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Atlanta Gift Show: Day 4

Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.
Being a Disney freak sometimes makes it hard to be objective about new product.

In Disney's adaptation of the J.M. Barrie books, Tinker Bell is a Pixie, not a Princess or a Fairy. Nothing in the Peter Pan film suggests that she has a royal lineage or a gaggle of Fairy friends (or a magic wand for that matter...).

To date, Disney has been pretty consistent in calling her a Pixie, and most Disney merchandise that refers to her in any manner does so as a Pixie. According to stories told by Alice Davis, widow of Marc Davis, Tinker Bell's dress has exactly seven "points" in the hem - no more, no less. She says that Marc frequently complained when animating Peter Pan that it was very difficult to "make seven points cover everything that needs to be covered on that Pixie!" (Artist Terri Hardin made much the same observation when sculpting a Tinker Bell figure for Disneyland.)

So yes, I am the freak who picks up a new Tinker Bell sculpture and counts the number of points on the dress, checks to make sure the eyes are blue (not green... LENOX), and gets annoyed when Disney licensees spell her name as one word.

I've been annoyed ever since I heard that Disney approached author Gail Carson Levine and asked her to write a "backstory" for Tinker Bell that would introduce a new crop of fairies and could serve as the foundation for a series of books. The first book, Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg, arrived with a marketing push that was unprecedented for a book that didn't have the words "Harry Potter" in the title, and thus the Di$ney Fairie$ Franchi$e was born.

If that whole misdirected "Tinker Bell is a Princess!" campaign waged by Disney Consumer Products drove me insane, this has been even worse. I don't like that Disney has re-written Tinker Bell's story, I don't like that they've created new characters seemingly for the sole purpose of creating merchandise around them, and I really don't like that Tinker Bell is suddenly a Fairy.

To anyone who says "well, they're just being true to the original book; after all, Barrie said she was a Fairy," my response is this:

Barrie's Tinker Bell may have been a Fairy, but Disney's Tinker Bell is a Pixie... and Barrie's Tinker Bell was DEAD by the end of the book. Still think the "original" story is the story that Disney should tell?
Over the past two years I've avoided Disney Fairies merchandise like the plaque. Won't look at it, won't buy it, and won't sell it in my store. When Department 56 introduced a new line of Fairies merchandise last year, I bought only the Tinker Bell pieces. So today I was in the Royal Doulton showroom and the rep was telling me all about the new Disney Fairies pieces they have introduced. My automatic response was "we don't carry the Fairies," and she asked why. Somehow, for the first time, I actually heard myself explaining my reasons... and suddenly they didn't make any more sense to me than the did to the rep.

It doesn't matter if I like or approve of the Disney Fairies, they are here to stay and nothing I say or do is going to change that. If I were being completely honest, Toy Story (oddly enough) was probably the last Disney movie released where merchandising considerations were not a factor in the character development.

I think I'm done tilting at Neverland's windmills... and I probably need to call the rep back and add the Fairies merchandise to my order.

(But I'm never giving up the "Steamboat Willie sculptures should never be in color" battle)

In addition to the new Royal Doulton Fairies mentioned above, there are four new Disney collections for 2008: Alice in Wonderland, Jungle Book, Pinocchio and The Lion King. Each collection includes a Limited Edition focal piece with an MSRP of $250 - $400, plus two or three $50 "accessory" pieces. (The Jungle Book scene has a $100 accessory) My favorite is the Alice in Wonderland scene. The main piece is the Mad Hatter's Tea Party; the accessories are Alice, Cheshire Cat and the White Rabbit.

Royal Doulton is also doing a new Winnie the Pooh line of mugs with matching figurines, (MSRP $43), plus a new christening collection.

Last year Roman did a series of light-up wood-look Disney sculptures. I did not order them for my store because I thought they looked a little "cheap" compared to the similarly priced Disney Traditions line. This year they have created a line of cloissone-finish sculptures that is just lovely, and surprisingly well priced. ($32 - $65) Roman has also introduced a Victorian Mickey tree topper, Cinderella tree topper, plus solar-powered holiday Pooh and Mickey garden statues that light up at night and a whole collection of "waterless snow globes" called dry domes. The characters are covered with a glass dome, but there is a hole in the back through which you can touch and spin the sculpture.

Finally, Westland Giftware is continuing their Mickey InspEARations line (smaller replicas of the 75 Mickey statues that toured the Disney theme parks) with eight new releases, including one that never saw when the tour reached Disneyland. I spoke with a product development person from Westland today and she confirmed that they are planning to continue this line and already have eight more sculptures planned for July. She told me (and I've heard this before) that Disney did not secure merchandise rights from all of the artists / celebrities who decorated the Mickey's, so there will almost certainly never be a full set available, but they are trying to work down the list of the most popular sculptures.

It looks like Salamander Graphix has dropped their Disney license, which means no more Disney Poliwoggs. Too bad - those were really cute. In the "random bits of Disney" category, I came across a distributor of twinkle lights today that claims to be Disneyland's supplier. The sales rep told me all about how they are developing Christmas lights specifically for Disneyland, including the development of a "theft-proof" bulb. Seems people were stealing the bulbs off of Christmas lights at the park...

Having put another 6 miles on my pedometer today, it's time to say "farewell" to the Atlanta Gift Show. The show continues on for another week, but I'm on my way home so I can attend the Los Angeles Gift Show which starts Tuesday, and then the NFFC show and sale next weekend.

Show season makes me wonder why I ever wanted the holiday season to end...

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  1. Mr.Abominable's Avatar
    Hey AVP, thanks for the intersting info. I read recently that a Home interior company was licensed to create area rugs(classic designs not characters) for Disney and that they are supposed to be introduced this spring at the World Market Center here in Vegas. Is this type of product something that you recieve info on? We are always looking for cool, artistic items for our home so I was just curious.

    PS. I know you skipped the rug section of the show and you specialize in collectables but you know more than anyone else I know, so I thought I would ask. Thanks
  2. AVP's Avatar
    I actually did try to go to the rug section before I left the Home building Saturday night, but the rug showrooms had all closed up early. I had heard from another vendor that there are new lines of Disney home furnishings to be introduced at the Vegas show, and I've toyed with the idea of popping up there for a day to see what I can see. But to answer your other question, no, we don't generally receive notices of new licensed merchandise outside the catagories we usually stock. I know that there is supposed to be a huge new collection of juvenille furniture, but I'd never see that catalogue unless I either searched out the company, or tried to get someone at Disney Consumer Products to put me in touch with the vendor. This is where being both a retailer AND a reporter gets tricky.

  3. sunfun94's Avatar
    Thanks for the info.. I have been into your store many times and am amazed by the wonderful items you have in there! Now I have a small iota of a glimpse of all the goes into choosing the items. Really cool.. thanks for the posts
  4. Maus's Avatar
    "Royal Doulton is also doing a new Winnie the Pooh line of mugs with matching figurines, (MSRP $43), plus a new christening collection."
    Adrienne, is the christening collection available yet? Or should I ask, when will it be available?

  5. AVP's Avatar
    Sorry Helga, missed your comment. That collection is expected in April.