Rankin/Bass Animated Entertainment

From the Audiovisual Identity Database, the motion graphics museum


Rankin/Bass Animated Entertainment was formed in September 1960 by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass as Videocraft International; it was renamed to Rankin/Bass Productions in 1968. In 1971, the company was acquired by Tomorrow Entertainment and distributed by Viacom Enterprises, while Broadway Video acquired the rights to the pre-1974 library in 1988. It was later acquired by Telepictures on January 24, 1983 and then became a subsidiary of Lorimar-Telepictures. The studio closed in 1987 as a result of TV show failures like The Comic Strip, and its partnership was officially dissolved in 2001 after the production of the studio's last Christmas special Santa, Baby!.

The pre-1974 library is currently owned by NBCUniversal on behalf of DreamWorks Animation through their DreamWorks Classics label, while the post-1974 library is owned by Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. except for The Jackson 5ive, which is distributed by CBS Media Ventures. Rankin/Bass's theatrical film library is currently split amongst different companies. StudioCanal owns The Wacky World of Mother Goose and Mad Monster Party since both movies were released by Embassy Pictures, The Last Unicorn is currently owned by ITV Studios (released by ITC) and Universal Pictures owns Willy McBean and his Magic Machine via DreamWorks Animation and King Kong Returns.

Rankin/Bass Productions

1st Logo (November 23, 1968-December 10, 1974)

Visuals: On a blue background, a large white tube sits flat, resembling a TV screen. A blue rectangle then appears like a door shutting and 2 circles appear separately on top of each other, one blue and the other light blue. The text "A ranKin bass PRODUCTION", each word stacked, appears next to the shapes. The logo itself is supposed to represent an abstract "RB", with the "R" formed up with the darker colored parts and the "B" made up of all the shapes.


  • 1968-1971: "© Videocraft International Limited (year in Roman numerals)"
  • Sometimes, it has no byline.


  • The logo appears to have varying speeds when it comes to the circles appearing, as well as slight differences in the lettering's shape.
  • When it first debuted in 1968, the logo was slightly different. The most notable difference is that the TV monitor isn't present, but there are also a number of smaller differences. The rectangle's animation is slightly different, the circles appear slower and with part of "ranKin bass" as well alongside them, and the text appears to be a bit cleaner. The copyright date also uses Arabic numerals rather than Roman numerals. This has first appeared on the rare 1968 special The Mouse on the Mayflower, but can usually be seen on The Little Drummer Boy and Frosty the Snowman.
  • On The Smokey Bear Show, an amalgamation of the early and later variants is used, having the animation of the later variant, but lacks the TV tube shape and uses Arabic numerals like the early variant. It's also in a shade of blue.
  • On later reprints of Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town, the logo has a slight orange tint to it.
  • On The Year Without a Santa Claus, the screen starts off white before fading to the logo, in which it appears to hang around until the flute starts to play.
  • Starting in the 2010s, the logo has been stretched to 16:9 and it can be seen only in later airings of Santa Claus is Comin' to Town.

Technique: Traditional animation by Toei Animation.

Audio: The 1966 Videocraft International logo theme composed by Maury Laws and Jules Bass. Sometimes, the logo is silent. Recent prints of Frosty the Snowman have it either with the special's closing theme or silence, while original prints, Family Home Entertainment releases, Spanish-dubbed prints, and the mono track on the 2018 print have the music.

Audio Variants:

  • There is a variant in which the bongos come in early.
  • The Mouse on the Mayflower had some of the tune come in earlier than beforehand.
  • Starting in 1998, ABC airings of Santa Claus is Comin' to Town had a generic theme and/or voiceover.

Availability: Seen on most of Rankin/Bass's Christmas specials when aired annually by CBS, Freeform, AMC and other channels, as well as on DVD and most VHS releases.

  • On one airing of The Little Drummer Boy, this logo was replaced with the 1975 "Blues" logo.
  • The variant with the "Tomorrow Entertainment" byline was seen on Festival of Family Classics, Kid Power, The Red Baron, Mad Mad Mad Monsters, The Enchanted World of Danny Kaye: The Emperor's New Clothes and early '70s prints of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
    • For the latter, it was probably last seen in the 2000s on the Canadian channel YTV.
  • This logo is plastered by the 1984 WBTV shield on the 2000 DVD release of The Year Without a Santa Claus, but on the 2007 "Deluxe Edition" DVD release, the logo is intact, while older FOX/ABC Family (now Freeform) airings plastered this logo with the 1990 WBTD and 1995 WBTV Domestic Pay TV logos due to split screen credits.

Legacy: A beloved and nostalgic logo by many, particularly during the Christmas season.

2nd Logo (September 11, 1971-September 1, 1973)

Visuals: Superimposed over the middle of the Motown Productions logo's animation are the words "Rankin/Bass" in a script font superimposed onto it with the text "IN ASSOCIATION WITH". The logo then fades out and the Motown logo animates as usual.

Technique: A still graphic.

Audio: Same as the 1971 Motown Productions logo.

Availability: Seen on The Jackson 5ive.

3rd Logo (December 19, 1975-July 5, 1987)

Visuals: The screen flashes three different shades of blue, with the effect that they're getting sucked inwards, into a rectangle at the left edge of the screen. Every time they go through a shade, that's what the color of the rectangle is, until all three have been done and the screen is white. Then the circles appear to complete the stylized "RB", except instead of just appearing, layers of the circles zoom in until they fill the outline - they sort of "grow" in their places. To the right of the logo appear the words "A ranKin bass PRODUCTION" as usual, with "ranKin bass" wiping in with the circles before the rest appear. It looks a bit like the first logo without the TV monitor.


