Why Pin Trading?


You can find the official Odyssey of the Mind Pin Trading Rules here.

Pins are an important part of the World Finals experience. How many pins you purchase is really up to your team. You know best your kids and the financial situations of their families. Some teams want every child to have the same pins for trading; others let the individual families determine their budget/interest. Most kids really love pin trading and it becomes the activity of choice while at WF. There are a very few kids for whom it has little appeal but the great majority of them will be begging to go pin trade. A full pin towel is an amazing souvenir of the experience. As pins are traded one-for-one (generally set-for-set), ask what you'd like to have on your towel when you return to Texas. Generally about 30-50 pins (either from this year or previous) will net you pins from a fair number of other states and countries. One thing that will not trade well is non-Odyssey of the Mind pins. It is also considered wrong to try and pass off a non-Odyssey pin (like from a city or state) as an official Odyssey pin.


Pin trading at World Finals resembles a giant marketplace, but without money. Everywhere you look, with the exception of competition venues, kids will be eagerly trading pins. Pins are supposed to be traded one-for-one. Most kids want to trade full sets though, so at Odyssey of the Mind - Texas, we are selling our WF pins primarily in sets. We have sets of different numbers to match what other states do with their pin sets. Generally, for example, you might consider trading a two-pin set for a two-pin set and a five-pin set for a five-pin set. The exception is mechanical or blinkie pin (which are more expensive), they generally count for two pins each, or match up with another state's "special" pin (a blinkie or other mechanical pin).  People may ask you to break a set, or trade individual pins from your sets. If there's a pin you want, you might decide to break up your set and trade the pins individually. But then know it can be hard to trade the rest of the individual pins in the set. There is a marketplace for single pins, but it is less robust than the one for sets.

No one can predict in advance which pins will be popular and which will not be. Throughout WF, a "currency" is established and certain pins become the hot ones for that year. It is better to buy a wider range of pins than to put all your budget into a single pin or pin set and have that one be the least desired pin set. Many people find that buying a mega set gives them trading options as it includes entire sets.

Our Texas pins the last few years have been very popular and I believe they will do well this year too. One reason we make as many different pins as we do is we send a LOT of teams to World Finals. If all of the kids on all of our teams were trying to trade the same five pins, they would find it harder to find people to trade with who didn't already have those five pins. By having a lot of different pin options, our OMers are generally able to acquire any pin they want, with patience and persistence.

Remember that a good trade is one with which both parties are happy. Different kids like different pins. It is never a bad trade if you got what you want. The most important advice I would give you to share with your kids is that it is okay to say no to a trade. Some kids have a really hard time walking away. But if it's not what you want, there are hundreds of other kids just eager to trade with you. Don't ever feel pressured into a trade.

If you are developing your own pin, you are required to have the design approved by the Texas ADs, Judy Moore and Angela Richard. This is part of the contract you sign with Odyssey of the Mind for World Finals. We work hard to make our Texas pins as affordable as possible; team pins can be hard to trade (it just depends). That said, if you are doing one, make sure you get the design approved and understand you bear all responsibility for following copyright laws. Please contact Angela Richard and Judy Moore for more information at info@txodyssey.org.

Laura Dew, Pin Queen

How many pins should we get?

Many ask how many pins you should get for your kids to trade – the answer is as many as you can afford! For most teams, especially in elementary school, pin trading becomes all consuming. While it seems trivial on the surface, the real value of pin trading is that it’s an ice breaker for kids that don’t know each other to talk. It’s also something of a universal language when kids speak different languages. No matter how many pins you buy for your kids, they will want more.

Karen Benson, Veteran Coach and Pin co-Designer

Important Note About Pin Availability:

We hope to have enough pins on hand to meet everyone's orders. But, we do not have the luxury of making our order after you submit yours. We estimated demand and ordered pins months ago. It is possible that we could run out of certain pins. If that happens with your order, we reserve the right to substitute pins of equal or greater value for the ones you ordered. We don't anticipate that occurring, but it is possible.