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Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, editor

Summer 2004 Merchandise Update

Collectors see significant growth of Disney licensed products

Thursday, August 19, 2004
by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer

For retailers, the California Gift Show means scouring 19 floors in two office towers—not to mention the entire 770,000-square-foot Los Angeles Convention Center—looking for new products to bring home to their stores. Mom-and-pop shopkeepers rub elbows with buyers from Bloomingdales, all scouting for the next trend in gifts and collectibles.

For stores like mine that specialize in Disney merchandise, the twice-annual gift shows were once an exercise in futility. Very few companies were willing to pay the licensing fees necessary to produce merchandise with Disney characters, and the few established licenses were well-represented in the market.

A lot has changed in the past two years. Dozens of new Disney licensees have hit the gift show circuit showcasing their latest creations. Where I could once skim the entire show in one long day, we now devote days just to check out new Disney-licensed products. We found everything from accessories and clothing to board games and stationary at the just-completed summer show.

The Bambi Couture collection of sweetly charming T-shirts, skirts, hoodies and accessories, featuring Bambi, Mickey & Minnie and Winnie the Pooh characters, has been making waves on the 'tween (children ages 9 to 12) fashion scene. Find them online at stores like dELiAs.com or FredFlare.com. A line of Alice in Wonderland accessories is also in the works.


USAopoly offers Monopoly, chess and dominoes featuring Disney characters. Photo © USAopoly.

USAopoly has introduced a series of classic board games with Disney themes, including Monopoly, chess, and dominoes. The character-based chess and Monopoly games are already on store shelves, with the “Classic Mickey” collection dominoes and chess sets arriving later this fall. The company has also created four Disney variations of their award-winning “Kid Q's” games. The company Web site (link) offers a list of retailers carrying these collections.


High IntenCity offers over 100 Disney charms and accessories through gift, accessory and specialty shops. Photo © High IntenCity.

Hi IntenCity's Charm It! Disney collection of charms and accessories takes a popular theme-park souvenir into mass retail. Over 100 charms, necklaces, bracelets, keychains and bags are available, with new additions coming every month or so. Find a store near you from its retailer listing (link).

A new offering from Inscribe will allow Disney fans to create social stationery featuring licensed Disney characters. The company's print-on-demand system cuts production time compared to traditional custom printing, and lets customers order just the quantity they need.


Holiday greeting cards are just one product available from Inscribe's new Disney collection. Photo © Inscribe/Disney.

Available products include cards, announcements, invitations, notepads, address labels—even candy bar wrappers, and feature characters from Mickey Mouse to Pixar's upcoming The Incredibles. The company plans to have the first systems installed in stores by October, and will make a list of participating retailers available on their Web site (link).


DisneyInkShop.com lets customers design their own T-shirts, sweatshirts and more. Photo © Zazzle.

MousePlanet reported in March that Zazzle and Disney teamed up to launch another print-on-demand enterprise. DisneyInkShop.com lets Disney fans order custom-designed T-shirts featuring their favorite Disney characters. Customers can choose from a gallery of over 2,500 images, 18 shirt/accessory options, and dozens of fabric colors and combinations. The shirts can further be personalized with hundreds of slogans, names, or even team numbers (MouseAdventure teams, are you paying attention?) Zazzle estimates that there are 1.7 billion possible custom shirt designs.

Master Replicas, already well-known for creating officially licensed collectible prop replicas for movie and television productions including Star Wars, Star Trek and The Lord of the Rings, is now working with Disney to produce prop replicas from animated and live-action features, with three items scheduled for release in 2004.


Cinderella's Glass Slipper will be the first Disney prop replica produced in the new Master Replica's collection. Photo © Master Replicas.

The first item to be released in October/November is the glass slipper from Cinderella. The next issue will be Princess Aurora's Tiara from Sleeping Beauty. The adult-size wearable Tiara will be finished with 18-karat gold plating and extensive crystal and pearl detailing. Finally, Snow White collectors will scramble to own the Evil Queen's heart box from Snow White. The box has a unique opening mechanism, and is designed to also be a functional jewelry box. Each of these three releases is a limited edition of 2,500 pieces, and are priced from $249 to 299. The products will be available through the company Web site (link), or at authorized retailers.

