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Toonhound presents...






      October 2006
 Extra! Extra! - Read all the Toon News!

    Festive gifts

   Robert Harrop's Mr Benn
   musical box...

    Pushing the Envelope 2006

   This year's charity auction...

    Rupert the bland?
   New Rupert lacks magic...

    A mule with legs
   Muffin at 60, and a little more musing...

    And the nominees are...

   The 2006 Childrens BAFTAs...

    A Secret Site

   The Secret Show web site launches...

    Ofcom's shame
   The Hound gets his tuppence...   more »

     news archive »     interviews »      giveaways »

   Rupert the bland?  (31.10.06)

     Okay, so that's a cruel headline. It is, of course, referencing the
     all-new stop-motion Rupert series from Entertainment Rights.
     "Rupert Bear: Follow the Magic" has been brought to life by the
     multitalented folks at Cosgrove Hall, and it features that much publicised
     new-look star (sans hoodie, thank goodness), exploring the wonders
     of Nutwood with his pals. The series is all set to launch as a top
     toon in Five's morning "Milkshake!", from November 8th, at 7.30am,
     but you can take a peek at a whole little story right now on Rupert's
     snazzy official site. And no doubt, the world will be awash with
     reviews and opinions on the toon, from next weekend...

So here's The Hound's tuppence, based on what he's seen.

     Firstly, the good. Nutwood looks gorgeous. And so do the stars
     and all the little effects and sparkles. This place reminds us a
     little of the realms of Spyro the Dragon, from the famous platform
     game. Rupert isn't half as bad as he might have been, despite the
     colour change, and Cosgrove Hall's animation is naturally fabulous,

     ...But where's the character, the charm, the wonder? - Rupert and
     company now have bland, breathless preschool voices, from the same
     old troupe of voiceover stars. Mermaids and dragons and magic bubbles
     are just part of the furniture instead of something to be amazed by.
     And based on this underwater escapade, Rupert is going to be starring
     in a stream of cookie-cutter stories, straight out of the Big Book of
     Preschool Programming. Seriously, these sorts of tales can be picked
     up and dropped straight into any one of a dozen similar series. There's
     nothing wrong with them, but equally, there's nothing special on offer.
     And Rupert being the bear he is, with an 85 year pedigree behind him,
     his stories really should be special indeed.

     Just imagine. Rupert could have starred in a fabulous feature-length
     adventure, recapturing all the magic of his original stories. The Special
     could have lead into an exciting tie-in series. Hells bells, you could even
     have produced an ongoing adventure, with cliffhanging endings - in keeping
     with those timeless newspaper tales....

     Now, that's not to say that Preschool Rupert won't be a hit. Goodness,
     no. There's a big market for this kind of thing. There'll be waves of tie-in
     toys in High Street Stores and enough promotion to pile-drive the
     toon to the top of the preschool charts. ER and Cosgrove Hall have
     proven with Postman Pat that they can take a creation and rework
     it in to something even more special. As it stands, "Rupert Bear:
     Follow the Magic" is just a very nice show. An effortless show.
     But - oh - for what might have been...

     Still, there is at least some good news for us Bigger Kids, weaned
     on the Annuals, the strips in the Express, and that magical, special
     Mary Turner puppet series. Tucked away in the "Heritage" section of
     that same official Rupert site, is a quick guide to the character's history,
     and a pledge to maintain "Classic Rupert" alongside his thoroughly
     modern new show. That's something The Hound and many others
     have been barking for, ever since that Rupert rights wrangle kicked
     off. And it means the little bear is guaranteed a future, even after
     this shiny series has glittered and gone...
                                                                More: Rupert Bear


   A mule with legs  

    This week is Muffin the Mule's 60th birthday. Now ain't that something?

