Pooch says 'Welcome to Toonhound!'TheHound - an irregular round up of toon news and chatter from the uk

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                                                                     June 2004
Extra! Extra! - Read all the Toon News!
What's not in store...
ToonsToGo - always last to know...  More...

   Woebegone no more!
Cloppa Castle on DVD....

    A classic book?

New toon book coming....

    Noxious news

A Fungus update....

    Afternoon Bounty

Hamster returns to C-ITV....

    Odds and Plends

Alan Plenderleith on Gordon Gnome....

    This carrot's tops

The Carrotty Kid is coming!....

    Breast in show

Brits win at Annecy....

    Extra time for Striker

Striker comic hanging on....
   More news:       


   Woebegone no more!

    Sound the trumpets and lower the drawbridge - It's time to celebrate!
    After what feels like years of huffing and puffing and glowering in dismay
    fans of 'Cloppa Castle' can at last get their sweaty paws on a complete
    series one DVD release of this all-time great series.

Queen Ethelbruda of Cloppa Castle

    That's right, folks. Woebegone, Ethelbruda, Quee-ee-dee and all the other
    Bygones and Hasbeenes will soon be yours to own and view again and
    again, courtesy of the folks at Network. This gem of a series was created
    by Mary Turner and John Read and featured the ongoing feuds in and
    around the medieval realm of Cloppa Castle. The Bygones have discovered
    a handy source of oil beneath the battlements, and those blighters, the
    Hasbeenes wouldn't mind getting their hands on it. That's why they've
    laid siege to the castle. And that's the cue for much merry mayhem and
    mirth as the two sides squabble and bicker their way through various
    scams, plans, battles and balderdash...

    Yes it had a rather strange premise, but it also had glorious puppet designs,
    lots of slapstick and stupidity, and a fabulous full-on theme tune to boot.
    At the time of broadcast, in the late 1970's, 'Cloppa Castle' was a children's
    tv ratings-topper. But since then we've had nothing, nil, zilch. A video
    release was mooted in the early nineties - and it may have even escaped
    into a few stores - but there's certainly been no mainstream release for
    fans to purchase. In recent years, the show has languished in Carlton's
    TV catalogue, painfully out of reach and seemingly destined to remain
    there until the castle collapsed into rot and ruin.

    But no more! Get your orders in now for that July 19th release. The Hound
    hasn't a clue if there are any extra features or additions on offer, and
    frankly, right now he's doesn't care. He simply wants the chance to wallow
    in a complete, glorious season of shows...


   A classic book?

    Gosh, this has been a busy month for emails. As if all of the tv news
    wasn't enough, yet anough interesting note has arrived in TheHound's Inbox
    this week. It's from author Simon Sheridan who wants to direct me to his
    forthcoming book. 'The A-Z of Classic Children's Television' is due out early
    July and Simon tells us it does exactly what it says on the tin - um - back
    cover blurb. Namely, it presents us with an indexing and review of children's
    programmes from the 1960's to the 1980's - predominantly British productions,
    but a few American shows are present too.

      'The A-Z of Classic Children's Television' by Simon Sheridan

    Simon tells us there are individual chapters on some of the best-loved
    TV shows of the period, and he includes broadcast dates, cast and credits,
    exclusive pictures and interviews with the makers of the programme involed,
    including David McKee, Brian Cosgrove, John Ryan, Nigel Plaskitt, Gordon
    Murray, Gay Soper, and Hilary Hayton. Simon's 'labour of love' has taken him
    over a year to write and research.

    The book has a foreword by David Jason and is published 30th June by
    Reynolds & Hearn. I haven't blagged a copy yet, so I can't say how it's
    turned out. But it sounds like there's plenty for toon fans to get their
    teeth in to!...

