November 30, 2023 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Some Thunderbean news, Pooh and “The Great Bird Mystery” (1932)

To start things today, I was up at the office storage we have looking through some old things and noticed this poster from almost exactly 52 years ago. Sears, for those younger folks that didn’t experience this, was Winnie the Pooh branded for many years, selling Pooh licensed and branded merchandise that included clothing and children’s room accessories, but mostly lots of lots of Pooh and Tigger stuffed toys. My mom somehow got this mounted poster from them, advertising a showing of Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day as a special on December 4, 1971. Note that they’re decked out for Christmas, but of course the actual special wasn’t.

In Thunderbean news:
These weeks have been full as we work on getting orders for discs and special sets out the door. I’ve been helping pack nearly daily before school, then working on tweaking Tom and Jerry at night. Things are looking pretty good in terms of getting the set out to replication every soon and onto the second half of the Rainbow Parade cartoons in a more full-time way. The break from school in another three weeks looks to be filled with more film restoration and the great hope of finally getting to a few projects I’ve been itching to finish so I can actually talk about them. The best things are happening quietly these days. I promise I’ll be properly dressed for the occasion when I talk about them!

I wanted to make a quick point about the love of the medium of animation. Working at an art college, one of the great privileges I’ve had I’ve had is showing these films to people who have never seen them. The wonderful thing about animation is that it invites all of us to the party to enjoy it, not dependent on how much we know about the films and their creators, but rather to enjoy what was created. People can claim they are more qualified to talk about the films or talk about history, but the truth is there is room for anyone that would like to know more and learn more, taking a deep dive or a casual one. They are true gifts from the past, and can be entertaining and informative about the history of the medium. There are no interlopers, and no room for gatekeepers because, quite frankly, there are no gates to keep! In my history class, I’ve thrilled that people discover so many aspects and films they never knew existed. For those that teach the history and introduce these films to others, thank you. To all those who help preserve these films for the next generation, whether I’ve known you or not, thank you! I feel like we’re all doing a service to the people who made them in the first place, keeping the creations alive and entertaining us along the way.

It’s been a journey this year in terms of film restoration projects and moving many of the Thunderbean projects forward. There’s challenges ahead that are both exciting and difficult, but I’m smiling. My dad told me a corny joke when I was a kid- he said you can tell a happy motorcyclist by the bugs in their teeth. I don’t think my teeth have too many bugs, but there’s maybe some broken sprockets and splice tape stuck in them somewhere.

Last weekend we opened up the vault of ‘special’ discs and offered them for a few days over the weekend. Since we didn’t let folks know here on Cartoon Research, we thought we’d offer them again now through the end of the weekend— so if there’s any you’ve wanted but missed this is a good time to get them. They’re at

And, as is the custom here, it’s time for a Scrappy Cartoon!

There are time when I wish I was alive in the 30s since there would have been a possibility of see one of these cartoons when it was new! Here’s one I didn’t see for many years since I was never able to find a print— but now have! The Great Bird Mystery (1932). Dick Huemer is one of my heroes.

In this especially bizarre Scrappy cartoon, Scrappy builds a bird house that is immediately overtaken by way too many transient birds. Then, in a strange twist, the cartoon abandons that storyline entirely and concentrates on a little bird that falls into the disfavor of “Cock Robin” who frames that poor little bird for ‘killing’ him. The bird is put in animal court (with Cock Robin’s dead body attached to an arrow).

I really love the animation in this one, especially a shot of Oopy dropping off the little bird in front of the judge, pointing to him and proclaiming “He did it!!”. Full of great poses and funny action, this cartoon seems to have Scrappy and Oopy jumping into Krazy Kat’s animal world rather than one populated by humans. But, then again, why not. It’s a cartoon! There’s a lovely shot at the beginning with Scrappy building the bird house, and it’s happy in a way I wish all animated films could be. Thanks so much, Mintz artists and animators- and keep the faith, cartoon researchers.

Have a great week everyone!


  • While that Sears poster isn’t exactly in the Bela Rieger class, it’s still disturbingly off-model, especially Tigger. That is meant to be Tigger holding the gift-wrapped box, isn’t it?

    Thanks for posting another Scrappy cartoon that’s new to me, and in such good condition! I love Dick Huemer’s character designs, so the courtroom scene was funny-animal heaven for me. Whoever performed the bird calls on the water whistle was a real virtuoso; I wonder if the same person recorded bird calls for the early Disney Silly Symphonies? It sounds like the same style to me.

  • That was an early design of Tigger, which found its way into some of the promotional materials, and especially in the records. Although “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger” and “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too” showed the character as he appeared in the movies. But even granted that this is an alternative early design, all of the characters are somewhat off-model in the promotional poster.

    I sure do remember the days when Sears was tied with Winnie the Pooh. I especially recall the plush Heffalumps and Woozles, of which we had several. Couldn’t get enough of those characters even though they only appeared for about 2 minutes in the movie.

  • Steve:
    I just ordered Less Seen Looneys. Can you or someone tell me what cartoons are included?

    • Good question. Thunderbean offers several interesting-sounding collections, but for my $16.95 and up I like to know what titles they contain.

  • Thursday is my favorite day of the week, on account o’ ’cause it’s always Thunderbean Thursday.

