Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Another One That Got Away: The "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" Master-Folio

"Giant squid astern, sir!"
I've got a whale of a tale to tell you, lads.  Another title for our proposed Walt Disney Master-Folio series would have been 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, the epic 1954 Disney adaptation of Jules Verne's classic science fiction novel.  The film is a favorite of ours, and three years prior, we had designed the 50th anniversary collectibles assortment for Disney, (including the most faithful replica of the submarine Nautilus ever mass-produced.)

Here were some of the riches we aimed to include:

In the years since we put together this proposal, the soundtrack recording was eventually released, first on iTunes and later as a CD by Intrada (which you can purchase today! ) We had long been pushing for the recording's release, and the Master-Folio package seemed like one more good reason to pester Disney about it again.

Serious "Leagues" fans will have noted that the Image Album was to include stills from the lost "South Pole scene" not in the final motion picture:

And there was more.

And one of the most exciting elements of all: a flip book of the unused pencil animation done early in the film's production--for the Giant Squid!  In the finished movie, an enormous articulated puppet attacked Captain Nemo's submarine and fed our collective childhood nightmares, but did you know the monster was first planned to be flat cel animation combined with live action?

The "squid animation" was an exciting discovery for us in Disney's Animation Research Library, with 115 graphite drawings on long CinemaScope paper. It amounted to only a few seconds of animation on screen, but it was dramatic to see, with the tentacled monster abruptly rearing backward in a blast of black ink.  Sorry I'm unable to show it to you here, because the sequence remains in Disney's hands. Hopefully someday it will surface!  In the meantime, you can see some of the other animated sea life that would have been spied through Nemo's wondrous irising window—here: on youtube.

Will the Walt Disney Master-Folio Collection someday come to pass?  Maybe, as James Mason's Captain Nemo says, "In God's good time."

Friday, June 13, 2014

Once Upon A Dream

Throughout the past 20 years, Jody Daily and I have created concept art and pitched our own ideas for a heap of Disney merchandise, and yet only a fraction of our pie-in-the-sky dreams actually ever see fruition.  Our favorite ideas are for items that we would happily fork over our own hard-earned money to buy, if only such things were available.  

In 2007, after leaving Disney and starting our own company, we came up with an idea for a collectible "folio" that could be the ultimate "thing to have" for serious animation aficionados, like ourselves.  We called it the "Walt Disney Master-Folio Collection" and imagined an entire series of beautiful book-like boxes chock-full of surprises and treasures.

The artful packaging would open up to reveal a myriad of compartments and sleeves containing booklets, figurines, audio/visual multimedia, and other goodies...

If you're an animation fan on par with us, you probably have your checkbook and pen in hand right now.  Well, of course, the "Walt Disney Master-Folio Collection" never happened. Two things led to its demise.  For one, the licensee we hoped could handle a project of this scope, Master Replicas (who had manufactured our Disneyland Monorail Replicas in 2005), shocked us all by suddenly and inexplicably going out of business!  Secondly, and maybe most tellingly, the Disney Studio seemed uninterested because they were busy developing their own secret project that would reportedly become the sole outlet for all Disney collectible merchandise on this level—a little project with the bafflingly cryptic name of "D23".  Ah well... enough water has gone under the bridge by now that we thought we'd share one of our favorite passion projects that "might have been".

So what do you think?  Would you have bought one?
I still want that flip book.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Birth of a Snow Globe

Most of our merchandise concepts start with detailed sketches like this, which are rarely ever seen by the public. Here is Jody’s original pencil drawing for a Jungle Book snow globe released by Disney in 2003 for the 35th anniversary of the animated film’s release.