(Article Appearing in Village Pride! 1/99 Issue)
Snowbabies collectors have something new and exciting to add to their "want" lists these days. The "1998 First Ever Christmas Collectibles Convention", sponsored by Walt Disney World and held at Walt Disney Resorts, took place on December 6-9, 1998. Department 56, Inc. was among the many artists and designers represented at the Convention, and a limited edition snowbaby of just 1200 pieces was made available to conventioneers for the special occasion. This piece is fast becoming a big hit as they make their way into the hands of Snowbabies collectors by way of non-collectors that were fortunate enough to attend the Convention. On the internet, news and buy/sell activity has been swift and vigorous with pieces appearing here and there within days of the Convention's close on December 9th.
The special snowbaby piece, called "Let's Be Friend's", features a snowbaby holding aloft and gazing into the eyes of a little snowbaby doll. The doll is wearing a tiny snowbaby suit, nubbied with fine snow as all snowbabies are, and it has a little white ribbon tied around its collar. The doll's face is absolutely adorable with tiny blue eyes, rosy colored cheeks, a round nose and a pencil thin smile. The doll is in most respects very much like a tiny snowbaby but for the facial features which are animated and doll-like in appearance. The snowbaby that is holding the doll is actually fairly plain and sized very much like typical Snowbabies in the bisque figurine line. It has a very small circular base, and there are two stars on the base in front of the snowbaby's feet. Under the base, the piece bears a special stamp, in black color, identifying the year and logo of the Convention as well as the Department 56 logo. The box comes similarly inscribed in gold with the same information, and the D56 #6810. The issue price at the Convention was $25.00 (US).
Conventioneers who purchased this piece during the Convention also received a special Certificate of Verification to go with it. The Certificate is really just a brightly colored, piece of cardboard folded. The outside bears a red ornament in the shape of a Mickey Mouse head and the year and name of the Convention is printed over it in gold. The inside back cover identifies the piece as being a "Limited Edition of 1200, not individually numbered", titled "Snowbaby" by Department 56, Inc. and made of "Resin". The piece is, in fact, not numbered, but it is clearly not made of resin. It is made of the typical porcelain bisque familiar to collectors. There is also a line to indicate the "Date of Purchase" but on many of these "Certificates" the date is not filled in. The title and medium errors in the Certificates suggest that Disney and Department 56 had proceeded somewhat hastily to make this Convention piece by show time. This supposition is also supported by the fact that there is no picture of the actual piece in the Catalog that was given to Conventioneers in attendance, but instead, there is a picture of a drawing of the design. The Catalog states: "This collectible has been created for the First Ever Christmas collectibles Convention. Department 56 will not release this figure until late next year as part of a larger figurine. This piece will also differ from the nationally-released piece in that it will have a bottom stamp of the Convention logo." Thus, it does very much appear that this special Disney customized version of a D56 design will become highly prized by serious Snowbabies collectors.
So there you have it … all the news that's fit to print on this wonderful new introduction. To this writer's mind, its nice to see that D56 and Disney have come together again to produce a very special collectible for Snowbabies collectors, especially after the introduction of "Mickey's New Friend" had so abruptly retired. Does anyone think its sort of ironic that they've come together again on a piece called "Let's Be Friend's"? Hopefully, there will be more wonderful Snowbabies to come from the combined efforts of these two leading producers of fine-quality collectibles.
These facts, when viewed in light of the announcement appearing in the catalog that Conventioneers received (see Article above), suggest that "Let's Be Friends" will not be re-released though a non-Disney customized version of it will be in the set "My Snowbaby Baby Dolls. Time will tell the full story :)