Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A Series Revisited: The Portrait Series

In the past couple weeks, we've discussed Past Series that were done by the Walt Disney Classics Collection. One such series was the Portrait Series. This series made its debut in 2001 and was an exclusive to The Disney Stores and Disney Gallery Stores and Limited to Production Year 2001.

Belle & Beast (sold as a set), sculpted by Gwen Dutcher were the only release in this series and have become a much sought after set on the Secondary Market. They were packaged in a WDCC green box, except for one side was a clear plastic vs. the cardboard. The Certificate of Authenticity (COA) includes the following backstamp information:

  • "The Disney Portrait Series" with the name of each piece.
  • "10th Anniversary Backstamp"
  • "Production Limited to Year 2001"
A common question asked, "why were there not more releases in this series?"

Those who attended the 2004 Celebration of Walt Disney Art Classics held at the Disneyland® Resort (May 14-16, 2004) had the opportunity to see potential releases planned for this series during the Medfield College Alumni Talent Round-Up Luncheon which were Graduation Prizes for some lucky alumnis.

The Portrait Series Graduation Prizes consisted of the following:
  1. Snow White and Dopey
  2. Briar Rose and Maleficent
  3. Lucky and Cruella DeVil

Snow White & Dopey and Briar Rose & Maleficent were sculpted by Gwen Dutcher. Lucky & Cruella DeVil were sculpted by Patrick Romandy-Simmons.

Hopefully some day we'll see this series revisited and those potential releases will actually become a permanent part of the Walt Disney Classics Collection!


Matthew said...

I had no idea that more prototypes were ever produced for this series! I don't even recall anyone ever saying that they had seen these at the convention!

I really liked this set and was disappointed not to get it. I know it's not a "scene" (the chief complaint I remember hearing a lot back then), but would still have made a great display, much like concept art...

Babette said...

During that same convention, attendees had the chance to paint their own bust of Mickey Mouse which was similar to the portrait series styling. So I guess you could say there is an unofficial extra piece in that series which was available to convention members only!

Babette said...

Actually I mis-spoke,we painted the busts during the first WDCC convention in Disneyland, not the 2nd one.

Duckman said...

Matthew, all three sets looked awesome from the photos on the screen. Hopefully we'll still see them become a permanent part of the collection some day.

Michelle, you are correct. The Mickey Bust was painted at the 2002 WDAC Convention. The 2004 WDAC Convention, attendees learned the traditional techniques of hand-painting an animation cel by painting an image of Donald Duck in honor of his 70th Anniversary.

Magic Mirror said...

I would love to see these 'revisited' again, I think it would be a better addition than the spotlight series.


Duckman said...

You make an interesting comment Tony.

Wonder how others perceive the Portrait Series to other series that were not so well received like the Spotlight Collection and the Gallery Edition Series?

Babette said...

I like the concept of the Portrait Series better. I'm a long time collector and have many of the characters already in prior releases before they came out in Spotlight format. Had no desire to get them as the Spotlight piece, except for &#(@* Donald which is just the essence of the Duck.

The portrait sculpts were a bit different in that they gave a more close up view of the face of the character. Gave the sculptor a chance to really get into the details of their faces. That, I think, was their unique quality.

Duckman said...

Excellent assessment of the Portrait Series Michelle as what made them unique to the collection.

Herc said...

Are there any photos of the other pieces? It would be really nice to see what might have been available. I think it was a great start to the series. Unfortunately, I have no idea why anyone would stop a "series" with the first release. Then it really isn't a series, is it?

I think the detail is wonderful. I really hope that they bring these back in the future. They could do one set more to see if there could be a resurgence. If the secondary market is any indication, then the next release would be pretty popular.

These are not for everyone, but other collectors may like to get these. Just like the same people who like the spotlight collection or who just want to put something with a title.

I'm voting for a return. Don, do you know if the series could continue since it was limited to production year 2001 or was it officially retired (aka abandoned)?

Duckman said...

Jeff, the detail is amazing and as Babs pointed out, it gives the sculptors a chance to really emphasize the detail of a character's face that is not always possible in a full body sculpture.

Don't see why the Portrait Series could not make a return. Even though the first (and only) release was limited to a production year, we've seen that with other series (Mickey Mouse Club for example) where some releases are open edition and some are limited to a specific production year.

I like to think the series was put on hiatus vs. being abandoned and hopefully we can see it's return one day.

Herc said...

I wonder if they ever do bring the series out of hiatus, would they consider a new pairing or one of the prototypes that were given as a prize at the convention? I would love to see all the ones that were done as prototypes.
Does anyone else agree that this series lends itself more to the princesses? What great pairings could come from that. I also see some other pairings.
Snow White and Dopey or Hag
Aurora and Malificent
Jasmine and Aladdin
Cinderella and Lady Tremaine (ooohhh)
Ariel and Ursula or Triton
Hercules and Meg (hmmm, wonder why I chose this one?)

Duckman said...

It would be interesting to see the direction the Portrait Series would go should it ever return.

From it's initial release and potential future releases, it appeared to lean towards Heroines and Princesses (Belle, Snow White and Briar Rose), Villains (Maleficent and Cruella) and Main Characters (Beast, Dopey and Lucky).

I like your suggestions Jeff and could also see the following:

Evil Queen or Hag (possibly both) from Snow White

Cinderella and Lady Tremaine would be a great pairing from Cinderella

The Genie or Jafar as other possibilities from Aladdin

Peter Pan and Captain Hook

Alice and the Queen of Hearts

Babette said...

How about Scar and Mufasa, Quasimodo and Frollo, and Esmerelda & Phoebus? Lots of possibilities. I think Scar and Mufasa would be a really great pairing.

Dennis said...

Wasn't aware of this series until a couple years into my collecting. Never was sure if there were other releases besides Belle and Beast. This blog entry was very helpful. You guys have some great ideas.

Duckman said...

Babs, was trying to come up with something from The Lion King and kept thinking of Simba (young) with either Mufasa or Scar. I like your suggestion of Mufasa with Scar.

For Esmerelda, I think I'd rather see her paired with Frollo. :)

Magic Mirror said...

I found a picture of the pieces, and posted them on

I hope this is of interest.


Koen said...

I do have found the Beauty and the Beast portrait series, but only after searching for months on ebay. Since then i haven't seen them again on ebay. They are great and i wish they would do more of these. The reason i didn't got them when released was that they could only be found in disneystores and i didn't knew any disneystores by then.

I love them very much and would buy others if they were available.

Duckman said...

Overall, the Belle & Beast Portrait Series release did well and as Koen pointed out, not often you find on eBay. I personally would like to see WDCC test the waters and release another set from this series to gauge interest in releasing more from.

Timon said...

Even though many though these were morbid pieces (I never thought that), I love this set.

Whenever I display these two pieces, I put them in one of my bookcases, because that's the perfect spot for Belle and Beast busts.