Rankin/Bass Puppet Restoration

More about: News
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share with an Email Share This!

Rudolph and Santa?!
Imagine the looks on our faces when the original puppets from the 1964 Rankin/Bass production of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” showed up on our doorstep!
Specifically, the current owner/discoverer of said puppets, Kevin Kreiss, contacted us a few months ago to see what we could do about the puppets’ deteriorated state (thanks Rick Goldschmidt for the recommend). Kevin brought them by and we assessed the situation…
The puppets were in bad shape, having been used as Christmas decorations/playthings for the last 30-odd years in the home of a former Rankin/Bass employee. Santa’s legs were both broken, as was Rudolph’s neck(!). Rudolph’s nose bulb was torn out and the cavity had been stuffed with red candle wax. All of the lead armature wires inside the puppets were corroding and half of Santa’s mustache was missing. We even heard tales of a photo of Rudolph sticking his head out of a bowl of Christmas candy. There was a lot of cleanup and restoration to be done.

Luckily, a top member of our puppet crew, Robin Walsh, has a lot of experience with puppet restoration, having worked for several years at the Center for Puppetry Arts. While there she worked with everything from antique Indonesian shadow puppets to Italian rod marionettes, so she set up a plan and spearheaded the operation.

The whole process took several weeks, and great care was taken to preserve the integrity of the puppets. We made new pieces only to replace missing parts, leaving everything in it’s original form as much as possible. Careful cleansing of the fur and clothing got out years worth of cigarette smoke, candy stains and dust.

We are very proud to have been a part of preserving these icons of stop-motion (and American pop-culture) history.

This month, the puppets will be on display at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta.

After that, check Time and Space Toys.com for news of future appearances.

Now, if only a Bumble puppet would turn up!!