Superscope Storyteller and Tele-Story series (partially found series of audio cassettes and VHS video storybooks; 1973-1989)

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Revision as of 04:53, 13 September 2020 by TropesAreDangerous (talk | contribs) (In the 1970s and 1980s, the Superscope produced children's storybooks with voiceovers, as well as VHS "video storybook" adaptations of these same books under Tele-Story. This is quite the rabbit hole due to obscurity and how many properties were involved.)
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Tele-Story Growing Up Smarter.jpg

Three tapes from the "Growing Up Smarter" Series in original packaging with their books.

Status: Partially Found


The Superscope company was incorporated in 1957 and originally distributed Sony reel-to-reel and cassette tape recorders throughout the 1960s. The name was based on a trademarked technique for producing widescreen movie prints that was developed by the company's founders in 1954. During the 1970s, they began developing storybook and audio cassette bundles aimed at young children under their Tele-Story and Storyteller lines. [1] The books were primarily illustrated by Rex Irvine and Judie Clarke. The books and tapes were primarily focused on classic fairytales and bible stories. Most of the tapes were produced in English, but the fairy tale tapes were also translated into Portuguese and Italian language. It is unknown if any of their other series received similar translations.

As they moved into the early 1980s, they began producing their "Growing Up Smarter" series of audio cassettes and books, which contained educational material aimed at children ages 3 to 8. By the middle of the 1980s, they had also aquired licenses for various children's properties, such as "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" and "The Adventures of Gumby". These properties were also used to produce packs of audio cassettes and educational storybooks.

By the late 1980s, Superscope had also begun producing VHS video storybooks. These tapes consisted of still images taken from their earlier storybooks and appear to contain the same audio narrations from the audo cassettes that they produced in the 1970s and early 1980s. Some of their "Growing Up Smarter", "Favorite Bible Stories", and "Classic Fairy Tales" series were known to have been reproduced in this form. It is unknown if any of their licensed properties received the same treatment. Also, during the late 1980s, the Tele-Story portion of Superscope Inc was apparently bought out by Fun Discovery Inc, who continued to sell the audio cassettes and VHS storybooks.

The Classic Fairy Tales Series

The "Classic Fairy Tales" series consisted of 24 known English-language audio cassettes produced between 1973 and 1989. These were marketed under the "Tele-Story Presents" series. There are also two known alternate-language series. In 1973, Superscope released a series of at least twelve tapes that contained Italian-language recordings on both sides of the tape. These were marketed under the "Superscope Presenta" series. Also in 1973, Superscope released at least twelve tapes that contained an English-language recording on one side and a Portuguese-language recording on the opposite side. These were marketed under the "O Storyteller" This series is known to have changed some character's names for the Portuguese audience, such as "Hansel and Gretel" becoming "Joao and Maria".

Some of the English-language fairy tales audio cassette tapes were later adapted into VHS video storybooks. The early tapes were marked as being products of "Marantz", which is a famous hi-fi audio company that was owned by Superscope Inc. The later tapes were marked by "Fun Discovery Inc", who apparently bought the Tele-Story divsion from SuperScope Inc in the late 1980s. It is not known if all of the old cassette tapes were adapted, as only a few examples have resurfaced. As an aside, while many of the original VHS storybook tapes have not been digitized, a YouTube channel called Derek DeHaas has been using the storybooks and cassette tape narration to make reconstructions.

The English Translation

Title Audio Status Video Storybook Status
The Tortoise and the Hare Lost Existence Unconfirmed
The Emperor's New Clothes Lost Existence Unconfirmed
Little Red Riding Hood Lost Existence Unconfirmed
Snow White Lost Found
Cinderella Lost Found
Hansel & Gretel Lost Found
Beauty & the Beast Lost Existence Unconfirmed
Tom Thumb Lost Existence Unconfirmed
Aladdin Lost Existence Unconfirmed
Jack and the Beanstalk Lost Found
Gulliver's Travel Lost Existence Unconfirmed
Rumpelstiltskin Lost Existence Unconfirmed
Sleeping Beauty Lost Found
Pinocchio Lost Found
The Little Mermaid Lost Existence Unconfirmed
Puss in Boots Lost Existence Unconfirmed
Thumbelina Lost Existence Unconfirmed
The Gingerbread Man Lost Existence Unconfirmed
The Bremen Town Musicians Lost Existence Unconfirmed
The Ugly Duckling Lost Existence Unconfirmed
The Wizard of Oz Lost Existence Unconfirmed
The Elves and the Shoemaker Lost Existence Unconfirmed
The Selfish Giant Lost Existence Unconfirmed
Sinbad the Sailor Lost Existence Unconfirmed

