John Balen talks Disney's Exclusives at Comic Con

If you’re at Comic Con, and you want to get the low down on what’s coming in the vinyl world at Disney, there is no one better to talk to than Disney Store North America director of toys John Balen.

There are a ton of items on display, classics, frankenweenie…
We have a lot going on, this is actually the first year that we brought vinylmation here to sell at comic con, So we’re excited. We did our first comic con exclusive which is our So Tasty series. We did 8 unique flavors, which the only place you can get these 8 are right here at comic con. If we have any left over, after comic con is over, we’ll sell them at They’ll premiere at $10 each.  We have Carmel Apple, Pizza, Soft Serve Ice Cream, Super Nachos, Orange Soda, French fries, Cherry Freeze and Cotton Candy. I personally love the Orange Soda, its nice and refreshing. Each one is scented, so they smell like that food, and they’re really fun. We had a few available tonight, we sold out immediately. We’ll be releasing two a day over the next four days, so we’ll have some available all weekend.

Are you going to have any of the Artists available to sign?
We do have Artists here, but we don’t have set up signing times with those artists, but they may periodically pop by so you never know.

Last year, special edition…
This year we did blocks. Monsters Incorporated. These are some great takes on Sully, that was taken from the Art of Pixar Book. These are some of the early color renderings of Sully, what Sully could have looked like before they landed on the final design. So we did 480 pieces of each one. These are only here just at comic con, and once they’re gone they’re gone. We also have some great pop figures. We sold out of tonight’s allocation already. We have this great Sully and Boo set that’s exclusive, we had this great set with Sorcerer Mickey and Chernabog, a glow in the dark Oogie Boogie. He’s like really great. And those are available here at comic con, first and foremost. If we have any left we’ll sell them at, but we think they’ll go this weekend.

I know a lot of the special editions went immediately last year.
We were surprised at how enthusiastic the reception was at what we had to offer. It was like what can we do to make it more special this year, so we brought a few more.

We were stuck in the booth trying to get over here to you, and it was absolutely insane.
It is swamped. We’re so excited over how much traffic we’re getting.

Last year I came to interview you I did it in the booth, and it was no problem.
We just did it against one of the walls.

Right, but this year, we’re in our own separate booth away from everything.
I know. We can’t even fit in there anymore.

Tell me about this guy
He’s one thing that we are really excited to present, we’ve got the first piece of Frankenweenie product that we released for the new Tim Burton Film Frankenweenie that comes out this fall. We’ve done this vinyl exclusive with funko, it is $40, limited edition of 1000 pieces. Available here exclusively at comic con. This is Sparkysaurus.

Do I have to stand in that crazy line to get one?
You would, even I would have to stand in that crazy line to get one, I know! It’s crazy I know. We’re releasing a quantity every day, so if you get to the Funko booth first thing in the morning, it’s your best bet. I keep telling people to come back early, so this is really great. It’s the first Frankenweenie item we’ve got. It’s the only iteration of him as Sparkysaurus and once it’s gone it’s gone. It’s pretty special and we love this one.

And what about the rest of the beauties in this case?
We have some fantastic previews on display here. Like Starwars 2, which is coming out this fall. There’s a great preview of that series.  One of the items that I’m love with is here, on the top shelf. It’s a part of the online exclusives that correspond here with comic con. There is a different item available everyday online. Here we have the cosplay boy and girl set, this one is available here today.  The pixar series, Carl and Ellie is available tomorrow.  That’s the first art we’ve done from Up. They’re online exclusives that we’ll have available until we sell out.

Can you tell me about anything that’s coming up that you’re really excited about?
We’ve got so many things coming up.

Okay how about the number one most exciting.
Okay,  my number one exciting program that we have coming up is,  the Disney Villains designer collection. I don’t know if you’ve heard anything about that, but it’s pretty amazing. It’s a unique stylized fashion twist on classic Disney villainess’

Is it going to be similar to the Disney Princess Designer Series?
It is! It is a counterpoint to the Disney princess series. It’s going to be released in August, released online. We have a full collection of dolls, 6 dolls, limited edition sized. We’ve got cosmetics, drinkware, stationary, lithographs, we’ve got a whole product line of apparel and accessories. We’ve got cosmetic bags that look amazing, lots of bling, lots of glitz and glam. These villains have definitely taken a fashion twist so they’re a fun stylization of characters that everyone knows and loves.

And is there a number 2?
Number 2 has to be the Cinderella Collection. Cinderella is coming out on diamond DVD and Blu Ray is October.  Cinderella is coming to Blu ray for the first time, and it looks unbelievably good on Blu Ray. We’ve designed a whole line of items for that collection. But my favorite, favorite is the limited edition Cinderella doll. 17inches tall, covered with crystals, she’s like blinged out to the max. She is the most beautiful Cinderella I have ever seen in my career of designing Cinderella products, and I’m thrilled to be able to offer her. That one will go on presale when the blu ray does, later this month.

Great, and now I’m sure I know what my daughter will want this fall. Thank you so much to John Balen, for taking the time to speak with me at the chaotic Comic Con. And a special thank you to Katie Western, Nina Ronstaldt and Marissa Martinez for setting up the interview.

Be sure to keep your eyes on for that lovely Designer Villains Series, and the blinged out Cinderella. 

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