When Enesco Group announced last September that it had been named the exclusive licensee for the Walt Disney Classics Collection, some collectors began to worry about the future of the line. They feared that Enesco, the company behind such lines as Cherished Teddies and Precious Moments, would not be able to maintain the image of a high-end line like the Walt Disney Classics Collection.


Hercules and Pegasus: Defiant is one of the first Gallery Edition releases. Photo © Disney.

At last week's New York gift show, Enesco unveiled the fall 2004 additions to the collection, including the start of an Aladdin series, two figures from Pixar's upcoming The Incredibles, and additions to the Beauty and the Beast series. The company also introduced a new “Gallery Edition” series. The first two releases in this series are bronze-tone variations of existing Classics Collection sculptures, Mulan and Hercules. Walt Disney Classics Collection is available at the Disney theme parks and through authorized retailers find one near you at the Enesco Web site (link).


Three new watch collections offer a bit of variety for your wrist. Photo © Seiko.

Seiko has just introduced three new lines of Disney watches. “Since 1928” is a retro modern timepiece collection featuring only Mickey Mouse. “The Comics” collection is a combination of cool vintage and modern styling featuring original Walt Disney Comic Book artwork. “Snap” watches have interchangeable bracelets, and are aimed at younger fans.


The Fairest One of All is one of the upcoming additions to the Story-Time collection. Photo © Harmony Ball Company.

Earlier this year, Olzsewski Studios announced that the Harmony Ball Company would continue the Story-Time license with Disney. Robert Olzsewski continues to serve as lead designer. Five new miniatures have just been introduced, with another nine more on the way. Olzsewski continues to produce the Disneyland in Miniature series under a direct license with Disney, as well as his Warner Brothers series through his own studio. Visit the new Story-Time Web site for local retailers (link).


Mickey's Teacup Twirl is one of the first theme-park inspired pieces offered for sale outside the parks. Photo © Lenox.

Lenox Classics is expanding its Disney line with a large assortment of figurines and ornaments. Where Walt Disney Classics pieces are based on film scenes, Lenox pieces are more interpretive, and feature characters in new poses. Mickey's Teacup Twirl has been the most popular of the new collection, possibly because it is based on a theme-park attraction. You can purchase Disney products through the Lenox Web site (link), or at an authorized retailer.


Ron Lee unveiled “Surf's Up” at last month's NFFC Show & Sale. Photo © Ron Lee.

Finally, many other existing Disney licensees are expanding their collections. The Bradford Group has launched a new Disney collectible music box series and a new holiday Disney train set. These can be viewed at the company's retail division at Collectibles Today (link), or at authorized retailers.

Department 56 is adding to the village started last year, and is also featuring Minnie Mouse in the SnowBabies “guest series” collection. Visit its Web site (link) or your local D56 dealer.

Starlight Originals is adding three new pieces to their Disney collections check out their Web site for a preview (link). Finally, sculptor Ron Lee (link) unveiled three new sculptures at the July NFFC Show & Sale, including a gorgeous holiday sleigh ride piece.

As Disney is eliminating many of its own distribution channels by closing the Disney Gallery stores and turning the remaining Disney Stores into children's emporiums, it's refreshing to find so many new products available for adult consumers. A few more years like this, and we may all forget why we even miss the “old” Disney Stores.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Adrienne here.


ABOUT THE EDITOR

Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix is the super-shopper behind MouseShoppe, your personal and unofficial shopping service for the Disneyland Resort, and the owner of CharmingShoppe, a Disney collectibles store located in Anaheim.

In addition to scouring the park to find you the latest and greatest merchandise, she keeps you updated on all of the merchandise events happening in the parks.

If you want to talk to her about this column, merchandise, or events, contact her here.

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