I recall being at the International Collectors Exposition (ICE) in Rosemont, IL (June 2000) when Gaston and LeFou were announced. At the time of the announcement, show samples were not available and only concept drawings were available for preview.
Gaston ("Village Heartthrob") and LeFou ("The Fool") made their WDCC debut in May 2001, both were sculpted by Kent Melton, Limited to Production Year 2001 and had a special 10th Anniversary backstamp in honor of the film's release. Gaston came with a Beast Castle pin and LeFou was packaged with a Rose Table pin.
Their release coincided with Belle ("Dreaming of a Great Wide Somewhere") and the Fountain Accessory, both released earlier that year as the Spring Premiere Event sculpture (Belle) and purchase with purchase (Fountain), March 01-31, 2001.
Initially passed on the sculpture as I wasn't a fan of the Belle sculpt. Gaston and LeFou could work well together on their own, but felt you needed Belle to complete the grouping, maybe knowing that is how the releases were intended. I know she was 'dreaming of a great wide somewhere' but there was something vacant in her facial expressions when I saw the sculpt in person, that I passed. Coincidentally followed suit when Gaston and LeFou were released.
Fast forward to Summer 2007, two years after the release of the Village Girls and LeFou ("Sitting Pretty"), decided to 'go on the hunt' for the 2001 release of Gaston. Stock exhausted at dealers, not one you see show up often and most times commanding a high secondary price. Felt very fortunate a couple weeks ago to finally be able to add this sculpture to my collection.
Kent Melton did an amazing job capturing the arrogance and self-importance of this character. I came into Disney through The Little Mermaid to Aladdin years, both these films and Beauty and the Beast being films much watched and loved by Amanda during her growing up years. Having Ursula and Jafar, felt something was missing by not having Gaston and both of them done in the event style that I'm very much a fan of, was glad to be able to secure this version of Gaston. Pose, capturing him in 3D and the coloring .. spot on!
I think that is part of the fun of collecting, not purchasing something as soon as it comes out and let time pass, then deciding if something you truly need and/or want in your collection and the thrill of the hunt as you seek it out and that sweet taste of victory when you're able to secure one!