                                                                    More: Reynolds & Hearn


   Noxious news

    TheHound received an interesting email from Bogeydom late last week.
    Ian Whitehead is the producer of the long-awaited live-action 'Fungus The
    Bogeyman' tv adaptation. This ambitious Gala Films/BBC production stars
    Martin Clunes and Fay Ripley acting alongside a CGI Fungus and friends.
    You may recall, BBC announced its imminent arrival last Christmas, but 
    the Bogeys failed to surface at the time. Since then, there's been little
    word on their whereabouts...

  Fungus The Bogeyman from the BBC

    Well, Drycleaners everywhere can stop their fretting, because Ian tells us
    that the production is on track and nearing completion, ready for broadcast
    at last. And it's shaping in to an intriguing piece of television. The Bogeys
    are actually a mixture of live-action (up top) and motion-captured CG animation,
    and it's these complicated effects which have necessitated the longer
    production schedules. Says Ian:

    'No one had really done this at this scale for television before and
    so it took extra care (and extra time) to get the show to look and sound
    as good as it does...'

    One episode has now been delivered to the BBC and the other two will be
    completed by the end of August. The final running time is 3 x 47 minutes, 
    and broadcast is being considered for late-November. Which is great
    news indeed.

    Get your umbilicals ready!

Gentleman Briggs    

   Afternoon Bounty

    Gr-r-reat purple news in the tv schedules for next week, with the return of
    'Bounty Hamster' on C-ITV. The series has been lost in space since its
    initial broadcast, back in February 2003 with a whole bunch of episodes
    sitting in limbo. At the time, The Powers That Be didn't appear to have much
    faith in the production and they quickly let the show slip from their schedules.
    But you know and we know that 'Bounty Hamster' is a blast for sci-fi fans.
    It's regularly stuffed-to-busting with geek references and spoofs and
    merits far better treatment than its received thus far...

      Gr-r-r-r-eat news! - Bounty Hamster's back!

    For those of you living on an asteroid, 'Bounty Hamster' stars Cassie and
    her mismatched Bounty Hunter assistant, an eye-patch wearing hamster
    called Marion. Cassie and Marion are on a mission to track down her
    abducted father in the farthest reaches of the galaxy, which is over-run by
    exotic aliens, cute aliens, hamster-eating aliens, one-eyed slow-witted
    hamster-loving robots and more. The show was created by Alan Gilbey and
    David Freedman of Peafur Productions, and directed and animated by
    Graham Ralph and his team at Silverfox Films. Winchester Television
    are the series distributors.

    BH starts its new run week-days from Monday 21st June, 3.50pm on C-ITV.
    Set the video now!
TheHound talks to Rick Cassman


   Odds and Plends

    TheHound received a top email in his Inbox recently. It was from cartoonist,
    artist and writer Alan Plenderleith who created that motley crew of mismatched
    muck-makers, 'The Odd Squad'.

    Alan tells us that the Squad are still vey much in demand, and that three new
    Odd Squad books are coming out this year: 'The Odd Squad Gross Out', 'The Odd
    Squad Saggy Bits' and 'The Odd Squad's Sexy Sex Manual'. These will join the
    dozen-or-so titles already available. Which is great news on its own, but Alan
    also wanted to tell us more about 'Gordon Gnome'. Which was extra exciting!

     Gordon Gnome and his garden friends
    You remember 'Gordon Gnome', don't you? This was the series which was
    announced back in July 2002. Gordon was created by Alan, and the show is
    being steered through the production process and on to our tv screens by Tony
    Collingwood and his team at Collingwood O'Hare Productions. When Yours
    Truly caught a glimpse of the production back then, it was very much a
    sweet-natured children's series; bright and busy and cute around the edges,
    with celebrity gardener Alan Titchmarsh adding his voice to the titular
    character. Well, Alan Plenderleith now tells us that things have moved on
    since then:

     'The series has expanded from it's original 5 minute format into 10 minutes
      as we wanted to age it up a bit. We wanted to pick up the pace and add
      more humour, so we made it 10 mins and took off the narrator.

