May 5, 2016 posted by

Thunderbean Update: Restoring “Cubby”

This week, some news on Cubby, and an open forum for debating what to work on! But first, a few pictures and an update on the Cubby Bear Blu-ray:

Here’s Sandy Fry (below, right) and Scott Christy (left) working on the Cubby Bear set at the Thunderbean office. The Cubby clean up is coming along great. Over the weekend I was able to finish off a couple that were well in progress as well.

sandy-Scott Christy

Many of the Cubbys we we were relying on for the set had been stored in the same case on two large reels. These were collector Chris Buchman’s nearly-mint prints, kept carefully over many decades. Chris is one-half of the Blue Mouse Studio, along with Rex Schneider. I helped co-produce three DVDs with them so far: Back the Attack (a collection of World War Ii films), Grotesqueries (spooky shorts from the 20s & 30s) and An Interview with Walter Lantz. Chris is a virtual encyclopedia of film knowledge, and a joy to work with. One of my favorite memories was bringing over a Technicolor print of ‘Let’s Go’ a 1937 Columbia Rhapsody, and watching the joy and disbelief on his face as the film colorfully lit up the room. In his own collection, stored neatly on shelves, I had been eyeing those reels of Cubby cartoons for a good ten years, knowing I’d be borrowing them sometime in the future.

They were mostly 1948 print-downs from Modern Sound Pictures made using a 35mm negative, reduced optically as each print was being made. These are easily the best quality prints available on these films. Sadly, when we opened the 35mm can storing all the films on two reels, we discovered an almost worst-case scenario. After many years of storage, it was clear that one of the films on one of the reels had started the first stages of the dreaded ‘Vinegar Syndrome’. This chemical breakdown (and the acidity it produced in the closed can) affected all the prints to varying degrees on the two reels, leading to varying degrees of curving, from mild to severe. Chris was heartbroken as we projected several of these, watching them fly in and out of focus rapidly.


We were able to do very nice transfers from many of those prints by soaking them in film cleaner, winding them on reels backwards, and then placed in a can with Camphor for 3 weeks. All of this relaxed the base enough on these vintage prints to get a clean scan. I’ve heard of all sorts of ways to deal with curved films over the years. Many collectors swore by ‘Vitiafilm’ a highly caustic film cleaner that I used to get all over my hands as a teenager in the 80s. It cleaned off everything, and I mean everything- like the spoons coming out of a caustic liquid in old cartoons! It was a great cleaner but deathly toxic. These days I don’t really touch the stuff, though I do have a small container. After much effort, a few were still focused challenged and unusable, so other prints had be tracked down.

Here’s a couple pictures of one of the curved prints, as well as a picture of a film with some of the Camphor pieces on top of it. Placed into the cans to sit, they soften the base of the film, making them much more pliable. That said, it’s hard to say if they’ll be further affected by their exposure to the Vinegar Syndrome prints in the coming years, but for now they project beautifully again.


Camphor300Cleanup has been a challenge on the set. Some of the films are really clean, while others had their share of wear. A few are composited from several prints from a similar vintage. The negatives sometimes had dust that required extensive cleaning. I was able to upgrade several prints we had already started cleaning, and original title versions have shown up in more recent days as well of more. I watched the final version of ‘Opening Night’ yesterday in the auditorium at the school, and it’s wonderful to see a Van Beuren Cartoon look that good.

We attempted to transfer a long-destroyed print of ‘Bubbles and Troubles’ with Pat Matthews at Motion Picture transfer. Unresponsive to cleaners or camphor, I tried a last ditch experimental effort on the print, ironing it slowly with a clothes iron at a semi-low heat. It sort of worked, and much of that print is now projectable, but not good enough to get a decent transfer out of it.

As Cubby Bear and the Abbott and Costello set wraps up here and ‘Flip’ and the Bunin project take a larger seat, I’ve been musing about the possibilities and thinking about how the summer is looking for production at Thunderbean.

