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Press Release - September 13, 2018

The Art of Ronald McDonald and Friends Auction – The Setmakers’ Collection Debuts at Heritage Auctions

More than 350, vintage one-of-a-kind lots featuring prototypes, statues and original art

Ronald McDonald prototype wall plaque
DALLAS, Texas (Sept. 13, 2018) — It’s a treasure trove fit for the Hamburglar.

For the first time in the history of advertising, Heritage Auctions presents The Art of Ronald McDonald & Friends – The Setmakers’ Collection, the largest collection of original Ronald McDonald and McDonaldland artwork and one-of-a-kind prototypes ever brought to market, Sept. 22-23 in Chicago. The trove of massive murals, statues and original art is exclusively from the archives of Setmakers, Inc., a former vendor to McDonald’s.

Setmakers’ work on the "Ronald McDonald and his Friends” marketing campaign for McDonald’s is unparalleled. Setmakers’ President, the late Don Ament and his team, built the first McDonaldland set for television commercials. Setmakers also was the first company to build the McDonaldland outdoor playground in Chula Vista, California.

"As McDonald’s roared into the 1970s as a marketing powerhouse, Setmakers brought the restaurant’s famous characters to life,” said Jim Lentz, director of Animation Art at Heritage Auctions. "These pieces became pop culture icons, yet many more offered here were never seen by the public ... until now.”

McDonald’s developed ad campaigns bursting with bright colors and comical characters throughout the 1970s and 1980s. That meant a visit to McDonald’s meant a visit to McDonaldland – wondrous playrooms and parks featuring 3D versions of the characters seen during Saturday morning cartoons. Setmakers brought the fantasy world to life.

This company’s ideas and designs brought Ronald McDonald and all his friends in McDonaldland play areas to McDonald’s restaurants around the globe. The advent of "Ronald’s Rooms,” tabletop character displays, the murals inside McDonaldland and even massive wall plaques and 3D signs all changed McDonald’s interiors in drastic fashion. The creative designs of Setmakers and its close partnership with McDonald’s tells a story behind the marketing.

The archive presents historic McDonaldland statues, prototypes and test pieces, including the first Ronald McDonald McDonaldland Statue ever created, which has since become a cornerstone of American pop culture. Also offered are a prototype statue of Mayor McCheese and a circa 1980s Hamburglar tabletop statue prototype, which were part of the McDonaldland interior décor. A rare Ronald McDonald statue initial head test piece from 1971 shows the development of the original statue. Introduced in 1971, the rare McDonaldland villain Captain Crook is larger than life in an outstanding, hand-painted 6-foot tall playground statue.

A group of 11 Setmakers’ preliminary model maquettes includes an Officer Big Mac Slide, which resulted in a staple of McDonald’s Playgrounds throughout the '70s and '80s. An original one-of-a-kind Ronald McDonald hot air balloon maquette never saw final production and a unique handmade maquette of Officer Big Mac, created for artistic as well as production and manufacturing reference, was used in the development of Setmakers' tabletop, drive-through and playground displays.

The Art of Ronald McDonald and Friends is an important selection of artworks, which feature massive McDonaldland murals – such as a circa 1979 Train Station Drawing measuring 25-1/2-inches – from the hand of noted Disney theme park artist Wes Cook. In fact, the auction offers the single largest selection of Cook’s original artwork ever offered at one time.

Cook was one of the most prolific concept designers and artists in the field of themed entertainment. He was a longtime Disney WED Imaginneer and was instrumental in the design of major parts of Walt Disney theme parks. His career had him working on such television shows like The Banana Splits, and H.R. Pufnstuf and other themed television shows, and Cook’s work for Setmakers’ is a veritable time machine to the 1970s and 1980s.

Commissioned in 1978 for a McDonald's restaurant in Cincinnati, Ohio, Cook created a 30-1/2-inch-wide mural of the whole McDonaldland gang in a Bavarian setting. The setting represents a number his McDonaldland custom-themed mural designs for restaurants in Redmond, Washington, Hawaii and Colorado, among many more. Additional original art highlights include hand-painted, unique McDonaldland and Ronald’s Room Wall Plaques and 3D Wall Signs of the characters.

All artwork and other auction items available in the auction were procured from Setmakers President Duane and his wife JoJo Ament. McDonald’s has not provided any of items for auction and the auction is not in any way affiliated with or sanctioned by McDonald’s Corp or its affiliates. A portion of the proceeds from this auction will be donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Heritage Auctions’ presentation of The Art of Ronald McDonald & Friends – The Setmakers’ Collection takes place Sept. 22-23 at the firm’s Chicago offices and saleroom, 215 West Ohio St., and on HA.com.

Heritage Auctions is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer. Heritage maintains offices in New York, Dallas, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago, Palm Beach, London, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.

The Internet’s most popular auction-house website, HA.com, has over one million registered bidder-members and searchable free archives of four million past auction records with prices realized, descriptions and enlargeable photos. Reproduction rights routinely granted to media for photo credit.


Eric Bradley, Director, Public Relations
214-409-1871; EricB@HA.com

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