The Italian Translation

Title English Translation Audio Status
Cenerentola Cinderella Lost
La Bella Addormentata Sleeping Beauty Lost
Giacomo E La Planta Di Fagioli Giacomo and the Bean Plant Lost
Hansel E Gretel Hansel and Gretel Lost
La Lampada Di Aladino The Lamp of Aladino Lost
Biancaneve Snow-White Lost
Il Brutto Anatroccolo The Ugly Duckling Found
Saltapecchio Skip the Mirror(?) Lost
Capuccetto Rosso Little Red Riding Hood Lost
Pinocchio Pinocchio Lost
I Folletti Ed Il Calzolaio The Goblins and the Shoemaker Lost
Pollicino Tom Thumb(?) Lost

The Portuguese Translation

Title English Translation Audio Status
Cinderela Cinderella Lost
A Bela Adormecida Sleeping Beauty Found
Joao E Maria Joao E Maria/Hansel and Gretel Found
Branca De Neve Snow White Lost
O Pequeno Polegar The Little Thumb/Tom Thumb Lost
O Chapeuzinho Vermelho Little Red Riding Hood Lost
A Galinha Dos Ovos De Ouro The Golden Eggs Chicken(?)/The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg Lost
Pinóquio Pinocchio Lost
Aladin E A Lampada Misteriosa Aladdin and the Mysterious Lamp Lost
O Patinho Feio The Ugly Duck/The Ugly Duckling Lost
Rumpelstiltskin Rumpelstiltskin Lost
Os Anões E O Sapateiro The Dwarves and the Shoemaker/The Elves and the Shoemaker Lost

The Alice in Wonderland mini-series

In addition to the one-shot fairy tales, the backs of some of the fairy tale books indicated that Superscope was producing a series of six English-Language tapes for Alice in Wonderland. However, the back of the book does not provide names for the six episodes. The book titles have since resurfaced via eBay, and they appear to combine the original "Alice in Wonderland" with the sequel "Alice's Adventures Through the Looking Glass".

Title Audio Status
Alice in Wonderland: Down the Rabbit Hole Lost
Alice in Wonderland: The Mad Hatter's Tea Party Lost
Alice in Wonderland: The Court of Cards Lost
Alice's Adventures Through the Looking Glass: Tweedledum and Tweedledee Lost
Alice's Adventures Through the Looking Glass: The Land of the Red Queen Lost
Alice's Adventures Through the Looking Glass: Queen Alice Lost

The Favorite Bible Stories Series

The "Favorite Bible Stories" series consisted of at least six English-language tapes produced by Tele-Story around 1975. There is currently no evidence that these stories were re-done by Superscope in any other languages. At least four of the audio cassettes were adapted into VHS video storybooks.

Title Audio Status Video Storybook Status
Noah And The Ark Found Found
David & Goliath Lost Found
Joshua and the Battle of Jericho Found Found
Daniel in the Lions Den Found Existence Unconfirmed
Samson and Delilah Lost Found
Moses in Egypt Lost Existence Unconfirmed

The Growing Up Smarter Series

The "Growing Up Smarter" series consisted of at least twelve English-language tapes produced by Tele-Story around 1982. The tapes were at children between the ages of 3 and 8, and were light-hearted educational tapes that used stories as framing devices. In addition to the audio cassette and book, these tapes often came with additional items, such as cardboard puzzles and stickers. At least four VHS storybooks were made, though two VHS titles, "Learning Addition" and "Learning Spelling", do not have an audio cassette version listed.

