Background: Rankin-Bass was formed in September 1960 by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass as Videocraft International; it was renamed to Rankin-Bass in 1968. In 1971, the company was acquired by Tomorrow Entertainment, and distributed by Viacom Enterprises (now "CBS Television Distribution"), while Broadway Video acquired the rights to the pre-1973 library in 1988. It was later acquired by Telepictures on January 24, 1983 and then became a subsidiary of Lorimar-Telepictures. Nowadays, the pre-1974 library is currently owned by NBCUniversal on behalf of DreamWorks Animation, the post-1974 library is owned by Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., The Jackson 5ive is distributed by CBS Television Distribution, and Rankin-Bass's theatrical film library is owned by StudioCanal.
Videocraft International, Limited
(September 1, 1961-November 24, 1966)
Logo: This superimposed logo features three TV tube-like shapes. One is at the bottom, and the other two are stacked on the left and right corners of the bottom tube, which, when together, resemble Mickey Mouse's head or a water molecule. The company byline appears as "A VIDEOCRAFT INTERNATIONAL PRODUCTION" or "A VIDEOCRAFT PRODUCTION".
Variants: There are a few variants, which will be described later.
FX/SFX: The scrolling of the credits or the fade-in of the logo.
Music/Sounds: Usually the outro of a TV show.
Availability: Not quite uncommon, but not recent either. Can be found on TV shows or specials from the time that used it, such as The New Adventures of Pinocchio, The Tales of the Wizard of Oz, and the 1964 TV Christmas special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Scare Factor: None.
(June 1966-November 23, 1968)
Nicknames: "Tri-Colored V", "Tri-Colored TV Monitors"
Logo: Over a white background, we see three colorized TV tubes aside each other, as in the infamous "V" design from the previous logo. The names of the producer appears on both tubes:
- ARTHUR RANKIN, Jr. (in the blue tube on the left)
- JULES BASS (in the green tube on the right)
The third tube (which is red) on the bottom has "Production" appear in it and "AN" above the logo, revealing the phrase as "AN ARTHUR RANKIN, Jr.-JULES BASS Production." We pan out to reveal the words "VIDEOCrAFT International, Limited" appearing in black underneath the logo.
FX/SFX: The name pop-in, the pan-out.
Cheesy Factor: Pretty simple animation. Also, why is the "r" in "VIDEOCrAFT" lowercase when the rest of the letters are uppercase?
Music/Sounds: A strum and two horn notes, followed by a short flute tune and a dramatic finish. Bongos play throughout the whole thing. The music was composed by Maury Laws and Jules Bass.
Availability: Ultra rare. Was last seen on The King Kong Show, and possibly the 1967 Cricket on the Hearth special. Don't expect this on the current TV airings and DVD/Blu-ray releases of both, as they are plastered over with the next logo below. If not, you'll have to look very, VERY hard for this one.
Scare Factor: Low. The dramatic music might get to some viewers.
(December 19, 1968-December 10, 1974)
Nicknames: "RB-TV Monitor", "Rankin-Bass on TV"
Logo: On a white background, there is a large blue border around the whole thing, making it resemble a TV monitor. A blue rectangle then appears like a door shutting and 2 circles appear, one blue and the other light blue. The light blue and blue text "A ranKin bass PRODUCTION" all stacked up, then appears next to the logo. The logo itself is suppose to represent an abstract "RB", with the "R" formed up with the darker colored parts and the "B" made up of all the shapes
- "A Division of Tomorrow Entertainment"
- Videocraft Copyright Notice
Variant: Some early appearances of this logo had the animation occurring without the TV monitor outline and with the ending of the show's theme playing over it. This can usually be seen on The Little Drummer Boy and Frosty the Snowman.
FX/SFX: The logo forming up.
Cheesy Factor: Simple animation. Also, on some versions of the logo with the Videocraft byline, the logo looks pretty crudely drawn.
Music/Sounds: Same as the 1966 Videocraft International logo. Sometimes, it is silent, recent prints of Frosty the Snowman have it either with the film's closing theme or none, original prints and FHE releases have the music
Music/Sounds Variants: There is a variant in which the bongos come in early.
Availability: Common around the Christmas season. It appears on most of Rankin-Bass's Christmas output when aired by CBS, ABC Family and other channels, as well as on DVD and most VHS releases. Strangely enough, on one airing of The Little Drummer Boy, this logo was replaced with the "Blues" logo! It was plastered by the 1984 WBTV shield on the 2000 DVD of The Year Without a Santa Claus, but on the 2007 "Deluxe Edition" DVD, the logo is intact.
Scare Factor: Low to medium. The music might still get to some viewers, though this is a favorite of many.
(September 11, 1971-September 1, 1973)
Nickname: "The One Before the Flashing M"
Logo: Just a dark background with the words "Rankin/Bass" in a script font superimposed onto it with the text "IN ASSOCIATION WITH".
FX/SFX/Cheesy Factor: The fade in.
Music/Sounds: Same as Motown Productions logo.
Availability: Rare. It was only seen on The Jackson 5ive.
Scare Factor: Medium. The dark background and music, plus the sudden transition into the Motown Productions logo may turn some people off.
