Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Disney Videocassette Freak

There are many collections in the world, whether it be rocks or coins or cars or comic books or memorabilia. Out of all those things to collect, why videocassettes of Disney films? Why in the world would I find these things fascinating? Who else in the world collected the videocassette releases of Disney films? I mean, why look into every tiny detail on these cassettes? FBI warnings, logos, labels on the tapes, print dates, variations of different title screens and logos, why look into all of that? Why not just get them for the movies themselves?

Well, here's why...

As a child, I always analyzed the packaging on my Disney tapes. I always remembered the previews, the "Coming soon to..." bumpers for the different openings and things that could be called irrelevant: What do the FBI and copyright warning screens look like? Why is this screen different from the other? I picked up on things like that when I was little.

Growing up, most of my Disney videocassettes were Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection titles. The line began in the fall of 1994 with the video premiere of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs alongside re-releases of films that didn't go back into the vault such as Dumbo and Alice in Wonderland. Before the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection, there was "The Classics" (or "Walt Disney Classics"). These tapes, nicknamed the "Black Diamond" editions, are now sought after collectibles since the line began as far back as 1984. Many Classics titles were the home video debuts of the classic Disney animated features, hence the name. In fact, only a few Disney animated classics (aside from the 1940s package anthology features) weren't released in the Classics line. The line was home to almost every Disney animated feature produced from 1940 to 1992.

Anyways, I had a few of these titles. I always assumed they were the earliest videotapes from Disney, since I didn't know much about the history of home video. My oldest titles were the Walt Disney Mini-Classics editions of the four Winnie the Pooh short subjects (all released in 1990), but the oldest Classics edition I owned at the time was the original video release of One Hundred and One Dalmatians, originally released on April 10, 1992. My VHS of Dumbo was printed in early 1993, but the cover artwork was originally used in 1989 and that tape had been pressed since 1991.

At my local video rental place, I'd often come across titles I did not have. When I was very young, I didn't religiously check the Disney section of the store (they had one, which is better than the store having a "children's section"), but I often came across titles with packaging like this...

Then at a relative's house, I came across Classics editions I've never seen before in my life. Titles that I assumed were Masterpiece editions from the get-go. I was shocked and amazed, and whenever relatives had Disney videos, I'd look at the spines and artwork. I was learning new things about these videocassettes. I began filling my collection with films I did not have, which my uncle gave to me since no one was watching them at his house anymore (Why people grow out of great family films is beyond me).

One of the tapes at my uncle's house was a film I already had on VHS, Alice in Wonderland (his tape, which he gave to me in December 2005, is featured above), but this was the Classics edition I remember renting when I was younger. He also had the 1988 VHS of Cinderella, which opened with the trailer for Oliver & Company, so I then thought, "Wow, they go back to 1988?" When I was over his house during a party, I went upstairs to watch these tapes... Yes, I was that obsessed. I saw what was on the 1988 and 1989 VHS tapes of Cinderella and Bambi respectively, but then I played the Alice in Wonderland tape, I saw this...

I had not seen it before at the time (I vaguely remember seeing the last second of the logo before Lady and the Tramp when it was shown to my third grade class for Christmas way back in 2000)... This was around 2002 or so, I can't really remember for the life of me. Around the same time, I also came across a VHS of Dumbo that I had never seen before in my life. It was the Classics edition... But a much earlier one!

I thought I had the original Classics edition of Dumbo, but I did not know there was a much older one with a pink spine and much different artwork. I needed to see what was on the tape, so whoever it was that was with me put it in the VCR and just as I had assumed... It opened with that 1984 Classics logo and the Buena Vista logo was absent from the film's opening seconds (since the VHS I had, originally pressed in 1991, opened with the Buena Vista logo). Yes, I was "that" obsessed back then...

But then I somewhat forgot about all that once my mind had moved onto other things. I was getting into middle school, but mind you, I did not outgrow Disney. I never did. It's just that this sort of thing escaped my mind. But then in early 2005, when I was in seventh grade, I came across this page on Ultimate Disney... Immediately, everything came rushing back. It also had that early Classics edition of Dumbo. I was amazed that they even had a nickname for these tapes.

Then I came across another site which had descriptions of all of the Disney home entertainment logos (KRS Logos, the site doesn't exist anymore. Most of the logo descriptions are all on the Closing Logos Wiki), talking about what's on them, where you can find them, the effects and other things. Sure, both sites had a lot of errors, but at the time, I was excited to see all of this. It was great to see that others looked into this kind of stuff as well, and that I was not alone.

Then, a friend of mine gave me two Classics editions I didn't have shortly after: The 1987 video release of Lady and the Tramp and the 1990 video release of The Little Mermaid. Then my uncle gave me the 1991 video release of The Jungle Book shortly after. Then I was wanting to get my hands on that early cover of Dumbo, and I eventually got it sometime in July or August (with the help of that said friend). It turned out to be the 1987 release, though my printing is from July 1988. From there, I became a Disney video collector.

So what happened next? Well, I'll save that for next time...


  1. I have a VHS that is Sword and the Stone, but the printing on the actual VHS says Swiss Family Robinson. Have you heard of that before?

  2. Hi, I have a 1982 VHS copy of Disney's Home Video Dumbo, with clamshell case and excellent working casette. What's interesting about it is that it does not have the FBI warning on the label or on anywhere in the movie. The only thing it has is a notice not to duplicate in whole or in part of the movie. On the label it says ' Duplication in whole or part of this videocassette is prohibitted' FOR SALE, RENTAL PROHIBITED. I can't find another one of these anywhere. Trying to find out more information and if its rare as it seems liikeit is...?