The animated raisins that danced off the vine and into the hearts of American consumers are sitting out the next TV commercial, yielding the advertising spotlight to a new clay character.

The California Raisin Advisory Board and its advertising company, which since 1986 have used award-winning Will Vinton Productions for memorable "Claymation" television ads, said Tuesday they have chosen a new studio."There are some slightly different things we wanted to try," said Louise Ure, vice president of Foote Cone & Belding, an advertising studio that handles the board's commercials.

"It's just that there are other options out there, more clay animators."

The shade-wearing raisins that strutted to "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" - and appeared on T-shirts and dozens of other products - will be succeeded by a commercial by Sculptoons, a San Francisco studio whose owners are former animators with Portland, Ore.-based Will Vinton.

The new spots will feature an animated clay version of actor Carl Ballantine, who appeared as Gruber in the 1960s TV series "McHale's Navy," said Tom Gasek, co-owner of Sculptoons. "Ballantine" will play the raisins' manager.

Ure said California raisins will appear in the commercials, which are expected to air next month, but he declined to discuss details. Gasek, however, said the raisins wouldn't be singing or dancing.

"You'll see a raisin phone, a raisin lamp, things like that," she said.