Olszewski Disneyland miniatures - September 9 - 13, 2009

In the last update, I mentioned that Olszewski Studios is considering the PeopleMover as the nostalgia piece for 2011, and included was a poll to let readers give their opinions on what color they'd like the PeopleMover cars to be. Here are the results.



Thanks to everyone who voted.


At the event on September 9, 2009 in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Haunted Mansion, Bob Olszewski was in attendance during the artist signing opportunity. As usual, there were quite a number of people who had purchased one of his products and wanted him to sign them (released for this event was a Gallery of Light piece and a pokitpal, both themed to the Haunted Mansion, but neither were event exclusives), so there was a bit of a wait to see Bob. We waited in line for Bob and had a chance to chat with him briefly while he signed our pieces.


Haunted Mansion pokitpal.


Bob Olszewski at the artist signing during the Haunted Mansion 40th anniversary event.


The D23 Expo was held at the Anaheim Convention Center from September 10 - 13, 2009, and since this was the first time the event was held, and details were sometimes sketchy prior to the event, we weren't quite sure what to expect. We're D23 members, and we decided to go all four days, though we didn't stay locally. In addition to panel discussions and seminars and sessions and other things to do, there was also a show floor on the main level that included a "collector's forum", which was basically the equivalent of a regular convention's dealers' room, though in addition to retail outlets, other Disney-related entities (like the NFFC) also had a presence on the floor.

The Olszewski Studios had a fairly large booth in the collector's forum area, and it was nicely located as well - right at the front. On display were both the Disneyland Main Street platform and the Magic Kingdom (WDW) Main Street platform as well as an array of products in the Gallery of Light, Heirloom Box and Pokitpals lines. Bob Olszewski and Travis Tokuyama (General Manager of Olszewski Studios) were both on hand each day to talk to collectors and answer questions about the product lines, and Bob was signing product as well. There were a lot of people who stopped by during the course of the Expo, some of whom were already familiar with Bob's work and some of whom were drawn in by the displays themselves.


The Olszewski Studios booth at D23, early on Thursday morning.


Bob talking to visitors as more attendees enter the convention.



First, some news updates. The combined Mr. Toad/Alice in Wonderland piece that was scheduled for release in November/December at Disneyland will most likely be pushed back to early 2010. Development/production on the piece is taking longer than expected, and it's doubtful that the finished product would arrive in time for release this year. The next piece in the Magic Kingdom/WDW collection is the Main Street Train Station, which is scheduled for release in November/December of this year.

In addition to the completed Disneyland Main Street platform, Bob also had on hand a paper blueprint of the Fantasyland platform, which was interesting to see. Pinocchio and the Village Haus Restaurant will be one piece, and Storybook will be two separate pieces, which will include the overhead track for Casey, Jr. as well as the Casey Jr. train station, but the track won't be a working train track. The only other attractions left to complete Fantasyland will then be Snow White and King Arthur Carousel.


Bob proudly shows off the Fantasyland blueprint.


The blueprint nicely shows how the Fantasyland platform is planned to be laid out. Snow White would be at the bottom left with Pinocchio/Village Haus adjacent to that. Peter Pan would be at the bottom right with Mr. Toad/Alice adjacent to that. The Mad Tea Party is in the space above that. The carousel would be in the middle (with the "Sword in the Stone" section in front of it), and the two-piece Storybook would be at the top. Right under Storybook is where Dumbo currently sits, but the Dumbo piece can be moved to its original location, as indicated to the left, once the Chicken of the Sea piece is available. The little structure underneath Storybook and to the left of the current Dumbo location is the chalet formerly used as a loading station for the Skyway.


Bob shows how the Fantasyland platform will fit with the existing Main Street platform.


The Fantasyland platform will include the ability to have a train running around it, but only if it's attached to the Main Street platform. The back section of the Main Street platform (the curved train track section behind the castle) is designed to be able to be removed. There will then be available a resin top overlay/bridge piece which covers the now-empty section where the former curved track was as well as a straight track section so that the train can now travel around the entire combined Main Street/Fantasyland platform. The Fantasyland platform on its own will have a sort of abrupt ending, with the train tracks ending on the straightaway. For those who don't also have the Main Street platform or who don't want to combine the platforms, there are also plans to have available an end section to the platform that can be purchased and added on which completes the Fantasyland platform train loop but which will also have space for the last three pieces at the end of the Main Street platform - Sleeping Beauty Castle, Carnation Gardens and Snow White's Grotto/King Triton's Garden.

I like the idea of being able to combine the two platforms, but I'm not sold on how the Fantasyland platform will stand on it's own. If I don't want to combine the two platforms, for whatever reason, I don't want to have to buy duplicate pieces of three attractions to put on the Fantasyland platform, and I don't want Carnation Gardens and Snow White's Grotto to be on the Fantasyland platform because they don't belong in Fantasyland. I understand that completing the train loop means there will need to be enough space left at the end of the Fantasyland platform to fit that. I would be ok if there was space for another castle on the platform since the castle does partially belong in Fantasyland, but I'd prefer the sides on that section of additional platform to have perhaps some other kind of scenery, maybe just walkways or trees. However, I understand that would not sit well with the more purist collector, so I'm not sure what the best solution is.


The most spectacular display, though, was the debut of the Magic Kingdom Main Street platform. The platform is currently a prototype, and it's expected to be available for purchase sometime in 2011 as Olszewski Studios would like to have 60-75% of the Main Street buildings completed and available before releasing the platform. Like the Disneyland Main Street platform, the Magic Kingdom Main Street platform will also be available to be shipped, including internationally.

