Flashback Reviews: Attack of the 30's Characters and Return of the 30's... - Forum.
Justin Delbert
I remember when becoming a classic cartoon fan getting Return of the 30's Characters first because I heard good things about it. I got it with about 12 or so frames of a cartoon in 16mm silent (not sure what one, but's it's all faded in Eastmancolor). I knew about the first one (Attack of the 30's Characters), but I figured it was way too late to get it. Well, over the weekend and most of last week I went to Charleston for Conference Tournaments and there was a mall next door with an f.y.e. While picking up Sailor Moon merchandise, I was surprised to see Attack of the 30's Characters of all things and looked new (I think). So I picked it up. I viewed the disc. Now I think I'm ready to give my take on that series of DVD's (and hopefully bring back memories for both the fans and Steve Stanchfield).
First of all, like many early things such as cartoons and TV show episodes, you now have to view these discs with that mindset. Today, that's not how to put out DVD's because of the world of high definition and better pixelation and video processing, but back then, there was almost no such thing (it was just starting at the majors such as Disney and WB). So I'm looking at the sets for at the time of it's release.
That said, the best one is the first one. Not because of the titles nor the cartoons themselves, but just the mere fact that about every major studio is represented on this disc including Disney. Yes, at least ONE cartoon of that era is in the public domain and it was a Mickey Mouse. However, notice in the back packaging no mention of Mickey nor Disney as Disney was and still is sensitive about ANYONE ELSE putting out Mickey Mouse or any Disney characters other than themselves. Come to think of it, WB is currently more than ever like that too, so for Steve to put Porky Pig would be much harder to write on the back cover also (and that's why you don't see WB cartoons on PD DVDs anymore despite them still being in the Public Domain). So ALL the main 30's cartoon characters that sold really well are on here (that being Mickey Mouse, Popeye, Porky Pig, and Betty Boop), so there is some familiarity with those characters while others are a head scrathers to many unfamiliar or starting out like Bosko and Foxy, Flip the Frog, and Farmer Al Falfa. Maybe not so much Oswald anymore thanks to Disney, but even Tom and Jerry because it's not the famous cat and mouse duo.
The second one is also great, but it obviously focused more on the forgotten characters than the ones we remember. Gone are Popeye and Mickey Mouse, but we get rarer characters like Toby the Pup and Puddy the Pup from Terrytoons. Heck even Meany Miny and Moe are here and that's not even that good of a cartoon. You still had Betty Boop, you still had Porky Pig. Those early Looney Tunes were still around, and Oswald as well. There was a Flip the Frog cartoon on here that has never been released on DVD before which was a plus, and it still sampled nearly every studio (although not covered are Disney and MGM anymore).
The presentation is wonderful. All in chronological order and information about each cartoon to help curate the cartoons as to why these are important (something I've been fighting for a long time now). Quality varies with the cartoons however as these aren't the master material. However, they tried to recreate the original titles (they're not all correct, but they are close). The Bonus features are great and interesting, and each cartoon looks runable and fine to watch. Where as most cartoons in the PD sets are much harder to watch with even WORSE quality at times. The Paramount logos were present though not always correct (example, Song of the Birds), but authentic. The Porky Pig cartoons are no longer the redrawn colorized cartoons (with Porky's Railroad uncensored) which was a real treat for collectors. What strikes me is the print used for Lady Play Your Mandolin. It's excellent in quality, but I notice it's the same copy as shown on Cartoon Network's Toonheads special as well as clips on special features for Looney Tunes DVD's by the major studio. Which makes me wonder if WB no longer has the master materials for this cartoon anymore. Thankfully, it's in the PD and Steve Stanchfield can put it out.
Of course a lot has changed since the releases. WB released more cartoons on the Golden Collections and Poepye sets bringing better picture quality. Disney obviously restored The Mad Doctor so they're quality is FAR SUPERIOR anymore. Even Steve Stanchfield went back with some better restorations on what he's got with Tom and Jerry and Betty Boop. But if I were a fan back then and I had those sets, I would have been very happy (and even though it's 2015, I still even enjoy them for what they did). It was a stepping stone on what was to come from Thunderbean for bigger and better sets and now making Steve Stanchfield a well recognized cartoon historian now on Cartoon Research and a TV appearance on TCM. Somebody's gotta start somewhere, and these sets though not the very first ones, were a start. We all hope to see more from him, and maybe someday get more sub licenses as opposed to PD (we're getting that soon with Flip the Frog). I hope Steve has some stories about the two sets reviewed as a look back, because I really am enjoying them (ad the first one since I just got it and watched some of it during my trip).
I wish I had "Attack of the 30's Characters"! Though I do have "Return of the 30's characters". It was nice to see what the TV print of "Balloon Land" looked like.

Could you review the "Cultoons" Trilogy, Mr. Delbert? Volume 2 had the strange "Out of a Milk Bottle".
Justin Delbert
Originally Posted by: ParamountCartoons 

I wish I had "Attack of the 30's Characters"! Though I do have "Return of the 30's characters". It was nice to see what the TV print of "Balloon Land" looked like.

Could you review the "Cultoons" Trilogy, Mr. Delbert? Volume 2 had the strange "Out of a Milk Bottle".

No. Just flat out no. Why? Because I don't have that disc.
Bob K
Great post, Justin.

If you folks want more nostalgia, how about this?: I still have the original pre-Thunderbean "Snappy Video" VHS version of "Attack of the 30's Characters!" from way back in 1990.
It had a great cover that parodied old SciFi/Horror film posters. "See! Rubber Arms! White gloves! Dancing Animals!..Hear! Falsetto voices! Peppy Jazz Music!...Feel! Like bouncing happily through your living room!"

The lineup was just a bit different than the wonderful Thunderbean DVD described above:

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs TRAILER (1937)
Gulliver's Travels TRAILER (1939)
Congo Jazz (1930) - Bosko
Bars and Stripes (1931) - Krazy Kat
Piano Tooners (1932) - Tom and Jerry
Noah's Outing (1932) - Farmer Al Falfa
Bremen Town Musicians (1935)
Picnic Problems (1933) - Cubby Bear
The Mad Doctor (1933) - Mickey Mouse
Is My Palm Red (1933) - Betty Boop
Funny Face (1933) - Flip the Frog
To Spring (1936)
Jolly Good Felons (1934) - Little King
Beach Combers (1936) - Oswald Rabbit
Porky's Railroad (1937) - Porky Pig
A Date to Skate (1938) - Popeye
The Hunting Season (1935) - Molly Moo Cow

Steve and Thunderbean have come a long way, but the fun and quality were present from the very beginning!
Pretty cool Bob! The only Snappy Video I bought was "Cultoons Volume 1"; I still love and have that VHS compilation. (Its also fun to see how all of the cartoons on the tape, with the exception of "Googfy Goat" have been found in color prints!)
Wasn't "Attack of the '30's Characters" released after "Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black and White" (which had "The Mad Doctor")?
Ah, yes, I had a few of Steve's original Snappy Video VHS tapes, too. It's been nice that a lot of the cartoons on those tapes have ended up on Steve's Thunderbean discs. (I'm thinking they all have, but there could be a tape I didn't have that may have had something that never made it to disc. I don't know. I'm sure Steve does.) We've all had the benefit of Steve still plugging away all these years and getting good, classic stuff available to us. Thanks, Steve! -Craig