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  1. #121

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    Re: How popular is Duffy at Disney California Adventure?

    Well, I haven't been around here in a while and didn't even notice this topic. It's been a very interesting read.

    I'll say upfront that I'm also a "Duffy fan" thanks, in no small part to DuffyDaisuki. It's been a couple years now. I am also a fairly cynical Disney fan, so mixing the two has been...interesting.

    There has been quite a bit of negativity directed at Duffy and his fans over the years. Not just in this topic, but generally any place he's talked about. It's definitely eye-opening, considering how rabid Disney fans can be about any given park, character, film, etc. It's kind of ironic that there is so much vitriol for something they don't quite understand or care about.

    That's not to say people can't dislike something. It's just strange, considering how normally tolerant people are of other's collecting habits, especially among fans. Personally, I can understand quite a lot of the criticism aimed at Duffy. It's the outright hatred of him and disdain for people who do that I don't quite get.

    I agree with what DuffyDaisuki said, in that it's not really Duffy to blame for any poor handling, but Disney itself. In Japan, it's a phenomenon and it seems, from the outside looking in anyway, that the marketing team gets it, and cares about the character and his surroundings. It's the same kind of attention to detail that Tokyo DisneySea is full of. However, I can completely understand the US Disney fan's reactions to the US launch of Duffy. Disney here is much more blatant when it comes to marketing, and I can guarantee that there are people in charge who couldn't care less about Duffy. This is not limited to just the bear though, I think Disney as a whole has problems caring about it's legacy these days. There are lots of people in the company who do, but overall, I think they just use things to make a quick buck, Duffy included.

    That's why he seems more crass and commercialized here, because the company itself just doesn't care enough to make it work properly, or create a truly compelling story for Duffy. It will take a cult following to take him beyond what Disney has done so far, if he's to be a success here. It is kind of like the TRON example, where something is a sleeper hit and then builds enough of a following over the years to warrant a relaunch of the "brand".

    I also think Duffy could be compared to another Disney character with not much story. Figment. Ok, I know a lot of people would scream at me, but think about it. The only difference between Figment and Duffy, is that one was featured in an attraction. Both of them were born out of creativity, both are adventurous, both have a sense of fun and mystery. It's just that Figment was not released as a plush first...his demand slowly built up, and he also has a cult following. However, outside of his signature attraction, Figment doesn't actually have any more "story" than Duffy does. He's pretty much anything you want him to be, after all, he is a "figment of the imagination". Duffy is quite a bit like that himself...only he's a lot less talkative, LOL.

    I would be willing to bet that if Duffy had been the star of an attraction at DCA (or any other park) first, then appeared as a plush, nobody would be so up-in-arms about a teddy bear.

  2. #122

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    Re: How popular is Duffy at Disney California Adventure?

    Quote Originally Posted by gurgi View Post
    I would be willing to bet that if Duffy had been the star of an attraction at DCA (or any other park) first, then appeared as a plush, nobody would be so up-in-arms about a teddy bear.
    I agree. but then, this is obvious, given the nature and history of The Walt Disney Company.

    You could say the same thing about a toon in a movie, or, say, his own set of animated shorts, becoming a plush.
    "Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."

  3. #123

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    Re: How popular is Duffy at Disney California Adventure?

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    Last edited by Dustysage; 12-21-2010 at 05:40 PM.
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  4. #124

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    Re: How popular is Duffy at Disney California Adventure?

    Quote Originally Posted by gurgi View Post
    I also think Duffy could be compared to another Disney character with not much story. Figment. Ok, I know a lot of people would scream at me, but think about it. The only difference between Figment and Duffy, is that one was featured in an attraction. Both of them were born out of creativity, both are adventurous, both have a sense of fun and mystery. It's just that Figment was not released as a plush first...his demand slowly built up, and he also has a cult following. However, outside of his signature attraction, Figment doesn't actually have any more "story" than Duffy does. He's pretty much anything you want him to be, after all, he is a "figment of the imagination". Duffy is quite a bit like that himself...only he's a lot less talkative, LOL.

    I would be willing to bet that if Duffy had been the star of an attraction at DCA (or any other park) first, then appeared as a plush, nobody would be so up-in-arms about a teddy bear.
    You are absolutely right. Figment became a beloved character to collect because he became known to the fans before his merchandise was pushed in the parks. And he was never over-saturated in the way this unknown (at least in the states) Duffy character is. If Disney loves Duffy, they'll do him the favor of getting him into the public space in a more tangible way than just merchandise and marketing oriented meet-n-greets.

    Duffy can be saved, but not how Disney is currently going about things. They need to pull way back on Duffy for now and spend more time creating his character and including him in more of their creative content.
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  5. #125

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    Re: How popular is Duffy at Disney California Adventure?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dustysage View Post
    They need to pull way back on Duffy for now and spend more time creating his character and including him in more of their creative content.
    Exactly. They also need to put someone in charge of the character who understands personality and heart and how to get them across to international audiences. Someone who understands the difference between plot and story. Someone who works from gut feelings and showmanship, not focus groups and spreadsheets.

