October 1, 2015 posted by

“Willie Whopper” on Blu-ray/DVD – Finally Here and Shipping Now!


I’m happy to announce that the long awaited Blu-ray/DVD combo, Ub Iwerks’ Willie Whopper is finished and shipping this week! The pre-orders are being packed as you read this, and the set is also now available on Amazon
(with great box art, above, by Stephen DeStefano):

Ub Iwerks Willie Whopper cartoons are a wonderful little series, all gathered together for the first time on Home Video. This is the first in a series of sets we’ll be releasing of the Iwerks’ films.

willie-whopper-13It’s been quite a journey on this project- it’s been in progress for nearly the whole year. While a little bumper and a lot longer than I had hoped, it’s happily finished well. The team worked really hard to make the set look as good as possible,and having access to the best master materials was both a joy and a challenge. We’re especially happy to have both the color entries in the series restored from their original camera negatives.

As the project was in progress, many members of the team commented that they had a new appreciation of the animation in the series. After working for many months on the digital restoration of the cartoons, I do as well. The early to mid-30s is a period of great improvement at all the studios in nearly all areas of filmmaking, with the Iwerks cartoons becoming more polished. The talented staff on these films went on to produce many great films in the years to come.

Extras on the set include a 12 page liner notes booklet, Still Galleries of Publicity, original production art and products, surviving pages from Willie Whopper Outlines and Scripts (including the never-produced ‘The Early Bird’), Bonus cartoons, Jazz Recordings features in Willie Whopper Cartoons and more.

David Shepard of Film Preservation Associates has been an amazing partner on the project, making sure it moved forward well and granting full access to he finest material throughout. UCLA Archives and the Academy have also been valuable resources throughout, as have the wonderful and generous collectors, who provided the bonus materials. J.B. Kaufman wrote really nice liner notes for the set; I wrote some notes about the production, and Chris Buchman did a great job with liner notes on the music featured in the cartoons. I think we’ve done good service to the films and the creators, collectively. Thanks to all.

Here are a few frames from the restorations on the set – click to enlarge:



At Thunderbean, we’re not able to get as many projects done this year as we had hoped, but we’re all very happy with the outcome of the ones we have so far – and the others will be done before too long- helped along by the revenue from the two sets that just finished. For this waiting with baited breath, the Private Snafu set is in replication right now and will be back in the coming weeks. The special ‘Thunderbean Thursday’ set is also almost done and will ship as soon as we can.

The pre-order bonus Willie Whopper glass is shipping directly from the factory within the next week or two (but of course you’ll have the disc set first).

Here’s a little montage of clips from the new set. Thanks to everyone for their support, suggestions and help.

Now, onto Flip the Frog!

Have a great week everyone!


  • Well done, Steve. Looking forward to getting my copy very soon. I have a feeling the Flip the Frog set will be a two disc aet, due to the larger filmography.

  • I can’t wait to get this! What are the bonus cartoons included?

  • This is exciting news! Willie, Flip… any hints about the rest of the series?

    And will we end up with a full set of jelly jars in the end? 😉

  • The bonus cartoons are Funny Face and two different other versions of ‘Hell’s Fire’ besides the full version. Vulcan Entertains (b/w) and ‘Masquerade Holiday’. Some big discoveries yesterday on the Flip the Frog project- 35mm prints of *all* of the ones we only had in 16mm were discovered at an archive overseas- so the Flip set will be all 35mm, with most from the camera neg or MGM’s Fine Grain. VERY excited about that!

    • That’s awesome! I know you’ll do a great job on Flip the Frog!

    • I nearly had a heart attack! This is too much to take!

      Points for the alternate “Hell’s Fire” prints.

    • Amazing, Steve! Terrific! Thanks again for your magnificent job! You are one of my heroes!

    • Nice, quiet announcement at finding the remaining 35mm materials for Flip! That is awesome news!!!

