New Disney Oswald Merchandise

oswald3merch.jpg

Disney consumer products design manager Juan Ortiz recently started an “official unofficial” blog about Disney Store merchandise and the artists behind them. Ortiz hopes to post a lot of original drawings, designs and product that may or may not make it to the store shelves. He’s currently posting about the first wave of Oswald Rabbit items. Check them out at The Disney Store Shelves.


  • Pedro Nakama

    I don’t know why the Walt Disney Company bought the rights to Oswald. The Walt Disney Company is what it is today because Walt lost Oswald!

    • Anna

      Oswald was Disney’s first own character and it was stolen. Mickey was only created as a supplement and it’s built on Oswald’s character. Early Mickey (or Mortimer or Michael) WAS Oswald with round ears, buttons on the pants and a slightly longer snout. Later on Mickey’s attitude was cleaned to fit the family-safe image that the Disney company was after. Early Mickey, much like Oswald was aimed more for adult audiences or families, not especially children. Early Mickey was a violent, flirty, smoking, beer-drinking daredevil. Minnie was created on Oswald’s love interest by adding heels and round ears. Even the dress and the hat looked about the same. Early Minnie didn’t like Mickey btw. He blackmailed her into kisses by scaring her (check out the real first Mickey cartoon called Plane Crazy). You can’t call that charm guys. Mickey was just like Oswald before him. Pegleg Pete was Oswald’s nemesis dog merely changed into a cat. Disney’s Oswald was a hit. It was the same. Because of legal reasons he needed to change the name and the appearance a little in order to “create a new character”. Mickey’s public release also included the addition of sound and the merchandising but this could have happened to Oswald if Universal hadn’t fooled young Walt’s dear character from him. Oswald is original Disney and the starting point. That’s why it’s only fair they got Oswald back. And they didn’t need to buy Oswald back. They traded the rights to the character for an announcer/public persona. Mickey is Oswald’s double. Oswald is the original basis protagonist. I’m a film scholar and I’ve specialized in 1920s animated films and I trust my academic sources.

  • Daniel

    If Disney is going to go ahead with doing shorts again, they should really consider doing a new Oswald one to reintroduce him to audiences. That could be a good way of getting more interest and support for Oswald merchandise.

  • http://www.nancybeiman.com Nancy Beiman

    The character has none of the charm or appeal of Mickey Mouse. I agree that losing Oswald may have been the best thing to happen to Disney.

  • David C.

    I can see the use of having Oswald for “fake nostalgia” merchandise. But is there any demand for using the character for animation?

    I suppose Oswald’s got the advantage of not being tied down to a “nice” image (like Mickey is). I don’t suppose many non-animation fans remember what his personality is supposed to be like, so there’s some leeway there, too.

    I supposed the “real” purpose of having the character is to generate revenue. I guess that can be done without involving any animators.

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com/gerstein David Gerstein

    Sorry to disagree, Nancy, but I’d say the original Disney Oswald has plenty of charm—usually evidenced by his mischievous facial mannerisms and clever, sassy attitude.
    Some of the new Disney licensing art I’ve seen tries to reflect this sassiness (note the “back atcha” line in some of the ad copy). But on a Christmas ornament, where he inevitably must look cheerful in a rather basic way, it’s harder to spot what makes Oswald so unique.
    That said, I do like these new items, so maybe we’ll never get over our difference of opinion. Darn.

  • http://vincemusacchia.blogspot.com Vince Musacchia

    Maybe Disney bought Oswald because Bazooka Joe was tied up in a bidding war.

  • Jorge_Garrido

    >The character has none of the charm or appeal of Mickey Mouse. I agree that losing Oswald may have been the best thing to happen to Disney.

    Mickey and Oswald are characters?

    They could use Oswald as an excuse to do some surreal 30s style rude Mickey shorts, only without desecrating their logo.

  • http://blackwingdiaries.blogspot.com Jenny

    Beautifully faithful, charming-looking toys. I’d buy them.

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com/gerstein David Gerstein

    Bazooka Joe is Michael Eisner’s new Mickey Mouse so Oswald doesn’t have to be.

  • http://thad-k.blogspot.com Thad Komorowski

    As much as I like the early Oswalds, I have to go with Nancy. What is the real point of the Disney Company whoring this unknown? Because they want a few more dollars thrown their way, outside of the Treasures releases and Pixar movies, from people like us? Seems likely, because I’ll buy every one of the damn things.

  • http://www.autodaddy.blogspot.com tom

    The idea that this blank, cute character hasn’t got the appeal of the blank, cute Mickey Mouse makes me laugh! This is cute because it doesn’t have the decades of dust and barnacles on it that Mickey does. Mickey’s just the Disney logo now. This looks innocent and fresh in comparison.

  • Joe

    I agree with Oswald being fresh. Also, since there’s almost zero chance of Universal doing anything with Lantz’s Oswald, it’s a good chance to firmly establish him as a Disney character. Also, he’s one of the few Disney characters that is firmly established as a vintage B&W character and can continued to be marketed as such.

  • http://blog.marcdeckter.com/ Marc Deckter

    I’m excited about Disney pushing and promoting Oswald – I hope they make lots of lucky rabbit merchandise. Just as long as they don’t give him a backwards hat and a skateboard…

  • Chuck R.

    I’m glad Mr. Ortiz started this blog. We have a gazillion blogs, “art-of” books and “making-of” films telling us how animation gets made, but precious little out there to honor the artwork and artists behind the everyday objects around us.