It’s a time of changes here at the company; things have been really hectic at my full time job, teaching at the College for Creative studies. We’ve been reviewing student work all week, and next week is the student graduation and show- then, some down time that really isn’t- I’ll be cranking on getting Thunderbean stuff done!

cubby_bear_posterThe company is on the verge of expanding into some retail stores. This is a big step that we’ve been wanting to do for some time. There’s also an animated project related to one of the sets that we’ll be doing a Kickstarter for (more on this soon!). There are many projects that I’m really interested in pursuing, and have been in some cases with great luck. Others aret stuck back in development hell. Funny how these things stack up! I know I’ve asked this before here, but I thought I’d do a ‘state of the state’ to see what projects *you* folks area most interested in seeing reaching the light of day.

Projects get held up for various reasons of course. I’m starting to have enough odd circumstances from these that could fill a small book, but then again, we’re going after unusual materials that are often less-than priorities for the licensors. I’m still very much enjoying doing the sets, so I’ll continue the pursuit, although sometimes it feels like going down a dirt road by yourself. I so badly want to talk about the evolving plans of a bunch of things, but just can’t yet.

What keeps my morale high on these things is seeing the results, and hearing how everyone is enjoying them. Once a project is done, I often don’t see it for a while. It’s nice to let the dust settle a little; I’m sure many of you feel that way about projects.

I’d love to hear what you folks think should be things to pursue, and what I’ve also haven’t thought of. There’s quite a few things that have a great possibility of moving forward, so if I don’t respond here a mention of them, it may be because we’re already working on an agreement. I can tell you we’ve been knocking around a set of Noveltoons in HD, Commercials, A Stop Motion Set and some others. What are the things you would you like to see released?

Have a good week everyone!


  • I’d love to see you do a collection of all the Ub Iwerks Columbia cartoons.

  • Thanks for all the work you and your colleagues are putting down, Steve! I’m really looking forward to the Flip The Frog set, and I vaguely remember reading that you were working on a ComiColor Cartoons set as well.

    Other than those two I’d love to see you release more 1930’s and 1940’s color cartoons like:
    Mr. Bug Goes To Town
    Color Classics
    Color Rhapsodies
    Happy Harmonies or anything by Harman & Ising

    • I’ll second the Mr. Bug idea…

    • Another vote for Mr. Bug.

  • I’d love to see:

    Color Classics
    Noveltoons Volume 2
    a set of assorted Paramount cartoons
    Mr. Bug Goes To Town
    Rankin/Bass’ Willy McBean and His Magic Machine

  • I don’t know what the situation would be regarding rights, but I would LOVE to see a complete set (or even a best of) of Scrappy cartoons!

    • Steve’s work on this blog has turned me on to the Scrappy shorts. So very fun! These would be fantastic!

  • Dear Steve Stanchfield, you’ve already given us so much to enjoy, but I’d love to see some Columbia Cartoons on DVD or Blu-Ray. I’d also be interested in a non-Betty Boop Talkartoons set. And if you’d be able to present ‘Mr Bug Goes To Town’ like your stunning version of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ my joy would be complete!

  • I’m excited that things are going so well. I’m on board with anything that you would decide to do and I’ll leave the suggestions to people more well versed in the possibilities.

    I will say that I am always a sucker for stop-motion and I do love the mid-century style, so I’d love to see more of that on Blu.

    Continued good luck on all your projects!

  • I love the work you do Steve, especially the WWII-themed collections. What I’d like to see you do next may be of a more recent vintage than you are willing to work with: The Family Dog CBS (or Amblin, or whoever owns the rights) doesn’t seem the least bit interested in releasing it, so maybe they would license it cheap? If not, maybe a Kickstarter would work? Anyway, that’s my vote.

  • Hi Steve!
    I would like to see a restored HOPPITY GORS TO TOWN with original Paramount credits.

    A nice set of Harman-Ising’s HAPPY HARMONIES.

    Lantz OSWALD THE RABBIT and Fleischer’s KOKO THE CLOWN.

    Have finally to congratulate ALL you do about the golden era of animation.
    All the best, Martin

  • Here are the essentials that are LONG overdue for a Blu-Ray release:

    P.S., Thunderbean could be the perfect outlet for RAGGEDY ANN and THE RAVEN once UCLA finishes restoration.


