If you still catch yourself humming the DuckTales theme song, spent childhood afternoons watching Bedknobs and Broomsticks at Grandma’s house, or had a crush on Max from A Goofy Movie (no judgment), you’re not alone. Anyone who grew up on Disney has their favorite characters, and we’re finally getting the merch to boot.
This year, the Walt Disney Co. is celebrating its 100th anniversary with the Disney 100 Years of Wonder campaign — also known as Disney100 — a year full of magical merch that honors the legacy of Disney and every character imaginable.
There were two guiding principles that helped lay the foundation for Disney100, shares Joyce Oliva, communications manager of Disney Consumer Products, Games and Publishing. “The first principle, Story, focuses on a core tenant of our company: storytelling. We are celebrating 100 years of timeless stories, as well as the consumers who pass those very stories from generation to generation. The second principle, Transformation and Curiosity, honors Disney’s dedication to keep moving forward, ever evolving to discover the ideas that will enhance our brand and touch the hearts of consumers for years to come.”
Platinum Is Forever
Disney didn’t waste any time kicking off the celebrations last December with the Disney100 Platinum Celebration Collection. These products debuted on shopDisney, the first retailer to launch a Disney100 collection for purchase.
The Platinum Celebration Collection covers a range of products from apparel and accessories to home goods, all with a timeless platinum color scheme. Some of the shopDisney merch includes a Mickey Mouse Ear Hat, a Loungefly mini backpack, ornaments, and jewelry with dripping platinum effects. If you’re noticing a lot of shiny objects across the Disney100 products and theme park decor, there’s a reason for that.
“Platinum was carefully selected as Disney100’s signature color for its mirror-like qualities — inviting reflection on Disney’s historic past and present, while also looking ahead to a future of new possibilities,” Oliva says.
Many companies are incorporating the platinum color scheme into their own Disney100 merch, like Hallmark’s collection of home goods and gifting items, Mad Beauty’s cosmetics and bath products, Kidrobot’s Mickey Mouse Collectible Vinyl Figure, Crocs’ Mickey Mouse and Friends Disney100 footwear, Corksicle’s drinkware, and LeSportsac’s handbags.
It All Started with a
The Platinum Celebration Collection was the first of many shopDisney launches that followed, each highlighting a significant part of Disney’s rich heritage. Before Walt dreamed up one of the most famous mice in history, there was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Walt created Oswald in 1927 to star in his first series of cartoon shorts, but he lost creative control to a distributor, which is why we haven’t seen much of Oswald until Disney CEO Bob Iger made a deal with NBCUniversal to bring Oswald back home in 2006. The rabbit has had quite the journey, but he finally gets his time in the spotlight with shopDisney’s Disney100 Oswald Collection, which features a variety of products with tall, black bunny ears in place of the typical round Mickey ears.
“It’s been magical to see these historic characters celebrated,” says Lindsay Brookshier, content director of mickeyvisit.com, a website that helps fans plan their visits to Disney destinations with itineraries and travel guides. “Oswald the Rabbit does not often have this amount of merchandise dedicated to him, so this is a special moment for Disney fans to appreciate.”
The House of Mouse
After Walt lost the rights to Oswald, he came up with a new character that would become the face of Disney. The Disney100 The Eras Collection features nostalgic Walt Disney Studios apparel and home decor that channels the golden age of animation and the birth of Mickey Mouse. These shopDisney products are full of retro charm, such as a sticky note holder that looks like a typewriter and various items that reference 2719 Hyperion, the Hollywood studio where Walt put pencil to paper to animate the most well-known mouse in the world.
“The most important part of the Disney100 celebration and merchandise lines is the celebration of the man that started it all, Walt Disney,” says Gavin Doyle, founder of mickeyvisit.com and author of Disneyland Secrets: A Grand Tour of Disneyland’s Hidden Details. “Seeing Disney honor its founder has been my favorite part of events since the kickoff of the celebration. … All of this fandom and passion started with one man’s imagination.”