    Which leaves out everyone in Consumer Products.
    "With the acquisition of Marvel and now of Lucasfilm,
    Disney may have finally found the grail. You don't need
    imagination or art. All you need is a brand."

    - Neil Gabler


  6. #126

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    Re: How popular is Duffy at Disney California Adventure?

    Quote Originally Posted by gurgi View Post
    There has been quite a bit of negativity directed at Duffy and his fans over the years. *Not just in this topic, but generally any place he's talked about. *It's definitely eye-opening, considering how rabid Disney fans can be about any given park, character, film, etc. *It's kind of ironic that there is so much vitriol for something they don't quite understand or care about.

    That's not to say people can't dislike something. *It's just strange, considering how normally tolerant people are of other's collecting habits, especially among fans. *Personally, I can understand quite a lot of the criticism aimed at Duffy. *It's the outright hatred of him and disdain for people who do that I don't quite get.
    I always find this fascinating, and Gurgi is right that it happens every time. *Outside of Japan, and particularly in the US, Duffy seems extremely polarizing. This is surely one of his greatest obstacles at DCA, or anywhere in America. *Bring him up, and all kinds of unspoken little violences appear. Always carefully sidestepping saying anything directly offensive (well, usually), yet always very clear in their intention. And almost invariably, when attention is called to statements and actions that would not have made sense taken in any other way, they begin to blame the accuser, claiming their sarcastic support as literal or denying ever shaking the beehive. *My intention in saying this is not AT ALL to label any individual poster, nor even any particular post as "bullying," but rather to be unafraid of looking honestly at the tone of the conversation, and hopefully avoiding the kind of communication that breaks community. *Like, for example, my own two unnecessary "cheap shots" at user names which were only intended to highlight how these kinds of comments snowball. That kind of talk helps no one, and it is very difficult simply to "grin and bear it," especially if it's repeated, unacknowledged and unchecked. *When it comes to talking about the success or failure of Duffy, in any context, in the United States, I find this an unfortunate — but potentially valuable — necessity.

    Personally, I can't help noticing a pattern that looks like pushing around the too-old-for-toys kid in the schoolyard, or sissy-calling. But you can never prove it; there's just this feeling. Nothing remotely like this exists in Japan; this is America's "gift" to Duffy/Disney legacy. Potentially, this adds another uniquely American layer to Duffy, in that finding the Dufflove there will require fans to be visible and "haters" to open their hearts and minds. *That kind of energy could be electrifying to the US park experience, and to Disney fandom. *As I said, every single voice in this topic is necessary and valued. *For all his simplicity, from the moment he was named in Tokyo, Duffy began to hold a very unique and complex place in Disney culture. *He, and Shellie May to be sure, also added a special and powerful excitement to the Tokyo parks, albeit for very different reasons than the sparks he seems to create in the US. *It really is fascinating.

    Quote Originally Posted by gurgi View Post
    I agree with what DuffyDaisuki said, in that it's not really Duffy to blame for any poor handling, but Disney itself. *In Japan, it's a phenomenon and it seems, from the outside looking in anyway, that the marketing team gets it…It's the same kind of attention to detail that Tokyo DisneySea is full of.
    Absolutely. And I realize only now another fundamental element that makes Duffy work in Japan that will, indeed, be very challenging to pull off in the States — in Japan, in many ways, The Oriental Land Company ~is~ "Disney," except that they remain palpably proud of their legacy, consistently vigilant about quality, and genuinely enthusiastic about every single aspect of their work, for its own sake.

    It is, if you can imagine it, a place where the Disney brand is unsullied by images of corporate greed or cultural tyranny. In Japan, everything "Disney" is good. So when a bear debuts, covered in the brand and filled with loving personality — it's like being able to actually hug the spirit of Disney itself, carry it everywhere, always connect with it and love it — this is not cause for skepticism, but celebration. Fans don't wonder what Disney's "trying to pull over this time;" but rather, they take out their sewing machines and cameras and, yes, credit cards and skyrocket this "product" into a key position in Disney history. It's actually quite remarkable, and I have never been so keenly aware of it as now. *I fear that it may already be too late to pull this off in the US, and more deeply I'm afraid that The Walt Disney Company doesn't even understand this or take it seriously. *Duffy's success hinges on a fan base who believes in and trusts what Disney represents enough to want to hug it.
    *
    Quote Originally Posted by Dustysage View Post
    Now, please get this discussion back on track!
    *
    Thank you. *I realize now that my earlier "epic post" should have included a sentence explaining that:

    In order to really talk about Duffy's success or failure anywhere, it is useful to examine the failed history of the Disney Bear, what made it work in Japan, and what the character is really all about — all counts on which Disney has failed and I hoped to shed some light on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dustysage View Post
    You are absolutely right. *Figment became a beloved character to collect because he became known to the fans before his merchandise was pushed in the parks. *And he was never over-saturated in the way this unknown (at least in the states) Duffy character is… *

    …They need to pull way back on Duffy for now and spend more time creating his character and including him in more of their creative content.
    I think you're also absolutely right. And this brings to mind another key difference between Disney in the US and Disney in Japan. Disney in the US is a media/storytelling enterprise first, with the parks in service to celebrating those stories. Japan is almost literally the opposite. It is a merchandising/park identity first, and because the Japanese consumer loves the parks and has life-long memories of extremely high quality character goods, s/he may, someday, see the film that inspired those products.

