Thursday, July 31, 2008

Off to the Shore!

Suitcases are packed, car is loaded .. We're Off! This morning, Mary, Amanda and I are hitting the open road and heading to Eastern PA to meet Michelle/Babette and then off to her condo on the Jersey Shore for a fun-filled weekend with our Disney Friends!

Am really looking forward to a few days relaxing on the beach (with a nice cold Blue Moon of course), walking along the Boardwalk, buying some fresh, salt water taffy and trying a chocolate covered molasses pop for the first time!

I will be bringing my laptop with me, so if able to get a connection, will definitely do some blogging :)

Safe travels everyone and see you there!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Farmer Donald :)

A favorite past-time of mine has always been cutting grass and landscaping when I can. This year, I decided to put other things aside and devote my free-time to landscaping which grew (pardon the pun) into planting a small vegetable garden as well.

I've broken the landscaping into two phases. Phase I is finished and going to try and get Phase II done by the end of summer or at least underway. I decided to go with natural stone, which wasn't easy to find and then found a gravel yard that had exactly what I wanted. The catch, I had to climb up the mound of stone and sift through it myself to get the size and shape that I needed. It was actually quite fun, built up my arm muscles in the process and a good feeling that I did it myself when I look at the finished project.

In between, I decided to put in a small vegetable garden. I got the ground ready, mixed in some fertilizer (since our ground is very sandy and has a lot of clay) and for good measure, picked up some Miracle-Gro® Tomato Plant Food (good for tomatoes and other vegetables) and planted a half dozen hungarian hot peppers and three types of tomatoes (red beefsteak, beefmaster and grape).

With the rain and heat we've had so far this summer, all the plants are doing very well. Our tomato plants are loaded, all are green still, except for our grape tomatoes which are starting to turn red. I'm hoping with the heat we've been having the past few days, by the time we return home next week, they'll be starting to turn red. There is nothing better than a fresh tomato picked from the vine, whether you put on a sandwich, make a fresh tomato pizza or a nice salad.

Was very excited this past weekend, we picked our first batch of hot peppers! We decided to stuff them with hot sausage. You had to be a lover of hot things to enjoy these .. LOL! The peppers doubled with the hot sausage, set your mouth on fire but oh, were they good! :) The plants are still full and we should be able to pick another batch when we get back. Having a little problem with bugs eating the leaves (as you can see in the photo), tried Sevin but to no avail. Fortunately, they're not touching the peppers.

Very pleased and already thinking next year of expanding it a little bit and putting in some lettuce, string beans and fresh herbs. My Grandmother would be so proud, as she was always after me to plant a vegetable garden vs. flowers.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Happy Anniversary to The Black Cauldron!

The Black Cauldron (also known as Taran and the Magic Cauldron in some countries) was produced by Walt Disney Productions, and originally released to theatres on July 24, 1985 by Walt Disney Pictures and Buena Vista Distribution. It is based on Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain book series.

The Black Cauldron represented the Disney studio's attempt to reach out to teenage fans of fantasy novels, a popular genre at the time. However, the gamble proved unsuccessful as the film failed at the box-office. Some critics blamed the film's lack of appeal on the dark nature of the book (though some gave it a good review; Roger Ebert's review at the time of the film's release was mostly positive). The film's failure at the box office combined with its dark tone led to Disney shelving the film for nearly 15 years.

Although Disney traditionally re-released their animated features every 7 or so years to theatres, The Black Cauldron remained out of circulation (both theatrically and on home video) for well over a decade after its release. Finally, it was released on home video in late 1998. In 2000 the video was re-released on VHS, and released for the first time on DVD under Disney's Gold Classics Collection banner. Though the R1 DVD is unrestored and non- anamorphic; the R2 release in France is restored, remastered, and anamorphic. The US DVD release features the film's theatrical trailer (though no mention is made of this anywhere on the packaging), as well as a still frame gallery, the Donald Duck cartoon Trick or Treat, and a Quest for the Black Cauldron set-top game.

The company rarely incorporated characters from the film into any Disney-related merchandise since shortly after the film's debut, although The Horned King
has made several low-key appearances in recent Disney merchandise and a series of The Black Cauldron themed beanie toys were produced in limited quantities for sale at Disney Stores in the late 1990s. Despite the film's lackluster reception, it seemed to have developed a cult following among viewers, and it also got score of 65% "fresh" at Rotten Tomatoes.

A restaurant called Gurgi's Munchies and Crunchies was opened at Walt Disney World
at the time of the film's release. It featured artwork of the film's characters on the walls and a picture of Gurgi on the front. Due to the film's failure, most attempts at tie-ins at the park were removed, but the restaurant remained for several years (even as the film it referenced became more and more obscure) until it was redesigned and renamed with a Beauty and the Beast motif. The Horned King was also the main villain of Tokyo Disneyland's now removed Cinderella's Castle Mystery Tour, in which a guest from the tour group would be chosen to defeat him with the power of a magic sword in the attraction's finale.

