Cartoon Car Spotlight: Falling to Pieces over ‘The Incredible Crash Dummies’
Computer-generated animation wasn’t always the dazzling art form it is today. It suffered growing pains for decades before reaching its current level of refinement. Television was often the testing ground for new animation; combine that with the many passing fads over the years, and television archives become a treasure trove of forgotten animated curiosities.
Those who grew up in the late 1980s/early 1990s may remember the sudden, morbid, inexplicable popularity of the Incredible Crash Dummies—sentient crash test mannequins inspired by a PSA campaign. Not only were these beings immortalized in action figures and other toys, they even received a half-hour television special on Fox Kids in 1993.
Don’t remember it? Check it out below!
Don’t Wind Up Like a Crash Test Dummy: Know when your car needs new brakes!
Watch the Original Incredible Crash Dummies Short Movie
If you don’t have the time to watch the full 20-minute short film, here’s the gist. In fictional Dummyland, where many residents crash cars for a living, Dr. Zub has created indestructible armor. One dummy’s head gets accidentally replaced by that of the evil Junkman, who then takes control of the Torso 9000 armor and builds an army of scrap metal minions. His nefarious plans are foiled when Zub’s team of heroic dummies band together.
The violent nature of crash dummies, combined with the surreal nature of early CGI animation, yield an inadvertently creepy final product. Bloated with corny body and automotive puns—as well as severed limbs and decapitated bodies—The Incredible Crash Dummies is both shocking and cheesy. The bizarre half-hour television special never evolved into a multi-episode television show, but it was released on video cassette for repeated sadistic family viewings.
As a production, it’s not bad. The rough quality of the animation thankfully makes the characters look less human when they explode. The voice acting is goofy, the designs are unique, and the world-building is sufficient for a short story. But, its limited premise and repeated physical comedy wears thin. It might not have worked as a full television series, but as a trinket of oddball nostalgia, it’s not terrible enough to lose your head over.
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