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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Walt Disney World At Sears


For many years, Winnie the Pooh was the mascot for the children's section at the Sears retail chain. In 1988, the Disney presence was expanded at Sears, including merchandise based on Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. Main Street was meticulously constructed with plastic and fiberboard, and visitors and characters were brought to life as tiny PVC figures. The Walt Disney World Railroad was an electric train, naturally.

I never saw this set in person, but I do have the Winnie the Pooh character figures, which I call the Mini Winnie the Pooh Zoo Crew .



You can have Walt Disney World at Christmas everyday with this set. Not included are PVC figures of Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa to host Mickey's Very Merry Christmas parade.

This set also features Snow White and three of the Seven Dwarfs. Amazingly, they chose not to feature Dopey.

It would have been nice to see Mickey Mouse balloons as an accessory. And maybe a churro cart.

The set only has a backdrop for Cinderella Castle, but Sears did offer that landmark as another toy.

This fun set even has the parking lot tram. Kewl!

What's this? Why, it's an educational Magic Kingdom toy.

I thought Epcot Center was the place for all the learnin'.


For more fun times, there's the Magic Kingdom Bagatelle game, featuring Big Thunder Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, Enchanted Tiki Room, Pirates of the Caribbean, It's A Small World, the Carousel, the Mad Tea Party and Cinderella Castle. I never knew this type of game had a name.

Who will win the Race to Pooh Corner Game? Not Mr. Toad from Disney's version of Wind in the Willows, that's for sure.

Then there's a Winnie the Pooh version of Tic-Tac-Toss. This high-tech game involves players throwing small beanbags at a board.

It's Disney and Nintendo games at Sears!

Technology has come a long way. I think McDonald's had Happy Meals with games like these a few years ago.

Sears also featured plush toys of some popular (for 1988) Disney characters.

Elliott the dragon from Pete's Dragon was seen by few humans in the film's story and is seen by few people in toy form these days.

The newest animated Disney characters in 1988 were the dogs and cat featured in "Oliver and Company." The film was inspired by the story of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, and set in 1980s New York City.

Kitten Oliver was voiced by Joey Lawrence, Billy Joel sang and spoke as Dodger the dog, Cheech Marin played Tito the Chihuahua, and Roscoe Lee Browne was Francis the bulldog.

Sears sold the closest thing to Oliver and Company action figures. These fragile, flocked, hollow vinyl figures with limited motion were not really built to withstand much play.


Somehow, Disney has not yet unleashed a toy line called "Disney's Kennel Club," featuring small collectible figures and play sets representing all its canine and feline stars. Wouldn't that make a fortune? I sure think it would. There'd be the Aristocats Cat Show set, the Lady and the Tramp Dog Park set, the 101 Dalmatians Fire Station, and more sets with all sorts of character mixes.

Of all the Disney characters, Winnie the Pooh was the biggest ever at Sears. The Pooh Train set was one of the neatest items, as it featured the characters on rides. A Mickey Mouse "Disneyland" version of this toy was sold at other retail chains.


The Winnie the Pooh Train was relaunched many years later and sold in the Disney Catalog.

The newer Train set features a different paint scheme and new sculpts of the characters. I prefer the older version.

The next time you go get a washing machine or power tools at Sears, you can remember back to the good old days when "The Softer Side of Sears" included Disney and its popular overweight British plaything.

10 comments:

  1. Awesome post! I had the WDW Main St. playset. It remains just about the most awesome thing I ever got as a kid. I didn't know a whole lot about how WDW differed from DL, but I remember thinking that their Main St seemed fancier than ours at DL. For what it was, it was incredibly detailed. The playmat was simple vinyl printed with the outlines of each sidewalk. It also had the trolley tracks and manholes printed on it. My father attached the mat to 2 large pieces of plywood, hinged in the middle so that it could be folded up and stored away if need be, though honestly once the buildings were assembled it would have been really impractical to disassemble them. Then each section of sidewalk was a hard plastic piece (just the right color of Disney sidewalk red, with gray cement curbs) with grooves in them to hold the buildings which you had to assemble. The buildings, like you said, were cardboard, printed glossy on both sides. The outside was printed to look just like the real thing, though I think all of the brick patterns and signs were painted/printed art and not photographs of real textures. The inside however were printed from photos of doll size interiors. For example, for the interiour of the Chapeau, Main St.'s hat shop, they built a dollhouse type interior of the shop, complete with wallpaper, framed artwork, hats on hooks, etc... and that's what would be printed onto the inside of the hat shop. It wasn't spectacular, but it was a nice touch and each shop was unique. They were all done in true turn of the century style too, there weren' any shops with Disney toys and souvenirs. There was also a handful (maybe enough for each shop though I don't remember) of counters with cash registers. These had hollow spaces for you to pop a cardboard insert into, again printed with appropriate merchandise or decoration.

