Saturday, March 31, 2007

Beep Business - The Many Commercials of the Road Runner, Part 2

Here are a couple more Road Runner inspired television commercials.

First, here's another Plymouth ad from 1968. This commercial is presented as a one-minute cartoon titled "Safe Drivers Always Win". Road Runner once again takes the wheel, while the Coyote tries to catch him in an Ajax Rocket Car.

After the success of the Bugs Bunny/Michael Jordan Nike commercial during the 1993 Super Bowl, the Looney Tunes started appearing in other Super Bowl ads. The LT characters were usually teamed up with various popular sports stars. Below is an ad from the 1996 Super Bowl featuring the Dallas Cowboys' Deion Sanders. His notorious speed prompted this commercial involving Wile E. Coyote and a booby trapped Pepsi machine!

That's all for now, folks!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Three Little Bops

It's kind of a diversion from what we usually talk about on this blog, but I thought this might be fun. Classic Looney Tunes are all but absent from TV these days, aside from a rotation of about 1/3 of the pre-1948 library shown once or twice a day on Boomerang, and Turner Classic Movies' blink-and-you'll-miss-it show "Cartoon Alley".

It's more important than ever, amid the new controversy over computer animation and Motion Capture and lowest-common-denominator "adult" series, to remind people what an art form classic 2-d animation was and is. All of the above media have their moments and a place in our culture, but it seems to me that animation producers in general are losing sight of what makes a cartoon appealing. Everyone wants to do way-out, bizarre designs. They want weird stories and characters. They want fantasy and fart jokes to co-exist. Everyone wants to make their show either safe for kids or "cool enough" for adults.

It seems to me that what they should really do is this:

1. keep it simple
2. make it EASY on the eyes
3. make the characters appealing
4. Make it funny
5. Make it fun to listen to

I was surfing through video sites on the internet trying to find something "weird" or "rare" or "interesting" to do a post about. I decided to stop the search for a minute and watch a fan's posting of Friz Freleng's 1957 classic "The Three Little Bops". It made me think of those 5 things I listed above, a mental list I keep of why modern cartoons suck so bad. "Misce-Looney-Ous" is not here to preach. We let the other blogs do that, because they do it better! But I'll ask you this, readers: Have you seen a cartoon in the last, say, 5 years, that was a good as this one?

The Three Little Bops

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This cartoon is Friz Freleng's "Three Little Bops", one of the few cartoons to not credit Mel Blanc at all, or feature him. The music was composed by Shorty Rogers, the song and character voices were performed by Stan Freberg. The timing and characters? Freleng and his animation crew. It's a one-shot musical cartoon from 1957, and I DARE you to show me anything kids are subjected to now that comes CLOSE to the appeal of this. As Daffy Duck might say, "I DAAARE you!"

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Beep Business - The Many Commercials of the Road Runner, Part 1

The never ending chase between the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote has been used in commercials over the years by a number of different companies. Matthew posted one of the ads for Plymouth last month. Here is a showcase of some other Road Runner related advertisements.

From 1981, Wile E. tries to catch the Road Runner, who is driving a Volkswagen Beetle:

From 1986, the duo play a major role in a bizarre advertisement for Hershey's chocolate... (How '80s can you get??):

Finally (for now, anyway), a priceless promo made for Cartoon Network (back when they were actually worth watching):

Thursday, March 22, 2007

C is for Cookie

Here is a product I have fond memories of from my youth, Nabisco's Bugs Bunny and Friends Graham Cookies. First introduced in 1979, the cookies and were available on grocery store shelves for a surprisingly long time. For years they were packaged in small rectangular boxes similar to Nabisco's Barnum's Animal Crackers. The front and back of the box had Bugs and pals building their own clubhouse. As you can see, the characters were drawn in the style of the 1970s Western comic books.

Pretty much every major Warner cartoon star had their own cookie shape inside the box (along with some supporting players like Petunia Pig and Henery Hawk). I remember enjoying some boxes of these as a tot in the 1980s and having no clue who "Cool Cat" and "Merlin Mouse" were or why they were important enough to get their own cookie shapes.

When the cookies first came out, Nabisco gave kids a chance to mail-away for a free Bugs Bunny Cookie Clubhouse kit with some proofs-of-purchases. Check out the hilariously off-model drawings of the Warner cartoon stars. I especially like midget Elmer.

