People outside of Metropolitan Toronto might not get the reference. Blinky is the talking police car mascot used by the Toronto Police Force to teach child safety. It was an old police car, with a face attachment featuring two eyes across the wind screen, and a pair of nostrils over the hood ornament. Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the police would haul Blinky from school to school, where it would admonish children and tell them to “stay safe!”
And, to be honest with you, Blinky may well be one reason why I am a transit enthusiast, because, I don’t mind telling you, the car was damn creepy.
Only in the 1970s could anybody come up with such an unlovable mascot. And only the police could come up with a mascot that subtly conveyed police authority. Kids had to look both ways before crossing the street, lest they run afoul of Blinky’s bullhorn or, failing that, got crushed under its wheels. Even now, I can imagine Blinky looming Christine-like over its victim, laughing maniacally as it pulls back to run them over again.
Anyway, I was feeling nostalgic about the old car and wondered what had become of it. Seems that the Toronto Police Services have had a similar budget crunch as the TTC, and some of its marketing and promotions activities have been cut. Blinky itself, according to this website, no longer talks and can no longer drive, and must be pulled around on a trailer. Its public appearances may well be limited to just the Santa Claus Parade and, judging from this picture (by Mike Boon, used in compliance with his Creative Commons license), Blinky appears to have hit the sauce.
Okay, a few things I should mention that I didn’t mention in my quest for humour above. As Mike Boon reports, Blinky had a bit of a spruce up in time for the 2006 Santa Claus Parade, and it’s entirely possible the car is making the rounds among Toronto’s schools. And although the loss of its bullhorn is regretable, I don’t think it ever drove itself. If I recall Blinky’s visit to my school back in 1980 (grade 2), it was on a trailer even then. The lack of frontal visibility (those eyes aren’t exactly cameras) would seem to preclude anybody in control behind the steering wheel.
Also, judging from the picture, I’m almost sure that Blinky has undergone a few incarnations since the 1970s, if this picture is any indication, but looking through the Net, there is unfortunately no history page available chronicling this Toronto character. Mike, I’m looking at you. Care to take the challenge?
- Check out the comments here. Apparently, I’m not the only one who found Blinky damn creepy.