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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Finding Nemo At McDonald's

Fish are friends, not food, even when they are found in McDonald's Happy Meals.

Nemo the clownfish is in good company with Ronald McDonald.

The eight Disney Pixar Finding Nemo McDonald's toys sold in the Summer of 2003 are something of an engineering marvel: they are plastic water squirt toys that have a sound or light feature.

Have you found a Finding Nemo Coloring Page?  No, it's the highly detailed, somewhat peculiar instructions for the Nemo Happy Meal toy.

The Nemo toy has a sound feature.  What line from the movie does talking Nemo say?  I'm guessing it is not "I hate you."

The Wonder Twins give each other an electric shock by touching fingers so they can show how to properly operate Nemo.

These directions are hilarious to me, and I can think of so many things to say that would get me in trouble.

When I got these toys, I was obsessed with keeping them "Mint In Package."

I finally opened the toys to write this story, and most of them don't work.

Pearl the octopus is Nemo's friend from school.  She is part of the gang that slips away from Mr. Ray's class, resulting in Nemo getting taken from the Great Barrier Reef by divers.

Pearl is a Flapjack Octopus.  The flapping "ears" on the top of the head (actually fins) inspired the name "Dumbo Octopus" for this type of octopus.

The directions for the Pearl the Octopus toy seem to have a Japanese Anime feel.

If you want to make your Pearl toy "ink" like she did in the movie, simply fill your bathtub with India Ink.

Pearl lights up.  I have a feeling many people have thought this toy is "Bad Squishy" the jellyfish and not an octopus.

This is one of the few toys in the set that I have that actually works.

A great deal of Pearl merchandise has been sold over the years, even though the character has very little screen time in Finding Nemo.

I'm guessing Pearl was popular with toy manufacturers because she is a cute pink octopus.

Nemo is taken to a dentist's office in Sydney, Australia.  There, he meets the Tank Gang, led by Gill (voiced by Willem Dafoe).

Willem Dafoe played the villain Green Goblin in the 2002 film version of Marvel's Spider-Man.

Gill's scar lights up.  The special feature may be odd, but this toy does function (Gill and Pearl are the only toys that can perform their special trick).

Gill tells Nemo that all drains lead to the ocean.  When Finding Nemo was in movie theaters, many kids decided to send their mom and dad's expensive aquarium fish back to the sea by flushing them down the toilet.

I would like to go on record and say that, in my experience, it is easier to take care of a dog or a cat than a small pet in a cage or an aquarium.  As a kid, I had fish that jumped out of the tank or got Ich.

I also had trouble taking care of a Guinea Pig.  You have to clean their cage ALL THE TIME.

Maintaining an aquarium was a nightmare for me.  Gill, I would gladly send you back to the ocean.

I really thought that Gill would have asked Nigel the Pelican to scoop up the Tank Gang in his mouth and take the fish back to the ocean.  But then the movie would have been way too short.

The Tank Gang is made up of some kooky characters that have been cooped up together too long.

Bloat the Pufferfish inflates when he gets agitated.

The Bloat toy lights up.  Well, it is supposed to.  The one I have does not.

Bloat was voiced by Brad Garrett (from Everybody Loves Raymond).

Brad Garrett is a big (tall) on-camera actor and an equally big voice-over actor.  For Pixar, he played Dim in A Bug's Life and Gusteau in Ratatouille.

It's worth noting that the inflated version of Bloat is typically used for Finding Nemo merchandise.

Like all the members of the Tank Gang, Bloat is an expert in the field of dentistry.

Dried Pufferfish with glued-on googly eyes and straw hats are frequently sold in gift shops near the beach.

You'd think that Nemo's dad could tell a good joke, but unfortunately Marlin the sad clownfish is not that funny.

Neurotic Marlin loses his wife and most of his children at the beginning of Finding Nemo.

Marlin must overcome his fears when his son Nemo is taken away.

The Marlin toy talks.  It would be funny if he said a line from the movie that was taken completely out of context, like "How do I taste, Moby?"

Albert Brooks, the voice of Marlin, is no stranger to the world of animation.  Brooks has voiced characters for The Simpsons and The Simpsons Movie.

