Walt Disney Classics
Walt Disney Classics was a brand name of Walt Disney Home Video, created in 1984 to release features from the Disney Animated Features canon on video. The first release from the line was Robin Hood (1973), and more soon followed, including Pinocchio (1940), Dumbo (1941), The Sword in the Stone (1963), Alice in Wonderland (1951) and others, to great success. In 1990, following the box office success of The Little Mermaid (1989), the Classics line released it to video, and began releasing a mix of older animated films and more recent Disney animated films. In 1994, after the video release of The Fox and the Hound (1981), the Classics series was discontinued and replaced with a newer series, the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection. Tapes released in the Classics series are often referred to as the "Black Diamond Classics" by VHS collectors, in reference to the black diamond logo on the spine of each release.
Although the Classics series was discontinued, the international versions (which included the select live-action/traditionally animated hybrid films as well) remain active in their respective international countries to this day. The line currently exists in the UK and Europe, as Disney Classics. However, France numbers WDAS, Pixar and WDTVA/DTS features and in the UK/Europe the order for the Disney Classics is different than the 61 animated features produced by WDAS to date. This is due to The Wild (2006) being in the Classics line in the UK despite not being produced by WDAS and Dinosaur (2000) and Winnie the Pooh (2011) being left out of the Classics lineup. In Germany, the Classics line features all of the films produced by WDAS while in Spain, Piglet's Big Movie (2003) is being included in the Classics line in that region.
While Brazil uses a Brazilian Portuguese variant for the 1st logo, the UK using the second logo and Japan using a Japanese variant for the second logo, these logos were mostly used in the United States & Canada.
1st Logo (The Classics) (December 6, 1984-October 6, 1987)
Visuals: On a blue background, the text "WALT DiSNEY HOME VIDEO" (with "WALT DiSNEY" in its famous "signature" font), in red, swirls in from the upper-left corner of the screen, rotating clockwise as it does so, passes by quite close to the screen, then flips and begins cycling to the lower-left corner. A few seconds after the "WALT DiSNEY HOME VIDEO" the white text, “THE CLASSICS”, in a neon-style Binner D font, also comes from the upper-left side of the screen and begins slowly spinning, too, nearly following the same path as the WDHV text does. As this happens, the background begins to slowly “morph” into a large, blurry diamond shape on a black background. A large Prussian blue diamond then zooms in from the center of the screen at a slightly fast pace, before stopping at a huge size. As the diamond zooms up, “THE CLASSICS” flips over to the top of the diamond and settles there, while "WALT DiSNEY HOME VIDEO" lands on the bottom of the diamond. A white, neon-style diamond outline zooms out and plasters itself onto the edges of the diamond, in which the logo resembles a neon sign.
- On some tapes, the logo stays onscreen for an extra ten seconds before finally fading out. This was most commonly seen around 1986, including Pinocchio, Dumbo and Alice in Wonderland, as well as later prints of the black clamshell release of The Sword in the Stone. It also appeared on the 1987 LaserDisc releases of Sleeping Beauty and Pinocchio (paired up with the 1986 cut-short "presents" variant of the Walt Disney Home Video logo).
- Various Brazilian Portuguese tapes have a still variant with the "THE CLASSICS" text replaced by "OS CLÁSSICOS". This was used at the beginning of a VHS promo for Bambi.
- On a rare promo sales tape for the 1984 VHS release of Robin Hood, the start of the tape features a golden vault door zooming in from the middle, taking up the entire screen as it does. The vault door's handle then rotates around and the door opens, revealing a blue background. The rest of the logo plays as usual, albeit reused animation of Tinkerbell from the 50th Anniversary Walt Disney Pictures logo comes in to transition to a different, shinier diamond frame displaying clips from various Disney animated films.
- Another scene from the aforementioned tape has the last few seconds of the logo where the diamond zooms in, but the background is black instead of blue. The glowing blue outline of the diamond from the background fades in after the logo is fully formed. This appears to be a prototype version of the logo.
- On the 1985 demo VHS of Pinocchio, the text "PROPERTY OF W.D.T.N.T." (which stands for "Walt Disney Telecommunications and Non-Theatrical Company", the division that Walt Disney Home Video originally ran under until 1987) is seen near the bottom of the screen, as with the rest of the tape.
Technique: A mix of computer-generated graphics and chroma-key. "THE CLASSICS" and the outline around the diamond are photographed and chroma-keyed from real neon signs.
