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Walt Disney Classics Collection: A Second Decade and a New Beginning

Walt Disney Classics Collection: A Second Decade and a New Beginning

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As long time collectors may know, recently there was a changing of the guard so to speak in one of Disney's most loved consumer product lines. The Walt Disney Classics Collection spanned 10 years of producing high quality statues of the characters loved in scenes from movies that touch all of us with emotions and Disney magic. Many of you (like myself) have collected your favorite characters and the series for years to complete them. It has passed through the generations and has no age group limits.

The first decade gave us exceptional pieces. The WDCC Club kits brought us a new piece every year, with a matching pin, a pencil sketch, sketches magazine and the opportunity to purchase Member only pieces. The WDCC always offered new pieces, on going series, special event pieces, Disneyana Convention only pieces and Signature Series -- the Cadillac of WDCC pieces.

When it was first announced Walt Disney Classics Collection had been sold, many questions came to my mind. What will happen? Why did this happen? As collectors, we all felt a great loss of one of Disney's largest and longest running lines. The changes made in Disney high-end collectibles market has shaken up the collectors and caused concern of the future of their collecting. The WDCC license was sold to Enesco Group Inc. This stirred up great concern as to the future of the WDCC product. Would it be changed, the quality, where will it be sold and many other concerns. All of which could not only effect our future collections, but our current collections as well. Would we see the rest of our series? Would they be different? Such a change in a long running product line created fear for collectors. This put most collectors in a "wait and see" position. As a collector for 10 years, I know that it's important we all understand the intentions of Enesco's and its plans for the future of WDCC.

A new release from WDCC, "Beast - Fury Unleashed" from 1991's "Beauty and the Beast"

As the new licensee, Enesco heard our concerns and addressed them in a letter from David Nicklin (General Manager of the Enesco Group). First and foremost, they have committed to keeping the line alive. The letter also states that they have no plans to change the look, quality or the inspiration behind the WDCC fine art sculptures.

There will be some new Disney/Enesco products in the future, but they will be carefully considered and kept separate from WDCC. They understand that the line can only be maintained by creating authentic, high quality product. Enesco has also kept Disney's product plan, many of the Disney sculptors and product developers. They have put together a team of WDCC personnel as of March 2004 Traci Thomas - Marketing, Troy Wartchow - Marketing, Joe Brandon - Product Development, Kim Melby - Product Development.

The director of Walt Disney Art Classics, David Pacheco, will be involved in new products and approving new introductions. Enesco has opened an office in Burbank for their WDCC product team of Mark Haberman, Melinda Jackson, Dana Giammana, Ray Halpin and David Nicklin. -- all transitioning from WDAC. David is confident this office will insure that WDCC has a close relationship with Disney, allowing them access to Disney archives and creative personnel. Enesco has also invested in WDCC inventory, marketing and product development groups, along with retaining the Customer Care team and many of the WDCC Sales team. Based on this, I believe -- both as a collector and a retailer -- that Enesco has shown commitment to ensure the future of WDCC.

Mickey and Minnie in glorious black & white, from 1934's "Two Gun Mickey"

As a collector, over the past few years, I have seen issues with the WDCC shipping, quality, release dates and the lines creativity. At times, the line was in jeopardy and the collection was not doing well. When Enesco took over it was a "wait and see" for me. I am pleased to say despite early bumps during the change over, it is doing well. There was confusion while getting accounts set-up, shipping product and uncertainty on the Spring Event piece.

Now here it is July, and we are very close to being on track with shipments. The new product designs are well received by the collectors. Their customer service team is responding well to any needs or problems quickly. My Enesco representative is doing great; maintaining the current products in stock as well as keeping me informed on upcoming pieces. This allows me to keep my customers updated.

King Triton and daughter Ariel, "Morning, Daddy," a limited edition of 1989 pieces

The fact simply was that these changes brought out doubt as to the future of the WDCC. Yet, after six months into the change over, we seem to be headed into a better place with the WDCC line. I see the customers coming in to get the new pieces with excitement. Now they are relieved to know they will be able to complete the series of pieces that they had started collecting and were waiting for the next releases in,. This is a positive sign for WDCC future. So, as we enter the Second Decade of the WDCC line it looks like the Magic Lives On. Whether you are a diehard collector like myself or new to WDCC it's a good thing for all. We have a lot to look forward to in our favorite characters on display for us to enjoy.

Cindy Russell is the owner of "Where The Magic Begins", a full-service Disney collectibles store in Livermore, California. Feel from to drop her a note with any questions you might have about this or any other Disney collectible. Who knows? It might end up the subject of a future JHM column.

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