These are great days for fans of classic animation and members of a whole new generation of potential fans alike. For the first time ever, Classic Media has assembled the beloved Rankin/ Bass Holiday classics into a single box-set in stunning high definition.
The cardboard outer slip box spans 3 Blu-rays (each within its own standard-sized plastic case): Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (48-minutes), Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (47-minutes), and finally Frosty the Snowman (22-minutes). The first two make use of Rankin Bass’ famous stop-motion wooden puppeteering while the Frosty disc is traditional 2D animation.
The earliest of this collection is 1964’s Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, which is a tale narrated by Sam the Snowman of a young red-nosed reindeer who, after being banned from playing all the reindeer games, forms an unlikely bond with Hermey (an elf who with dreams of becoming a dentist) and Yukon Cornelius, the prospector.
This ragtag group of outcasts encounters the Abominable Snowman and discovers a whole island of misfit toys. Knowing there is only one man who could help, Rudoph heads back to the North Pole on one foggy Christmas Eve. But just like modern airports, Santa's sleigh is grounded due to the low visibility. All that stands in their way is a lack of a bright red beacon to guide said sleigh back to the island.
Next up is 1969’s 2D Frosty the Snowman, where a discarded silk top hat finds itself the cause of a struggle between a washed-up magician and a group of schoolchildren who realize it has the ability to bring a run-of-the-mill snowman to boisterous life (complete with the opening line “Happy Birthday”).
Faced with the reality that their snow-made friend would melt along with the winter snow, Frosty and one of the young girls in the group trying to protect the magic hat stowaway on a freight train headed for the North Pole. Like any true hack, the magician doesn’t know when to exit gracefully and pursues the duo northward. Matters escalate until Santa Claus himself has to get involved.
Finally the most recent piece in this collection is 1970’s Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town! In it the Mailman decides to answer some of the most common questions about Santa Claus then proceeds to tell the viewer about a small baby named Kris who was left on the doorstep of the local toy makers, the Kringle family.
When Kris is old enough, he volunteers to deliver the toys to Sombertown. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Kris, the Burgermeister has outlawed all toys in his jurisdiction, having tripped on and been injured by a toy duck while walking out of City Hall's steps.
Kris, however, decides to do ignore the ban and begins handing out toys to the tikes. Once Burgermeister orders that all of the residents of Sombertown to lock their windows and doors to keep the lawbreaking Kris out, he simply uses the chimney.
Relocation to the frigid North Pole and a new identity are in order for the jolly do-gooder when Burgermeister’s laws prove inflexible and the legend of Santa Claus spreads to the lands well beyond Sombertown.
Interestingly enough, the box set includes the 1992 2D animated sequel to Frosty the Snowman (Frosty Returns) as well. The 22-minute cartoon (unfortunately not done by Rankin Bass and hence not a direct sequel to the original) tells of Beansboro Elementary School being canceled for the day due to a seven-inch snowfall and Frosty’s visit to the town.
An evil inventor named Mr. Twitchell has, meanwhile, creates "Summer Wheeze", an aerosol spray that makes snow instantly disappear much to the dismay of the kids (and Frosty) but delight to the adults.
In all the runtime of these digitally remastered gems comes in at just over 150-minutes and the material is timeless enough to appeal to the youngsters while managing to raise a smile out of the adults. Truly these animated films have never looked better than on Blu-ray and the sound mix has certainly benefited over the mono track with which the original specials aired.
Kudos to Classic Media/ Vivendi for not only rounding up all of these traditional tales but for giving them the star-treatment on the Blu-ray medium and boxing them up as a single collection that looks great on the entertainment center shelf.
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