    In Japan, one of the magical miracle elements of Duffy is precisely that he is a product first. All you have to do is buy him to understand him. That simplicity probably does not exist in the US, but then it's important, to me at least, that adding more story to Duffy does not turn him into "toddler fodder" (yes, I love this!^^) simply because he's a teddy bear. If there really needs to be a model, Duffy is a million times more Teddy Ruxpin than Disney's Pooh. But again, I would hate to see him become a franchise, and I hope there are no more new characters after Shellie May. He should be, even in America and even with more backstory, ultimately a simple product to enhance and remind of the park experience. Like all teddy bears, Duffy is nostalgia, and too much of the wrong exposition will also destroy him, I think. *Nostalgia is simple by nature.
    *
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Wiggins View Post
    Exactly. They also need to put someone in charge of the character who understands personality and heart and how to get them across to international audiences. Someone who understands the difference between plot and story. Someone who works from gut feelings and showmanship, not focus groups and spreadsheets.
    Where can I apply?^^
    Last edited by DuffyDaisuki; 12-22-2010 at 05:35 AM.

  7. #127

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    Re: How popular is Duffy at Disney California Adventure?

    In any case, I think Duffy still has a shot. When I first heard about him my first thought was "oh boy, another over priced teddy bear" but the more I thought about it the more I thought, "it's cute just as it is"

    I did end up buying a Duffy for my grandmother in PA who absolutely loves him. She collects teddy bears and has an entire room dedicated to them. We gave her a teddy bear when she went on a road trip from our home in norcal back to PA. She took pictures of the bear in various places and made me a scrapbook which still thrills me to pieces, much like people are encouraged to do with Duffy. When my mom and I went in October we bought Duffy and made sure to get a picture with him at the meet 'n' greet just outside the shop. We saw a few people buying them (and let's admit, that's a hefty chunck of change) so he can't be a complete flop. We had a few people in line in front of us but we maybe waited a minute. Before the guests in front of us had completely left the CM handling Duffy nearly flipped out "Look, Duffy! She has a little you!" I give great props to the CM in the suit. They jumped up and down, did a little happy dance and once I stepped up to them they gave my Duffy several kisses and gave me a hug so tight I thought I would pop. We took a picture and made sure to put it in the package with the bear.

    After getting confused looks from the princesses (I'm almost 18), and possibly being mocked by Rapunzel(?), this topped my list of characters for the day. Vidia and Tink took the top for the trip when they argued over my sweatshirt (which had Tink on it) the next day. I pixie promised Vidia I would make one with her on it.

    Maybe it's just my willingness to believe in things I know can't actually happen, but getting hugged by a teddy bear like I've hugged my stuffed puppy since kindergarten was pretty dang awesome. Will I shell out 20 plus bucks to get my own Duffy? Maybe not, but I will be going back to see him again!

  8. #128

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    Re: How popular is Duffy at Disney California Adventure?

    Honestly, I think that it's a cultural difference that causes a lot of the issues.

    In Japan, character goods are huge, and not just for children. People of all ages love and wear them. You see tons of girls on the train with tons of character keychains on their bags, and many also have character items on their cell phone, keychain, passcase etc. It's not just Disney, but Sanrio, San-X, anime etc. While it is considered strange in the US for someone over a certain age to have lots of character goods, it isn't in Japan.

    Duffy is a cute bear. They love bears in Japan. It's also a Disney item, and Disney is incredibly popular. Put it all together, and people want the Disney Character goods. And unlike in the US, where the target audience is going to be children, in Japan it is everyone.

    When I was at Tokyo Disney Sea, nearly every person we saw had a Duffy of some sort on them, whether a keychain or a huge plush. There is a store devoted to Duffy, and they have A LOT more merchandise. At DCA all they seem to have are the plushies. At Tokyo Disney Sea, they have tons of different stuff with Duffy.

    I'm not a huge fan of Duffy, but when they announced that it was coming to the US, I didn't think it would do well. There's just not enough of a market here since to a majority of people, it will be seen as a children's toy.

  9. #129

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    Re: How popular is Duffy at Disney California Adventure?

    Gonna go buy the DCA costume today! Whoo! As much as I would love land or ride based attire, but this is a start


  10. #130

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    Re: How popular is Duffy at Disney California Adventure?

    So with massive crowds visiting Disney California Adventure at the moment. This will be a good test to see if he can appeal to the 25,000 + Guests who will be visiting the park on each day. I would be rather interested to see what kind of impact he's been recieving all week with Park visitors. And is Treasures still keeping the new 12 inch Valentine's Day Duffy on the shelves. And how fan reaction is to the new and exclusive DCA costume?

  11. #131

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    Re: How popular is Duffy at Disney California Adventure?

    Some of you Disneyland fans may like to know that Duffy now has his own subsection here on MiceChat. For anyone who has an genuine interest in the Bear or are just a bit curious. Please join us for discussion here Duffy / The Disney Bear

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