Note. Purely in terms of the quality of the footage these older dvds have all been
rendered obsolete by the later releases detailed above.
The 1st full 39 episode boxset,released in April 2003,and deleted in June 2005.
The footage on this was cleaned up a bit but it falls way short of the digital makeover
the ones above received.
Some episodes emerge worse than others.
But there's judder,a general lack of sharpness,quite a lot of extraneous marks on the film
and very variable exposure levels.
Which sounds awful [and it certain isn't great !]
But if you can live with all that and the total absence of any extras and pick one up for a fiver
then happy days !
Historical footnote - You could pick it up for as little as £9.99 from an online retailer when it was still on general release. But,with incredibly poor timing,it was deleted just prior to the launch of the Quaker Oats tv ads,and the upsurge in interest pushed eBay prices up to £50+.With the highest that I'm aware of being a staggering £87 (yes, eighty seven pounds)
Hard to believe now of course.And pretty hard at the time too,come to think of it ! Proof here .
The problem with emblazoning the sleeves with "digitally restored" is that you kind of assume it'll look like the latest Hollywood blockbuster released in the last few months,rather than something 50 years ago.
And the reality check is the tiny lettering on the back that says ....
"Please note that whilst every care has been taken to ensure the quality of this programme,due to the age of the original materials the technical quality of the programme may be slightly impaired in places"
Which you won't be too surprised to learn is under-stating the problem somewhat.
Because whilst the footage is certainly an improvement over the earlier releases [admittedly not hard],there are still big variations in exposure levels,picture wobble and general dirt to contend with. In short,rose-tinted specs still required !
These last 3 were the very first dvds to be released.
Several anomalies here.With the main one being that the Camberwick example doesn't appear to have been released until after the first boxset and over 2 years after its Trumpton and Chigley counterparts.Very bizarre (if indeed true)
Camberwick Released June 2004 : Deleted August 2004.
Only 12 of the 13 episodes are featured.
With the "Mr.Dagenham" one absent for some reason.
Trumpton Released March 2002 : Deleted June 2005.
There's a major error on the sleeve notes for this one.
It actually contains all 13 episodes NOT the "8" quoted !
Chigley Released March 2002 : Deleted June 2005.
Unlike Trumpton,the sleeve is correct ie.there are just 8 episodes.
In short,they're a bit of a mish mash.But it's all fairly irrelevant now in view of what's come out subsequently.
Trumpton dvd - "Creating Trumptonshire"
There's a brief interview with Gordon Murray and some shots of the original animation process which is great.
But it lasts under 3 minutes (not mentioned on the sleeve) and isn't even new material but simply lifted from the 2005 BBC3 series "Animation Nation".And as it's simply a chunk lifted out un-edited,there's one particular guy happily chatting away whose identity is a complete mystery.Just plain lazy.
Why they didn't just sit Mr.Murray down and get their own definitive,in-depth interview I've no idea.It would've been the ideal opportunity to get a proper,full-length one-to-one with him on film ......before it's too late.Cheap to do,and I'm sure he would've been only happy to oblige,which makes it all the more frustrating.
Camberwick dvd - "Trumptonshire Art Gallery"
If you thought the Trumpton extra was disappointing then this takes it to a whole new level.As it's something called the "Trumptonshire Art gallery",which is simply a paltry collection of 8 stills from the series.
In their defence,the original pre-release blurb had mentioned a feature on the Quaker Oats ads,which was clearly pulled quite late-on for some unknown reason.
But,Blimey O'Reilly ! It's actually so ridiculous it's almost comical.And whilst you'd think it would be hard to short-change every possible age-group,they've managed to pull it off admirably.
Chigley dvd - "Restoring Trumptonshire"
Well,what do you know ? Just for once,Chiggers isn't 3rd out of 3.
Not to say its extra is any great shakes either and,Lord knows,it certainly didn't have to do much to beat Camberwick's
But it's a look at the digital restoration process that supposedly sets these releases apart from the previous offerings.
And whilst it'll detain you twice as long as the Trumpton extra,that's still only about 6 minutes in total.
But it is actually quite interesting,and also leads nicely into the last part of the review..........
It pays to wait........ As stated above,these are the 3 dvds that came out individually earlier in 2006 and were simply plonked in the cardboard box to turn them into the boxset.
Based on the best available retail prices at the time of release,you'd have paid around £36 for all 3 seperately as opposed to just £16 pounds for the boxset. And when they were released there was no indication there'd be a boxset just a few months later of course.Which is all pretty tacky really.
The most recent complete dvd boxset was released on September 25th, 2006. But.....
The 3 dvds it contains had all been released seperately earlier in the year. (pictured further down)
Trumpton - on March 27th..........Camberwick - on May 8th..........and Chigley - on June 9th.
And the only things you gained by buying the boxset were different menu designs and
a nicely printed cardboard box,as the sleeves and extras were all completely unchanged.
Admittedly,HMV did at least sell a version,exclusive to them,that included4 fridge magnets (right)
And,whilst 4 fridge magnets wouldn't have had them queuing in the streets,at least they tried to