This Disney Store exclusive plastic Key set featuring the Disney Divisions of business are fun little keepsakes. They are rather cheaply made and so very lightweight. But they feature some interesting design cues that we will explore shortly.
And now to the set in question:
Disney started with just one division. Itself, essentially. But acquisition quickly became the order of the company and other popular properties were brought into the House of Mouse.
Let’s look at the divisions as represented by these keys, one at a time, and share a little history for each:
It was October 16th of 1923 when Walt Disney and his big brother Roy began a little company that would start with a mouse and end with a juggernaut. But it hasn’t really ended, has it? No, it keeps growing as it consumes IP after IP in a bid to become the biggest entertainment conglomerate in the world. I think they may be there.
DESIGN CUES: The Disney ‘D’ is emblazoned with the iconic Sorcerer’s Hat from Fantasia. The shaft simply states the name of the division. The teeth of the key is the famous Disney Castle logo.
FUN FACTS: The aforementioned Sorcerer’s Hat was patterned after the Astrologer’s hats worn in the 1902 film A Trip to the Moon. The long pointy hat with crescent moons and stars on them simply represented the heavens as seen through telescopes by observers, and not the mystical, magical connotations they have today, and that is perpetuated by Disney.
What was the first acquisition to be immortalized with a plastic key?
In was January 24th of 2006 when Pixar became a division of Disney. The deal cost Mickey 7.4 billion in stock but it was to be made back in spades as Pixar continued to crank out the Box Office hits.
DESIGN CUES: The Disney ‘D’ is emblazoned with the Pixar Ball. The shaft simply states the name of the division. The teeth of the key is the Luxor Lamp along with a smaller version of the Pixar Ball. Being upside down, I wonder if Luxor Jr’s electricity is running to his bulb?
FUN FACTS: Pixar began in 1979 as part of the Lucasfilm computer division, known as the Graphics Group, before its spin-off as a corporation in 1986, with funding from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. So Pixar began with Lucasfilm, separated from them, and then was reunited by Disney. Some friendships were just meant to be!
It was on December 31st of 2009 that Disney plonked down 4 billion dollars on the table to become just that much more super. Now some of the greatest super heroes of all time were swinging, punching, and kicking their way through the hallowed halls of Disney.
DESIGN CUES: The Disney ‘D’ is emblazoned with black and white images of some of Marvel’s most famous characters. The shaft has images of the iconic logos for many of the same characters. The teeth of the key is the word ‘MARVEL’ with the New York skyline underneath.
FUN FACTS: What’s in a name? It took Marvel a while to settle on a name for it’s comic book empire. The company was started in 1939 by Martin Goodman as Timely Comics. By 1951 it had generally become known as Atlas Comics. The MARVEL era began in 1961. And that’s the name that stuck, True Believer!
It was October 30th of 2012 when Disney traveled to a galaxy far, far away and paid 4.05 billion Galactic Credits to find the franchise they had been looking for.
DESIGN CUES: The Disney ‘D’ is emblazoned with a close-up view of the Death Star complete with a tiny TIE Fighter. The shaft has images of the iconic emblems of the Empire and the Rebel Alliance along with the faces of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. A nice father/son spotlight! The teeth of the key is the division name on a square block.
FUN FACTS: While in the Star Wars universe, TIE stands for Twin Ion Engine, George Lucas gave the starfighter the name ‘TIE’ simply because he thought that they looked like bow ties.
Did you know that Disney owns half the world? Here is a very incomplete list of the properties that Disney has acquired over the years, often without anyone even noticing:
Touchstone Pictures (1988)
Hollywood Records (1990)
Miramax Films (1993)
ABC Network (1995)
Muppets Studios (2004)
A&E (Partially) (2012)
National Geographic (2017)
20th Century Fox Studios (2019)
The History Channel (2019)
And dozens and dozens more. For a more comprehensive look at this subject, check out the very thorough article over on Pirates & Princesses entitled Who Does Disney Own Anyway? They have a very cool and almost incomprehensible pictorial chart. You know you want to see that!