      Actually that would be my first choice, but do you think WB could be persuaded to license them out? They seem reluctant to do so even though they won’t release them themselves.

  • I second the Columbia cartoons.
    The Puppetoons that have not been released by Leibovit.
    And how about some international cartoons: Undersea Wedding, Der Scheeman, La Lina, etc.
    Karel Zeman features.

    • If we’re talking international projects, I’d like to see someone in the U.S. license the Mister Rossi shorts and features from Italy’s Bruno Bozzetto.

    • “If we’re talking international projects, I’d like to see someone in the U.S. license the Mister Rossi shorts and features from Italy’s Bruno Bozzetto.”

      Oh that would be nice. There used to a outfit out of NY that did distribute Bozzetto’s work in the US called “Italtoons Corporation”, but I suppose they no longer exist these days.

    • OOOHHH, how about some RARE wartime “trickfilmen” such as Der Storenfired (Germany), Van Den Vos Reynarde (Netherlands), O Ntoútse afigeítai (Greece), a 1936 Japanese cartoon that people know as “Evil Mickey Attacks Japan” (you heard right), and the Soyuzmultfilm wartime shorts without the annoying hard-coded subtitles?

  • EVERYTHING FROM PARAMOUNT! Especially Color Classics and Screen Songs (both Fleischer and Famous)!

  • >What are the things you would you like to see released?
    Sometimes, I wish someone would make a Blu-Ray of restored pre-1929 Aesop’s Fables. They’re all public domain(?) and they have a sweet charm to them, even though they were silent cartoons. Oh yeah, plus Farmer Al Falfa.

    Sadly, there’s too many of them to be restored. Paul Terry and his crew amazingly produced 400+ cartoons in a 8 year timespan, which would be too much to go through, also considering how a bunch of these Fables might only survive in 8mm/16mm as shortened home movie prints or TV dupes. Maybe a “best of” collection featuring a selection of the Fables throughout the years would be suitable.

    Besides the Fables, I do want to see Max Fleischer’s Color Classics and unironically, his Stone Age cartoons. If you somehow gain rights from Melange Pictures to kickstart Mr. Bug Goes To Town, my life would be COMPLETE! No need to say anything more.

  • I’d like for you to do:
    Jerry the Troublesome Tyke
    Paul Terry’s silent Aesop’s Fables
    Another Cultoons volume
    Mutt and Jeff
    Out of the Inkwell
    Fleischer’s Talkertoons

  • I agree with any and all of the lists above but would especially like to see more from the Walter Lantz cartoons of the ’30s and ’40s.

  • Well, I’m waiting with baited breath for the FLIP THE FROG cartoons which I am hoping will be a Blu-ray/DVD combo like the WILLIE WHOPPER, perhaps my favorite set of yours of this moment. There are so many FLIP cartoons that I like, simply for soundtrack alone, like “SODA SQUIRTS”. I know it is coming, and I definitely want to be informed if there is akick-starter around some aspects of it.

    As for things that I’d like to see done, well, I’d love to see a COMPLETE BEANY AND CECIL, including episodes of “TIME FOR BEANY” and the resulting animated series, “THE BEANY AND CECIL SHOW”. And, yes, I know that, as of this moment, it is not doable, but my dream set would be either a COMPLETE HAPPY HARMONIES or COMPLETE BOSKO AND BUDDY SHOW, a name I’ve often given to my dream set of BOSKO and BUDDY cartoons from Warner Brothers, and the set would include pristine prints of all nine of the MGM Bosko cartoons just to show some what happened to the character once Harman left for MGM. Despite insensitivities, there are great visual moments in those cartoons that animation students can learn from them, and I’ve too often discussed these with my friend, Rachel Newstead, on the internet before for me to repeat the highlights, here. I’d also like to see you work, perhaps, with Arnold Lebavit to loose the entire PUPPETOONS series from its original copyright holder and release them, with commentaries and background on that period of George Pal’s life…and wouldn’t it be nice to have the complete “Q. T. HUSH”. I don’t know how much readers of this weblog know of “Q. T. HUSH”, but it was a fun little serialized bunch of cartoons featuring Dal McKennnan’s voice talents throughout with some nice stylized moments, and a score that sounds as if it were lifted from Tex Avery’s “WHO KILLED WHO”, even though it wasn’t originally a theatrical cartoon. This might be doable since I don’t believe it is wrapped up in red tape, but you check with Jerry Beck or others on this one. To me, it is a cult classic, along with all episodes of “COURAGEOUS CAT AND MINUTE MOUSE” from Sam Singer Studios…and you could even reissue that series. A&E Home Video’s set of these is wonderful for its completeness, but I just wonder if there actually are better prints available of some of them. Okay, these are nowhere near perfect cartoons, but the sheer absurdity of some of these episodes make viewing so much more enjoyable.

