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Oswald Pin

I swore on a stack of 16mm Kodachrome that I wouldn’t mention every piece of Oswald The Lucky Rabbit merchandising I came across – but I couldn’t resist pointing to this one.

I find it fascinating to watch the Disney corporation of today attempt to market an 80 year old cartoon character that most people (Cartoon Brew readers excepted) have never heard of. I love that they are doing it, of course, but some of the items produced are head scratchers. This Jumbo Oswald pin (above) looks like none of the merchandising models they’ve been using, nor the version of the character in any existent animated cartoons. This image was taken from the cover of the Oswald Stencil Set from 1928 and it was used in Universal trade ads. Apparently it’s the earliest model of the character, from possibly Poor Papa (which is a lost film) – an odd choice, but it certainly makes for an interesting fashion accessory.

  • Wait, is that what oswald might have looked like in Poor Papa? I thought after that cartoon was made, Universal asked for a redesign because they didn’t like the way he looked? He does look that much different in that pic, than he did in Trolley Troubles.

    Also, wasn’t Disney supposed to be making some new Oswald cartoons?

  • The pose on the Oswald stencil set box appears to be taken from a putative OH, TEACHER (1927) one-sheet design (poster has not survived, but surviving rough sketch shows a similar layout).
    If you’ll look again at the animated OH, TEACHER, you’ll see that the model pretty well matches: design is more streamlined than TROLLEY TROUBLES, but Oswald’s body is still significantly larger than in GREAT GUNS and later shorts.
    POOR PAPA may or may not exist, but model sheets survive. In it, Oswald looks like he does on both Disney-era title cards: extremely fat and chunky, wearing one-strap overalls.

  • Saturnome

    I find it interesting that Disney haven’t settled on one “final” design for Oswald and use a certain number of them. It isn’t like it had any signifiance for customers like a pea eyed Mickey.
    I still hope they’ll try to do something with the character, with some underground appeal. But I’ll prefer to see a Late-Disney design for Oswald.

  • Owen Kline

    The body totally just looks like an Otto Messmer Felix, as well as the whiskers.

  • Saturnome: Disney does have an official Oswald styleguide with a “final” design for him. It’s a “late-Disney” design with models taken from RIVAL ROMEOS and THE FOX CHASE, standardized insofar as he has no toes or whiskers (which the cartoons sometimes showed in close-ups).
    The images on the new Lucky Brand Jeans and older Pimpyourshirts T-shirts, as well as on the boxes for last year’s stuffed animals and statues, are taken from the styleguide.
    Not every department at Disney obeys the styleguide, though. In particular, the styleguide asks that we avoid making Oswald’s shorts red, but they’re red on the cover of last year’s DVD.

  • Saturnome

    Thanks for the info, Mr.Gerstein!

  • I suppose if most people have never heard of the character it doesn’t much matter whether or not the merchandise looks like him.

  • Disney has a legion of Pin Fanatics that collect every pin they come out with, you should see some of the obscure stuff they come up with and the fan pins are to kill for.

  • JDW

    how strange, i was just on Disney.com the other day randomly browsing to see if they had any Oswald merchandise and i saw this… didnt think id see anyone else checking it out too… go figure

  • This design (exact pose in fact) of Oswald is on the Treasures Disc… on the menu of Disc 2

  • Doug Drown

    Dennis’s comment is right on target, and it raises a question: Now that Disney once again owns Oswald, what exactly does the company plan to DO with him? I hate to bring up phrases such as “target audience” and “target demographic,” but let’s be honest — there aren’t many people around that know who Oswald the Rabbit is, to say nothing of his historical background. Sure, Oswald can be made into a cute piece of merchandise for the Disney Stores, but is that all that’s planned for him?

    Someone at Disney needs to get his/her creative juices flowing. I can envision Disney doing a series of B&W “retro” cartoons about Oswald, similar to what Xeth Feinberg did with his creation “Bulbo” on the Internet. (I love those cartoons!) What do you think?

  • Jacob

    “I find it fascinating to watch the Disney corporation of today attempt to market an 80 year old cartoon character that most people (Cartoon Brew readers excepted) have never heard of.”

    Or that most only heard about as the character that Disney, in order to get it, let longtime ABC Sports broadcaster Al Michaels walk over to NBC for.