Olszewski Disneyland miniatures - August 23, 2008

With new release day back on its normal Saturday, I got to the resort around the normal time, and when the turnstiles opened, I headed for Disneyana, noting along the way that Showcase was already decorated and stocked for Halloween. There were about 10 or 15 people ahead of me when I got in line - not too crowded, which is what I had kind of expected. Without the release of a new miniatures piece, I didn't figure it would be that crowded, though the re-release of the Main Street Electrical Parade floats and the limited edition release of the Tiki Room Gallery of Light probably accounted for the majority of the collectors that day. While I was in line, the longest that I noticed the purchase line extending was to the end of Main Street, curving just slightly into Town Square. At 8am, Travis and the Main Street platform were already set up outside of Disneyana.

There is a line that's just for purchasing, and then there's a second line if you want your piece personally signed by Bob, and it also gives you a chance to speak to Bob. Since we normally get our pieces pre-signed (or on the rare occasions when we need something signed, the husband usually goes in when the line is very short or completely gone), we don't generally pay too much attention to the signing line. There was apparently a change implemented either during the last release or the one before that which I hadn't been aware of. Previously, I'd heard many people talk about dividing line duty - one person would get in the purchase line while the other would get in the signing line. When the person making the purchases was done, they would then join the person already in the signing line, thus shortening their wait time in the second line. The change was implemented so that you now cannot get in the signing line at all until you've made your purchase. Apparently, some collectors were complaining that even if they were towards the front of the line for purchases, they were still quite a ways back in the signature line because of all the people saving spaces for those who had not yet made their purchases. The "dividing line duty" method does make sense to me, but obviously, that only works if you have at least two people together and you don't need both people in the purchasing line because of the purchasing limits. However, I can also see the frustration of a single collector who happens to be early in line to purchase only to find themselves having then to wait much longer for a signature, so I think it's a good policy change.

I was shortly let into the store to make my purchases. If you wanted Bob to sign the pieces, they just gave you your receipt, and then you'd join the signature line outside. If you didn't want a signature, you could then just pick up your pieces. We normally have Bob personally sign our Gallery of Light pieces, but for various reasons, that wasn't going to work for me that day, so I figured I'd ask him to sign them at another time. They had all of the new pieces unboxed, and they had batteries so that you could test out the Gallery of Light pieces. Once you approved a particular selection, they then brought it to another table where the items were re-boxed. Once I was done choosing my pieces, I went over to the re-boxing table. I was surprised that there was only one person re-boxing, whereas there were multiple registers open and multiple people helping collectors pick out their pieces. Another person had purchases as well, and she had to wait behind me until the CM was done with me. The CM helping me was fine as far as boxing the Gallery of Light pieces, but when it came to the Mad Tea Party heirloom box, though, she seemed a bit lost. There are different pieces of the heirloom box that come out and that have to be put in various nooks and crannies of the packing styrofoam. There are also different pieces of the styrofoam that have to go around various parts of the heirloom box. She seemed completely clueless as to where the styrofoam bits fit where and even ripped one piece that was taped to another because she didn't know why it was possibly there. It would seem to me that the people re-boxing the merchandise should be trained/familiar with exactly how a product was unpacked so that they could re-pack it correctly. I eventually had to point out to her where the styrofoam bit that she ripped out was supposed to go, and she re-taped it. When she was done putting everything back in the packing box, there were also two loose plastic bags of sorts, so I shoved those in the box as well. I figured that the heirloom box wasn't just supposed to be exposed to the surrounding packing, so that's what the bigger bag was supposed to have wrapped. The smaller bag was supposed to be for the table top, which she had also just put in the packing styrofoam without the protective bag. I figured the pieces could survive long enough as is until I could get home to re-pack everything myself. It just bothers me when the pieces are just treated with such nonchalance, like they're just toys. I like to make sure that my collectibles are treated carefully and are correctly situated in the packing box.

Oh, and on a side note from the last update, the husband looked at the Tiki Room Gallery of Light that I brought home, and he confirmed that it's the same as the prototype one that we'd seen, which means the birds aren't all in the right places. Since it's only a limited run of 500, it's not like it can be fixed in the next run. I expect very few people would even notice that the birds aren't in the right positions.

After my pieces were done being re-boxed, I noticed a small table to the side that had the two new items that were on display. (The third item was the second Gallery of Light scene for "The Nightmare Before Christmas" that we'd seen last month at the NFFC Show and Sale.) As I was admiring the new pieces, Ray and Bob Olszewski stopped by to say hello, so I was able to tell Bob that I had succumbed and bought my first Heirloom Box - the Mad Tea Party.

The Dumbo attraction in the Disneyland miniatures collection is just spectacular. The detail and colors are just incredible, as is the lighting and the water effects. It's really a gorgeous piece. Unlike the Astro Orbiter piece, this one doesn't include just the attraction, but rather, the surrounding area as well, including the control booth, the calliope in the back (I love the little hedge too), the stand-alone Dumbo photo op kiosk, and the surrounding topiaries.


A front view of the entire piece.


