FAB-1 takes flight (23.06.03)
Look up in the sky! - It's a big pink bird!
- Or rather, it's Lady Penelope's
FAB-1car. That's right, it appears that the new-look
vehicle in the forthcoming
live-action Thunderbirds movie can also
now fly, as the story and video at
That's a move bound to raise the hackles
of fans. In the original tv series,
FAB-1 was a 'normal' road-bound pink Rolls
Royce with a few nifty hi-tech
additions. As revealed a few months back,
the new film version is a pink
Ford Thunderbird. The addition of a flying capability
will surely set many folks'
teeth on edge. After all, this ain't 'Chitty
Chitty Bang Bang'...
Interesting to note the comments from Working
Title's Tim Bevan who's
producing the new film. The film makers
have decided that, conceptually,
in their eyes the original series doesn't
exist. He says they are reinventing
the concept specifically for a US market
that is unfamiliar with the show.
That gives them liberty to do as they please,
which is exactly what they're
One could complain about all this, but what's
the point? The film maker's
have their vision which they'll pursue
to completion and release. And good
luck to 'em. Teaser trailer's for the film
have launched on the big screen this
week, as previously
mooted, and they cleverly mock the film with which they
are previewing (The Hulk). So the mould
has been cast, the plaster is being
poured, we'll just have to wait and see
if the thing sets right...
An Eggshell-ENT Series (19.06.03)
had garden peas, we've had shoes, we've even had hats. Now ladies
and gentleman, boys and girls, start 'scrambling'
for the latest animated
series aiming to bring inanimate objects
into jolly animated life...
The series is called 'Shelltown', and it's
also the name of the town that's
home to Splat, Cracker and Exactly, otherwise
known as The Good Egg
Gang. These bright young yolks have a swell
time around town. They're
always getting under the feet of PC Boiler,
or eggs-sperimenting with
Exactly's latest invention, or causing chaos
for glamorous Shelly in
The Eggcup Cafe. More importantly, the trio are
forever pitting themselves
against their arch rival Stinker and The Bad
Egg Gang. But there's one place
neither gang dare visit; Poacher's Way.
This is a place away over Egg Shell
Hills that's home to Rotten Ron. No egg can escape
This CGI pre-school series comes from Shelltown
Productions of Ulster
and has been developed from various bedtime
stories created by Patricia
Parson-Sparkes, wife of Shelltown's producer
and managing director, Bernard
Sparkes. 26 x 10min episodes are planned
initially, with Cosgrove Hall Digital
all set to design and animate the show and
its characters. That man with
a thousand and one animation credits Jimmy
Hibbert is hopefully to write
the series, and the likes of Johnny Vegas,
Kenneth Branagh and Julian
Fellowes are being lined up to supply the voice
Judging by the promo art and info The Hound
has seen this one looks like
a winner. There are plans for lots of colourful
characters, like eccentric Lord
Eggy'ot, laid-back Sloppy Egg, Chuck Cluck of
The Shelltown Gazette, and
let's not forget Sgt Crumb and his 'crack' troop
of Toasties Soldiers.
Shelltown itself is composed of suitably 'eggified'
buildings (eggs in colourful
egg cups etc.) and the all-round, egg-shaped
design extends to the trees
and even the clouds.
It's still early days with this one, but
series sales are beginning to fall into
place as you read this, and of course, a
clutch of potential licensing deals
are being explored. All in all this looks
like cracking stuff. Rest assured
The Hound will keep you posted with developments.
Here's a series that really could run and
Pat's PO KO'd (19.06.03)
What's this? - Why, Postman
Pat looks like he might have to move
Postal Districts, and poor Mrs Goggins could
be turfed out on her ear.
Don't get too worked up, though, Pat's Greendale
round isn't going anywhere
and Mrs G. won't be put in a home for the
elderly quite yet. This story
focuses on the real-life Post Office which inspired
author John Cunliffe to
create the Postman Pat stories back in 1981.
The branch concerned is at Beast Banks,
near Kendal in the Lake District.
Apparently Mr Cunliffe was a teacher living
very near to this particular PO
when he first conjured forth Pat, Jess,
Mrs Goggins and the rest of the Greendale
community. Beast Banks gave John much inspiration
for the series and
he'd drop by when he wanted to get details
about the life of a rural postman.
