The Logo That Writes Its Own Name: The Story of Family Home Entertainment

Logos that tie shoes give way to ones that can write (and even paint) their own name!

Previously, On Allison’s Written Words…

We’ve been talking about the booming home video industry of the 1980s, and the various companies vying for those oh-so-lucrative children’s home video market dollars.  The options were plentiful, but there were several leaders of the time.  We’ve covered Hi-Tops Video and Children’s Video Library and their cutesy, child-friendly production logos, as well as their histories as part of larger home video companies Media and Vestron, respectively.  Last week, we looked at Celebrity Home Entertainment’s “Just For Kids” videos, especially the spokeschild for that company, Noel Bloom Jr.

All of these companies popped up about the same time in the early-to-mid 1980s, all of them had a large catalog of children’s entertainment, including well-known cartoons and live action children’s programming.  There was another company out there that was just like the rest – it started before them, and went far longer than the rest did, but also boasts an impressive catalog.

Heck, it even has a connection to Just For Kids.

As I said, Hi-Tops Video ties its shoes, but this logo paints and draws its own name.

Family Home Entertainment

Family Home Entertainment was established in 1980 by Noel C. Bloom, he of Celebrity Home Entertainment (and its own sub-label, Just For Kids).  In its earliest days, F.H.E. produced videos that were not geared at the kids and family market, but shifted its entire focus to that group in 1981.

The label was notable for its own catalog of releases, which included all of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles videos from the original animated series, as well as the live action movie in 1990, It’s A Wonderful Life, Hoosiers, Drop Dead Fred, The Last Unicorn, Transformers: The Movie, the Barbie animated movies from the early 2000s, Thundercats, and a fairly extensive list of other movies, cartoons, and television specials (IMDb list).  Their output, like the other kiddie companies of the 80s, had licensed characters intermingled with classic cartoons.  Because balance is very important in your catalog, right?

Absolutely!

In their earliest releases, F.H.E. videos had their runtimes padded to exactly sixty minutes with classic (read: public domain) cartoons tacked onto the end of the main program, as well as a long block of promos for other releases.  By 1985, videos released (and re-released) by the company no longer did this.  We had a copy of Family Circus Easter at the video store I worked at, and I remember the back of the box indicating that there were thirty minutes of classic cartoons on the same video.  I also found out the same thing was on the original print of Care Bears In The Land Without Feelings (but not on the later reprint).

I didn’t know if any examples actually were on YouTube, but I found this, from the end of the 1984 print of Family Circus Christmas:

Upload via treadman28

Family Home Entertainment was acquired by Lions Gate Entertainment in 2003, when they folded Artisan into their company.  By 2005, Family Home Entertainment was also folded, and its catalog is now owned by Lions Gate.  Though at this point, probably much of their pre-Artisan catalog is likely out of print of distributed by other companies.

Logos

The only thing as prolific as this company’s library is its production logo, which underwent several changes over the years, all improvements over their previous logos.

The original logo (1981-1985), often referred to as “soda pop” has a very “Alka Seltzer”-like effect of a sun creating the logo, which is probably one of the worst fonts I’ve ever seen.  I couldn’t even tell you what this font is called, but man, it screams terrible.

These releases were usually in over-sized boxes and were the aforementioned “padded” tapes to bring the runtimes up to sixty minutes.

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Image: Internet Movie Database

Not so pretty logo, meet that really weird and dark Care Bears special I used to freak out over.

By 1985, F.H.E. became “f.h.e.” with a logo that every respectable 1980s kid remembers, or would remember even if they hadn’t seen it in many years.  I’m pretty sure this was the most common logo of the bunch.  I had a few Family Home Entertainment videos in my collection (still have one, in fact), and probably rented more than a few as well – I definitely remember this logo.  It was the one where the company wrote its own name.

Screenshot (269)

You can hear that synth music now, can’t you?

In 1991, Family Home Entertainment changed their logo again, and this one was just as common as its predecessor.  Rather than handwrite the logo, the writer becomes the painter, as the logo is painted onto the white canvas of a screen.  But the synth tune of before is replaced by a whimsical tune.

