure designs but also the packaging for Cutesters.

“I was asked to create the packaging for the Cutesters by Thomas Scott, lead designer for Vinylmation,” continued Lisa. “I pulled different elements from the 12 figures and incorporated those details into the packaging to tell a complete story. Brainstorming the concepts, however, took longer than actually drawing them. There were many concepts that didn’t make the final cut.”

Cutesters Owl

When asked about her favorite figure, Lisa responded, “The owl is my favorite figure! The design is so simple and really fit the Mickey Mouse shaped canvas. In fact, I love the owl so much that I used it in some of the apparel items I also designed.”

Cutesters Apparel

Some of these new apparel items recently made their debut at D-Street, the new Vinylmation Mothership/urban inspired location that opened at Downtown Disney District in California. The bag pictured above (which is my favorite apparel item and according to Lisa has a “few extra secrets”) will fly into stores in Spring 2010.

Speaking of extra surprises, Guests should pay particular attention in this collection for something we haven’t done before. We think it will have you saying . . .

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by Marcio Disney Family Sites Network

Jul 21, 2010

Steven Miller [Chapter 03 / 10] - It’s the Muppet Vinylmation!

[all the Text by Steven Miller]

“It’s the Muppet Show!” As a child of the late 70s, those four words kept me glued to the television every week. I think “Pigs in Space” was my favorite segment, or maybe it was Sam the Eagle. So imagine my excitement upon seeing the new Vinylmation Muppets Series #1. As it turns out, I’m not alone in my love for the Muppets.

Disney Design Group Artist Monty Maldovan

Walk into Disney Design Group artist Monty Maldovan’s office and immediately you’ll see that he really loves the Muppets. Surrounded by various Muppet figures and toys he’s collected, I asked Monty about his fondness for Kermit the Frog and friends.

“I grew up with the Muppets,” said Monty. “I love the characters, the incredibly talented Puppeteers and the Vaudevillian, slapstick humor found in the shows. Jim Henson was a great storyteller much in the same way Walt Disney told great stories.”

Despite his obvious passion, Monty wasn’t specifically approached about creating a Muppets series.

Disney Design Group Artist Monty Maldovan

“The initial work for the Muppets series was started in 2008,” continued Monty. “I started sketching various Muppet figures on a blank template which I thought would work for future Park series. Once I started drawing, I couldn’t stop. I eventually ended up with way more than 12 designs.”
The next step in the process was narrowing down choices for final 12 figures.

“I wanted to include so many of my favorite characters like Sam the Eagle,” said Monty. “But we had to make cuts. I guess that is why we called this ‘Muppets Series #1.’ (Wait, did he imply that Sam the Eagle is coming? Yes!)

 Muppets Series #1

Next up, unique packaging was designed for this series. Taking a cue from the Vinylmation Cutesters series, the packaging needed a point of difference from the Park or Urban collections. Quynh Kimball from Disney Design Group lead the charge.

Muppet*Vision 3-D: Inspiration for Muppets Series #1

“In a way, Monty and I wanted this series to be an extension of the Muppet*Vision 3-D attraction,” explained Quynh. “The packaging needed to have all the fun, whimsical and wacky Muppets sense of humor. We visited the attraction and took pictures for inspiration. Many details from those photos made it onto the final packaging.”
Look for the Vinylmation Muppets Series #1 arriving in February at select Walt Disney World Resort locations and in March at select Disneyland Resort locations.

Steven Miller is the Project Manager for Disney Trading and you can see his posts at the Official Disney Parks Blog

Follow the links below to see our daily posts:

The Walt Disney World Picture of the Day
The Disney's Pin of the Day
The Disney's Vinylmation of the Day

The Daily Mickey [Comics]

The Daily Donald [Comics + Cartoons]

Fun Fact of the Day

This Day in Disney History

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by Marcio Disney Family Sites Network

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