Minnie and I

Minnie and I

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

I've got a Disney Secret

Is it about the Disney Collage Program? Sadly I didn't get accepted; but that's old news. A while back, someone asked me if I ever worn a Disney charterer head. The answer is no, but I held in my hands two characters heads once; Mickey and Pinocchio. Need proof?

Me holding Pinocchio's head. Photo by me, 2015

I had the opportunity when I visited Van Eaton Galleries and asked for permission. They literally said "no problem." I wrote an email telling them who I was and told them I would love the chance to examine the heads personally. When arrived at the gallery, I presented myself and they put both heads in my hands. For reasons listed below, I don't have pictures of me holding the Mickey head, but my father was able to sneak a picture of me holding Pinocchio's. This experience helped me understand more about the construction and what the performer has to go through in order to wear one of these large heads.

After visiting the gallery, I took down notes about the Mickey head. Here are the notes from February 26, 2015:

"When I saw it;
The head was smaller in person. Looks big and huge in pictures, but it's fairly small. The face was painted. It was probably painted by hand because I saw the brush strokes, specially around the eyebrows. The face was beige with cheeks and nose slightly pink. The ears are oval, not slightly oval, oval. I thought the ears looked that way because if the angle, but no, they're oval. The paint started to chip in some areas of the face. The fur looks shaggy and the fur inside the ear is extremely short fur, like a towel.

What I felt:
The head was, again, small. The head hole to put on the head was small and I wasn't going to dare try it on. The head only fits a small performer, with a small head. The head was heavy, the face was made out of molded rubber and the rest was hard plastic, even the ears. The ears makes the head back heavy. I placed Mickey's head on a counter and the the head started to lean backwards. The helmet was molded into the inside of the head. The manufacturing label was glued on the left side of the helmet. The rubber face was attached to the plastic head with small screws [rivets] and glue. Mickey's head had extra fur on the back of the head to cover the performer's neck. The nose was naturally bouncy. The eyes are curved one-way lenses, the outside was painted white and glued to the inside of the head. The mesh inside the mouth was missing. The performer can easily see through the eyes and mouth. By what I could tell, when the performer wears the head, he/she has about 2 inches between Mickey's face and their face. Fur is still soft and shaggy to the touch. The fur started to detach around the head hole.

 Overall Mickey's head was in great conditions. If I owned it, I'll probably have it on display and hardly touch it or wear it. Mickey's face looks fragile. When I was handling Mickey's head, the manager of the gallery did not want any pictures or video taken because of Disney. Disney is on their backs because they're selling a genuine Mickey head and has forbidden them from taking pics or videos not involving the auction. Hopefully Disney won't get a hold of this head."

Paint starting to wear off around the nose and cheeks. Photo by me, 2015

Extra neck fur. Photo by me, 2015

Looking carefully, you can see brush strokes. Photo by me, 2015

Mickey's inner ear fur. Photo by me, 2015

Unfortunately, I didn't write any notes for Pinocchio, but here's what I remember:
The head was much lighter than Mickey's. The exterior was in bad conditions, due to the way it was stored prier to auction. It had a hand written "#3" instead of a manufacturing label on the inside. Pinocchio had a slit on the back of the head. The split on the back was intentionally built in, not accidental. This split is for easy access when putting or removing the head. The hat was attached to the head with rivets and the feather was made out of felt and painted red. The eyes and mouth was painted metal screens, like a wire strainer.

Eyes and mouth are painted metal screens. Photo by me, 2015

The slip opening on Pinocchio's back. Photo by me, 2015

The painted felt hat feather, attached with rivets. Photo by me, 2015

Around the time of this auction, they were rumors going about stating that Disney, or a division of Disney, would buy both heads and destroy them. Because they don't want anyone owing these costume pieces and when a costume piece goes out of commission, it gets destroyed and thrown away. I've herd from a friend that a collector bought the Mickey head. That's a relief. Still unaware of Pinocchio's head.

Another theory was that Disney bought the head to keep it in their archives. I noticed later that year in D23, the Disney Archives displayed items that were originally sold at the auction. Which means the archives have multiples or, more likely, they purchased some items auctioned, like Betty Taylor's Golden Horseshoe dresses.

This year, Van Eaton Galleries will host two Disneyland auctions; one in the summer and the other in the fall. I have plans to visit the summer one. Let's see what happens.

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