  • On the Blu-ray release of The Flight of Dragons, it appears in a widescreen format, appearing to be zoomed-in.
  • On earlier prints of The Hobbit, it is silent and the background is carrot orange, while on Nestor the Christmas Donkey, the music is sped-up and the background is orange-gold (though both of these could be from film deterioration).
    • On both the Xenon VHS release and 2014 remastered Warner Bros. Home Entertainment DVD of the former, the music is intact and the background is also brighter with a slight pink tint (possibly from film deterioration as well).
  • On certain airings of Rankin/Bass specials, the logo fades out earlier after the animation is finished to make way for either the 1972 WBTV "Distributed By" logo, or the 1998 WBTV "75 Years" logo, with the music continuing on said logos.

Technique: Cel animation from Topcraft.

Audio: The 1966 Videocraft International logo theme, now in a slightly lower tone.

Audio Variants:

  • In 1983, the theme was re-arranged to a majestic orchestral version.
  • On the 1983 TV special The Coneheads, the jingle is mixed with the drum roll and end chime of the Telepictures logo that followed.
  • On the WB DVD release of The First Easter Rabbit (1976), the film deteriorated variant uses the fanfare from the 1986 Lorimar-Telepictures "Crashing Comets" logo. This is most likely another case of sloppy reverse plastering.
  • ABC airings of Rudolph's Shiny New Year in early to mid 2000s had the generic theme playing over that logo.
  • On an old broadcast of The Little Drummer Boy, the NBC chimes were heard due to sloppy plastering.

Availability: Retained on most Rankin/Bass holiday specials from this period on DVD releases and reruns on Freeform and AMC.

  • The Warner Bros. variant is preserved in credits pushback on Freeform airings of Rudolph's Shiny New Year and Nestor the Christmas Donkey during the 24 Days of Christmas Marathon.
  • The last special with this logo was The Wind in the Willows (though it had been produced in 1983 and released on video in the UK the same year, it did not air in the U.S. until 1987 on ABC).

Legacy: Another well-known logo during the Christmas season. Some have been rattled by this logo due to its music and fast-paced animation.

Rankin/Bass Animated Entertainment

1st Logo (placeholder logo) (January 23, 1985)

Visuals: On a black background, the 1975 logo plays, without the "A" and "PRODUCTION" above and below the now-white "ranKin bass" words, respectively. The word "animated" in a light blue script-like font flashes and appears. The words "entertainment from" in light blue then slides in. The logo then cuts to a sped-up version of the 1983 variant of the 1980 Telepictures "Linecoaster" logo.

Technique: Traditional animation, which is again from Topcraft.

Audio: A jazzy drum break is heard, followed by an abridged version of Cheetara's theme (a triumphant horn fanfare, with a funk flair to it). When the 1983 variant of the 1980 Telepictures "Linecoaster" logo appears, an abridged version of the drum roll and a ding from the said logo is heard.

Audio Variant: On the PAL DVD print of S4E5 of ThunderCats titled "Return to Thundera: Part 5", this logo features the music from the next logo with the 1986 Lorimar-Telepictures "Crashing Comets" logo in a high pitch (likely due to NTSC to PAL conversion), and also due to a reverse plastering error as well.

Availability: This was a prototype/placeholder logo, and was only seen 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 that same year.
  • This logo survives on the PAL DVD prints of the show, plastering the next logo on all the episodes.

2nd Logo (September 9, 1985-December 7, 2001)

Visuals: The classic Rankin/Bass logo, except made completely three-dimensional, with the text in royal blue and in the corporate font of then-current parent company Telepictures, appears on a black background. A white line forms under the logo, and that line "springs" into a cursive "Animated Entertainment". Then, the "RB" zooms up, and the shapes slide apart as they come closer to the screen, revealing a white "from". As the "O" overtakes the screen, the animation of either Telepictures (1985-86) or Lorimar-Telepictures (1986-89) plays and eventually fills the entire screen.


  • 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 later Russian print of the ThunderCats Season 1 episode "Return to Thundera".
  • Another shortened version also exists, in which the logo fades out just as the "RB" begins to zoom up. This was due to the 2003 WBTVD logo plastering the Telepictures logo. This was spotted on AMC's prints of the special The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus.
  • On Santa, Baby!, the logo is much smaller and flatter, flipped around vertically at the beginning of the logo, and has the line animation play out much slower. It also doesn't follow up with the transition animation.

Technique: Cel animation, possibly combined with computer animation for the zooming. This is animated by Pacific Animation Corporation (now Walt Disney Animation (Japan) Inc.).

Audio: A bouncy, synthesized oboe theme (composed by Bernard Hoffer), with a "spring" sound effect when the line morphs into the "Animated Entertainment" text. On the first season of ThunderCats, the music segues into a custom fanfare for the 1980 Telepictures logo (also by Hoffer) and from season 2 onward, it segues into the end of the 1986 Lorimar-Telepictures "Crashing Comets" theme when the logo appears.

Audio Variants:

  • A low tone variant exists.
  • On a post-1989 Russian print of the ThunderCats season 1 episode "Return to Thundera", the logo is silent.
  • On Santa, Baby!, it's the closing theme of the special.

Availability: Seen on 1980s Rankin/Bass productions, including ThunderCats, The Comic Strip, and SilverHawks.

  • It was also seen on some '80s prints of older R-B specials, typically plastering the older logos.
  • It is also intact at the end of Rudolph's Shiny New Year (1976) on the 2000 UK VHS release thereof from Warner Home Video, which is then followed by the 1988 Lorimar Television logo.
Videocraft International
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