Great article. As a pin trader I enjoy reading about your experiences. The locking pin backs are very cool and work very well. They look like small metal cylinders which take the place of the plastic Mickey head. You tighten them with a small allen wrench that comes with the locks. They come in baggies and can be found in most pin stores. If you can't find any ask a CM. I'd recommend buying a couple baggies of them, mostly so you have the extra wrench. I usually only use the locks for non-trading pins, the ones I want to keep.
You may want to look into pin books to put any pins in that you want to keep. Most stores have them and occasionally you can find them at the outlet store too.
Great article Kevin. We have been trading for a while now and you have hit on a few key points. Picking a certain character or attraction makes it much more manageable and fun to find a pin that you don't already have. The other game we play is to try and collect all the pins of a castmember pin set. We don't really try and trade with other guests. Many guests seem to only wear their limited edition pins (almost bragging) and thus you know they aren't going to trade anyway. It is interesting to take a look at the collector's books (the people that camp out at pin stores with a few hundred pins) but since they seem to have every pin, there isn't much to trade them for. It is neat to see all the pins that are out there from around the globe though.
A fun article, although I couldn't help but crack up at your first couple of paragraphs, where you promise to be positive while spending about 1/3 of the time being negative. It's kinda like a fussy mom - "Fine, I won't get on you, although your hair's too long and you could lose some weight and what garbage can did you find that shirt in?" Overall, you did a pretty good job at staying positive, Kevin, which I know isn't always easy.
Kevin, save yourself a lot of effort and frustration and drop the pins. Mainly, the last thing I want to see every other week is your "pin-trading news."
And, go negative all you want. We've seen what happens at DL when someone takes up the torch and suggests that changes be made.
I loved reading about your pin trading adventures. I chose to collect Daisy Duck because she seemed to be the most rare of the "Fab. 5 (which sometimes includes Daisy)". When my first lanyard was full I purchased a cork board to put my keepers on at home. That might be a good option for your son too, my 5 year old nephew loves looking at his pins on his cork board. You could wear two lanyards but it is much easier to lose pins as you get caught and tangled in 2 lanyards.
You could always put your favorite pins on your camera bag with the locking pin backs (the locking backs are much more affordable on ebay). If you have some free time to you can check out the pin database at pinpics.com, you can look at all the pins made and even search for characters or DCL pins.
I was one of those College Program CMs who'd sink a lot of his income back into Disney, mostly, not surprisingly, on pins. I still find it surprising that I even got into pin trading at all though. I did the fall 2004 version of the college program, arriving at WDW with the hardened opinion that pins were dumb and a waste of money. Nonetheless, since policy at the time more or less dictated that I wear a lanyard, I reluctantly donned "the lanyard". It was black to indicate I traded with everyone who wanted to trade. At that point it only took a week or two to start coming around. I'd then start to revel in trading, especially with kids. I found that pin trading was a fantastic way to strike up conversations with guests who might otherwise pass me by. And then came the idea of turning a couple of my pins around, thus turning them into hidden Mickey pins...not just mystery pins. I couldn't believe how many guests loved that, and at least half my trades from then out were just for one or both of those.
Then, I discovered that there were some cool pins to be had bearing the visage of my favorite Disney characters, Chip n Dale. At that point, I lost the pin trading chip on my shoulder and by the time I finished up the college program, I had around 50 pins. Since I live inbetween Disneyland and WDW, pin trading is a rare occasion, but in the 4 years since WDW, I've expanded my CnD only collection to around 110 pins. All things considered, I think of pin trading as an awesome, and ultimately not very expensive, communicating experience. My experiences as both a guest and CM have shown me that it's great common ground to share with other people who are otherwise be just another body in a crowded theme park to bump into.
I don’t think the pin trading idea as a whole is bad, but there are appropriate places for it and not-so appropriate places for it. Allow me to illustrate:
Attraction Host: “Welcome to the Haunted Mansion… please drag your wretched bodies into the dead center of the room…” Little Bobby Whitaker: “Hi, mister! Can I have your Stitch pin for my Pooh Bear?” (Attraction Host totally breaks character because he HAS to trade a pin if requested.) Attraction Host: “Sure! Wow, you sure have a lot of pins there, fella! Here you go!” (Attraction Host smiles. Little Bobby Whitaker isn’t phased at all by the mansion of the late Master Gracey.)
See? Not appropriate in a circumstance such as this, which I observed first-hand in September of this year at WDW.
I always enjoy your articles, though I have to say that I skipped over entirely the part about pin trading. I used to be mad about collecting Disney, and my most treasured toy growing up was the Marx Disneyland play set. But pins and snow globes are the two things I have absolutely no interest in collecting. Sorry, but I think they could come up with something better. No offense to pin collectors, I'm (hopefully) directing my comments to the merchandisers.