     The series is very funny and has terrific characters, with the emphasis now
     on Gordon's gnome friends and away from his animal friends. He has three
     gnome neighbours: Percy, a gadget obsessed pernickity gnome who strives
     for perfection; Jerome, a very sleepy, chilled out gnome who always seems
     to forget he should be gardening and not sleeping; and Rosie, a happy,
     carefree gnome who lives in the meadow behind Gordon's garden and who
     is in training to become a real Gnome.

     The other characters which pop in now and again and add a great deal of
     humour are: the Chief Gnome, an eccentric, benevolent, bumbling character
     who is the head of Gnome HQ; his nephew Ian, a trainee gnome on work
     experience who is very good at putting a spanner in the works; and the two
     slugs, Lez and Dez, a Pete and Dud type duo who try their best to steal the
     show every episode...'

     Which all sounds 'bloomin' marvellous. 52 episodes of the show have been
     commissioned by the BBC and hopefully we'll see Gordon, Percy, Rosie,
     and the gang on our tv very soon...

     You know, Alan's career has blossomed since those original Odd Squad days.
     He's also written episodes of Create TV's excellent 'Little Robots' series.
     But he hasn't forgotten his adult fans and he's just created a very funny,
     and wonderfully rude and wobbly adult animated short called S.P.I.F. -
     a Stupid Public Information Film - which I would love to link to here, but it
     really is wholly inappropriate for younger visitors to this site. T'is a hoot,

     Cheers for the info, Alan!

Gordon Gnome


   This carrot's tops

    Brace yourself, folks, for a new orange superstar, coming our way via
    your garden allotment and the jolly folks at Cosgrove Hall. The Carrotty
    Kid is a karate-kicking carrot, no less. He's a young and impulsive vegetable
    being trained in the ancient ways of kung-fu by Master Che-Ri, from Che-Ri's
    China Shop. Together, these two must thwart the ever-present threat from
    the megalomaniac villain Count Cornelius Cobb and his pinapple assistant
    Crusher. The dastardly Count Cobb is hell-bent on enslaving the whole of
    Legume City and crowning himself Supreme Emperor of the Universe...

     'The Carrotty Kid' from Andrew Fanton & Cosgrove Hall 

    Sounds like fun, eh? Carrotty Kid's creator Andrew Fanton tells us that the
    show is set to be a throwback to the giddy 2D stupidity of the likes of
    'DangerMouse' and 'Count Duckula'. Here he is in full-on pitch mode:

    'Will The Carrotty Kid be able to stave off this lunatic madman's plans?
     Will Cobb ever find a successful cure for his baldness? And will Che-Ri
     make it through a day without his priceless collection of china being
     trashed? - The Carrotty Kid combines kung-fu, carrots and comedy in one
     enormously appetising whole!'

     'The Carrotty Kid with Che-Ri' courtesy Andrew Fanton & Cosgrove Hall

    Of course, the series and star take their name from 'The Karate Kid' movies
    of the eighties which starred Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. But before any
    of you ne'erdowells pour scorn on the pun, remember that 'DangerMouse' took
    its moniker from that classic Patrick McGoohan series 'Danger Man'. Wise
    Man say, 'lightning might yet strike twice'.

    'The Carrotty Kid' series is still in the early stages of development, with a pilot
    now in production. And Andrew says they have just secured Burt Kwouk to voice
    Master Che-Ri on that teaser show - which sounds like perfect casting. It's great
    to see Cosgrove Hall catering to toon connoisseurs once more. Not that their
    preschool creations aren't good - heck - they're faultless at that kind of thing.
    But you know, CH used to do nonsense and lunacy so very well.
    Welcome back, folks!

    CH aren't the only toon studio with a kicking cartoon in development.
    As reported back in September last year, Aardman Animation are about to
    unleash their own 'Chop Socky Chooks' upon an unsuspecting market
    next year. Wise Man say, 'eastern influence is strong in UK'...

