Buckle Up

Last weekend, we hit the road. The first trip was to go gambling. Although slots were recently legalized in Maryland, they haven’t built any casinos here yet, so we still have to take road trips to scary states like West Virginia and New Jersey. This time, we decided to try Delaware. After all, we think it’s Joe Biden’s state, though at least four other states have also claimed him as their own.

In Dover, Delaware there is nothing except the casino and a few restaurants, including a skeevy-looking Mexican restaurant called La Tolteca that claimed to be award-winning. We were willing to gamble our money but not our intestinal tracts. We only dine at distinguished establishments. We ate at Red Lobster.

We like the slots. It’s like Nintendo. It’s got button pressing, pleasing electronic music, and it robs you of your money for a game that gives very little in return. And yet you feel like you have the control over the outcome. There’s skill and timing in pulling the lever. You have the touch.

It’s an illusion, an illusion of being a game of skill while only being a game of chance. In other words, it’s like Mario Kart. But in fact, the girlfriend won $300 and promptly forgot my name. She twinkle-toed her way out of the casino, announcing she was buying a Coach purse. I lubbed behind, defeated again by the evil blue shells.

It turned out that Red Lobster was also a gamble. It had seemed suspicious from the start. The waiter had complimented my shrimp. You don’t compliment popcorn shrimp. Sure enough, the next day going home, we veered off the highway at the University of Delaware to use the bathroom. We pooped at our own Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco’s school. That felt special.

Next on the weekend itinerary we travelled to a toy show, making our way over to Pennsylvania. This was the kind of show that filled a convention center—over 800 dealers of TOYS. The girlfriend had never been to something like this. Little did she know she about to lose all of her effervescence for life and Coach purses.

We walked down row after row of old guys selling bobbleheads and Star Wars figures. The aisles were narrow and many people were fat. Everything you can imagine was here—all toys worthless and valuable, antique and new, and that which was uncharacterizable. It’ll make you do some hard reckoning.

Why am I here? Why do I feel compelled to buy this half full box of Ninja Turtle Band Aids? You become all existential. Long after I am gone, this half full box of Ninja Turtle Band Aids will still be here. What does it mean?

The girlfriend asked questions too. Why does it smell like urine in here? Why am I dating this person? Seriously, WHY DOES EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE SMELL LIKE URINE?

I could have left the place with a lot of seriously strange things. A bath sponge shaped like a Nintendo Game Boy? For only three bucks, are you kidding me? Look, really, a Game Boy BATH SPONGE.

The girlfriend looked uneasy. We’re moving in together soon. She didn’t look thrilled about living with a Game Boy sponge that we drove 50 miles to purchase. I put it back. You gotta know how to do the toy show. You gotta choose wisely. Most of this stuff is overpriced that you could get for cheap on eBay, or find at a flea market—and yet, you gotta spend money because you came all this way. It’s a convention center filled with toys and leaving empty-handed would be a damn sin, and yet you don’t want to leave with Ninja Turtle Band Aids and Game Boy Sponges.


I promised the girlfriend I would only buy things that would look tasteful in our one day house together. Here’s what I bought:

That Street Shark in the leather jacket and cowboy boots is going to look great on the mantle. In my imaginary house there is always a mantle. Got him for a buck, what a bargain. And then there’s the California Raisins lunchbox—four bucks, and a Mickey Mouse bank for five.

But still, I didn’t come all this way to spend a measly ten bucks. I wanted to get something big. Something nice. So I found something nice indeed.

A Crash Dummy doll! Never heard of it. But I love oddities like this.

The Incredible Crash Dummies are a weird story. They started out in the late 80s as ghoulish spokedummies for PSAs to get people to buckle up. They were named Vince and Larry and they made jokes about losing their heads and being dashboard hor d’oeuvres.

Like many other advertising icons of the era (California Raisins, The Noid, Cool Spot), the Crash Dummies inexplicably spawned a craze that included a cartoon, a videogame, toys, keychains, and children’s parties entertainers.

Here’s some more fun from 1992 for your pleasure:

Like any good line of toys, the back of the box was sure to be emblazoned with COLLECT THEM ALL! So Slick and Spin were the main guys, the leaders of the group:

Then there were the wacky, always-in-predicament friends, Daryl and Spare Tire:

But it still gets WEIRDER. There was the Baby, a dog and the cat.

