Sunday, May 11, 2014

My Pin Obsession

Yeah, yeah... I'm still alive.

So today, I wanted to talk a little about my Disney Pin collection, my love of my pins, and exactly the lengths my obsession has taken me.

I started collecting pins on a trip I took to WDW in college back in December of 2000. There were a lot of memorable things that happened on that particular trip (my first visit to AK being probably the most memorable), but probably the thing that's had the greatest impact on my day-to-day life is that I discovered Disney Pins.

I know that Pins have been a thing to collect for people for a long time. Olympic pins are always very popular, especially, but it seems that around late 1999 Disney started creating waves and waves of collectible lapel pins, and the popularity of them shot through the roof from the start.

Truly it is one of the great ways to inexpensively (hahaha) commemorate a trip. You liked that new ride? Get a pin! You loved staying at that hotel? Get a pin! You were there on Halloween? Get a pin! It's a lot of fun, and potentially something that can last a long, long time without a huge monetary investment like snowglobes or something. Of course, that doesn't take into consideration the epic volume of pins a crazy person like me will purchase, but in theory, it's not too pricey.

So... I think on that first trip I bought between 10 and 15 pins, and they were all ranging between 4 and 8 dollars. There were very few Limited Edition pins in those days, at least in the parks, and they certainly weren't to the point of having monetary tiers. I remember looking at them over and over after my trip and just thinking about how cool it was, how ornate they were, and how much I wanted more.

Disney Pins are how I found my way to eBay.

I'm pretty sure I registered within a week of my return, and boy oh boy has eBay been a blessing and a curse when it comes to my spending and pin collecting. Over the past almost 15 years, I've had to place limits on my eBay purchases. The 'Buy it Now" option was crippling to my wallet for a while. The explosion of Limited Edition pins, Disney Auction Pins, Special Event Pins... eBay has been the life blood of my collection, and has arguably driven me into the poorhouse. I have over 500 eBay transactions, and I'd bet that easily 450 of them have been pin-related.

I've given myself limitations on eBay by focusing on smaller segments of pins.
1) Captain Hook pins
2) Expedition Everest pins
3) Completing L.E. Sets I started during a park trip.

There have been occasional hiccups to this, largely as a result of well-intentioned gifts that happen to trigger my OCD. My dad sent me a couple of Star Wars Mystery Pins, and I found myself compelled to complete the set on eBay.

As I've gotten older, planned my own Disney vacations, and made more money, my trips to WDW have largely centered around figuring out ways to collect as much money as possible beforehand JUST to purchase pins. I'm sort of embarrassed to say it, but I've come home with more than 70 pins at least 4 times.

Much like on eBay, I have to create rules for myself, so that I don't just randomly buy ALL of the pins..
1) I will buy pins for attractions ONLY if I've experienced that attraction on that trip... So... For the longest time I'd not ridden Mission Space, so I wouldn't allow myself to purchase any Mission Space pins. I try to even limit myself to rides I've ridden for the first time on any given trip.
2) I'm only allowed to buy 1 "PARK" pin for each park, so for example I can't by 4 different AK Tree of Life pins on a trip.
3) I can only buy resort pins for resorts in which I've stayed. Same with restaurants.
4) I've allowed myself to only purchase the "Classic Mickey Country" pins for the countries in Epcot in which I've had a meal. (I've got all of them except Norway).
5) I can only get LE Event pins if the Event occurred during my stay.

I'm sure there are others i'm not thinking of....

The one thing I really don't enjoy is the trading aspect. I love trading for Cast Member pins in the parks, but I've found the Pin Trader Community to be populated with unpleasant, unfriendly, way-too-serious weirdos who are constantly trying to screw you over. It's not that much fun. I'm pretty glad Disney forced the Pin Sharks out of the Downtown Disney area. Those people kinda bummed me out, even though I've found some exceptional pins in their binders in the past.

I even randomly was staying at Disneyland during a pin trading event, and after walking around for half an hour, I wanted nothing more than to leave.

Basically, what I'm trying to say with all of this, is that I love collecting pins, and over 15 years I've amassed a fairly substantial collection. About 2 years ago I started wanting to find a way to display my pins. I was always bummed that they basically stayed hidden away in bags and binders in a closet. I've spent way too much time and money to not be able to look at them in a cool way. I spent a lot of time during the Summer of 2012 looking at all kinds of weird "Display case" type things, and found that so many of them are extremely expensive, or not exactly what I wanted.

Most people would either settle, or give up... Me? I decided to learn woodworking, and build my own.

A friend of mine is a professional woodworker, and I asked him if I could essentially apprentice him for a Summer during my free time and work toward building my very own Disney Pin Display Case. Thankfully, he agreed, and we got started.

We ended up spending about 6 months together working on various small projects, learning techniques, and eventually designing and building a gigantic, two-tiered display case. I was lucky to have him, because it was very hard. He had a knee surgery during the time, and for a large majority of the building of it, he was directing me while I did the actual work.

I don't know how many people can say that their Disney Pin collection has helped them learn an actual skill, but I know that I am one of them. I've continued my woodworking hobby, but I've still never done anything quite as substantial.

Here are the photos of the crown jewel of my Disney Pin Collection. Made with Ash (The body) and Ambrosia Maple (the front of the drawers). Built entirely from scratch. We bought the raw lumber, milled it down, planed, jointed, and assembled.


  1. I Proud to see your Disney pins collection .........!!

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  2. Nice blog, thanks for sharing the information. I will come to look for update. Keep up the good work.
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  3. Now this is an impressive case for your pin collection. I have a large ( and slowly growing ) collection of GHQ gaming miniatures that I built a case for about 15 years ago. It has eight 12" x 18" drawers that are near capacity. The time has come to build a new, larger one and your case has given me some good ideas. Those sliding drawer rails, for one!


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