December 22, 2022 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Adam Savage’s “Tested” segment, “Christmas Comes But Once a Year” and more!

It’s been a pretty good week for old cartoons – and a great year for Fleischer animation in particular.

First, some short Thunderbean news:

The long-in-progress. Stop Motion Marvels Blu-ray preorders are all going out as well as Party Disc 2. Party disc 2 will likely only be around for a little while.

Both are available on Amazon now:

Stop Motion Marvels:
Party Disc 2:

We’re working on getting the currently finished special discs out the door as well with more getting closer to the finish line. You can always see what’s shipping and what’s in progress at the Thunderbean Shop Website under the ‘Thunderbean Status’ button.

A segment on “Adam Savages’ Tested”

It was the second to last class before the break last Thursday when I got a text from our own Devon Baxter informing me that the segment I shot for Tested in October was put up on Youtube. Here’s just a little about this segment:

Here’s me destroying a priceless film to show off my spooling skills.

Back in October I was asked to participate in a segment to be shot at Blackhawk films, a little over a week before the shoot was taking place. The Blackhawk folks are wonderful to work with, and I thought it would be really fun to highlight vintage animation in this way. Mauricio Alvarado, working on behalf of the Fleischer’s and “Fabulous Fleischer Cartoons Restored” did a great job coordinating the shoot with the Tested folks. Nicolas Ruau from Blackhawk showed how a film is inspected and scanned, and I hauled an iMac though the airports under my arm for the shoot since it had one of the restoration programs on it. My friends Mark Kausler and Mike Kazaleh came along as well as Tom Minton, who shared some great stories. Our own Jerry Beck lent his recently acquired 35mm nitrate print of ‘Birthday’ for the shoot since I couldn’t bring nitrate on the plane and UCLA was unable to provide a cartoon with short notice. It was a really fun experience and I’m glad the segment came out decently.

Nicolas Ruau inspects the print

Laser Graphics scanners are a thing of beauty!

Since we were right in mid-terms at the school I knew I couldn’t leave for long, so I booked a flight to leave for LA on Tuesday night and return Wednesday night on the red eye back to Michigan. I’m still tired! With the whirlwind of mid-terms and coordinating a trip to Burbank with students, the shoot drifted from my own mind. It was such a nice surprise to see it when they put it up a week ago. It’s fun to see it getting a lot of views!

Mark Kausler (right) and I discuss why none of these things can be perfect.

And here’s the complete segment:

Christmas Comes But Once a Year – restored!!

Some additional good news was a showing on MeTV (and YouTube posting) of the classic Fleischer Cartoon Christmas Comes But Once a Year from the original negatives and master soundtrack. This is the first of the Color Classics to get this treatment, and it’s a first class effort all the way. Paramount Pictures Archives provided the Fleischers and the project a master scan. This classic short was then cleaned up and color corrected by Thad Komorowski and Jack Theakston for Fabulous Fleischer Cartoons Restored.

A few years back I was lucky enough to scan a beautiful 35mm IB Technicolor print of the film, but this new restoration really shows just how great these films can look from their original negatives. It’s a major event in the history of these films to have this done nearly nine decades after their creation. They’ve always deserved to be treated like this, and I’m so grateful it’s happening now. Check it out here!

For many, many years, there has been a collective group effort to make sure many classic animated films are restored and seen by the public. This has been (and requires) a tremendous group effort, sometimes coordinated, often not. Jerry Beck has been at the forefront of this effort for decades, and it thrills all of us to see success in making these available from the masters in our lifetimes. I think we all need to keep collectively working on this since it’s an important effort- and fixing a small piece of history that should never have been neglected in many of the ways it has been.

Have a good week all. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays all!


  • if the world had more Grampy’s we’d all be better off.
    Merry Christmas everyone!🎅

  • That’s a terrific restoration, but what really blew my mind was those few seconds of “The Cobweb Hotel”! I never dreamed I’d be able to see that cartoon in such fine quality! I can’t wait to see pristine restored versions of all the Fleischer cartoons. Even Hunky and Spunky will be a pleasure to watch if they look this good! Congratulations on everything you’ve accomplished so far. Keep a-goin’!

