Putting the two words 'Rankin' and 'Bass' together sounds like the call to action on the Fishing Channel, it's also one of the best-known teams in animation. Rankin-Bass Productions is responsible for some of the most popular holiday specials ever created, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Year Without a Santa Claus and animated versions of 'The Hobbit' and 'The Return of the King'.
Diamond Select has decided to produce figures based on the special "Here Comes Peter Cottontail" that aired originally in April 1971. The story is based on the book The Easter That Overslept and featured the voice talents of Casey Kasem, Danny Kaye and Vincent Price. The first series has four figures - Peter, Donna, Irontail and Seymour Sassafras, but future variants shown at Toy Fair were a St Patrick's Day Peter and an Independence Day Peter.
The basic story is that Colonel Bunny is retiring and Peter and Irontail want his job. They set upon a contest so that the one who gives away the most eggs on easter will get the job, and through some deceit Irontail wins the contest. Luckily, Seymour Sassafras happens by with his time machine piloted by Antione the caterpillar, and Peter has a chance to travel through time to various holidays to win the contest. While this sounds suspiciously like the last two seasons of 'Star Trek: Voyager', it's written by much better writers and is an enduring holiday special.
Peter Cottontail is the hero of the story as he works for the chief Easter Bunny job, due to the lucrative stock options and unlimited supply of Cadbury cream eggs that go with it. Not only is Peter popular among the residents of April Valley, he has the very cute Donna as his main squeeze. As we all know, Peter does eventually win the contest and all the benefits, which led to severe depression after the dot-com crash and then obesity as he ate all the cream eggs to cope. The story has a happy ending once Donna buys a Tae Bo video for Peter so he can tone up, and they live happily ever after.
The Here Comes Peter Cottontail action figures are limited to the specialty market for 2002, with a release on the mass market in 2003. This means that until 2003, they are only available at comic book stores and specialty stores such as Tower Records. You can find them online at various stores such as Things From Another World, with a price range of $7.99 to $9.99 USD.
Due to an error at the factory, early cases of these action figures were shipped without name stickers on the bubbles. Later cases will have the stickers. If yours do not have the stickers, Diamond Select will send stickers to you if you send them a copy of your receipt. Get more details about this on Diamond Select's site.
Click on a picture below to see more pictures of that action figure.
This action figure is of Peter during his trials as a young, fit bunny ready for action. Peter is about 5.5" tall and has an articulated neck, shoulders and thighs. His ears are of a softer plastic so they have some floppiness with them, and he has clear plastic whiskers. Along with Peter comes his basket of eggs molded in it. Antione the Caterpillar is included with Peter and has an articulated neck so he can look around.
Donna is Peter's girlfriend, and the dress code in April Valley must be that men wear shirts and women go mostly naked. Time to check Priceline for a ticket! Donna does wear a bow on her fuzzy tail, and only sports four whiskers to Peter and Irontail’s six. She's about 5" tall and has the same articulation as Peter - neck, shoulders and thighs. Her ears are also the softer plastic and she comes packed with a big purple heart and Bonnie Bonnet.
Irontail is the bad guy (some might say he's simply misunderstood) of the story, and is Peter's nemesis for the chief Easter Bunny job. He gets his nom de crime from his iron tail, since he lost his and passed on the telemarketers who could have hooked him up with an aluminum one. Irontail is very sneaky and he tricks Peter into sleeping through Easter so he can win the job, but eventually he loses it as Peter gets a little help. Irontail ends up getting the janitor job, which can't be good when you consider all the eggs that they eat in April Valley. And Irontail was Goth when Goth wasn't cool.
Irontail's plastic counterpart (plastictail?) is 7" tall and towers over both Peter and Donna. He is articulated just as Donna and Peter, with neck, shoulder and thigh articulation. He has black whiskers and slightly softer ears, but his ears are smaller than either Peter's or Donna's, which probably explains part of his bad attitude. He comes with a magic egg and a spellbook, which might be his notes from law school when you consider his actions. He can hold the book, but not the egg. The egg is indented on the bottom so it can stand on its own.
Seymour Sassafras helps Peter on his quest to visit various holidays trying to give his eggs away. While it might have been easier for Seymour and Antione to just take an egg each from Peter to beat Irontail, that would have made for a very short special and Peter wouldn’t have learned anything. He looks human, but only has three fingers and two thumbs.
Seymour is the largest of the figures at 9" tall (10" with the hat), and he has the most articulation with neck, shoulders, wrists and ankles. Seymour comes with a removable top hat which plugs into a hole in his head, and a walking cane. He also has a magic egg, though it's much more colorful that Irontail's. Seymour has some trouble standing due to his sculpting and rather large posterior (which explains the cane). He can stand with some work, but the best bet is to have him stand in the back and lean on something. The magic egg is non-functional.
Pictures of Peter Cottontail
Pictures of Donna
Pictures of Irontail
Pictures of Seymour Sassafrass
Amazon.com Here Comes Peter Cottontail (DVD)
Amazon.com: Here Comes Peter Cottontail (VHS)
TFAW.com: Here Comes Peter Cottontail DVD
TFAW.com: Here Comes Peter Cottontail VHS