4 Tips to Better Pin Trading – Disney Pin Trading 101

How to make the most of your pin trading

As wonderful as pin trading is, there are indeed some pitfalls that might discourage you if you’re not prepared.  Hopefully, this blog post will help navigate some of those little pin trading trials and assist you in making your pin trading experience the best it can be.

01 UP Pin
One of my favorite pins! I would never trade this beautiful Carl and Ellie UP! Grape Soda pin

Never trade a pin you have doubts about trading. This is the cardinal rule because odds are you can’t get it back.  It might seem a bit obvious, but the temptation to get a new pin sometimes overrides logic and you might trade away a pin that you value for one of perceived higher value – only to be disappointed later.  I’ve seen it happen to kids which is heartbreaking.  If any child wants to “trade back” with me, I would let them, as most traders would, but sometimes they leave, go home, ride some rides, and your pin is gone.  Or someone else might have traded for it right away.  So as a general rule, if you like the pin, keep the pin.  You can ALWAYS find that other pin some other time.  Have faith that someone, somewhere will trade you for that pin you want eventually.

From the D23 Expo 2017, this pin wrap case came with a special pin!

Give your pin binder / case / lanyard FIRST. There’s nothing more disheartening than seeing a pin you really want to trade for and then having the person at the table tell you there’s nothing they see in your binder they want.  By asking them to look at your stuff first, you save yourself the heartbreak.  Most pin traders appreciate it and will be honest about whether or not they like something or see something they might want to trade for.  Also, if you are pin trading with your kids, ask the pin trader at the table if they have any “one for one” binders / cases – meaning they will take anything of yours for one of theirs.  I know my daughter has gone up to people before and they were unwilling to trade anything.  Most good pin traders have at least a small selection (and some a HUGE selection) of “one for one” traders.  Kids just like the thrill of the chase and participating in the hobby.  They aren’t as concerned usually about the LE number of a pin, so go to the good traders and help them out.

Some beautiful pins from Mickey's Halloween Party - generally, don't buy pins from a store just to trade for one. If you have an eBay app on your phone you can easily see the value of the pins you are trading for
Some beautiful pins from Mickey’s Halloween Party – generally, don’t buy pins from a store just to trade for one. If you have an eBay app on your phone you can easily see the value of the pins you are trading for

Think hard about the trade if the trader asks you to go buy pins for them. Although it doesn’t happen a lot, there are some unscrupulous pin traders out there who are seeking to rip off innocent and unknowledgeable newbies to the hobby.  You might see a pin in their binder you really like and they want you to buy them one or two pins from the nearby pin store to trade for it.  Don’t do it unless you know the worth of the pin and you know that it’s worth it to you.  Now, if you offer – that’s a different story.  But if they tell you that if you buy “such and such a pin” they would trade you…just know your pin values.  A Hidden Mickey is almost never worth buying a pin for in my opinion.  But a Jessica jumbo costume pin?  Probably worth buying three.  In these cases, you really need to know your pins.  Because they do.  Take a second and look it up on eBay or PinPics if you have a mobile phone.  Any good trader won’t be offended.

Be careful of certain eBay sellers. Although the majority of eBay sellers out there are honest, pin-loving nerds like you and me, there are some out there purposely selling scrappers and fakes.  And just because someone has a 99.5% satisfaction rate (or even 100%) doesn’t mean they aren’t a scrapper dealer.  It just means lots of people don’t know the difference.  Look at the negative and neutral feedback if they have any.  If the feedback mentions scrappers, fakes, or poor quality pins, you should probably avoid them.  If the seller says things in their eBay description like “You can trade my pins at any Disney Park” or “All my pins have Mickey shaped backs” these again are words that raise red flags.  If they sell many of the same pins over and over, especially LE pins, avoid them like the plague!  One person on eBay sells under multiple IDs (to hide his/her scam I guess) and sells the same LE pins on each ID.  Now, a LE 300 pin sold only in one location with a limit of two per person per day that generally sells out in one day?  No one is going to have 10 or 20 copies of it – let alone 30 – 50.  Especially if they live far away from a Disney park or pin location.  So buyer beware!

