Found Disney: Disney/Pixar Mater Pillow Pet

Once again, I have found a piece of Disney merchandise loose in the wild. In this case, at a Goodwill store in Windsor, ON.

It’s not uncommon to find plush characters at charity shops, but I thought this one was a little bit more unique than most! It actually ties up to form a complete Mater from the Pixar franchise, Cars. But if you pull apart the Velcro strap, the plush widens out and becomes… a Pillow Pet:

The official website has this to say about Pillow Pets: “It’s not one of those regular pillows, it’s a Pillow Pet! Our mission at Pillow Pets is to bring endless smiles to children everywhere. Made of high quality, super soft plush, Pillow Pets are the most precious snuggle pals for you or your loved ones.”

Ready for Snuggling!

They have a wide variety of Disney Pillow Pets that include some obscure characters. Some of the offerings even light up, casting sparkles and stars on the ceiling. There is even a Lightning McQueen Pillow Pet to be a best friend to Mater should you decide to buy him. Mater is only $3.49 CAN, but McQueen will set you back $34.99 US.

Pillow Pets may be precious, but their resale value leaves a bit to be desired!

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Mini Brands MINI DISNEY STORE Display

The first Disney Store opened on March 28th of 1987 in Glendale, California. It reached its peak of success in 1997 with 749 locations operating worldwide. Fast forward to 2021 and the Disney Store shuttered its last location sometime near the end of that year.

Toronto Yorkdale Shopping Centre Location: August 23, 2021

If you want your Disney merchandise fix now, you’ll have to order online or visit a Target Store near you! Or spend thousands of dollars and take a trip to one of Disney’s Theme Parks around the world.

Or do what I did, and buy your own Mini Disney Store and open for business:

Bringing Back the Magic!

I built my own ‘brick-and-mortar’ location, out of plastic, in just over an hour. Of course, I bought this handy kit from Walmart, which made the process so much easier:

This box has what I believe to be a typo. It says, as a tag line: “Build, Store & Disney your MINI DISNEY BRANDS Collection!” Should that not read “Build, Store & Display“?

Back to the construction of my store, when I said ‘easy’, I meant just short of tedious! As you will see in the pictures below, there were a lot of little pieces contained in multiple packs. Sometimes you had to go hunting for pieces as the instructions for assembling something wouldn’t always stick to parts from one pack.

Time to Build!

If you have assembled any Lego sets, you can handle this! But be careful, as some of the pieces are quite small and can be damaged if you assert too much force when pushing them together.

I’ll share my likes and dislikes at the end of this post, but for now, enjoy the finished product:

All Done!

This really is a very detailed ‘store’. You have the cash counter, the line area, a Princess Castle, and many shelves to stock your Disney Mini Brands onto. The fun factor here is off the charts! I added the shopping cart, basket, and some extra shelves, from a different set. But more on that soon.

That was basically my likes. My dislike is that they bait-and-switch you a bit. On the front of the box, you are shown a completely assembled display with every spot on the base filled. But that’s not what you get! No, you have to look on the back of the box to learn that you will have to buy more capsules to find the remaining shelves needed to complete your ‘store’.

Let’s look at that little detail from a financial standpoint. Each capsule costs $12.99 CAN at a local Walmart. They can be as high as $17.99 CAN at specialty shops. I have purchased 10 capsules up to this date at a total cost of $146.79 after taxes. In those capsules I only got one shelving unit! To complete the Mini Disney Store, you will need an additional 6 shelving units. So, doing the math, that would mean that if the distribution of shelving units in capsules remains constant, you would have to spend an additional $880.74 CAN to finish building the ‘store’! A ‘store’ that initially cost only $39.95 CAN.

I’m not doing that.

But you may notice that my store is mostly completed with 4 of the 6 optional shelves installed. How did I do this? Facebook Marketplace to the rescue! I found a lady who was selling a Mini Brands MINI MART display set for just $20.00 CAN. It came with 4 of the shelves I needed, albeit in a different colour from the ones in my set, but for a total savings of $860.74 CAN, I’ll live with that!

