fred wolf films

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BUDGIE THE LITTLE HELICOPTER (1994)

a series of children’s books and animated television series relating to a fictional character ‘Budgie’ and his friends. The characters were based on the books by Sarah, Duchess of York, who was influenced by her flight training in the Royal Navy. The show was produced by Fred Wolf Films Dublin for HTV and Sleepy Kids Company, and originally aired on British television in 1994 on CITV, where it ran for 39 episodes. A range of videos, books, and toys were released under the 'Budgie’ label.

Why was it forgotten?: TOO MANY OTHER THINGS JUST LIKE IT.

How many times in your life have you seen a cartoon or something similar with the premise of “minor league adventures starring some sort of vehicle with a creepy face”?

Yeah, it’s not an idea that’s in short supply, to say the least. Not even back in 1994 was this an exciting new concept since Thomas the Tank Engine the series had been chugging along since 1984.

See what I did there?

Ehh– anyway, that’s pretty much the main fault of this series; a whole lot of been there, done that, to say the least. The content of the show itself ain’t so bad. It’s one of those very simple “learn a lesson a day” kind of shows aimed at small children. The gimmick here is that the kids are learning those lessons from a creepy looking helicopter that has the weirdest looking design.

I don’t know, am I the only one thinking that? It’s got a dog snout with a tuft of hair and a baseball cap, and it’s helicopter feet look like they have shoes on them. I don’t know, it doesn’t look very appealing to me.

There’s some spice to this show, the adventures that Budgie goes on can be pretty exciting and entertaining to a youngster but beyond that, they’re not gonna think much about it beyond nostalgia when they reach their 20′s.

Something that kind of slays me about this series is how much work went into its total creation. The original books were written by an Englishwoman who later worked with the Irish branch of an American animation production componay, and aired the series on U.K., French, Canadian, and American television.

Ooof, wrap your head around that.

TRIVIA

  • On release of the first book, the Duchess was forced to deny she had copied the idea for the series from the earlier Hector the Helicopter book by A.W. Baldwin. 
  • In 1997, UAV Entertainment released some episodes of the series on individual VHS tapes and the complete series tapes were also released. 
  • A 1997 film special titledBudgie the Little Helicopter: The Movie also was released on VHS.
  • Two DVDs were released in 2004 and 2006. 

CLOSING THOUGHTS 

I don’t know why I prefer Thomas the Tank Engine so much when it comes to stories like this.

I guess it’s the fact that I enjoyed the novelty of that series being done with models and not necessarily animated or computer animated (at least when I grew up with it). When you try to animated vehicles you run a very thin line of making them look visually appealing and if you don’t do it right it can ruin the whole thing. If not ruination than you’ll make your character designs ugly as sin