DIY Aardman Book Private Film Festival

March 3rd, 2021

When the book Aardman: An Epic Journey came out, I scoured the internet for a reasonable way to get a copy in the US, but came up largely empty. Thankfully, it was published as A Grand Success! in the US three months later, and I quickly bought a copy. Then it entered the abyss of my To Read pile (which, according to GoodReads, now has 93 books in it). I yanked it out of the abyss last month and finally read it! And took the opportunity to turn reading it into a little, private film festival, featuring the shorts.

The following are ones from Aardman’s YouTube account that I watched:

I also didn’t realize that Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer music video was done by Aardman at their studio in Bristol! Watching the video now sure took me back, and got the song stuck in my head for days. You can enjoy the earworm and amazing video too, here on his YouTube channel: Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer (HD version)

Commercials factored heavily into Aardman’s financial success, but aside from references to a few specific ones, they didn’t talk about them much. I was surprised that the Serta sheep commercials in particular weren’t mentioned (I wrote about them in 2003). Here in the US those sheep are quite famous and people loved the plush sheep, I have six of them! There are still several playlists on YouTube that have collected the old sheep commercials, they’re a lot of fun. As a computer person, I also enjoyed the Enterprise 64 commercial, “Dem Bones” which was mentioned in the book. It’s technically brilliant and fun to watch, even if the company went out of business not too long after the commercial aired.

It was also allowed me a good excuse to introduce my beloved Aardman favorites to my two year old. Now, obviously, at two there are limits to what he can really enjoy, but after watching A Grand Day Out he brought me my Gromit stuffed animal and asked for more, so I’m calling that a big win! He also enjoyed a bunch of classic Morph, and the book led me to the Morph kickstarter that they did a few years ago, and subsequently published on the Morph YouTube channel.

The feature films are next on my list. I’ve seen them all, of course, but now that I’ve read the work and history of all of them, there’s a more personal connection to them. Particularly of note, I struggled to enjoy Early Man because the football (soccer) segments were seemingly never-ending to my American sports attention span. I’ll give it another watch. I’m also eager to watch The Pirates! again, since I watched it when I was pretty far-removed from my Aardman fandom moments, and I don’t think I took enough time to appreciate it.

Finally, I’ve expanded my collection of Wallace and Gromit goodies over the past month, finally hitting eBay and other collectable sites to pick up a few things I’ve always had my eye on. It’s certainly been a fun thing to spend time searching for during a pandemic!

I highly recommend the book. Peter and David are exceptional people and their company is a true artistic and financial success that has stayed true to their roots. I especially enjoyed at the end where they talked about their local involvement in Bristol and the work to establish an employee-owned collective-like organization for the future. Kudos, folks! Looking forward to more Wallace and Gromit.

A touch painful on re-entry: I’m back after five years!

February 8th, 2021

I was standing in line at a grocery store recently wearing my new Wallace and Gromit t-shirt from Threadless (via the new Aardman’s Artist shop!) and a gentleman behind me in line mentioned that he was a fan. We were both excited by this fact, fans in the US are not particularly common, so I’m always delighted when I meet one. Alas, having not updated this site in several years, I went to mention that I run a Wallace and Gromit fan site, and then backed up and instead said “I used to run a Wallace and Gromit fan site.” How sad! I loved running this site, even if updates were infrequent even before my departure on to other things. The fact had been wearing on me since the encounter, I miss it!

Now as the mother of two young sons, the eldest of whom is just starting to get into Shaun the Sheep, this is a wonderful time to return and get back on top of all the latest news.

Hello again!

What has gone on since my last update? A whole lot! The following is my own collection of news of note covering these past five years as a US fan.

In a previous post, I mentioned the announcement of Shaun in the City in 2015. Just like the first Gromit Unleashed, figurines and a charity auction concluded that event. Gromit Unleashed also came back to Bristol as Gromit Unleased 2 in 2018, which was unfortunate timing for me because I was pregnant with my first son and wasn’t able to travel overseas while it was running! I did get my collector hands on some figurines though, before the pandemic in 2020 closed international shipping from the Gromit Unleashed shop (I do hope it resumes again soon, there are so many great things there).

As a US collector, it can sometimes be tough to get Wallace and Gromit goodies stateside, but this has changed some in recent years. First, there are now a trio of Funko Pop! figurines featuring Wallace, Gromit, and Shaun. I pre-ordered them as soon as they were available, and was delighted as each one trickled in over a few months last year.

