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Old 08-25-2014, 11:43 AM   #1
ValarDisneyus's Avatar
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Pins or Charms?


My Squeaker (DD) is 4, we're planning a trip for February. It's all of our first times, so we won't have any pins going into it or anything, and I'm not sure she's really mature enough to understand trading anyway. She will want to keep all of her pins and also get the best pin someone else has, I fear, though I could be mistaken.

SO-should I start us all pin trading, or should I get her a charm bracelet she can build over the years? And, for those who suggest the pins are good, how do you get such a young Princess started off well?

Thanks in advance!

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Old 08-29-2014, 02:35 PM   #2
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In terms of charm bracelets, the parks sell lots of charms. They're usually in displays in the jewelry type area of the shops. I've seen all sorts of charms (princesses, Disney characters, etc.). It can be as pricey as pins, but it's also fun.

Some information about pin trading:
Pin trading can be a lot of fun, but it can also be very addictive and expensive! I love to trade pins and it's a major part of my trips to Disney, but I only trade with Cast Members. Essentially, you purchase some pins (there are many options for where, how, etc.) and then take them with you. You'll see CMs that are wearing lanyards (either neck or hip) of varying colors (e.g., black, maroon, green/teal). The green/teal lanyards are for trading with children only. When you see a CM with a lanyard, you just go up to them and ask if you may look at their pins. If you see one you like, you offer to trade one of your pins for that pin. Aside from a few limitations, the CMs cannot refuse a trade.

The CMs can only refuse to trade if the pin you are offering is already on their lanyard (i.e., a duplicate), if the pin is not in good condition (i.e., scratched image, broken, etc.), not a Disney pin (no Disney copyright on the back), or not a pin (i.e., buttons cannot be traded). For the CMs, they only have to trade the pins on their lanyards, so any service pins that they might be wearing on their costume or nametags are not for trading.

Disney has published some guidelines:

In addition to the neck or hip lanyards that CMs may be wearing, you may also find pin boards or books. Those can have lots pins to look at. I've seen a board at the Frontierland Pin Trading Shop and a book at the Buena Vista Street Pin Shop on a fairly consistent basis. Other boards/books may only come out at certain times.

In terms of the CMs that wear lanyards, look in the shops, at the ride entrances, janitorial, management, and (sometimes) security. The ride operators and loaders tend not to have lanyards.

Costs: Pin trading can be very expensive, especially if you buy pins after you get to Disney. Disney sells individual pins (don't buy these for trading) and starter/booster sets. Starter/Booster sets are usually sets of 7 or so pins for about $30. If you run out of pins or decide to start trading after you've arrived, booster/starter sets are your best bet. Other sources include the Disney Stores, Disney Outlets, DisneyStore.com, etc. I would keep an eye on the DisneyStore.com's clearance section for good deals. You can also buy pins on eBay, but be careful. Those can often be scrappers/fakes, especially if they're cheap (e.g., less than a few dollars per pin).

Caveats: there are a few other things worth noting about trading. The first are the "professional" traders and the second are "scrappers".

Professional Traders: My advice is to be wary of the professional pin traders. These are the non-CM traders that are sometimes found outside of the store in Tomorrowland, Frontierland, and over in DTD (they might be elsewhere, but that's where I've seen them). These folks do not have to trade with you nor do they have to adhere to the Disney trading guidelines (e.g., one pin for one pin). I'm sure some of them are nice folks, but I would be cautious when approaching them for a trade because for many of them this is a business so they're out to get the most valuable/expensive pins possible from you. So if they will trade your pin for their's, that's probably fine. If they ask you go buy a pin or pins for them, I'd walk away. If you're new to pin trading and do not have a sense of the value (in terms of dollars) of the various pins, I'd avoid the professional traders.

Scrappers, Counterfeits, and Fakes: The second issue is scrappers, conterfeits, and fakes. For some folks this matters, for others it does not. You'll need to decide which camp you are in before you get heavily into pin trading. To the average pin trader, I don't think the difference between a scraper, fake, or counterfeit really matters (because none of thse are legitimate pins), but there are slight differences.

