Thursday, November 18, 2010

Shellie May could have been a cat!

By now, I'm sure everyone knows who Duffy the Disney Bear is.  If you've read my blog, you also know that Duffy found a new friend; a girl bear named Shellie May.  Well, did you know that Disney was toying (pun intended) with the idea of creating a friend for "Disney Bear" before he became Duffy in America?

Thanks to several Ebay auctions and insider information, we know that while OLC was slowly realizing it had a phenomenon on it's hand with Duffy, Disney in the United States was still attempting to figure out how to make "Disney Bear" sell, and maybe introducing a friend might help.  I don't know if the two teams (the Japanese "Duffy team" and the American "Disney Bear team") were communicating with each other about this at all.  It's possible it was coincidence that both teams developed a friend for the bear.

When it was announced that Duffy (in Japan) would have a new friend, the fans speculated who and what it might be.  Many different animals were talked about, and whether it would be a boy or a girl.  We know now that it was a girl bear who looked very much like Duffy and was a light shade of pink.  I don't know if the Japanese Duffy team had actually thought about using different animals or not, because that information is not public.  We only have the final product, and she's an adorable one.

Now, at some point while they were doing that, the American merchandise team was testing various designs for a companion for the bear.  I'll show you one of them, and you can see what "might have been".  This is a prototype plush, created just to see what it would look like as an actual product.  To see what kinds of fur to use, what colors worked best, etc.  This version of Disney Bear's friend was a cat.  A cat.

She's got the "Mickey Marks" like Duffy and Disney Bear, except she's got a heart nose...kind of like a Care Bear.  You can see her Mickey paw marks too, and the "birthmark" on her behind.  Also, the fur is polka dotted.  I wonder if they were planning to have her be Minnie Mouse's cat?  She looks very "Minnie-like".

There was a second prototype made that was very similar to this one, except the fur was a different material.  Both were girls, and cats.  They had bows on their heads and at the ends of their tails.  And, a little skirt, a bit like Minnie Mouse wears.  Here is the alternate version.

 So, as you can see, Disney was thinking of someone like Shellie May for a while, and it's possible that she could have been a cat at one point.  This version never made it to market, and was only a prototype, but it gives an interesting peek at the design process.  What do you think of a bright pink kitty friend for Duffy?  Do you like Shellie May as a bear better?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Duffy is getting ready to celebrate Christmas

It's nearing that time of year.  You know, where we skip right over the fall holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving to jump right into Christmas!  There have been rumblings since the beginning of September.  The leaves are turning, the temperature is cooling...well, in the Northern hemisphere, that is. Still, the thought of Santa & sugar plums have already started dancing in retailer's heads...or at least the dollar signs have!

So, it's no surprise that Duffy the Disney Bear, and his friend Shellie May, are thinking about Christmas too.  Starting on November 1st, Tokyo Disney Resort will transition from Halloween to Christmas with the flick of a switch.  The websites have gotten the holiday makeover, and all of the seasonal offerings are on display.  Duffy and Shellie May are no exception.  So, without further adieu,  here is what those two lovable bears will be doing and wearing this coming holiday season.  Oh, and stick around until the end, because Duffy USA will also have a little holiday offering.

There will apparently not be any limited edition "smiling" Duffy plush, like they've had for the past few years.  Those bears were always dressed with some kind of costume accessory sewn on, and the facial expression had a open "smiling" mouth.  Very cute...however, this year it appears they are not going to sell that version of the bear.  For those looking forward to a "smiling" Shellie May plush, hopefully this isn't too much of a disappointment.

So, in lieu of that, there are two sets of costumes being released this year.  The first is officially part of the "Hello from Cape Cod" series that was started early in 2010.  The packaging should be exactly the same as all of the others in the series, with red, white, & blue themes.  The costumes themselves are very Christmas themed though, check them out.


It will cost 3,800 Yen, and comes with pants, fuzzy vest, scarf, & santa hat.

Here is Shellie May's matching costume:

Hers comes with dress, fuzzy vest, scarf, and poinsettia bow.  It's also 3,800 Yen.

Now, in addition to those two costumes, there will be special Christmas themed ones that are not part of the series.  I imagine the packaging will have holiday colors to match.  Here are those adorable costumes.


