December 3, 2015 posted by

“Hardrock and Coco and Joe” – and A New Christmas blu-ray/DVD!

Thunderbean updates: I want to thanks everyone for all the emails, both this week and over the last few months. I’m so happy people like the Snafu and Willie sets – and even happier they’re done! I’ve been a little overwhelmed here with all the Snafu orders- a good problem to have-but thankful everything has been sent now and arriving- so if you ordered and didn’t get yours yet, it should arrive within a few more days.

The little break from production was short-lived- as I was waiting for Snafu to come back from replication, we continued on film transfers for upcoming sets. I’ve been working on a blu-ray/ DVD combo set called Yuletide Flickers with my good friends Chris Buchman and Rex Schnieder for a little while. They suggested the idea of putting out a ‘special’ version of the set now rather than next year, with the films not completely restored yet. I agree…

Over the past few weeks we’ve been busy transferring the rest of the material. It won’t be all cleaned up, but the prints looked quite nice.

So, here is Yuletide Flickers offered for the next few weeks only. It features rare films from 1920 through the late 50s (including a lot of cartoons) with a Christmas holiday theme. They’re transferred from mostly 16mm prints, but some really nice 35mm too. Here are the titles:

flikers-case600Live action shorts:
A Visit from St. Nicholas -1922
T’was Night Before Xmas- 1928
The Toyshop – 1928 2 color Technicolor short
Christmas Time in Toyland
Merry Christmas
The First Christmas
Night before Christmas

Animated shorts:
Five Orphans of the Storm -VB/ Terrytoon
Pals- Little King-Van Beuren
The Shanty Where Santa Claus Lives- Harman/Ising
Suzy Snowflake-Stop Motion
Frosty the Snowman-UPA
Hardrock-Coco and Joe-Stop Motion
Toys Will Be Toys- Famous Studios
Hector’s Hectic Life- Famous Studios
Christmas Daze- Australian
Santa’s Surprise- Famous Studios

We are limiting it to 120 copies, and is a BDR (blu-ray) and DVD-r (DVD) combo. We’ll be sending them by next week so that everyone has them for the holidays. This set is limited to US customers for now. It’s $14.95 plus $2 shipping. If you’d like to order, visit the Thunderbean Website here for details.

This week’s cartoon is one of the films on the set, Hardrock-Coco and Joe, the Three Little Dwarfs (why is it never the correct spelling ‘Dwarves’?). It’s a odd little favorite- a sort of pre-curser to the Rankin-Bass Christmas specials. My good friend, author, Stop Motion and 2D animator Ken Preibe seems to especially like this little short – when we started to transfer things I insisted on a good print of this. This was one of a series of little shorts produced as bumpers between programs for local Television stations. Three of these are stop motion, and one (Frosty the Snowman) is animated by UPA productions. Castle films released some of them later to the home movie and rental markets. I really like both the song and the oddness of this little film. The design of Santa always reminds me of the early Beany and Cecil puppets.


I find I always like the underdog in animation, and maybe that’s why I like this otherwise happy little film. There is barely a plot, so the thing to remember is the single mention of Joe being the useless Dwarf- so I find I really feel bad for him. He really gets a bad wrap in his only starring role. The lyrics of the song at least mention him, but the fact that that Santa really has no use for him is both funny and tragic. At least he brings him because he loves him. That’s very nice, but somewhere on that trip I bet otherwise happy Joe sheds a tear at the lack of confidence Santa has in him.

Then again, maybe it’s justified. It leaves me to wonder if Joe really isn’t capable of following directions or something. I would think we would at least be able to help Hardock or Coco when they got tired. If I were him, I would have asked for a rewrite.

Have a good week everyone!



  • Hardrock,Coco & Joe, Suzy Snowflake and UPA’s Frosty the Snowman aired on WGN during the Christmas season back in the 1950’s and 1960’s and were featured on Bozo,Gar and Ray WGN TV Classics that aired on WGN ten years ago in 2005.
    What was interesting was Hardrock, Coco & Joe was done in a Doo Wop style, Suzy Snowflake was done in a A Capella style and Frosty the Snowman (which was the only one of the three that was done in cel animation) in a jazzy A Cappella style and the kids in that cartoon all look almost like Gerald McBoingBoing.

    • Another WGN viewer here – the trio of Hardrock, Cocoa and Joe/Suzy Snowflake/Frosty really spell Christmas for me. They showed up on WGNs kids’ shows Ray Rayner and Friends/Garfield Goose/Bozo’s Circus (with the most azz-kicking Bozo ever, Mr. Bob Bell).

      Just ordered a copy -I’m really looking forward to this one!

  • No trace of this on the Thunderbean website. At least I couldn’t find it.

  • Actually, “dwarfs” has always been the conventional plural form of “dwarf.”

