Building on the tremendous success of the Tiana and Rapunzel toddler dolls over the past two years, Disney Store has taken a giant leap forward with the ‘Disney Animators’ Collection,’ so named because they enlisted the services of two of Disney’s leading animators — Mark Henn and Glen Keane. The end result of nearly a year’s worth of work is one of the most gorgeous sets of dolls imaginable aimed at both the children’s toy market as well as the adult collector.
I had the opportunity to meet with Mark Henn earlier today who was gracious enough to give an overview of the process which included rattling off which of the dolls he had designed and which Glen Keane had done, but unfortunately technical difficulties prevent me from being able to share that information. What I do recall, however, is that while Henn served as supervising animator for each of the princess from Ariel through Tiana (with Keane focusing on the male counterparts), the lines weren’t drawn that way, so to speak, when it came time to which animator designed which doll.
In any case, the duo set out to determine how the eight princesses who had never been seen as toddlers in a feature animation would have looked as a toddler and the result is nothing short of amazing — photos do not do the dolls justice. I, for one, had an incredible time taking my eyes off the dolls at any point in time, they’re just absolutely captivating, despite the fact that most of them are looking off in the distance, giving them the appearance that they had just literally stepped out of their respective films.
This was a key point for Henn, who made sure to point out that the goal was to make them as true to their grown-up counterparts in the movies as possible. This meant that every aspect of the dolls required special attention, from the head and body sculpts, to the hair, right to the paint. Also of high importance was the individual costume design, although a couple of the dolls aren’t in their traditional outfits, as their age was also taken into consideration when possible.
The design team used digital models during the design process so the animators could instantly review and correct each iteration. And, if at first glance, Tiana and Rapunzel look just like the previously released editions, look again — the bodies have been resculpted to match those of a toddler’s more.
Each of the dolls, which will retail for $24.50 when they become available this holiday season, comes complete with an imaginary friend in the form of a plush/doll of their own. Each doll will come in a box that features her respective animator and will feature actual sketches that were used in designing her (see the photo gallery below for some samples).
Additionally, Disney Store has combined forces with Disney Theme Park Merchandise to make the dolls available both at Disney Store and the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts, with the box co-branded as such.
Below is our gallery of photos of the dolls, but I can promise you that no photo can do these beauties justice, so be sure to be on the lookout this holiday season.