    That old hoss clipp-clopped onto our screens six decades ago, in the
    BBC series "For the Children". He was the critter who kick-started kids
    tv in the UK. The first teatime star, if you will, "discovered" by Annette
    Mills and Ann Hogarth way back in 1946. And whilst other donkeys
    retire to life on a farm, or stroll the Blackpool sands, Muffin has had
    the televisual equivalent of a Botox injection, enabling him to return as
    an ageless 2D performer in his all-new toon show...

     Muffin the Mule

    Of course, Muffin's not the only black and white star to make a colourful
    comeback. Stablemates Andy Pandy and Bill & Ben have also tumbled
    into the new millennium, bigger and brighter than ever. And talk still
    surfaces about the return of those Woodentops. Now they would make
    for some interesting viewing. You can se it now, Daddy Woodentop
    always grumpy from the daily commute, Mummy Woodentop befuddled
    by her 4-by-4 and the School Run, Willy messing with Alcopops and
    illegal substances, whilst Jenny has to cope with a teenage pregnancy.
    Joking aside, the original Woodentops were supposed to be a model
    Nuclear Family for Post-War Britain. But in today's multi-cultural and
    expansive world, such role models don't exist anymore - thank
    goodness. The all-new Muffin, Andy Pandy and Bill& Ben have
    proven that you really don't need to get too "clever" with your updating.
    And it's why they truly are "timeless" creations...

More:  Muffin Collector's Club  Maverick Ent


   And the nominees are...  (26.10.06)

     The BAFTA boys and girls have just announced the list of nominations
     for this year's children's awards. So without further ado, here are the
     nominees of note for UK toon fans:

     Best Animation:


       David Hodgson, Dan Chambers, Claire Underwood (Pesky Ltd, Studio B Productions, CITV)


       Edward Bignell, Julian Scott (Zenith Entertainment Ltd/CiTV)

       Peter Curtis, Tobias Fouracre (Spellbound Entertainment Ltd/CBeebies)


Adam Shaw, Oliver Hyatt (Blue-Zoo Productions for Entara/Nickelodeon UK)

     Pre-school Animation:


Claudia Lloyd, Kitty Taylor (Tiger Aspect Productions/CBeebies)


       David Johnson, Tobias Fouracre (Spellbound Entertainment Ltd/CBeebies)


       The Production Team (Granada Kids/Zinkia Entertainment/Cosgrove Hall Films/CiTV)


       Owen Balhatchet, Chris Taylor (Entertainment Rights/Cosgrove Hall Films/CBeebies)

     In addition:

     THE BASIL BRUSH SHOW gets a deserved nomination in the
    "Entertainment" category...

     CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT is naturally included in the list
     of "Film" nominees, and is also featured in the "Kids Vote"...

     the "International" category...
     And Dave Ingham (CHARLIE AND LOLA) and Jamie Rix (GRIZZLY
     TALES FOR GRUESOME KIDS) are both nominated in the "Writing"

     So there you go. Every year it gets tougher to pick a winner. And every
     year, Yours Truly speculates and pontificates spectacularly wide of the
     mark. So this time, you'll not be hearing a peep from me. How on earth
     do you pick a winner from those top toon categories? Those "Adrenalinis"
     are fantasticlly funny, and "King Arthur's Disasters". But - oh - that
     "Koala Brothers" Christmas Spercial is a lovely little adventure. And we
     mustn't forget those Scurvy scallywags...

     No, Sir. This year, I'm not picking. I won't even single out that Oscar™
     winning, multi-award grabbing "Were-Rabbit" for a special mention, lest
     I curse its buck-toothed brilliance...


     Well, regardless of anything The Hound says, the winners will be announced
     on Sunday 26 November 2006 at the London Hilton. And no doubt, there'll
     be plenty of tears and surprises on the night...



   A Secret Site  (25.10.06)

     Psst! - This is just between U.Z.Z., but the super-secret Secret Show
     web site is launching today. Now it's not usually The Hound's way to
     plug a tie-in site, but this one's looking rather special. A promo site has
     been online for the last few weeks, and it's been a doozy, teasing
     us with info on Collingwood O'Hare's cracking new series, and even
     tossing a few fluffy bunnies in to the mix. Based on what we've seen
     so far, the fully-fledged site is a must-see.

