Rudolph’s Shiny New Year (1976)

rudolphs shiny new year dvd cover
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 8/10

Still love Rankin-Bass animation

Hardly any story

TV Show Info

TV Show Name:  Rudolph’s Shiny New Year

Studio:  Rankin-Bass

Genre(s):  Animated/Seasonal

Release Date(s):  December 6, 1976

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


Look at this crazy map, Rudolph…now just fly around and find him!

There is a new Baby New Year named Happy who is a bit unusual.  Happy has the largest ears you’ll ever see and everyone laughs at Happy causing him to run away to the Archipelago of Last Years.  Contacted by Father Time, Santa Claus recruits Rudolph to find Happy before December 31st is up and the world is stuck in a time vortex.  Happy sets out to the Archipelago of Last Years and tries to locate Happy before the evil buzzard Aeon who is bent on taking over the world.

A Rankin-Bass production and narrated by Red Skelton, Rudolph’s Shiny New Year is a follow-up to the popular Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer of 1964.  The special premiered on December 10, 1976 and aired on ABC.  It still frequently airs, but not with the regularity of the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, or A Charlie Brown Christmas.


Suck it up, Happy, you big eared freak!

Like many of the later Rankin-Bass specials, I find this film kind of tedious.  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer had charm…Rudolph’s Shiny New Year has nostalgia but little of the fun that made the original a classic.

The story of Rudolph’s Shiny New Year just doesn’t have any direction.  Much like the original Rudolph which was loaded with weirdness, this movie also has strange stuff going on once Rudolph reaches the Archipelago of Last Years.  There he randomly jumps around through times (which include 1023AD which everyone knows is the time of fairy tales) and 1776 which played on the booming popularity with the U.S. Centennial of 1976.  The resolution for the film is rather weak and random as the story is wrapped up neatly and quickly.

rudolphs shiny new year ending claymation rankin bass

Let’s get this party started!!!

The characters of this story aren’t very memorable.  Rudolph, Father Time, and Happy are pretty solid (though I do rather hate Happy’s low esteem…is it wrong to want to slap Baby New Year?  Aeon is a pretty weak villain and the weird time traveling supporting cast (which includes a camel, a whale, Benjamin Franklin, and the Three Bears) just doesn’t evoke the fun of Yukon Cornelius and Hermey.

I still love Rankin-Bass animation and I like the raw earlier stop-motion animation of the first films more than the later ones.  This film falls in the in-between stage, but still has the Rudolph feel.

Despite not loving Rudolph’s Shiny New Year, it is still better than some of Rankin/Bass’s other animations.  I’d watch Rudolph’s Shiny New Year before Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey, The Little Drummer Boy, or Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July…but if there is a choice between going out on New Year’s Eve or Rudolph, I’m sticking with heading out.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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