I was also delighted this year to see Aardman’s Artist shop on Threadless mentioned at the beginning of this post open recently. I bought several t-shirts, a magnet, and the item I’m most excited and impressed about: a large blanket! The quality is excellent, and the image looks great. I have already spent a good amount of time snuggled up and reading with it.

Speaking of reading, two books worth mentioning also came out in these past couple years. In 2016, the beautiful The Art of Aardman book was released, which I highly recommend for anyone looking for a beautiful and thoughtfully edited book across dozens of Aardman characters. The second was Aardman: An Epic Journey, published as A Grand Success! in the US, by Peter Lord and Dave Sproxton. I have to admit that I haven’t read it yet (my reading queue is long), but it’s now the next book on my list!

The most recent news is fresh off the presses, the release of a new mobile game, The Big Fix-up! It’s a game for Android and iPhone that uses your camera to create augmented reality (AR) scenarios as you progress through the game. What’s really cool about it, is that it has whole new videos with Wallace and Gromit, as well as the rest of the characters in the game. It crashed a few times on me (oops!) but it’s really cute and I’ve been enjoying it.

Other tidbits worth mentioning, is that we said goodbye to our beloved Peter Sallis, the voice of Wallace, in 2017. He passed away at age 96. Vice Press also released a limited series of prints which almost immediately sold out of the allotted 100. I did manage to get my hands on the one for A Matter of Loaf and Death.

I’m sure there’s dozens of small news items I missed, but I has been over five years since I’ve written.

And do feel free to contact me at if you have any news tidbits or anything else you’d like to see featured here. I’m just a fan and don’t have any special insight into the goings on of Aardman or Wallace and Gromit news, so I depend on you, social media, and keyword news alerts for all my news!

See you in the next time!

US Release of Shaun the Sheep Movie on DVD/Blu-ray

November 21st, 2015

The United States got out dose of the Shaun the Sheep Movie a bit later than some other countries, with our theatrical release on August 5th and the DVD/Blu-ray release coming up this Tuesday, November 24th.

Thanks to Lionsgate Home Entertainment, I was granted an early release copy of the [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD] edition that arrived last week and I took time to watch last night.

The Movie

If you weren’t fortunate enough to catch the film in the theater during the short time it was there here in the US, you’re in for a treat! The premise of the film is that Shaun and his fellow farm-dwelling sheep friends want to take a day off from the typical routine. After a series of calamities, this plan for a day off takes all of them, the Farmer and Bitzer the dog into The Big City where much of the movie takes place. There, the sheep try to blend in with city life, while trying to avoid Trumper, a power mad Animal Containment Officer. The Farmer unintentionally tries his hand at a new career and it’s up to Shaun, Timmy and the rest of the sheep to make sure they all get home.

The box reports an estimated running time of 85 minutes, and astoundingly the film moves along quickly and humorously with no dialogue. Sounds from the animals and people, plenty of the character expressions that Aardman is famous for to make the characters come to life, but aside from the amusing songs throughout the film, there are no real words in the film. It was quite an impressive feat, and as far as I know, a new one for one of Aardman’s big theatrical releases. Chicken Run and the Wallace & Gromit films all have dialogue.

The special features and beyond

The box came with two disks, a DVD and a Blu-ray copy of the film, as well as a voucher with a code for the Digital HD Edition.

Special Features

Making the Shaun movie: This was a making of documentary about the film that lasts about 12 minutes, with comments from various members of the production team and even some words from Shaun (and Wallace and Gromit!) creator Nick Park himself. The making of takes you through script writing and story, model making, set building, animating, voice recording, music and reviewing the final cut.

Meet the characters: In approximately 5 minutes, this segment introduces you to several characters in the film: Shaun, Slip, Timmy and Trumper.

Join Shaun behind the scenes: In 3 minutes of original content (not lifted from earlier Making), you follow Shaun from how the claymation characters move to a quick explanation of how different models are built, learning how the humans and sheep characters are different.

Meet the crew: If you saw the earlier Making short, you can likely skip this one, as the commentary from the crew is duplicated here. But you do get great perspective from the crew if you just want to watch this one on its own, or are looking for a quick behind the scenes refresher.

