Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch was a very short lived cartoon produced by Hanna-Barbera. It aired for only one season on NBC — running from September 7, 1974 to August 30, 1975 on Saturday mornings from 8:30 – 9:00 am in most major US markets. Each episode of the show’s 13 episode run consisted of three 6 minute segments, which gave the network ample time for those great Saturday morning toy and cereal commercials. The show was far from lightweight in the talent department. Some of the greatest voice talents were brought aboard to make the series. Talented people like Frank Welker, Don Messick, Lennie Weinrib, Paul Winchell and Judy Strangis contributed voices to each episode. The show even had a limited run as a comic book from Charlton Comics for 7 issues from 1975 to 1976. This series featured some of the earliest work by comic legends John Byrne and Joe Staton.
If you have never seen the show, it was all about a red Volkswagon Beetle named Wheelie and his girlfriend Rota Ree. Wheelie, who could not talk but instead emoted with honks and mime was as a professional racing and stunt car (like most VW Bugs in the 1960s and 1970s). The Chopper Bunch in the title refers to his nemeses, a group of motorcycles lead by the spike helmeted Chopper.
So what happened? Well when you go up opposite Bugs Bunny, you better bring your “A Game” week after week or the rating will knock you out of renewal. That seems to be exactly what happened to Wheelie. But luckily shows like USA’s Cartoon Express and networks like Cartoon Network would pick up the show in the 1980s and expose a new audience to this quirky and well put together show. Still seeing it occasionally on TV and owning it are two different things, which is why I am happy that the Warner Archive has decided to give this their Manufacture-on-Demand treatment. So now you can own the entire run of this show and fall in love for the first time or, if managed to catch it before, fall in love all over again with a little Red VW named, Wheelie. So pick up your copy at the Warner Archive today.
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