     The Secret Show - It's U.Z.Z against T.H.E.M.

     You know, a lot of so-called "tie-in" sites fall into that lazy trap of
     throwing a few bits of pics and info together, and if its a kids show, they
     might toss in a few weedy colouring and print pages, or a lazy word game
     or two. But is the perfect example of what you
     can achieve, if you put your mind to it (and have the budget, let's not
     forget that these things ain't cheap!). Of course it helps if the series
     you're promoting is a fast-talking, action-packed, colour-swatched,
     bunny-stuffed, Bad Guy-bashing classic....

     ...Then again, you also need top team of developers to help you realise
     your dream site. Complete Control are the folks behind this top-secret
     place. Their credits include the equally-well realised tie-ins for
     Mr Bean and Charlie & Lola.

     Now if you don't mind, to stop T.H.E.M. from interfering with things,
     this article will self-destruct in 10 seconds...  9 seconds...
     8 seconds...

The Secret Show


   Festive gifts  

    Okay, so Christmas is still months away. We haven't even had
    Halloween yet. But this figure range is simply too good to wait.
    And more importantly, it includes a limited edition piece that might
    not be around come Christmas.

    The figures in question come from Robert Harrop. These are the folks
    who've brought us those superlative Beano/Dandy figures, and that
    ever-expanding and ever-amazing range of Trumptonshire goodies.
    Anyone who's collected those pieces knows just how good Harrop
    can be.

    Well, over the last year or so, they added several magnificent new
    ranges to their catalogue, including figures based upon "Bagpuss",
    "The Clangers", "Thunderbirds" and "Stingray", and "The Magic Roundabout".
    But best of all, we've had a superlative range of Mr Benn figures.
    The first of them appeared back in the Spring, and a second wave is
    appearing in stores right about now. The individual character pieces
    focus on Mr Benn in a bunch of his fancy dress disguises - straight
    out of that wonderful costume shop. They're superb sculpts, perfectly
    capturing David McKee's creation, and each piece comes with the
    relevant memento of each escapade, again, straight out of each
    episode. Seriously, these are faultless pieces. Just what us fans
    have been waiting for. But better still this November a limited edition
    piece is appearing that really is "magic".

      Robert Harrop's Mr Benn Musical Box + Mr Benn figure - (each sold separately)

    It's the ident to the "Mr Benn" series. You know, that circle
    featuring our bowler-hatted chum in a number of his costumes?
    Robert Harrop have now reproduced as a musical box. And what's
    more it revolves whilst it plays the "Mr Benn" theme tune!

    Yes indeed, it's our very own Mr Benn Musical Box to own and
    treasure and it's only being released as a 1000 piece edition.
    Robert Harrop's music boxes have always been collectable.
    Their first Trumpton Music Box is still hugely sought after and
    fetches crazy prices on eBay (often £300+). That's why this
    festive Mr Benn release is such a big deal. Let's face it, if
    you're a fan of the character you'll be in raptures for this. But those
    1000 editions are bound to be snapped up fast. So get your suit on,
    go out and order the thing right now. It's retailing for around £60
    per piece, but methinks that'll be peanuts in a few year's time.

    Mr Benn's not alone, of course. There are musical boxes forthcoming
    in several of their ranges, but the revolving ident is the most iconic,
    and utterly desirable. The Hound's ordered his from Boojog Collectables
    But Mendip Gifts have the range listed too, and similarly, our pals at
    Lollipop Animation stock a number of the Harrop pieces. All three
    dealers come highly reccomended, so if they have 'em, you
    needn't be fearful of purchasing.

    You know, Robert Harrop are a company at the top of their game.
    Each new tv licence they aquire and develop seems to surpass the rest.
    The Hound simply can't wait to see what's next...
    If you've any inside information, do please share it!

