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The Behind the Scenes Pics of the Day wishes you a happy Rankin-Bass Christmas!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s Behind the Scenes Pic!

Nothing says Christmas more than Rankin-Bass stop motion Christmas Specials to me, so when a reader sent these in a while back I knew I had to hold on to them for Christmas Day. It kind of boggles my mind to see those little bastards who were flesh and blood living creatures to me as a child in this setting.

I mean, I’m a grown man, I know how they made those TV specials, I know how stop motion works… but all that is overriden when seeing pictures like these, featuring Hiroshi Tabata actually manhandling these cute little guys.

Thanks to reader Ben Martin for passing these along! Here are the pics, both have bigger version if you click!






I hope everyone has had a happy holiday! Tomorrow’s pic brings a robot and real life genius together. See you then!

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Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 25, 2010, 7:10 p.m. CST

    Very cool...

    by alienindisguise

    Had a marathon of all the Rankin Bass specials over the last 2 days. A lot of the work still looks pretty good. I'd love to know where all the figures are today unless they got destroyed which would totally suck. These models hold just as much appeal as Darth Vader's helmet or a lightsaber. I hope someone realized that and preserved them.

  • Dec. 25, 2010, 7:22 p.m. CST

    Simply amazing

    by Bob Loblaw Law Blog

    Great pics, Eric!

  • Dec. 25, 2010, 8 p.m. CST

    Hmm, they're bigger than I expected

    by _Venkman

  • Dec. 25, 2010, 8:32 p.m. CST

    finally, a BTS pic I wanna comment on.

    by Cloaker Cobra

    Artisan work for the time, and one that resonates through generations. Cheers. Now get me some Emmet Otter up in this bitch and I will totally geek out.

  • Dec. 25, 2010, 8:46 p.m. CST


    by Phil

    I'm finally able to log into this site!... after 3 years of reading it I can finally comment. Wow.. just give me a minute.. I'm still in shock.

  • Dec. 25, 2010, 8:58 p.m. CST

    That really is remarkable...

    by MST3KPIMP

    Never seen any making-of these classic specials before. It's insane how far they have cemented themselves into our collective culture. Tim Burton wishes he could come close to the magic these accomplished. Merry Christmas!

  • Dec. 25, 2010, 9:17 p.m. CST


    by StarryNight


  • Dec. 25, 2010, 9:56 p.m. CST

    as an amature stop motion animator

    by HadWoodenTeethChasedMobyDick

    this is really cool to see. thanks!

  • Dec. 25, 2010, 10 p.m. CST


    by redshirt

    For some reason the image of him in a tank top and shorts really gets me. Like I expected it to be Christmaslike weather conditions on the set. They really created some magic there, didn't they?

  • Dec. 25, 2010, 10:07 p.m. CST

    Merry Christmas!

    by decfx

    Shitter was full.

  • Dec. 25, 2010, 10:32 p.m. CST

    I love Rudolph

    by Bass Ackwards

    Heart that one to death, island of misfit toys, an elf that wants to be a dentist, Yukon Cornelius, the crazy noise Rudolph's nose makes, its all cemented into my nostalgia as perfect wacky Christmas joy.

  • Dec. 25, 2010, 10:56 p.m. CST

    Best behind scenes...

    by sportsguy88

    These movies are forever in my memory having watched them as a kid and even now as an adult. Never tire of them...thanks for the awesome post!

  • Dec. 25, 2010, 11:13 p.m. CST

    Don't even think about it, Zemekis...

    by Flip63Hole

    There will be hell to pay if you even think about dead-eyeing this masterpiece.

  • Dec. 25, 2010, 11:18 p.m. CST

    Very Cool

    by Monolith_Jones

    There's a great show on SyFy called Hollywood Treasure where this guy searches out movie props, memorabilia, whatever. The guy goes to see a collector because he had Action Comics #1 I beleieve, but the collector also had the Rudolph and Santa used in the film. It's a fascinating show for movie fans. Another guy had some Magwais used in Gremlins 2, I think one might have even been animatronic.

  • Dec. 25, 2010, 11:22 p.m. CST

    Re: alienindisguise...beleive it or not a box full of these

    by boogel

    showed up on Antiques Roadshow a year or two ago. They had been in someones attic all this time. Rough shape. I guess the person that brought them in had played with the models growing up like they were any other toy. Had no idea they were the originals.

  • Dec. 25, 2010, 11:23 p.m. CST

    I really do know how to spell believe...

    by boogel

  • Dec. 26, 2010, 12:42 a.m. CST

    Me likes!

    by DigitalBeachWar

    Very cool!

  • Dec. 26, 2010, 2:35 a.m. CST

    Awesome pic!

    by freerangecelt

    I loved all of those specials as a kid, and I hope that children will be enjoying them in the future as well. I think I am related to Mr. Rankin, however distantly.

  • Dec. 26, 2010, 5:31 a.m. CST

    What ever happened to Elston Gunn...

    by iamnicksaicnsn

    and his weekly recaps? I think that's what's missing pretty significantly on this good ol' site.

  • Dec. 26, 2010, 7:16 a.m. CST

    Rudolph is one of my favorites

    by lochkray

    But has anybody ever noticed that Santa Claus was a real @$$ hole in that cartoon. Like Rudolph would have been justified at the "Will you guide my sleigh tonight?" part to turn to Sant and say, "No, go fuck yourself you biggoted goof! I heard how you talked to my parents about me, you jackass. I was IN the room, and four minutes old." Simply the most awful portrayal of Santa, ever.

  • Dec. 26, 2010, 9:06 a.m. CST

    What happened to R-B puppets

    by CreamCheeseAlchemist

    They were sprayed with something that helped them look good on camera but made them fall apart even faster. Aside from the Rudolph and Santa that surfaced some years back, there are pictures of the Father Time and the Reindeer coach puppets, both still extant. The coach one was described as being particularly delicate.

  • Dec. 26, 2010, 9:21 a.m. CST

    tomorrow's pic is of WILL SMITH and a pair of LEATHER CHUCKS?

    by Tigger Tales

    that's weak, yo!

  • Dec. 26, 2010, 10:38 a.m. CST

    boogel..that is insane!!!

    by alienindisguise

    Cool to know they're still around somewhere!

  • Dec. 26, 2010, 11:05 a.m. CST

    i've looked everywhere

    by jon pertwee

    but cannot find the xmas dr who talkback.

  • Dec. 26, 2010, 11:25 a.m. CST

    Rudolph was the first X-Man.

    by Professor_Monster

    think about it - he has to be the first mutant on record.

  • Dec. 26, 2010, 3:27 p.m. CST

    These specials are 50 years old

    by murray_hamilton

    and still haven't been topped

  • Dec. 26, 2010, 5:36 p.m. CST

    Remaking these...

    by Juggernaut125

    <p>I'd actually be cool with a remake/update of 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town' and 'Rudoph The Red-Nosed Reindeer'. After watching them both last week, I came to realize how dated the second one truly was. When Clarice's dad told her "No doe of mine is going to be seen with a... ... red-nosed reindeer." I half expected him to say "...with a... ... black guy."</p> <p>And it seems to me that in RTRNR, ALL of the men at the North Pole are jerks and all of the women are cool. </p>

  • Dec. 26, 2010, 6:31 p.m. CST


    by BilboRing

  • Dec. 26, 2010, 6:32 p.m. CST

    It's Christmas NOT holiday you PC asshole!

    by BilboRing

    It's okay to say Christmas. Fuck Holiday people.

  • Dec. 26, 2010, 7:05 p.m. CST

    I dont celebrate the holiday

    by 1997-2011

  • Dec. 26, 2010, 7:09 p.m. CST

    you know, they tried that once,

    by frank cotton

    back in the 20th century, and it turned out that the new assholes in charge were worse than the old assholes - i guess some fuckheads will never learn...

  • Dec. 26, 2010, 8:46 p.m. CST

    Who said "holiday" in the first place?

    by dukeroberts

    Rankin-Bass made specials for more than just Christmas, so saying "holiday" or "holidays" is not unwarranted. And to the jerk on the anti-Christian warpath, just because someone is annoyed by the use of "holidays" instead of Christmas does not necessarily mean they are a Christian. My best friend is an atheist and he celebrates "Christmas". While we Christians would probably hope that everyone that celebrates Christmas was a Christian, belief can trickle in through different avenues. If a secularized Christmas can get more people to celebrate a Christian holiday, there is a chance some may eventually open their hearts and minds to believe in a higher power. Merry Christmas, and God bless us everyone!

  • Dec. 26, 2010, 11:14 p.m. CST

    Just not Christmas w/o Rankin and Bass!

    by Simpsonian

  • Dec. 26, 2010, 11:14 p.m. CST

    and I'm an athiest! lol

    by Simpsonian

  • Dec. 26, 2010, 11:42 p.m. CST

    hey bilboring....

    by qjinx

    we say happy holidays because it is the holiday season from thanksgiving through new years and in december there is more than one holiday anyway, what about kwanza? what about hanukkah? there are more people in this country than just christians, and to be a true patriot of this country is to observe each of these holidays for their diversity. stop being so sensitive and thinking people are taking christ out of christmas. Christmas day is one day in the month, and if you really read your bible and did research instead of just spouting out what you hear on fox news, you would realize that by the descriptions of the alighnment of the stars of the day jesus was born, it really wasnt in december after all. dec 25 is just a day we picked to celebrate and consumerists to spend money on each other. and yes, i was born a christian in the bible belt of USA, but, unlike most people, i decide to truly know what im talking about before getting all butt hurt about other cultures acknowledging their holidays as well. This is AMERICA, and NOT EVERYONE HERE IS LIKE YOU, FUCKWAD

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 12:09 a.m. CST


    by frank cotton


  • Dec. 27, 2010, 12:33 a.m. CST

    Uh... Who the heck celebrates KWANZAA???

    by TheGhostWhoLurks

    I've been Black my whole life and STILL haven't met anyone who actually celebrates that made-up holdover from the Black Power era.

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 2:01 a.m. CST

    Rankin and Bass need to be tortured-

    by Hat Man

    -for their awful Return of the King adaptation.

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 3:14 a.m. CST

    bag on them all you want

    by john

    they did all that shit without computers

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 3:21 a.m. CST

    wanna know how old i am

    by john

    as a toddler, i saw the first run of rudolph, the grinch and a charlie brown christmas im that fucking old kill me now

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 3:30 a.m. CST

    You ARE old!

    by TheGhostWhoLurks

    You probably told your kids to "turn off that crummy Thundercats" because it didn't reach the high standards of Augy Doggy and Doggy Daddy.<p>And a POX on anyone foolish enough to rag on Rankin/Bass' adaptation of The Hobbit and Return of the King! They were FANTASTIC when they were made and awesome today, even AFTER being spoiled by the live-action films! Great animation, good action and great songs that put Tolkien's written lyrics to music that I still remember today.<p>"Where there's a whip, there's a way!" >:)

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 7:37 a.m. CST

    They are Christmas specials. Not HOLIDAY specials!

    by BilboRing

    So stop trying to water down my fucking beliefs. I'm a pretty liberal guy but this is where things piss me off. Go make a Hannukkah special. Go make a Kwanza special. That's fine. But stop trying to weave Christmas into everyone's lives. That is just a scam to make people spend more money. Screw HOLIDAY people.

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 7:38 a.m. CST


    by lochkray

    Yeah, athiests suck. Christians are so much better. Or is it muslims. or Jews. I can`t remember which. They`re all pretty much the same. Maybe its Hindus that I`m thinking of.

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 7:42 a.m. CST

    Braindrain...Amen to that.

    by BilboRing

    Athiests are some of the most miserable people on the planet. They think they are superior because they don't believe in God. But they are fucking tools and hipster morons who are just miserable fucks who spend their lives trying to prove others are wrong. As for that Athiest celebrating Christmas...fuck them! I knew some loser who was an Athiest and said he celebrated Christmas becasue he believed in having one day per year where everyone is nice to eachother. I said fine. But make up your own Athiest day and celebrate it in March or something. Christmas if for Christians who believe in God and Jesus. Sorry.

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 10:45 a.m. CST

    Who cares what date it's celebrated?

    by Dr. Hfuhruhurr

    It's what's being celebrated that's important and you will never be able to change that. Christmas is the happiest time of the year and you can thank Christians for that, no matter how you try to deny.

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 11:06 a.m. CST

    The date has nothing to do with anything.

    by BilboRing

    If it was celebrated in spring, people would still attack it and try to water it down to a level of Santa and buying gifts. What's your point? And I am not a Christian maniac either. I used to be Roman Catholic but since they rape boys, provide safe havens for rapists, hate gays, have a nazi pope, and pretty much hate everything, I switched to Episcopal. I'm a very liberal guy actually. Fox News is blocked from my television. Glenn Beck should get killed by a bus. Bush is a war criminal and should be put to death. Texas should be nuked for just being Texas. Like Mr. Garrison would say, Merry Fucking Christmas to you!! Don't believe me? Now all the stores say Happy New Year. Why? Because it's not religious and Christmas is over. But up until the day of Christmas it's Happy Hollidays. Fuck that. I say Happy Hannukah to my Jewish friends and they say Merry Christmas to me. It's called respect.

