I’ve written before about vehicles with faces, namely Thomas the Tank Engine vs Tugs. Tugs won although it never enjoyed the same success. But the work of Clearwater Studios is not the only time people have put faces on inanimate vehicles. One of my favourite Tex Avery cartoons (and there are a few) is Little Johnny Jet which is only five minutes long:
Ain’t it weird? Mr and Mrs Plane are shagging like rabbits! After the click let’s find out more about living planes, trains and cars – and also about the world’s most annoying helicopter.
Sadly one of the face-wearing vehicles I remember best is also one of the most annoying. If you’re around my age or older, and were in the UK at the time, then you may remember him too. I’m talking about Budgie the Little Helicopter and if you’re anything like me, the theme tune is already rattling around in your head. Sorry. Check this out and try not to smash your fist into the screen:
He’s just so unbearably cute and twee! Speaking of which, the bear is called Snowy. What kind of helicopter carries his teddy around? This can easily become a matter of life and death! Flying is serious business! Please at least try to act like you’re taking it seriously.
Budgie was the creation of the Duchess of York, Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson. Yep, that Fergie.
She’s written quite a few children’s books and the mandatory celebrity biography. However, the seven Budgie books were her first. She was inspired by her flight training in the Royal Navy and even dedicates her work to her flight instructor. With just three seasons, each with thirteen episodes, it’s not quite as successful as Thomas the Tank Engine.
Couldn’t they get an adult helicopter to do his job? Shouldn’t he be going to school and learning all the things a young helicopter needs to know? Budgie’s catchphrase is ‘rocketing rotors’, and the fact that he has a catchphrase at all should probably tell you a lot about what he’s like.
What’s with his nose? Why do all the planes and helicopters have those weird blobby noses? It’s the same in the illustrations for the books, too; Budgie in particular looks like a helicopter crossed with a cartoon dog.
In the Tex Avery cartoon at the top of this post it made sense, because the planes they were animating actually had those transparent noses - bombers and fighters and the like. Admittedly it's strange that little Johnny had a blob-nose, but it's not as weird since his face isn't flesh-coloured. Meanwhile, Budgie has freckles and hair! And a hat! And the nose of a dog!
For comparison, let’s take a look at the Bell Jet Ranger 206, which Budgie is loosely based around:
Real helicopters are so much cooler
Alright so the nose is a similar sort of structure. But there’s nothing to suggest that Budgie should have a black blob for a nose. Wait, I’ve got an idea. I can do a bit of quick photoshopping…
See? He already looks better.