Classic Animated Short Film Featuring 1:6 Scale GIjOEs Lovingly Restored to Unbelievable Clarity
GIjOE fans have long considered the 1966 stop-motion animated short film, Toys, to be a premier example of movie-making’s most painstaking and patience-testing art form. If you’re not already aware, “stop-motion animation” requires frame-by-frame photographing of miniature action figures that are posed entirely by hand, with each movement carefully repositioned in minute increments that are then captured one—click!—frame at a time (i.e. Rankin/Bass’ Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer or Nick Park’s Wallace and Gromit).
As you might expect, such a slow and deliberate filmmaking technique can become very tiresome and only the most patient animators attempt it; with far fewer ever truly mastering the art form’s many intricacies and requisite disciplines. Yet there’s one man who’s clearly mastered this arduous method, and that’s Canada’s renowned filmmaker and Toys director, Grant Munro (91), who proved long ago he is a MASTER animator—especially of GIjOEs!
You’ve Seen “Toys” Before—But NEVER Like This.
Munro’s Toys has long held a proud place in the pantheon of 1:6 scale animation, ever since its original debut back in 1966. Unfortunately, over the last four decades, GIjOE fans have had to placate their penchant for the legendary short by viewing it from grainy, third or fourth generation VHS copies, replete with annoyingly garbled audio and static-strewn imagery; much like watching ’60s reruns on an old-time television set without an antenna (not a pretty sight).
As if in answer to our prayers, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) has recently and lovingly restored Munro’s Toys and the results look as if they were shot only yesterday. Here’s how the NFB website describes their mission:
“We are Canada’s public producer and distributor, and this is our online Screening Room. We offer free streaming of documentary and animated films as well as interactive stories, all of which explore the world we live in from a Canadian point of view.”
But What Does It All Mean?
Debate over Munro’s original intent behind Toys has continued to rage over the many decades since its release. Was the filmmaker trying to convince his audience that so-called “war toys” are all bad? Or that playing with them would somehow result in innocent children becoming warlike or warmongering? OR…was the film simply an exercise in producing a stop-motion animated fantasy; created mainly to demonstrate the many techniques possible in the genre? The answer is probably a little of both. Regardless, as action figure fans rediscovered the film in the 1990s, it began to resurface at toy shows around the world. Fans began to sell (or give away) bootlegged copies of Toys—first on grainy VHS tape and then later on DVDs. Finally, with the advent of the internet, it is now readily accessible online where viewing the ’60s classic is as easy as clicking on a link (conveniently provided below).
Bottom Line: Over the years, the legend behind Munro’s Toys has continued to grow until it is now considered by GIjOE and animation fans alike to be an undeniable stop-motion masterpiece. While Munro’s original intended message for Toys may have been anti-war, GIjOE fans today appreciate it more for its animation achievement and as a sort of “time capsule tribute” to imaginative fantasy play with “America’s Movable Fighting Man.” While we all agree with its undeniable message that “War is Hell,” we can’t help but grin with delight as we watch Munro’s toys burn and melt each other with brutal abandon. So many of us did similar things as kids! Our sincerest thanks and best wishes to Mr. Munro for all of his superb contributions to the world of movie-making, stop-motion animation and his unintentional homage to GIjOE fandom. Alright then, Joeheads—Let’s roll this masterpiece!