I am a big fan of the movie Fargo (I have a Fargo snow globe!), so I flipped out when I learned that the original voice of Marlin was William H. Macy.

Because he looks so similar to Nemo, Marlin is often not used for Finding Nemo merchandise.

Luckily, the McDonald's promotion for Finding Nemo did not include a new menu item called Fish McSticks.  Unless it really did and I forgot.

Bruce the shark and his pals believe that "Fish are Friends, Not Food."

The mechanical shark used in the 1975 Steven Spielberg film Jaws was named Bruce.

Nothing makes bath time more fun than a ferocious shark with glowing red eyes.

Australian actor Barry Humphries (creator of the character Dame Edna) provided the voice of Bruce.

Bruce's Hammerhead friend, Anchor, was played by Eric Bana.

As a kid, I spent many summer vacations collecting prehistoric shark teeth on the beach in Venice, Florida ("The Shark Tooth Capital of the World").  We filled jars full of the teeth, which are very easy to find.

Bruce was featured prominently in the marketing campaign for Finding Nemo, though the character only appears in one major sequence, and then at the end of the film.

Bruce has been a popular merchandising character.  It's no secret that kids (and adults) love sharks.

Squirt the turtle helps Marlin reach Sydney via the East Australian Current.  Squirt lights the way with his glowing shell.  Wait, that does not happen in the movie.  Squirt's shell does glow for the McDonald's toy, though.

Squirt's surfer-dude father, Crush, stars in Turtle Talk With Crush, an interactive show at Disney theme parks.

Turtle Talk With Crush is at Epcot (Walt Disney World in Florida), Disney's California Adventure (Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California), and at Tokyo DisneySea (Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan).  A temporary version of the show also played at Hong Kong Disneyland.

Walt Disney World's The Living Seas at Epcot became The Seas With Nemo and Friends in 2007.

In France, Crush's Coaster (a spinning roller coaster) opened in 2007 at the Walt Disney Studios theme park at the Disneyland Paris Resort.

At Disneyland in California, the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage opened in 2007, upgrading the Submarine Voyage attraction that opened in 1959.

Finding Nemo: The Musical opened at Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida in 2007.  New songs were created for the show by Avenue Q and Frozen musicians Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.  Puppets for the production were developed by Michael Curry, who worked on the stage version of The Lion King.

At Walt Disney World in Florida, humans can "sleep with the fishes" in the Finding Nemo section of Disney's Art of Animation Resort hotel, which opened in 2012.

Forgetful, optimistic Dory helps Marlin find Nemo.

Voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, Dory has some of the best lines in Finding Nemo.

The Dory toy has a sound feature.  I think she should say "Careful of that hammer."  Or "Seamonkey has my money."  Or "Bad Squishy!"

Throughout the movie, Dory gets Nemo's name wrong.  She calls him Bingo, Harpo, Chico, Elmo and Fabio.

Dory is a Royal Blue Tang.  If you see this fish at an Aquarium and there are kids there, chances are you will hear "Dory! Dory! Dory!"  Of course if you see a Clownfish, you'll hear "Nemo!!"

Dory speaks Whale.  It would have been funny if this toy made all her whale sounds.

The Finding Nemo universe will expand with a new film called Finding Dory.

Among the new characters in Finding Dory are Dory's parents (played by Diane Keaton and American Pie patriarch Eugene Levy), Dory's adopted Killer Whale sister (voiced by Kaitlin Olson from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and a Beluga Whale (Modern Family star Ty Burrell).

I've always been interested in Australian animals, including Weedy and Leafy Sea Dragons (relatives of Seahorses).  I was surprised that these amazing creatures did not appear in Finding Nemo.  I'll never forget seeing them at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

I came up with my own characters, Sea Dragons and the Yeti Crab.  Yes, a Yeti Crab is a real (fairly recently discovered) hairy crustacean that is also called a Bigfoot Lobster.  Crazy but true!

Sea Dragons and the Yeti Crab by Dan Alexander
Keep your eyes open for Weedy and Leafy Sea Dragons in a movie called Finding Sea Dragons.  The Yeti Crab will get a spin-off called Alaskan King Crab Kong.  Then the adventures continue with How To Train Your Sea Dragons and Sea Dragons: The Desolation of Smaug.