Olszewski Disneyland miniatures - September 22, 2007

On the day of the release of the final Main Street pieces, the periodically rainy morning wasn't the only obstacle that many collectors had to contend with.

We arrived at the main gate at our normal time and were able to enter the park right at opening at 8am. By the time we made it to Disneyana, we were at the Market House, just at the cut-off point where they broke the line to allow people access to the lockers. The line quickly filled in behind us. Shortly thereafter, the line started moving, but it did seem to be moving slower than normal. As we waited, it started to sprinkle and then to rain, and the line was moved along the outside of the shops to offer people some protection under the awnings. A cast member came by to say that the accessory pack containing the souvenir stands, the newsstand and stroller/wheelchair rental was not in fact available that day. We found out later that the shipment was delayed in customs, and the Olszewski Studios will be taking possession of the shipment later in the week. Anyone who had not already pre-ordered the piece can either call Delivears on Monday to order/be put on a waitlist there or check back at Disneyana in two or three weeks, when the accessory pack is expected to be in stock.

By the time we made it into Disneyana to make our purchase, it was just after 9am. We were surprised to see that only the 2 front cash registers were available, and the other stations that normally had registers were instead packing stations. We thought that was the reason for the longer wait time, and we also found out that more registers had been ordered for that day, but because of some mix-up, they didn't arrive, so the lack of additional registers was the official reason that the process took so much longer this time. However, even just standing inside for a while, it was evident that the minimum of registers was not the holdup. Even after we made our purchase, we stood in line for another 10 minutes or so to choose/inspect our pieces, and that process took another 10 minutes or so. Even with so many packing stations, actually getting your pieces was taking quite some time. The fact that there were 2 pieces and an accessory pack being released that day probably added to the time factor since there were more things to inspect, though I recall that previously, when a number of items were being released on the same day (including Jungle Cruise, Showcase and a few accessories), things ran fairly smoothly. Even with only two registers, there wasn't really a wait time to purchase. During previous releases, each register would usually have a line of two or three parties. In this case, more people were let in only as each register cleared, since there wasn't any room for any kind of line at the registers. In addition, they would have to further hold the line before more people could make purchases because the line to pick up your pieces would only have room for so many people.

I don't know if the rain was any hindrance to the release this morning, and Disneyana is not particularly conducive to handling that much traffic. While I prefer releases at Disneyana because it's much closer to the main gate and there's no hassle about stairs, there was a lot to be said for having releases at the Disney Gallery, which is of course no longer possible since the Gallery is now closed to the public. Disneyana is such a small store and even with display cases already pushed aside, there is very little room to move around in there or to accommodate many people, especially since Bob Olszewski also does his signing in there. The Disney Gallery was a much larger location, with many more rooms to accommodate all the different things going on. During a previous release, Bob was signing in the adjacent Main Street Cinema location, and today would probably have been a good idea to do that again, to free up more room in Disneyana itself. One of the things that constantly boggles my mind is that as a company, Disney seems to have complete amnesia when it comes to each release. One release will go fine, and a great system will have been worked out where everything goes smoothly and quickly, and the next time, they will have completely forgotten about last time and are now running the event as if they have never done a release before.

The lines on release day usually last until about 11am, even though the event lasts until noon. Today, though, at 11am, the line was still all the way up Main Street, to or past Photo Corner. There were reports that the line went even further closer to the castle, though I did not see this for myself. To add insult to injury with the long wait, the accessory pack that was available (turnstiles/front gates and 2 side gates) were sold out relatively quickly since Disney inexplicably only had 150 of the accessory packs available on hand even though they had more available in stock elsewhere. The events usually run until noon, with Bob Olszewski available to meet and personally sign pieces until then. On this day, Bob was signing until about 1:15pm, and even the two Main Street pieces were sold out well before that. Quite a number of people waited hours in line, only to walk away empty-handed because everything was sold out by the time they actually got to Disneyana, even though cast members had apparently walked the line doing a count to ensure that those who were still waiting wouldn't be doing so needlessly. With so many people happy and eager to get the last two pieces to complete their Main Street collection, it was quite disappointing for them to leave without those pieces.


A portion of the line of people still waiting to buy pieces at 11am.


One of the other contributing factors to the shortage of pieces is that while Disney-related merchandise has long been a target of those who purchase items only for the purpose of reselling at a profit on ebay or through other means, Disney itself is partly responsible for bringing this collection to their attention. When the Haunted Mansion was released, it was in great demand, and once they sold out, more were not available for purchase until about a year after the initial release. With such demand for the piece, people were buying the piece on ebay for 3 or 4 times the retail cost of the piece. Other pieces have also been sold for prices well above retail. Secondary market retailers are now buying the pieces with the intention of re-selling them at much higher prices, and in the process, because of the limited number of pieces being released, some collectors themselves are missing out. Some people complain about such secondary market retailers, but the only way to put a stop to it is *not* to buy from them. As much as you might want a piece, all the pieces will eventually be re-released, so just wait for that. If people continue to pay exorbitant prices to these retailers, they will continue hoarding pieces that actual collectors want and miss out on.

One could say that Disney was completely caught off-guard by the turnout this morning. However, I can't imagine how they could be so unaware except if they were either not paying any attention or ignoring all the blatant signs. They have been told how many people have purchased the Main Street platform, so they would know there are at least that many people who are going to want to buy these new pieces. The last several releases have seen more and more people attending as people continually begin to find out about and collect the Main Street collection. The last several releases have also been sold out either during the hours of the event or very shortly thereafter, and online presales have been sold out very quickly as well. Disney is known to monitor various unofficial Disney-related discussion forums, and the chatter on those boards would indicate the excitement and building collector base. How Disney could be so off-the-mark on this release is really a mystery, and leaving a trail of very unhappy and disappointed fans/collectors is so completely against what one might expect from Disney.


