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?


  1. I was not a fan of this idea when it was announced, but I think they made all the right choices with Shellie May (except the name, though it's admittedly grown on me). I'm especially pleased if Shellie did in fact develop from this cat. I think she needed to be a bear. I think the heart-shell is much more interesting than a heart-shaped nose, too. Plus, putting her Mickey Mark on the right to make parallel symmetry was smart! And whoever made the decision to subdue that garish pink into the gorgeous final color deserves a fresh warm cookie!

  2. I actually own the cat in the first pictures! Although she is a rather bright shade of pink, we fell in love with her (along with one of our Duffy bears) so needless to say, she is a part of our extended family. She is smaller than Duffy and Shellie May and her fur is quite soft. In addition to her heart shaped nose, her paws actually have the heart shape as well. She's actually much cuter in person than on the eBay auction photos above. She was quite a hit in Belize for Halloween - my husband and I dressed up as the Mad Hatter and Queen of Hearts and one of our Duffy Bears and the cat (who we've named Meowy May) wore matching costumes -- they even made the local Belize paper! LOL

  3. That's great to hear she found a loving home! Thanks for sharing more details. I love "Meowy May", very cute.