Following is a visual tour around the platform.


A full view of the Magic Kingdom Main Street platform.


The middle section of the platform.


City Hall.


The Emporium.


The Cinderella Castle end of the platform.
The water sections leading to the castle will be released as 4 separate pieces.


A different view of the water sections.


A close-up of one of the water sections.


The Plaza Restaurant.


Continuing further back up Main Street.


Traveling further towards the Train Station.


Exposition Hall and Tony's Restaurant.


The platform even includes cut-outs to allow passage into the berm.


The Magic Kingdom pieces also contain more "hidden" features in their pieces than their Disneyland counterparts.


The fire station.


The reveal shows Mickey shaking hands with a fireman.


The barber shop.


The reveal shows Donald and Daisy with one of Donald's nephews, who is ready for a haircut.


The hat shop.


The reveals shows Mickey and Minnie trying on hats.


The back of Tony's restaurant contains the familiar scene from "The Lady and the Tramp".


The hidden room in the Train Station shows Donald with a model himself.


A basketball court inside a section of the Emporium.


Mickey and Minnie enjoying a film inside the cinema.


And what are they watching? "Steamboat Willie", of course.


There were also various vehicles and characters scattered around the platform.


Horse and carriage.


Horseless carriage.


Regular sweeper.


Sweepers with vacuums.


With the two platforms sitting side by side, it was fun to see the comparisons between the two.


Main Street Disneyland on the left (under the plexiglass)
and Main Street Magic Kingdom on the right..


You can see the difference between the two castles.
(Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle is nestled among the forest of trees.)


In addition to the Magic Kingdom platform, the other new piece was a prototype for the Autopia car pokitpal. There were actually two different prototypes.


The Autopia car lifts up (on the right) to reveal the compartment underneath (on the left).
This prototype has black seats.


The other prototype has brown seats.
Olszewski Studios will present both to Disney to see which version they want.


The underside of the Autopia car pokitpal.
Rather than the orange of the current prototypes, they're hoping to have the same reddish color depicted on the poster.


Olszewski Studios had designed a pokitpal for the D23 Expo, and while it had previously been thought that the pokitpal would be available for purchase after the event, it turned out to be an event exclusive. We didn't see the pokitpal in the event store on the first day, but we didn't think much about it because we saw other D23 Expo merchandise there and we just figured we'd look for it later. However, when we went to the event store on Friday morning, we found out that they had given out vouchers for the pokitpal first thing in the morning, and they were already completely out. I spoke to the cast member who had given out the vouchers, and he said that they'd only had 500 available. I expressed surprise at the low number, and he said that it was possible that the low edition size was at the request of the artist. I knew that Bob would have never limited the edition size to that, knowing that collectors were eager for the piece, and I told the cast member that it couldn't have been the artist's request. No, the cast member was not happy with my response, but I really didn't want them laying the blame for the unavailability of the pokitpal on Olszewski Studios. I later learned from Travis that the minimum order was 500, and that's all Disney asked for. We also heard that a box of the pokitpals was "found" later in the afternoon on Friday, but those sold out pretty immediately. It seems very odd to me that Disney wouldn't know where all of their own inventory is.

There were a number of problems that we ran into during the course of the Expo because Disney wasn't organized enough or seemingly prepared enough for what the attendees would be interested in. However, in this case, I am seriously baffled by Disney's lack of foresight. This Expo was a huge event for them, something they've been touting for months. Attendance on Thursday and Friday was ok, but attendance really swelled on Saturday and Sunday, presumably because some people couldn't take a weekday off to attend. That meant that a lot of event attendees would have never even known about the existence of the pokitpal, since it sold out on one of the days when attendance wasn't even that high. It wouldn't be hard to anticipate that people might want a souvenir from the event - they must have been counting on that because they had t-shirts and lots of other D23 Expo merchandise available for sale. But t-shirts, toothpick holders, hats and such are pretty much the standard offerings for events. Most people probably don't need another t-shirt or hat or cup. But to have a pokitpal with the D23 Expo logo? Now, that's unique. In addition, they would have been able to figure out that many people were traveling in from out of town to attend the Expo, so there could perhaps be concerns about space with regard to how much merchandise they would buy. Well, the pokitpal is small and fits in any purse or bag or pocket. Taking up space in someone's luggage would not be a concern. Furthermore, with all the other merchandise that would be available for sale, cost would have been a factor as well. There was a D23 shirt that the husband thought was quite nice, but it also turned out to be something like $75 - fairly expensive for a souvenir. But the D23 Expo pokitpal was only $20, a reasonable price for a nice souvenir. If they had more of the Expo pokitpals on hand, they would have certainly sold many more of them. We didn't end up buying anything with the D23 Expo logo on it because we didn't need another t-shirt or hat or mug. But we would certainly have purchased a D23 Expo pokitpal with the logo on it. How many other people were in the same position?


A picture of this pokitpal is all we'll have.


Bob Olszewski was one of the artists at the official signing session during the D23 Expo on Friday, September 11, 2009, and Bob's time was from 10am to 11:30am.



The main signing area.


The line extends into the nearby overflow line area.


Bob signing for some collectors.


Bob spent a lot of time signing.


As the Expo progressed, the Olszewski Studios booth was regularly full of people stopping to get Bob's autograph and to talk to Bob and Travis about the products.







We had a good time at the Expo, and it was nice to see so many people discover the amazing world of Bob Olszewski.



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