Screenshot (270)

The Rankin-Bass Christmas and holiday classics were released during this time, and even Glade put a Christmas commercial on one of these videos.  Nothing says Christmas cheer quite like new videos in the stocking and scents that represent the season throughout the house.  This logo stayed around until 1998, but made an appearance in 2006 DVD prints of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  As I said, I had several F.H.E. videos, and none of them were from beyond 1990, so I didn’t have anything with this logo on it.

Screenshot (273)

1998-2001 brought the company’s fourth logo, a black or white background with a somewhat generic logo (when compared to the previous three), complete with flipping letters on a black background. I have no memory of this logo beyond the second one (no surprise, really), and I absolutely have no memory of this one, but it is kinda…boring.

When can you ever say that about a home video logo that is geared at children?  They’re either exciting and fun, or (to some) nightmare fuel.  A logo is never boring, and boring is never a logo.

That made alot more sense in my head.

Anyway, that gave way to one more logo, which rises above the rest to be the cutest it can be.

By this time, Family Home Entertainment had joined the ranks of Artisan Entertainment, and had become a division of that company.  Beginning in 2001, f.h.e. was resurrected, given new colors, and a pet.

Screenshot (274)

He even barks “kids.”  How cute is he?!

This video, created by TR3X Productions, is a complete history of the logo, from soda to barking dog.  I used to watch these types of videos in 10 minute form.  I’ve been fascinated by the evolution of technology and graphics with logos we see everyday for a long time, but admittedly, the low-budget, scary, overly synthed stuff is far more exciting.

This is a nice set, very complete, and well, not scary at all.

Upload via TR3X Productions

As for Me…

I had several Family Home Entertainment videos as a kid, from the 1985-1991 range of their life.  We had one Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles VHS, the live action movie (my parents have it at their house), and The Wild Puffalumps.  We rented plenty of the F.H.E. videos as kids in the early 1990s.  Sadly, we only still have the live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video in the collection, as the others probably went to other family members.  I had talked about the Wild Puffalumps video including a small sheet of stickers in the box, and well, that was the stuff of excitement.

I actually copied the opening and closing of my copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for a Retroist article a few years ago:

Oh yes, it has the famous Pizza Hut baseball commercial on it!

I also have a digital copy of The Wild Puffalumps, and it had some good previews on it.

I also remember seeing Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and The Velveteen Rabbit as well.  I still think Rikki-Tikki-Tavi is as good now as it was when I was a kid!

Watching the previews from the videos, Family Home Entertainment had a great collection. It was definitely an equal to Hi-Tops Video, but seemed to have the staying power that the competition did not, but was also not tied to another home video company, hence it wasn’t as likely to go down with the companies they were associated with.  Competition and bankruptcy took down the other kiddie labels, but Family Home Entertainment was merely folded into another company.  I’m betting it would probably still be a decent competitor today.

Before We Go…

I would be remiss if I didn’t share a few videos I found from Family Home Entertainment.  YouTube, as always, is a great source of this information, and alot of these cool old out-of-print goodies are there.  Brings back so many memories!

Upload via ThePreviewsGuy VHSOpenings

Upload via Chuck D’s All-New Classic TV Clubhouse

Be Kind, Rewind!

Seriously, you’re going to return your Family Home Entertainment video to the store like that?

Well, I think at this point, I’ve tapped a substantial well of kiddie home video companies, and I’m ready to move on to the next topic.  I have no clue what that’s going to be yet, but I have a few days to think about it. 🙂

I know this isn’t always the most exciting topic, but I love anything I can research, and this was no exception.  Besides, who else will bring back your childhood memories with a geeky passion.

Seriously, a market as over-saturated as the kiddie film market in the 1980s.

Have a great day!

 

2 comments

  1. This is a fantastic post. I remember two of the Family Home Entertainment logos that you talked about here. One has the yellow background and one was the white background with the paintbrush in it.

    Liked by 1 person

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