This past week, the official Disney Parks blog released photos from phase two of The Mechanical Kingdom. You may recall The Mechanical Kingdom and the minor conniption that occurred around it, which I discussed back in March. Apparently, despite the kvetching of Steampunks, the line of pins was popular enough to enjoy a return engagement at the 2011 Disney Pin Trading summer event.
The theme of the 2011 summer pin trading event at Disneyland has been announced as Sci-Fi Academy. The premise, adorned with some flashy futuristic-looking advertising, is that Mickey has been off collecting relics from the Science Fiction stories of the 19th century, Atomic Age, and the early days of computing up to today. The graphic representing the Victorian Era is a helmet from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
That would heartening except that, instead of actually focusing on Scientific Romances, it seems that they'll just be running with The Mechanical Kingdom. My biggest critique of the franchise when it was first conceived was,
When Disney is serious about doing a Scientific Romance, it's usually much prettier and more visually interesting than most of what passes for Steampunk aesthetics. The complainers could actually learn a thing or two from Disney... I guess the outcome of caring neither for the Victorian Era nor Science Fiction is this drab set of sepia-toned repetitions of Cyberpunk fashion. The Fab Five have definitely stooped to get the look down perfectly.
Mickey in brass goggles is entertaining enough, if for no other reason than his capacity to frustrate people who think that being Steampunk makes them alternative and cool. It is poor compensation, however, when they could have gone with the wide array of Disney's own genuine Scientific Romances. This is especially true with their adaptation of John Carter of Mars only two years away. A pin set of Disney's Sci-Fi vehicles - from the Nautilus and Hyperion to the Moonliner and Space Station X-1 to the Lightcycle and Recognizer - would be kind of fun. Nevertheless, the first concept art from Mike Sullivan has been released, pulling Chip and Dale into the lot.
For those not satisfied with only one form of Steampunk'd Disney collectible, there is something else to collect dust on your shelf alongside Beanie Babies and Pogs. Vinylmation is the latest fad stoked by Disney Trading's marketeers, consisting of blank figurines of Mickey Mouse printed up with various assorted designs. Considering that the entirety of Steampunk art is just painting things brass, this union is hideously appropriate. Vinylmation and Steampunk: two sucks that suck harder together.
God, it's just a lump of plastic with gears painted on it...
If you're really into it, you can even wear your love of Steampunk Vinylmation on your sleeve. The t-shirt is on sale at Disneystore.com for $8.99US.
Update March 5, 2011
Tickets for the Sci-Fi Academy event went on sale on March 1st, and the announcement on Disney's official pin-trading site includes a link to the merchandise catalogue. For Mechanical Kingdom hounds, there is the set whose concept art is seen above, as well as a $100 statue of Steampunk Mickey with a bonus pin. There is also a neat set for the "Astro-Orbitor Through the Years" (which I could conceivably want since it fits my quasi-collection of pins to do with Disney's Vernian rides, but not to the tune of $45). Click here to see the listing.
Mechanical Kingdom pin set.