    Oh gosh, I have so, so many ideas, and I don’t know anything else about titles that you’ve actually gotten the green light to produce and which are taking so long and that you cannot discuss, but I’d even like to see another set of disks on classic TV commercials, dating back to, say, the CHOO CHOO CHARLIE ads for Good’n’Plenty and Good’n’Fruity candy and, yes, those terrific Jay Ward commercials. I wonder if master prints are available on those at all since General Mills holds on tight to the rights to the original scores and even dialogue on the Jay Ward early filmographies. Again, this site’s experts can tell you a lot, but wow, to see some of the stuff, the brilliantly entertaining ads that Jay Ward Studios had done for just about anything would be a whole lot of fun, or how about ads that just feature classic toon stars like Beany and Cecil or Alvin and the Chip Munks or opening credits from classic TV shows that have the sponsor mention intruding on the opening credits and were never issued to DVD or restored on sets of the classic shows.

    Aside from all these suggestions, I can only mirror the others in suggesting more NOVELTOONS, perhaps a first hefty volume of SCRAPPY titles, the restoration of “MR. BUG GOES TO TOWN” with another outstanding program of Max Fleischer classic cartoons as special feature, or maybe even the complete Max Fleischer SUPERMAN cartoons with *NO* spliciness or wrong intros at all. I know prints like that exist somewhere!! And, perhaps, a disk or disk set around politically incorrect cartoons and, if the occasional public domain Warner Brothers title is used, find the best possible copy of each title. I know this sounds like so much repeated dialogue to those who know me, but hopefully, these suggestions will help you decide. But, wow, that FLIP set will be a major favorite of mine for years to come! As one character says in “SODA SQUIRTS”, “It’s colossal!!”

    • Yes, Bosko and Buddy would be great for release in restored versions.

  • Steve, I agree with all of the lists listed here so here’s my two cents worth
    The rest of Paramount/Famous Noveltoons and the Famous Screen Songs
    Help restore the original titles to the Warner Brothers cartoons that were re-released as Blue Ribbons
    And help on the restoration of the Famous Popeye color cartoons
    Guess we are all saying that you are very respected in cartoon/film restoration. Thank you for your hard work and interest in classic cartoons.

    • It blows my mind those color Popeyes from Famous never got the proper treatment in a restoration / disc release. Another great suggestion!

    • It’s been said that the Famous Studio Popeye shorts would be released in time for the CGI Popeye movie, which doesn’t seem to be cancelled.

  • Decent versions of “The Snow Queen” and “Hansel and Gretel”
    Scrappy (and likewise Krazy Kat)

    Or pretty much anything you feel like doing. I’ve enjoyed all the Thunderbean titles.

  • It’s funny. I was thinking I’d be the only one to write in MR. BUG GOES TO TOWN. That being said, the famous CENSORED CARTOONS, plus others that are somewhat related. I don’t think WB’s Inki and The Mynah Bird were racist, but they haven’t shown them on TV since the 60s.

  • Most worthwhile to see released for my five cents are :-

    Terrytoons set done in the way the Walter Lantz sets were done.

    Crusader Rabbit

    Puppetoons complete collection

    It would be so nice too to have Mr Bug on blu-ray, it’s such a beautiful film.

    and …. How wonderful would it be to have the MGM Hugh Harman’s and Rudolf Ising’s on blu-ray …. I would be amongst the first in the que if this became a reality !