    I confess I buy very little licensed stuff (even though I worked for WBConsumer Products for several years.) But I love it when it’s done well —when good designers get away from the style guides and create something really worth looking at. The Disney stores set very high standards of creativity and execution. I used to peruse the Disney Store like it was a museum dedicated to licensed folderol.

    Nice work, Juan! Keep it coming!

  • Darren Bunch

    First of all, Disney did not buy Oswald. He was originally Walt’s and it was stolen away from Walt in legalities. Bob Iger Traded a real human for the rights to get back what was originally Disney’s to begin with. Oswald is the original Mickey Mouse. He belongs home at Disney so why shouldn’t Disney make money off of him? Right now he is only in the High end Boutique Shops where a T-shirt cost you $100. Oswald has been popular for years in Japan so why not sell it to the rest of the world? He’s not a Fab 5 member, but he is a property that can make the company a lot of money. He’s been making Universal money for years in the Asian Market.

  • Mort Glickman

    More toys for creative executives to put on their shelves proclaiming how hip they are.

  • http://trevour.blogspot.com Trevour

    Considering the comments above, I’m probably in the minority here when I say – I’d like my entire Christmas tree decorated with 50 of those Oswald ornaments.

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com robert

    Aw… he’s a cutie. He coulda been a contender…

    Bad Mintz! Bad Mintz!

  • Nancy B

    Well, I’ll reserve final opinion til the new DVD of Oswald shorts comes out, but TROLLEY TROUBLES isn’t nearly as amusing or entertaining as the early Mickies.
    And Mickey Mouse is one of the great designs of the twentieth century. Oswald seems to be lacking something. We can agree to disagree.

  • http://thedisneystoreshelves.com Juan Ortiz

    Next week on thedisneystoreshelves.com: Oswald, the second wave.

  • Matthew K Sharp

    Nancy B says: “Oswald seems to be lacking something.”

    I’d suggest it’s familiarity that’s the main thing lacking.

    I don’t think it’s fair to use Trolley Troubles as a comparison with Mickey – the Oswald character was still developing. But I reckon later Oswalds like Rival Romeos or Bright Lights or The Fox Chase are of comparable quality to Plane Crazy or The Gallopin’ Gaucho.

    I’m particularly drawn to the figurine of Oswald with the pot of paint. Very cute and appealing. I’m not usually one for buying this kind of merchandise, but I’m feeling close to making an exception in this case.

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com/gerstein David Gerstein

    Matthew: “I reckon later Oswalds like Rival Romeos or Bright Lights or The Fox Chase are of comparable quality to Plane Crazy or The Gallopin’ Gaucho.”
    Agreed, and you’ll find “Ozzie of the Mounted” is one of the very best early Disney cartoons—maybe the best Oswald of the surviving bunch.
    The most striking thing about watching the surviving Oswalds chronologically (warning: not sure if that’s how they’ll be presented on the DVD) is that you actually get to see the nucleus of the later Disney, WB, MGM, and Lantz studios move as one—with startling speed—from the fundamentally spare, slash system aesthetic of Messmer into what might be termed the first cartoons with a mature golden age sensibility.
    The evolution of Oswald himself from a roly-poly bunny—rather awkward in fast action—into a svelter shape mirrors this. Surviving pencil animation from the otherwise lost “Harem Scarem” shows Ham Hamilton straining in the action scenes with what was still a rather stout model; you can actually see the staff punching up against the limits and figuring out what worked best.

  • http://www.animationarchive.org Stephen Worth

    I really love the Bill Nolan Oswalds. They have originality and spunk that the Disney ones never had.

  • http://thedisneystoreshelves.com Juan Ortiz

    Image of the new Oswald plush doll on my blog.
    http://www.thedisneystoreshelves.blogspot.com

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com/gerstein David Gerstein

    Stephen, I dearly love the Bill Nolan Oswalds (and the Winkler Oswalds before them!)— but when you see a certain sequence in Disney’s TALL TIMBER, you might just eat your words.

  • Lynette

    The first time I saw a picture of Oswald (many many years ago) I fell in love. I’m happy that Disney got him back and look forward to the upcoming Disney Treasures DVD release of his animated shorts. As for the plush that’s come out in the Disney Stores, I gotta get one =O)

  • Jeremy

    Anybody seen the plush in stores yet?

  • http://www.juanortiz.org Juan

    They are in the stores on the West coast. Should reach the East soon.

  • http://www.thedisneystoreshelves.blogspot.com Juan Ortiz

    The stage set for the Oswald resin statue is 12/20. Just in time for Christmas. I will remind everyone a few days before, on the blog.

    http://thedisneystoreshelves.blogspot.com

  • http://www.juanortiz.org Juan

    The Oswald statue has been delayed. It seems that it wasn’t passing the drop test. The stage set now is early January 2008.

  • http://thedisneystoreshelves.blogspot.com Juan

    The Oswald statue has finally arrived at the Disney Stores!

  • http://TheAnimationEmpire.blogspot.com Ed

    I disagree with Pedro. I think Walt would have made sound cartoons with Oswald instead, and so Steamboat Willie would have starred the rabbit instead. All of Disney would be different, but it would still be just as successful.

  • Chris

    If I heard correctly, one of the main reasons that they brought Oswald back was for the upcoming Epic Mickey game for the Wii.