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Frosty the Snowman

Frosty's Winter Wonderland
by yo go re

In 1950, looking to repeat the success of the previous year's "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," Gene Autrey recorded a new Christmas song. Four years later, Chicago tv station WGN contracted a three-minute animated short which they showed every year at Christmastime.

But it wasn't until 1969 that an animated Frosty took the national stage, in the classic Rankin/Bass Frosty the Snowman special on CBS. That was Rankin/Bass' first use of cel animation, rather than stop-motion, and featured an impressive team of creators: Paul Coker Jr., a greeting card artist who would later work for Mad Magazine, designed Frosty, and the animation was done by the studio of Osamu Tezuka, the creator of Astro Boy and the father of anime. That's a hell of a pedigree!

Technically this toy is based on 1976's Frosty's Winter Wonderland, as evidenced by the presence of his snow-wife and Parson Brown, but the design is basically the same, so Frosty can be from whatever you want.

The Frosty line of toys comes to us from South Bend, Indiana-based Round 2, under their "Forever Fun" baner, which is dedicated to holiday characters: basically, Round 2/Forever Fun seems to have picked up where Playing Mantis left off when they were bought out in 2005, and that's not a bad thing.

Frosty stands 5½" tall, without his hat, and is decently articulated. We get a swivel neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel wrists and hinged hips. Yes, hinged: they slide back and forth, rather than raising or swiveling. It's an odd piece of construction, but it works well on Frosty's bulbous body; this isn't a type of joint we've seen before, so let's have a hand for innovation!

The figure is molded entirely from stiff ABS plastic - no flexible PVC here! There's a pitted texture covering his entire body that's reminscent of the Muppets toys, and though the paint apps aren't terribly complex, they are applied well. Any mistakes would show up way too easily against the white "skin," but that isn't really an issue here. His eyes are silver, with black pupils, and his "button" nose is a red bulb with a white dot on the end. His thin smile is outlined in blue, and again it's handled well. Amusingly, there's a mold artifact right in the center of his body, so it looks almost like a snowman belly button.

Frosty's accessories are nice, as well. To begin with, he has a broom that can be held in either hand. 5¼" tall, the broom has three colors of paint to make it look real. His brown corncob pipe plugs into the corner of his mouth, or again, held in either hand.

The one accessory this snowman needs is his old silk hat. In the 1969 cartoon, the hat originally belonged to magician Professor Hinkle, who was desperate to get it back when he realized there was still some magic in it. Anyway, the hat is grey, with a black hatband and a pink and blue flower. To keep it in place on his head (lest he lose his life, don't you know), the hat is magnetic, staying in place quite well, but still able to slip off "accidentally."

When Frosty the Snowman first aired, the titular snowlem was nude except for his hat. From 1970 onward, including Frosty's Winter Wonderland, he wore a red and yellow scarf. That scarf is included on this figure, a real cloth piece, though it can be slipped off over his head if you want it '69 style.

Frosty is available from numerous online retailers, of course, but you can also pick him up at Toys Я Us. He's a Christmas classic, and turned out really well in toy form. There's an entire line of Winter Wonderland figures available, but Frosty is surely the star of the show.

-- 12/10/08

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