The cookies survived through the 1980s and even into the 1990s untouched. They had same artwork on the box and same selection of cookie shapes (yes, even Cool Cat and Merlin were still in there). In 1993, Nabisco offered up a line of Bugs Bunny Graham cookies in larger boxes and in a few different flavors including cinnamon (seen below) and chocolate. The 1993 boxes had some updated artwork and a more limited selection of characters.

I don't have an exact date when these were discontinued, but I have heard reports of folks still finding these and the smaller boxes (with the 1979 artwork) in some areas being produced into the late 1990s.

Thanks to Tim Hollis for the pictures.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Die schnellste Maus von Mexiko

Speedy Gonzales was apparently popular enough to have his own TV show in Germany starting in 1972 --- complete with a theme song that I guarantee will be stuck in your head all day (even if you don't understand German). Don't miss the cameo at the end by a German speaking Road Runner (!!?).

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Looney Tunes references in other cartoons: Part 1

One topic I think is pertinent to "Misce-Looney-Ous" is "References to Looney Tunes in cartoons that aren't Looney Tunes". Bugs and the gang have been appearing officially and unofficially in series besides their own almost since the beginning. One of the earliest cameo appearances I know of is a 1940's George Pal Puppetoon entitled "Jasper Goes Hunting", in which Bugs pops out of a rabbit hole, realizing he's in the "Wrong Picture". We'll show you that clip later.

What we're about to show you is one of those "We'd better talk about this before the lawyers take it offline" subjects. We all know what a large part the Warner cartoons played in World War II, in everything from Army training films to government sales pitches to good ol' morale-boosters. When America entered World War II, Hollywood cartoons did too, and the characters wanted to win just as much as America did. On September 11, 2001, we entered a much different war. We're still in it. While most of the entertainment industry decided to be "sensitive" or ignore the attacks on New York and Washington, DC altogether, one cartoon dared to take on the subject in a different way. Their inspiration? The havoc Bugs Bunny and others, especially Daffy Duck, wreaked on the Axis dictators in World War II.

That cartoon was "South Park". This episode, which originally aired on November 7, 2001, is entitled "Osama Bin Laden Has Farty Pants", features one of the South Park kids, the smart-aleck Eric Cartman, taking on Bin Laden himself...and in the style of the masters. Regardless of your political views or your opinion of South Park, you'll enjoy this!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

...and now it's time for the show

Since I posted the Nick at Nite Looney Tunes intro the other day, I thought it would make sense to follow-up by posting the Looney Tunes On Nickelodeon intro. Looney Tunes first aired on Nickelodeon on Sept. 12, 1988 and ran for 11 years (the final broadcast was on Sept. 11, 1999). This was the original opening... which even includes an appearance by Bosko. The show was revamped around 1992. The network started airing the cartoons with their full opening & closing titles and began to phase out the black & white cartoons which were a staple of the show's earlier years. I am sure we'll get around to posting the second intro someday, but right now enjoy the original.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Ho-hum, I'm tired!

Before Nick at Nite became "All Fresh Prince, All the Time", they actually had a really great line-up of classic TV shows including, for a brief period, Looney Tunes. Looney Tunes On Nick at Nite aired for a couple years in the early 1990s, usually as part of the late night "Nick at Nite Overnite" block. The show began with a sleepy cartoonist (footage from "A Cartoonist's Nightmare") dozing off, followed by a montage of Looney Tunes characters at nighttime. The Nick at Nite LT airings didn't last very long, but Looney Tunes had a very impressive run on the normal Nickelodeon schedule (lasting 11 years!). Here's the Looney Tunes On Nick at Nite opening, preceded by an old school Nick at Nite station ID:

Monday, March 12, 2007

More Road Runner's Death Valley Rally!

Thanks to our pal Thad K., we now have some actual footage to show you from the 1992 Super Nintendo game "Road Runner's Death Valley Rally. Enjoy these clips of the opening and ending to this classic game!

Jelly Vision

Above we have an ad for a 1994 series of twelve Looney Tunes Welch's jelly jars. These may very well be the easiest to find pieces of Looney Tunes memorabilia ever made. I'm serious. Visit any yard sale, flea market or thrift store in the United States and chances are you will stumble across one or two of these things. You might even have a couple in the back of your cupboard and not even know it. The reason for this is pretty simple. Almost everybody buys jelly, even people who don't particularly like jelly keep a jar in the fridge just in case they have somebody over who may like jelly. So, if you are going to buy the stuff anyway, it might as well be in a jar with Daffy Duck on it.

The 1994 set was so successful that Welch's issued a second set of six Looney Tunes jelly jars the following year. A checklist can be found here. As you can see from that link, the Welch's folks had been putting beloved cartoon stars on their jelly jars for decades (in fact, there were two previous LT sets before 1994, one in 1974 and another in 1976).

