80s Advertising: The Crash Test Dummies

"You can learn alot from a dummy."

Vince and Larry, the "Crash Test Dummies," first appeared in the '80s during a series of public service announcements developed by the US Department of Transportation. Their popularity was overwhelming and has forever impacted pop culture. The ads featured the voice of Jack Burns, writer for such shows as Hee Haw and The Muppet Show and also a voice actor for shows like the Animaniacs. His voice partner was Lorenzo Music, long time voice actor of Garfield and other '80s animated classics like The Gummi Bears, Pac-man, Talespin, and The Real Ghostbusters. The typical PSA ad featured a cynical Vince usually complaining that their effort wasn't getting the message across to the public to buckle their seat belts. Larry was more up-beat, encouraging Vince that their effort was worth it.

The PSA ads ran from 1985-98. They were so popular, Tyco Toys released a series of action figures and vehicles from 1991-1994 titled The Incredible Crash Test Dummies. The toys were modeled after the characters in the ads and feature limbs that could be easily removed with a push of a button. In 1993, a Fox Kids TV special was produced and aired called The Incredible Crash Test Dummies. The half-hour special was later sold with a two figure pack. Also in 1993, a video game was produced for the NES, SNES, and also ported to Sega Genesis and Amiga. It was a side-scrolling game in which the player took control of Slick to pass each level. In the bonus stages, the more traditional role of crash testing vehicles took place, getting bonus points for high speeds.

Tyco also released a Crash Dummies board game in 1992. A series of comic books by Harvey Comics was also published in 1993. Mattel purchased Tyco Toys in 1998 and the toys were revamped with the Hot Wheels brand for another release. They were model after the original toys, but also featured crashing sounds.

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