THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
February 6, 2020 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Kinex in HD: “The Land of Wiz” and “The Land of the Wooden Soldiers”

A simple post this week. It’s snowing like anything here in Detroit as I write this, so I hope it’s not too slippery out!

We did a scan session yesterday morning that was both fun and moving quite a few projects forward. One of the coolest things was getting to scan an additional print of Bird Scouts of the Rainbow Parade Volume 1 set. While not perfect, its a marked improvement on much of the film in terms of the layer alignment, so I’ll be happily cleaning it up- bringing to a close-again- the first half of the series. Other projects in heavy work right now include lots of ‘special’ sets and the two Stop Motion Marvels sets.

We’re extending the ‘special’ discs for an additional week after a bunch of requests, so look on last week’s post for the link if you’ve missed some.

Part of today’s session included some of the Kinex shorts that were produced for Kodak. These are Little Stop Motion shorts that were sold and rented at camera stores in the late 20s into the very early 30s. Kinex wasn’t in business for very long, but this peculiar little films have survived, although some of them are quite rare.

Two of the five Kinex shorts I scanned today were sort of tied together story-wise, so I thought it might be fun to show the raw scans, fresh from the telecine bakery! These are for ‘Stop Motion Marvels, Volume 1’- the Blu-ray upgrade to the DVD we released way back in 2010. Back then, we struggled for several years to find as many of the shorts as we could; now, all this time later, we’ve found nearly all, and are hoping the stragglers still show up before we finish. It would be great to have all of them on the set! We’re working daily on this title right now, to be followed closely by the long-awaited second set, with great surprises on it!

The Land of Wiz and The Land of the Wooden Soldiers follow the adventures of Chip, the Wooden Man. improvements over the earlier episodes in the series. The first film follows Chip’s battle with a bird-character who eats the Centipede pulling his wagon, then onto a wizard giving Chip a Dinosaur to ride in the next episode! In the second episode, Chip encounters a fort with soldiers who are attacked by a giant metal dinosaur. Luckily, Chip is there with his Dino (who can think to an egg-size on command) to combat this metal beast.

I’m making the assumption that much of the animation for these shorts was done by John Burton, who would go on to make at least three shorts with sound using many of the same sort of characters. Burton seems to have abandoned stop-motion animation all together when he became a production manager at Warner Brothers in 1936.

There are some great improvements to the animation in these shorts in these two entries, especially in character acting/timing. The replacement faces are used especially well in The Land of Wiz , with funny expressions and timing throughout. The Land of the Wooden Soldiers is perhaps the most accessible of the series, at least in the amount of prints that have shown up through the years. While some of the animation is very primitive in these films, they’re much fun in their simple design and humor. I always have to wonder what the Kind studio would have produced had there been more success in their short sound entries from the early to mid-30s.

Here are the two raw HD scans we did earlier today— with quick sound put behind them. It’s nice to see these prints looking good in HD. What I’ve loved about doing the HD scans is seeing all the detail that you always saw from projecting these films but was lost in the standard def scans.

Have a good week everyone!

3 Comments

  • Looking forward to purchasing Stop-Motion Marvels when it comes out. I no longer have the DVD version as my old copy developed a crack, thereby making the disc unreadable (And by this time the old version had gone out of print)

  • I’m so looking forward to the release of both volumes of Stop-Motion Marvels! Such great stuff. Thank you so much Steve for your tireless efforts in tracking down these treasures and mending and polishing them for the fans! 2020 is really shaping up to be the year of Thunderbean, if it sees the release of Flip The Frog and Rainbow Parades.

  • Stop motion is infinitely more satisfying than CGI, primarily because there’s still a human element to it. Smoothness in animation is irrelevant when the essential soul is missing.

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