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                                                                     January 2006
Extra! Extra! - Read all the Toon News!
New Year, new look
Toonhound gets a redesign, ToonsToGo goes... More...

 Charitable piggies
 Peppa Pig helps Tommy's...

 Bleepin' good news
 Bleep & Booster to return...

 Rabbit's great run

 Big bucks for Were-Rabbit...

 A perishin' shame

 The death of Maurice Dodd...

     last month's news »         news archive »        interviews »

   Charitable piggies  (31.01.06)

    Here's a snorting good idea. Peppa Pig has teamed up with Tommy's
    the baby charity, to help spread the word and boost their fundraising,
    and the first fruits of their ongoing relationship are a set of four fabulous
    little button badges. Each costs a £1, and they went on sale at the
    checkouts of ASDA stores, the length and breadth of the UK, from
    January 26th.

      Daddy Pig's a badge!

    The badges feature Peppa, Daddy Pig, Mummy Pig and baby George
    and they really are delightful little things. What's more, you can wear
    'em with pride, knowing that you've just given £1 to a very worthy cause.     

    Tommy's has just a single goal, and that's to save babies' lives. They fund
    research into the cause and prevention of miscarriage, stillbirth and
    premature birth as well as promoting pregnancy health through a national
    information programme that is accesible to all .Tommy's is the exclusive
    charity partner for "Peppa Pig" and they'll be developing various fun
    projects with her over the next 18 months, to help raise those vital funds.

    As for Peppa, well, the preschool world simply hasn't been the same since
    Astley Baker Davies' star creation cartwheeled on to the scene. She's been
    a huge hit in Five's "Milkshake!" morning programme slot, and on Nick Junior.
    She's also been oinking off with a sty's worth of animation awards...

Tommy's  Peppa Pig


   Bleepin' good news 

    Good grief, Space Freighter 9 is returning to duty! - Maverick Entertainment
    have just announced the acquisition of intellectual property rights for
    Bleep and Booster and "Bengo the Boxer Pup", from the estate of William
    Timym. And now there are plans to bring them back to our screens as
    newfangled tv series.

     Bleep & Booster by Tim

    Viewers of a certain age will recall that "Bleep and Booster" and "Bengo"
    both appeared as animatic episodes on "Blue Peter" back in its early
    days. The former also made regular appearances in the tie-in annuals,
    and in stand-alone books. Their creator "Tim" Timym turned his skilled
    hand to sculpture, too, fashioning memorable pieces featuring the "Blue
    Peter" Alsatian Petra, and guy the Gorilla from London Zoo.

    Maverick Entertainment are no strangers to nostalgia, of course, having
    recently transformed Muffin the Mule into animated form, for a new

    So now that old Space Freighter 9 is blasting off again, to join that
    never-ending stream of series and creations from the past that are
    getting reimagined and recycled. It will be fascinating to see how
    "Timm"s glorious artwork is translated. His otherworld illustrations
     were decidedly "low-tech", and very much of their era. This was a
    production that was low on sophistication, but very high on charm...

Maverick Entertainment

   Rabbit's great run  (16.01.06)

    So the figures are almost in, and it's cracking to see that "Curse of the
    Were-Rabbit" is currently the fifth most successful feature film released in
    the UK last year. Wallace and Gromit's first feature hopped off with £32m,
    here in blighty. That's £3m more than "Chicken Run", back in 2000. The
    rabbit may soon lose its current fifth spot to the mighty "Kong", once
    Peter Jackson's Goliath has played out, but even so, that's still a tidy
    take for our claymation pals - who proved even more popular than
    Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg!

    UK box-office top 10 - 2005 (16/01/05)
    1 - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire *
    2 - Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
    3 - Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch... *
    4 - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    5 - Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit
    6 - King Kong *
    7 - War of the Worlds
    8 - Meet the Fockers
    9 - Madagascar
    10 - Hitch

     * still playing

    Internationally, "Were-Rabbit" has dug up $183m of business. That's down on
    "Chicken Run's" $225m tally, but the drop can principally be attributed to a
    disappointing North American take. Despite opening at number one in that
    key market, and despite being one of the very best reviewed films of the
    year there, and being nominated for an allotment of awards, it seems that
    our dynamic duo were simply too "British" for our friends across the pond.
    The film only harvested $56m stateside, which is just a little over half of the
    amount "Chicken Run" clucked off with, five and a bit years ago. The shortfall
    has even driven a move for a "loss and write off" at DreamWorks Animation,
    for their fourth quarter results, but you can't go reading too much in to that,
    given the twists and turns of Hollywood accountancy.

    Still, things may well be redeemed in ancillary markets. "Were-Rabbit"
    comes to DVD just in time for Valentine's Day in the USA, with the rest
    of us getting our paws on the disc soon after. And a nice shiny Oscar™
    might help a bit, too...