Basically a scrapper is a pin that looks legitimate, but is not. It can be a factory overrun (i.e., the factory was contracted to make 1 million, but they made 1.1 million instead) or a pin that has some kind of error that should have been "scrapped". A counterfeit pin is a copy of legitamite pin made by someone that was not authorized by Disney. A fake is a pin design that was never authorized by Disney.

Unfortunately, it's not always easy to tell what pin designs are fake unless you know a lot about pins and what designs have been released. These pins can often look like legitimate designs and may contain all of the markings (e.g., copy right) to look legitimate, but they are not. You'll often be able to tell a scrapper/counterfeit because the colors are weird/off or the back stamp (the copy right) is wrong/missing/damaged. Others say you can tell because they feel "rough" or the edges are sharp/pronounced. Sadly, there is no sure fire way to tell a scrapper/counterfeit. It's worth noting that if you do end up trading with CM, the CM lanyards tend to be filled with scrappers, counterfeits, and (to a less extent) fakes. So if you really dislike scrappers/counterfeit, I would avoid trading with CMs. That's the crux of the argument: those that dislike scrappers/counterfeits feel they cheapen the trading and make it not worthwhile. Those that don't care, tend to say that they like the pin, so it doesn't really matter if it's a scrapper/counterfeit or not (they also say that if you can't tell, does it really matter?). Both points are valid.

eBay: eBay is a popoular source for pins, but it can be a tough place to buy legitimate (i.e., non-scrapper) pins. The general rule of thumb is that you buy a "lot" of pins (e.g., 25-pins) and the price per pin is less than a couple of dollars each, you're likely buying scrappers. Also, if you buy pins that come in little baggies (instead of pin cards like the ones you see at the stores in WDW/DLR), those are more likely to be scrappers as well. My recommendation is to look for sellers that are selling pins still on their backing and/or unopened booster sets (also still on their cardboard backing wrapped in plastic). In truth, unless you only buy from Disney directly, it is hard to say whether you'll get scrappers or not.

Last edited by figment_jii; 08-29-2014 at 03:11 PM.
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Old 08-29-2014, 04:25 PM   #3
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This is AWESOME info. I think pin trading would be fun, but I'm torn over a few things. I want to get my daughter pins when she rides something she wasn't sure about/overcomes a fear, does something nice, or has a really special memory on a day. Like if she dances with Tink, get a Think pin to remember to tell the story, right?
Trading is fun for socializing with other huge Disney fans.
But then, for trading....who would want to trade their memories? So....I don't know how to get the best of both.

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Old 08-29-2014, 04:31 PM   #4
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From what I remember, there are more ride-specific pins than there are charms. There are character charms (e.g., Tinkerbell, the Princesses, Mickey, etc.). At her age, I would probably opt to start both collections, but to not do the pin trading. Trading is a lot of fun, but I would probably wait until she's old enough to understand and enjoy it.

The charm bracelet is something you can start at WDW, but you could look for charms wherever you travel; the same goes for pins. You can start both at Disney and see which one interests her more and then continue that in the future.
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Old Today, 10:57 AM   #5
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I did the same thing with my DS when he was younger. If he rode a ride that he was too scared off, or at least if we wanted a memory, I would get a pin. I also got him these pins that look like ribbons in order to "honor" hips bravery. Back in 2007, he was only 7 but big enough to ride space mountain. When I first tried to take him on it he got scared in line so we left the ride. Four days later we were at the MK and only had two hours before it was time for us to leave the park and head for the airport when he decided (put of the blue) to ride space mountain. We ran over to the ride, got on it and he did it this time. I just HAD to buy him a space mountain pin for doing that and being so brave. Fast forward to our trip to DLR this year in August, he was going through his pins to decide what he might want to trade and he saw the pin and said "hey dad, do you remember that you gave this to me because I went on SM? I thought that was great he remembered. My DD has a number of pins she got too and she had to remind me of the "hidden Mickey" pins that she had....I had forgotten that there are some with "hidden mickeys" on them. I think that was really cool that they kept the memories that I had so hoped they would. (Opposed to the memories of fighting over this and that or complaining about the heat, etc). It makes me smile even now.
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charm bracelet, first trip, pin trading

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