  • “Christmas Comes But Once a Year” is always a great cartoon, no matter the format, but this restoration takes it to a whole new level. There are details that heretofore have been somewhat hidden. Not only is the picture amazing to see, but the sound track has evidently been cleaned up, too, as I have never seen or heard this film so clearly before. The colors are fantastic! The older versions with their muddy visuals and slightly muffled sound track have for years provided a tantalizing glimpse of what this cartoon might have been, but now we can view and hear it in its full glory. Many thanks to all of those who worked so hard and diligently to restore this delightful Christmas classic!

  • I sent the cartoon’s link to my wife yesterday. Here is her response:

    “Tell Steve and his crew that it’s so beautiful… I started bawling! Would give anything to watch it one more time with Dad.”

    Context: Her father, Dennis Carey, was a long-time 16mm film collector and an old NTA print of this was on his big reel of Christmas cartoons. Running that reel every year was a family tradition.

    Great work and “attaboys” to all involved. Continued success in 2023, and “God bless us. Everyone.”

  • Wow! I’ve seen that cartoon before but never like this! The colors, especially — the brightness and vibrancy of the foreground and character colors, and the subtlety of the backgrounds — it’s breathtaking!

    Then all topped off by that quick multi-plane shot at the end!


  • I’ve always loved this short and now to see it in all its Technicolor glory is a true revelation!!

  • CHRISTMAS COMES BUT ONCE A YEAR has always been my all-time favorite Christmas cartoon. When I was little, my grandma had this cartoon on VHS. It was a faded, yellowish print, but me and my cousins loved it. I’m so happy to see this cartoon getting the restoration it so deserved! This restoration just blew me away! The colors are beautiful and the sound is crystal clear. And best of all, the original titles and Paramount logos are restored. I hope all the other Color Classics get this treatment, especially SMALL FRY and ANTS IN THE PLANTS. Thank you to everyone who worked on restoring CHRISTMAS COMES BUT ONCE A YEAR! Merry Christmas!

  • Best gift this season! Thanks Steve!

    Happy holidays, y’all.

  • I caught the restoration video a couple of days on U tube – I found the video an eye opening demonstration of what has to be done for a proper remastering much more than I though of the many steps that you had to go through.

    I have been seeing the Grampy cartoon for over 60 years and this is the first time I really saw it as it was when it was new – I only hope the these Fleischer remasters we make to home media in either Blu Ray or 4k issues.

  • I showed this restoration video to my fourth grade students so they could see (and hopefully appreciate) all of the efforts that go into preserving this stuff. Of course, I always appreciate a behind the scenes look too!

  • I’m subscribed to “Tested” on YT, and saw you in action there the other day. This is a magnificent resto job! Grampy never looked better… 😀

  • This is a great cartoon always a fun memory for us “OK boomers” who grew up with shows like Junior Frolics, Farmer Gray, Nabisco Comedy Hour and Officer Joe Bolton. They ran all the old Cartoon classics like Christmas Once a Year and Sunshine Bakers and the Cobweb Motel. These were black and white memories for us until Fleischer Studios began the restorations last year.

    The new camera negative looks gorgeous like it was made yesterday so on the one hand that is shocking to see and On the other hand it reveals that this material isn’t so bad off in the vaults after all. They spend a lot of money maintaining the film vaults and the Flescher fundraiser doesn’t say if it is helping with the archive maintenance costs. The films were going bad in the 1940s when Ray Pointer first discovered them but maybe these good copies existed all along. Sort of rewrites history.

    This cartoon is fun for all the little kid characters and the pin pushing man could make Pins out of each and every little baby character, collect them all and spend your money, lol!!

    One thing I don’t like is all the damn self congratulation at the end. Imagine all the artists and ink and paint broads who didn’t get credited on the original film and meanwhile you have these millennial dudes sitting behind a computer pressing buttons to make something sparkle and then you have to sit through their names and know what they had for lunch. Yes get the films saved but spend more time researching and naming the people who created them in the first place.

    Growing up in NY meant that we had a lot of ex-animators here from those old days and they went on to do other creative work sometimes. I remember meeting some of these people through mutual friends in the animation business and a lot of them were ex-Flescher guys and gals. They put the time in, they need to get the recognition. It is more interesting than hearing some talking heads appearing at screenings nowadays to promote their own careers.