(Greendale itself was inspired by the infinitely
more rural locale of Longsleddale)
But now, alas, Beast Banks is set to close. It's
blames the sizeable downturn in business
which has seen a whopping
345 Post Office closures this year alone.
In all a further 3,000 of the UK's
9000 PO's are also earmarked for closure
in the near future. The rural
Post Office lies at the heart of many a
country community. It's all very
...But back in Greendale, things couldn't
be brighter. Postman Pat is
something of a national treasure, isn't he? He's
been with us for more than
twenty years and spearheaded lots of Post Office
promotions up and down
the country. As The Hound reported back in February
both Pat and his
cat Jess are set to return our screens later
this year in not one, but
two new series from Entertainment
Rights with all-new stop-motion animation
from Cosgrove Hall. It looks like they'll
be much knocking, and ringing, and
letters through those Greendale doors for
many years to come...
Indiana The Builder (14.06.03)
Now here's a little whisper from the Rumour
Well of Souls concerning no
less a star than Harrison Ford and true
blue Brit fixer Bob The Builder.
Apparently there are plans afoot to have
Han Solo himself supply the voice
of Bob in a new animated feature! (So
speaks Variety anyway...)
So what's afoot? - Is the film already
in production? - Is there a title to
whet our appetites with, at least? Well,
The hound hasn't unearthed anything
further so far. Bob has of course already
starred in two splendid video-features
Christmas To Remember and The
Knights Of Can-A-Lot), and certainly,
the idea of Mr Ford voicing Big Screen Bob
makes absoloute sense when one
recalls the actor's love of carpentry and
construction. Expect more news on
this one when The Hound can 'nail' it down...
'You throw me the screw gun... I'll throw
you the whip!'
The Builder HIT
Five True Tracys (13.06.03)
Move over One True Voice because the latest
manufactured Pop Stars
are here. Or rather, that's what you'd be
forgiven for thinking when you
drop by this
article. What it actually is a report on the new Thunderbirds
movie for The Sun's web site, but the main
photo accompanying the piece is
a desperately unflattering image of the
actors playing four of the Tracy brothers,
together with their 'father' Jeff
Tracy. With their camp silver jumpsuits and all
that 'prettiness' the leads are simply a whole world
away from the original
conception of the characters - * sigh*.
But let's face it. It's the Thunderbirds vehicles
we all want to see, isn't it?
If they're up to scratch, all those Boy
Band nightmares can be put to rest,
I'm sure. Unless that's actually Thunderbird
1 in Scott's pocket...
Here's hoping, anyway!
Valiant aloft (13.06.03)
Coo. News from Ealing Studios now regarding
Vanguard Films and their hot
CGI feature Valiant.
Apparently the company have now exchanged contracts
with the studios and will be moving into their
production space this August.
That means they've taken the first big step
towards their goal of creating
Europe's first full-scale digital animation
'Valiant' is set for completion some time
in 2005, and there are high hopes
that this CGI tale about WWII carrier pigeons
will take to the box office
heights for Vanguard and Disney, who have
snapped up North American
rights as part of a four-picture pact with
Albie darned!... (09.06.03)
The animation extravaganza that is the International
Festival of Animated Film
at Annecy came to a close over the weekend
(7th/8th) and, what do you know,
the boys and girls at Cosgrove Hall Films
returned from their little safari with a
Special Award for a TV Series. That series was
'Albie', and the submitted
episode was titled 'Quick On The Draw',
directed by Francis Vose...
'Albie' was screened on C-ITV here in the UK
earlier this year. It's all about
a young chap adrift in the weird and wild world
of his youthful imagination.
In Albie's world there are zebras in the garden,
hippos in his paddling
pool, and water buffalo always ready for
a good old sing-song. The series was
created, scripted and designed by Andy Cutbill
and Cosgrove Hall's animation
cleverly blends the CGI wildlife into its
more traditional, watercolour-styled
environments. 26 x 10min episodes of 'Albie'
have been produced so far, and
prior to Annecy this wild series had already
accrued a Best Animated Series
award at the British Animation Awards, 2002 as
well as a Pulcinella from Italy's
Cartoons on the Bay Festival. This beastly
series looks like it will run and
run across the cartoon savannah....
And that's quite enough of the 'wildlife'
This year's Annecy festival was the 27th,
and the 2003 Grand Prix was picked
up by Koji Yamamura's film 'Atama Yama (Mt.
Head)'. Adam Elliot' s claymation
film 'Harvie Krump' collected three trophies,
the Jury's Special Award, the
Audience Award and the FIPRESCI Award. Best Feature
went to the Chinese
film 'My Life as McDull' directed by Toe Yuen...
Gags: Andy Cutbill
Thunder over London (08.06.03)
Now here's some 'thundering' news from one of
my ever-ready London
Media Buddies. It appears that the area around London's
Tower Bridge was
sealed off today (Sunday 8th June) to accommodate
location filming on that
much-discussed live-action Thunderbirds movie.
