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  • That big, jolly man in the red suit with a white beard didn’t always look that way. Prior to 1931, Santa was depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to a spooky-looking elf. He has donned a bishop's robe and a Norse huntsman's animal skin. When Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly in 1862, Santa was a small elflike figure who supported the Union. Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years, changing the color of his coat from tan to the red he’s known for today.
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The Blow Mold Expert

90s Commercial for Animatronic Rudolph (Canadian?)

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Looking for a commercial that aired during a broadcast of the Rankin Bass Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in the early 90s. I had it on a VHS tape (that I still own) that was recorded off TV in southern Ontario. I think it was recorded off of a Canadian channel, not an American signal, as it had many commercials for Canadian only stores (Eaton's, Hudson's Bay, Etc.) I think it was recorded off CBC.

The commercial started out with the camera facing out a window, looking onto a set of a snowy field at night full of lit christmas trees. The camera panned over to a table trimmed with garland beside it. On the table was various Rudolph merchandise, mostly animated plush toys of various sizes, the biggest of which was about 15" tall. The camera zoomed in on each item as an off screen narrator described it. The merchandise didn't appear to be legally liscensed by Rankin Bass in any way, but was definitely created in it's likeness.

So why do I have the tape still but not the commercial? As a kid I had Automonophobia - a fear of animatronics/simulated life. Mixed with the creepy piano music, old-school narrator, poor camera quality and uncomfortably close camera angles, this was the perfect storm to terrify 2 year old me. Around the time I was 4 I got so freaked out thay my mom was tired of fast forwarding the commercial every time (I watched this tape alot, not just at christmas) and I told her to tape it over. So now the commercial cuts out after 3 seconds (the window scene) and is taped over by a hockey game. About a minute later it comes back to a Lego commercial (more on that later.)

As far as I can tell, the first liscensed animated Rudolph wasn't made until 2004. This backs up my theory that it was unliscenesed. The first unliscenesed one made by Gemmy (the manufacturer whose products most resemble those in the ad) wasn't made until 1998. It isn't the 1994 Rudolph plush from Applause Inc either, as that one never moved like the one in the commercial. In fact, I have no idea who made this thing or what year it was made in, which is making research incredibly difficult.

I traced a Noma Ornamotion tree ornament commercial to 1992, however I also traced the aforementioned Eaton's commercial to 1993, and a Dristan Cold and Sinus comemrcial to 1994. The Lego commercial seems to only have aired in 1992. Additionally, I found an off-air recording of How the Grinch Stole Christmas on Youtube, recorded from CBC on December 18th, 1992. It has many of the same commercials/bumpers, including the Lego commercial. I think that the Rudolph special on my tape aired during the same block or week as the Grinch special, and that the person who uploaded the Eaton's commercial had it dated 1993 due to that being the year written on their tape, even though the commercial could have aired in both 1992 and 1993. I also beleive the same thing happened with the Dristan commercial, coming out in late 1992 and lasting until early 1994 (commercials used to have longer runs) with the uploader's tape being labeled Jan/Feb 1994. So this brings me to a hypothesized year of 1992.

I theorize that the commercial was an infomercial for phone order Rudolph merchandise sold in southern Ontario that was not legally tied to Rankin Bass but made in it's likeness, airing on CBC in December 1992. The fact that the animated figure was phone order only would make it rare, hence why there isn't a figure matching it's description online. If anybody remembers this ad, recorded christmas specials from Canadian TV in the early 90s, or had an animated figure matching this description in the early 90s, please let me know. Thanks, I know it was a long read :D

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