Title Audio Status Video Storybook Status
Singing-a-long with my Puppet Pals Lost Existence Unconfirmed
Fun on a Rainy Day Lost Existence Unconfirmed
Learning to Tell Time Lost Existence Unconfirmed
Learning My ABC's Lost Found
Learning About Manners Found Existence Unconfirmed
Learning the Calendar Found Existence Unconfirmed
Learning About Planets Lost Existence Unconfirmed
Learning My 1, 2, 3's Lost Existence Unconfirmed
Learning About the Zoo Found Existence Unconfirmed
Learning About Shapes & Colors Lost Found
Wacky Words Lost Existence Unconfirmed
Nimble Numbers Lost Existence Unconfirmed
Learning Addition Existence Unconfirmed Found
Learning Spelling Existence Unconfirmed Found

Confirmed Productions of Licensed Properties

Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids

The storybooks in this series were abridged retellings of episodes from the Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids television show from the 1970s and 1980s. The books featured still images from the actual animated epsiodes. While the books proudly claim to star Bill Cosby, it is not clear if the audio was ripped directly from the show, or if any of the other actors reprised their roles for these adaptations. Originally, it was believed that only two books were produced, as each book only showed the other book in the title list on the back. These books were "Four Eyes" and "Rebop for Bebop".

However, a third book has since resurfaced on eBay. This book is titled "The Sinister Stranger". The book does not name any additional titles from the Fat Albert series. However, it does provide the only evidence that "Punky Brewster" and "Tinosaurs" were planned to receive titles. There has been no evidence to suggest that these audio tapes were ever re-released on VHS in the video storybook format. Given that the fully-animated original show itself was released on VHS, it is unlikely that a version with still frames and a voiceover would have been allowed.

Title Audio Status
Four Eyes Found
Rebop for Bebop Found
The Sinister Stranger Lost

Golden Girl and the Guardians of the Gemstones

The storybooks for this series were presumably based on the 1980s Galoob toyline of the same name. The U.K. toy collector site "ghost of the doll" contains small low-resolution images of the cover art.[2] The series is believed to have only contained two tapes: "Still Waters Run Dangerous" and "Beware the Spider's Bite". There is currently no evidence that this series was intended for VHS storybook adaptation.

Title Audio Status
Still Waters Run Dangerous Lost
Beware the Spider's Bite Lost

The Adventures of Gumby

The storybooks for this series appear to be based on the 1960s Gumby television series due to the episode titles matching the book titles.[3] The confirmed adaptations were "The Witty Witch", "Gumby Crosses the Delaware", "Son of Liberty", and "The Golden Gosling". Unlike Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, these books did not directly use still frames of the original series. Instead, original illustrations were created based on scenes from the show. It is unclear if audio from the 1960s show was repurposed for these tapes, or if it was produced by Tele-Story themselves. There is currently no evidence that this series was ever adapted in the VHS storybook format.

Title Audio Status
The Witty Witch Lost
Gumby Crosses the Delaware Lost
Son of Liberty Lost
The Golden Gosling Lost

Space Ace and Dragon's Lair

A single storybook and audio cassette each was made for Don Bluth's "Space Ace" and "Dragon's Lair". The content of tapes are unclear, as the games were in the choose-your-own-adventure style. There is no evidence to suggest that these tapes ever got VHS storybook adaptations.

Title Audio Status
Dragon's Lair Lost
Space Ace Lost

The Straight Talk for Kids series

The "Straight Talk for Kids" series appears to have been made to talk with children about difficult issues. Images of only one tape from this series have surfaced. This example, "Not All Rainbows are Golden", is an anti-drug and anti-alcohol PSA presented by Punky Brewster. This is also the only known usage of the Punky Brewster property by Tele-Story. No evidence has surfaced of VHS storybook adaptations of this series, and it remains one of the most obscure Tele-Story releases.

Title Audio Status
Not All Rainbows are Golden Lost

Unconfirmed Productions

In addition to the confirmed produced properties, there are a few that were licensed by Tele-Story, but it is unclear if they were ever produced. The back of Tele-Story books for "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" contained mentions of "Punky Brewster" and "Tinosaurs". However, no book titles are mentioned. A single "Punky Brewster" book did surface under the "Straight Talk for Kids" series, but it is unclear whether this character had a separate Tele-Story series. If this character was only pulled in for that series, it is possible that the other licensed properties were also used exclusively for "Straight Talk for Kids" instead of having their own series. No Tele-Story paper books, Tele-Story audio cassettes, or Tele-Story VHS storybooks for Tinosaurs have resurfaced.

Gallery

External Links

Derek DeHass Reconstructions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVk5tKRCXWY&list=PL1Z7ikLbaXsDEBqamZytjly_sWxHUhLGr

References