    It was J.R.R. Tolkien who used the variant “dwarves” in his writings. Since then it has come into more fashionable use. But even though Tolkien’s variant is likely more grammatically correct (he was a linguist, after all) the most commonly accepted plural of the word is still “dwarfs.”

    After all, if the plural of “wife” is “wives” and the plural of “wolf” is “wolves” it makes sense for the plural of “dwarf” to be “dwarves”. Still, a college professor would probably mark the word as incorrect and “dwarfs” as correct. One of the strange quirks of our English language.

    • “,,,and, THAT, Charlie Brown, is what Christmas is all about.”

    • …and when twitted for using the wrong variant in the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien said “I wrote the OeD entry and I can change it if I like.”


    • Arrrgh! I’m goin’ down to the pub and toss me some dwarves. After that I’ll shelve some elves.

  • Woot!

  • I’ve ordered my copy, even as I hold out hope that a future edition will include copies of “Christmas Comes but Once a Year” and Iwerks’s “Jack Frost”. Heck, I’d gladly chip in to a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign to get the rights to use Paramount’s archive copy of the former. (Reiniger’s “The Star of Bethlehem would be a welcome addition, too.)

    “Hardrock, Coco, and Joe” is such an odd little song, but it’s a childhood favorite and still holds a lot of sentimental value. I’d like to know who performs the song for the cartoon, as they’re quite good at it.

  • I would be delighted to order this, but even after visiting the Thunderbean website, I have no idea how to do so.

    • This page has ordering information:

      In brief, send the purchase price to Steve using Paypal, making sure to include “Yuletide Flickers” in the comments of your payment.

  • It’s always great to see things that I’ve never seen before. Thanks for the update and all the hard work. I’ve ordered my copy.
    I also second Jody’s idea of a crowdfunding campaign as well. Anything that helps you out in these marvelous endeavors.

  • Then again, maybe it’s justified. It leaves me to wonder if Joe really isn’t capable of following directions or something. I would think we would at least be able to help Hardock or Coco when they got tired. If I were him, I would have asked for a rewrite.

    It does make Joe sound like a Special Needs individual the way he’s written in the tune.

  • Is the print of “Five Orphans of the Storm” the Castle “Christmas Cartoon” print, or does it have original titles, or more likely, recreated titles? BTW, it looks like a nice collection.

  • “TV Funhouse” did a takeoff:

    • Not having had WGN as a kid in the 80’s, I never saw any of the stop-motion shorts that parody was spoofing, yet they did such a great job on that, it’s the only more tolerable segment I liked in Comedy Central’s “TV Funhouse” series (namely the animate stuff, the anipals I could live without).

  • Aw, too bad for me. It’s not available outside the US…. Looks very nice, though…

    • That is a shame you’re missing out on American yuletide goodness (expect for that one entry from Australia).

  • I ordered mine. I grew up on the Centaur and UPA shorts in Chicago via WGN TV. I learned a lot about them recently with all of my Rankin/Bass work. Wah Ming Chang did the stop-motion animation and Hardrock’s replacement faces exist in a famous collection today. Wah did many things with George Pal and for television (I believe on Star Trek) and he also designed the Shrimpenstein puppet. Love his work! Love the UPA stylings in their Frosty the Snowman too! Can’t wait to get this set! Thank You for doing it! Let me know if there is any help I can give you promote it.

  • Christmas Comes But Once A Year was supposed to be on this set but, alas, my non-faded color print has been misplaced.
    The space on the shelf has a tag saying “On Loan” but I am sure it came back. Heavy Sigh!

  • Is the plan to put out a more restored version of this set next year then? If so then hopefully that edition will be a regular title that can be shipped outside the States?

  • I’ll be ordering this. I saw your post on YouTube. It’s the clearest, sharpest version of “Hardrock, Coco and Joe” I’ve ever seen.
    I shared it on Facebook (and will be sharing the blu-ray link), and answered a question from a friend:
    Cathleen Ann asked, “Every time I see this I wonder why the elf is named Hardrock. Why? Why??? It’s so weird. It haunts me.”

    My answer was, “I have no evidence, but I suspect Hardrock is a (now) long out-of-fashion drink. Coco(a) is obvious, and Joe was slang for coffee.”

    Of course, *now* I had to investigate.
    *HA!!!* Found it.

    “Hard Rock Cafe” got its name from an album by the Doors. The Doors got it from a seedy bar at 300 East 5th Street (Skid Row), Los Angeles. It opened in the 1930s.

    The composer of “Hardrock, Coco and Joe,” (actually titled “The Three Little Dwarfs”) was Stuart Hamblen, who also wrote “This Ole House {Rosemary Clooney} and [Open Up Your Heart and] Let the Sunshine In {Pebbles and Bamm Bamm.}
    Hamblen had been “saved” by Billy Graham. Before that, he was a cowboy singer on radio – in Los Angeles – who slid into alcoholism. So I’m guessing he spent a lot of time at the Hard Rock Cafe.

    (“It could happen!” – Judy Tenuta)

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