Original Rankin/Bass 'Rudolph' puppets up for sale, but have an enormous price tag


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/12/21/original-rankin-bass-rudolph.html


My wife worked for a while at Cuppa Coffee Animation here in Toronto and while there she re-built a lot of the original characters, including Rudolph and the Burl Ives Snowman for some kind of sequel that was done and again for a Rankin-Bass homage episode of Always Sunny In Philadelphia. I’m sure she could do it again for far less than what these folks are asking - though I’m not sayin’ she would.


“What I’m trying to say is, Rudolph, with your nose so bright…”


I said it on a previous thread, and I’ll say it again here: you must visit rankinbass.com. Suck it, Space Jam: this thing is still being updated.


Now Santa and Rudolph were sold and meticulously restored…


I find it really odd that I keep seeing references to the “Ship of Theseus” around here, and other places. Is that just you? Was there recently something that brought it to people’s forebrain? Or am I just suffering confirmation bias?


It seems like the identification of these as original production used puppets is coming exclusively from how they were made.

And frankly I don’t buy that. Armature puppets, particularly those used in a couple of productions. Break down fast. For puppets from the 60s, regardless of what they were made of to look this good. I’d have to assume they weren’t used much if at all. Or that they were produced later. They may have come from Rankin bass but just based on how good they look I wouldn’t think they were the originals or production puppets.


These seem culturally significant enough that they should be in a museum, if not the Smithsonian. Or, as someone else said…


Well, it’s a pretty common metaphor in biology, given that you still see yourself as “you” despite the turnover of cells and their components…


I understand, I’m just remarking on the sudden uptick in usage. For a reference I heard maybe a dozen times while in university, it’s jarring to come across it that often in, maybe, a month?


If I remember correctly, the first time the owner appeared on Antiques Roadshow, the armatures were indeed in poor shape. It appeared the children of the show employee who aquired them played with them rather roughly.
I think the appraiser recommended a restoration expert take a look at it, and later, they did wind up being restored. I also think I remember the set featured on one of Antique Roadshow’s “then and now” specials.


Nope, not me, we just have some well-educated commenters. I knew about the paradox long ago, but recently learned the name.


growing up red-sea-pedestrian in North East Texas?

this was one of my absolutely fave xmas shows…

until? MadTV did “Raging Rudolph” - - which absolutely made it so much more.

Rankin Bass is the bomb-diggity.


Pass. I bought a toy train from that company once and when it arrived I noticed they didn’t even bother putting round wheels on the caboose. Talk about poor quality control.


YES YES YES - thanks for the link - love it- absolutely made my morning


I’m sure some collector would be willing to pay a hefty price for that, but twice what Robbie the Robot the went for? No.


Love the $7.60 shipping on the lot.


“Lipman was convinced that these two dolls were the original production puppets,”

OK, so there’s no verifiable provenance for these? Just a “feeling” they are the originals?

That spells “Sucker bait” to me right there.



While it is neat to see animation history preserved, this endeavour is (appropriately enough) rooted in pure fantasy. For comparison, I was a big fan growing up of the French / Polish animated series called Colargol, also known as Jeremy Bear in Canada. For many years, the show acted as my Google Litmus test, as I searched for more obscure bit of show trivia and ephemera. I created the mandatory Geocities page, wrote an article for FPS Magazine, and followed up with my greatest accomplishment. I tracked down the original creator of the show in Kraków Poland, and went to visit him. I first corresponded with him by email, using online translators to assist. Along the way, I also began commissioning replica puppets to be produced to their original specifications. I distributed perhaps a dozen or so to fans all around the world, and kept a few for myself. The expense of the puppets varied, but were generally a few hundred dollars each. Towards the end, I changed currencies to Euros, for the benefit of the creator, who was by this point, 75 years old. He generally signed and dated the base of each model, so there is direct provenance there (the earlier ones perhaps were not dated.) All of the puppets came after my article was published, for anyone keeping score of such things. He had also created similar puppets for museums and local collectors prior to my commissions, so they are certainly not one of a kind, but still very limited in number. One of the puppet owners did attempt to sell a puppet or two on eBay somewhere in the neighbourhood of $10-15,000, but there were no buyers. I would suggest these Rankin/Bass puppets are very likely still close to that original estimate of between $8,000 to $10,000, and any amount above and beyond this would perhaps only be achieved at a charity auction. I just don’t see them as being significant enough in the grand scheme of history. Here are a few photos from my collection. https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmv/sets/72157594349075377