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2003: ’Tis The Season To Buy Presents!

With December upon us (where has this year gone?!) and the holiday gift-giving season coming up fast, many of you will probably be going out over the next week or two to stock up on those last-minute presents. So we thought we’d share what we here at Animated-News thought would make great ideas for the animation fan in your life (okay, you know who you are)! A few of us have decided on a whole heap of things we’d like to find under our trees, and all are very recommended to place on your own “ask Santa” lists this year. Go on…treat yourselves!

Yule find each of our top five book and DVD picks, all available online from Amazon, and all with further review links, right here:

Ben Simon:

THE DISNEY TREASURES
No, not his year’s cancelled wave of tin-boxed DVDs, but rather Robert Tieman’s brilliant multimedia book that reproduces “pull-out” artwork and samples from Disney’s history, plus an hour long CD featuring previously unreleased interviews and audio with Walt Disney – sheer Heaven! Mouse Planet has a look inside.

FRANK AND OLLIE: SPECIAL EDITION DVD
This very recent DVD issue features a warm and affectionate tribute to the last remaining “Two Old Men” of Disney Animation’s original line-up. A great addition to the collections of long-time Disney animation fans, this almost makes up for the lack of those Treasures tins. Here’s what I thought of the film, the disc, and the extras, at DVD Toons.

LOONEY TUNES: GOLDEN COLLECTION DVD
If it wasn’t for the delay, the Wartime Disney set would have given this a run for its money! Forget the new “web-toons” discs and the Premiere set – go for gold and get the full experience. Great cartoons, nice new prints, wonderful extras – what more could a fan wish for? DVD Toons has my full review.

WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT: DVD VISTA SERIES EDITION
While it not be the all-encompassing release many fans have wished for, this 2-disc DVD still packs a toon-dynamite punch and is a lot of fun. Extras include the three “Maroon Cartoons” and more, and the film remains a technical marvel, even in this day and age of computer assisted effects. Another title I covered for DVD Toons, my in-depth appraisal is here.

THE ART AND FLAIR OF MARY BLAIR
Not essential if one already has the ”Before The Animation Begins” volume, as John Canemaker covers much the same ground as in his earlier book, and it does center on her time at Disney rather than expanding a great deal on its subject. Still, lots of previously unpublished art to sift through though! The Laughing Place flips through its pages here.

James R Whitson:

THE SIMPSONS – THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON
One of the very best seasons of The Simpsons – though I really can’t wait for season 4! Full review online at DVD Toons.

FUTURAMA: VOLUME ONE DVD
If you haven’t seen this show, then I can not begin to put into words the show’s sense of humor! Even though it ran just a few short seasons, it has to be one of the best animated TV shows ever! DVD Toons reviews Season One.

SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS – THE COMPLETE 1ST SEASON
If you are tired of buying the DVDs with 10 random episodes, just shell out the money for this set. A suggestion for those who have already bought those other SpongeBob DVDs: buy this set and let the kids have the other DVDs – keeping their grubby hands off your box set! DVD Talk looks inside.

FINDING NEMO: COLLECTORS EDITION DVD
Pixar’s latest – do you really need any other reason to buy? Already got it? Then pick up the book The Art of Finding Nemo. The book focuses less on computers and more on pencils and paints with concept art, sketches, drawings, and storyboards. The DVD gets a full review at DVD Toons.

DESIGNING DISNEY: IMAGINEERING AND THE ART OF THE SHOW
Written by 94 year old Imagineer John Hench, this book is an amazing look at Disney theme parks. Not just for Disney fans, anyone interested in art, design, architecture, engineering, or history will enjoy this book. Michael Barrier comments here.

Michael JR:

LORD OF THE RINGS: DVD BOX SETS
The behind the scenes features are amazing, almost better than taking an animation class! This year’s The Two Towers (DVD File review here) release is also available in a deluxe gift set with added Gollum disc. The Fellowship Of The Ring, from the tail end of last year, is also still available in standard four-disc and five-disc deluxe set versions.

THE ART OF FINDING NEMO
Where good 3D animation begins, in the 2D world on paper. The Laughing Place delves into its pages.

WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT: DVD VISTA SERIES EDITION
The original, unaltered movie, thank the Heavens. DVD Toons’ review here.

THE ADVENTURES OF INDIANA JONES: THE COMPLETE DVD MOVIE COLLECTION
The last great movie series to use stop-motion and pre-digital effects. DVD File digs deep into the four disc set.

Honorable Mentions:

If there’s nothing in the above list that entices (or perhaps you have it all already!), let us round out or suggestions with a couple of additional ideas you may have missed out on in recent years.

TOY STORY – THE ULTIMATE TOY BOX DVD COLLECTION
Announced as OOP earlier this year, now is the time to go for this lavish three-disc set, originally released in 2000, before it disappears for good. Not convinced? Try DVD File’s review.

THE LION KING: SPECIAL PLATINUM EDITION DVD
Released this past October, Disney’s biggest-selling 2D animated feature makes its disc debut. The title is due to be “retired” come the new year, so don’t miss out! A collectors gift set is also available, while DVD Toons reviews both.

WALT DISNEY’S NINE OLD MEN AND THE ART OF ANIMATION
John Canemaker’s exhaustive tome, from 2001, looks at the individual lives and careers of Walt’s fabled nine. A wonderful book, it is written with his usual insight and entertaining knowledge, backed up with genuinely researched information. The Laughing Place has a terrific in-depth review and chat with Canemaker, while Michael Barrier compares the book to Richard Williams’ Animator’s Survival Kit.

Wrap Up (no pun intended!):

Finally, a quick look at some DVDs that quietly came out earlier this year with little fanfare, which may have gone unnoticed by all but the most avid collectors. Not essential, but perhaps worthy “stocking-fillers”, are The Rescuers, Disney’s 1977 “crossover” feature which marked the swapping of the Nine Old Men to the new generation; Popeye, Robert Altman’s 1980 live-action take on the spinach-guzzling sailor (Robin Williams); and Treasure Planet, last year’s box office underachiever which became a hit on DVD with a nice disc, and not as bad as one might think – it’s actually a pretty fun rollicking adventure of the kind they supposedly “don’t make anymore”!

So, there you have it folks! Our top picks for the holiday season. If I were pressed to offer up just one recommended purchase, it would have to be Robert Tieman’s book/CD The Disney Treasures, probably the most “fun” I’ve had going through a book in years. I say “going through”, as this is not a book to simply read, it being packed with fold-outs, removable memorabilia (such as ticket stubs from DisneyLand’s opening day) and that CD, which really is worth the price of the package alone. Readers in the UK really have no excuse whatsoever, as Amazon.co.uk are offering the book for a scant £21 – an absolute bargain! I’m actually considering ordering a second copy to keep sealed and safe! Lavishly produced, and housed in a sturdy protective slipcase, The Disney Treasures offers up hours and hours of involvement in its pages, often with many images that have not been seen since their original usage.

Have fun shopping!

– Ben Simon, and the Animated News Team.

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