A gift from some of my pin trader friends in Hawaii after our house caught on fire - that's how cool some pin traders are!
A gift from some of my pin trader friends in Hawaii after our house caught on fire – that’s how cool some pin traders are!

There are some really great people in the pin trading community.  I love most of them because they are nice, generous, and willing to help a person out in their collecting.  Don’t let a bad experience deter you overall.  Most people are honest, fair, and friendly.  I’ve had more than one person give my daughter free pins just to help her out, and some give them extras just to make sure the trade was fair.  So don’t let the trials and tribulations of pin trading deter you.  Just learn from them and keep going!

For other posts in this series, please read some of these:

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14 thoughts on “4 Tips to Better Pin Trading – Disney Pin Trading 101

  1. Craig, your blogs about Disney pin trading have been very helpful as I am new to the hobby, I have barely begun collecting and I am already crazed about it. What I wanted to know is, you stated in a blog that you sell on EBAY what is your store name so I can check out your pins for sale.

    1. Thanks, Bill! I’m glad it proved helpful. The pin trading world can be terrific. I hope you enjoy it! I actually don’t have an eBay store believe it or not! I mostly buy pins for my personal collection although once in a while I will sell on eBay and used to sell quite frequently, but it was just never worth it for me to open an eBay store. Your best bet for good pins is almost always auction listings anyway. Most (but not all) store listings are at an ideal price for the seller, but if you’re looking for that one pin you can’t seem to find, look for a reputable seller and buy what you can! I’ve done that many times for hard to find items.

  2. Hi!
    I just wanted to ask if HKDL pins can be traded at all Disney parks like any other pins, or are pins only tradeable at the park they are from?

    Also what does the waffle pattern on the back represent? If it doesnt have a pattern does that mean its fake? How do you tell if a limited edition pin is real or fake?

    I would really like to buy some pins online but im not sure if it will be a waste of money so I just want to check with you first!


    1. HKDL pins CAN be traded at all Disney parks! My wife has traveled there a few times and brought back pins and they all have the Disney Parks stamp on the back and are good for pin trading. DLP (Disneyland Paris) pins and Tokyo Disney Resort pins are also tradeable at all parks. The waffle pattern is simply to help stop counterfeits, but a good counterfeiter will copy even the waffle pattern. Almost all pins have the waffle pattern. The exception to that are early pins which only have the Disney copyright on the back and are generally smooth. To tell if a pin is fake is something you will definitely learn in time. Anything you buy from a Disney theme park is of course authentic. I have a couple of posts on here that talk about spotting fakes including this post, but part of it is being watchful. If you have any specific questions, I would be happy to help you.

  3. Hi Craig. I am a Disney Nerd from Idaho. I was so sad last year when I visited Disneyland and the pin trader (pros) were no longer in the park. I am returning this year and I was looking to see if they set up Downtown or somewhere nearby when I found your blog. You have some great information posted. Thank you!

    1. Thank you! I’m so disappointed too. I’ve heard that they sometimes set up near Jolly Holiday Bakery but I haven’t seen them myself. Pin collecting is still fun for me but it’s gotten really crazy over the years.

  4. High Craig, in response to the post on April 16th from Amy in Idaho. I don’t know if it is a different group or what. but I see pin traders every time I am in FrontierLand. ( I am a custodial cast member, so I see them oftern) You can find them on the patio out in front of El Zocolo mexican restaurant. I don’t know if they trade but they sure have quite the collections. Binder after binder of pins.

    1. Thank you so much Nedra for that update! I rely on knowledgeable people like you to help all of us out. If you notice any other possible pin trading places please let us know!

  5. When I was new to pin trading around 2004 I had some super rare pins that I didn’t know the value of. I traded a 1970’s figment to an experienced pin trader and even though I was going to trade 1 for 1 the person I was trading with gave me all 5 of the hidden mickey pirate coins I wanted because he new my pin was rare. It’s one of my favorite pin trading memories :-)

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