And yes, I think in the picture, Skid the Kid is beimg ejected from a baby seat. It only makes sense. I don’t think these actually exist. I’m willing to bet that Slick and Spin, and maybe ol’ Spare Tire were released to the toy stores initially. If the things flew off the shelves, they had prototypes ready to go on Skid the Kid and Hubcat & Bumper. But if in fact these dolls do exist, then they are worth a million dollars.

And if I ever get a random Googler out there asking “how much is a Skid the Kid doll worth?”, I am saying right now that absolutely, yes, with 100% authority, it is worth a million dollars.

So that’s it. That was the weekend. I bought the Crash Dummy Doll as my Big Item (it was only $15), and then the girlfriend proclaimed I’d “spent enough money now.” She had reached her personal threshold for the smell of urine and squeezing past overweight people peddling freaky Santa Claus masks from 1932. There really was one. The plastic was yellowed and paper thin. The beard was ratty and gray. The red hat was threadbare and stained. A man said I could have it for free if I tried it on. The girlfriend walked away, not daring to look back, muttering “don’t do it, don’t do it.” I did not. It would have been awesome for the blog (“THE SURFING PIZZA GETS A FREE DIRTY SANTA MASK!”) But I didn’t do it for her. That’s love.

We drove home, the weekend road trips over. The girlfriend was quiet.

“Sometimes I wonder what I’m getting myself into,” she finally said.

“You can sell my toys to pay for the funeral when I die,” I offered.

“Wouldn’t you rather be cremated? Putting bodies in the ground is weird.”

“Okay, fine. I don’t care. Then you can sell my toys to buy a Coach purse when I’m dead.”

She smiled and placed her hand on my leg. We headed into the sunset of Pennsylvania, a state that quite possibly Joe Biden is also from.

22 thoughts on “Buckle Up

  1. LOL! It’s like looking in a mirror when I read this article. I would have SO put on the mask for my blog, too. And my wife would have looked at me like I grew a second head and kicked a pregnant puppy.

    As good ole Wooderson tells us, “Just keep livin’.” Just keep livin’, Pizza.

  2. My son has several of the Crash Dummies sets (the cars and Dummy doll – they’re the smaller, plastic sets). I’ll have to see if he has more pieces stashed away…. :-)

    And, WV is NOT a scary state (ok, only in some places), but you need to make a trip to the Tri State Greyhound track and casino. It’s really fun.

  3. I’ve had a hubcat for years that I found somewhere and have only been able to speculate on its origins… thank you for settling this for me! Now I know what to call it!!

    It’s pretty hilarious too… you can pull its legs to the side so it looks like roadkill, and the tire track you can see in the picture above goes across its middle. HAHAHAHAHA…

    1. WOW. the first christmas miracle of 2009. Can you take a picture? I think you can post it to surfing pizza’s facebook page. or email it to me, if you take one!

  4. Great finds, but I really would’ve loved to see the Game Boy sponge.

    Also, I know what you mean about feeling obligated to go home with something. Having two warehouses filled with crap, it’s inevitable that you can find a few things to waste money on.

    I fell bad for the lady. That is not a place for anyone wishing for a Coach purse. My wife’s never been to a toy show with me, and I don’t think she regrets it. I did drag her to comic con once though. Once was probably enough.

    Great York show recap. Too bad I didn’t get to meet you there.

  5. haha! great story and great purchases. I forgot all about that toy show. We were going to go to it too :(

    p.s. you will get your mantle one day. We have a mantle that runs the width of our family room and is loaded with weird crap – fun!

  6. No, the track I’m talking about is close to Charleston (not Charlestown), WV. I used to work there when I was in college. Back when it was just a greyhound track and they didn’t have the slots and other casino stuff.

  7. well well, I enjoyed this post as I do all of your posts, and I took away the same nostalgia for the crash test dummies that the others did, but more importantly…when you write your account about your visit to New Jersey, I would like to publicly and personally invite you to write it as a guest post on The Sexy Armpit. Now that would be entertaining!

  8. Hubcat and Bumper are, indeed, real. I’ve been trying to find the pair for a reasonable price. Some of the hockers in Ebay land think that because it’s about 20 years old it worth more than it really is, and then they have the nerve to gouge you on the pricing to boot. I am very frugal shopping on Ebay now.

  9. I have a Spin Crack Up and was wondering what it is worth. Don’t to sell it. Just want to know if this toy should be played with or not.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s