June 1, 2023 posted by Steve Stanchfield

“The Complete Animated Adventures of The Little King” on Blu-ray!

The Little King blu-ray set is back from replication! We’ll be sending the pre-orders in the coming days along with a special bonus disc. It’s listed on Amazon as of today as well.

Once these sets are done, I really love just watching the set as if we didn’t put it together. The work of Jim Tyer and George Stallings as well as the rest of the Van Beuren staff holds up pretty well exactly 90 years from when these cartoons were made. I think we’ve done their handiwork good service with this set.

Trying to find the best prints for a series long scatted to the wind as the Little Kings are was a challenge as many of these sets are. Since we had produced a DVD version of these cartoons (17 years ago now!) I had some idea of where many really good elements were and who to ask as well as gathering things for the set over some years.

The 16mm distribution of the Little King shorts really kept the series seen over the years. Most of the ones distributed by Official films have many prints still floating around, with one film, Pals, easily having more prints than any other since it was Christmas themed and heavily advertised each year.

Official’s prints from the early to late 40s on the Kings are easily the best of the ones they made for a specific reason: they made those prints as a direct reduction from a 35mm negative for each print. Later printings were done as a 16mm contact print from a 16mm negative. Those prints generally look pretty good, but are much softer compared to the earlier and rarer print down versions. Other prints distributed in England have their original titles intact but are printed nowhere near as nicely. We used many of those prints collected over the years by Mark Kausler, Tommy Stathes and myself for their original title sequences.

Several other elements were pretty unique, including Mark Kausler’s print of ‘The Fatal Note’ that not only had the original titles but also had the RKO logo opening (as occurs in some of the first Cubby Bear cartoons from the same period). Mark’s sharp print of “Jolly Good Felons” was also the best that seems to exist, also with original titles. Back in the early 90s I had scanned a 35mm print of the same film. While that prints seems long gone, hidden in an unknown collection, we were able to use the soundtrack from that scan for this release.

The icing on the cake for me was gaining access to the original camera negative and track for ‘Marching Along’, part of the nitrate holdings of Sony Pictures. These elements appear to have been left by accident during the 50s. Special thanks to Sony Archives for their generosity.

Chris Buchman did a series of wonderful little bonus features for the original set, and I’ve updated them to HD for the new set. I added an additional bonus feature for the set featuring the full-frame scan of “Marching Along’ featuring the Rufle Baton.

The set arrives back from replication today. Here’s a preview of the collection we’ve put together, burps and all:

And, as a special treat, here’s “Marching Along” with the Rufle Baton, prepared for the close associates and now shared with everyone here.

Thanks to everyone for helping support these crazy projects. I’m really grateful we’ve been lucky enough to work with all this cool material.

The collection is available at the Thunderbean shop and Amazon.


  • Congratulations to the entire Thunderbean team and its network of film collectors for attaining this milestone!

    And, “oh, mein goodness!” What a treat to be able to see the Rufle baton marching along through a complete cartoon. The main tempo of the music throughout is 120 beats per minute, or one beat every twelve frames; however, the opening scene is set with the beat every 14 frames, approximating (i.e., slightly under) the metronome speed of 104 beats per minute. Then, the tempo increases to 144 beats per minutes (beat every 10 frames), for “Happy Days Are Here Again”. Thus the music is slowed down to depict the poverty of the Depression, and sped up to convey the excitement of the economic recovery. A simple enough idea, but it all had to be planned and executed with painstaking precision.

    My only disappointment is that, for all the musical paeans to the National Recovery Act, the N.R.A.’s blue eagle logo doesn’t appear anywhere in the cartoon. (I thought I saw it for a fleeting moment, but it turned out to be a chicken.) But it warmed my heart to see the Little King’s cooks feeding the hungry populace in the end, to the rousing strains of “God Save the [Little] King,” or “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” or whatever words you want to put to it. A glimpse back into our history that we would do well to remember. Long live the Little King!

  • I am so happy I pre-ordered this one first announced. I cannot wait to get my copy after hearing the samples that you’ve included here in this article. Good luck with other projects yet to be completed. I especially look forward to “flip the frog“.

  • Congrats Steve on this latest Thunderbean release. I have no doubts that this set will incredible. Can’t wait to get my copy.

  • Already have mine ordered!

  • Congrats Steve! This set looks great! I love the Little King Cartoons.
    Pardon me for asking this if you’ve already answer it, but how did Sony end up with the Van Beuren films?

  • Excelsior ! ! !

  • Congratulations, Steve and the whole crew! I can’t wait to see it!

  • One of the most common things I heard/hear from people in business is, “No one is interested in that but you.” That’s why I’m not in business. The work you are doing is important.

  • I’m very honored to have loaned my print of “Art for Art’s Sake” for this set. I love the style the Little King shorts are done in. The Van Beuren Studio did a great job bringing the character to life, I think they are among the best looking shorts the studio produced.

  • Two different New Deal programs are alluded to, here. One, the National Recovery Administration, was part of the National Industrial Recovery Act passed in June, 1933. The other is alluded to with “reforestation,” and likely refers to the Civilian Conservation Corps, created formally by executive order in April, 1933. The cartoon itself was released in October, 1933. The CCC had a relatively long life, being closed only in 1942 when the crush of World War II made it obsolete. The NIRA, while popular at first, encountered problems, in that it created semi-sanctioned monopolies and cartels, and its drive to boost unions created a great deal of friction in the business community, along with regulations. Just before it was due to “sunset” in June of 1935, in May of 1935 the Supreme Court ruled the Act was not constitutional (in the famous “sick chicken” case). Various films boosted NRA early in its run; for example, during the “Shanghai Lil” sequence of WB’s “Footlight Parade.” You can also see the NRA Eagle in one of the early Willie Whopper cartoons.

  • So that Betty Boop one’s not on there? I know it’s on The Other Betty Boops.

    • It’s on the set, from an NTA original.

  • Nice to see a Blu-ray release, considering today was the last day of school (at least from where I live).

  • Woo hoo! Can’t wait. Thanks Steve.
    Also can’t wait to show a few to the granddaughter!
    14 and she loves the early cartoons I show her.

    • That is awesome! I really love that….

  • Hi Steve, I have an earlier edition of the LITTLE KING collection on a burnt BluRay from Thunderbean (got this from you many years ago). Are the same films on each, just different levels of restoration? Cheers!

    • Hah, I think I answered my own question this morning. I popped it in and the main film list on the old disc is the same as those listed in your shop. Then I got caught up watching these and realized I’ve got to get the restoration so I just ordered it along with your latest announcements. Can’t wait to watch the restored films and bonus features. I now have 23 Thunderbeans pending and couldn’t be more excited. Looking forward to the Flip pre-orders being soooooo close, the annual Halloween disc and I’m crazy excited about volume 3 of mid-century animation.

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