Legacy Content

Kim's Corner
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by Kim Petersen (archives)
March 29, 2005
Kim gets a Disney Direct sneak peek previews of their Disneyland 50th Anniversary merchandise array

WOW! Disneylanders Rejoice!
Disney Direct Sneak Peek Previews its Disneyland 50th Anniversary Merchandise Array

Well… I said that I’d write another Kim’s Corner column for LaughingPlace when I saw something that warranted it – let’s just say that it’s been pretty dull merchandise-wise at the Disneyland Resort low these many long days. So, when the opportunity to take a sneak peek at some inspired Disneyland 50th Anniversary merchandise – created by two guys I completely trust to knock me out – I jumped at the chance – even joking that I’d be happy to clean the drool off of the floor so that no one would be injured.

So, on this past Saturday afternoon I found myself just down the block from WDI’s Glendale offices at a very private – we had to get security clearance, very exclusive – there were less than 20 of us invited to “bond? with the new line, very unofficial – the press kit was “home made? by Kevin in the wee hours of the morning, very geeky – there were folks from a couple of other Disney-attraction-themed web sites, and nine of us from the NFFC, and very exciting – to be inside any part of the WDI campus is always an adventure, at the sneak peek at the Disney Catalog/Disney Direct Marketing/Walt Disney Collectables line of merchandise to be released in celebration of Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary. I checked my wallet at the door, took a deep breath and entered.

Kevin Kidney, Disney Artist/Creative Manager for Disney Catalog Art and Collectables and Jody Dailey, Associate Manager of Design for Disney Direct Marketing (DDM) – opened the doors to their Disney Direct digs to a small group of fellow Disneylanders (yeah, that’s Disneyland geeks to most folks) to finally show-off their year-and-a-half of hard work. And, it shows in every single Disneyland-rich detail. It’s clear that these two guys – who, between them, have more than 30 years with the Disney Company – really enjoy their work. It’s also clear that they see Disneyland with an appreciation that comes partly from working there – both were cast members in their “younger days? – and partly from their fondness for the park itself. It’s about Disneyland. The park. The icon. The classic. The foundation.

Their appreciation of the work they do is much deeper, though. They truly understand that in sculpting their versions of the “classic? Disneyland attractions they love, they’re paying homage to those Imagineers who created the originals. You can see the passion for this time frame – 1955 thru the mid-1970s – that Kevin and Jody share with their audience – they’re standing on the shoulders of giants, and they’re enjoying the view. This attention to detail is evident in the story Kevin tells of creating the monorail replicas, they went to Bob Gurr for guidance. They were trying to match the color for their Big Red, with Jody at Bob’s home trying to match the color from a pantone book to a door panel the original Big Red Bob for still has – and finding that there was no match – so they “got as close as they could.?

It’s incredibly unusual to be asked to a “back stage? merchandise preview, when some of the items are still in their rough, prototype phases – rarer still to be invited to bring your camera (no kidding!) along to cover and share it with the on-line Disney fan-base – it’s the rarest of opportunities to be invited to do so by two artists who completely appreciate, understand, and sympathize with their audience. Kevin and Jody are that extraordinary combination – Disney artists who are also collectors and enthusiasts. These guys create stuff because they love it and they want us to have the opportunity to own it and they trust that we’ll be there to buy it – a combination almost unheard of in the ranks of mass-market merchandising. These two give me great hope for the future of the Disney-branded collectables marketplace.

It’s so cool to be able to get a glimpse at the creative process, as they invited us into their workplace to see their efforts, and watch their appreciation of all things Disney spill out while they were at it. These two truly “get it?. The product array – more than 200 pieces in all – is spectacular in its scope – from the obscure Main Street Information Booth miniature, to the Fab-Five at Disneyland big figs, to the heart-breakingly beautiful Mark 1 Monorail replicas (OK, so, I’m a Monorail geek too – especially Big Red), to the Clock of the World inspired lighted snow globe figurine, to the set of three Storybook Land miniature homes, not to mention the pins … it’s staggering how completely they covered the 50-year history of the park – and how right their subject choices were – I was completely knocked out. I don’t think that there’s been a product line more perfectly designed for its intended audience in the history of Disney brand marketing.

So often, these days, the Disney brand marketing focus is on volume rather than quality – with the Walt Disney Collectables/Disney Direct gang, though, it’s about giving the audience the items they want, in the edition sizes they want, in the media they want, at price-points that are within the bounds driven by the market. All of this product line will be collectable – by all standards the market dictates. But, more than that, they will be sought after. They will be lovingly added to collections. They will be acquired by those of us who have emotional ties to the attractions, characters, time and place they evoke. Great graphics, really obscure art, fabulous memories - and we’re all sure to fall in love with something.