Friday, July 24, 2009

RE: Wuzzle Wings

Another old LaGremlin land post. Originally posted on 1/20/06. I wrote this several years after "Deep Questions About 80's Cartoons" inspired by one issue on the list I couldn't shake...

Hey, remember the "Wuzzles"?
T’was a fun little cartoon and toy line that followed the great tradition of 80’s cartoons and toys, in that it was colorful, had kind of a sci-fi/fantasy theme, and made little sense you wonder what kinds of medication the people who came up with it were taking at the time.
This is not a “Wuzzle” information article. (There are plenty of excellent fan websites out there, the best of which is The Unofficial Wuzzle Fansite, which is still around. Head over there in case you need to familiarize yourself with these characters again before we go on.)
Instead, consider this an expansion on the article I have about weird questions raised by 80’s cartoons. This article intends to address an issue of great societal fallout, a question I have had about the Wuzzles since the characters debuted. Amazingly, my number one question about the Wuzzles is one that -as far as my research found- no fansite has yet chosen to even acknowledge.

For the moment, we are going to ignore the fact that kangaroo and elephant DNA just won't splice. For whatever reason, this (seemingly the obvious question raised by the Wuzzles) did not bother me too much as a kid. What I could never figure out - what I STILL can’t figure out - was this:

WHY does each and every Wuzzle, regardless of species, posses those stupid-looking pastel-colored vestigial wings on their backs?

And they are vestigial. (That’s the technical term for a body part on an animal that is basically pointless; examples include anything inside you right now that you might need to have removed at some point.) Unless you are a Wuzzle who is part insect, these wings are fairly useless. You can only flutter your wings when you are excited or scared, suggesting that they are merely there for decoration. There are, of course, real-world equivalents to this. For example, there are several flightless species of aquatic birds such as Gruiformes and Pelecaniformes, most of whom are able to fly (quite gracefully in the case of pelicans).
However, unlike the Takahe and the Galapagos Cormorant, the Wuzzles appear to be well aware of the crappy hand dealt to them by natural selection here. In one cartoon episode Elaroo even laments the fact that he is flightless. “If only my wings were strong enough to get me off the ground.”

So the question is, why give the Wuzzles wings at all? As you can plainly see in the pictures above, the stuffed Wuzzles all had a different style of wing, instead of the little fruit-fly deelies each cartoon Wuzzle had. This is very, very important. It tells us that, as far as the character designers knew, the wings were NOT arbitrary. So we know that something’s up here...

Thank goodness for thrift stores. I have found some particularly damning evidence in this here book. Here we’ve got a story about dear little Moosel having trouble finding a present for another Wuzzle’s birthday (this was the plot of his freebie storybook too). The story itself is a bit boring and gets to a particularly predictable ending, but things get rather intriguing at the top of page six:

Well, hello there? Our little Alcid/Pinniped is clearly attempting to fly here. And according to the text, he has every reason to think this will work. But why…?



Wuzzles. Flying. Blatantly. In the air. Even the least aerodynamically likely ones.
First, here’s the most likely reason why we’re seeing all the Wuzzles flying, and it’s the kind of thing that drives me crazy. There was probably little to no communication at all between the different groups of people working on all the different Wuzzle products. Perhaps there wasn’t much quality control either, and certainly no attention paid to blatant contradictions like this one.

This is very likely because, as we’ve already seen, there are many differences between the characters’ designs, depending on whether you are looking at the cartoons, or the toys, or the books. Here’s the worst thing: They probably assumed that the kids wouldn't notice. That kind of assumption REALLY drive me crazy.

But that line of thinking isn’t much FUN now, is it? So let’s approach this from a different angle. How come the Wuzzles are able to fly here? I have two theories:

THEORY A: This books takes place in the long, long-ago “Golden Age” of the Land of Wuz. Everyone was able to fly back then. Over time, for some unknown reason, many Wuzzles gradually lost the ability. Perhaps they forgot how to fly as they came to rely more and more on artificial means of transportation, such as cars and boats. Kind of poignant, really.

THEORY B: This book is actually an “Else-worlds” or “What If…?” Wuzzle story. Also, it takes place in the Matrix. (Shrugs.)

Maybe later I'll post my theory that the Fraggles are descendants of Troodontid theropods.


Well, I obviously did present my Fraggle theory later. Much later. 


Zachary said...

I had a stuffed elephant Wuzzle, and I never knew it was a "Wuzzle" until just now. Thanks for telling me!

Fraggles are obviously a kind of hypsilophodont, which were not only burrowers, but according to Dougal Dixon, burrowing social animals.

The burrowing thing is real, though. Hypsilophodonts FTW.

Trish said...

Funnily enough, I drew my Troodont/Wembly five or six months before non-paleontologist-people got to learn about Tianyulong ( That said, I always misheard the opening lyric as "Dance your cares away! / BIRDIES for another da-a-ay!!!" I stand by my Fraggle As Modern Descendant of Birdie-Thing theory. (They got three toes, for one thing.)