Founded in 1972 by Toru Hara after he left Toei Animation at a time when many staff members of Toei were thinking that the studio was jumping the shark, Topcraft was Rankin/Bass's nonstop-motion unit in Japan. The studio mostly did TV specials, series, and a few movies for Rankin-Bass, including The Last Unicorn, The Flight of Dragons, and The Hobbit. They also made the 1982 anime film version of The Wizard of Oz and contributed to the original version of Barbapapa (with Tama Productions) and Doctor Snuggles (with De Patie Freleng Enterprises). In between, they also found time to work on legitimate anime, including Adventures of the Little Koala, Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and subcontracting work for other studios, such as several episodes of the Lupin III (Red Jacket) series (for Tokyo Movie Shinsha), Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, Time Bokan, Paul's Miraculous Adventures, and Macross: Do You Remember Love? (for Tatsunoko), the Lensman film (for Madhouse), and Mazinger Znote (for their "parent" company Toei). Many people got their start with Topcraft, like Neon Genesis Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno.
The studio went on a downward spiral in 1984 when Miyazaki took 70% of its staff (alongside Toru Hara) and co-founded Studio Ghibli after Nausicaa came out. Another 10% left shortly thereafter, including Hideaki Anno, who went on to found Studio Gainax. After a year of taking outsourced work from other studios and producing Little Koala, the studio closed in 1985 and the remaining 20% who had not joined Miyazaki at Studio Ghibli (which ended up buying out what was left of Topcraft) or otherwise departed went to work for Pacific Animation Corporation to produce Rankin/Bass Productions' Thunder Cats and SilverHawks until Disney bought that studio in 1988 and later re-founded it as Motoyoshi Tokunaga's Walt Disney Animation Japan. In any event, Topcraft will forever be remembered as a footnote in the history of animation and for Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaa.