If your DVR missed the Rankin Bass Christmas specials this year, you can now get them on Blu-Ray in this collection of five. There’s the famous Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, the lesser known Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and I’d never heard of The Little Drummer Boy and Cricket on the Hearth. Well, I’ve heard of The Little Drummer Boy but I didn’t know they did a special of it.
Oh my God, the stop motion looks incredible on Blu-Ray. You can see all the texture of each of the figures and backgrounds, the fuzz of the felt or the scrapes of ice on Sam The Snowman. In the sets, the markings of clay carvings give them a lived in quality. They’re also so colorful they look like they could be right in your living room. The 2D animation looks bright and colorful too. Even the live action black and white newsreel before Rudolph and Santa Claus looks sharp.
“The Animagic World Of Rankin Bass,” which is on three of the four discs, is a good 47 minute documentary about the animators. I didn’t know much about them except that they made these specials so I learned a lot from it. And it’s all told by other famous faces of animation, but they know all about Rankin Bass. The Chiodo Brothers, Henry Selick, Jon Favreau and other animation directors.
Commentaries on Frosty and Santa Claus are given by animation historians so they are packed with historic and technical information too. Frosty commentator Mark Evanier says he got sad when Frosty was carrying Karen in the snowy woods. It made me sad as soon as the hat brought him to life. I knew he could come back, but the idea that he could only exist with that hat, not continuously like I do. I was a very existential kid. Greg Ehrbar on Santa points out some Easter eggs too.
The restoration of Rudolph puppets let you see some still photos of the puppets at rest. Behind the scenes of the new 4D attraction shows the new animators at work for 10 minutes, but it doesn’t say which theme parks are showing it and I can’t find it online either. You can watch the short on this Blu-Ray, but where is t showing with all the 4D effects on the big screen? T.E.A.M. Rudolph and the Reindeer Games is a storybook style illustrated reading of the children’s book. It feels like the old Curious George shorts only with HD color art.