Sunday, March 10, 2013

My Two Cents ...

Recap: 

  • December 31, 2012 marked the end of the current contract between Enesco, LLC and the Walt Disney Company for the Walt Disney Classics Collection. 
  • December 06, 2012 Enesco, LLC released an announcement that they were passing the torch back to Disney and the line will continue in 2013 under a new licensee to be announced in early 2013.
  • January 03, 2013 Precious Moments Inc. announced they were the new licensee of the collection.  This past Friday, images started to surface on the internet of part of their releases planned for this year, slated to arrive at retailers by Sept.
Part of their announcement stated the following, "The Walt Disney Classics Collection line, through PMI, will continue to share the same standards of creativity, excellence and quality."

Since the announcement in December, I've received a lot of emails and tried to keep an open mind regarding the future of the line under someone new. The line was first handled by Schmid, then brought in-house (Walt Disney Art Classics) and then licensed to Enesco.  

From its inception in 1992, the line maintained its artistry and integrity throughout even though some saw the end when Enesco became the licensee, fearing the line would become nothing more than giftware.  Most will agree, Enesco upheld the same standards as its predecessors.  

Yes, Enesco strayed from actual film moments (Tinker Bell Seasons Series, Mickey Sculpting Mickey and the most recent 20th Anniversary sculpture) and recall vividly the uproar with the release of the Spotlight Collection (based on actual Disney model sheets) and the Gallery Edition Series (sculptures done in a bronze-colored paint) but those were pale in comparison to my first impressions of these future releases.

From the photos made available from PMI on Friday, (basing my opinion on both low and a higher resolution images) found these releases underwhelming and consider them more giftware vs. fine porcelain sculptures.  Maybe I've become spoiled, maybe a bit overprotective of a line that many of us have been collecting for 20 years but a few things I noticed immediately in this announcement:

1. When did Snow White or Belle wear a crown or Cinderella wear bracelets on both arms in their respective films?
2. We've come to expect 'plussing' such as opalescent paint, bronze, pewter and Swarovski crystals but glitter?
3. What animated short is Cowboy Mickey from?

Had this been a new line to replace the Walt Disney Classics Collection to possibly fill a void, maybe long time collectors like myself wouldn't be as critical but the Walt Disney Classics Collection logo is tied to these releases.  How did someone at Disney approve these releases and consider them in the same vein?  Did they feel because the Walt Disney Classics Collection was attached to them, that made everything ok? 

I honestly wish Disney, when Enesco opted not to renew their contract, would have just retired the line. The line reached a milestone 20 years, had a banner year with great releases and what an appropriate piece to end an era, Snow White & Prince Charming.  Appropriately titled, 'Fairytale Ending' and honoring Walt's first theatrical release and Disney's 1st Princess.

To the WDCC Team, many who have been there since the beginning and the talented sculptors who created magic bringing 2D characters to life in 3D thank you for the legacy you created honoring the beloved films and characters of it's many collector over these past 20 years.

15 comments:

jmbunkyjr said...

Nice brick there duck! Watch you don't hit anyone with it!

The pic I saw was very very small so I can't say much YET. . .

From what I know from reading I'm not very happy. I think I'm not happy cause it isn't the same of what we have been used to. Now if they ended the line and retired the name and logo and these new pieces came out under a new name and a branch off the collection I might be a bit happier, but I just don't like how this new direction is linked to our collection. I call it our collection because it is ours. It was kept alive all those years at times by Disney who knew this is what Walt would want. I always looked at it as a gift from Disney to keep all the great moments alive for us. When I look at all the scenes and stand a lone pieces I remember the movies, trips to the parks, and such.

Broadly looking over what has been announced especially the ornaments I just doesn't speak premiere, luxury line that WDCC did for 20 years.

I do know that those new ornaments are going to do a killing in Hallmark for the bottom dollar though. They are going to place em right next to the plastic holiday Disney line of ornaments and people who buy these are going to think it's a great bargain to get a porcelain ornament vs a plastic one for a few dollars more and the profit is going to roll in.

Much easier to make 3 dollar ornaments and sell them for huge profit in the 10's or thousands vs a 300 or 400 dollar piece that us collectors buy.

So where is the line going in this new direction?

To the bank. That's what I think. I hope I'm wrong, but it's kinda where Disney is going. Look at the park mech. Same stuff trip after trip. Disney doesn't need to think outside the box for those that go time and time again. They can capture the one time visit people or the one time buyer for this new stuff and pull in way more money.

Sad, but I think it's true. Gone are the days of the rare collectable or piece of art. It's all about a cheap throw away memory for a trip or a holiday.

I really really really hope I'm wrong.

jimi

Matthew said...