(December 19, 1975-July 5, 1987)
Nickname: "The Blues"
Logo: The screen flashes three different shades of blue, with the effect that they're getting sucked inwards, into a rectangle at the left of the screen. Every time they go through a shade, that's the color the rectangle is until all three have been done and the screen is white. Then the circles appear to complete the stylized "R-B," except instead of just appearing they sort of "grow" in their places. To the right of the logo appear the words "A Rankin-Bass PRODUCTION" as usual. It looks like the first logo without the TV monitor.
- On earlier prints of The Hobbit, it's silent and the background is carrot orange, while on Nestor the Christmas Donkey, the music is sped-up and the background is orange-yellow (though both of these could be from film deterioration). On the Xenon VHS release and 2014 Remastered WB DVD of the former, the music is intact and the background is brighter with a slight pink tinge.
- On Leprechaun's Christmas Gold, the logo is in a shade of green.
- On The First Easter Rabbit, the logo is far more deteriorated than the one on The Hobbit. This variant has a dark brown background, and the text and shapes are hardly legible.
- On certain airings of Rankin-Bass specials (Like ABC Family), it fades to black after it is formed to make way for either the \\' "Distributed By" logo, or the WBT "75 Years" logo.
FX/SFX: The blues getting sucked in, the circles "growing".
Cheesy Factor: Simple animation. The film deteriorated variants looks ugly.
Music/Sounds: Same as the 1966 Videocraft International logo, but in a slightly lower tone. For the later years, it was re-arranged (which can be heard at the very right)
- On the 1983 TV special The Coneheads, the jingle was mixed with the drum roll and end chime of the Telepictures logo that followed.
- On the WB DVD release of The First Easter Rabbit, the film deteriorated variant uses the fanfare from the 1986 Lorimar-Telepictures logo! This is likely another case of the sloppy reverse plaster syndrome.
Availability: Common. Retained on most Rankin-Bass holiday specials from this period on DVD releases and reruns on ABC Family. The last special with this logo was The Wind in the Willows in 1987.
Scare Factor: Low to medium for both the original and later variants. The dramatic cheesy special effects added to the dramatic music may scare some. Raised to medium for the film deteriorated variant with the Lorimar-Telepictures jingle.
Rankin-Bass Animated Entertainment
(January 23, 1985)
Nickname: "The Jazz Blues"
Logo: On a black background, we see the logo and the "Rankin Bass" text from in the same way as the 1975 logo. The word "Animated" in a script like font flashes and appears. The words "Entertainment from" then appears. We then cut to a speed up Telepictures "Linecoaster".
FX/SFX: Same as the 1975 logo, sans the flashing of the text.
Music/Sounds: A jazzy drum break is heard, followed by an abridged version of Cheetara's leitmotif (a triumphant horn fanfare, with a funk flare to it). When the Telepictures logo appears, we hear an abridged version of the drum roll and a ding from the said logo.
Music/Sounds Variant: On one print of S4EP5 of ThunderCats, this had the music from the next logo with the Lorimar-Telepictures "Crashing Comets" logo in a high pitch (likely due to NTSC to PAL conversion).
Availability: This logo only appeared on the broadcast pilot for ThunderCats (Exodus and The Unholy Alliance). It was then plastered by the next logo when repeated on the show's fall premiere on that same year. This logo miraculously (and very strangely) survived on PAL DVD prints of Thundercats, even plastering the 2nd logo on subsequent seasons (meaning all episodes).
Scare Factor: Minimal. The theme may get to some, but it will grow on you.
(September 9, 1985-December 5, 1989)
Nicknames: "'80s RB", "3D-RB"
Logo: We see the classic Rankin-Bass logo, except made completely three-dimensional, with the text in royal blue, in the corporate font of then-current parent company Telepictures. A white line forms under the logo, and that line "springs" into a cursive "Animated Entertainment". Then, the "R-B" zooms up, and the shapes slide apart as they come closer to the screen, revealing a white "from". As the "O" overtakes the screen, we see the animation of the Telepictures or Lorimar-Telepictures animation, which eventually fills the entire screen.
Variant: A shortened version exists that ends after the company name forming. This was due to the 1984 WBTD logo plastering the Telepictures logo. This was spotted on a post-1989 Russian print of the ThunderCats season 1 episode "Return to Thundera".
FX/SFX: The "Animated Entertainment" "spring" effect.
Music/Sounds: A bouncy, synthesized oboe theme (composed by Bernard Hoffer). On the first season of ThunderCats, the music segues into a custom fanfare for the Telepictures logo (also by Hoffer) and from 1986 onward, it segues into the end of the Lorimar-Telepictures theme when the logo appears.
- A low tone variant exists.
- On a post-1989 Russian print of the ThunderCats season 1 episode "Return to Thundera", the logo is silent due to the Telepictures logo being plastered by the 1984 WBTD logo.
Availability: Appears on 1980s Rankin-Bass productions, including ThunderCats and SilverHawks on DVD.
Scare Factor: None. The logo is clean.
(December 17, 2001)
Nickname: "The Flipping 3-D RB"
Logo: Same as last logo, but except the RB logo and "Rankin Bass" flips quite a few times in the start.
FX/SFX: The CGI RB logo flipping. The "Animated Entertainment "spring" effect.
Music/Sounds: None. Just the end title theme playing over the logo.
Availability: Seen on the animated cartoon Santa Baby, the last film from Rankin Bass before their closure.
Scare Factor: None.