Heroes By Nature (1996) | Forum

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Maklarr4000
Maklarr4000 May 14 '19
In 1995, my father had an idea- make an edutainment-style show about superheroes that were, coincidentally, animals. The puppets were built, and a whole series focusing on predominantly environmental "lessons" was planned. However, without any real budget and short on time, the pilot is, well, kinda weird.




The special centers on Mr. Williams (right) and his landlord, Mr. Crabwell (left). Mr. Williams' son's wife needs a medical operation, and so he gives his rent money to him to help cover it. Mr. Crabwell is not amused, and escalates things in absolutely terrifying fashion from the start- bringing in his pet monster Brutor to forcibly evict Mr. Williams.




Of course, Mr. Williams cat Chester and Phil the mouse who lives in the basement call on the Heroes by Nature, comprised of Sasha the Fox, Buzz the Beaver, and Homer the Opossum. They arrive, and have a round-table meeting to try and figure out how to get more money for Mr. Williams. Ultimately the heroes defeat Crabwell and his monster minion Brutor, saving Mr. Williams' house, and implying that Crabwell is going to jail before the pilot ends.



-Edited for clarity-

The Forum post is edited by Maklarr4000 Apr 26
Maklarr4000
Maklarr4000 May 14 '19
There's a lot to unpack here. The puppets were made by my father, who also voiced every character in the special. He wrote the script, and filmed everything on his camera equipment used by his video business. As one of Wisconsin's leading powerhouses for VHS dubbing in the 1990's, he was able to quickly amass about 200 VHS tapes of the special for distribution and sale. There were no serious buyers, and as of 2018 only about 30 tapes were unaccounted for. Most of the tapes were destroyed in the summer of 2018 due to damage.


The original planned sequel has a script, but it was never filmed. By 2000, 2 of the original puppets had succumbed to rot, and by 2003 only a handful of the puppets remained. In 2003, a revitalized effort to relaunch Heroes by Nature more in line with it's original objectives was launched. This would feature Homer the Opossum, Buzz the Beaver (using the original puppets) a new hero made out of what was salvageable from Sasha and a new head to make an un-named Lynx character, and a bear would serve as the antagonist. Three episodes were planned, with some filming accomplished in the summer of 2003, though production stalled and the project was eventually canceled. Neither the Lynx nor bear puppets were ever completed.


Mr. Williams, or rather the puppet, saw some extended life as a Halloween prop, serving as recently as 2018. While most of the props and puppets were lost over the years, most of the remaining items were donated to the charity haunted house held in the city of Wisconsin Rapids, where they will likely continue to serve well into the future.

The Forum post is edited by Maklarr4000 Apr 26
Maklarr4000
Maklarr4000 May 14 '19
The 1996 Special is out there, somewhere. I recently saw a few clips surface online and a few memes of screenshots that are out there already. I expect all of these were derrived from some of the mail-order tapes that were sold sight-unseen in the late 1990s. Should my father ever permit it, a digital rip of the master file from the proposed Laserdisc distribution of the special does exist, and I'd love to share this weird and wonderful meme-ripe relic from the late 90's with the rest of the world.


Edit: Parts of the special were previously posted to the now-defunct video site ZippCast, and I suspect that's where these new clips have come from.

The Forum post is edited by Maklarr4000 Apr 26
Maklarr4000
Maklarr4000 Jul 31
I regret that I have to post this, but last week my father has passed away. I am currently working on securing the rights to the various intellectual properties. Once that is done, there will be more news on this special.
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