                                                                          More: The Carrotty Kid


   Breast in show

    Great news from France over the weekend, as the winners of the Annecy
    Animation Festival were announced. The British scored thrice with 'Bosom
    Pals' picking up the prize for best TV Special, and 'Creature Comforts'
    bounding off with the Cristal for Best TV Production. Newcomer Matthew
    Abbiss received Special Distinction for his RCA film 'Poor God'...

    Tiger Aspect's 'Bosom Pals' films take their cue from the popular paintings by
    Beryl Cook. Beryl's bawdy pictures are brought to life by Ginger Gibbons and
    Grand Slamm Entertainment, working alonside Varga Animation of Hungary.
    As reported back in January, the films were conceived by producer Claudia
    Lloyd and they take us in to the heart of Beryl's world to meet Joan, Stella,
    Marie, Fudge, Billy and others at their local watering hole. The winning film
    'Joan's Birthday' focuses on the highs and lows of turning forty, when you still
    feel like a bouncing, bawdy twenty-something...

    As for 'Creature Comforts', well, does this need any introduction?
    Animals talk candidly to camera in a series of vox-pops, and we hear
    about their all-too-human likes and dislikes, foibles, feelings and
    perculiarities. They're all-too-human because they are human points of
    view, recorded independently and attached to each animal. Nick Park's
    animated special collected an Academy Award a decade ago, and Richard
    Golezowski's follow up takes up the baton and runs with it. It's a brilliant
    premise that still holds up well, all these years on...
    'Poor God' is a whole world away from the above. Matthew Abbiss is an
    RCA student. His short film is a pencil and paper animation in which
     'a priest goes to see God for a little chat...'

    These three were just the tip of the winners iceberg, with the Korean film
    'Oseam' collecting the Feature Film trophy, and the popular Disney short
    'Lorenzo' winning the Annecy Cristal for Best Short. A complete list of
    winners is available at the official Annecy web site...


   Extra time for Striker

    Good news for Striker Comic fans this month. Striker 3D report that the take up
    of their readers shares issue has enabled them to keep going through June,
    with a new deadline now in place for July 5th.

    As reported in April, Striker creator Pete Nash and his team needed to raise
    £300,000 of capital to ensure the continued growth and prosperity of their
    top footy comic. Without that capital, they would have had to called it a day
    with this week's issue of the comic - issue #40. Investments can start from as
    little as £25.00, and folks will be rewarded with shares in Striker 3D and lots
    of jolly benefits, like the chance to appear in the comic. A prospectus was mailed
    to interested parties just a few short weeks ago, with that deadline perilously near.
    But Striker fans have dug deep and, despite the naysayers (and there have
    been some out there), as of this week they appear to have raised over
    half of the required amount.

    That's a darned fine show of support from the readership, and deserves a
    big round of applause. Whilst it's not the full amount required, it now enables
    the comic to keep going for another few issues, and it potentially unlocks
    a tidy sum in the form of a DTI business loan. What's more, it appears that
    around half of the folks who asked for the prospectus have so far have sent in
    cheques, which means there's still the prospect of a chunk of those potential
    investors coming in with money over that extended period.

    So who knows, Striker may yet live on, and that would be muddy brilliant,
    because it's a top title. Nash and the gang have put themselves on the line
    with their new adult comic format and it deserves all the backing it can
    get. Those interested in investing should stop by the official site as soon
    as possible - Striker needs you! (and your wallet!)

Striker 3D


   What's not in store...  

    I tempted fate last month, didn't I? For the first time in - oh - a good few
    months I turned this little editorial radar towards our web store ToonsToGo
    and, amongst the general back-slapping and self-congratulation, I added a
    big fat plug for those brothers from Down Under,
The Koala Brothers. Buster,
    Frank, Ned and Mitzi were on their way to the store, I said. and many folks
    duly got in touch with us to find out more about these new plush toys and

     The Koala Brothers - coming to ToonsToGo!

    Well, never fear, the brothers are still coming. But they've been delayed. Or rather,
    the distributors have delayed them. Or maybe they were never coming when they
    said they were coming in the first place. Are you confused yet? We are. And
    if gives me an excuse to highlight three of the biggest grievances we have about
    running our little store.

