Some of the best moments at conventions come from talking to random people. Sometimes (often) this happens in line, for lack of anything better to do. Sometimes it happens because there isn’t anywhere else to sit while looking for somewhere to eat, and someone is kind enough to let you join them. This is what happened to me when I was trying to get a bite to eat at the line of food tricks outside of the D23 Expo.
I’m not a pin collector, but I usually have a few on my person. In this case, it’s a replica Hydra pin, an SSR emblem, and a S.H.I.E.L.D. logo on my lanyard. While eating, a young man of around ten years old walked up to me and asked if I wanted to trade. I told him I don’t really collect pins, but the older gentleman across the table from me did, and for the next 30 minutes or so I talked to this young man, his dad, and this older gentleman about pins, collectors culture, and various other things.
Pins have become a big deal for companies like Marvel and Lucasfilm, now that they are owned by Disney. For the last several major conventions there have been pins at the Marvel booth and more on sale at Celebration. Pins have been part of the Disney experience going back years, and talking to a young man and his dad about the concept of collector’s items was an interesting experience.
The first thing that has come become abundantly clear to this new generation of pin collectors is that it’s less about how rare the pin is, but more about who’s on it. This young man had a few rare pins, but he was mostly looking for anything with Star Wars on it. He was incredibly excited about the few “cast only” pins he had. He was very proud of his collection, considering he only started seriously collecting a few months ago, and Dad seemed pretty on board.
Dad did seem a little bewildered about the entire thing, though. We spoke about the concept of “trade bait”, or the idea of purchasing pins for the sole purpose of using them to trade for other items later. I also told him that betting on your collection becoming valuable is not the best way of going about collecting, which is something he had considered. I used the analogy of comics and Star Wars toys, pointing out that collectors items need to be worth next to nothing before they can be worth something. The bottom of the market needs to fall out before it really turns around, which is something Funko fans don’t want to ever talk about.
The main takeaway, as this young man excitedly let me look at his collection of pins, is that the next generation of Disney fans is on board. While the adult fan is important, if we don’t bring the next generation in on all aspects of collecting. Fans of all of these things at Disney, from the cartoons, to the live action movies, to Marvel, to Star Wars, to collecting, need to bring the next generation in on it. They are the future, and if kids collecting pins are half as excited as the young man I talked to was? The future is in good hands.