    It’s too bad, Mr. Stanchfield, that you were unable to find a maybe-complete print of the Van Beuren Tom & Jerry cartoon “Jolly Fish” – but Heaven knows you tried. I’ll be happy with whatever I receive.

    EXCELLENT that you were able to find a 35mm print of “The Magic Mummy,” as you reported here several weeks ago! That is, I agree, a key cartoon in that series.

    Never saw a Scrappy cartoon – maybe I should watch one of these here posts! I know virtually nothing about Columbia Pictures Studio cartoons, except what I’ve read about them in the 2nd (2011) edition of Graham Webb’s “The Animated Film Encyclopedia.” One thing I do know about them is that the infamous Charles Mintz was involved – until he conveniently died in 1939.

    Mr. Stanchfield, if you havaminnit to respond: Will the five Waffles and Don cartoons, including the 1932 one “Magic Art,” be included in the Tom & Jerry set? Hope so. Looking forward to receiving – and watching – the whole set!

  • Steve, thank you for your note on animation. In, out of, and between factions of animation fandom – there is way too much in-fighting to benefit the medium, and that goes for way beyond the scope of this site. Even people who aren’t steeped in animation history/fandom will say that *their* cartoons are better than the ones that kids today are growing up with – and the cycle *will* repeat, I’ve seen it happen.

    I treasure the people who will take cartoons – no matter their origin – as what they are.

  • So much in the way of fun memories here in each of these Thursday posts. I always look forward to each week. Thanks again for all you do.

    I am also enjoying the special disks. They are wonderful! Makes me wish you handled everything regarding restorations for every major studio! I grew up seeing theatrical cartoons on television, and that’s the way I was introduced to them. I never got my chance to see them in movie theaters, but I’ve been to classic animation festivals in the 1980s, which is where I found out a lot of the history that I was never introduced to on television. It filled in a lot of blanks in my mind, and got me very excited for classic animation that I missed seeing as a child. I know there is still so much out there to be found, and I hope you and others find it, and fully restore it. It is well worth your efforts, believe me, and those efforts are genuinely appreciated, at least by me!

    I always enjoy the “Scrappy“ cartoons that you post whenever you can post them. I also enjoyed late 1950s Paramount Famous cartoons. I just got done watching a YouTube video of “La Petite Parade“, couldn’t get that little marching song out of my head and it became an earworm. They were always so funny to the point where I remember, memorizing the dialogue in those cartoons, and I noticed that the narrator voice, and the voice of the irate citizen in that cartoon. Also did voices to translate episodes of “Astro boy“, as most of the male characters in those episodes. I wish I knew his name; he is a very versatile talent.

    I look forward to the finished Van Buren “Tom and Jerry“ set. I love the music in those cartoons, and I’m sure they sound even better on Blu-ray. Good luck in finding the best quality!

    • I believe the voice actor you are referring to – from La Petite Parade and Astro Boy – is the very prolific Gilbert Mack.

  • I’ve never really seen a Scrappy cartoon myself – about the only time I’ve seen the character mentioned in pop culture outside of animation circles was a snarky listing of “The Little Pest” in an old article about ‘disturbing old cartoons’.

    All things aside, I can see why Scrappy was such a success in the early ’30s – the animation definitely feels more advanced than the usual output of the era and the character has enough of a personality to make him stand out. I’ll have to seek out more of these shorts, there’s definitely some rewatch value to be found.

    Also, with regards to that Pooh poster at the top – I don’t think it was drawn by any Disney artist, but by someone at the local Sears store who needed to get a poster out before Thanksgiving and used the promo art lying around as reference, hence why it looks so off-model.

  • I remember the Sears & Winnie the Pooh tie-in. I remember there was a TV commercial with a jingle for it, “It’s Sears for Winnie the Pooh, it’s Sears for Winnie the Pooh”…
    Plus they could sell all kinds of Pooh mercahndise when the big Sears Christmas catalog came out!

    • Me,too…..!

  • ♬The great toys, for great kids, are in the Big Toy Box – at Sears.♬

  • Another notable trivia about the Pooh-Sears association. All airings of “Blustery Day” were for unknown reasons doctored from the original theatrical presentation. Over a minute of the “Heffalumps and Woozles” number was edited out in the middle (cutting away before the appearance of the drum major woozle, and resuming when the little yellow heffalump lands to shoot a popgun trunk at Pooh’s rear). In its place, they aired the “last chapter” sequence about Christopher Robin going to school, and we sat goodbye – exactly the way it first appeared on the big screen in the compilation feature, “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” The thought of making the project feature-length had obviously already been in the works long before the three original shorts were ultimately combined. and the “last chapter” was evidently a piece of footage that had wound up on the cutting room floor, produced many years before its big-screen debut. This makes one wonder how much, if any, of the bridging sequences added to the feature were actually animated at any time close to the feature’s release, or whether all such sequences were already in the can at the time the decision was made to release the theatrical first editions as three featurettes.

  • I kind of like the off-model Tigger; he’s closer to the Milne original than the over-rendered Disney version. Weird Piglet, though. Is that an open mouth, a stuck-out tongue, or is he about to go into his Maurice Chevalier? What I guess is the bottom of his snout would have been a cute smile.

    • To be honest, I’m sure the off-model Tigger would’ve been very hard to animate, dimensional wise.

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