    Thanks For You Much Appreciated Efforts Steve ! …. and already looking forward to the HD Noveltoons you just mentioned…

  • Fleischer Superman license deal to do a rescan and full restoration of the films, they deserve to be seen as close to how they looked on the silver screen back in the 40s. The fact they are just sitting there “kinda” restored in SD is a damn shame.

    3D cartoons Blu Ray

    Fleischer Popeye in HD

  • And yes, Scrappy in HD

  • Keep doing the great work you do Steve!

    Am especialy looking forward to the Bunin
    & would love to see –

    Mighty Mouse
    (Which is crying out for restoration)

    Inkwell / Koko

    Mr Bug Goes To Town

    More stop-motion

    Obscure Eastern European animations
    up to the 1970s

    A restored widescreen version of Jiri Trnka’s stop-motion
    “A Midsummer’s Night Dream’
    ( 1959 I think )
    with the English language soundtrack featuring narration by the legendary
    Richard Burton ( & other actors as the cast ) –
    I’ve only got a fairly poor copy in pan & scan of this last one – from a few years ago.
    There is a lovely Czech language only widescreen old Japanese release from many years ago but with no Burton & no English subtitles.

    Even better would be a widescreen release of it with both the Burton soundtrack & the Czech original language with English subs!
    Because of the Burton connection especially, it might even be a – relatively – big seller.
    The Richard Burton version is crying out for a good restoration!

  • Yes the Famous Popeyes will be a challenge. The Technicolors for the missing picture and end music elements, especially when the Paramount logo is involved in some of the endings. The Cinecolor Popeyes look ok with original beginning and end titles/music; something to build on.

    Now as for the Polacolor Popeyes. It seems there are some that are complete like the Cinecolors. But there are several (Lumberjack and Jill, Hot Air Aces, Pre-Hysterical Man for example) that used the A.A.P. prints as the only source and the color being dark and muddy and with film damage in places. Let’s hope there are better source material still in existence.

    • Doesn’t Turner have copies of numerous 1940’s Famous Studio Popeye cartoons with original titles?

    • Warner Bros. has the original negatives of the color Famous Studios/Paramount Popeyes. When the time comes (hopefully soon) they will restore them properly. We all just have to wait a little longer…

  • Working on the Cubby Bear cartoons first hand, I can attest that they are going to look phenomenal when the Blu-Ray comes out!

    As for what I would like to see, a lot of you have already mentioned some projects I’d love to see. I’ll reiterate what some of you have already asked for:

    -Mr. Bug Goes to Town
    -Ub Iwerks Comicolor series
    -Ub Iwerks Warner Bros. and Columbia cartoons
    -Winkler and Lantz Oswalds
    -Happy Harmonies (and other one shot MGM shorts)
    -A Censored Eleven set

    I think what I would like to see more of, and we talked about this when I stopped by last month, is I would love to see more commentary tracks. I know my fair share of animation history, but I’m no where near as knowledgeable as many of the great contributors on this site, so hearing from them, especially on these rarer cartoons, would be a real treat.

  • Any Fleischer set would be welcome given how poorly represented the studio is on DVD/Blu. I’d especially love to see a do-over of the Betty Boops, properly framed, without Olive Film’s refusal to do any research bugging things up.

    • I honestly don’t think Fleischer Studios is underrepresented on DVD, especially with the Popeye volume set, Betty Boop Blu-Rays, countless Superman DVD’s, Thunderbean Gulliver Blu-ray, and the VCI Color Classics DVD, though they are in need of an HD upgrade. If anything, the rest of MGM is overdue for DVD/Blu-ray, especially Tex Avery. How can such an animation genius not have his own DVD/Blu-ray collection?

  • So film warping can be due to an iron deficiency?

    Who knew!

    As always, keep up the good work!

  • I have a weird question, Steve. Would you be remotely interested in trying to do a chronological Betty Boop set (or series of sets) including the public domain shorts? I personally would be interested, as a fan of animation and a burgeoning fan of anything having to do with the Motion Picture Production Code, especially regarding the resulting changes that were made, to see how the cartoons evolved over time as the Production Code took hold of Betty Boop and have it all in one place.

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