Today I’m going to discuss a very interesting case of synchronicity. Back in 1993 a new cartoon hit the air here in the states; Biker Mice From Mars. In the same year, the UK got a new cartoon “Avenger Penguins”. “What’s the big deal, both countries get new cartoons all the time”, you ask? Well, the big deal is that these two shows are veritable clones of one another, despite the fact that they hit the airwaves within a week of each other, and seem to have no staff in common. Did somebody overhear somebody during lunch at the ComiCon that year? Who knows.
The opening logos don’t look at all alike. The clear differences between them also illustrate the differences you will see between the shows themselves. The Penguins are decidedly more cartoony (especially in the art & animation), while the Mice have a darker & more serious tone. This is really the only difference between the two shows (aside from one having mice & the other having penguins of course).
Now, as we get our first look at the stars of each show, they start to look a little more similar than the opening logos did, though the similarity still seems pretty coincidental at this point. Just three anthropomorphic animals on motorcycles.
…But now lets get to the villains:
The chief villain in each show is a blubber bucket, with off-color skin & a head nearly half as big as the rest of his body. Both like to dress very formally, and have a fondness for purple.
Then we delve into their subordinates. Doom (the villain of the Penguins series) only has one subordinate, but he is effectively a hodgepodge of all three of Limburger’s (the villain of the Mice series) subordinates. As you can see in the pic, he looks quite similar to the little comedy relief mutant, but his personality & role are closer to Carbunkle, and he sometimes gets slime on things in a manner similar to the way Grease Pit gets oil all over everything.
“Ok, so there are some strong similarities between the villains. There are only so many archetypes to choose from.”
Well, if it only went this far, the similarities would be little more than a curiosity. However, it doesn’t stop there. Both villains live in & operate from a huge tower in the middle of town. Both villains use a big machine to either create or teleport in a “villain of the day” for most episodes. Both sets of heroes hole up in garages which
look very similar to each other.
If you watch both of these shows, you would swear that they were both created by the same person. While having two shows be so similar is not all that rare in & of itself, one show will usually come out much later than the other, clearly ripping off the earlier show. The fact that these two shows came out within days of each other is what makes
this situation truly astounding.
The animation of Avenger Penguins really reminds me of the old Hanna/Barbera cartoon “Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch”:
However it will probably remind most of you of Dnager Mouse and/or Count Duckula. This is to be expected, because it is made by Cosgrove Hall, the same company which made Danger Mouse and Count Duckula.
Another interesting little twist is that Biker Mice later got a remake/sequel which was initially released in the UK and didn’t appear in the US until much later, this despite the fact that it was created by the same guy as the original series. Unfortunately, the new series was done by a different production company & the art and animation
Now, for your enjoyment, here is an episode of Biker Mice From Mars:
..And an episode of Avenger Penguins:
Compare and contrast these two shows for yourself, see just how shockingly alike they are.