I've seen pretty clear pictures of the pieces that PM intends to release.

To call me disappointed is an understatement.

I would think that the company would want to put its best foot forward on its initial set of releases. If this is the direction they intend to take WDCC, I'm not interested in any way.

There is a certain authenticity in design (it's called being "on model") required to represent these characters the way they are presented in the films and shorts. These pieces show none of that authentic design. WDCC pieces have always had a complexity of design and have excelled at representing movement. These pieces do not meet the criteria I would require them to meet to be called WDCC.

I guess that's the thing that surprises me most of all... perhaps PM has the best of intentions, but if this is what they could produce why would DIsney allow them to use the WDCC brand? These aren't even close (yes, I know that two of the pieces are copies of WDCC pieces, but even those aren't executed very well).

Sure, WDCC has had interpretive pieces in the past, and I know that there have also been some "on model" misses, but I take a look at one of my all-time favorite WDCC pieces, Milkweed Ballerinas "A Waltz upon the Wind" and THAT's what I expect the WDCC to be, not what is being shown for release late this year.

I wish someone from Disney Consumer Products would explain what their intent is here... they sure don't know the audience for WDCC if they think this will make it.

I'm usually a fairly positive person and patient as well, but even from this first look, I won't buy...

Matthew said...

Add my sincere thanks as well to the previous WDCC teams... They've brought me some fantastic memories over the years. I really wish there would be more, but I feel that it's over now.

Herc said...

Don, I could not have said it better. The Walt Disney Classics Collection (the one from 1992 to 2012) has brought film to life, model sheets jump off the page, and interpretations soar to the highest level.

The Enesco team in the last few years have brought the most beautifully detailed and intricate pieces that showed the passion and quality "Disney" is (was) known for. What can you say about the Fantasia fairies that doesn't have thrilling, detail, complexity, beautiful, intricate and more in any description.

When the collection branched out to the parks, it brought a new group of "customer" to it. It brought Pirates to life for me, gave us many sparks of imagination, and brought chills from a certain mansion that had room for one more.

The passion and dedication of all the sculptors I have met over the years showed that even the most skilled of artisans could show a child-like innocence when describing their sculpting process.

Am I happy with the new releases? No, not at all. When did ALL the princesses have swirls (and especially made out of glitter) in their gowns? Guess inspiration came from the Disney Store costumes. Are there titles to all these pieces? Are sculptors announced (or do they want to remain anonymous)? Will I buy? Probably not. I'm not impressed at all. Even the ornaments of recent sculptures don't look like a true WDCC piece. As I told me wife, Nancy, while she was driving, I'm done with the collection, she almost ran off the road.

I would like to let a special person know that what she did for this line will not be matched again. One would have to have the desire and drive to show the world what a true moment in film is or how to really fight for something that would turn out to be very special. Traci and gang, you have brought happiness to my smile, joy to my tears, and emptiness to my wallet. My bank account now thanks Precious Moments for letting the funds grow again.

Navyne said...

Is there any place to see pictures? I recently received a PM catalog but didn't see anything regarding WDCC (or did they drop the name?). When I saw they were not retaining any of the creative staff, I had the sinking feeling I would not recognize the product any more. I, too, want to let the old guard know how much I enjoy and appreciate their efforts. Many fond memories of conventions and the excitement awaiting new releases. Alas, this now feels like it existed in a different time and place. Or as the storybooks say, "Once Upon a Time".......

Jeriel said...

I too am looking for the photos. I have been a huge collector over the years and am sad to hear such disappointing news. Anyone know where to find the photos?

Duckman said...

Jimi, Navyne & Jeriel,

I've updated the blog entry to include the images a friend was so kind to send.

Jimi, Matthew and Jeff,

Thanks and thank you for your added thoughts. A great closing statement in your posting Jeff.

Agree Matthew. WDCC has had their misses, you can't knock a home run out the park each and every time but it's going to be hard to top what they accomplished and how they continued to push the envelope in their releases. The Fairies from Fantasia are some of their greatest work along with Kaa & Mowgli from The Jungle Book and the Headless Horseman and Ichabod Crane. I don't anticipate we'll ever see pieces like those again.

I too missed the sculpt title, the plussing elements and the sculptor information. Always looked forward to each announcement to see which sculptor sculpted what.

Navyne,

I had the same sinking feeling as you did when the creative staff behind the collection and the sculptors who many have been with the line since its inception were no longer going to be involved in the collection.

Mary said...

