Imagethief’s son, Zachary, turned two this week. I’m amazed we made it. By this I mean I’m amazed that Mrs. Imagethief and I made it. If the boy’s engine room telegraph is stuck on “full-speed-ahead”, Mrs. Imagethief and I are on something more like “dead slow” or “all back one quarter”. It’s been a busy couple of years.
My Chinese tutor, a wonderful woman who employs the spectacular pedagogical technique of making me translate articles from The Economist into Chinese and then debating me about the contents, was kind enough to give Zach a toy Chinese police car as his present. It was really kind of a fantasy police car, being as it was a BMW in police colors, but it was a big hit with the boy. It hit three of his sweet spots: “nee-nee nee-nee cars” (anything with lights, with the sound representing the siren); “zoom cars” (anything with a spoiler); and “gongan che“, which is not at at the top of his hierarchy –taxis occupy that spot– but which rate pretty high nevertheless.
The car was electric, so my wife hunted up some batteries for it and we switched it on.
That was a mistake. The “nee-nee nee-nee” was approximately as loud as a real police car. I almost smashed the thing on the spot, with my tutor watching (smashing a gift in front of the person who gives it to you is not well thought of in polite Chinese society). The cats are still traumatized. Zachary seriously re-thought his infatuation.
In the end, I took the thing apart and removed the little drive wheels and motor, which kept the car from freewheeling, and cut the wires to the speaker so that the only electric component that still worked was the lights. This made the police car a much improved toy in almost all respects. While I was about my improvements I noticed something a little odd. Here is a photo of the car:
All well and good, except for the BMW thing, but take a closer look at the police seal on the hood:
I almost didn’t spot it. It says, “Raccoon Police Department”.
At first I thought this was just your random Chinglish gibberish, which often finds a way onto toys. Zach has one front-end-loader that is spangled with the declaration, “Vigorously Super Power” (which I’m thinking of having tattooed on my ass for no good reason), and some small trucks that say, “Forbid Fireworks” on the gas tank and “Head Back” on the rear bumper.
But the miracle of Google Images reveals that this is actually the badge of the Raccoon City police department, which is the police department of the zombie-infested city from the Resident Evil video-game and movie franchise. Pop culture bottom-feeders may remember the original movie (there have been about 80 of them now) as the one in which model-turned-actress Milla Jovovich loses her memory, gets naked and kicks the ass of everything that gets in her way. I’m not sure that’s the correct order, but I’m pretty sure all those things happened. Actually, I think all those things happen in almost every movie Milla Jovovich makes, which may be why the Academy continues to snub her. At any rate, here’s the Racoon City Police Department Logo:
This is from a site called, “Patchbug.” Yes, somewhere out there is a patch collector serious enough that he needs a replica of the Raccoon City Police Department uniform patch. It takes all kinds, I guess.
What I find interesting is that the maker of this toy didn’t steal the Raccoon City patch wholesale, but kind of mashed it up with Chinese to come up with something uniquely ridiculous. For those who need reminding, the actual seal on Beijing police cars is an image of the Great Wall (as if it would be anything else):
So this is apparently a replica of the car of the Beijing Police Zombie Squad, which is apparently the best equipped squad in the Beijing police department. This makes sense: Only the best if you’re going to take on zombies.
The car also has a line of Chinese over the rear windshield, “有困难找警察”, which would properly be translated as something like, “If you have difficulties, look for a cop,” but which was rendered in English on the car as the delightfully sinister, “Any trouble with you, call the police to help.” Presumably “trouble” in this context means turning into a zombie.
Note: Actual police car emblem from Upton’s photostream.