Home » 6 Ways to Get Into Disney Pin Trading Without Breaking the Bank

    6 Ways to Get Into Disney Pin Trading Without Breaking the Bank

    Image (c) Disney

    Pin trading has quickly developed from a fad into an enduring hobby for kids and adults of all ages. From major pin trading events that draw traders from around the globe to individual trades with cast members, the entire hobby can seem intimidating and expensive to newcomers. Fortunately, following a few simple tips can help you get started without breaking the bank.

    1. Buy “grab bag” starters

    Image (c) Disney

    If you want to get into pin trading, avoid the racks and racks of individual pins that you will find all over Disney property. Instead, make a beeline for the “grab bag” sets. These mystery collections don’t allow you to see what you are getting before you buy, but that doesn’t matter. The point at this stage is to have something to trade. Open them up, keep any that really speak to you, and put the rest on a lanyard to begin trading.

    You have a choice here, depending on your personal ethics and what you hope to accomplish from pin trading. The cheapest way to get started is to buy a big grab bag from a private collector online. The problem is that you run something of a risk of getting “scrappers,” or counterfeit pins. They are perfectly tradable with people who don’t know the difference, but serious collectors will refuse them, and they put other traders at risk for trading a valuable pin for something ultimately worthless. Of course, not all online pin sellers are unscrupulous. If you want to go this route, try to buy from someone with good feedback from other buyers.

    If you want to avoid any possibility of scrappers, purchase mystery packs at the parks, directly through Disney online, or from one of the myriad official outlets. They are still a great value when compared to individual pins.

    2. Trade for what you like

    Especially when you are first starting out, trade for what you like without worrying about price points. It’s possible that you will end up with a scrapper, but the odds are lower if you trade with cast members and long-time traders. In addition, cast members are always willing to undo the trade if a pin you just traded for is not to your liking. Check out the back and edges to see if they look okay, but don’t get overly concerned about possible scrappers. Focus on finding the pins that speak to you in some way.

    3. Only buy individuals that you actually want

    Individual pins are not terribly expensive, but the costs can add up quickly. Speculative pin futures can be just as confusing as oil futures, so don’t try to stay ahead of the market. Buy only those individual pins that you legitimately want to own, even if they are marked Limited Edition or Passholder or are event-specific. You can always trade them later for something you like more, but trying to invest in the possible future value will only bring aggravation and a busted budget.

    4. Attend pin trading events

    Image (c) Disney

    Once you have made a few trades around the parks, try your hand at designated pin trading events. These are often held at resorts around Walt Disney World free of charge. Some even offer their own unique pins. Pin trading events are also held by hobbyists around the country on a semi-regular basis.

    Pin trading events are not only a great place to trade for some unique pins, but also provide you with the opportunity to learn from other pin traders. Although a few people are only in it to increase the value of their own collection by preying on those who don’t know better, that is the exception rather than the rule. In most cases, pin traders are a sociable, happy, welcoming bunch who are eager to share their knowledge and experience with newcomers. Just don’t expect them to take a bad trade!

    While Disney cast members are obligated to trade anything on their lanyards (for a Disney pin that isn’t an obvious fake), and to allow you to undo a trade, private collectors are not.  If you offer a low-value pin for a high-value one, you will likely be gently turned down. In many cases, though, the trader will explain the reason for the decline, helping you learn a little bit more about the hobby.

    5. Trade up even if you don’t love the pin

    Image - Loren Javier, Flickr

    My best friend happens to be a semi-serious pin trader. She does it for the love of the hobby rather than making any real attempt to up the value of her collection. Nonetheless, she has picked up a few secrets along the way. Her favorite tip is to trade pins you don’t love for higher retail value pins that you also don’t love.

    The easiest way to do this is to check cast member lanyards and trading books for pin-on-pin designs. These pins have two layers, so they are easy to spot. Assuming everything else is equal, a pin-on-pin is worth more than a standard flat pin. Whenever you have the opportunity, trade a flat pin that you are not crazy about for a pin-on-pin, even if you are not a big fan of the pin-on-pin. Later, you can trade the higher value pin for another high value pin that you really like.

    6. Have fun and help others have fun

    Pin trading is not a job, and should never be a cause for stress. If you start feeling obsessive, worrying over whether you are making a good trade, or spending more money than you budgeted on pins, it might be time to take a break. Walk away from the hobby for a bit and clear your head. When you return, make sure you focus on having fun. A great way to do this is to help brand-new pin traders get started. Sharing the excitement that you felt during your first trade can work wonders for helping you relax and get back into the sheer fun of the hobby.

    Are you a pin trader? Do you have any helpful tips for those who are just getting started? What is the one thing you wish someone had told you at the beginning? Share your thoughts in the comments!