Robert Harrop


   Pushing the Envelope 2006  (10.10.06)

    October 10th marks the start of this year's Pushing the Envelope
    charity auction from Pitney Bowes. As regulsr visitors will know, this
    splendid annual event involves a host of famous celebs doodling away
    on a series of envelopes which are subsequently auctioned on eBay
    in aid of the National Literacy Trust.

    This year's envelopes have come from folks as diverse as Uri Geller,
    Magaret Atwood, Jo Brand, Kate Winslet and Sir Steve Redgrave.
    Some of the folks show fab artistic flair, whilst others - like Erno
    Rubik - are a little bit nore reserved.

     Chris Donald's contribution to "Pushing the Envelope 2006"

    Of particular note this time are the contributions from Chris Donald,
    of "Viz" fame, Gerald Scarfe, Kipper Williams, picturebook illustrator
    Rod Campbell, Axel "Gruffalo" Scheffler and that Pitney Bowes
    stalwart Raymond Briggs. Chris Donald's contribution is a real doozy,
    featuring Billy the Fish, Roger Melly, Biffa and more. And there's a
    lovely Snowman piccy from Mr Briggs...

    The 2006 event kicks off on 10th October at 10.00am, and runs for
    10 days. The Pitney Bowes web site will steer you to the relevant
    eBay pages - Happy bidding!

Pushing the Envelope


   Ofcom's shame  

    Shame on you, Ofcom.
    Shame on you, Boomerang.
    Shame on you for allowing one viewer's complaint to reshape history.

    As you are probably aware, Ofcom have recently upheld a complaint
    against the Boomerang channel in which a viewer objected to having
    Tom and Jerry smoking in two of their classic cartoons. And thus, after
    debate with the Turner and Boomerang the following decision was reached:

    "The licensee has subsequently proposed editing any
     scenes or references in the series where smoking appeared
     to be condoned, acceptable, glamorised or where it might
     encourage imitation.."

    The report in the recent Ofcom bulletin states that Boomerang rightly
    argued about the historical context of the cartoons and how any editing
    might adversely affect the value of the animation. Even so, they have
    agreed to scour and edit any toon in their library that glamourises or
    condones smoking for children - That's not just Tom and Jerry, folks,
    but all the toons in the Hanna-Barbera  back catalogue too!

    In The Hound's book, even one cut is a cut too far. Smoking
    is not be condoned - we can all agree on that nowadays. But hacking
    into our animation history to satisfy an overprotective modern audience
    is wholly unacceptable. And poor Tom and Jerry have suffered for
    their sins in an earlier round of censorship too...

    Remember folks, this decision was made on the basis of just one complaint,
    with no external debate or discussion. One complaint and history gets
    rewritten. It's outrageous. Doctoring historical footage because it upsets
    current thinking is totally unjustifiable. And whilst many may think this
    is just about cartoons, it's just the tip of a ridiculous iceberg that's
    surfaced in recent years. After 9/11 movies and film posters were
    doctored to "protect us" from images of New York's Twin Towers.
    Heck, even DangerMouse was affected by the debacle.

    So where do we draw the line?

    In America, debate continues about the merits of "Song of the South",
    a film that Disney still keep under the counter, fearful of a backlash.
    Not showing the film is one thing. But what if they edited it. Can you
    imagine if they released a version that excised the offensive content?
    It's unthinkable. And yet in the same gasping breathe, that very same
    company is happy to edit the classic tale of "Pecos Bill", so that we're
    not encouraged by the scenes of cowboy smoking.

    Double-standards abound, it seems, whilst the debate rages on,
    on both sides of the Pond. How long will it be before someone takes
    offence at product placement in Button Moon, or Fenella's
    anti-Welsh accent?

    Well, there is no debate here. The choice is a plain as black and white.
    Either show the cartoon or film as it is, as history remembers it.
    Or don't show it at all.

    Till next time!

        Pooch says 'Stay tooned!'

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