Generally, I feel like cultural consensus is something from which to run away, but I’m 100% behind the near-unanimous regard for the Rankin-Bass stop motion Christmas specials as being pretty much some of the greatest filmed entertainment ever. As I am a grouchy Jew bastard who has for his entire life massively loathed the annual hegemonic takeover of that exceptionally toxic collision of the most insincere, tribal aspects of American Style Christianity™ and conspicuous consumption run amok, Christmasprodukt that would win me over has some pretty huge hurdles to clear, and shows like The Year Without a Santa Claus, Jack Frost, and the immortal, brilliant, and untouchable Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer clear all of them with miles to spare.
Apart from sharp writing that possesses uncommon intergenerational appeal, one of the Rankin-Bass specials’ most consistent charms is the distinctive character puppet design by stalwart MAD Magazine illustrator Paul Coker, Jr. I once read—in an article I just spent half the morning failing to find, so alas, I can’t link it here—that few to none of the character puppets survived, as they were constructed to be only just tough enough to survive filming. And that makes this eBay sale very exciting—it’s the authenticated original Santa Claus and Rudolph figures from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. These were once believed lost, but turned up in the ‘oughts, having been part of a family’s Christmas decorations, kept in a box and hauled out annually for decades. When they were discovered, they were restored by Time and Space Toys, and have since gone on exhibit and been featured on Hollywood Treasure. Their restoration was even the subject of a segment on CNN:
The asking price for these puppets is TEN MILLION DOLLARS. A high price is certainly justified by the extreme rarity and cultural significance of these remarkable items, but this has to be said: if you have that kind of money to burn and you spend it on what, in the end, amounts to two fucking dolls, may the gods judge you mercifully, and please consider a gift of similar size to homeless shelters and food banks. But now I’ll get off my soapbox and show you a bunch of puppet photos that’ll hit you right in all your goddamn Goyishe Christmas feels.