This costume set contains a wool peacoat, and a knit scarf and hat.  This set will cost 3,300 Yen.

Here is Shellie May's matching costume:

There are only two pieces in her set, and the price is lower to reflect that.  It will cost 2,500 Yen, and includes a cape and red bow.

I'm very impressed with the quality of all of these costumes, and despite the high price, the craftsmanship is far beyond what Build-a-Bear offers.

Now, in addition to the costumes, there are tons of other Christmas souvenirs you can buy.  Pin plush, bags, cookies, candy, etc.  Here is what will be available.

Duffy & Shellie May "Hello from Cape Cod" Christmas plush straps at 1,300 Yen each.  They are 13cm tall:

Regular Duffy & Shellie May Christmas plush straps, costing 1,500 Yen each, and 17 cm tall.

 Then there are larger, plush bears with zippers on their backs to carry things inside, and they have a carrying strap.  These are 30 cm tall, and cost 2,800 Yen each.  Oh, and they're dressed in the "Hello from Cape Cod" costumes.

Lastly, for the plush stuff, are "face pouches".  Basically, the face of Duffy or Shellie may, turned into a coin purse.  For those that want disembodied bear heads, here you go!  These cost 1,700 Yen each, and are 19 x 22 cm.

Now comes the rest of the assorted gifts for sale.  Lots of cute things!

The obligatory plastic cell phone charm dangles.  Duffy and Shellie May are peeking out of a stocking, and there are small charms attached as well.  These are 1,800 Yen each, and 16 cm long.

Next, we have an adorable Christmas wreath with Duffy's and Shellie May's faces at the top.  It's made of fabric, and is 18 cm diameter, and costs 2,800 Yen.

This year they are also releasing an adorable trinket both with Duffy & Shellie May sitting on the lid holding presents.  It's made of resin, and will cost 2,500 Yen, and measures 8 x 10 cm.

After that, we have a canvas mini-tote bag.  They have been releasing themed versions of this bag since Halloween 2009, and each one is identical in design, but the colors and details are themed to match the holiday.  Last year, the Christmas bag had a red bottom.  This year, it's green, and includes Shellie May in the design.  It's 2,700 yen, and measures 22 x 38 x 18 cm.

Also, another item that gets released every single season is a small towel about the size of a standard washcloth.  This year has a new design that includes Shellie May, and for the first time, an accessory.  A compact mirror.  Both items are inside a gift box that looks like a house.  Very cute packaging!  This set costs 3,500 Yen.  

There will also be a special Shellie May necklace for sale.  There was a Duffy version of this for a few years, and this design appears to match that one.  The Duffy version doesn't seem to be for sale, but for those that already have it, this matches it perfectly.  It comes in a small box made to look like a storybook.  It's expensive at 13,000 Yen.

Next up, we have all of the omiyage, or packaged sweets.  These are what a lot of people buy to bring back as gifts to friends and family.  It's a Japanese tradition to buy things like this to bring back.

Hard candies in a cute tin.  This is 450 Yen.

Then a tin shaped like a house.  it's filled with chocolate candies at 900 Yen.

Finally, a cookie tin at 1,200 Yen.

Now, before I get to the snack food items, like cake & popcorn, there are a couple gift bags they will be selling this year.  However, these are identical to the ones for sale last year.  They do not have Shellie May on them, but they do make great alternatives to wrapping paper.  All you have to do is put a gift inside, pull the ribbons like a drawstring, attach the gift tag, and you're done!

Small gift bag with ribbon & gift tag.  This costs 500 Yen, and is 45 x 30 x 10 cm.

Here is the larger can hold more presents, yay!  It's 600 Yen, and is 59 x 45 x 10 cm.

OK, now we get to the yummy treats you can buy for yourself at Tokyo DisneySea!  Sure, you can give the souvenir plates, cups, & popcorn bucket as gifts too, but why not treat yourself to a holiday snack inside the park!

First, we have the traditional souvenir dessert plate & mug set.  The Duffy versions of these annual offerings started last year for "Sweet Duffy 2009" and have been released for every major holiday celebration since.  This year we get both Duffy and Shellie May versions.  They are very nice looking.  Made of a durable ceramic.  

