D23 at Comic-Con and beyond (and the first look at the new Nautilus)


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D23 is the ‘official community for Disney fans’ and if you haven’t heard much about it, well, that’s going to change in the weeks and months to come. The venture with the somewhat cryptic name (it’s a reference to 1923, the momentous year that Walt Disney left Kansas City, headed west and founded the business that would become Disney Studios) was launched officially in March but Comic-Con International in San Diego has been circled as a key moment to ramp-up awareness.

Essentially, D23 is a top-shelf fan community that reminds everyone how good Disney is at celebrating -- and monetizing -- its history and creative culture. You pay $75 and you get a subscription to a slick quarterly magazine, ‘twenty-three,’ that approaches Disney history and collecting with a stately, archival sensibility. You also get a fancy membership certificate, a membership card, discounts, special access to events, a surprise gift, etc. (For details, go to the sign-up page for D23.)

D23 will make its Comic-Con debut this year at Booth 3917 with costumes and props from Disney films that veer into the sci-fi and adventure textures that speak to genre fans, such as ‘Tron,’ ‘The Rocketeer,’ ‘Sky High’ and ‘The Black Hole.’ (If you bring your D23 membership card or sign up on-site for the club, you can pick up a free, exclusive litho depicting famous Disney robots, the work of artist Dave Pacheco).


Also at Comic-Con: The 4-foot model of the Nautilus that you see below:

It’s going to be on-sale to collectors next year as part of the prestige line of items for serious collectors, but it makes its debut at Comic-Con. Here’s a bit of the product description for this lavish rendering of the famed vessel from the 1954 film classic ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.’ This model was produced by eFX Inc, and can be seen as part of their showcase at Booth 2913-E:

The approximately 1/45th scale Nautilus from eFX will offer extraordinary details, including internal and external lighting and re-creations of both the lush salon and the all-important wheelhouse, providing collectors with the opportunity to peer into the inner sanctum of this enormous underwater vessel. Inspired by the remarkable, unforgettable designs of legendary Disney designer Harper Goff, the Nautilus from eFX combines the graceful elegance of the submarine’s riveted exterior with incredibly accurate interior details never before offered by eFX in a high-end collectible of this type...The Nautilus from eFX is being hand-crafted from resin with machined and die-cast metal, and injection-molded ABS details. The edition size will be limited to no more than 500 pieces, and each Nautilus replica will come with a specially designed display base, numbered plaque and Certificate of Authenticity.

No word yet on the price of Nemo’s submersible wonder, but it ain’t gonna be cheap. That’s the whole point with the high-end collectibles that Disney is rolling out; they are intended to entice the elite collectors who are looking for heirloom-quality objects and D23-level insider access. Anything less doesn’t live up to their own Disney obsession.

Comic-Con is a toe in the water for the D23 venture; the big splash is Sept. 10-13 when the D23 Expo takes over Anaheim Convention Center. There will be panels, mountains of collectibles, movie screenings and just about everything else you can imagine that relates to mouse ears and master animators. The expo will also a sneak peek at upcoming Disney feature films including Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ the ‘TRON’ sequel, ‘Toy Story 3,’ ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’ and ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.’ So, really, Disney is creating its own personal Comic-Con. It’s going to be interesting to watch as this moves forward.

-- Geoff Boucher

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