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.
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.