Parody Poster Gallery: In this little feature, you can page through several parody movie posters based on other blockbusters that were in theaters around the same time as Shaun the Sheep. Enjoy little Timmy on the cover of Ant-lamb, the sheep crew as they star in Fantastic Flock or catch death-defying Shaun featured on the poster for Mutton Impossible: Rogue Bacon.

Digital HD Edition

While waiting for the Blu-ray to load up, I took the opportunity to pull out my Android tablet and download the Digital HD version from Vudu. The process was straight forward, and by the time the Blu-ray menu popped up, I was on my way to downloading it to my tablet as well. It’s really great when the offer for a digital copy works so well.

Your turn!

If you’re outside the US, you’ve probably had the opportunity to pick up the film already, but if you’re in the US your chance comes up this Tuesday, November 24th. You can likely pre-order it already from your favorite vendor, or hop out on Tuesday to pick it up directly. I highly recommend it, I’m sure I’ll be watching it again really soon.

Products: Gromit Unleashed and Comics

May 9th, 2015

I plan on writing a more news-based post soon, but right now I wanted to pause to give a quick tour of some of the latest products made available by the Gromit Unleashed folks. I talked about placing my order in a post back in November and was pleased to later receive the order, fully intact here in California a few weeks later. While the shipping does almost make orders prohibitively expensive, it did save to order a few things at once. I’ll hold off on any Shaun in the City orders until selection increases and I can buy a few pieces.

As I mentioned in that last post, I got the Creature Comforts Gromit Figurine and the Gromit Classic. They both came out beautifully.

Creature Comforts Gromit

I also purchased a copy of Wallace and Gromit Monopoly. So much fun!

Wallace and Gromit Monopoly

Beyond Gromit Unleashed, over the past 18 months we’ve also had the pleasure of seeing the Wallace and Gromit Comics by Titan be released in book form, so far with 3 volumes released. The first was released back in October 2013, second in November of 2014 and the third that I pre-ordered and had on my doorstep at the end of March.

Wallace and Gromit Comics

The books are wonderfully bound and the comics within are beautifully colored. The book is organized so that there are several pages of comics and then full color spreads of pictures from their various adventures, from movies to shorts, as seen here.

The release in the US of these comics made me particularly happy, because aside from shipping and cost issues that I often run into, as far as I know it was the first time these comics are available in printed form (not digital) on this side of the ocean.

I highly recommend picking up all three if you haven’t already, with a lean $16.99 price tag each you won’t regret it. They’re all available via Amazon and other major book sellers here in the US.

I’ve added a few more photos of the products mentioned in this post here:

Wallace and Gromit in 2014

November 14th, 2014

Wow, it’s been a while! Lack of updates is completely on my end, with work and other responsibilities piling up on my end this year, finding time to update this site with Wallace and Gromit news has slipped through the cracks (note: if you’d like to help, please drop me a line: The year has also been quite busy for Wallace and Gromit, so I’ve missed a lot! I shall now attempt to do a whirlwind tour of what the lads have been up to.

First up, exciting news today about the availability of Gromit Unleashed Monopoly. I’ve long resisted the branded Monopoly games, but in this case I gave in. The game costs £29.95 and shipping to the United States is expensive so I decided to also purchase a couple Gromit figurines as well (Classic and Creature Comforts). All told, shipping came out to a whopping £34.53, but I think it was worth it. It’s also worthy to note, that they support International orders through their system now, so there is no longer a need to email them directly.

In more shopping news, I was delighted to learn earlier this year that Wallace and Gromit: The Complete Newspaper Comic Strip Collection Volume 1 was released, and doubly so that just last week (November 4th), Wallace and Gromit: The Complete Newspaper Comic Strip Collection Volume 2 came out! It’s on my way to my home as we speak. Check out a great review of Volume 1 by Victoria Irwin here: The Complete Newspaper Wallace & Gromit Comic Strips Collection.

In other Gromit Unleashed news, they launched a YouTube channel back in March that continues to host a bunch of goodies:

They also decided to have a Gromit Unleashed exhibition in Hong Kong over the summer! It kicked off on July 21st and went through August 31st, with Gromit Unleased Newsletter saying:

For the first time outside the UK, 70 Gromit Unleashed sculptures have come together to create a unique exhibition at ELEMENTS mall in Hong Kong, with each Gromit individually designed and decorated by an array of top designers, celebrities and international brands – including four designs from Aardman Animations!