   A perishin' shame 

    It's been announced that Maurice Dodd, the writing supremo behind
    that evergreen strip The Perishers, died on New Year's Eve, aged 83.
    Maurice started scripting the strip for the "Daily Mirror" in the 1950s and
    he held the pen for twenty six years, until his retirement in 1983.

The Perishers...
    Surely those Perishers need no introduction? Wellington, Maisie, Marlon, and
    Boot the sheepdog formed the nucleus of  a strip that - in its heyday - became
    a British institution to rival those "Peanuts" stars, across the Pond. Dodd
    continually played with the characters' vernacular, dropping letters and
    twisting words with great relish. He also
incorporated much social musing
    and political commentary into his work, and he had a particular bee in his
    bonnet for the joys of British taxation.

    Those perishin' kids soliloquized to the moon and munched on a gloriously
    unhealthy diet of  tomato ketchup sandwiches. The strips were packaged into
    popular annual anthologies, and in 1978, the troupe made the transition into a
    very successful tv series - with Dodd and his partner Dennis Collins working
    closely alongside the folks at FilmFair. The politics were dropped, as were the
    Pete'n'Dud antics of Fred Beetle and Delinquent Caterpillar, but the show
    maintained all the Pygmalion charm of the strips....

    Maurice collapsed at home with a brain haemorrhage on Saturday, and died
    later in hospital in Ashford, Surrey. He leaves behind his wife, Daphne, and
    four children, and a cartoon legacy we will treasure forever.

    What sad news on this bright New Year's Day.

                                                        More: The Aunthentic Perishers


   New Year, new look  

     Okay, so if you're a Toonhound regular, you'll no doubt be wondering
     where all the updates have gone. Christmas has come and gone, but
     things have remained pretty stagnant round these parts. So what's been
     going on?

     Well, how about a site-wide redesign? That's right, Yours Truly has been
     stupidly busy behind the scenes, redesigning the main indexes for a
     New Year Springclean. It had to happen sooner or later. Toonhound is
     getting bloated with old links and dollops of HTML which serve no
     purpose, other than to slow the loading times of all those site pages.
     So now there's a leaner, slimmer design on the way. It's still HTML.
     I've no time for, or knowledge of, CSS and its ilk. But it's going to be
     trim and fit for 2006 and beyond.

     So what's in it for the average visitor? Well, beyond those speedier
     pages, not too much. Just clearer presentation. But more importantly,
     MORE presentation because there's a sidebar to this news story
     and that's the fact that ToonsToGo is, alas, soon to be no more.
     ToonsToGo was great fun, and popular too. We had a blast selling those
     Talking Basil Brush Toys, and Koala Brothers Beanies, but the hassles of
     running your own web store are all encompassing. We had a nightmarish
     time sourcing stock, maintaining stock levels, and negotiating with a
     licensing and manufacturing industry which, frankly, doesn't have a clue
     about the collector's market. The lack of awareness is shocking. Lines
     are released and dropped on a whim, with little information ever passed
     on to sellers. Most of the sales staff have no knowledge of the lines
     they've just licensed, who to target, or how to sell 'em. That's why you
     get 100 heroes in different forms, with ne'er a villain in sight. Product
     launches never seem to correspond to broadcasts, in any shape or form.
     And time and again, folks steer lines towards the preschool market,
     when they should be aiming squarely for folks in the nostalgia bracket.
     Oh, if only The Hound ran a licensing firm...

     And don't get me started on the bureaucracy of it all. We've been
     squeezed by Red Tape, by the banks, et al. Though we've kept ourselves
     in credit throughout our time, the Suits remain determined to bring us down.
     Really, for the effort involved, the profits just ain't worth it. Unless you're
     already a millionaire, with the clout to fight your way through the mire....

     So that, my friends, is that. There'll be no more ToonsToGo. But the
     upside is that now there'll be far more time to devote to these pages.
     Which means lots more news and information for you. And our foreign
     friends will hopefully be pleased to see new links being added sitewide,
     to Amazon's Region 1 DVDs. It's something many, many folks have
     asked for, and it makes complete sense, given this site's mission to
     "spread the word" around the globe, and the popularity of those
     existing sales links .

     But all good things take time. Methinks it will take a fair few weeks
     to bring all site areas into line, given that each page is updated by
     hand (yes, I know it's foolish and unnecessary in today's templated
     world) . Stay tooned for the all-new Movietoons index first. And do
     please let us know what you think of the new look. There's still time
     to tweak stuff if it ain't working for you...
     Till next time!    

        Pooch says 'Stay tooned!'     thehound@toonhound.com

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