Cartoons R Fun was a series of VHS tapes of classic cartoons, originally released by Home Video Syndications Ltd.
The Cartoons R Fun series was created by Home Video Syndications, Ltd. (of Farmingdale, New York) in 1989. The covers were designed by Vidtape, Inc. of Placentia, California. By 1990, HVS was closed and Vidtape became the main distributor of the Cartoons R Fun series. Since Vidtape did not release any other series of tapes, they changed the company name to Cartoons R Fun in 1990. Cartoons R Fun continued releasing tapes through the 1990s.
The Vidtape brand was briefly revived in 1999 to release classic short films on VHS. Vidtape changed their name to Videozone in 2000 and went out of business shortly afterward.
Quality of the TapesEdit
The Cartoons R Fun series became famous for its notoriously poor quality. This is because the tapes were produced as cheaply as possible, leading to many problems.
Video noise and artifacts were common problems. The sound was also of poor quality. This was due to the tapes being recorded in the EP mode, instead of the LP mode used by most PD companies.
The tapes were also criticized for the cartoons being edited. In most cases, the opening titles have been removed or edited to remove studio captions, and the end titles have been replaced with a generic "The End" card (it is said that these were originally taken from the 1970's redrawn colorized versions of Betty Boop cartoons), or, in some cases, have been cut out entirely. In addition, most cartoons are slowed down slightly from their original speed. Any black and white cartoon featured on any of the tapes has a sepia-tone added to them. There were also instances where footage within the cartoon was edited. As an example, Porky's Preview (featured at the start of the Old McDonald's Farm tape) starts partway in and not from the beginning. However, there were some instances where cartoons on these tapes did contain the original studio captions.
The original HVS tapes contained four cartoons on each tape, and were recorded in SP mode. When Vidtape took over Cartoons R Fun, they began recording the tapes in EP mode, and gradually began using shorter tapes. The last Cartoons R Fun tapes contained only two cartoons, despite claiming to have four.
One of the most common complaints was that the tapes stopped before the cartoons were over, resulting in an abrupt ending. It is not known why this happened. It is possible that the tapes were duplicated incorrectly, or that the tapes were all erased in some way. In some instances it was also due to the tapes not being of adequate length to hold all four cartoons.
Individual copies of the tapes also varied in terms of presentation. On some copies, there is a black lead in screen before the start of the first cartoon whilst on others the first cartoon starts as soon as the tape is put in. Technically, on these copies there is greater risk of the beginning of the first cartoon deteriorating in quality as this area of the tape is most at risk of getting worn due to contact with the video heads. The ending of the tapes also varies due to the fact that the tapes used were of varying lengths. On some copies, the tape cuts abruptly from the end caption of the fourth cartoon to a static screen whilst on others a more common place black lead out screen is shown which either remains on the screen until the end of the tape is reached or eventually cuts to a static screen. On some copies, the tape immediately runs out as soon as the fourth cartoon has finished. Some copies of individual tapes contained a logo from a company called "Duratape Inc" at the end of the tape.
Lastly, one other fact attesting to the tapes' cheapness was the tapes themselves. Many Cartoons R Fun tapes were recorded over other tapes. The tapes used for this purpose varied greatly, from National Geographic specials to NordicFlex workout tapes. In these cases, Cartoons R Fun simply applied their label over the previous one, without removing it. Other tapes had no labeling whatsoever, and some even had generic home video labels (from BASF) applied. One instance of reused tapes (from the UK line of Cartoons R Fun tapes) had the tape's cartoons recorded over a defective Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends tape (namely "Troublesome Trucks and Other Stories", of which ends before the final episode on the tape (Percy Runs Away) has properly finished).
By comparison, Celebrity Home Entertainment's Classic Cartoons series also were recorded in EP, had severely degraded prints and cartoons were frequently omitted. Nevertheless, the Cartoon Classics series had substantially higher quality tapes, had consistent time lengths and the cartoons were edited more adeptly.
The Cartoons R Fun series went through several packaging variations. The HVS boxes featured a list of the four cartoons contained on each tape, as did the original Vidtape releases. As Vidtape began to cut down the number of cartoons on each tape, they replaced the lists with the title of the featured cartoon, followed by "And many more!" Around 1990, Vidtape moved from Placentia, California to West Babylon, New York, and the boxes were changed to reflect this. The packaging for the UK releases also varied depending on how many cartoons were contained on each tape. A number of copies containing only three cartoons used boxes from the German releases with labels outlining the tape's english title being applied over the top of the German text. Similarily, on the back cover, the German translation of the tape content is covered over with a label outlining the featured character on the tape and with the words "And Many more".
In addition to the label differences described above, most tapes can also be found with four box variations. Some had Vidtape's information in a black box, and others had the same information in a white box on top of the black box. There were also variations to the labels used for the UK releases from Videozone. Some copies had a generic green and yellow label just containing the words "Cartoons R Fun" and "Video Zone" but without the name of the tape displayed. Others had a light blue and white label which in some instances listed the name of the tape and in other instances didn't. Other copies had the Cartoons R Fun logo printed directly onto the cassette shell in either light blue, brown or pink.
On some copies of the tapes where the fourth cartoon was omitted, the boxes were altered to reflect this fact by the title of the 4th cartoon being crossed out with black marker pen. Additionally, the original stated running time of 30 minutes was altered either by means of a sticker which stated that the running time was 25 minutes or alternatively by having all references to the 30 minute running time being crossed out by black marker pen.
However, there were instances where the actual tape did not match what was indicated on the box in terms of running time and cartoon content. Some copies which last all four cartoons on the back end up having one of the cartoons omitted and other copies for which the box indicates that the tape only contains three cartoons do actually end up containing all four.
There were also variations to the endings of the tapes containing only three cartoons. On some copies, the tape simply cut to a blank screen after the ending of the third cartoon, whilst on others, a few seconds of the fourth cartoon was shown before the tape cut to a blank screen, or, on some releases, actually ran out and ejected.
The original HVS releases were labelled with the title of the individual tapes. This was also the case for some of the UK releases distributed by Videozone. Vidtape initially used a generic Cartoons R Fun label for each tape, then dropped the labels altogether. Some Cartoons R Fun tapes sold in Canada were distributed by other companies, and featured a variety of labels to reflect this.