Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Character Crossovers

A huge trend in Disney merchandise over the past few years has been evident in what I call Character Crossovers.  I'm going to present several different examples of CC’s that you can currently buy or see in stores.  

The first one, Vinylmation, is fairly popular and consists of figurines in the shape of Mickey Mouse, but with features of a plethora of different characters.  For example, Donald Duck in the shape of Mickey, Snow White in the shape of Mickey, Bambi in the shape of Mickey, Miss Piggy in the shape of… Well, you get the idea.  

Vinylmation      See Link A

You can purchase Vinylmation in sets, in key chains, or even representing Major League football and baseball teams and you can form a collection as large as you like.  This gives an outlet for artistic creativity as the characters have Mouse ears that can be made into whatever, but to my personal taste is distracting.  I’m lost on the reasoning behind Vinylmation popularity, but Disney culture has taken it and run with it with no end in sight.

My second example of CC’s is associated with Star Wars Weekends, which are select weekends where Star Wars theming is central at Walt Disney World through characters, panels, and yes, merchandise.  Here Star Wars characters appear mostly as classic Disney characters IN the clothing and features of Luke Skywalker, Darth Maul, etc.  Pins, bags, shirts, and even Vinylmation depict these CC’s and are extremely popular among fans of both Disney and Star Wars.  

SWW Merch       See Link B

Again, my personal feedback on this is confusion.  Unless you want to stretch it, classic Disney characters are not equal to Star Wars characters, and are not even strikingly similar.  Sure, some share the same traits or gender, but Donald Duck is not an evil character, so why is he depicted as Darth Maul?  Even more baffling is the Darth Vader/Mater mash-up that has recently surfaced.  Just because the names sound the same make it an instant candidate for a CC I guess.  

Darth Mater   See Link C for the other Cars CC's.

But while these examples merely make me wonder, here’s the kicker that really eats at me and makes me upset: Minnie Mouse in Princess Leia’s slave getup and looking a little too comfortable in it.  

Sexy Minnie-Leia.  Weird and wrong.  Pic courtesy of @AtDisneyAgain

If we’re sticking with consistency (and why would we?) Leia was forced to wear that oufit and it was merely a tool to sexualize and objectify her for the sick bad guy Jabba the Hut.  Minnie is a favorite character of many a young girl, so why are we putting her in the same sexualized position while also adding a seductive stare?  So many things wrong with this picture.

While most CC's really are harmless and open to each person's opinion, I feel there's a line that can be crossed when a movie with certain adult themes gets mixed into family-friendly Disney ones.  This is what happened with Minnie and I can't give it a "to each his own" approval.    

Here’s my question: Disney is known for it’s classic and relatable storytelling and its stories are beloved through the decades and generations because it’s that good... so why is there the need to combine irrelevant worlds and themes that so much effort has been put into perfecting on their own?  Disney canon characters are excellent on their own, as are, say, the Muppets.  But muddling them together seems to push all that aside and accentuate the dollar signs that drives Disney business.  Disney culture does seem to love it though, my confusion aside, and I’d love to delve deeper into the reasoning behind it. 

Tell me lovely readers, if you are a fan, what makes Character Crossovers appealing to you?  No judgement here, just discussion.


  1. The Minnie-Leia thing is weird... the only thing I can think of is that they were trying to imagine Star Wars with Disney characters playing the key roles, but Minnie's "seductive/happy" expression doesn't fit at all.

    The merchandising arm of the Disney Company is, of course, mostly concerned with selling as much of *whatever* as possible. In a way the Vinylmation figures (a ripoff of Giant Robot's Dunnys) are a good idea; collectors tend to want more than one of a set, and some need a LOT!

  2. Yes I know a few people who are Vinylmation obsessed! Which is fine. Just seems like a lazy marketing strategy... In order to sell more Star Wars and Mickey merch, lets make Star Wars-Mickey merch! Two birds, one stone! Haha.