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Figment Frenzy: A little dragon has created big drama at Epcot, and some money for charity

by Samantha Davis-Friedman

If you’re a Figment fan, you won’t be surprised that the new Figment popcorn bucket that debuted yesterday for Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts has created a “Figment Frenzy,” but what might surprise you is what happened when one Epcot parkgoer inadvertently recruited the adorable purple dragon to help raise money for charity.

Figment popcorn bucket
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort

Several years ago, while at Disneyland during the holidays, a friend pointed to a Pluto Christmas popcorn bucket and said, “My husband says people pay a lot of money for those on eBay.” I thought, “Really? …For a popcorn bucket? I quickly learned that Disney popcorn buckets are absolutely “a thing,” and fans will wait in excessively long lines to purchase said buckets, especially for certain characters. Well, it seems Figment is one of those characters because, according to tweets from Walt Disney World guests, his popcorn bucket queues clocked in at more than seven hours the first day.

Figment obviously “sparks joy” in many fans, but the recent “Figment Frenzy” also sparked some unexpected Twitter fame for self-proclaimed “avid Disneyphile” Julia Mascardo from Windermere, Fla.

Before we proceed with the story, let’s be clear: It’s not only Figment lovers who are clamoring for these whimsical popcorn buckets. As with many exclusive and/or limited edition Disney items, resellers are also snatching them up, which is actually what started Mascardo’s entire “Figment journey.”

“Until the end of last year, I was a social media director for a Disney travel planning site, so the first day of Festival of the Arts would usually mean lots of work on Tweets, Instagram posts, Facebook posts, blog posts, and more,” Mascardo said. “Unfortunately, due to the financial impacts of COVID on the travel industry, my job came to an end on Dec. 31, so this was the first day of a major Disney parks event where I’d be able to just watch from the sidelines.”

Mascardo went on to explain that, based on the social media buzz about the Figment popcorn buckets, everyone knew they’d be popular – and like all popular items at Disney, it wouldn’t take long for eBay listings to pop up selling the items for 5-10 times their retail price – so she joked with friends that “people will buy just about anything if they think it is exclusive.”

And then she tweeted about it.

Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming response to her question was yes, so she listed her “artwork” for 99 cents, with 90% of the sale going to Habitat for Humanity (she figured the other 10% would cover fees and shipping).

“My thought is that it might go for $10-20, everyone would get a good laugh, and that would be that,” she said. “But over the next several hours, the eBay listing got shared over and over and over again, and the bids kept going up. When it hit $100 – around the same price that people were selling actual Figment popcorn buckets – I figured that would be the max. However, It kept going, and by early Friday evening, it was at $600.”

Figment drawing ebay listing
Image courtesy of Julia Mascardo

Mascardo said that later that night, a friend messaged her that she needed to check eBay “RIGHT NOW,” and she saw that a series of bids between two suspect bidders had driven the price up to over $10,000.

“At this point, I decided to close the auction,” she said. “If the bidder was legit, it would be an amazing donation for Habitat for Humanity; if not, then I’d need to come up with a new plan to get the money raised and donated, but also not to have to go through this situation again.”

Even less surprising than the encouragement to list the drawing is that the winning bidder said someone else had used their phone to place the bids, so they needed the purchase canceled.

“All day long, I had been getting so many positive messages from people who felt incredibly happy about this,” Mascardo explained. “Some were happy because they loved the funds being raised for charity. Some enjoyed the humor because, let’s face it, that artwork is really bad. Others enjoyed sticking it to eBay resellers who seem to always buy up so much of things that would bring people joy and charge outrageous prices. Whatever the reason, it gave people a lot of joy for the day.”

Mascardo said she also received many messages asking her to sell prints of the artwork, so her solution was to make 100 numbered copies of the drawing, with the original being #1 and the copies being #2-101 (she’s keeping #101 for her own “art collection”). Then, she put them in envelopes, so she didn’t know which ones contained the original or copies.

“On Tuesday [Jan. 18, 2022], I will be putting up an auction with a ‘buy it now’ price of $10, with the same 90% going to Habitat for Humanity,” Mascardo said. “My hope is that all 100 will sell, which lets people get a little bit of joy coming to their mailbox, but will also mean $900 will be raised for Habitat for Humanity!”

It seems Mascardo has also triggered a secondary “Figment Frenzy” as some Figment fans have now requested T-Shirts, so Mascardo used her original artwork to create a new design that she will sell on TeePublic. She notes she will donate 50% of those profits to World Central Kitchen, with a minimum donation in 2022 of $100, “since they also do such amazing work.” Click here to purchase a shirt when it becomes available on Jan. 18, 2022.

“This has brought me a lot of joy since it has been an adjustment to being out of work,” she said. “It’s one of those rare stories where it is a win for everyone, and I’m so happy to have an amazing story to share for years to come!”

Figment Fun Fact:

According to Former Walt Disney Imagineering VP Tony Baxter, he came up with the idea for Figment while watching an episode of the original “Magnum P.I.” series where a goat had eaten the garden, to which Higgins (John Hillerman) responded,” Don’t tell me it’s a figment of my imagination; figments don’t eat rare tropical flowers.” And the rest, as they say, is Disney history.

Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts runs now through Feb. 21,2022. Click here for details.

1/19/22 – Figment Frenzy Update:

Figment Frenzy

As promised, Mascardo made the 100 photocopies and put a “Buy It Now” auction up on eBay with a $10 price that would get the buyer one of the sketches (either the original or a copy, but all signed and numbered and with a certificate of authenticity) with 90% going to Habitat for Humanity. Unfortunately, eBay considered the auction to be a raffle/gambling/lottery listing because only one person would get an item of “significant monetary or collectible value” (meaning the original), so the auction was closed after only 49 had been sold.

“I packaged up the items and mailed them with a note asking nicely if they could still go ahead and make a donation to Habitat for Humanity for the amount they were going to buy the artwork for,” Mascardo explained. “If all goes well […] Habitat for Humanity will get $490.” 

Regarding the T-Shirts, Mascardo reports that she’s already made $45 for World Central Kitchen and is planning to keep adding more designs with the goal of donating $100 by the end of the year.

What do you think of the “Figment Frenzy”? Let us know in the comments.

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