Sunday, March 11, 2007

This one's a "riot"!

As sort of a follow-up to the Duck Dodgers comic book story we posted a while back, I'd like to showcase one of the better cartoons from the show itself. Jon and I aren't sure if this ever aired on Cartoon Network or if it debuted when the show moved to Boomerang. Still, it's nice to see the creators going for a more traditonal cartoon with a classic feel. Even "hero" shows need a break from the dramatic schtick once in a while!

Here we have good ol' Hubie and Bertie, trying their best to play Daffy and Porky against one another.

Drink Tang, varmints!

Let's watch another Tang commercial from The Bugs Bunny Show. This one features Yosemite Sam entering a western saloon where the only drink on the menu is natural orange-flavored Tang...

Thursday, March 8, 2007

NBC's Daffy Duck Show

In 1978, the folks at NBC were seeing the success rival CBS was having in the Saturday morning ratings with The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show and jumped on the bandwagon by picking up their own package of Warner Bros. shorts to play on Saturdays. With CBS holding the network rights to most Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, and Tweety and Sylvester cartoon shorts, NBC had little option but to air a series starring Daffy, the only major Warner Brothers cartoon character with a sizeable number of Warner-owned cartoons available outside of the rights held by CBS. Though NBC obtained some pre-1960 classics, by and large the cartoons that it purchased the rights to air were post-1960, including nearly all of the team-ups of Daffy with Speedy Gonzales. Each half-hour episode of The Daffy Duck Show contained 4 cartoon shorts. The show first aired on November 4, 1978 and ran on NBC until 1981. After NBC dropped the Daffy package, CBS quickly snatched up those cartoons and assembled a short-lived half-hour entitled The Sylvester and Tweety/Daffy and Speedy Show before eventually merging all the cartoons into their Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show in 1982.

Here is the rarely seen opening to NBC's Daffy Duck Show:

The information above comes from the Looney Tunes on TV website.

Super Looney Tunes

Super Looney Tunes was a McDonald's Happy Meal promotion from 1991. There were four figures each with a snap-on plastic "costume". Each character was a parody of a character from DC comic books: Bugs was "Super Bugs", Daffy was "Bat-Duck", the Tasmanian Devil was "Taz-Flash", and Petunia Pig was "Wonder Pig". An "under three" toy of Daffy in a soft plastic Batmobile was available as well for kids under three years of age (not shown). The fine print on the bottom of the bag points out that this was an "authorized parody" (DC comics characters, of course, are also owned by Warner Bros.).

Here are the front and back of the Happy Meal bag:

I am sure some TV spots promoting the toys were made but I have no memory of them (and haven't seen them pop up online). I do wonder if WB intended to do anything else with this "Looney Tunes-as-DC Superheroes" concept... I don't think they did anything else besides this single Happy Meal promotion with the idea. The DC superhero spoofing did become a regular schtick of the Tiny Toons, though.

I also wanted to point out a little blurb in the upper right hand corner of that Happy Meal sack...

Yes, Looney Tunes were still such a regular sight on television at the time that they didn't even have to mention what channel to tune into! You could pretty much just turn on your TV and find some channel airing Warner cartoons.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

NYC Flagship Warner Bros. Studio Store "Mural" Poster

Richard Buran sends us the following e-mail:


I recently came across your blog and have really been enjoying the extremely rare content. I especially enjoy looking back at the exclusive merchandise from the Warner Bros. Studio Stores, which is the reason why I'm writing. I've attached photos of a poster sold in the Warner Bros. Studio Store's flagship NYC store (which was located at northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street until 2001, in case you're unfamiliar). This poster was a 2-D replica of a five story 'relief' mural running up the wall beside the escalators. The quality of the artwork suggests that this may have been concept art for how the finished piece would look. It incorporates not only the classic Looney Tunes characters, but also several other WB properties. It was sold in the store around it's opening in 1996 (?).

The poster (and it's identical in-store mural) captured many NYC landmarks but with a Looney Tunes twist to some of their respective architectural elements. Some notable details (which may not be clear in the photos) include:

    - Foghorn Leghorn's head appears multiple times in place of the eagle gargoyles on the Chrysler Building.

    - Bugs Bunny, Beaky Buzzard, Pepe LePew and Fabrette replace the sculptures of Mercury, Hercules and Minerva on the clock over the main entrance to Grand Central Terminal.