    The set used plastic L brackets and several different plastic pins to hold the buildings together. I remember that the clear pins had different shapes (star, diamond, circle) molded onto their head, and you were supposed to use different shapes on different parts of each building, though I remember often being confused as to what the difference was for each pin. Seems like the fit was tighter on some than on others, but I could never figure out why a one size fits all pin wouldn't have worked. And I think once I finally got around to putting this enormous set together we were short on certain pins and had to make others work.

    The roofs of some of the buildings were molded in plastic (front part of the Emporium, part of the Exposition Hall I believe, and the tower of the Fire Station) and many if not all of them featured platic moulding along the edge of the carboard room for the gingerbread effect. Very effective at disguising that they were all just cardboard.

    The set also came with platic lampposts that popped into holes in the sidewalk. There was a deluxe set of poles you could buy also that really lit up, wired to a batter pack which would be hidden in an opening under the Exposition Hall. I remember really liking that the lampposts looked so accurate to the ones I remember at Disneyland, and the accuracy of the park benches and round topped trash cans (though there were no graphics on the trash cans. They really took care to look at these things when creating the set, they didn't simply provide off the shelf accessories.

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  2. Pt 2

    The triangular sidwalk/planter area (where the flag pole is and the Christmas Tree is at Christmas time) was only cardboard instead of platic for some reason. It came with rubber curbs that you would attach to make it stand up a bit higher- you would then insert a small patch of grass bordered with platic fence into each whole. The only problem was that over time this particular piece of cardboard warped, bowing up in the center, so that it formed a slight hill and didn't sit flat on the street. Hard to make the figures stand up on this incline. A light up Christmas Tree (with carolers I think) was sold seperately.

    The set was really Town Square, not all of Main St. and the only thing that could have improved it would have perhaps been forced perspective flats to transition from Town Sq to the Castle in the distance.

    I had a few of the figure sets too. Mickey and Minnie came with Town Sq. And I don't remember how the others were grouped, but I think they were all sold seperately. I had the Pooh characters, Cinderella (in a way too dark blue dress) Snow White with the three dwarves that were mentioned. And I may have had some tourists, but can't remember. The figures were pretty decent, articulated well enough considering their small size. What I really appreciatated was that they were sculpted to be the costumed characters, not the animated characters, right down to the proportions of the costumes and the folds in the fabric. They all came with clear plastic discs which attached to their feet to help them stand. I had a large collection of PVC figures and would more often set them up on the playset. The scale was about the same and though they weren't as realistic I just thought the PVC's looked nicer- plus there were a ton and it was a great way to display them.

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  3. What? No Dopey?! That seems like a marketing goof on their part. It's interesting and kinda cool that in keeping with the Magic Kingdom theme, they made the Snow White figure look very much like a cast member dressed as the princess at the park rather than the actual animated character. Wish I had one of these.

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  4. I would have definitely bought that Town Square set in 1988 if I had seen it back then! And I still love that little Winnie the Pooh figure. That's the version of Pooh that I had my pic taken with on Grad Nite!

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  5. Eric Scales: Thank you, and thanks for the great information! I had often wondered what the Walt Disney World Town Square set was really like. I'm glad you had it (though I'm jealous) and could give a more detailed description of what it was like. It sounds like they did a nice job, especially considering the fact that this was not a high-priced collectible. The fact that you had so much fun with it makes it that much better. Like you, I appreciated the fact that the characters were modeled on the actual costumes. And I can't think of a better way to display a collection of Disney PVC figures than with this set!

    A Snow White Sanctum: The fact that Dopey wasn't there was a disappointment to me, and probably the reason I did not pursue that particular set of figures at the time. It seems like it would have been easy to make all Seven Dwarfs, but if they couldn't, Dopey should have been the no-brainer.

    TokyoMagic!: If I had the money back then, I would have gotten that Town Square set for sure! And I think the version of Pooh with the honey pot on his head is the source of some fond memories for many, many people. I have a book called "Disneyland The First Thirty Years" that also has a Grad Nite picture featuring this Winnie the Pooh.

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  6. DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE I COULD BUY THE YELLOW TRACK WINNIE THE POOH TRAIN SET,

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  7. Jim, I think your best bet is checking eBay---eventually, everything shows up there.

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  8. Dear Dan, Thanks SO MUCH for posting these pictures! It was fun to see what Disney toys were offered at Sears that year! Very nice. I really enjoyed this post.

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  9. You are welcome, Debnog---Thanks for the kind words!

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  10. Does anyone know where I could get a copy of the instruction sheet for the Town Square Play set? I bought a used one from ebay but sadly, there are no instructions.

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