Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Reflections on 13 Reflections of Evil

Note: If some of the photos from this article look familiar, it's probably because I'm a writer for My series of articles reviewing the 13 Reflections of Evil Trading Event in a more straightforward manner can be viewed on that site. This is a more personal view of a unique spectacle.

Nothing will make you appreciate villainy more than the Florida interstate. After the third driver tailgates my vehicle or cuts me off, swear words begin to flow from under my breath without thought. I begin to curse those poor unfortunate souls, wish for friends on the other side, and feel a little bit of Cruella de Vil in my heart. I know the unrighteous fury that comes with being a Disney villain, and so I am now ready for the day's events.

On this particular Sunday morning, I'm on my way to the 13 Reflections of Evil Trading Event. This is Disney's annual showcase event for pins and Vinylmations, their two main collectibles that generate a steady income from a devoted fan base. The annual events are not some tribute to dedicated fans, however, but big business in themselves, with admission prices starting at $65 per person and lots of expensive merchandise for sale as well. Every year features a different theme, and Reflections of Evil is devoted to Disney's animated villains, a popular and lucrative part of the empire.

Savvy collectors are willing to pay the price because the events are a unique opportunity. The items given to all attendees sell online for as much as the price of admission or more, and some items for sale will only rise in value over the years. Not everyone comes for profit, of course, with many taking the chance to expand their collections with items only available once or year, or by expert trading with other dedicated fans.

I have a duel purpose of my own for attending the event. I am an obsessive collector at heart, and the random nature of blind boxed Vinylmation figures calls to a particularly addictive part of my psyche. However, I'm also attending to experience this unique exhibition to give an outsider's impressions. I've been writing about Vinylmation for nearly a year now, but I still feel outside most of the collecting community and its idiosyncrasies. This event is a chance to see the culmination of a year's worth of collecting activity, in the center of the kind of spectacle Disney makes a specialty.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Dangers of Vinylmation Mania


Collecting Vinylmation, Disney's line of designer vinyl figures, requires a little bit of crazy. Like most collecting hobbies, it requires the inherent acceptance that colored mounds of plastic are somehow worth twelve dollars or more. They are great pieces of pop art and design, but it's still quite a lot of money for mass produced plastic. Most people collect something, either consciously or unconsciously, so it's definitely something all people share to some extent. However, Disney collectibles seems to inspire new levels of madness. We'll dub this "Vinylmation Mania."

What is the cause of Vinylmation Mania? Maybe it's the effect of inhaling plastic fumes from freshly opened figures one too many times. It could be the rush of blood to the wallet from the brain upon the first sight of overpriced Ebay auctions. Some people might just have taken one too many blows to the head in the melee of a new release buying frenzy.

Whatever the reason, some people take the collecting hobby so seriously, they suddenly abandon all human decency. Whether collecting for personal fulfillment or profit, these individuals will do anything to gain an advantage. What follows are some personal observations of this phenomena. I have seen Vinylmation Mania in action, and it is not a pretty sight.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Videogameopolis: Gone Home

Over the years, I've experienced truly bizarre and fantastic things through the medium of video games. When I was a child, I explored fantasy worlds as Italian plumbers and a menagerie of anthropomorphized animals. As a teenager, I was a street fighter through Street Fighter and fought Hitler's army more times than I can count in first person shooters. Even as an adult, I've witnessed games that create immersive fantasy worlds that would have made my younger self faint, but only elicit minor excitement now.

Why then, with all this amazing escapism, am I most impressed and enchanted with a video game where you explore a large but mundane suburban home? Gone Home is that game, and it's one of the most refreshing experiences I've had in a long time.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

? Pounds to Disneyland?: Changes

The continuing tales of one chunky Disney fan's personal quest to lose 80 pounds and visit Disneyland, in that order.  
See my first 80 Pounds to Disneyland post for all the details.

Last time I updated, the weight loss had gone on hiatus. This was a temporary delay while my wife recovered from her ankle injury. Soon, I would be headed back toward healthiness, working toward that grand goal of Disneyland.

Life had other plans, it seems. About the time my wife was able to walk normally again, I came down with a minor cough. This cough lingered for a week, then it proceeded to turn into a constant purge of lung-locked mucus. Fatigue and listlessness took over my body, and the days became a blur of barely conscious living. I finally gave into common sense and visited the doctor, who proudly announced like a game show host that I had a nasty case of bronchitis. A week of antibiotics, steroidal inhalers, and lots of rest later, I realized that another month had passed and my weight loss had started to reverse itself.

This isn't to say I'm giving up on my weight loss. Yesterday was the first day resuming my workout routine. I'm also back to eating healthier, something that's going to make life a little darker and less delicious for a while. However, I refuse to weigh myself until I've spent a couple weeks back in the routine. I know the first time weighing myself if going to be depressing, but I want the impact to be a little less severe. My natural reaction to bad news is to eat, after all.