Although it was first released to video in 1998 as part of the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection
video line, it was originally going to have its home video debut in 1989 as part of the Walt Disney Classics video collection which ran from 1984 to 1994. It was even mastered on tape, but didn't make it due to the success of The Little Mermaid.

To date, nothing has been released from The Black Cauldron as part of the Walt Disney Classics Collection. The Horned King has probably been the most requested character from this film from collectors along with Gurgi, Taran and Princess Eilonwy. The Horned King has been mentioned as a consideration on the ballot of this year's new members-only series, Collectors Choice Series though personally, I would like to see him done as part of the Villains Series.

Happy Anniversary Black Cauldron!

A Very Cool Display .. Thanks Koen!

I want to thank Koen for sharing these photos of his recently purchased Fantasyland Base shown with the Dancing Princess Aurora & Prince Phillip and the Three Fairies (Flora, Fauna and Merryweather) from Sleeping Beauty.

The Dancing Couple, Aurora & Phillip were releases in April, 1998. This sculpture was done in two versions, blue and pink. I think this was done to keep both Flora and Merryweather happy :) The blue version was released as an Open Edition and the pink version was done in an edition size of 2,000. Also released were Flora, Fauna and Merryweather in April, 1998. The Three Fairies were retired in April 2002.

For more discussion on the two versions, please check out the blog entry Dancing Aurora & Phillip: Make Her Blue! from August, 2007.

The Fantasyland Base was made available during the "Celebration of Walt Disney Art Classics" Convention held at Walt Disney World from May 5-6, 2001. The Base is a resin arch that was made available for Convention Guests to display the three (3) Convention featured sculptures - Grumpy (in the Snow White ride), Timothy Mouse (in the Dumbo ride) and the Mad Hatter (in the Alice in Wonderland Teacup ride).

I personally like how Koen has used the arch and how nicely all four sculptures fit on it. The coloring of the floor compliments the Dancing Couple scupture very nicely.

Thanks Koen!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Happy Anniversary to The Fox and the Hound!

The Fox and the Hound is Disney's twenty-fourth animated feature, released on July 10, 1981. The film was based on the Daniel P. Mannix novel The Fox and the Hound. The film centers around the story of two unlikely friends, a bloodhound and a red fox, who struggle to preserve their friendship. At the time of release it was the most expensive animated film produced to date, costing $12 million.

This film represented a changing of the guard of the animators creating the film from Walt Disney's "nine old men" to the more recently trained Disney animators who had moved through the in-house animation training program begun in 1976.

The original novel ended with a hunter nailing Tod's lifeless pelt to the wall then shooting Copper with his shotgun. The story was changed to be more Disney-like with a happy ending (though not a traditional one) and was the last work of the remaining original animators.

Originally, the writers of the film intended for Chief to die when he got hit by the train, so that Copper's revenge against Tod is more extreme. Story veteran Vance Gerry argued for the department, "But he gets hit in the kisser with a freight train!!" to which Ron Miller and co-director Art Stevens countered, "Geez, we never killed a main character in a Disney film and we're not starting now!" As was also the case in Lady and the Tramp, where Trusty is seemingly killed but in a later scene has recovered, Chief suffers major injuries but is saved from death.

  • The last Disney feature for animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.
  • During the storm sequence, old animation from Bambi (1942) is reused. This includes clips of a bird flying into her nest, ducks waddling into a pond, quails running to seek shelter, etc. Footage of young Wart as a squirrel in The Sword in the Stone (1963) running up a tree can be seen, too.
  • The sounds emitted by the big black bear are recycled sound effects used by the two alligators, Brutus and Nero in Disney's earlier animated release The Rescuers (1977).
  • The last Disney animated feature to simply end with a "The End; Walt Disney Productions" credit, as with all previous Disney animated films after Alice in Wonderland (1951). All of the credits were at the beginning. The next Disney animated feature, The Black Cauldron (1985), was the first one with closing credits.
In February 2006, the Walt Disney Classics Collection released the first (and only) releases from The Fox and the Hound. "The Best of Friends" an Open Edition release sculpted by Tony Cipriano was released as a two-piece set.

Many had hoped this release would have been followed with the release of an Opening Title and Big Mama.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

When One is Not Enough :)

Last week I posted about finally getting around to purchase a display stand that I've had my eye on at Lowe's and was so pleased, was surveying the room to see if possible to add a second one :)

As you can tell from the photo, mission accomplished :) After a few phone calls, was able to locate a second one and also picked up the anchor (which I hadn't seen in the store near me) that tied in perfectly.

