Adorable and Valuable Rankin/Bass Collectibles
Even if you've never heard the names Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass (co-creators of Rankin/Bass Productions), you've surely seen their beloved holiday specials — "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Santa Clause Is Coming to Town" and "Frosty the Snowman," among others.
The duo had a storied animation career that ran from the early 1960s to the late 1980s. Their holiday specials (and non-holiday output) still delight fans to this day.
Check out some valuable collectors' items influenced by or directly from the Rankin/Bass canon.
10. 'Tales of the Wizard of Oz' Doll
Bottom line: "Tales of the Wizard of Oz" was a traditionally animated series produced in 1961 by Crawley Films for Videocraft, which later became Rankin/Bass Productions.
This rare Dorothy doll has a Videocraft marking and sold on eBay in August 2022. There are also Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow dolls, which are even harder to come by.
9. 'Little Drummer Boy' Action Figures
Bottom line: The "Little Drummer Boy" Christmas special was released back in 1968. Not only is it still a favorite around the holidays, but these action figures by Forever Fun were released as recently as 2009 (such is the popularity of this Rankin/Bass special.)
This valuable figurine set includes Drummer Boy Aaron with his drum, Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, Baa Baa the lamb, a donkey, a camel and a fold-out nativity scene display.
8. 'Mad Monster Party' Comic Book
Bottom line: The lesser-known "Mad Monster Party" was released in 1967 and is now a favorite around Halloween. (The legendary Boris Karloff is the voice for the main character, Baron Boris von Frankenstein.)
The comic book follows the general storyline of the movie and was illustrated by MAD magazine legends Harvey Kurtzman and Jack Davis.
7. 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' Diorama
Bottom line: This recent (and adorable) diorama featuring Santa and Rudolph from "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was made in 2007 and has become a rare and valuable collectors' item.
Called "Light the Way Rudolph," it was created by artist Robert Olszewski for his Gallery of Light collection.
6. 'Frosty the Snowman' Storyboard
Bottom line: This illustration of Frosty and his pals was created by artist Dan Duga for the 1969 Christmas special.
The special, featuring the final performance of Jimmy Durante (as the narrator), has aired on CBS ever since.
5. 'Return of the King' Production Cel
Bottom line: Rankin/Bass also had its hand in the J. R. R. Tolkien universe.
This item from the 1980s "Return of the King" features Gollum, Frodo and Sam as separate cels on an individual background, placing them right in the action.
4. 'Thundercats' Production Cel
Bottom line: Rankin/Bass was putting out animation well into the 1980s. They co-produced "Thundercats" with Japanese studio Pacific Animation Corporation.
This hand-painted original production cel featuring "Thundercats" villain Mumm-Ra sold for big bucks in September 2022.
3. 'Jackson 5' Production Cel
Bottom line: Well before Michael Jackson was "The King of Pop," he was a member of the Jackson 5, who were so popular they had their own Saturday morning animated series.
The cel from 1972 is hand-painted and shows Michael Jackson surrounded by fair maidens.
2. 'The Hobbit' Storyboard
Bottom line:These "Hobbit" storyboards from the 1977 musical television special come in a group of five. They were created for the purpose of pre-visualizing the animation and planning the production.
This version of the story, which was in the public domain at the time, cost $3 million to produce.
1. Santa and Rudolph Stop-Motion Puppets
Bottom line: Not many stop-motion puppets survived from this iconic Rankin/Bass special. These puppets are, therefore, considered a holy-grail item among collectors.
Created by Japanese puppet-maker Ichiro Komuro for the film, they were given to Arthur Rankin's secretary, Barbara Adams, who placed them around her Christmas tree every year and even let her family play with them.
Many puppets from the show melted in her attic, but she gave the two seen here to her nephew who sold them in 2005 to a collector who had them restored to their former glory.