They are the icons of childhood and known among collectors as the Fab Five: Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Minnie and Pluto.
These characters, and many more, are the offspring of one of the most creative minds in 20th century entertainment: Walter Elias Disney.
Disney was born Dec. 5, 1901, and died Dec. 15, 1966. His influence spans nine decades and has grown into a global empire, with theme parks in California, Florida, Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong.
Today, the collecting of Disney memorabilia, known as “Disneyana,” is big business and appeals to kids of all ages, ranging from rare and expensive vintage toys that only the wealthy can afford to modern-day trinkets and pins that are traded by school kids on the playground.
Since Disney collectibles have been produced in the millions since 1929 to the present day — and because they represent an ever-growing family of illustrated characters — their collectability continues to flourish.
It all began in 1928 with the debut of Mickey Mouse in “Steamboat Willie” — the very first animated cartoon with synchronized sound. It featured Mickey Mouse as Willie, his girlfriend Minnie, Pete the steamboat captain and a host of musical animal characters.
Mickey was an instant success, and more cartoons and characters soon followed.
Mickey’s pet, Pluto the Pup, was introduced to the silver screen in 1930. It is interesting to note that Pluto didn’t speak or wear clothing, unlike Goofy, Mickey’s clumsy friend who came on the scene in 1932.
Donald Duck, with his sunny outlook and short temper, made his appearance dressed as a sailor in 1934.
Daisy Duck, Minnie’s best friend and Donald’s girlfriend, first appeared in 1940. (When Daisy is added to the “Fab Five“ by collectors of today, they are known as the “Sensational Six.”)
In 1929, Walt Disney Enterprises was formed to oversee the licensing and production of merchandise bearing the image of Mickey Mouse. The very first item produced was a child’s writing tablet.