Souvenir mugs with "salt caramel" mousse.  These are 600 Yen each.

Here are the plates.  These are 700 Yen each, and come with a strawberry custard cake.

Aaaand, finally?  We have another recent tradition...the Duffy popcorn bucket!  The regular one was introduced for the first time during "Sweet Duffy 2010", at the beginning of this year.  Then, during Halloween 2010, a special brown & orange themed one was release.  So, with Christmas, comes another new version of the "lightship basket" design.  It's a soft shade of pink, and has a red molded bow around it, with a "crystal" snowflake detail on the bow.  You can buy it with a strap for an additional cost too.  

The basic bucket (with popcorn) is 2,100 Yen.  

The version with the strap will cost you 3,200 yen, and comes with a light green "leather" strap with Duffy logo.

Well, there you have it!  All of the Duffy and Shellie May Christmas offerings from Tokyo DisneySea. They really did a good job with the theme this year, I think, even if they aren't going to release the special "smiling" plush.  Thank you for sticking with me to the end to preview all of this great stuff.  I told you I would tell you what Duffy was doing to celebrate Christmas at the US Disney parks...well, not nearly as much as he will be doing in Tokyo, but there will be an effort.  

First, there is a special holiday themed Duffy plush that is slightly smaller than the standard one you can dress up.  This 12" Duffy comes with a costume sewn onto him.  He's dressed in a holiday sweater with Santa hat & green gloves.  

Also, according to Duffy's official blog, there might be a costume release for the larger sized Duffy plush that you can dress him in.  They released concept art of that design, and it appears to be similar to the smaller plush, except with boots and a scarf.  I don't know if or when this will be released, but here it is for you to look at.

Alright, that does it for the holiday update, I hope I don't bore you to tears showcasing all of the Duffy merchandise, but I thought it would be a good idea to keep track of these things for those that would like to collect them.

See you next update!


well, it looks like the concept art above was never intended as a separate costume release.  The official Duffy blog updated the information and said that the concept is what turned into the smaller 12" holiday Duffy plush.  So, the scarf & boots were dropped.  Oh well, 

On a slightly different topic, Hong Kong Disneyland will be introducing Duffy this holiday season as well.  He is the centerpiece of their "Sparkling Christmas" celebration this year.  He will debut at the parks in his own photo spot, and you can buy the plush as well.  Here is the official HKDL website with a cute, animated Duffy presenting the festivities.

The interesting thing, is that if you look at what Duffy is wearing, it's exactly the same as the "Hello from Cape Cod" costume from Tokyo DisneySea.  It looks like Hong Kong Disneyland is at least sharing the costume designs from Tokyo.  This is great for those of you who cannot get to TDR, but are close to HKDL.  

Friday, October 15, 2010

Shellie May joins Duffy and breaks records

You know all about Duffy by now, right?  He's the bear of happiness and luck.  A phenomenon in Japan, and recently made his way to the United States again.  Well, did you know he has a friend in Japan?  Specifically, a little girl bear named Shellie May?  Let me give you a brief history.

In early January of 2010 it was announced that there would be a special Valentine's Day themed event called "Sweet Duffy" that would begin on January 22nd.  This wasn't the first year for this event, it started the previous year, and had a very cute theme of Duffy running his own sweets cafe.  So, the 2010 version seemed to be similarly themed.  However, what made this year's announcement special was a revelation online that tied into the special event.

There was a small storybook posted on the official Duffy site that had sections blocked out to hide the upcoming revelation.  However, the first detail revealed was that Duffy would be joined by a new friend for this Valentine's Day themed event.  Every week a new page from the story would be "uncovered" from underneath it's big pink heart to reveal a new clue.  Duffy fans everywhere were wondering just what this new friend would be.  Would it be another bear?  A pet companion for Duffy?  A new animal friend?  Lots of different ideas were floating around online.  As each week went by and more clues started to appear, it looked like it might just be a female friend.

