collector lapel trading pins and disney

Dream a little dream of Disney Trading Pins!

As we’ve blogged about before, the hobby of Disney pin trading is so popular and widespread among fans of Disney theme parks and movies that it even comes with its own code of conduct and rules for trading pins.

But what about pin traders who break these rules? A problem many collectors encounter, especially those new to the pastime, is unwittingly coming across unauthorized trading pins — aka “scrapper pins.”

Never heard of these? Essentially, they are pin “bootlegs” made from original Disney molds that are somehow obtained after the company’s original  production run ends. Other scrapper pins are made from completely different molds created by “knock off” producers.

Unfortunately, these cheap imitations frequently make their way into pin trading circulation. Scrapper pins are typically purchased first from eBay and other resale sites. In one common scenario, a family heading to Disney wants to trade pins, so the parents go on eBay and purchase a lot of 50 pins for $5, believing they are getting a real bargain. As they trade pins with cast members at the park, they may unknowingly put up to 50 scrapper pins into circulation — until someone with a keen enough eye catches the fakes.

How can you avoid falling prey to scrapper pins? Here’s what to be on the lookout for in these fakes and counterfeits:

–   Scrapper pins tend to have a low-quality look and feel, whether it’s faded or “off” colors (i.e., Mickey Mouse’s pants are purple instead of red), air bubbles in the cloisonné (colored enamel), a missing Disney backstamp, or a misspelling on the backstamp. One pin we saw misspelled Disney as Difney!

–   Pins that do not show a Disney character but still contain the ©Disney backstamp. For example, one observant pin trader caught a Precious Moments pin with ©Disney on the back, though Disney does not produce Precious Moments. It was quickly determined the pin was a fake.

–   When first released, a typical Disney trading pin costs upwards of $10-20. With the hobby as popular as it is, it is just unrealistic to think that anyone would be willing to part with their “personal collection” of 50 pins for $5. On eBay, if you look closely at this type of seller’s history, you will probably find they have numerous “personal collections” for sale at all times, and for rock bottom prices. If it sounds too good to be true, when it comes to pin trading, it probably is.

–   Beware pins that are listed as brand new/never used, but do not come with the original pin backing or packaging Disney uses for special groupings of pins.

–   Some knock offs contain Disney characters and images that have never been included on original Disney pins. This may be easier to pull off when it comes to pins that are just being released. For example, Disney will soon release a special set of pins commemorating its new movie, Great and Powerful Oz. If you aren’t familiar with what these news pins look like, it can be easy to think a knock off — also showing an image or character from this movie — is the real thing. Browse the Disney pin trading site, http://eventservices.disney.go.com/pintrading/index, to get a better sense of what authentic pins look like.

Where you trade your pins also matters. Online trading may make it difficult to accurately evaluate pins before accepting them. At Disney theme parks, trading with park characters wearing lanyards makes it possible to see the pin’s quality up close before making the trade.

Pin trading nights held throughout the year at various Disney properties are a good way for beginners to get their feet wet in the hobby and learn more about pins. What’s nice about these events is that having well-respected collectors present raises the level of trading, without the worry about knockoffs.

Want to give it a try? The next Disney pin trading event is coming up March 15, 2013, and will be held at from 5 pm – 8 pm at the Disney Paradise Pier Hotel, Disneyland Resort, in Anaheim.  http://eventservices.disney.go.com/pintrading/event?id=65096

Happy trading!