By Amy Lin, UGA Online Marketing DisneyStore.com, Nov 19, 2010 5:45 PM
One of the best things about my job here at Disney Store is the fact that I am surrounded by so many incredibly talented and creative people who are also some of the nicest and most approachable people I've ever met. When the Disney Store Product Development Team released their Princess Singing Dolls on October 31st (and I saw Jimmy Kimmel present the Singing Rapunzel doll in front of Mandy Moore on Jimmy Kimmel Live!), I was so fascinated by the dolls that I wanted to learn more and I knew our Buzz readers would too. When I got to work the next morning I requested a meeting time and before I knew it I was chatting with Nomi Vela, Design Director of Toys and Hardlines, and Doug Oglesby, Senior Manager, Merchandise Toys- the creative minds behind the Disney Store Product Development Team's latest royal project.
After settling into one of our neon green conference rooms, appropriately called 'The Toy Room,' we started chatting about the inspiration, the songs, the details, and the future of the Disney Princess Singing Doll.
Doug: We were looking for new ways to extend the doll business and we wanted to come out with a new doll that would be unlike any other doll out in the market right now. The first thing we decided to do was make our new doll at a bigger scale, while still retaining the fashion and elegant quality of our previous Disney Princess dolls. As a result, we moved away from the usual 11-inch doll size and created a 17-inch fashion doll. We thought that moving the fashion doll to a bigger scale would allow our guests to have a better play experience in dressing the dolls and in playing with them. We also hoped that in introducing the 17-inch fashion doll we would be creating a new fashion doll niche.
Nomi: The other important thing we wanted to focus on was making sure we were capturing the magic of the Disney Princesses in our new dolls. That's when we started thinking, 'Okay, what is iconic to our Disney Princesses? Their dresses and their songs!' We already had the dresses part down with our current dolls but we knew we wanted to highlight their iconic princess songs in a new way that would be interactive, magical, and true to the Disney experience. At Disney we're all about storytelling and we wanted to bring the princesses right out of the screen for our guests. Their songs resonate with our guests so we knew we wanted to incorporate them with these new dolls.
A: How did you choose which song for each princess doll to sing?
Nomi: We actually did some extensive research on the songs we chose for each princess. Each song we picked was from a crucial moment in each princess' story- a turning point, a moment of empowerment, love, or realization. For example, for Belle it was the moment she realizes there is a softer side to the beast and she begins to grow in affection for him. As a result, we chose "Something There" as the song for our Belle doll. For Ariel it was when she is looking at her collection of human things and she realizes she wants to be part of their world, so we picked "Part of Your World."
A: Can you tell me about the voice talent used for the recording of these songs? I've heard the dolls and they sound like they came straight from the movies!
Nomi: We used original voice talent if it was available for the song recordings, including Mandy Moore for the Rapunzel doll and Anika Noni Rose for the Tiana doll. We also paid attention to detail with these recordings to ensure that girls would be able to interact and sing with the dolls. We had our voice talent record their respective songs a cappella to make it easier for girls to feel like they are singing with each princess and we decided to have each 45-second song play in three 15-second intervals so girls can pause and sing comfortably with each princess.
A: Wow! It sounds like a lot of detail went into the development, design and crafting of each doll. How long does it take for one Disney Princess Singing Doll to be made?
Doug: It takes about three weeks for each doll to be made. The whole project from concept to production took from December of last year to Oct. 31st of this year.
Nomi: Yes! We wanted to be as detailed as possible. For example, the voice box on each doll is shaped like a heart on each dolls' back. The button you press to make her sing is a very small pressure point on her hand so little girls can "hold" each princess' hand to sing with her! Also, each princess singing doll was sculpted in a way that is true to who they are- each sculpt is unique to each princess. We didn't have a generic face sculpt that we duplicated. We even worked with the directors of Tangled and The Princess and the Frog to create our Rapunzel and Tiana dolls.
A: Were there any challenges in making these dolls?
Doug: The voice box technology is not new so putting the technology into the dolls wasn't difficult but the challenge was embedding the technology and still making it pretty. We wanted to have this technology but keep the princess as elegant and grand as she ought to be. We call it 'elegant technology.'
Doug: Right now we have 7 total princess singing dolls and we plan to add the remaining three princesses next year. We're also looking to create dolls with longer hair. We've been noticing a trend that girls like longer hair on their dolls because they can play with it more. We want guests to have as much of an interactive experience as possible so longer hair will mean girls will be able to braid it, clip on accessories, and do more things with it.
A: Anything else you would like to share with our guests?
Nomi: The singing dolls are a reflection of the talent level of the Disney Store Product Development Team. Our goal is to bring home story-telling and I think we do it in a way that is authentic to the princesses and, as a result, a delight to our guests.
Well, there you have it! I had a wonderful time laughing and chatting with Doug and Nomi and I am amazed at the hard work and detail that was put into such a beautiful and thoughtful project. I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did!