Things are so busy and happening in Thunderbean-land that I’ve elected to fill this space this week with a reprint of one of my favorite posts from the first year (2013) that I started doing these. Posting a reprint buys me some extra time to finish a transfer and a clean-up… and you’ll thank me for this later. So without any further ado…
This was one of my favorite things when I was a kid – Red Raven ‘Movie’ Records!
These worked sort of like a zoetrope, with a continuous animated movie drawn in a circle around the record. They played at 78 RPM if memory serves. Even as a kid, I thought the ‘Red Raven’ looked an awful lot like a Terrytoon character, especially in his cameo appearances in pretty much every record among the other characters. Seeing the animation and designs these days, I’d venture to say the animation was from someone working at Terrytoons or Famous… what do you folks think?
I’m pretty sure my mom bought this set new in the late 60’s for me. I think I had about 10 of the 20-some records that were made. There is a set in at least one other language as well with the same animation. Some people date these from the late 50’s- if that’s true they were selling them in stores for many years…
Here’ s a good example of what these look like in motion:
…and here is a great youtube video that someone made from many more records than I had… and they did a pretty good job of lining things up! I always liked the animation on these a lot and was so happy to see this posted:
At around 9:44 on this video is the song Teddy Bear’s Picnic. I always found this song to be creepy, even as a kid. The frog animation seems to owe something to Preston Blair’s book….
Here’s a ‘sort of’ related film featuring the Teddy Bear’s Picnic theme. I think it sounds positively sinister and menacing in this film, like it might be played while robbing someone’s house. The song must have scared children with the middle theme that sounds like Bluto is about to show up, and it’s stern warning that it’s better to not leave home. I found in that big box of Jerry Nelson films I talked about last week, along with Scrappy cartoons and other things… So, here from the Australian Travel Association is Teddy Bears at Play, likely from the early 30’s:
My grandma gave me one of these in the mid 50s when I was maybe 5 or 6. She never knew what a profound effect it would have on me, inspiring my interest in film. In the 90s I bought two at auction in their original display box. The songs are so creepy I sometimes play them on my show Crazy College, dedicate to all musics odd, silly or forgotten. Those records meet all three requirements.
Isn’t this the song you used to advertise the Fleischer Rarities set on YouTube, with Popeye singing?
They were copyrighted in 1956, so they must have been animated around that time. Some of them look like they might be animated by Paul Sommer.
One of the pleasures of Movie Records was making your own. I even had a little light box that my dad built for me that allowed you to trace things – that improved the result immensely.
Here’s one I did that shows the inner workings of a 4-stroke engine. Yes, I got the Red Raven in there!
A guess a lot of us had these records- my older brother got some first and they were in 78RPM format. Being 4 years younger, I finally inherited them- along with some newer ones in 45RPM. (They look better at 45RPM speed.) I still have a handful of these left from my youngest childhood including the mirrored carousel (although now the mirror is a bit foggy). I’ve heard before that Preston Blair animated these- I’m not certain, but I can believe it. In any case, who ever did the animation really knew what they were doing.
Can confirm they were still being sold in toy stores in the early 1970s, since that’s when I was getting them. I suspect they were the very last 78s to go out of print. They went away when the speed stopped being included on kiddie record players.
The last pressings are the ones to have, since they’re pressed on durable colored vinyl rather than styrene (which the labels fell off of) or the original cardboard-based picture discs from 1956 (which came apart). The yellow vinyl ones were made of the same stuff that Mayfair Records used – that sometimes darkens to red and then black over time. (Most of the so-called “splatter vinyl” discs are yellow ones that are turning red.)
Hey – Looks like there’s a Facebook group. https://www.facebook.com/redravenmovierecords/
A more complete 16mm element of ‘Teddy Bears At Play’ with fewer splices and a complete ending title card has shown up in the Chicago Film Archives. It is dated circa. 1959, but you are possibly right on how the film could be older.
Wow, lot going on in the “roughly completed reference” video –
Red Raven looks like a red version of Heckle and/or Jeckle.