On a different tangent, one other thing to note is that many people who come for releases spend at least part of the rest of the day at the resort, so many collectors will take their purchases to Package Express. I imagine the CMs at Package Express hate Olszewski release days. Since the Main Street collection is now done, and future events won't have 3 or 4 things released on the same day, it probably won't be as much of a problem as it's been during recent releases, but be aware that if you will be taking your purchases to Package Express, there may be a wait to get them checked in and when you retrieve them later in the day.


OK, on to happier things and news.

Travis from Olszewski Studios brought the completed Main Street for show. In addition to the normal platform and plexiglass cover, the lighting kit had been installed, and over the cover, there was also a black foam covering with window flaps that people could look through to see Main Street all lit up. Almost five years from the date that Sleeping Beauty Castle was released, Main Street was finished. The "black box" was placed right inside the overhang of the Main Street Cinema to protect it from the rain, and it drew much attention from collectors who knew what it was to curious average Disneyland guests who came over to marvel at the finished product.


The Disneyland peep show.
(No, the black box is not available for sale.)


The best view inside the black box, with the Train Station in the foreground
and Sleeping Beauty Castle in the background, where the pink and blue lights are.
Some of the lights from the Christmas tree in Town Square are barely visible.


The wiring harnesses underneath the platform.


The wiring harness control switches on the side of the platform.


The next piece is Peter Pan's Flight, scheduled to be released on November 17 with a tentative price of $295. The completed piece was available to see, and it is an amazingly gorgeous piece. There really is no way for pictures to do the piece justice. The insert scenes are just beautiful, and there's a surprise at the bottom when the inserts are taken out. Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean also had scene inserts and Olszewski Studios had light boxes that could be purchased to display the additional scenes. No light box has yet been made for the Peter Pan inserts, though they are considering it. However, because the inserts are done differently than they were for Haunted Mansion and Pirates, it's harder to design, so it has not yet been decided whether they will actually offer a light box for Peter Pan.


The front of Peter Pan's Flight. Wow, no line of people in the queue!


The front of Peter Pan's Flight with the internal lighting.
Notice the mural inside.


The Heraldry Shop (formerly Villains' Lair) adjacent to Peter Pan's Flight.


The back side of Peter Pan's Flight with the removable wall in place.
When the wall is removed, the scene insert is visible.


The London scene insert, lit to show details.
Notice that unlike the Haunted Mansion and Pirates inserts,
this slides in from the top, not the side, and the inserts include the roof.


The London scene insert, with just the lighting provided by the base.
The ride vehicle high above London can be better seen here.


A close-up of the left of the scene. Notice whose shadow is present?


The Neverland scene insert.
Hook's ship can be seen right below the ride vehicle.


The Neverland scene insert, with just the lighting provided by the base.


When the inserts are removed from the base, you can see what lies beneath.


The "Lady and the Tramp" Gallery of Light piece is expected to be available in mid-October. The "Snow White" Gallery of Light piece and heirloom box is expected to be released in mid-November, probably around the same time as the recently announced event on November 16 celebrating the 70th anniversary of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". The "Bambi" Gallery of Light piece is expected in November or December and will cost $65. The "Pinocchio" Gallery of Light piece and heirloom box are expected to be released in January 2008. A Gallery of Light piece for "Fantasia" featuring the Sorcerer's Apprentice as he directs the brooms to fill their buckets is expected for release in January 2008 as well. A Gallery of Light piece and an heirloom box related to "Peter Pan" is also in the works for 2008. The Light piece will be of Tinkerbell on the shelf after she has fallen over some blocks from laughing too much. The heirloom box will be of Big Ben, with a clockface on one side and scenes from the film on the other three sides. The Gallery of Light collection has apparently caught the fancy of many people. Tim Burton had to approve the Nightmare piece, and he liked it so much that he actually has one in his own collection.

On the miniatures front, November/December will see the re-release of the Astro Orbiter, the arrival of more Haunted Mansion pieces, and the re-release of Town Square. The Mark Twain is expected to be re-released in January/February 2008, but it will be different than the version previously released. The Twain had been released as part of the 50th collection and had been adorned with the 50th decorations. Since the 50th celebration has been over for more than a year now, it didn't make sense to keep the gold bunting, so the bunting will instead by red, white and blue, like the Twain is adorned for Independence Day. The re-release of the Penny Arcade and Refreshment Corner is expected to be spring/summer of 2008. The marquee that was released earlier this year was the first in the nostalgic piece series, and the next in the series (rumoured to be the monorail) is expected to be released in July 2008. There are also a number of other cool projects that are in the initial concept/development stage, so hopefully, some of those will proceed to production in 2008 and 2009.

The best news in my opinion is that while there is still nothing definite, development of the Main Street Electrical Parade is going well, and if all continues as planned, the parade may be available for release in late 2008. The initial release would consist of 5 floats - train, drum, turtle, doodle bug (presumably, that's the lightning bug) and Pete's Dragon (Elliott), and additional packs with additional floats would be available for subsequent purchase. The thought of having Elliott traversing down Main Street in my very own living room - WOW!

Disney-related additions to the new PokitPals line are expected to be released during the 2007 holiday season and will be exclusive to the Disneyland Resort.


Mickey, Pirates and Tiki Room god Pele pokitpals to be released, along with non-Disney Sumatran tiger.


See you in November!


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