Woebegone no more! (29.06.04)
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
one DVD release of this all-time great series.
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
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? (22.06.04)
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
but a few American shows are present too.
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
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!...
Reynolds & Hearn
Noxious news (21.06.04)
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
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...
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
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
Get your umbilicals ready!
Afternoon Bounty (19.06.04)
Gr-r-reat purple news in the tv schedules for next
week, with the return of
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
For those of you living on an asteroid, 'Bounty
Hamster' stars Cassie and
her mismatched Bounty Hunter assistant, an eye-patch
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,
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
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 (16.06.04)
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
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!
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
'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,
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!
This carrot's tops (14.06.04)
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
the megalomaniac villain Count Cornelius Cobb and his
Crusher. The dastardly Count Cobb is hell-bent
on enslaving the whole of
Legume City and crowning himself Supreme Emperor of
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
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!'
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
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'...
Breast in show (14.06.04)
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
bounding off with the Cristal for Best TV Production.
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
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
'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
Extra time for Striker (10.06.04)
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.
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
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!)
not in store... (19.06.04)
I tempted fate last
month, didn't I? For the first time in - oh - a good
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,
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
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
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
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,
Alright, alright. Let's get back to reality now,
and specifically, those Koala
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
The Koala Brothers are
coming - We just don't know when!