You’ll know, if youre a regular reader of this column, that were just back from our annual holiday, in Florida, but as far away from Disneyland as we could get. With our two young apprentices now grown up, weve moved on from the traipse home with armfuls of soft toy souvenirs from the Magic Kingdom.
But the memories came flooding back (as they say) as we watched one child struggling under the weight of a Mickey Mouse that was bigger than she was. Either the airline was very understanding, or the toy must have had a seat of his own.
Taking home any of the Mickeys illustrated here will present more of a challenge. Each stands six feet tall and weighs 700 pounds.
They are the stars of an auction in New York next month to conclude the celebration of Mickey Mouse’s 75th anniversary and the sale is expected to raise more than $1 million for charity.
Mickey turned 75 on November 18 last year and among a series of events to mark the occasion, the Walt Disney Company invited 75 celebrities notable Disney legends, artists, actors, musicians and athletes to each design their ultimate Mickey.
Since then, the statues have been on tour as part of a special tribute entitled “Celebrate Mickey: 75 InspEARations.”
The proceeds of the sale of each statue at Sotheby’s in New York on September 27 will benefit charities designated by the artist of each statue.
The appeal of the character is universal.Michael Eisner, Disney Chief Executive Officer, said: “No other single character has such timeless, ageless appeal or has engaged the hearts of so many. Chances are, if you talk to a four-year-old or a 70-year-old anywhere in the world, they consider Mickey a special friend.”
There was no shortage of budding Mickey designers who agreed.Our own Sir Elton John rose to the challenge to produce, fittingly, Music Royalty and the money raised from its sale will go to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Other participants include:
· Ben Affleck designed “Home Run Hero” for The Jimmy Fund at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
· Andre Agassi designed “Love All” for the the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation
· Jamie Lee Curtis designed “The Original Mouse Pad” for the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation
· Long-time Disney animation artist Andreas Deja designed “Fruits of the Mouse” for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America
· Tom Hanks designed “Space Mouse” for the James Birrell Neuroblastoma Research Fund
· Kelly Ripa designed “Big City Mouse” for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
· John Travolta designed “Jet Setter” for the Hollywood Education and Literacy Project
So how do you join in the bidding for what must be the grandest Mickey Mouse souvenir? Actually, its easier than you think.
First, youll need a catalogue which can be pre-purchased by logging on to www.sothebys.com or by calling Sothebys in London on 020 7293 5000. It costs $41 including shipping and handling.
In the catalogue, youll find an absentee bid form which you fill in and return to bid department by fax or post.
Indicate the highest amount you would like to pay and the auctioneer will submit bids on your behalf, never bidding more than necessary to secure the lot and never more than the amount you specify. (Dont forget the buyers premium).
Absentee bid forms are also available at Sotheby’s offices and on www.sothebys.com.
However, much more exciting would be to bid in the New York sale without actually leaving home.
Youll need a computer and access to the Internet, of course. Log on to www.ebayliveauctions.com
Will the really Mickey please stand up
Topolino to the Italians, Raton Mickey in Spain and Mi Lao Shu in China, Mickey Mouse was born when Walt Disney discovered he had lost the rights to his previous character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
Originally to be called Mortimer, Disney changed his mind and called the stick-like creature Mickey in the world’s first synchronised sound cartoon, Steamboat Willie which opened on November 18, 1928.
The mouse later appeared in the Laurel and Hardy film Babes in Toyland, and won his first Oscar in the 1941 film, Lend a Paw.
He first appeared in colour in The Band Concert, in 1935, and has now featured in more than 120 cartoons.
Originally, Mickey was voiced by Disney himself, but was later played by Jim Macdonald and then Wayne Allwine.
Mickey greeted his first guests to Disneyland in California when it opened in 1955, followed by the vast Disney World in Florida in 1971 and later in Tokyo and Paris
Each venue pours out a torrent of kitsch souvenirs some more collectable than others!
One sure fire hit is a limited edition “Tuxedo” Mickey pin for collectors which will be given to the first 5,000 catalogue orders for the 75th anniversary auction. The pin is sure to rise rapidly in value.
More hardened collectors seek out only vintage memorabilia such as tinplate toys, money boxes, clocks and watches early annuals and film cels.
High prices are the norm. In February, a solid gold 24 carat statue of Mickey called “Celebration Mickey…100 Golden Years of Magic,” produced in 2001 as part of celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of Walt Disney’s birth on December 5, 1901 sold for $690,000 (£370,000).
Pictures show: Top, Sir Elton John’s Music Royalty which will raise money for the Elton John AIDS Foundation
Below, He’s come a long way… a Dean’s Rag Book soft toy Mickey, worth £60-80 and a tinplate clockwork toy motorcycle with Minnie riding pillion. The motorcycle was made by Tipp & Co and sold for £11,000