These display units gave me a chance to get some pieces out of boxes (either never displayed and/or have been packed away). The Event Stitch ("Greetings from Paradise") teamed with the Tiki Hut Accessory is a favorite of mine that I had only displayed seasonally since purchasing both in the Summer of 2006. Ariel & Eric ("Kiss the Girl") I had always displayed on the top shelf of a curio prior to packing away and finding I like much better displayed on a lower level, looking down onto the sculpture vs. looking up at it. It's amazing how placement can give a sculpture a different look/appeal.

Next month will be joining my Disney Family at the shore, so will be on the lookout for a few items to help enhance my setup such as fishing net, seashells, etc. I'm not one to display everything behind glass and so hate having pieces in boxes and not being able to enjoy them, so always looking for unique ways such as this to display and enjoy!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

In the United States of America, Independence Day (commonly known as the Fourth of July, July Fourth, or even simply The Fourth) is a federal holiday celebrating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from Great Britain.

Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, picnics, baseball games, and various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Fireworks have been associated with the Fourth of July since 1777.

Amos Mouse (pictured at right), the Pint-Sized Patriot from the 1953 animated short, Ben and Me was limited to one year of production (2003 only) and was available exclusively through Independent Retailers. Ben and Me recounts the relationship between Benjamin Franklin (one of founding fathers) and Amos Mouse and how together they assisted Thomas Jefferson in writing the Declaration of Independence.

Happy 4th of July to all who visit either the Blog, Website and/or Cafe today.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"All Hail the Pumpkin King!" Sculpture Release & Signing Announced!

Walt Disney Classics Collection presents "All Hail the Pumpkin King!" Sculpture Release & Signing!

As a special limited release for the 15th Anniversary of Tim Burton's stop-motion animated masterwork, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Disneyland® Park plays host Saturday Oct 4th to a monumentally monstrous celebration!

This event marks the worldwide debut of a spectacular new Walt Disney Classics Collection sculpture starring the Pumpkin King (Jack Skellington in his rarely seen Halloween night costume) and that briefly-seen-but-impossible-to-miss monstrosity, the Behemoth, just as they are seen at the beginning of the film before the town square sequence. Halloween brings out the best of the worst, as evidenced by the Behemoth ponderously pulling the oddly constructed straw horse on which the Pumpkin King rides through the night.

One of the most elaborate Walt Disney Classics Collection sculptures ever released, this Numbered Limited Edition (NLE) of only 500 was sculpted by Ruben Procopio and hand-crafted in fine porcelain. It is richly plussed with over twenty-five separate terrifying touches including elements of precious metals, wire, rope, and resin to bring the scene to three-dimensional life (all based on original animation film reference).

Event: Walt Disney Classics Collection presents "All Hail the Pumpkin King!" Sculpture Release & Signing
Date: October 4, 2008
Time: 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Location: Disneyana Shop, Disneyland® Park

Sculpture: Jack Skellington (as the Pumpkin King) and Behemoth
Sculpture Title: "All Hail the Pumpkin King!"
Numbered Limited Edition: 500
SRP: $750.00 US
Sculptor: Ruben Procopio
Approximate Dimensions: 16" H x 15" W x 15" D

Event merchandise must be purchased on the day of release at the event location. Valid Disneyland® Resort receipt may be required. Artist signing is subject to space and time availability and is not guaranteed. Artist will only sign their respective merchandise purchased on the day of the event only. Event information subject to change without notice. Separate admission is required to enter Disneyland® Resort theme parks.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Cool Display Stand I Found!

I've actually had my eye on this stand for some time after seeing in Lowe's this past spring when they began to put the summer items in the store. I finally got around to calling on Sunday to see if still in stock and not only was in stock but on sale! You can't beat that :)

It's described as a Canoe Outdoor Plant Stand/Shelf and thought perfect for our sunroom and an opportunity to get some pieces out of their boxes and on display :) It's made of durable polyresin and stands 36"H x 17.5"W x 10.5" D.

The room is done in a tropical/beach theme, so it fit perfectly with the decor and as you notice, I kept the pieces themed to fit as well. The arrival of Donald & Yellowbeak ("Pirate Gold") is what really prompted me to check on the availability of the stand. The 2006 Membership Gift Ariel ("Seaside Serenade"), the Instant Redemption Scuttle ("Muddled Mentor") and Visa Exclusive Flounder & Sebastian ("Off-Shore Ovation") worked perfectly for the top shelf. Was undecided on the bottom to go with Ariel & Eric ("Kiss the Girl"-2001 Gold Circle Exclusive) or Hook, Smee & Tiger Lily ("An Irresistible Lure"-2007 Numbered Limited Edition). As you can see, I went with the latter.

I'm now surveying the room to see if room for a 2nd one .. LOL! Already have the 3 shelves planned for a 2nd one :)