While I make it a hobby to track down and photograph characters, I am no autograph hound. In fact, I don’t recall ever obtaining a single Disney character autograph on purpose — until now that is. After several days on site, I needed a new way to occupy my time and when something caught my eye at The Animation of Disney shop in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it was love at first sight. Or a new hobby anyway. There on the counter was a 9″ Vinylmation blank decked out with several character signatures. I fought the urge for a while but there was just no walking away from it, I had to try it.
So for $39.95, I walked away with a Vinylmation blank and a fine-point sharpie given to me by the cast member at the store (they really ought to sell sharpies there too). And over the next two-and-a-half days, as time allowed, I tracked down every single character I could find and got them to sign my Mickey. Even Mr. Incredible, who normally uses a rubber stamp, signed him.
The idea itself really is novel, if not awkward, and I think it should provide a really good springboard for new )and hopefully less-expensive) autograph-related products. Let’s face it, we all (well, not me) do the autograph books and for most who manage to keep them around, they sit on the shelf for most of the time. Here we have a three-dimensional, tangible object that does its best work when it does the exact same thing and sits on a shelf.
So after two-and-a-half days and gathering a total of 61 autographs, I learned a few things that might help the next poor unfortunate soul who follows suit.
First, the fine-point sharpie (or even a ball-point pen) is a must. Especially when dealing with face characters who can be very nimble, particularly with signing in dwindling spaces and have intricate autographs. Characters with bigger hands didn’t seem to have as much an issue with the fine-point itself, but were challenged when it turns out the first sharpie I had was about to die. Which leads to the next tip:
Make sure the sharpie (or whatever) is in amazing shape. If it is, writing on the vinyl figure will be smooth and dark. You can use the bottom of the feet to test the autograph pen (unless you have other plans for his normally not-visible bottom).
There seemed to be an issue with touching him, particularly when signatures were fresh. They wouldn’t be immediately affected, but over time, areas that got touched a lot seemed to fade really fast and would sometimes smudge. For this reason (and the next), I recommend physically handling him as little as possible. When toting him around, don’t flaunt him, put him in a bag (or at least flaunt him in a clear bag).
People (and characters) will love him. Kids will become downright obsessed with him and won’t think twice about picking him up if he’s left vulnerable and checking him out.
A semi-tip: The eyes pictured on my Mickey were courtesy of Pluto. It seems you can get away with decorating the face a little bit as characters seemed hesitant to ‘tattoo’ it anyway (although the eyes made that situation even more clear) and still have room for autographs.
Bottom line, despite the imperfections that accumulated during the process, I’m proud of my Autograph Mickey and the slightly smudged memories that come with it.