    But that is life and money talks so if you get the wealthy involved it makes them feel good to support history and it makes these guys behind the computers feel good like hey I made it big here over some dead peoples work. The funny thing is this stuff doesn’t earn back all the money it takes to pay the lab bills and lab techs to do the work. So it must be a tax write off for the Flescher Studios. Cant believe they are still around all these years later. It is something that I think Stan Handleman the lawyer cooked up when Uncle Max was still around. That is when Ray Pointer started telling everyone that he was into the Flescher and the rest is history.

    Who knows who the current crop will pass the torch onto. At least we now know the films arent really rotting and It’s just charming to see them look brand new like this. Feels like I am not watching the same film I grew up enjoying. Funny how this works different for different viewers. We had the good memories, seeing all this stuff on TV. Without anyone obsessing on Facebook about which Cartoon the TV show is gonna run today. Get a life!!! Just enjoy the toons!!!

    • Mr. Kestenbaum – Would you kindly send me an email at

      I’d like to respond to your comment privately – and the email address I have for you is not your actual email.

      Thank you.

  • A beauty. I hope they have as much fun and success restoring the orphanage to its pre-Grampy state after Christmas (whoever cooks for that place is going to have a fit) as you all did restoring the film.

  • Holy cow this looks fantastic!

  • That film is amazing! I had no idea there was so much color and it was so vibrant!

  • Merry Christmas, Steve. Thank you for all your efforts. And thank you to EVERYONE involved in restoring Fleischer animation.

  • I always loved this cartoon as one of my favorites. But now! It also must rank as one of the most beautiful cartoons I’ve ever seen, too! The background coloring and the 3-D set pieces… masterpieces!

    Thanks to all the restorers — and the original artists! I only wish this could be done to every Fleischer cartoon!

  • I watched this cartoon on the 2002 VCI Entertainment DVD, then the YouTube copy immediately thereafter. WOW!! Well done! Kudos to everyone involved. I can’t wait to see the rest of the Color Classics restored.

  • Fantastic seeing cartoons as they were meant to look. And while I’m on that subject, my recently ordered Blu-ray arrived from Thunderbean (The RAINBOW PARADES Vol. 1). I wanted to say how beautiful these films looked and sounded, and to sincerely thank Steve and the team for the excellence of these releases…Next year I am looking forward to pre-ordering RAINBOW PARADES Vol. 2, The Ub Iwerks COMICOLOR volume, and of course the long awaited FLIP THE FROG set. Again, my endless thanks and admiration for making these works of art truly “viewable” again, and just as they must have looked to first run audiences (and now perhaps even a tad better).

  • Is there news on the Alice in Wonderland blu-ray?
    We haven’t heard any progress of that in a while

  • If it were possible to give 10 stars, I know I would! From the Paramount logo to the tree at the end. Even the soundtrack was high quality and Grampy had even MORE energy in restored technicolor.

    Have seen this film many times on TV, video and YouTube. This multiple restoration effort is the pun intended, PARAMOUNT, of this film. Even more than that, it got a nationwide TV debut on MeTV’s Toon in with Me.

    I hope there will be resolutions made for more restorations in the New Year pioneered by Jerry Beck and crew as well as the Fleischer Studios.

    I also hope new generations will watch this at Christmastime…heck even if someone does Christmas in July…or anytime for that matter just to look at the animation.

  • This restoration of CCBOAY really does blow the cord out of every print I have seen over the last few decades…although last year’s transfer by Thunderbean of a British 35MM print of the short was, until this year’s formal restoration, the best it had ever looked given the element presented.

    All the clarity and sharpness that we had been denied since 1957 when UM&M took over the rights can finally, for the first time since its original 1935 release, be seen the way it was meant to be. A great job indeed from the powers-that-be. The door is truly open for all the Color Classics to be issued on Blu ray in an official capacity.

    Thank you everyone!

  • Seeing Christmas Comes but Once a Year restored in such pristine quality totally takes it to a whole new level that this new generation will surely enjoy, especially the ending with the Christmas tree.

    Thanks Steve.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *