Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Epcot 30th Reveal/Conceal Set Review

This was my most anticipated set since I began collecting Disney pins 3 years ago. On February 21, the 24 pin Epcot 30th Reveal/Conceal series was released at Walt Disney World. The set celebrates the 30th anniversary of Epcot with 12 revealed pins featuring mostly Disney Characters interacting with various attractions around the park. The 12 concealed pins have more of a retro feel, representing various pavilions and historical items. This set lived up to every expectation I had, but I decided to challenge myself and rank the 24 from favorite to absolute favorite (I don't dislike a single one). By the way, I just found out this series was designed by John Henselmeier and Quynh Kimball. Sometimes an artist just connects with your personal likes and almost can't go wrong when they design merchandise. To me, John Henselmeier is to pins what Maria Clapsis is to Vinylmation. For those of you who listen to the Destination Vinylmation podcast, you know what high praise that is.

In a future article, I will discuss some Epcot memories overlooked for this set, that I hope will be in future sets. But in this article, we will start by taking a look at the set as a whole. The revealed pins are on the card backs with the concealed pin that was found inside it's box directly to its right.

Now, here are my rankings:

24. Test Track
It may be the fastest ride in the park, but this pin pulls into last place in this set. It's similar to rack pin designs we have seen before. Since I do not see the innovation here that I see in other pins, coupled with the fact that I'm not fond of the attraction itself, this pin is in 24th. It is however cool to note that this is now really a throwback pin, as the ride has been updated (for the better in my opinion). Goofy as a Test Track dummy is a wonderful touch.

23. World Showcase Bus
I love the fact that he included this, but this bus doesn't stand up to the attachment I have to the other attractions represented in this set. I do appreciate the execution of the design.

22. Flower and Garden
A fun design, but it drops on the list a bit because we are bombarded with plenty of Flower and Garden festival pins each year. It does however grow on me every time I look at it.

21. Mission Space
Because I like the design of all the pins, the rankings have to be partially based on my personal preference to the characters and the attraction. Although this spinner is the perfect way to showcase Mission Space, it can not lift off the ground any higher than 21st place. A big plus to John however for including some recognizable symbols from the ride.

20. Finding Nemo
A little bit the same here as with above. I like the idea of the pin on pin element making it look like a fish tank, but when we are overloaded with Finding Nemo pins on every rack, this one gets lost in the big blue world of Disney pins.

19. World Showcase Logo
It was very hard to drop this one down so low. This is one of my favorite logos in all of Walt Disney World. (that's a statement only a real Disney geek can make) But we do have a smaller Hidden Mickey pin like this and we saw this logo represented on a couple pins in previous Epcot 30th releases. This one gets bonus points for its size and detail.

18. Innoventions
Sorry Mr. Tom Morrow, but there are just more interesting pins in this series than you. But this simple design is a welcome addition to a Tom Morrow lacking pin catalog. He should really get paged more often to appear on merchandise.

17. Walt Disney and EPCOT Map
I can't believe I dropped this beautiful pin so low. But honestly, the only reason it is this high on my list is the beautiful 60's font on the writing below the photo. This pin had to be in this set, although we saw better versions among the WDW 40th pin releases.

16. Food and Wine
This one suffers from the same problem as the Flower and Garden pin. We see many Food and Wine Festival pins each year. In fact, it probably gained a few spots because I am Donald Duck partial. But I'm a sucker for World Showcase silhouettes. And there are DUCKS DRESSED UP AS FOOD!!!

15. Journey Into Imagination
WHAT!!?? Nick is ranking a Dreamfinder/Figment pin in the middle of the pack? Only because I have seen better. I'm sure f the pin celebrating Journey's 30th didn't just come out, this one would have been up a few spots. As perfect as this design is, I gave a better grade to some attractions we just don't see much of these days.

14. Epcot 2000
I may be in the minority, but I liked the Sorcerer arm and wand on the big ball... but I can agree it overstayed it's welcome. Tapestry of Nations is also an under rated and under represented moment in WDW history. This pin is a must in any Epcot celebration set.

13. Honey, I Shrunk the Audience
I never loved this attraction and I don't care for Pluto... but this pin ranks so high because it struck me as simply brilliant. Having a huge Pluto burst over the audience to represent the dog in the film, coupled with the Imagination Institute logo... make this pin a win!

12. Soarin'
I'll be honest, Goofy on a hang glider doesn't do much for me. This pin gets a lift in the rankings due to the four seasons balloons that hang high above the inside of the pavilion. It is the sights, sounds and smells of the Land Pavilion that make it one of my favorites. The artist masterfully combining a couple of the elements found there, give this pin the edge over some others in this set.

11. Commemorative Program
Just a smart design from an artist who really appreciates Epcot. The front is a classic piece of concept art. The inside graphic is the well recognized image of Spaceship Earth used to promote the park. And the Walt Disney quote is the icing on the cake. This pin would be higher if not for another retro design that I liked more.

10. Spaceship Earth
We have so many Spaceship Earth pins. That is true. And I held that idea against some pins in this series. But when you take an object we can see on a billion pins, and make it new, that is the true test of an artist. Those clear pillars that stand in from of Spaceship Earth represent the clear icon pillars that stood where the fountain now is on opening day. Using clear for these was the perfect move. A simply beautiful pin in person. 

9. Universe of Energy
Um, Dinosaurs and Atom logo!!! Enough said.

8. Kitchen Krackpots
If I could bring back any show in the history of WDW, it may very well be Kitchen Kaberet. This is a perfect nod with some niche characters. The pin on pin gives it the needed depth to pull off the look of a stage show.

7. Illuminations
I'm going to be hammered for this, but I think Illuminations is a little over rated. But the sights and the sounds are not to be missed by any guest to Epcot. I still enjoy a few viewings a year, mostly for the music. But the globe in the center of of the lagoon is the eye catcher... and this slider pin is an innovative way to showcase Epcot's marquee event. I will say, I like the hinge LE pin that was released on Epcot's 30th better. That one opens to show the World Showcase landscape and has Disney characters looking on. But this is a solid number two as far as Illuminations pins go.

6. Leave a Legacy
This is the highest ranked revealed pin on this list. I can't even believe this one ended up so high on my list, but let's face it, how much Leave a Legacy merchandise do we ever see? Love it or hate it, it is a part of Epcot history. John could not have illustrated this any better. And OK, it doesn't hurt that Donald has a cool pose.

5. Commemorative Ticket
You can not get any more Epcot Retro than this. This unexpected slider pin features the Opening Day Commemorative Ticket. It is smaller than I would have liked. A larger size would show off more of the detail in the graphic. When I pulled this out of the bag, I just saw a silver case, and was like, um.... but then I pulled it open and was amazed.

4. Sea Base Alpha
The look and feel of this pin place me squarely in the 80's. I can picture the inside of the Living Seas Pavilion as it was when I ran around it as a kid. Back then, this place just had a certain feel that was stripped away in the updates. The color scheme and fonts are absolutely beautiful.

3. Horizons
Horizons is an interesting attraction. It was so very Epcot. It often gets bonus points just for being Horizons. Sometimes our heads remember something more fondly than it really was. I hope that is not the case for this attraction. This pin may not really be a top 3 design out of this set, but it couldn't have been designed any better. John could have chosen from many iconic scenes, instead he chose to represent land, sea and space with the Horizons logo in the middle. Simple and wonderful... just like the Horizons itself.

2. Cranium Command
It was not my favorite attraction. In fact, the Wonders of Life Pavilion was often overlooked by my family when visiting the park. But Buzzy was perhaps my most fondly thought of animatronic from my youth. Perhaps I was just at the right age to begin to really connect with the content and humor. Perhaps because some very recognizable voices were attached to this attraction (Jon Lovitz, Dana Carvy, Kevin Nealon and George Wendt just to name a few). Whatever it was, Buzzy is not only a no-brainer for this set, but a welcome addition to any pin collection.

1. World of Motion
The song, "It's Fun To Be Free" will forever be stuck in my head... and I don't mind a bit. World of Motion is perhaps my favorite extinct Epcot attraction. But that is not the reason this pin is in the top spot. This pin is number one because of all the scenes that could possibly be chosen, and there are a ton of them, John Henselmeier chose the man in the hot air balloon. Probably not one of the most iconic or popular, but one of my favorites. His illustration so beautifully represents not only that scene, but the entire attraction itself. (although oddly enough, this man is not free as his balloon got snagged on a clothesline... a fact John was able to sneak into the edge of the pin!)


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  2. Well done! The top five were spot on.