Sure enough, right before the January 22nd start date of "Sweet Duffy", his new friend had an official unveiling.  It was a girl, and she was a bear just like Duffy.  Her name is "Shellie May", and she's a lovely shade of pink.  Not bright pink...more of a dusty rose color.  There are "Mickey marks" on her as well, just like Duffy.  Her "birthmark" on her backside is on the opposite side from Duffy's, but the paws, & face are very similar to his.  She also has beautiful blue eyes, and a bow on her head, and wears a heart-shaped locket around her neck.  They introduced her with a mini-storybook, but her story was very basic.  It is still shown on the official Duffy (and Shellie May) site.  Here is a link to that page.  Click on "Story" near the bottom of the main picture.  You can read Duffy and Shellie May's individual (brief) stories there.

Her story is basically this:
Minnie Mouse makes a friend for Duffy.
She finishes sewing her.
Minnie presents the new friend to Duffy.
He's embarrassed about taking the gift that this new friend is holding (the picture looks like a box of chocolates).
Standing in front of Duffy is a female bear wearing a charming heart-shaped shell pendant.
Duffy says "Nice to meet you, Shellie May".

And...that's the story.  Short, and blunt.  Not really as evocative as Duffy's full story, but they had to do something, right?  Maybe in the future she'll get a more fleshed out story.  Until then, you really should check out the "origin story" written by a friend of mine.  This is not official, mind you, but it SHOULD be!  He's also translated the Duffy story with pictures, so you get two for the price of one!

Now, it was official, Duffy had a brand new friend, and with that came a wave of merchandise.  Of course there was the plush version that matched Duffy.  This is the version of Shellie May that is still for sale.  She's available year-round, the same as Duffy.

She comes with the bow attached to her head.  You can remove it to put on other accessories.  At the time, they also released a skirt & panties set that matched her bow.
You can still buy these items, it seems they are continually available.  However, there was a special "Sweet Duffy" costume released as well, and it was...adorable!  Check it out.
See?  It's a little sailor suit with heart themes.  This matched the Duffy costume perfectly.  Here is what his costume looked like for comparison.
There was a lot of other merchandise released with both Duffy and Shellie May together on it.  Cups, towels, pillows, postcards, etc.  None of this is available anymore though.  It was only sold during "Sweet Duffy", and even then, it sold out before the event was over.  Speaking of selling out...

The debut of Shellie May at Tokyo DisneySea on January 22nd (also the start of "Sweet Duffy") was bigger than anybody ever anticipated.  There were reports of lines 7 hours long just to get into a store to buy Shellie May!  An entire day at the theme park waiting in line to buy plush.  The OLC executives must have been beside themselves with joy at how much money they were making.  Maybe that's why Shellie May's slogan during the event was "Shellie May brings joy"...yeah, all the way to the bank!

It was insanity!  She was a bona-fide success from the start.  It was so busy that they had to start selling Duffy and Shellie merchandise at other locations just to alleviate the crowds.  Originally, Duffy was only available at Aunt Peg's in Cape Cod, and McDuck's Department Store in the NYC secion of American Waterfront.  With Shellie May's arrival, they started selling things at Galleria Disney in Mediterranean Harbor.  Eventually, even Mermaid Lagoon started carrying basic Duffy items in the Sleepy Whale shop.

Now, with two cute Disney Bears on the market, the stage was set for double the fun.  From people in the know at Tokyo Disney Resort, it appears that sales of Duffy and Shellie May merchandise now account for as much as 25% of total resort sales!  That's pretty amazing!

Since her announcement and arrival, fans have had time to adjust to her, and she's been embraced completely by the Japanese fanbase.  Wherever you see Duffy, you now see Shellie May too.  In March of 2010, it was announced that a new costume series would start, called "Hello from Cape Cod".  This series would have matching costumes for Duffy & Shellie May.  There are new costumes every few months to match the seasons.  The most recent were Halloween pumpkin costumes for both of them.  The next release is set for November 4th, and it might be Christmas themed.

So far, there has not been a walkaround mascot version of Shellie May, but I'm sure that's only a matter of time as well.  Also, with Duffy's recent re-launch in the USA, there has been no official word of Shellie May joining him stateside, but also, who knows what the future holds?  Until then, you can only find her at Tokyo DisneySea hanging out with her friend Duffy.