Funko is also honoring the man behind the mouse with a series of Funko Pop! Icons collectibles featuring Walt Disney in various poses, all inspired by real photographs that appear on the back of the packaging. The collection includes Walt drawing Mickey Mouse, Walt holding a copy of Mickey Mouse Magazine, Walt holding toy versions of Dumbo characters, and more. In true Funko fashion, there are dozens of additional Disney100 Funko Pops! and Funko Soda Figures, including black-and-white iterations of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Mickey Mouse, and other Disney characters.
Through the Decades
Anyone who has been frequenting the Disney Parks long enough to remember Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride or World of Motion will appreciate the Disney100 The Decades Collection, which celebrates classic Disney movies and characters from each decade, starting with Steamboat Willie in the 1920s. Fans and collectors will find shopDisney merch that pays homage to Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar, Ludwig Von Drake, Peter Pegasus, Mr. Toad, and other Disney deep-cuts, although the characters will become more familiar as the decades progress.
“The Eras and Decades Collections in particular have been a nice way to celebrate the more niche Disney collector’s favorite films we do not see represented as often,” Brookshier says. “It was great as a fan that is invested in Walt Disney’s legacy to see merchandise released focusing on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color or for fans of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to finally get an Ear Headband. The Disney100 products have been far more encompassing of all areas of the Walt Disney Co. than we have seen before.”
The Gang’s All Here
The sheer amount of Disney 100th-anniversary products is mind-blowing, but it ensures that there is something for every type of Disney fan, whether they’re into the history or more interested in the newer content, including Marvel and Star Wars. shopDisney’s Disney100 Unified Character Collection, for example, is a colorful line featuring stylized renditions of characters from across the Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars universes all lined up together.
Tucker Bohman, who runs the popular @toystorydad account on Instagram with content that includes family visits to the Disney parks and sponsored content featuring Disney merch, says he enjoys seeing so many character mashups and cross-franchise designs in the Disney100 products — something that wasn’t always so easy to find.
“This means characters from Pixar and Disney can be on the same shirt, which is seriously the coolest thing ever,“ he says. “I remember sitting in a meeting with Disney a few years ago being blown away with how strict they are with artwork that can be used on products, like even certain Princesses weren’t allowed to be in the same design together.”
As impressive as the shopDisney collections are, there are tons of other companies putting their own spin on Disney100, including Tommy Hilfiger, Cakeworthy, Zara, Adidas, Coach, Citizen, Pandora, RockLove Jewelry, Zales, Swarovski, The Bradford Exchange, The LEGO Group, Target, and more.
There are noticeable motifs that repeat across the licensed Disney100 merch, such as postage stamps, selfies, and music notes. Stamps make their mark on 3D statues from Beast Kingdom, FUL luggage, and Tervis tumblers, while both stamps and snapshot styles appear on wall art from Open Road Brands, Ceaco puzzles, and Buckle-Down accessories. shopDisney’s Special Moments Collection features characters singing and playing instruments in swirls of music notes — imagery also seen in merch from Her Universe, Crocs, and Amazon.
Apparel company RSVLTS dropped multiple Disney100 collections (with more still to come) that feature its signature short-sleeve, button-down shirts with different Disney imagery and characters, including a black-and-white tribute to Steamboat Willie.
“It’s an honor to be a part of this once-in-a-generation milestone that is Disney100, so from day one, it’s been important to us that we include both the beloved classic characters, as well as find some deep-cuts that we personally love and want to showcase,” says RSVLTS Director of Communications Mike Shriner.
The Disney100 “Sketches to Screen” shirt marks the first time RSVLTS was able to feature both Disney and Pixar characters together on one shirt. It features various characters from Disney movies like Cinderella, Peter Pan, Lilo & Stitch, Mary Poppins, and Winnie the Pooh, alongside Pixar favorites from Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and more. The characters appear as darker sketches above a layer of lighter sketches to honor the animation that has always been at the heart of Disney.
One hundred years may sound like a long time, but it’s astonishing how quickly the Walt Disney Co. grew from a humble cartoon studio into the powerhouse that it is today, with theme parks, hotels, cruise lines, movies, and merch making the world go ‘round. We can all take a little inspiration in something Walt himself once said: “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
This article was originally published in Issue No. 17 of The Pop Insider. Click here to read the full issue!