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 11:34 a.m. CST

    juemad = jew mad?

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    And what exactly does Santa Claus and a reindeer with a 15 watt hooker bulb instead of a nose have to do with Jesus' birth? And I'm sure you think athiest and agnostic is the same thing, also.

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 12:05 p.m. CST

    The suicide rate of stop motion animators . . .

    by Stan Gable

    must be off the charts. I cannot imagine anything more boring and tedious than doing that shit.

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 12:20 p.m. CST

    i don't know stan gable, Harryhausen's alive and kicking at 80-something...

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    oh, I know, thats cuz he quit!

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 12:20 p.m. CST

    i think the date has to do with

    by HadWoodenTeethChasedMobyDick

    the sun starting to turn again after 3 days of rest

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 12:21 p.m. CST

    i would kill to be paid to stop animate all day

    by HadWoodenTeethChasedMobyDick

    it'll drive you mad but the outcome is usually entertaining.

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 12:23 p.m. CST

    Rudolph is actually a pretty shitty Christmas special.

    by BilboRing

    It is not very spiritual. Everyone treats Rudolph like a complete dick. Even his own dad. Santa is a dick in it too. And it is very anti-woman. With "this is man's work" and other weak female spots here and there. Oh and let's knock out the Bumble and tear his teeth out. That's lovely. It's a pretty shitty show actually. But the stop motion animation is classic. I am more of a Santa Claus is Coming to Town person. It has a few hints of the real reason there is a Christmas in the first place. But nothing beats Charlie Brown's Christmas. The ultimate Christmas special. Nothing comes close.

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 12:53 p.m. CST

    Braindrain thinks I'm a hipster! yeah!!!

    by Simpsonian

    wow, I just thought I was an atheist because I don't actually believe in fairy tales. Merry Christmas suckers!

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 1:55 p.m. CST


    by BilboRing

    You can't prove God doesn't exists just as much as I can't prove that he does. Nobody knows and nobody will until you croak. To each his own. My point is just leave people the fuck alone. Let them believe what they want without making them feel guilty that they are Christians and that they celebrate Christmas. Learn respect. Have fun being shallow and empty. We all die. Might as well try faith and live a fairy tale. Better than your side of the story.

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 3:48 p.m. CST

    Charlie Brown Christmas

    by DreadPirateRoberts

    I would agree that the Charlie Brown's Christmas special is the most in theme with the religious aspects of Christmas by far, but that does not make Rudolph a poor one. Rudolph is more of a celebration of the "Santa Claus" Christmas, which is just as relevant in today's culture as is the religious Christmas. Of course, Santa is a bit of an ass. Not only does he dismiss Rudolph to his father's face for being different, but when Rudolph comes back he finds out that his family and girlfriend have gone off looking for him, to almost certain doom, and Santa seems pretty non-comittal about it. It is pretty much "yep, they went looking for you. They will probably die. See you around." That part always stands out to me.

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 5:03 p.m. CST

    Now have man-in-monstersuit smash up everything!

    by HarryKnowlesNonExistentInceptionReview

    HaHa! Best Christmas movies made in JAPAN mothafuckaaaaaaaaas!

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 5:06 p.m. CST

    Best Christmas special, hands-down...

    by HarryKnowlesNonExistentInceptionReview

    ...will always be How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the original Chuck Jones cartoon, not that Jim Carrey/Taylor Momsen fart-joke bastardization, of course). All props to the Charlie B. kids and Snoopy, however.

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 7:48 p.m. CST


    by deelzbub

    I love that shit. And Santa is funny as hell. After the head elf (who suddenly starts talking in another voice) leads the elves in their Christmas song, Santa says: "Eh. Needs work. I gotta go."-that shit cracks me up every time. Cranky Santa rules. He can just barely put up with those silly elves and their songs. Don't get me started on these Rankin-Bass Christmas puppet shows, I'll talk all day.

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 8:33 p.m. CST

    Have any of you ever seen RUDOLPH'S SHINY NEW YEAR?

    by 3D-Man

    If so, is it worth watching?