  • This looks great! I can’t wait to see them! Once again, a great big “Thanks!” to you and the whole Thunderbean Team for taking the care that you do in preserving these films. I’m looking forward to ALL of your other projects.

  • Well done Steve! Will order soon.

  • Thanks, Steve – and thanks Grim Natwick, Shamus Culhane, Al Eugster and Berny Wolf (among others). A bunch of my favorite cartoons are on this set.

  • YES! Very much so… the Iwerks studio doesn’t get as talked about, but so many major talents worked on these films. They are true heroes..

  • Steve-
    Frames from restoration look killer! May get my grubby lil’ hands on this puppy in the near future.
    PS- Flip the Frog looks majestic on the cover. Is that pose of him from a model sheet or somethin’?

  • Wow! First GUMBY THE COMPLETE 1950’S SERIES and now this…*AND* good news about FLIP since I love the soundtracks for some of those, including “SODA SQUIRT”…and where do you find these lost jazz recordings? I’m so happy that I could help jump start this project. I agree that the mid-to-late 1930’s are important years for classic cartoon development, not only for Eiworks but for Warner Brothers as well, and there I’m also talking about some great soundtrack moments as the studio develops its recognizeable style and comedy timing. Experiments in animation are not to be scoffed at, even if some might think they failed outright! I’m so overjoyed that you’re striving to preserve these films in the Eiworks library, and I wish you could do the same for all the classic animation studios. My friend ordered a copy and I’m sure we’ll be discussing these when we both get our copies, and I’ll drink a toast to you and your talented staff once I get the glass. To quote from FLIP THE FROG, “It’s colossal!!”

  • Who-hoo!!!!! Sill no word on those Vam Beuren discs from earlier this year though. What’s up with that?

    • In process. Willie is actually helping that along…

    • Excellent, excellent set! Just got mine and it’s truly breathtaking to see these so vibrantly on a “big” screen (well, bigger than my old 28″ tube set anyway!) Awesome work Steve (and crew) and good news that sales of this is helping the Beuren set get replicated…it’s the one Thunderbean title that doesn’t feel as “finished” as the rest. Also finally looked at everything on the Gulliver disc, just amazing. And SNAFU to come? Thanks for all you do. CR.

  • Can’t wait to see these Willie Whopper cartoons. I’m curious to know if the color versions of the Flip the Frog cartoons “Flying Fists” and “Little Orphan Willie” have been located and will they be on the Flip The Frog set?

    • Maybe. Honestly, that’s my answer until I actually see them in person.

      There does seem to be prints in existence at an archive that will be inspected soon to see if we in fact have these in color..

  • I like the fact that there is almost no cropping of the frames…

    What was the soundtrack playing in the background of the promo video?

    • The hot jazz record used in this “Willie Whopper’ trailer is “Somebody Stole My Gal” by Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra, recorded in 1930.

  • I hope you should do the ComiColor series. I have all 15 of the Ub Iwerks cartoons on 8mm and a few on 16mm and they are the Castle Films titles. Castle acquired 15 of the ComiColor library from 1933 through 1936 from “Jack and the Beanstalk”, “Jack Frost”, “Mary’s Little Lamb”, “Old Mother Hubbard”, “Simple Simon”, “Don Quixote”, “Balloon Land (aka ‘Pincushion Man’)”, “Little Boy Blue (aka ‘Big Bad Wolf’)” and just to name a few, and they were available in 16mm sound and the silent editions in 8mm and 16mm with inter titles, and they are all in black & white instead of Cinecolor. That was in the 1940’s when the whole Ub Iwerks’ ComiColor cartoons were distributed through Castle Films. After many years, the rest of the ComiColor cartoons that Iwerks produced were bought out to Blackhawk in the 1970’s after Castle Films had the few remaining cartoons until 1977 according to the book “Castle Films: A Hobbyist’s Guide”.

    If I have plans to share all of my silent versions of the Ub Iwerks’ ComiColor cartoons that Castle Films distributed at the time, it would be on a future Thunderbean Thursday.

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