    Put simply, UK toy manufacturers and distributors don't give two figs for the
    licensed products they produce. We've been selling toys and goodies online
    for two and half years now and maintaining stocks and promoting new lines
    has been a nightmare. The British toy market is simply not geared up for
    collectors. Indeed, the folks involved seem to do their damnedest to annoy or
    ignore anyone with half a brain and a bit of knowledge about the lines which
    have been licensed.

    So what do I mean, exactly? Well, firstly, did you know that the UK manufacturers
    regularly preview toy lines they have no intention of ever making, in order to
    spark interest in the one half-cocked line they are going to bother with? They do
    it all of the time, in order test the water and see how sellers react. If that first
    line sells, maybe they'll proceed with more. But if it doesn't fair brilliantly,
    it'll be dropped. That makes it very difficult for a character-specific business
    like us to promote lines in advance: If we don't, we can get caught out and
    lose a lot of sales. But when we do, we can end up looking stoopid, and our
    customers get narked at having been waiting for stuff that doesn't exist!

    Then there's the fact that the release date for these toys regularly bears no
    correlation to broadcasting or video schedules. Take that foxy fellow 'Basil Brush'
    whose show returned to the BBC in 2002, just when the major tie-in products had
    been dropped by the manufacturers. The same thing happened with 'DangerMouse'
    last year, when the show aired on satelite channels, sparking interest in a new
    generation of kids who had nothing to purchase, because the tie-in products had
    been dumped six months beforehand - D'oh!

    Those two factors are bad enough to contend with, but there's a third that really
    gets us boiling. Take 'DangerMouse' again. DM and his sidekick Penfold
    are as inseperable as fish and chips (or milk and cookies, if you're American).
    What's more, everyone with half a brain knows that, ultimately, it's Penfold who
    wins hands-down on the cuteness level and oozes collectability amongst fans.
    So why, pray tell, did the various manufactuers either not bother with Penfold
    at all, or produce their Penfold merchandise in such restricted numbers that
    us poor sellers were frequently left short? And where was Greenback and
    Stiletto in all of this? We never saw a single item featuring DM's nemesis. 
    'Bagpuss' and 'The Clangers' have suffered a similar fate. We've had pink
    Clangers and raspberry cats coming out of our ears, but not a single
    stand-alone Froglet line, or a Sky-Moo, or a Yaffle, or a Madeleine,
    or a Gabriel.

    When a licensee picks up a line in the UK, they very rarely exploit its full potential.
    They prefer to make a quick buck and dash on to the next licensing line, leaving
    collectors frustrated and under-sold. That's why we turned our attentions to America
    a wee while back and started supporting those incredible, Muppetational Muppet
    Show action figures from Palisades. Now here's a company who knows how
    to cater for collectors. Their figures and playsets have been extraordinary,
    beautifully sculpted and lovingly accessorised and presented. It puts us Brits
    to shame. I mean, can you imagine what they might do with a range of
    Cosgrove Hall action figures? - Oh, what a treat that would be - Series One
    could include DangerMouse (with postbox) , Jamie (with torch, and Wordsworth),
    Chorlton (with his egg), Sam (and his magic ball, of course)...
    Alright, alright. Let's get back to reality now, and specifically, those Koala Brothers
    and their current whereabouts. In Hasbro's very own catalogue, the brothers were
    scheduled for a May release, and this was confirmed by the distributors. But
    alas, May arrived, and there wasn't a Koala in sight. We were then told June,
    but here we are, and there are still no Koalas. The latest guestimate is for an
    early July release, but to be honest, it's very hard to remain confident about it.
    And what all this means is that some of our oh-so-patient customers have now
    been waiting three months for the licensees to get their finger out and deliver the
    toys which we have been promoting for them for far too long...

The Koala Brothers are coming - We just don't know when!

    Till next time,

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

  all characters © to their respective estates/creators / F2000-2004