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 8:55 p.m. CST

    yes it is 3d-man

    by HadWoodenTeethChasedMobyDick

    that one is the most crazy

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 9:24 p.m. CST

    You get reindeer shit for christmas, dude

    by FeralAngel

    Come ON. The main reason the Rudolph special kills in the Nielsen ratings every single year is because it's magnificent in every way. ESPECIALLY its writing. The script is clever, inventive, gives the characters real personality, and has moments of great pathos. Full-length animated films of today aren't nearly as well-written. And the SONGS...the guy who wrote the song "Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer", Johnny Marks, wrote a bunch of new songs just for the special - "Silver and Gold", "King of Jing-a-Ling", "Holly Jolly Christmas" - each and every one an instant classic. The Rudolph special is a freaking miracle because it's so damn good. No other special - even the excellent Rankin-Bass "Frosty The Snowman" (I bawled in shock when the dude melted) doesn't come close.

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 9:27 p.m. CST

    Rudolph's Shiny New Year is a lousy sequel, 3D man

    by FeralAngel

    For some damn reason, the show's designer, Paul Coker Jr., changed the design of Rudolph and the rest of the reindeer so that they looked like mice with antlers. Eccch. He changed Frosty in the second Frosty special too, gave him a gay scarf and shit and made him look like a generic snowman. Should have left him with just the hat. All that expansive white made him an eye-popper of a character in the first special, like Kermit being all green. Break it up with clothing and it's not nearly as visually interesting. Oh, and the writing in "New Year" isn't so good either.

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 9:47 p.m. CST

    BRAINDRAIN - you made me laugh!

    by frank cotton

    please note: i said LAUGH, not AGREE WITH, so don't start spewing politics my way, OK? RUDOLPH is pretty subversive, which is why i like it. and if there isn't a God, then you won't know (most likely). my favorite christmas show is that claymation COPS thing they did on MADTV. anyone know where i can find a good copy of it?

  • Dec. 27, 2010, 10:18 p.m. CST

    OK, this is a cool couple of pix

    by Teddy Artery

    Great little tribute to the art and tedium of stop-motion animation.

  • Dec. 28, 2010, 8:18 a.m. CST


    by BilboRing

    The date never mattered. 99% of every Christian knows Jesus was not born on 12/25. No kidding. But that is when we celebrate it. What's your point? Dates? You make no sense. As for me calling people morons and other stuff, I never said I was a good Christian. Just a Christian. So go believe in nothing and leave us who believe in something alone. As for Rudolph, I still love it but it IS a pretty shitty message to kids. Santa is a massive dick, Donner is an abusive prick to his only son, the elf leader is a nazi-wannabe, etc. Charlie Brown, The Grinch (cartoon of course), Santa Clause is Coming to Town, Polar Express, Scrooge (Alistair Simm), It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street (B&W). Those are my favorites in no particular order.

  • Dec. 28, 2010, 12:18 p.m. CST


    by BilboRing

    Where do you get your statistics? I see no proof either. And what the living hell does the date we celebrate have to do with anything? We picked a date to celebrate and what does it matter that it is not the exact date Jesus was born? Every person I know understands that 12/25 is not the real day Jesus was born. But I live on the East Coast where people have an education that goes above high school. Maybe the Bible Belt crowd is who you are thinking about. Either way it matters not.

  • Dec. 28, 2010, 1:51 p.m. CST

    Great pictures

    by hallmitchell

    It's a shame when you see these titles listed on the tv guide. They are some HACK and cheap computerized version. Why they don't replay the REAL ones i don't know.

  • Dec. 28, 2010, 6:57 p.m. CST

    Nestor, the Long eared Christmas donkey

    by deelzbub

    Rudolf, the Red Nosed Reindeer Year w/o A Santa Claus Frosty The Snowman (should have been made w/ puppets) Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town those were the best. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus was a little weird for me at the time. Need to give it another look-see. Rudolf and Frosty's Christmas in July, i need to see that one again. Rudolf's Shiny New Year is OK, but is not as good as the others

  • Dec. 28, 2010, 9:21 p.m. CST

    Singing orcs

    by Hat Man

    Anyone who stands up for Rankin-Bass's Return of the King needs to be savaged to death by badly animated hobbits all screaming "Denethor's gone nutty!" in a Bronx accent.