More Crappy Disney Vehicles

Some time ago, we turned the ILT spotlight on Donald Duck and his Crappy Cars.

Turns out we spoke too soon – we shouldn’t have held Unca Donald responsible for the crappiness.

Pre-1961, The Disney Studio signed lease agreements with a number of automotive lessors, naming its cartoon stars assignees. At the time, it was possible for multiple lessors to share an interest in one vehicle, which caused endless complications for the hot-tempered Duck, who spent enormous amounts of time in the Lincoln Park DMV office on North Mission Road. Angered by the long waits and redundant paperwork, Duck blamed Governor Pat Brown and became a vocal supporter of Richard Nixon’s losing ‘62 gubernatorial campaign when the former Vice President promised to clean house at the DMV and eliminate the evil of two lessors.

Pluto in his XK 140 Jaguar

The studio seemed to assign vehicles without much forethought – Pluto never learned how to operate the stick shift in his Jaguar and could be heard grinding gears while approaching the studio from 3/4 of a mile away.

Donald Duck’s 1956 Renault Dauphine

Donald Duck complained that his Dauphine was “a rolling advertisement for the Disney Studio.” Adding to his physical discomfort was the car’s target market: swans and giraffes.

Mad Hatter’s Checker Skyview Taxi

Another unfortunate pairing of vehicle to cartoon personality was the taxi given to the easily-distracted Mad Hatter who, while cruising the lot for fares, ran over Spike, the dog that portrayed the title character in Old Yeller, which was only five days away from the completion of production. The film’s ending had to be rewritten.

Mickey Mouse in the Challenger I

Other accidents caused production delays and changes. In the world’s first attempt to break 400 mph, a tire on the Challenger I burst into flames at the Bonneville Salt Flats, ejecting the driver. While makeup and long shots hid much of the damage, it’s possible to see cuts, bruises, and a flash of a partial body cast in the DVD of Wheelchair Mickey.

“Micky” Mouse “Zepplin”

Neal Gabler finally puts a long-whispered rumor to rest in his massive biography of Walt Disney.

Hollywood legend has it that [Walt] Disney made an attempt to “cash in” following the explosion of the Hindenburg by rushing out a metal toy replica featuring a smiling Mickey and Minnie, blissfully unaware of Donald Duck (and his bomb) just behind them. Nearly all of the scale-model zeppelins were quickly removed from store shelves and melted down, but a reference copy in the Disney Archives proves that the product had never been authorized to begin with. The distributor of the counterfeits claimed that the characters depicted were not Disney characters because the names were spelled differently. In later years, Disney installed a scale model zeppelin at his home and gave rides to friends around the neighborhood.

Disney in his backyard zeppelin

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Model Toy Misfires: How Do You Follow "The Visible Woman?"

Continuing our series on poorly conceptualized toys:

Revell was quite successful with its model kits “Visible Man” and “Visible Woman.” As I recall, “The Visible Woman” (below) had a snap-on pregnancy accessory kit which confused an entire generation of impressionable boys about the mechanics of reproduction.

Far less successful was “The Visible Popeye,” since, traditionally, all Fleischer characters were drawn without internal organs.

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Donald Duck And His Crappy Cars

For all the progress we’ve made, there are still unsolvable challenges:

  • What is the biological basis of consciousness?
  • Can the laws of physics ever be unified?
  • Can no one design a toy car driven by Donald Duck that doesn’t look completely stupid?

Car not cartoonish; large head makes windshield pointless

Impractical wheel-bearing unit load ratio uses singular-row angular-contact ball bearings

Beret-wearing duck strains credulity

Not Disney authorized; Duck seems severely injured from previous rollover

Horizontal steering wheel; Duck still recovering from serious sawmill accident

Insufficient budget/expertise: paint

Duck appears to be bathing in pool of red liquid; Driver unidentified

Macrocephaly, Inexplicable cricket; Duck poised for Isadora Duncan-like death
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Radical Pre-War Characters

Wow. Here’s a deal way too good to pass up. Toy Collector is an absolutely free e-magazine with great articles, great photos, professional layout… and did I mention that it’s free? The current issue includes an article about those ‘toothy’ early Mickey Mouse toys and the company that produced them. Get the latest issue. (Requires flash or .pdf reader)

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