A view from the side.


A better view of the "water". Note the reflections of the Dumbo ride vehicles.


A closer view of the Dumbo ride vehicles in different colors.


Timothy Mouse sits atop the attraction.


The calliope at the center back of the piece.


The cast member control building.


The Dumbo ride vehicle photo op canopy.


A close-up of the front left topiary.


A close-up of the front right topiary.


A close-up of the back right topiary.


The lights on the two front topiaries are brighter than expected, so they're planning on modifying it a bit with some hedgework that will dim the light so it's not as blinding.

The release of the Dumbo attraction is still tentatively scheduled for November 22, 2008. Once the date and price of the piece has been confirmed, I will update this paragraph as well as the release schedule.

The other new piece is the Mark I Monorail that will be released as the nostalgia piece on July 17, 2009. The monorail comes on a lit base with two stanchions and a beam across them, which the monorail sits on. One cool feature that I noticed is that the bottom part of each side of the stanchions has a little attraction poster on it. I could tell they were attraction posters, but I couldn't tell what they were. Travis from Olszewski Studios confirmed that the posters are of Jungle Cruise, Train, Matterhorn Bobsleds and Skyway buckets. He said they had to make sure they only used attraction posters for attractions that were actually in existence in 1959, and that the inclusion of the posters was specifically requested by Disney.


The monorail atop the lit stanchion. The posters are barely visible.


A side view.


Another side view.


Olszewski Studios would also like to release a separate kit that consists of five stanchions that could be placed at the front of the Main Street platform. Holes would need to be drilled so that the side of the stanchion away from the park would be lit, which would provide some light on that side without overpowering the rest of the area. Olszewski Studios is currently seeking permission from Disney to produce the kit (since the stanchions are Disney architecture/property), and if approved, the kit would only be available through the Olszewski Studios website. I can't imagine why Disney wouldn't approve the stanchion kit since it's a great addition to the platform, and it would mostly serve as a sales booster for the monorail when it's released.


The monorail in front of Disneyland's turnstiles.


A closer view.


The monorail with the full park behind it.


Olzsewski Studios has confirmed that the attraction piece to be released in November 2009 will be the combined Mr. Toad's Wild Ride/Alice in Wonderland piece, which will also include the Mad Hatter shop. The size will be approximately that of the Peter Pan piece and will include one Toad scene insert and one Alice scene insert, though the precise scenes have not been decided upon yet. They had also been considering King Arthur Carrousel, but upon further study, decided that wouldn't be available in time for next November. They had initially thought about creating 16 horses and then using a mirror effect to simulate the other 16 horses, but they knew that there are carrousel afficionados who would not be happy with that, since each of the 32 horses are different. In order to properly include all the horses, it would probably be a two-year process to get the piece finished, so the release of the piece can probably be expected at a later date.

A question was asked about whether Olszewski Studios has considered doing a version of the Haunted Mansion with "The Nightmare Before Christmas" overlay, and they have, but a Haunted Mansion Holiday version would need to be approved by Tim Burton himself. They have considered that instead of doing an actual separate piece, they might be able to make an overlay accessory pack that can be used to adorn the current Haunted Mansion piece.

In attending the various release events, I have had an opportunity to talk to a lot of collectors, and it's fun to exchange information about how we each got into the collection, what parts of the Olszewski universe we might collect, what parts we're most interested in, and especially, what amazing personalized modifications some people have made to their collection. Over time, I've had a chance to speak to Bruce Richards specifically, who has devised, among other things, a method to mechanize the Astro Orbiter piece so that it spins while on the Main Street platform. It was interesting to listen to him talk about how he was going to attempt to mechanize Dumbo as well and the challenges that he would face in that project. His website is definitely worth perusing if you're interesting in learning how he modified the Astro Orbiter or even want to try duplicating his work through his step-by-step instructions. Since I'm not particularly mechanically inclined, I will admit that it's like reading a foreign language to me. However, I highly recommend watching the video he's posted on that section. It's pretty incredible to watch the Astro Orbiter spinning with the train going by and just the gorgeously lit up Main Street at night. He also offers a number of other tips relating to the Olszewski miniatures collection and Main Street platform, so definitely have a browse around his site.

As previously mentioned, a new Gallery of Light piece depicting a second scene from "The Nightmare Before Christmas" was also on display. The piece is expected to be released in October/November 2008 and priced at $80. Following are reprints of pictures that were taken in mid-July.


An iconic scene from "The Nightmare Before Christmas".


Faithful Zero is nearby master Jack.


A close-up of the pumpkins on the fence and the familiar curl.


Also available on display was the submarine pokitpal that, along with the fire engine, Columbia, and Jungle Cruise boat is expected to be released October/November of this year. [Disclaimer - my photographer was unavailable so I was the substitute photographer for the day, so my apologies for the quality of these following pictures. I decided to include them anyway to show what this pokitpal looks like, but the quality in real life is definitely much better. I'll put up better pictures at a later time.]


The front of the sub pokitpal.


The back of the sub pokitpal with the shark and octopus duel.


See you in November!



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