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This months columns are going to be a sort of mixed bag of cool stuff - a little WDAC wrap-up with some cool links if you want to do some web crawling - a little Once Upon A Classics Collectors Club introduction - a little new resort merchandise and collectables update (coming later in the week) - and an update on Julys NFFC National Convention - so - sit back and relax as I get some business done.
Walt Disney Classics Collection -
Celebrating 10 Years of Collectables
I remember the first time that I was told that the Company was thinking of marketing their own line of fine-art mass-market character figurines - I think my response was "Its about time!" As Ive watched the amazing secondary market driven changes in the Disneyana marketplace and the fickle changes in favored collectables over the last decade - Ive watched the WDCC change and grow to keep up. It was an amazingly simple idea in the beginning - since the founding of the Walt Disney Company and the first shorts and feature films from the Disney Studios - there have been all manner of collectable merchandise licensed by the company and produced by outside vendors to feed the public demand to have a bit of the Disney magic in their own homes - so the market already existed for the product. It took a while for the company to learn that no one does Disney like Disney - and with the debut of the Walt Disney Classics Collection - at the South Bend Collectables Show in the summer of 1992 - the company took on the design management and production of its own line of collectable figurines.
The WDAC Convention in 2003 is going to be a wonderful blend of Disney collectors and a great cruise - call the Walt Disney Event Services office at 407-827-7600 for more information and to be placed on the information mailing list.
All you have to do to see what an amazing transformation this made in the collectable figurine marketplace is to read through a copy of Tomarts Disneyana Guide to see the drastic change in quality and design in the production and marketing of Disney character figural decorations. Before 1992 - while the pieces looked like the characters they represented - there was a spark missing - the touch of the Disney artist and the exacting attention to detail in capturing each and every facet of the original characters and the realism that made them appear to have jumped from the screen and onto the mantel. It takes those who made the magic to bring it to "life" once again. Using the extensive art archives of the company and the original color and model sheets used in the original animation processes - the WDCC artists and sculptors went to work.
The Collection began with three scenes: "Bambi", "Cinderella", and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" from "Fantasia". There are now well over 100 scenes, completer pieces and special editions. Designed, marketed and released as collectables - some pieces are produced for a limited production time or are limited numerically - pieces are routinely honored by "retirement". Assuring the integrity of the piece, the plaster molds used in their production are destroyed and collectors can only find these figurines on the secondary market or from collectors willing to part with beloved pieces of their collections. The addition of conventions and special signing events - as well as the explosion in the world-wide demand - have added to the continued collectability of WDCC pieces.
Adding to their collectability - and the integrity of the production of the collection - the underside of each piece is imprinted with an annual production mark - a special insignia which represents a special event in the history of the Walt Disney Company - so that collectors can have a representation of the year in which a piece was produced -
- 1992 - a STEAMBOAT WHEEL - in honor of the 1928 release of Mickey Mouses debut film "Steamboat Willie".
- 1993 - a TREBLE CLEF - symbolizing the 1932 Academy Award winning "Flowers and Trees" from "Silly Symphonies".
- 1994 - a DANCING FLOWER - from the first color cartoon ever created - Disney's 1932 "Flowers and Trees"
- 1995 - a TROWEL - as was used by the Practical Pig in 1933s the "Three Little Pigs".
- 1996 - a SAILOR'S HAT - honoring Donald Duck's hat in 1934s "The Wise Little Hen".
- 1997 - a MUSIC STAND - to represent Mickey Mouse's first color cartoon - 1935s "The Band Concert".
- 1998 - a PICK AX - like the one used by the dwarfs in their diamond mine - representing the Diamond Anniversary of The Walt Disney Company.
- 1999 - a SORCERER'S HAT - commemorating Mickey Mouses role as the Sorcerers Apprentice in 1940s "Fantasia".
- 2000 - a MAGIC FEATHER - commemorating the 1941 Feature Animated Film "Dumbo".
- 2001 - a BUTTERFLY - to commemorate the 1942 Feature Animated Film "Bambi".
- 2002 - a SOMBRERO - commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the Feature Animated Film "Saludos Amigos".
Once the WDCC was well into production - and the management could determine that there was enough interest - the Walt Disney Company introduced the Walt Disney Collectors Society. There was enough interest and a manageable infrastructure to implement and maintain a membership based collectors society with a yearly fee of $50 that allowed the member certain benefits - including a free membership gift sculpture, a specially produced and edited quarterly magazine "Sketches" and "Newsflash", a quarterly newsletter with breaking news and information. Members also receive advanced notice of releases, retirements and invitations to special "members only" events - a cloisonné membership pin - featuring the years membership piece - and personalized membership card - and special "members only" pieces. The largest selling point was that members would become part of an "exclusive" and International group of over 80,000 other members - others that shared their love and enthusiasm for all things Disney.
Joining the Walt Disney Collectors Society is very easy and can be done through an authorized WDCC retailer, select Disney Stores nationwide - and Disney Theme Park locations around the world. For more information, you can call (800) 932-5749. In a very hectic marketplace - membership in the WDCC is a real value. This years membership/renewal piece features Snow White and is called "Wont You Smile for Me?" - sculpted by Dusty Horner - its really quite a wonderful piece and available only to new and returning members - on the secondary market for well above the $50 membership fee.
This years releases will feature pieces from Saludos Amigos", "Pinocchio", "Bambi" and "The Jungle Book". Its a collectables division with great artistic integrity - as the sculptors in the division have fan bases of their own - and real integrity of production - the pieces are crafted with great attention to detail and attention to the character, movie, artist or scene. These sculptures are plused with specially added pieces - some in iron, in crystal, in glass - and not just turned out in the quickest and easiest manufacturing process available. And they are incredibly collectable - all you need to do is to track the value of "Little April Showers" also called the "field mouse" piece - from its original retail as part of the inaugural "Bambi" scene through to the serious money it brings today. Lets just say that its one I still kick myself for passing on.
Take a look at the product coming from this division - and its very clear that they "get it" - that they understand the relationship between character - artist - and collector.