In the sequence being shot this morning, Lady
Penelope's FAB-1 car was
filmed racing over Tower Bridge. The car was filmed
by helicopter, and at least
two passes were made, one swoop taking in FAB-1 from
overhead, whilst the
other sweep picked her up from under the olde bridge.
Meanwhile the bridge
itself was booked in to raise and lower four times
for the film makers so they
could get the shots they needed for the scene.
FAB-1 has famously been restyled in the form of
a pink Ford Thunderbird
now, differing from the original Rolls Royce concept
which starred in the
tv series. Appropriately, the other cars on the
bridge were all retooled Ford
designs and The Hound is told there was also a
good old London Taxi Cab in
shot. Needless to say, the folks on the bridge
during filming were all portrayed
There was no word on any 'star' appearances, so
the implication is this
was all second unit stuff...
Basil - Fit and ready (08.06.03)
Actually, whilst we're talking about him, that
Media Buddy of mine spied
an interesting detail the other day. He and I
have been watching the BBC's
recent Sunday repeats of 'Foxed' starring our
favourite foxy friend Basil Brush.
Now the new-look Basil has been roundly vilified
by fans and press alike: they
call him 'fat', and they hate the sitcom-style
series. But The Hound here still
disagrees. Basil is a handsome chappie, and an agile
fellow too. And although
the new sitcom series is aimed squarely at a very young
audience there are still
nuggets of comedy gold to be unearthed....
Anyway, what's important here is that my Media
Buddy and I now know why
Basil looks so darned trim and frisky: He has
a Fitness Instructor!
Don't believe us? - Take a look at the end credits
of 'Foxed'. There for all to see
is the name of the fellow who's helped get Mr
Brush back in to shape and back
on our screens. Basil's Fitness Instructor is,
apparently, Mr Michael Winsor.
And what a splendid job he's done, because Mr Brush
is all over the BBC, isn't he?
From 'Foxed' to 'Blue Peter' and on, Basil Brush a
very busy boy. And a fit one
too, it seems...
Basil Brush Darryl
Worbey Studios ToonsToGo
Tracy brothers are GO (07.06.03)
More Thunderbirds movie news is beginning to leak
to the press this month.
On Friday June 6th The Daily Mail published a
set report from Pinewood
Studios accompanied by the first picture of the
Tracy brothers and father
in their restyled International Rescue uniforms:
A few extra film details emerged in Baz Bamigboye's
piece. We now know
for example, that more favourite vehicles will
appear on screen. Says Baz:
'The mammoth hulk of Thunderbird 2, the green transporter,
rests on hydraulic
legs in a Pinewood sound stage. Close by are life-size
replicas of the Mole,
the Firefly and the laser-firing Thunderiser...'
And Baz goes on to confirm a little more plot
'In the film, some of the action takes place on
Thunderbird 5; John Tracy's
in big trouble when meteors batter his craft.
Then there are problems on the
Tracy family's south sea island when it is infiltrated
by vengeful villain The
Hood, who has wicked plans for the thunderbirds
This is stuff we'd heard already, of course,
but hearing if from the set does
help cement things. And actually, seeing that picture
of the Tracy clan
cements another notion in many an onlooker: that
The concern is how the famous blue outfits of
the original series have
been replaced with these naïf silver/white
designs, with their chunky 'Terrahawks'
T design epaulets. Let's hope these are simply
space suits of some kind,
rather than everyday IR clothing because many
folks are questioning the film
makers' determination to tweak and retool almost every
aspect of the original
Supermarionation production. It really does look like
tinkering simply for tinkering's
sake. One wonders if this film is shaping up into
another 'Lost In Space' - a film
that looked terrific, had some super space design
and interstellar interaction, but
had been redesigned to such a degree that it lost all
connection with the
As always, only time will tell...
Bean's back! (02.06.03)
Finally, just over a year since his first brief
broadcast and disappearance it
looks like Animated
Mr Bean is at last returning to our TV screens. That will
be welcome news to many folks who've been in touch
with The Hound over the
last twelve months enquiring about his status...
When it launched last year Mr Bean: The Animated
Series broke new toon
ground in the UK as the first ever primetime animated
commission for ITV.
What's more, ITV execs ordered 52 x 12mins episodes
of the toon to be doubled
up and broadcast in 26 half-hour packages. Now The
Hound here isn't up to speed
with the show's ratings or returns, but it certainly
found a niche with visitors
to this site, and with Yours Truly. It's fun.
Nothing uproarious or outrageous, but
the design is appealing, storylines are clever
and there's lots of little background
details to keep you watching. If there's a problem
here, it's more one of timing
rather than a problem with the production itself.
