Monday, May 15, 2017

EXCLUSIVE: Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and more Rankin/Bass Animagic figures from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer do exist in Japan and other places by Rick Goldschmidt

I have been writing about Rankin/Bass Productions for over twenty years now and started doing my research about thirty years ago.  I have interviewed many people over the years and some have now passed away, but others are still with us.  Tad Mochinaga, who was the legendary father of Stop-Motion in Japan and was in charge of many of the Rankin/Bass Productions Animagic, has passed away.  There is a new exhibit in Japan starting this month and Tadahito hung on to a Santa Claus (there was more than one used for the TV Special) and a reindeer from Rankin/Bass' (Videocraft at the time) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer among other things!  I do about 50-75 radio and tv interviews every holiday season and I have always said, "Most of the Animagic figures stayed in Japan."





Producer Masaki Iizuka and I discussed the animators and Animagic figures in great detail in Bermuda a few years ago at Arthur Rankin, Jr.'s memorial.  Masaki stayed in touch with some of the animators and he started with Rankin/Bass in the early 1970s.  In fact, Arthur reunited with many of the animators at a party several years ago when they experienced the tsunami.  Arthur called me when he got home and described it as a "Love fest."  Masaki secured some of the surviving Rankin/Bass figures in Japan for an exhibit of Arthur & Jules' work at the MASTERWORKS MUSEUM in Bermuda.  Many photographs and information of these Animagic puppets appear in both my hardcover book The Arthur Rankin, Jr. Scrapbook (Miser Bros Press) and the NEW 20th Anniversary Edition of The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass:  A Portfolio (Miser Bros Press).  Masaki was very particular of how the Animagic figures were displayed in Bermuda.  He wanted them to be true to the way they were pinned at the feet on sets and not displayed on doll stands.  He helped put together some elaborate displays at Masterworks and they are pictured in my books.

 Over the past few years, I have seen many articles online, that I would have to describe as "click bait" articles.  Top 10 things you didn't know about Rudolph or top 10 movie props, etc.  They have partial information that they got from a source I may have written or been interviewed for and then they mix in incorrect information to make things sound better or worse, depending on how you look at it.  Places like Cracked Magazine, Me Tv, etc.  Cracked Magazine made it sound like Rankin/Bass' secretary Barbara Adams, of who I am friends with, walked off with the Rudolph figures as if they were office supplies.  Of course, that was not true.  I talked to Barbara about it at Arthur's memorial and she was very close to him.   If you want to share this article from my blog, that is fine.  If you want to contact me to interview me, email me at Rickgoldsc@aol.com or I can write the article for you BUT please do not steal this information, as we will be contacting you.

I want to thank our friend John Paul Cassidy for bringing this exhibit to our attention.   I heard from the people in Japan working on the legacy of Tadahito Mochinaga about five years ago.  They bought our 15th Anniversary book from Amazon and needed some help with a documentary they were doing on Tad.  I think I put them in touch with my friends Seamus, Robin and Mark at Screen-Novelties in Hollywood too.   They are experts on Tad!  We are doing a special event in West Hollywood October 21st (we may add a few more dates) and Screen-Novelties will have four of the Animagic figures there with us to celebrate the fiftieth Anniversary of Mad Monster Party!


People always ask, What happened to the original puppets?   We added a section to the 20th Anniversary book of The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass:  A Portfolio, that answers just that and has many color photographs.  You can purchase at www.miserbros.com   We are locating them all the time, but since all of the Animagic productions were produced in Japan, most of the figures stayed there with some exceptions.  Some were given to the actors that voiced the Animagic figure.  Some were given to people that worked at Rankin/Bass, such as Maury Laws and Romeo Muller.


This is Rankin/Bass secretary Barbara Adams on the set of Rudolph & Frosty's Christmas in July in 1979.  We have a section on Barbara in our book The Arthur Rankin, Jr. Scrapbook:  The Birth of Animagic.   She took home much of the cast from Rankin/Bass' Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer when they sort of became misfits in the office.  The ones she took home, were the same ones that were on display at NBC in New York City in a glass case for several years to promote the special.   Many fans remember seeing this display at the Rockefeller Center.  There was a small group of Animagic figures/puppets in the offices at Rankin/Bass during the 1970s into the mid-1980s.  Animator Bob Camp recalls he went to lunch one day at Rankin/Bass while working on Silverhawks and when he came back, they were gone.   I actually obtained two of the Animagic figures that were disgarded from this group and a friend obtained Father Time (Red Skelton).  Apparently someone rescued them from the garbage or they were given to them.


We had Father Time on display at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York in 2003 and he is quite large!   Much bigger than you would expect.   We may have him on display again this November at an event in New York, along with Sister Theresa (Angela Landsbury) The First Christmas, from my collection.

 Again there are many myth associated with these Animagic figures perpetuated by the internet and poor reporting, but we have the record straight in my books and I can be interviewed by contacting me at Rickgoldsc@aol.com  Tadahito's event is coming up and will run for some months!  If you are in Japan, check it out and send us some pictures.


Tad was a master at what he did!  He passed his knowledge to Hiroshi Tabata, Pinchan and many others that continued the Animagic until the last Rankin/Bass Animagic Production The Life and

Adventures of Santa Claus (1985).   There is a fascination with these iconic puppets and we have addressed this in all four of my books.   The Making of the Rankin/Bass Holiday classic:  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer goes into every facet of their production with behind-the-scenes photos at the Animagic studio.  Stay tuned for some exciting events planned to celebrate fifty years of Mad Monster Party, forty years of The Hobbit and Twenty years of my first book!

C. 2017 Miser Bros Press/Rick Goldschmidt Archives
This photograph was taken by my pal Danny Solazzi, shortly after my friend Kevin Kriess purchased them and restored them with Screen-Novelties.  We appeared at many conventions together and people lined up to see the original Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer!   I will once again be appearing with Kevin in Pittsburgh at Monster Bash June 23-25th!  Then doing a book signing in-store June 26th!  More info to follow!

We are celebrating almost 22 million views on my blog here today!

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