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Cartoon CultureDisneyIdeas/Commentary

Mickey Mouse Plate That Tries to Celebrate Drawing

Mickey Mouse plate

Charles Kenny at the Animation Anomaly spotted these Mickey and Minnie Mouse plates at his local Target. They appear cool in that, “Look, Disney is celebrating its heritage” kind of way, but a closer look reveals a clumsily conceived idea.

The most glaring defect is that the construction lines are drawn OVER the final artwork. In actuality, the artist draws the construction lines first, a rough version to work out the pose and scale of a character. Not only are the construction lines here printed on top of the finished drawing, but the lines appear to have been inserted haphazardly after the fact and bear no connection to the drawing of Mickey. The construction circle over Mickey’s head doesn’t even follow the tilt of his head in the finished drawing. Construction lines are fascinating because they reveal an artist’s thought process and how he or she arrived at a finished drawing; these lines look like the random scribbles of a toddler struggling to copy a drawing. There’s no reason to insert these construction lines into a piece of merchandise unless the purpose is to draw attention to the heritage of drawing at the Disney company. So why not get it right? As it stands, it looks like a cynical attempt by the Disney company to exploit the fondness that people have for classic animation.

Will the general public who buys these plates notice anything amiss? Probably not. But when a company cares, it sweats every detail, even the ones that aren’t always noticed. That’s what Pixar does, that’s what Apple does, and it’s what Walt used to do.

  • AdrianC.

    I looked at the pictures Charles Kenny posted and I think the Minnie Mouse plates look better. At least, the construction lines more or less make sense, even if they sometimes seem to appear on top of the finished art. Still, it’s a shame they couldn’t get the Mickey plate right since he’s Disney’s flagship character.

  • You know you’re a failure when your dishware has disney characters on it.

  • The crazy thing with the “construction” lines in this faux rough drawing is that Disney has REAL rough animation drawings of Mickey which could have been used for the image on this plate. Any Fred Moore drawing of Mickey would have been suitable.

    “As it stands, it looks like a cynical attempt by the Disney company to exploit the fondness that people have for classic animation.”

    This is why I am deeply disappointed with the Disney Corporate leadership: they are willing to cynically market “classical” animation for nostalgia purposes on merchandise , but they won’t commit to regularly producing NEW hand-drawn animated features. No new creative product means that eventually the sources will dry up for merchandise . In 25, 30, 50 years from now what hand-drawn classics will anyone have to feel nostalgic about ?

    • Harry T.

      Audiences don’t CARE about “hand drawn animation.”. They care about being entertained. That’s why.

  • In fact , this concept was already done in a much better way with the Disney “Model Sheet” dishware that came out a few years ago –

  • While it is a point, it would appear quite pedantic. Anyone who draws animation will know that extremely rough volumes will be laid down as these scribbled lines suggest. That they are on the top of the finished art is immaterial. Rub of all the lines you wouldn’t see and you are left with s couple of pokey out bits that would make little sense. these pokey out lines would no doubt be subject to castigation by all us bloody know it alls, as they didn’t display the often beautiful energetic ideas behind the finish drawing. Surely another storm on a tea cake here, isn’t it? Once your egg and chips are on there, who would care?

  • The Mickey dish looks like a light-hearted, wholesome, family-friendly manufacturing error.

  • Apple, really? If they’re so perfect, don’t you think they’d spend more money on their ads?

    Look around, there’s laziness everywhere

  • I took the out-of-place head construction line to represent a change in the pose. Otherwise I agree completely.

  • Destined for the clearance rack and the dumpsters. Who was the idiot that greenlit this piece of trash?

  • Snagglepuss

    You are a blog about animation that just reviewed a plate.


    • Hannah

      exit, stage right even…!

    • Klyph

      Disney Marketing meeting:

      Hey guys, don’t you think it’d be cool if for a couple of the plates we took a drawing and kept the sketchy under drawing thing the artist do? I always thought those were cool, and people who know animation will get a real kick out of them.



  • uh… Apple cares?
    • Liesje

      Thank you. You beat me to it.

    • Oluseyi

      Contextually, you’re not even talking about the same thing Amid is: he’s talking about sweating the details in product design, you’re referencing a much ballyhooed “expose” on the realities of international fabrication.

      Pushing context aside, the “sudden” angst over this is quite… quaint. Look around you, wherever you may be. Nearly every single thing ON or near you is made in this manner, and has been for 30-odd years. Somehow, it takes realizing that Apple products aren’t farted by unicorns to get riled up?

      Back on topic, The Walt Disney Company has been whoring out every aspect of its “heritage” for as long as I can remember, so this strikes me as no different. I just hope that crassness doesn’t come to infect Pixar, now that it’s been assimilated by the Borg.

      • Dave O.

        So, to sum up:

        Snark, snark, snark… Third world factory conditions won’t change so don’t bother learning about them and commercialism ruins things. Snark.

  • Mike Russo

    I guess I’m supposed to, what, hate the Disney company now? Over a plate, right? This post obviously wants me to be angry over mediocre art on a plate sold at Target.

    But I couldn’t care less.