The Bristol Post wrote a couple articles about it:Gromit Unleashed launches in Hong Kong with a 4 metre tall Gromit and Gromit unleashed on Hong Kong for new exhibition. Also check out a video and some photos of the exhibition over on Gromit Unleashed Hits Hong Kong! I’ve also embedded the video in this post.

The Bristol Post reports that the auction in Kowloon a total of £45,389 was raised.

Finally, Shaun in the City was announced! A follow-up to the Gromit trail, this time London will be welcoming statues of one of our favorite Wallace and Gromit characters who has gone on to make success in his own series, Shaun the Sheep! I’ve been following their Twitter account @shaun_inthecity and the preparations are well underway for the installation. News about this was shared by The Telegraph Giant Shaun the Sheep take to the streets

Photo: LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

Over the summer, from from May 24 to September 7, Bristol was host to a Wallace and Gromit Exhibition at M Shed Museum. The exhibit featured concept sketches, models and actual sets from the films, some great photos from the exhibition were shared in this article from Bristol Culture: Wallace & Gromit exhibition at M Shed. And Tricia Orchard shared another series of photos here: Wallace and Gromit at The MShed. A post by The Guardian also gave some show highlights: Wallace and Gromit – a sneaky preview of the M Shed exhibition.

And last but not least, here’s a sampling of articles talking about other news from the past several months featuring the duo:

Thanks for reading, until next time!

More Unleashed news, music, Wesleydale, LeapPad and the BIG bake

January 4th, 2014

Happy New Year, Wallace and Gromit fans! For the holidays this year, I ordered a copy of The Art of Gromit Unleashed, which wasn’t cheap when shipping to the US was added, but was worth it. Between the articles I’ve read on the Gromits and the background information about every Gromit provided in this book, I almost have stopped regretting not booking a trip over the Atlantic to Bristol to see them in person.

Plus, the fine folks at The Grand Appeal included a hand written note with my purchase.

Speaking of Gromit Unleashed, the organization continues to release the figurines for sale on their site and at The Mall, Cribbs Causeway. I’m still hoping that in 2014 they’ll have enough to ship internationally! Finally, one of the Gromits has found a public home: Gromit’s grand new dog house decided by voters

In musical news, the duo just finished up their Musical Marvels events in London and Sydney. There are currently no upcoming shows but you can sign up for their newsletter to be notified of any updates.

I’m a big fan of Wensleydale cheese (sold at Whole Foods here in the United States) so it was great to see this news: Wensleydale cheese finally wins protected status

Have a kiddo with a LeapPad? This news should interest you! LeapFrog brings Aardman’s Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep to LeapPad

This fall through December 31st, Homepride Flour sponsored Wallace & Gromit’s BIG Bake which included a fundraising kit for individuals to bake goods and sell them for the Wallace and Gromit charity. The winner will be announced at 5pm on Monday 13th January 2014. Keep an eye on Wallace and Gromit’s Charity Pintrerest page for more.

In the spirit of things, here is a sampling of what came out of that!

Gromit Unleashed wrap-up

November 13th, 2013
Gromit Unleashed

I have already written about some of the exciting things Wallace and Gromit were up to over the summer, but the biggest one of all was the Gromit Unleashed art display in Bristol, UK! For 10 weeks from the first of July Gromit statues decorated by world famous and local artists alike dotted the city of Bristol in a walking tour that attracted thousands. The exciting summer wrapped up with an auction of the statues in September that raised over £2.3 million for Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal charity for children and their families Bristol Children’s Hospital.

Back in June I wrote about couple of ads that were released promoting it. So, first up, an article from just before the launch: Gromit Unleashed: Celebrity line-up revealed

The unveiling of the statues themselves was seen over by none other than Wallace and Gromit Creator Nick Park!

Throughout the summer several outlets continued their reporting, featuring all kinds of Gromits and their artists from the trail:

Once the trail itself ended, the Gromits were moved to a temporary location where they were housed and on display for visitors:

Throughout their display time the wait times to see the Gromits were tracked on the @GromitUnleashed twitter account and at times reached up to 3 hours!

It was perhaps no surprise then that the auction of the Gromits was so wildly successful:

As a wrap up, the Bristol Post published a fantastic 32-page booklet titledThe Great Gromit Auction on ISSUU, so you can browse the whole thing online.