Disney is notorious for making loyal supporters fork over extra money once they buy into one of their product lines. Review what happened with the Disney Infinity gaming system for the most relevant example to this post. Just scroll down to the end of the article in the link. Now Zuru seems to be telling Disney to ‘Hold my beer!’ as they force honest consumers to fork over way too much extra money when they are already going to rake in the profits on multiple capsule sales to fill the shelves of these Mini Stores anyway! Not cool, says I.

But let’s end this post on a high note. I recently purchased a Disney Store Cast Member shirt which was worn in the 2000’s at several Arizona locations. Have a look:

You can’t own a Disney Store without the proper attire!

Laura, the lady I purchased this unisex shirt from worked at the Arizona Mills location in Tempe, AZ in 2005. Starting as an Assistant Manager, she worked her way up to Manager of the San Tan Mall location in Gilbert, AZ. She ended her time with the Disney Store in July of 2011 when the location at the Fiesta Mall in Mesa, AZ closed its doors. I’m happy to add it to my growing collection of official Disney Cast Member costuming!

Now for a last look at where I’ll be working:

Stocked and Open for Business!

Many patrons complained that the Disney Store was not as good as it once was when it finally came to its end. I myself found less and less to buy there but still ended up with some awesome merchandise from time to time. As you can see, the selection in my store is also rather limited. I’ll blame the supply chain like every other retailer!

I’m happy to have a little piece of the Disney Store legacy in my home!

Posted in Cast Members, Characters, Collectibles, Disney Store, Displays, Figurines, Marvel, Merchandise, Pixar, Princesses, Special Edition, Toys | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zaini Toy Story 4 Chocolate Egg w/Bunny

If you have noticed Zaini at all it’s likely because of these licensed chocolate eggs featuring some of your favorite Disney and Pixar characters. Each egg has a little plastic toy inside. But if you click the link to their official site, you’ll learn that they have been serious about chocolate since 1913!

By comparison, Toy Story 4 has only been around since 2019.

These eggs are sort of Kinder Surprise knockoffs, but they get the job done. Each has a respectable amount of tasty chocolate and the obligatory plastic toy.

Let’s crack this one open and see what we have:

The quality of the toys is about what you would expect for something that retails for under two bucks. They are perfect for little children, but not too little, for some of the toys could present a choking hazard!

Below is a picture showing just some of the characters you may get in this series:

Bunny (voiced by Jordan Peel) was the comic relieve character along with Ducky. They were literally joined together and so inseparable. But my plastic version is playing solo today.

I’ve purchased other Zaini eggs, including ones from the Big Hero 6 series. You can click the link to see what characters I got from that!

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Places: The DAIRY FREEZ Restaurant in Essex, ON

The Reaume family has run this establishment since 1954 and it has become an iconic landmark and family destination in Essex County. They serve ice cream, classic American foods, and other treats.

But perhaps the coolest contribution (see what I did there?) is this roadside sign:

After many years of seasonal activity, this sign could use a little TLC, but it still does the job of welcoming visitors along County Road 34!

And just what are we visiting?

I thought it would be more colourful

Okay, that image is an old stock photo from back in the day! This is how it looks today:

368 County Rd. 34 W, Essex, ON, N8M 2X5

I love the painted images of food along the roofline! It reminds me of the dancing food items at the old drive-in theaters.

The Dairy Freez can become quite busy but there is a large outdoor seating area along with an enclosed seating area in the rear. And there is ample parking to the side, next to the giant ice cream cone!

So, what do you fancy?

Reviews about the quality of the food and service are a bit of a mixed bag. The sites I checked when researching for this post had ratings ranging from Worst Place Ever to Best Place Ever. Best to make your own evaluation with your wallet and taste buds! To be realistic, every business has its bad days, but if it can stand the test of time, it can’t be all bad.

This vintage ice cream stand is open seasonally from late March to the last Sunday in October.