They managed to get Red Raven into every cartoon EXCEPT four: “Here Comes the Cake”, “Said the Little Chick”, “How Much is That Doggy In The Window” (its a red parrot there) and “The Little Red Engine”. I thought he was missing from “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” but you can just see his beak at the top of the frame.
The mouse at the bottom of “The Farmer in the Dell (3:39) is a dead ringer for MGM’s Jerry.
The characters in “Three Little Kittens” bear a suspicious likeness to the polite Warner Brothers “Goofy Gophers”.
Nearly all of the songs are nursery rhymes or other public domain tunes, but “The Syncopated Clock” (2:30), “Three Iddie Fishies” (3:45), “Frosty The Snowman” (4:10), “Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail” (7:09), Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” (8:01), Santa Clause is Comin’ to Town” (8:25) and ” East Side West Side” (8:39) are popular tunes, and would probably still have been under copyright – I wonder how much they had to pay to license them?
The raven’s peeking around the top edge of the label on “The Little Red Engine” and “Here Comes the Cake” too. He’s also on “Doggie in the Window” – INSIDE the store, behind the doggie. I don’t see him on “Said the Little Chick” though. Weird.
There are a lot of copyrighted songs on the records, some of which just aren’t widely recognized today because they didn’t take off, such as “Pee Wee the Kiwi” (Dorothy Olsen) and “The Wobblin’ Goblin” (Rosemary Clooney).
“Suzy Snowflake” was a Christmas hit from 1951, recorded by both Rosemary Clooney and Dale Evans. It also got a charming stop-motion film https://youtu.be/xaUBpsn4QjQ .
And at least two Red Raven tracks – “Little White Duck” and “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” – are actually licensed recordings from Cricket Records (Pickwick’s children’s label).
A complete listing of this label’s output can be found at 78dscography.com (q. v.)
There were a total of forty sides–twenty double-sided discs–released, and all are listed at the above website.
I remember seeing some of these among the collection held by our “Junior First” grade class at San Cayetano School in Fillmore, California, in 1960.
I also remember that, along with these discs was the RCA Victor “Little Nipper”storyteller of “Johnny Appleseed”, and a goodly number of Columbia-pressed discs put out in conjunction with the publishers Silver Burdett. Those appear to have been pressed around 1955-56.
I had a few of these as a kid. Unfortunately, at the same moment my dear parents purchased them for me I was discovering the Beatles. The novelty wore off quickly.
I REMEMBER THESE AS A 4 OR 5 YR OLD. MY SISTERS AND I WOULD SIT FOR HOURS ON OUR TILED BEDROOM FLOOR AND PLAY THEM OVER AND OVER. I MISS THE MEMORIES OF THE TUG BOAT WITH THE PUFF OF SMOKE POPPING OUT THE TIP WUTH THE FISH JUMPING OUT OF THE WATER. THE LITTLE BLACK BUG (and he swam and swam all over the dam) What beautiful simple long summer days I often long for. But it would be easier to purchase a few. I haven’t been able to find any for sale.
I have a bunch of these records I’d be happy to sell to you.
I do not have the magic mirror though.
Are you on FB? Please message me if you are.
Awesome! How much would you sell them for? my email address is email@example.com
if you would like to contact me.
I had one Red Raven disc, Sidewalks Of New York / Bicycle Built For Two.
It is long gone.
Never had the mirror piece, but did see one in action one time.
The effect was interesting, but not overly impressive.
I was recently cleaning out my parents house and came across a whole stack of these Red Raven records that I used to listen to as a kid.
I was wondering if you knew anything about (what I assume are) the catalogue numbers printed on the label?
I have a bunch that start wih “M”, some that start with “OM” and a couple that use an “SM…/MB…” number (those also show a Canadian patent date of 1961.
All the others are “Pat. Pending”.
I have about 20 of these records, total.
…..alas, I lost the magic mirror years ago. =(
Any information you can provide would be very helpful, or if you could point me to someone who could help, that would also be greatly appreciated.
If you prefer to contact me personally about this, that would be fine, as well.
Thanks in advance.
Are you willing to sell the records? If so, for how much?
I really wish I could find one of these! I would love to show my grandchildren!