Looking for more photos of the gromits? Be sure to visit the Gromit galleries on the Gromit Unleased website for more.

There are figurines being produced of many of the gromits, which will be available on the Gromit Unleashed Shop. Unfortunately they are out of stock but have promised to fulfill demand next year. You can click on the “Newsletter” link on the website to be kept up to date with current developments, including when new figures will be available. And they don’t ship to the United States directly on their website, but I was able to follow the instructions to contact them and just sent in my payment for the The Art of Gromit Unleashed Book – a steep $41.46 including shipping to the US, but I’m sure it’ll be worth it. Hopefully I’ll be able to get one of the figures too when they’re available again.

Thrill-O-Matic Ride and Wallace and Gromit endorsed UK Staycations

October 22nd, 2013

What a summer for Wallace and Gromit!

We saw the opening of the Wallace & Gromit Thrill-O-Matic at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. This is the first amusement park ride featuring the duo to be launched, so a very exciting moment!

There was a lot of press coverage leading up to and around the opening in April, including lots of great photos with Nick Park as he was there to celebrate the opening of the ride.

Then Wallace and Gromit hit the trail to team up with VisitEngland promote “staycations” in the UK.

Announcement on here: Wallace & Gromit’s Great UK Adventure Begins!

And check out the great website here:

Press coverage, including some great pictures and a great slideshow from the BBC of a series of the images showcased in the campaign:

Finally, the promotional video is a lot of fun:

For Shawn fans, we also saw this news: Shaun the Sheep Movie is Announced!

And perhaps the biggest news of the summer? The amazing Gromit Unleased tour in Bristol where 80 Gromit statues decorated by 80 famous and local artists! But this requires a post of it’s own, coming soon.

“A Grand Tail” in Bristol and some costumes

June 19th, 2013

Sarah Chidgey has passed along the latest video promoting Bristol and the upcoming 80 Gromit statues coming to the city and writes:

A Grand Tail is a slapstick romp around some of Bristol’s most iconic locations, to publicise the unveiling on 1st July of 80 life-sized Gromits painted by a host of high-profile celebrities and artists, including Harry Hill, Cath Kidson and One Direction’s Zayn Malik. The summer trail and film are aimed at families and couples looking for a UK break or ‘staycation’.

The film features two hapless delivery drivers trying to drop Gromit off in time for the Trail, but getting hopelessly lost in the city.

Tourist attractions in the city include Bristol Zoo, Clifton village, the Harbourside area of town, where the SS Great Britain is docked, two theatres, the recently revamped music and comedy venue Colston Hall, Bristol Museum and @Bristol (a science museum suitable for adults and families), two cinema complexes, plus an enormous range of restaurants and the recently-built Cabot Circus shopping area. Other attractions include the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the Downs, and Leigh Woods.

Check it out here:

In related news, Brunel’s ss Great Britain has announced the arrival of their very own Gromit, “staying with us over the summer and presiding over Brunel Square for ‘Gromit Unleashed’ from Monday July 1st 2013.”

From their press release:

The artist is Thomas W. Dowdeswell; whose piece ‘Being Gromit-Malkovich’ incorporates an abstract cityscape in a Vorticist style. It is an industrial yet contemporary construction which strikes an interesting balance with the historic engineering of Brunel’s ss Great Britain.

Thomas W. Dowdeswell said: “As Gromit is taking over the streets of Bristol, I thought it would be an interesting twist to turn [him] into a cityscape in his own right. Gromit now is not just a dog but an idea, a vision and a hope which encompasses the whole city; on the streets, in our homes, under blue skies and neon-lights people are volunteering to live, at least for a while, in Gromit’s world”

And thanks to the folks at Carbon Costume who create “Famous outfits made from everyday gear” and also reached out to show me a couple recent posts featuring Wallace and Piella Bakewell costumes!

See the Wallace costume here and Piella here.

Gromit Unleashed ads unleashed!

June 12th, 2013

The Gromit Unleashed campaign features a series of 80 Gromit statues made by area artists that will be placed throughout Bristol for 10 weeks from July 1st to September 8th 2013.

In preparation, a series of videos have begun to be released:

Wondering where you’ll find 80 Gromits this summer?”A Grand Tail” coming soon

Gromit stirs up the Clifton set in this outtake from “A Grand Tail,” coming soon

Thanks to Sarah Chidgey for letting me know about these videos!