Audio: A bouncy, medieval-style synth-horn fanfare with a held-out synth-flute at the end, produced on a Yamaha DX7.
- At the beginning of the aforementioned Robin Hood promo sales tape, the music is in a slightly higher pitch. A "whoosh" sound effect is heard, growing louder as the door zooms in, accompanied by the sound of metal locks moving. When the logo reappears midway through the same sales tape, "National Trust" by Keith Mansfield (notable for its usage on the CBS/Fox Video logo) is heard in the background.
- On a rare Disney promo sales tape from 1985 promoting the VHS release of Pinocchio, an announcer says, "The Disney Classics: Landmark animation made available for the first time from Walt Disney Home Video!"
Availability: Seen on 1984-1987 VHS and LaserDisc prints of Disney animated features, including the original video releases of Pinocchio and Robin Hood.
- Tapes that have this logo are usually in clamshell packaging (originally in big, black, heavy clamshells with the artwork printed directly onto the case, but switching over to lightweight, white clamshells in 1986), with the cover featuring a black flap on the lower right corner reading "The Original Animated Classic!".
- The last video to officially use this logo was the 1987 VHS of the Lady and the Tramp.
- This logo has also been spotted on some post-1987 prints, including a 1993 reprint of The Sword in the Stone, and the 1988 demo VHS of Cinderella.
- On black clamshell tapes of Dumbo, as well as very early prints of the black clamshell release of The Sword in the Stone and earlier prints of the mid-1986 slipcover release of Alice in Wonderland, the 1981 WDHV Neon Mickey logo is seen (the latter had the 1984 Classics logo replace the Neon Mickey logo on prints from circa late April 1986).
- Although the logo is seen on the cover, Australian releases do not use this logo; they use the 1986 "Sorcerer Mickey" logo or the 6th logo instead.
2nd Logo (October 4, 1988-September 21, 1994)
Visuals: The logo starts with the opening animation of the 1986 Walt Disney Home Video logo, with Mickey Mouse dressed in his Sorcerer's Apprentice outfit from Fantasia, standing on a blue spotlight on a black background. The camera slowly begins zooming up to his hand as the stars and crescent moon on his blue hat flash one-by-one, and then a white starburst flashes and a magic spark flies out from it, appearing above Mickey's hand. The screen zooms past Mickey as the spark begins swirling around and begins to write "WALT DiSNEY" in the corporate Disney font, except it is metallic white. As the screen zooms out, the background begins to change to dark blue, and a black diamond with metallic edges fades in from a far point and begins to slowly zoom in, as the word "CLASSICS", in the Binner D font with two letters at both ends in a bigger size, begins zooming out from the bottom of the screen, before that and the "WALT DiSNEY" text settle on the diamond, which has zoomed up to a comfortable distance. The edges begin to glow white as the shadow of the "WALT DiSNEY CLASSICS" text drops on the diamond, and then a magic comet swishes into view from the bottom left of the screen, circles behind the diamond, then flies out from the top right and passes in front of the diamond before flying offscreen, leaving a trail of pixie dust that changes the "WALT DiSNEY CLASSICS" text to gold, and adds a purple tint (flamingo pink in the 1989 variant) to the diamond’s edges. The logo "shines".
Alternate Descriptive Video Transcription: Now in animation, a figure appears. Mickey Mouse, wearing his red sorcerer's robe and tall blue pointed hat, stands with his left arm extended. A star shoots up from his palm, writing a signature and the logo "Walt Disney Classics".
Trivia: When the logo is in high definition, magic can be visibly shown inside the spark (just like the 1986 Walt Disney Home Video logo) if you pause the VCR.
- The prototype version, originally seen on the 1988 retail VHS of Cinderella, has the background as a dark to light blue gradient, a more shiny, silver, metallic diamond, the text "WALT DiSNEY CLASSICS" had a purple color scheme and rougher animation; this variant was also filmed, compared to the standard logo being videotaped. The spark was sky blue. Also, the bright light from the starburst was not shown on Mickey Mouse's body. The logo made sporadic reappearances after the revised logo was introduced on tapes from the Classics line that didn't open with previews; these include the 1992 Laserdisc and demo/French Canadian VHS prints of The Rescuers (Les aventures de Bernand et Bianca), the later Canadian print of The Rescuers Down Under a 1992 Descriptive Video Service (DVS) VHS of Dumbo, the later Canadian/USA print of Robin Hood (Robin does Bois) the French Canadian VHS releases of Pinocchio, Bambi, 101 Dalmatians (Les 101 Dalmatiens) and The Great Mouse Detective (Basil, détective privé) and the demo/French Canadian VHS copies of Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bête). It also appears at the beginning of the VHS Fantasia: The Making of a Masterpiece (which was included as part of a "Deluxe Collectors' Edition" box set of the movie). In most cases, the logo is off-center, with the diamond positioned further to the right, while Cinderella had the diamond centered properly. One of the last, if not the last, videos to feature this version of the logo was the DVS VHS release of Aladdin.
- On the 1989 variant of the Walt Disney Classics logo, the spark is now gray and white and the diamond has a flamingo pink tint on its edges, as the 1988 and 1992 variants of the Walt Disney Classics logo have the purple tint on the diamond's edges. Also, the bright light from the starburst is now shown on Mickey Mouse's body, just like the 1986 Walt Disney Home Video logo.
- On the 1991 VHS releases of Robin Hood and The Brave Little Toaster, the Mickey scene is cut, and the logo starts off with the spark writing the words. On both tapes, this version is shown before a preview for The Jungle Book, and is accompanied by Brian Cummings saying, "Look for these animated Disney classics on videocassette." On the Robin Hood VHS, the same variant appears again before the film begins, but without the voiceover.
- On the 1991 VHS release of The Rescuers Down Under, just the end of the logo (with the magic comet flying around the diamond and the pixie dust trail leaving) is shown without music before the The Jungle Book trailer. Brian Cummings announces "Don't miss this timeless Disney classic, from Walt Disney Home Video." as the logo animation plays.
- On 1992 VHS releases, starting with 101 Dalmatians, the logo gained brighter colors with the text "WALT DiSNEY CLASSICS" in light blue and the diamond in bright blueish-violet due to deterioration of the master; in addition, the comet is now thinner, the tint on the diamond's edges is now purple again and the logo fades out earlier than before. The logo would cut in at different times (up to a second later than usual) on all 1992 releases.
- On a trailer for The Great Mouse Detective seen on the 1992 VHS releases of So Dear to My Heart and The Rescuers, a shortened version of the 1992 variant that starts as magic comet flies around the diamond and the pixie dust leaves is seen before the start of the trailer, with Mark Elliot announcing "From Walt Disney Home Video!" over it. The closing credits music from The Great Mouse Detective plays over this version of the logo, as well as the trailer. UK releases with this trailer feature the 1992 distorted variant playing at the beginning, with the Mickey scene cut. After the comet flies around the logo, a British announcer says, "From Walt Disney Home Video!" and the rest of the trailer continues. This version of the trailer appears on the 1992 UK VHS releases of The Prince and the Pauper and Robin Hood. However, certain UK versions of the trailer (like the 1992 UK VHS of Cinderella) replaced the Classics logo with the tail end of the 1986 Walt Disney Home Video logo.
- The tail end of the 1989 variant (with the logo "shining") makes a surprise appearance at the beginning of a video promo for Bambi, seen on several international Disney VHS releases (with the exception of the UK and Brazil).
- Similarly, the tail end of the 1992 variant (with the logo "shining") makes a surprise appearance at the beginning of a 1996 Japanese video trailer for The Rescuers Down Under. The trailer appeared on the 1995 Japanese Laserdisc releases of The Lion King and 101 Dalmatians, which mark the only laserdisc appearances of the 1992 variant in any form.
- A series of Japanese tapes released by Bandai Video on July 10, 1988 (under the then-new "Dreams and Magic" banner) use a still variant for a closing promo featuring the diamond reading "THE CLASSICS" on an animated starry sky with a thicker, more glass-like frame. This can be found on the 1988 Japanese VHS releases of Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, Pinocchio, Mary Poppins, and three cartoon compilations dedicated to Mickey ("Good Luck Mickey"), Donald, and various characters ("Disney Friends") respectively. The music that accompanies the closing promo is the "Spoonful of Sugar" portion of the Mary Poppins main title overture. An animated variant featuring the logo flying onto the screen and shining was featured at the beginning of the Pinocchio VHS.
Technique: 2D computer animation produced by Hal Miles and vaguely similar to the animation of the 1986 Walt Disney Home Video logo.
Audio: A majestic, gradually rising synthesizer fanfare. When the logo starts and Mickey Mouse shows up, there is a synth-bass drone with synth-violins warming up, a whimsical synthesized organ tune (accompanied by synthesized chimes) as the spark swirls above Mickey's hand and writes the text "WALT DiSNEY", a seven-note synth-trumpet fanfare with a "sizzling" noise as the comet flies around the diamond, a cymbal crash (in which can be faintly heard under the "sizzling" sound effect) as the text "WALT DiSNEY CLASSICS" turns to gold and the comet and pixie dust trail leave the logo and twinkles playing underneath the synthesizer music until the screen fades to black.
- When the logo first debuted on the 1988 VHS of Cinderella, the music is in monoaural. Later on starting with the 1989 VHS of Bambi, the music is in stereo.
- On the 1992 VHS of 101 Dalmatians, the music fades out along with the logo; on the 1992 VHS of The Great Mouse Detective, the music lasts a second after the logo fades to black.
- Starting with the 1992 VHS release of The Rescuers, the music became distorted and heavier on bass due to deterioration of the master recording. Crackling sounds can be heard in the background at the beginning of the logo, rumbling sounds can be heard underneath as the spark writes the words "WALT DiSNEY", kettledrums can be heard in the background as the words "WALT DiSNEY" and "CLASSICS" settle on the diamond, and a synth-bass pad note can be heard underneath as the comet flies around the diamond. This variant would later be heard under the Walt Disney Company Intro on several VHS releases from 1999-2000.
Availability: Seen on 1988-1994 Disney video releases of their feature films with the text "A Walt Disney CLASSIC" or "Walt Disney's CLASSIC" on top and the diamond print logo on the clamshell spine.
- The first tape to use this logo was the 1988 VHS of Cinderella, and the last tape to use it was the 1994 VHS of The Fox and the Hound.
- The first two releases with this logo, Cinderella and Bambi, feature the diamond print logo (with WDHV text) on a Betamax-sized sticker label like the previous logo. Later releases typically used a white ink label, though some rarer copies use a sticker label instead (like some copies of The Little Mermaid, The Jungle Book and The Rescuers Down Under).
- While the logo was rarely used internationally, it made a few surprise appearances. The 1989 version was used on 1990 European VHS releases of Lady and the Tramp; the 1992 version was used on a Bulgarian VHS release of Pinocchio from Alexandra Video; and, oddly enough, the 2003 UK VHS of Pinocchio featured the 1992 logo before and after the tape's opening previews, in the PAL format.
- The last release overall to use the logo was the 1994 LaserDisc of Aladdin (which was produced in 1993, but held over to September 1994 for piracy reasons), which used the 1989 version and was the only LaserDisc release to do so. Very early printings of the 1996 Masterpiece Collection VHS release of Pocahontas (from before December 17, 1995) surprisingly used the 1989 version of the logo instead of the Masterpiece Collection logo.
- This was not included on UK or Australian VHS releases from the early to mid-90's released under the label "Walt Disney Classics"; they just used the 1986 "Sorcerer Mickey" WDHV logo (and later, the "Disney Videos" logo, starting in 1995), which would also be used on Spanish-language tapes.
- This also appears on some mid-1990s reprints of The Sword in the Stone and Dumbo, among possible others.
- The Classics LaserDisc releases of Pinocchio, The Jungle Book, The Great Mouse Detective and Beauty and the Beast also don't use this logo, instead using the aforementioned WDHV logo.
- The 1988 version made an appearance on a DVS VHS of Mary Poppins, which was most likely an error since, as a (mostly) live-action film, it was never officially considered part of the Classics line.
Legacy: A nostalgic logo to those that grew up with it, and iconic among VHS collectors.
While the UK also uses the second domestic logo, the UK used its own logos from 1991-1996 and in 2000, respectively.
1st Logo (1991-1996)
Visuals: On a shady blue background, the words "WALT DiSNEY" are seen in yellow with a shadow effect. Below it is "CLASSICS" in a metallic orange serif font, also with the shadow effect. A light wipes over the logo from left to right.
Technique: 2D animation.
Audio: Opening of the promo following it.
Availability: It was seen on some WDC promos of the time in the UK, particularly Bambi.
2nd Logo (2000)
Visuals: Same as the 1991 Walt Disney Home Video logo, except this time, the logo is placed over a blue background with swirly pixie dust. Instead of "HOME VIDEO", a golden banner with "CLASSICS" is seen. A thin orange light moves over various parts of the logo.
Technique: 2D animation.
Audio: See above.
Availability: Same as the previous logo.
- This was seen twice on a 2000 WDC UK promo seen on the 2000 UK VHS release of Tarzan.
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