"Saddened" is the only way to describe the feeling when seeing the photo of these upcoming releases of WDSS by PMI. I think we're all on the same page with our reaction and thoughts concerning what Precious Moments is doing to the line which we've all come to love and cherish. I have a collection of Precious Moments figurines which date back over 20 years ago and I appreciate them for what they are....but for them to take an established collection and completely change it just does not make any sense to me. I guess we can finally say that our WDCC collection is complete. If anything positive has come out of this, it is a renewed appreciation for the talent, attention to detail and hard work that went into the pieces that we know as the Walt Disney "Classics" Collection.

Brian Raupp said...

I encourage everyone to post on the precious moments Facebook page with you concerns. Those of us at the wdcc Facebook have been doing this.

http://m.facebook.com/groups/175448925869473?__user=100000619934177#!/OfficialPreciousMoments?__user=100000619934177

Bob said...

Devastated is the way I felt when I saw the flyer PM put out showcasing their new WDCC pieces!
You've got to be kidding me what are they thinking? Do they really think they can pass these off as WDCC?

IMO these pieces should be on an end cap in the World of Disney priced at $7.95.

I have to believe their target group has to be the occasional park visitor and not the serious collector.

Bob said...

When I heard that PM was taking over the WDCC line I as many hoped they would keep intact the quality that the Classic Collection had become famous for, if this is what we have to look forward to our hopes have been trashed!

Our pieces mean so much more to us than just being a piece of porcelain there are so many memories attached.
Weather the piece was a gift for a special occasion or purchased at an event after hearing the sculptors quirky but interesting story as to how the sculpt was developed from concept to final production.

We have to thank Traci the design team and the sculptors for all their efforts as we all know Classics was much more than a job to them it was a labor of love. They are the ones who would breathe life into the pieces.

At least they all exited on TOP! What they have done with these pieces over the last few years has been nothing short of amazing.


One thing I know we will take away from this all is the friendships forged thru this collection will last a lifetime.....:)

Duckman said...

Mary,

Agree. I think I was in shell shock after seeing the PMI images and it really makes you appreciate the artistry and talent that went into this collection over the past 20 years. Thankfully there are a still pieces we still would like to add from the original collection that will allow us to continue collecting for a little while yet.

Brian,

Thanks for the link!

Bob,

Agree 100%! These proposed pieces will NOT resonate with the diehard collectors.

The WDCC Team and Sculptors need to be proud of the legacy they left behind as part of the Walt Disney history. What they did will be unsurpassed!

wendisue said...

Don, could not have said it any better than you, you kind of summarized all our feelings knowing our attachment to WDCC for the past 20 years. I, like many others suffer from "SDS", which is "Serious Disney Syndrome" caused amoung other things by WDCC! This syndrome is also caused by too many trips to Disney World; allowing a son to leave school for the Disney college program; and adding to the collection when there is seemingly no funds available! Anyhow, this really does seem the end of something great, a sad time for all of us. Thanks to not only Traci and the crew, but thanks to you for all the info you yourself provided to keep us all informed.

Duckman said...

wendisue,

Thanks! Appreciate the kind words. Probably one of the hardest blog entries I've written to date. Like you, and many other collectors, there is a passion for this collection that you don't see with other collectibles.

Congratulations to your son for being accepted in the Disney College Program.

I will be seeing Traci this coming weekend and will pass along your Thanks!

Steve Dierks said...

Don,
I believe you were too kind in your thoughts. Disney should be embarrassed to place this line of merchandise under the WDCC banner. Walt would be turning over in his grave to see this quality of merchandise flying under that banner. I understand the need to find ways to cut costs as we are all doing it today. But, I honestly believe they should have ended the line after the outstanding 20 year run rather than take this direction. I still cant believe someone at Disney has signed off on these under the WDCC banner. Perhaps if they rebranded it as new line it has some hope, but I know that more hard-core collectors like me are done with WDCC.

This is the end of the line for me. I would be embarrassed to put these pieces along side the rest of my collection. I have over 960 WDCC pieces displayed in 12 WDCC actual store display cases all over my house. Can you imagine the Cindy "I want to dress like Madonna with Bracelets" piece in the same case as the $2500 Coach that has Gold Inlays and is signed by Dusty Horner? I think not.

I used to have a standing order with my local dealer to order 1 of every possible piece, but I have already cancelled the order and will simply work on filling the gaps to built out the rest of the collection from the 1st 20 years.

This is the latest step in a long line of repositionings at Disney that I am really disappointed with. First it was the Catalog, then it was the stores, now it is the WDCC line (just to name the 3 hot buttons with me--plenty more examples if you need them). Unfortunately, I am seeing hints of it in the parks too. Right now I am holding on to my annual trip to WDW as the best part of Disney...i really hope they don't think doing something drastic in the parks will be a good idea...

Disappointed & embarrassed for the Disney people who actually signed off on this,

Steve D (Atlanta GA area)