    • Funkybat

      I am not prone to flying off the handle at trivial things, but I understand the anger and frustration.

      Pissy inside baseball complaints aside, as a pure brand/business matter, this is kind of a bad move on their part. Disney is a top-tier entertainment brand, and their cartoon artistry is in the public mind second to none. It would not be difficult or expensive to simply scan old actual production model sheet images and make profitable consumer products using them. What happened here seems to be a kind of faux model sheet, with construction lines drawn on after the fact. Even if you’re not an animation professional, it is simply not as aesthetically pleasing as a real rough drawing that follows construction principles. Why doctor something up when you have the real deal collecting dust in your archive? It just doesn’t make sense to tarnish your image doing second-rate art when you’re a company whose reputation relies on excellent quality art.

  • M. V.

    As Mick pointed out above. I think there’s a legitimate design reason to have the construction lines on top. since they added black and color to the images. I don’t think the purpose of the flatware was to accurately represent the process.

  • Mark Sonntag

    Yikes. With all the drawings in the archives, they couldn’t just pick one of those if they were too cheap to pay someone to do a proper job of it?

  • Rezz

    I used to work at Disney Consumer products and I can promise you this isn’t an artist choice. They know how to draw mickey, donald etc.

    It’s simply the meetings that kill a good idea. Keep in mind that Target has the final say (even though they can’t demand a mickey with a knife in his teeth etc.) but they can choose what they want to sell and what they think will sell.

    entertainment artist in the field are a hired wrist with people who sometimes know what they are doing……….and most of the time not.

  • Riles

    Assuming that the plate IS made by Disney, don’t you think they would have made the planning lines more technically correct if they wanted to? I’m pretty sure they took the idea of planning a drawing and put the sketch lines on top, as well as off of the character model a bit to add a stronger sense of style to the plate. This isn’t an animation cel remember, you put food on it.

    • Klyph

      Thank you.

      I’m surprised that few people have stopped and considered that maybe an ARTIST made an ARTISTIC DECISION that would make the plate (not the drawing) look more interesting?

  • Mandy
    • Funkybat

      That one is good, mainly because it features what appear to be genuine old rough model sheets. THAT’S appealing to many artists. If the rest of their series is like that, then it is a good thing.

      • Snagglepuss

        You’re just dumping spaghetti on it anyway.

  • The only Mickey Mouse/Disney plate that truly matters.

    By Ward Kimball.

    • Scarabim

      Yeah…but I don’t think I’d care to eat off of it. :P

  • No one who is seriously going to buy these is ever going to notice. This is nitpicking of the highest degree.

  • Trevor


  • It’s not nitpicking at all.

    Drawing was the very thing this once-great company was and still is founded upon. Show a little respect for goodness sake.

    Would it kill people in Disney Consumer Products to take two seconds to consider that in their marketing meetings?

    The amount of pride and care you have in your product also plays a part in marketing. Forget about the Disneyphiles, consumers are not stupid they can smell easily when something is….sketchy. (pun intended)

  • Klyph

    ‘But when a company cares, it sweats every detail, even the ones that aren’t always noticed. That’s what Pixar does’

    Yeah! Pixar would never allow some off-model travesty get on store shelves to make a buck!

    • Bobby Bickert

      Don’t forget the Buzz Lightyear beverage container that had the straw protruding from his crotch.

  • Dave

    I don’t think the plates were intended to provide a primer on hand-drawn animation. All of the lines are simply used as graphic design elements and striking ones at that. A “travesty?”

  • Celia

    No offense people, but I don’t like having a mouse on the things I put my food on. Beat it, Mickey.

  • Vic

    Have you ever browsed through the Disney archives at merchandise from the past? There’s never been a golden age in consumer products. It’s always run the gamet from OK to “What’s that supposed to be?”

  • Malc

    It’s a design based on the concept of the finished character plus construction lines. It doesn’t matter that the construction lines are in the wrong place (or that they’re so thick and dark) that is not the idea, so the criticism seems ridiculous, as is criticism of a Picasso because the eyes are in the wrong place.

    • Dave O.

      No, the criticism seems ridiculous because this is a plastic piece of crap.

  • Retro00064

    Such a ruckus over a plate sold at Target? Really?

    Popcorn, anyone?

    • Old Man Father Time

      Amid started it!

  • Not as funny as that “King Dedede drooling while eating” plate that Better Home and Gardens was selling on their website.
    But funny, nonetheless.

  • Maybe they had piles and piles of those ugly plates with supposedly “modern and trendy” squiggles on them that wouldn’t sell; so they stuck pictures of Minnie and Mickey on them and called it a day?

    Funny, first thing I noticed was what appears to be some bad tangents on Mickey. His far elbow looks kinda like he got a boob job. And any sufficiently immature brat will come to the exact same conclusion I did.

  • Richard

    A plate? Seriously?

  • Bass Rabbit

    Welcome to Cartoon Brew! We review kitchenware!

  • Moczo

    At first I was furious about this breach of artistic pride and clear lack of enthusiasm for the medium of animation that made Disney what is today.

    Then I remembered you can’t see the drawing with food on the plate anyway.

    Then I had lunch.