The throw-back collectable market is huge, with so many adults looking for ways to reclaim a piece of their childhood. And what is more nostalgic than those iconic white clamshell Disney VHS tapes we all used to have back in the day? Well, they’re back! Disney has announced some of their most popular recent titles will be part of a new limited edition line of home videos on the now obsolete videotape format.
Designs will mimic the Masterpiece Collection, which was a series released by Walt Disney Home Video from 1994 to 1999. That line was the first time such classics as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Melody Time, The Lion King, and Mulan were made available to consumers.
Disney has announced that all ten canon films released since 2009 will be featured in two waves. Originally scheduled for a spring release, but due to current events now pushed back to November, is the Fairytale Collection, with The Princess and the Frog, Tangled, Frozen, Moana, and Frozen II. The Adventure Collection will follow soon after, with Winnie the Pooh, Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, and Ralph Breaks the Internet. Both waves will be available for 90 days before the films are returned to “The Vault”. Suggested retail is $29.99 each.
Animated Views was sent an advance copy of the most recent film from the first wave: Frozen II. I’m a child of the 1980s and a huge fan of Disney, so as you can probably imagine, I am the target audience for this type of retro-collectable!
The case insert is a faithful reproduction of the early Masterpiece Collection titles, with a white border, purple and metallic series logo, and poster artwork. (As you can see on the photo to the right, it fits right in with some of the older tapes I already had on my shelf!) Besides the cassette itself, inside is an ad for the Disney Movie Club and a code to earn points with Disney Movie Insiders. The code also unlocks the Movies Anywhere version of the film along with access to bonus features — which really helps justify the cost, making this a neat way to buy what will basically be your digital copy wrapped up in a unique package.
No one is going to buy one of these to actually watch the tape — these are cool collectables for your shelf. So video and audio quality are secondary considerations! But I’m happy to report that things look and sound pretty good… for VHS! It’s been a long time since I’ve put a new videotape into my player. Magnetic tape degrades over time, so on the rare occasion I do watch an old tape, I expect scanning issues and sound hiccups. Putting in a freshly minted film really takes you back to how good these home video releases looked at the time!
There are a few things that could have been done to make the illusion that these were part of the original series of tapes complete. There are no trailers, no Masterpiece Collection fanfare before the film, and the film itself is in widescreen format (only a few rare tapes were letterboxed on VHS, including Sleeping Beauty and Lady and the Tramp). Probably more trouble than it would have been worth, but it’d also have been cool to see the old production logo with the white castle on a blue background again.
But again, these are meant to be fun and decorative — the fact that Disney mastered actual tapes at all rather than just selling empty boxes is pretty impressive. These videocassettes will be unique collectables for older Disney fans who used to wear down their tapes from repeated viewings, or newer fans who just love these recent films!