California Raisins

Remember the California Raisins?

Do you remember the California Raisins? I sure do…for starters, I remember actual raisins from California. I’ve always had a love hate relationship…great in old people cereal but they make a pretty lousy snack. For the most part, I’ll buy a package of tiny boxes of the dried grapes, eat them the first couple of days, then get real bored, real fast. But enough about California raisins…let’s talk about California Raisins.

In the 1980’s, The Claymation Giants at Will Vinton Studios produced commercials that would change the raisin game forever. Suddenly bluesy anthropomorphic raisins were everywhere! TV, radio, novelty items…even one of those cool stuffed toys that hung on your car window (usually reserved for Garfield) I have a vivid memory of Raisin Mania…what I don’t remember however, was the actual California Raisins Show.

This ends today.
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California Raisins: “Meet The Raisins”

California Raisins Part 1

So far this cartoon is pretty freaking great (by my standards anyway) to start with I have always been a huge fan of Claymation and Stop-Motion, if you couldn’t figure that out, and Will Vinton was one of the legends. The character design is fantastic, the doowap and Motown rock hits are outstanding and the fruit related puns are non stop. Together that is a formula for success! The entire show is done in a faux documentary “behind the music style that really works with the program narrated by a nerdy british carrot, showing video clips on a vin-tone television (get it?)

Up until now we have seen them ditch an early member of the group (a “bitter” grapefruit) and then go on to success after hiring his replacement ala The Beatles dumping Pete Best for Ringo Star.

They became a hit on a singing reality competition gameshow that I would actually watch wherein if the contestants did not have enough talent they would be squashed, heated up or otherwise brutalized on national tv. Now that’s entertainment!

Side Note: they also have these great commercial breaks with fruit and vegetable related products and television shows including “hair styling products” and a Vegetable Soap Opera “the young and the seedless”

California Raisins Part 2

They’ve begun to pop the Grapefruit guy into the background as an ongoing joke (he’s constantly trying to get into the act.)

The Raisins career has hit a sour note since their discovery on national tv. They had to start over, performing on the street, then live elevator music and then singing telegrams; in a brilliant scene in which they terrorize and nearly kill a mountain climber. They gain national attention for saving his life and are once again discovered, this time by a Raspberry, Italian film maker. And are put into a Spaghetti Western where they apparently use live ammunition.

**they star in some other movie parodies including a 2001 a space oddysey movie and my personal favorite a star trek parody! “My alien side does not reason…but my raisin side say mmbo bowow boppa mmbow ba bow…” Pure Brilliance!

California Raisins Part 3

The raisins go on a goodwill tour through the arctic circle and play for snowmen, penguins and a walrus.

Not surprisingly the tour loses money and the crew begin their flight home, broke and frozen together somewhere over the US the plane gets struck by lightning and crashes right in the middle of a concert by Lick Broccoli and the herbacides (the current band of the grapefruit ex member)

The Raisins steal the show…literally. They thaw out and start playing for an audience that apparently hates the herbacides even though they are sitting in their concert. (maybe they were assuming a better band would crash an airplance into the concert hall and start performing?) at any rate the crowd and the tv audience at home eats up the Raisins and they go on to greatness and fame (in the 80s).

The End.

California Raisins Recap

There really isn’t too much more I can add to this. I wish I would have seen it sooner. I watched this, so mesmerized by the claymation that at times I wondered if I enjoyed the show as much as I thought, or just fell in love with the visual masterpiece that it was. In reality the writing was my cup of tea, the puns were great and the ongoing gags never got old. Although only produced in 2D animation (my second favorite animation style) this production makes me want to check out the television series. I hope it wont leave a sour taste in my mouth. Nobody likes sour grapes.

Will Vinton Claymation Walrus from 1987’s “A Claymation Christmas Celebration”

Over the years I have become a sucker for this Will Vinton claymation. Marry that to the fact that I am a big fan of walruses and you will see why this find from Hake’s is difficult to resist. It is a:

7.25” tall figure of Walrus from waist up shows forlorn-looking ice-skating walrus from the “Angels We Have Heard On High” segment of the 1987 Christmas special “A Claymation Christmas Celebration.” Character is composed mostly of clay with hard plastic eyeballs. Figure has some wear as designed to be moved/molded frequently to achieve the appearance of movement/transformation. Fine overall.

Forlorn is right, look at this guy…

will vinton walrus

Will Vinton Claymation Walrus from 1987’s “A Claymation Christmas Celebration” [@] Hake’s

Will Vinton Claymation Figure “Rex”

will vinton rex

If I owned some Will Vinton figures I would be soooo tempted to use them for my own lame stop-motion work. So it is probably good news that I do not own any of these remarkable pieces. That does not mean I cannot look. This Will Vinton Piece, which is being sold at Hake’s is:

12” tall full body figure of dinosaur host Rex used in the 1987 Christmas special “A Claymation Christmas Celebration.” Character appeared as part of a narration duo. Figure sits atop 4.25x5x.5” tall “Will Vinton Studios” pressed board base. Character is composed mostly of clay with hard plastic eyeballs. Figure has some wear as designed to be moved/molded frequently to achieve the appearance of movement/transformation. Large crack at bottom of coat with smaller cracks at right shoulder and left elbow but figure remains structurally sound. Fine overall.

Will Vinton Claymation Figure “Rex” [@] Hake’s

Will Vinton Claymation Figure – Alpo Dan the Dog

alpo-dan

Hakes is selling another Will Vinton Claymation Figure, this time it is Alp Dan the Dog, who was used in late 1980s Alpo dog food commercials. It would be a great addition to a dog lover or Will Vinton lovers collection. According to Hakes:

6-5/8″ tall clay figure stands atop 4.25×4.5×1-1/8″ tall wooden base. Created by The Will Vinton Studio for use in a commercial advertising Alpo dog treats c. late 1980s. Soft vinyl dog collar around neck. Depicting a shaggy sheepdog w/his hands clutched in front of his stomach and licking his lips, Dan’s eyes are not visible due to his shaggy hair. Figure has some wear as designed to be moved/molded frequently to achieve the appearance of movement/transformation. VF+. Great comedic likeness.

Will Vinton Claymation Figure – Alpo Dan the Dog [@] Hakes