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Kim's Corner
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by Kim Petersen (archives)
October 29, 2001
Kim revists the "what makes a collectable" issue and has a round-up of early Disneyland holiday merchandise.
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Disneyland Christmas 2001
Merry Merchandise to All and to All Good Shopping

(Before we get started with this month’s column - it’s come to my attention that a few of you have noticed that I have a slight spelling quirk - in the months to come you’ll learn that I have many - but this one has gotten a bit of mail. It’s in the way that I choose to spell "collectable" - you see both "collectible" and "collectable" are grammatically correct and both are considered - by those who read too much Emily Post - to be acceptable. That’s accept-able - as in able to be accepted. That’s why I spell collectable the way that I do - "collectible" just looks wrong to me. And - if an item is "collectable" it’s "able" to be collected. Just a quirk I have. After all it’s not "drivible" or "comfortible" or "wearible" or "readible" - I’m certain that I’ve forgotten all of the many and sundry nuances of sentence structure - modifiers and adverbs never were my strong suit - that make up the rules of an acceptably constructed English sentence - but - for me - and in the columns I write - and nowhere else on this site - collectable is spelled c-o-l-l-e-c-t-a-b-l-e - call it grammatical license - or a quirk - I’m comfort-able with either.)

Time to take a bit of a detour from the land of collectables into the realm of merchandise - not that the two are mutually exclusive - but - not all collectables begin their existence as merchandise - and - not all merchandise ends it’s existence as a collectable. But, everything, every single, solitary item, produced by, for or under creative license with the Disney Company is collected somewhere by someone. Everything. Every item has a perceived value and what’s trash for me at the end of a meal can become valuable to a paper collector. The flip-side is also true, as I doubt many paper collectors would be very much interested in my pin collection.

The old adage ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ is true for the Disneyana marketplace like no other - except maybe sports cards or Coca-Cola memorabilia. The Disney brand has, perhaps, the single most dedicated fan and collector base in all of merchandising. This is brought to life every day with every item sold on e-Bay. Where else can a guidebook, like the one my parents were given on our first family trip to Disneyland in 1960, sell for nearly $100, or a penny, like the one that I pressed for 51¢ at the Penny Arcade in 1979, sell for $200? That’s a healthy and diverse collectors marketplace at work. It’s a buyer’s marketplace, where demand drives the price-point. It’s also a global marketplace, operating 24/7 around he world - a phenomena of Internet accessibility and brand demand.

Sooooo… here we are again - at the central dichotomy for all collectors - what makes a thing collectable? There are many criteria that can be applied to an item to determine it’s relative value as a collectable in the Disneyana marketplace. Is it date specific? Is it event specific? Is it limited in either edition size or distribution? Is it limited in availability by either time or location? Is the item exclusive to a location? Is it part of an existing series? Does the item or the manufacturer have a history of collectability in the marketplace? All of these factors combine to give an item "value" in the marketplace. But, they are not the only standards by which the "value" of a given item is assessed.

For me - and in my collection - an item must meet three very strict and defining guidelines - Is it Mickey? Is it cute? Do I have it? If the answers are yes, yes and no - then the item has a place in my collection and is thereby "collectable" - doesn’t matter what it’s made of, who made it, why it was made, where it was sold and, for the most part, what’s on the price tag. You see I collect with my heart and have no problems in that - I buy what makes me happy and in that I’m happy with everything that I buy. There are pieces in my collection that have a perceived "monetary" value and some that have great "sentimental" value - for me - it’s the a piece that means something to me that I place "value" on.

If there is such a thing as "sentimental value" in the Disneyana marketplace - and I believe that there is - so many of the rules that drive other collectable marketplaces quite simply do not apply. It seems that Disney collectors - for whatever reason - tend to collect with their hearts, bypassing both their brains and their wallets. If all that stands between you and true and abiding happiness is a blue Autopia car, then the money required to park it in your driveway is secondary to the desire to possess it as your very own. Notwithstanding other considerations - like legality and paying the rent - there are few of us who would disagree.

We all have something that we’d consider taking out a low-interest bank loan to acquire. A holy-grail pin, perhaps? A certain Beauty and the Beast figurine, perchance? A particular production cel from a certain scene in a specific movie, maybe? The button from your Grad Night party - the one you forgot to get? The doll that didn’t make it with you from childhood into your teens? Let me explain with a story - during the recent Official Disneyana Convention I was personing the NFFC’s information and membership booth in the Antiques & Collectables Show and a friend came by to visit.

She mentioned that she’d found a certain Mouseketeer doll that she wanted at another booth - she’s a hard-core Mouseketeer collector - but - it was $150 - a bit out of her price range. She asked what I thought, and after about 10 minutes of "Should I?’/‘Shouldn’t I?’ I asked the $150 question, ‘Will you feel bad if you don’t buy her?’ to which she replied ‘I think I’d cry if I didn’t buy her.’ I looked at her and asked ‘Is the money worth the tears? It’s only money, right?’ knowing that she’d already formed the emotional attachment to the doll, all she needed was a little nudge and her decision would be made.

Suffice it to say that the doll is now the centerpiece on her Mouseketeer shelf and that she ate PB&J sandwiches for lunch for a month. She collected with her heart. And, she’s happy. That’s all that matters. Certainly the doll was "worth" collecting by any standards - she was in near mint condition, her accessories were intact and she was in her original box - all criteria that would place "value" on her as a piece of Disney memorabilia. But, for Sandy, and not for me. I’m not a Mouseketeer collector, nor am I a doll collector. It didn’t "mean" anything to me, I had no emotional attachment to it, and yet, it meant the world to her.

The most difficult criterion to meet in the whole collectability equation is the emotional one - do you care enough about the piece to pay the price? It can be $10 or $10,000; if you don’t "want" it then the money doesn’t matter, but, if you do "want" it, then the money doesn’t matter. That’s collecting from your heart. Nothing brings out the sentimental side of the collectors marketplace quite like the holidays. And nothing brings out the merchandise quite like an available and avid collector base. The equation is simple, Disneyland + Christmas Merchandise = $. If this were not the case the company wouldn’t produce the merchandise - it’s a business after all.

But - all cynicism aside - the price points are reasonable - the items are limited both in their availability and in that they’re exclusive to Disneyland - some items are dated and all are event specific - and - the items have a proved "collectability" over time within the marketplace. So - the merchandise is officially "collectable". And even if this weren’t true - the merchandise for Disneyland Christmas 2001 is still very cute. I’m not a mini-bean-bag plush collector, but there is a very cute Jolly Old Saint Mic-key that I have to buy as it meets all of my strict standards of collectability - it’s Mickey - it’s cute - and I don’t have it. Adding him to my collection is well worth the $10 he’ll cost me - I care more than the cost. Collecting with your heart.