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Photo Spot: Chain Drive Transmission

Now that should get ‘er done! In the early days of automotive design and fabrication, things were more industrial. How something looked took a back seat to making it work as inexpensively as possible. And so, we have the fully exposed it-could-rip-your-fingers-off chain drive transmission:

So back in the day this wouldn’t have been considered pretty or photo worthy. But a few weeks ago, while I was attending the Old Car Festival in Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford Museum, it caught my eye!

I like how the red pops and that the chain draws you into the back of the picture. I angled the camera to give the image a little more interest.

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Mickey Mouse Squeeze & Motion Toy by Illco

Sometimes it’s hard to date these old plastic toys. This Mickey Mouse train is a classic example. It could be very old or very recent. Most of these toys don’t have a year on them, but thankfully, this one does! But we’ll reveal that later in the post.

So, let’s have a look at Engineer Mickey as he steams his way across the Internet:

If a toy like this still works and brings joy to a child or a toy collector with a child still in him, it has value. However, I picked it up at a Charity Shop for under $5.00 CAN. So, it doesn’t have much monetary value!

Mickey has two features to amuse and delight the inner child in us all. First, he is a squeeze toy. Yes, if you pinch Mickey’s head, he will squeak. Wouldn’t you? Second, if you turn the funnel on the engine, the train will pull ahead and run in a straight line.

This is ‘An Illco Toy’ as we can see from the information on the bottom of the train. It was made in China, of course. 1987 was the first year Disney started using ‘The Walt Disney Company’ for its trademark instead of ‘Walt Disney Productions’.

Now if you have your tickets and are ready to go, Mickey is about to give the ‘All Aboard!’ call and move the train forward. But first, a little squeaking:

Who has more fun than a grown man with a child’s toy?

The trademarking is repeated on the back of Mickey’s head along with the country of manufacture. And this is where we see the date of 1987. 35 years old is not exactly recent, but in the realm of toys, it ain’t ancient either!

Illco no longer exists per se. In 1992, Tyco purchased the Illco Toy Company, rebranding Illco’s extensive line of toys and effectively sending the name into history.

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Vintage HOLIDAY INN Key on Fob

Kemmons Wilson, a resident of Memphis, Tennessee, was inspired to build a motel after being disappointed by the poor quality of roadside accommodations during a family road trip. Now that might just be the most reactive and extreme thing to do just because you didn’t get a good night’s sleep once upon a time on the road!

And why did he call his better option for snoozing the Holiday Inn? Apparently, the architect charged with designing the place, one Eddie Bluestein, made a joking reference to the 1942 musical Holiday Inn. And the rest, as they say, is history!

The first hotel/motel opened in August 1952 as “Holiday Inn Hotel Courts” at 4941 Summer Avenue in Memphis.

circa 1960’s

The Great Sign, above, was the roadside sign used by Holiday Inn during the 1950s to the 1970s. It was perhaps the company’s most successful form of advertising and still remains one of the most iconic and recognizable pieces of Americana today. It was extremely large and eye-catching but was expensive to construct and operate. The manufacturer of the sign was Balton & Sons Sign Company.

And what was it standing out front of? Check out this old postcard also from the 1960s:

These days a Holiday Inn looks much like any other hotel. But back in the day it was all about character, swimming pools, vintage cars, and tired travelers.

This post was inspired by my finding of an old Holiday Inn key fob in, of all places, my fuse panel! Yup, while groping around on top of the panel for something else, this dropped down:

“Door 215, Where Are You?”

I like that you could just throw this in any mailbox within the Continental United States and the Holiday Inn would pay the postage to get their key back!

The hotel at 27090 Earle Street in Mount Clemens, MI. seems to be gone now. I can find no record of it on the all-knowing Internet. So, I guess I will never know if the key still fits the door!

Where it at?

The image above is from Google Maps. I zoomed around and in and out for miles in all directions but found no Holiday Inn. There wasn’t even a place where I thought one might have been. There is some industrial build up here now, but it seems mainly to be a residential area.