    -The store itself puts in a nondescript appearance (the signs were left off), but is identifiable by the glass elevator being hoisted by Superman (one of the store's signature attractions). Also, the Warner Bros. and their sister Dot's water tower has been added with the three hanging out of it.

    -The Municipal Building, located in lower Manhattan across from City Hall, has had it's statue "Civic Fame" replaced by a golden Wile E. Coyote statute.

    -The World Trade Center also appears in the poster. There was a regular Warner Bros. Studio Store within the WTC's mall. Interestingly, and I have no way of verifying this, I've heard that a dust encrusted Bugs Bunny statue was recovered from the ruins of the WTC after 9/11. It is supposedly being stored in a hangar at LaGuardia Airport along with other artifacts that will eventually be displayed in the memorial museum.

I apologize for the quality of the images; it's framed on my wall, so some reflections may make it hard to see detail. Feel free to use them on the blog along with whatever you may want to include from this. Keep up the good work with the blog."

Here are closer looks at each part of the mural poster:

Top (Close Up)
Middle (Close Up)
Bottom (Close Up)

Thanks for the great e-mail, Richard!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Start Your Day a Little Bit Better

We already saw Bugs promoting Tang, now let's watch Bugs promote a product of another sponsor of The Bugs Bunny Show. Will Bugs trick Elmer out of his "A-B-C-Delicious" Post Alpha-Bits cereal? Elmer is voiced by Hal Smith in this commercial.

I especially enjoy how Bugs appears to make amends with Fudd at the end of the commercial, only to send Elmer flying off a cliff. I am sure Lucky the Leprechaun and the Trix Rabbit wish they were able to get away with something like that...

Whaddup, Doc?

I ain't sure y'all be wantin' to buy this, but here be a Ebay auction thas' off the CHAIN, dawg...

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Road Runner's Death Valley Rally

In the days before video games were as realistic and 3-dimensional as they are now, classic cartoon characters were a very viable source of material for what are now referred to as "old school platform adventures". Some were good, some were terrible. One such game, in this case a good one, came out in 1992 for the Super Nintendo. It was called "Road Runner's Death Valley Rally".

You played as the Road Runner. Your goal? Stay alive while navigating increasingly difficult levels filled with Acme booby traps. Find the finish line of each level, and avoid Wile E. Coyote. After the end of a level, which usually had 3 "stages", you would battle Wile E. in a "boss level". Sounds typical. But this game had a lot going for it that made it fun. It reused animation from a lot of the classic cartoons, and had backgrounds that are STILL impressive looking even today.

The chase went through a typical desert scene with beautiful purple cliffs in the background. Then a construction site, a circus train, a cavern, and finally Mars...after an abduction by Marvin Martian. Wile E. takes to space technology quite well, and makes it a heck of a challenge, coupled with Instant Martians and Marvin himself. The Mars level also featured the teleporters from "Duck Dodgers".

The final "boss" is a giant Wile E. Coyote robot very similar to the "solid Tin Coyote", and once you destroy it, Wile E. emerges from inside it and falls back down to earth. The fall causes him to get buried up to his neck in the pavement, where he is run over by an Acme truck, which then hits a bump and dumps out a bunch of the explosive devices he has been using on you. They blow up on him, and a fat opera singer (a running gag throughout the game) falls on him and sings...(it's over when the fat lady sings).

Clever game, too bad 2-d games are no longer with us.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Drink Tang, gang!

Tang was one of the original sponsors of The Bugs Bunny Show in 1960 and Bugs and the gang appeared in commercials during the show promoting the drink. Here is one below, done by Robert McKimson's unit, featuring a snowbound Bugs and Daffy.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Looney Tunes Classic Collector Dolls

Here is a really nice set of Looney Tunes "Classic Collector Dolls" that were available exclusively at the now defunct chain of Warner Bros. Studio Stores. The tallest is Bugs who is about 11" and, believe it or not, the smallest is Gossamer who is 6". They are all soft hollow plastic with moveable heads and arms. I believe that the full set is seen above: Bugs, Daffy, Tweety, Sylvester, Tasmanian Devil, Marvin the Martian, Porky Pig and Gossamer. The tags are dated 1994 and they originally sold for $5-$6 each.

They seem to have been inspired by a line of similar dolls made by Dakin in the 1960s and 1970s. Here is a picture of a few of the vintage Dakin dolls (that is Merlin the Magic Mouse's sidekick, Second Banana, at the end).

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Bugsenheimer Bunny

Ever wonder what The Bugs Bunny Show opening was like in German?

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