Saturday, 17 April 2010

Halas & Batchelor's Snip and Snap

One of the more obscure British animated series is Snip and Snap, a stop-motion production from Halas & Batchelor that premiered in 1960. According to Vivien Halas and Paul Wells' book Halas & Batchelor Cartoons: An Animated History, the series was sponsored by the American broadcaster ABC.

The series was animated by Thoki Yenn (working under the pseudonym of "Thok"), a Danish toymaker whom Halas had met during a lecture visit to Copenhagen, and boasted writing from Elisabeth Beresford, who would later create The Wombles. The main characters are Snip (an ordinary pair of scissors brought to life by animation - shades of Svankmajer), a little paper dog named Snap, and a larger dog named Snarl who serves as the antagonist of the series but is not as vicious as his name implies - he comes across more as a selfish lug. Snip is able to bring other objects to life; for example, turning some cotton wool into a animated cat to disrupt a dog show that Snarl has rigged in his own favour.

The series' opening sequence shows a pair of live-action hands cutting Snap out of paper while a woman's voice sings "Snip the magic scissors that go snip, snip, snip and cuts out Snap the dog who goes yap, yap, yap". Shades here of Fingerbobs, the seventies puppet series.

A full episode, titled Top Dogs, is included in the French DVD compilation Halas & Batchelor: Le best of "so British"!; a clip from the same episode can be viewed on the Halas & Batchelor Collection website.

The Big Cartoon Database has the most thorough history of the series that I've come across so far:
This TV series aired in Britain under the title "Snip The Magic Scissors," and featured three paper dogs: Snap, Snarl and Sniff.

This series ran for 26 episodes.

Before the release of the series, Halas and Batchelor promoted it as a new technique marking the transition from two-dimensional to three-dimensional object animation.

Paper sculptures were made in origami and kirigami by Danish artist Thoki Yenn, working under the pseudonym Thok. The characters' figures, made from folded cards, were animated using single-frame shooting. Story settings were often compositions of origami backgrounds and everyday objects.

To increase awareness for "Snip And Snap>," [sic] Halas and Batchelor produced sets of flat model sheets that the public could make into figures from the series.
The detail about the series going under a different title in Britain is interesting - entering "Snip The Magic Scissors" into Google turns up only a handful of mentions, so if the BCDB is right in this detail then the British airing seems to be very poorly documented

UPDATE: Toonhound now has a page on the series. As a correction to the above, it turns out that the "selfish lug" who rigs the dog show is not Snarl but Sniff, a second antagonist. My mistake.

Part of another episode, Snapshots, has been posted onto YouTube by Vivien Halas:


  1. Thanks for posting Snip and Snap.... I've been looking for it for years since I saw it as a kid.

  2. Finally! A million years later!

  3. It's magic! Thank you so much for sharing. I loved them when I was a little boy, and hey, Snip & Snap didn't lost a bit of their charm. Terrific, also the small video piece on Youtube.


  5. I'd like to correct an error. "Snip And Snap" was not sponsored by the American ABC - it was sponsored by the British company, "Associated British Corporation", as was Halas & Batchelor's other cartoon series at the time, "Foo Foo with Go Go". Both series were syndicated for American television in 1961, but first shown on British television in 1960. Therefore, the ABC station identification seen at the start of each episode of both series belongs to the UK "Associated British Corporation (ABC Television)" company.

  6. From browsing past editions of TV Times, I can also add that Snip And Snap, Foo Foo and the HabaTales series appear to have been first transmitted on Saturday evenings, around 5.30pm, between late 1960 and early 1961. ABC took over weekend broadcasting on Saturday and Sunday, so it would have been ideal for them to air these at the weekend.

  7. The information is much appreciated, Gene - I've removed the comment about ABC.

  8. No problem at all Neil - happy to be of help! Keep up the excellent work with the blogs.