I collect records – because I am morbidly attracted to any hobby that requires apparatus. I also find the ritual and intent required to spin and maintain records engrossing. On top of my LP and other collecting habits and because I am an insane person, I collect (very) specific artifacts from the worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien. Find here a confluence of the two obsessions ~

As a kid The Hobbit was one of the first VHS tapes I recall renting repeatedly. Produced by Rankin/Bass in 1977 and while it has a few flaws (Beorn being left out due to time constraints *enraged bear face*) I love it for its musical interpretations and animation. A Ralph Bakshi animated production of most of the first two Lord of the Rings novels followed the Rankin/Bass Hobbit. This also entered my childhood rotation and I still delight in them as the first visual representations of the novels I was quickly becoming engrossed by.

Bakshi cancelled his production of The Return of the King due to funding difficulties and development hell. In response Rankin/Bass picked the Tolkien cartoon interpretation torch back up and produced the final installment themselves. I have never watched the animated Return of the King, but I recently found its soundtrack and storybook on vinyl.

I also found it on CED Video Disc. This tech was developed by RCA when they were at the peak of their power and popularity. CED was exceedingly slow and expensive to develop due to the difficulty of engineering a disc and stylus that could handle a large information load and maintain through the inherent wear of a physical stylus. By the time Capacitance discs made their debut for launch, LaserDisc was beginning its (brief) moment and VHS was becoming widespread. Although the player and PVC based discs were easier to manufacture and less expensive than LaserDisc or tape, they never managed to gain traction due to their size and slow rollout.

I find these technological dead ends and all their surrounding media fascinating. It is fun to imagine what current reality would be like if alternate tech had caught on. While vinyl has remained popular throughout its history to varying degrees, both CED, Laserdisc, and VHS have all fallen away. There are moments when I am tempted to seek out all the old players and become a sort of media necromancer – yes yes insane person – I am deterred by a sensitivity to all the collection I’m currently in the midst of, and spatial constraint.

If you enjoy the R/B Hobbit and are seeking a similar timbre, check out The Flight of Dragons, The Last Unicorn, and the Wind in the Willows.


For more Bakshi check out Wizards or Cool World. He was mentor to one of my favorite contemporary artists. She is named Becky Cloonan and you can find her work here.


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