Earle Street may have been a fairly good road to somewhere at one time. A perfect place for a little motel with a pool. But at some point, an Interstate probably bypassed it, and the Holiday Inn of Mount Clemens was… no more!

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Disney Loungefly Winne the Pooh Gingham Mini Backpack

Undoubtedly one of the longest titles I’ve used in some time! But I needed every word to introduce what is perhaps one of the cutest objects in the known Universe: the Disney Loungefly Winnie the Pooh Gingham mini backpack.

Behold as you prepare to go ‘Awww!’

I needed something to cheer up my wife whilst she was having a bad day and I came upon this mini piece of merchandise at my local IP procurement store. The name of the place is Cartoon Kingdom and they are located in Windsor, ON. If you click the link, you will see my old store sign that used to hang over the business entrance before they redesigned their logo.

It had me at the gingham pattern. Gingham, also called Vichy check, is traditionally a fabric that has a striped, check or plaid pattern in two tones. The colours used are usually quite bright!

To add to the charm this bag has a cartoon pattern inside the front pouch, the main compartment, and the two side pockets.

The decision to purchase was cinched when I saw the saying on the back of the backpack: “I think the bees suspect something”. I burst out laughing and promptly carried it up to the counter!

There is one other feature that is fun about this backpack. Have a look at the video below:

Buzzing Bees that Spin

My wife now has four Disney Loungefly backpacks. You can start to view the collection here.

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Funko Vynl Mary Poppins + Jack Vinyl Collectibles

Into every movie’s life a sequel must come. But will it be a welcome addition to the canon that evolves the original idea into a franchise, or become just another disappointing money grab?

The jury may still be out on Mary Poppins Returns (2018). It stars Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins and Lin-Manuel Miranda as Bert… er, sorry: Jack! Let’s start with a look at the new ‘couple’:

Wait… that’s not Bert!

Just as Bert was firmly in the Friend Zone in the original movie, so to is poor Jack. How Mary Poppins keeps meeting these guys and then leaving them is perhaps a story for the next sequel.

I like that the backing card that is placed behind the figures in the box has cherry tree blossoms on it. This is of course a nod to Cherry Tree Lane where the Banks family lives.

Now I know the perfect thing to show next:

Well, practically. The heads are oversized as is usual for Funko Pop! figures (although these are of the Vynl line of products) but the bodies are square or boxy. I like it!

Let’s check out the new leading man:

I’ve been trying to ween myself off of Funko acquisitioning but fell off the abstinence wagon when I saw Jack’s smile!

I wish I had bought this set back in 2018 so I could have downloaded the new song mentioned in the promo card above left. Also, there was a code to scan to hear the entire soundtrack on Spotify. Both offers were for a limited time.

These sold retail in 2018 for just under $20.00 CAN but can still be purchased on Amazon and other selling sites for around $15.99 US.

Well, I’m off to the Royal Doulton Music Hall for an encore performance of “A Cover is Not the Book” by Mary and Jack! Won’t you join me?

P. S. – If you know what the new song was from the movie and downloaded it from the Special Music Offer contained in this set of figures, please let us know what you thought of it in the comments section below!

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Photo Spot: Vintage Work Vehicle with Cargo

My wife dropped her iPhone 7 in the kitchen sink while washing the dishes and so we had to address our phone situation. As I make more use of a phone with my business, we opted for me to buy a new iPhone 13 Pro Max and pass on my iPhone 8 Plus to her.

With the new iPhone comes new opportunities for photographic exploration for me! I now have a 12MP wide-angle primary camera with an ƒ/1.6 aperture and seven‑element lens. Along with the primary camera, the phone houses a 12MP ultra-wide camera with an ƒ/2.4 aperture and a five-element lens, henceforth providing a 120° field of view.

In other words, I can now take pictures like this:

September, 2022

I can definitely tell the difference in sharpness and colour between the old 8 Plus and new 13 Pro Max. The depth of field is also vastly improved.

In case you’re wondering, this picture is of a vintage 3/4 ton work vehicle being displayed at Greenfield Village during its Old Car Festival.

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