100 Greatest Gifts of the Century

As many of you may already know, Department 56 has been in gift business since 1976 when The Original Snow Village was first introduced and since then we have developed other Villages as well as many giftware lines that are popular among our collectors. It seems like a long time to us, but there are other companies who have offered giftware a lot longer.

Recently, “Gifts and Decorative Accessories” magazine, a leader in our industry came up with a subjective list of the 100 greatest gifts of the last century – celebrating the 100 year anniversary of this retail trade magazine. We are proud to share portions of the article that names the best of the best – and we are ranked #2 with Department 56 Villages and #5 with Snowbabies.

Perhaps you will find some of your other favorites on this list as well.

 

 

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The Nightmare Before Christmas

 

The movie “Nightmare Before Christmas” first released in 1993 has, over the years, acquired a huge cult following of fans of both Halloween and Christmas. Creator Tim Burton, a Burbank, California native expressed that “anytime there was Christmas or Halloween, it was great. It gave you some sort of texture all of a sudden that wasn’t there before.” It never left him.

There was always a thought in the back of his mind to expand on the dual theme.

1982 Burton, who was then-employed at Walt Disney Feature Animation, wrote a three-page poem entitled The Nightmare Before Christmas, drawing inspiration from television specials of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and the poem A Visit from St. Nicholas. Burton intended to adapt the poem into a television special with the narration spoken by his favorite actor, Vincent Price who was known for his spooky spoken delivery. He also considered other options such as publishing the work as a children’s book. He created concept art and storyboards for the project in collaboration with Rick Heinrichs, who also sculpted character models for stop-action films and short movies. Initially, Disney thought the concept was a little too weird for their target audience.

Finally, in 1990, Burton worked out a deal with Disney to begin the project which was a huge success with the film being nominated for best Visual Effects.

Village Artist Tom Bates

In 2017, Department 56 has been granted the licensing rights to produce three-dimensional pieces from this popular movie, each hand crafted and hand painted in resin. Village artist, Tom Bates, enjoyed the project. He shared that he watched the movie with his daughter who loved the movie and” has seen it many, many times.” What he enjoyed most was watching the added features that showed how the Stop-motion photography was accomplished. “Each movement consisted of dozens and dozens of images put together to create a seamless action, and it they got it wrong, they had to start all over.”

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Addicted to Candy Crush

Ok, it’ true confessions time, who plays the video game “Candy Crush”? Show of hands? Who not only plays it, but is addicted to it? That’s better!

Ever wonder about how it came to be? Me, too! “Candy Crush” is a product of King Digital Entertainment, based in London, with studios in Stockholm, Sweden. The game’s inventor, Sebastian Knutsson, is credited with creating 10 of the company’s 15 worst games. I guess that means that it only takes one success to be remembered and the failures can long be forgotten.

Experts tell us that part of the fun comes from being able to play the game for free, although there are paid incentives to climb levels more rapidly. It must be a matter of patience to play the same level for hours before your capture all the correct candies.

Department 56, eager to appeal to fans, whether they be youngsters, or long time players of the game and collectors of Villages, entered into a licensing agreement for the rights to produce not only the “North Pole Candy Crush Factory”, and two adorable accessory sets, but a variety of iconic ornaments to hang from the branches of your Christmas tree. Look for “Mr. Toffee”, “Tiffy” and many of the brightly colored candies so familiar to players of the game.

What level are you on?

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Department 56: Creating Pusheen

Department 56 Sculptor Kiri Namtvedt and Artist Tate Yotter give an insider view on what it was like creating the new and quirky Department 56 Pusheen ornaments.

Sculptor Kiri:

“The first time I ever saw Pusheen I didn’t even know what her name was, but the image resonated right away because this little cat was sitting in an open refrigerator eating all the pie and I could totally relate. Pie is the best food, after all.  When I found out that we were doing Pusheen ornaments I thought it was so fun to see a three-dimensional Pusheen – so simple and round, like a pet rock, but still having all the fun adventures.”

Artist Tate:
Tubber
Tate’s Cat, Tubber

“Let me start by saying that you don’t have to be a cat-lover to love Pusheen, but it definitely helps. For those of us with cats in our lives, Pusheen’s mannerisms are on point. If you don’t know Pusheen, Google her immediately, and let the giggling begin. You might remember her from Facebook. You might know her from her adorable gifs on the interweb. You may even know her from the plushies released last year by our sister company GUND.”

“If you’ve never heard of her Pusheen is a tubby little gray lady kitty. And she’s hilarious. She likes to eat pizza and doughnuts, loves spending Christmas with her fluffy friend Stormy and of course, like any cat, enjoys napping. Basically Pusheen is my spirit animal.”

“Artist Clare Belton created Pusheen. The tubby gray lady kitty was born of Clare’s comics on everydaycute.com. Sadly this site no longer exists.  But fear not! Pusheen has become an Internet sensation. This year I had the pleasure of working with Pusheen Corp and Clare in developing a line of ornaments for Department 56. I was so excited about this line and am hoping you find these little ornaments as charming as I do.”

Pusheen ornaments will be available starting this summer at your local gift retailer and at www.department56.com

©2017 Pusheen.

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