The faces on these pieces were so fine, that we struggled for years to find and train painters that could do the eyes. I can recall interviewing 100 applicants for painting positions, calling 30 back, hiring 5, and after 4 years, 4 would quit. Features were always the hardest positions to fill. Over-time, I used 4 approaches to do the eyes. At first, I used the smallest brushes available. Next I tried rapidograph ink pens which I still use today, but only for signing my name at promotions. Next we used highly sharpened graphic pencils. All of this effort was just for the eyes. Well, when we started the miniature Hummel’s and ©Disney, I knew that these 3 solutions would not work in production. In fact, we tried pencil eyes on the first Hummel pendant “What Now?” for the ©Goebel Collector’s Club and as beautiful as they turned out, it was difficult to train enough production staff. So after we struggled to produce the “What Now?”, we knew things had to change with the popularity of the Disney© films and the look of the ©Disney characters so well defined, we knew we needed a better approach that could capture the look of the faces consistently.
Our first ©Disney films were in celebration of Snow White’s 50th. For ©Grolier we devised a way to use silk screen decals to produce the eyes. The lines on the dwarf’s eyes were so fine that the silk screens would clog with ink, but even with high reject rates on the decal, we had solved the problem. This new approach opened a way to do great work on all the ©Disney film character faces as well as the new miniature Hummel program. From then on, pencil eyes were used only on the Olszewski 1/12 scale figurines. The down side of the decals was the limit on how small the decals could print. The new eye technology ended up setting the scale of both the Disney© and Hummel programs.
If the decal eyes could only print so small then this determined the smallest size of the face and final height of the figurines. When we began sizing the “Cinderella” characters, our task got even more difficult. The over animated faces of the characters in Snow White and Pinocchio were easier than the human features of the characters in Cinderella. The Cinderella character facial proportions, to their bodies were natural, not like the larger heads on the dwarfs in Snow White. So, in the end, the combination of eye size and head to body proportions determined the scale of the Cinderella characters.
Another great impact on this set was the styling approach ©Disney used in the film. I loved the dreamy simple styling approach of the film but the Drizella and Fairy Godmother outfits did not have the buttons, bows, straps, and puffing of Snow White and Pinocchio. For some collectors, this translated into thinking the pieces lacked detail, which in truth; they only reflected the original art. Also these were the first characters with such large dresses in relationship to their heads. Snow White and the Good Fairy’s outfits from Pinocchio hung closer to their torsos, unlike the larger outfits that Drizella and the Godmother wore.
Left to Right: Fairy Godmother, Sisters Drizella and Anastasia, Cinderella, and The Stepmother
The figurines were cast in bronze and produced in the U.S. We, as before, had used the complex lost wax process, and it worked well for the mid size main characters but we struggled with the shrinkage on the pieces with the larger dress volumes such as Cinderella, the Fairy Godmother, the Stepmother, Anastasia and Drizella. Our reject rate was extremely high because of the distortions in the dress areas. The pieces released to the market were fine, but the reject rate challenged us. After this set, I can’t think of any dresses that we attempted again in this size. Later, at Olszewski Studios, we released a similar piece “American Beauty” and in order to avoid this distortion, we cast the piece hollow. If I were to do this “Cinderella” set today, to avoid shrinkage, I would use resin for the dresses, and metal for the thinner upper torso. This is a good point to make, as collectors should know that it is always best to use the material that is best for the job. I think in the early years, we marketed the message ‘bronze and the lost wax process so heavily that in the end we became artistically limited by the very same process. Once we started our new Olszewski Studios, we focused on the look of the art first, and put the materials second to serve the look, and I have never regretted it.
As I traveled and did promotions, all of this was discussed with collectors. I never dodged the issues and hoped that I satisfied their questions. In the end, I was very proud with the look of this final collection, as I overcome some really difficult obstacles for the studio. Today, people might ask, why not just do the characters smaller? Well, I did seriously consider it, but at the time we just could not train the staffing to do it. We were already at our staffing training limits and this Cinderella set with 10 faces would have bottlenecked the entire studio.
In looking back, these problems of eyes and final size of the characters in Cinderella were the beginnings of a new evolution at the Goebel Miniatures© Studio. Up until Cinderella, all of our releases could be showcased in display backgrounds as well as in miniature rooms. Cinderella was really the first set of figurines that truly couldn’t fit into a miniature room setting.
Another important aspect of this set was the concept. I tried to choose a setting, made up of 2 or 3 backgrounds that could hold all of the characters and show the feeling of the film. I can remember, that at the time, with Disney© licensed product, mostly only the main characters were shown, and rarely the minor characters like the “Footman.” By creating one setting, we could populate the display with a larger selection of characters people hadn’t been able to collect before. I am certain this approach had a lot to do with the success of the overall program. Again, until then, if you saw a music box with a Disney© character, it would be the more popular Cinderella or Snow White and rarely if ever “Drizella”, “Anastasia” or the “Footman.”
A second interesting aspect of this collection is the two display backgrounds. At the time, the approval process for the characters was as hard as ever. However, we did have more latitude with the film settings. Neither the castle nor the coach is dead on to the film, but they do work well in showcasing the characters. In looking back, I like them even more now than I did then because I think they capture the magical feeling of the film. Just for fun, place the setting under the light in your display case. If you move the display forward so the light is directly over the back dance floor, you will find that with the front in partial shadow, the magic of the night-time ballroom will appear.
Left to Right: Prince Charming, Footman, Gus, and Jaq
As you can see, rather than write up the individual pieces, I felt it best to overview the entire project. We hope this has added to the enjoyment of your collection and of the beautiful film “Cinderella.”
Listed below are the names of the 10 figurines and 2 displays that are in the collection.
Goebel Miniatures© Cinderella Collection