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MouseStation 368 - Can I See Your Lanyard?

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On today's show, Mark talks with Steven Miller about Disney Pin Trading (and coming soon, Disney Vinylmation Trading).

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Feature: Disney Pin Trading

Steven Miller is Product Manager for Disney Trading, and he was kind enough to join Mark for a conversation on November 13.

Vinylmation trading is coming soon. Vinylmation was introduced in November 2008. There was a test of Vinylmation mystery trading at the D23 Expo and it was very successful, so Disney will be expanding it.

Steven joined pin team in November 2003 at Walt Disney World for years, and took on responsibility for trading at Disneyland in March as well. He had always worked with the team at Disneyland, so he doesn't feel that it's a big change for him.

Pin Trading started in 1999 as part of the Millennium Celebration, and was originally only supposed to last for the 15 months that the celebration was scheduled to last. The way that it took off surprised everyone, and over the last 10 years it has become something that everyone can do regardless of their age or their trading goals.

Mark noted that the pin lanyards also make cast members more approachable, and Steven agreed that it has been a great way to connect cast members with guests. In addition, by looking at the pins on a guest's lanyard, it becomes a great way to find a conversation starter.

There are monthly pin trading events at both resorts, at Paradise Pier ballroom in California and a ballroom at the Contemporary Resort in Florida. There are many regulars at these events, and many have become friends over the years. At one point there was an attempt to start pin trading at Disney Stores, but it never really caught on. However, there have been regional groups that have been successful at creating ongoing pin events, such as the Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders. There have been some unofficial pin trading clearinghouse sites that have cropped up, as well. It has been going very well at Disney Stores in the United Kingdom, and Disney may take another look at bringing it back in the future. There has been a strong response to pin trading at Disney resorts all around the world.

There have been a lot of changes taking place in the pin trading communities on the Internet and at the parks. There has been some stratification with some just trading for fun, some collecting specific themes, and some looking to fill specific collections and being completists for certain areas. The collectibles have received a tremendous response and there are many who are very enthusiastic about picking up the special limited editions.

After mentioning John Corigliano's well-known 50-pound pin vest, Mark incorrectly remembered John's dinosaur Dino, who wears a miniature pin vest, thinking instead that it was a stuffed Stitch. Mark also mentioned Paul Torrigino's Web site, as Steven is a Tiki collector.


John Corigliano's 50-pound pin vest, exclusively decorated with Lilo & Stitch pins. This is the December 2005 edition. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Instead of doing a separate Twitter/Facebook poll this week, Mark solicited questions for Steven from Twitter followers and Facebook friends and asked Steven to answer as many as possible.

In response to questions regarding the selection of subjects and designs for pins, Steven noted that there should be at least one of every character and topic. Everyone has a different idea of what pins are cool and what subjects are the most important, so they try to make sure that there's at least something for everyone.

It takes 180-200 days for each pin to go from conception to sales floor, and it goes through many hands in the process. It starts with a product developer, who then works with a planner, then various members of the Disney Design Group, and the Disney Trading group. In fact, they're already planning for Fiscal Year 2011, which starts in October 2010.

It's hard to come up with ideas that please everyone. One thing that you may see in the future is a single celebratory pin that is distributed at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, for example, perhaps a St. Patrick's Day pin. There may also be more "chaser pins" as part of collections. There will also be unique pins for each coast. Open edition pins may be released anywhere, but limited editions may be sold only in certain locations. There will also continue to be special event pins, though some of the event logo pins may be open editions that can be purchased elsewhere.

There will be some fun special collections to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Pin Trading, such as the Limited Edition 100s collection, where there will be limited editions of 100 pins to be released on the 10th of each month from January through October (there will be two collections, one each for Disneyland and Walt Disney World). Find the DeeBees, the Tribute Collection, Chasers and more will be highlights of the year in pins.

All decision making for pins takes place in Florida, in consultation with the teams at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. As far as special editions or sets, decisions are made on the basis of affinity. The big focus for Disneyland's Summer Pin Festival next year will be Dateline: Disneyland, honoring the grand opening event for the park on its 55th anniversary (there will likely be pins commemorating Walt Disney World's 40th anniversary in 2011). There will also be a continuation of the Piece of History pin series.

For more information on Disney Pins, you can go to DisneyPins.com. There's even a blog there with cool information. For more on Vinylmation, check out Vinylmation.com. On November 20, the Park 3 series was released at Walt Disney World, Disneyland and Disneyland Paris.

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Thanks to our audio engineer and sound editor Steven Ng.

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The MouseStation crew (@MouseStation) currently consists of Mark Goldhaber (@MPMark) and Mike Demopoulos (@MPMike).