You can't just dip into this one.
Animated Mr Bean takes time to win you over, and it
certainly isn't the kind of
loud and lewd Saturday Evening show that the ITV schedules
are used to.
Maybe that's why the series slipped from the schedules
just a few short weeks
after its launch. Some folks thought he might
at least come back for Autumn
repeats or better yet, more new episodes, maybe
in a different time-slot. But
alas, there's been nowt-so-much as a mumble or
a mutter since he departed...
But now - hurrah! - a quick skim down the current ITV
schedules will show
you that Mr Bean: The Animated series is finally
being broadcast again from
Saturday 7th June at 5.45pm. But you'd best tune
in quickly, because how
long he'll hang around is anyone's business, given
that past performance....
Mr Bean Mr
Bean at ToonsToGo
Lucky 13 (02.06.03)
Well what do you know? - Lucky Bag Comic, that
which set sail for Fleetway waters last
year has made it beyond its first
anniversary. Indeed, issue thirteen is in
stores as you read this. When we
chatted last year, Lucky Bag artist and writer
Mark Bennington expressed a
lot of good will for the new comic. Lucky Bag
was and is very much a corporate
confection, but the hope was that it might capture
something of the old Buster or
Whizzer & Chips spirit for a new generation
of readers. So what's the current
Well certainly, Toontastic publishing deserves
an A-grade for effort. Lucky
Bag Comic is bright and busy, and yes
some strips have that old Fleetway
twinkle (Jungle Jane, The Thor Losers, Captain
Krook, Fission Chips and DNA
Couriers are all rather fun), but there's
no disguising that the title is still
by the lack of a dynamic lead character. Lucky
Bag continues to devote far
too much space to a terrible terrapin called
Dick Turtle. He's a wet-eared Ninja
Turtle-type who holds star-billing solely
because he featured on the original
Lucky Bag sweet selections when they first launched
a few years back, sans
comic. But he was and never will be a strip star
and is there for what can only be
corporate reasons. Similarly, the whole Lucky
Bag Land notion that's been
woven through the strips is a corporate
concept and not a comics concept.
The newer characters - Captain Krook, Jungle
Jane, Fission Chips, The Thor
Losers - nudge at that corporate clingfilm
wrapped around the title, but they
haven't yet broken through...
Lucky Bag Comic is fighting bravely against
the tide of TV tie-ins, and manages
to stand apart from The Beano and The Dandy,
but it still hasn't quite filled its
niche. Indeed, folks will notice that a
secondary character in the Horror Bags
strip line-up is a nut-and-bolt munster
called Frankie. But alas, this isn't
our beloved Frankie
Stein back from the dead, just as Lucky Bag isn't yet
the Whoopee! reincarnation we all dream
of. LBC is improving all the while,
though, so let's wish Toontastic good luck
with the title...
Well, the upgrades and additions
are continuing at a pace this month with
(fanfare please) the arrival of Toonhound's second
news page. That's right,
there's another page of chatter and speculation
to whet your toon buds with
because the Forthcoming
Features page is now online...
This new page replaces the ailing Current Movies
page with a round-up of
news concerning all the latest UK animated and toon-related feature
currently on production slates around the globe. It's
a kind of supplement
to The Hound, compiling the best movie toon gossip
into one manageable
bite-size scrolling page. Currently you'll find
info on the new Wallace And
Gromit film, The Magic Roundabout, Thunderbirds,
Judge Dredd, Gnomeo
& Juliet and more besides - plenty of tempting
toon titbits to get you talking.
And as and when projects get a fair way down the
they'll be granted their own index page in either the
Movie Toon Guide or
the Toon Movie Guide.
Woah, woah. Wait up. What's this 'Toon Movie Guide'
thingy now? Well,
that's another new Movie Toon section that's on
its way very soon. It's
very similar to the Movie Toon Guide, only this
one concentrates on all
of those Brit-toons that have been turned into
live-action movies, with varying
degrees of success. Look out for pages on Tank
Girl, Modesty Blaise,
Wombling Free and other 'classic' productions
when it launches later
Between them, the Features page and the two guides
should give you a
seamless marriage of movie toon news and information. And
as if a news
page and new toon section wasn't enough, the Mini
Movie Toons section
is also about to expand, bringing the currently meagre
list of indexed shorts
and specials comfortably into double figures...
All in all, with a fair wind and your continued
patience, the entire Movie Toons revamp should
be completed by the
end of the month. The very last TV Toons revisions
should also be in
place by then, and that means The Hound's attentions
can finaly be
turned upon those overlooked Comics and Puppet
As always, stay tooned!