The Plastics Inventor

A Donald Duck Cartoon

Release Date : September 1, 1944

Running Time : 7:07


In much the same spirit as 1941's "Chef Donald", Don decides to build an airplane with instructions from a radio show. Unfortunately, his airplane has less longevity that his waffles did.


Donald Duck


Jack King
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Paul Allen
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Brad Case
Merle T. Cox
Ernie Nordli
Jack Hannah
Dick Shaw
Oliver Wallace


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Technical Specification

Color Type: Technicolor
Animation Type: Standard animation
Sound Mix: Mono
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Negative Format: 35mm
Print Format: 35mm
Cinematographic Process: Spherical
Original Language: English

Released by RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.


From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : Another day brings another iteration of the “narrator says the proper way to do things while the character does it another way” humor. Seems like all the Disney shorts from 1944 have featured that model. Again in this one, it’s Donald Duck as the star, as he builds a plane in The Plastics Inventor.

In all fairness, the gag used in this short is one that Donald has used before. In older Donald shorts, we saw him getting instructions from the radio, and that is the same process used here. The plastics instructor on the radio is teaching Donald how to make a plane out of plastic, by throwing his junk into a pot and melting it down, then baking everything.

The comedy in this one is quite inventive, even in the early sequences where Donald is making the plane. The sight of a steering wheel or gears being made like Christmas cookies is pretty amusing. The whole process of creating the plastic is turned into a great gag, even down to Donald pouring some plastic on his head and baking it into a helmet.

When the plane is out in the air, though, that’s where the real fun begins. Somehow, Donald takes the radio with him, even though I don’t believe that wireless radios existed in the 40s. As Donald puts the plane through its paces, the radio reveals one fatal flaw: you can’t get it wet.

There’s some fantastic humor in this short from that point forward, with the plane steadily melting. Seeing Donald go through his paces trying to keep things together and not fall to his doom is beyond hilarious. There’s no real way to describe all the things Donald has to go through trying to stay aloft.

This short would be one of the last (possibly the actual last) featuring Carl Barks writing Donald’s adventures. Barks would turn to creating the Donald Duck comic books in the years to come, and would create a lasting legacy as one of the masters of comic book storytelling. His mark on Donald is widely remembered from the work he did on the comics, not in the shorts. But it cannot be underestimated how much of Barks is contained in these shorts.

From J. D. Weil : The Plastics Inventor contains a hidden wartime reference in it. When the U.S. entered World War II, the government clamped restrictions on certain strategic materials, (i.e. steel, copper, lumber, etc.) and consumer manufacturers (those that were left) had to scramble to find suitable replacement materials. The plastics industry, still in its swaddling clothes, was suddenly placed in a position of prominence it was ill prepared to handle. The plastics that were produced during this period were weak, brittle, melted at the slightest change of temperature (though I never heard of a water soluble plastic as depicted in this cartoon) and gave the plastics industry a black eye that would take decades to remove. It also made them an easy target for ridicule, as this cartoon shows.
From Ryan : This is similar to the 1941 short Chef Donald. This time, however, Donald is "baking" an airplane instead of waffles. Like the waffles, Donald didn't have much luck with the airplane as it melted in the rain (plastic doesn't do that). This is one of my favorite Donald Duck shorts.
From Trae Robinson : Donald doesn't do much talking in this cartoon. I wonder why. Like The Flying Jalopy and A Good Time For A Dime Donald flies a airplane again in a cartoon.
From Andrew : I thank Mr. Weil for the history lesson. Like probably many people who only saw this cartoon on the Disney Channel (or YouTube), when I was little I used to think plastic could melt when wet thanks to this cartoon. Some great Daliesque imagery here, but even by cartoon standards, it seems a bit far-fetched compared to Donald's previous "simple" attempts to make waffles or work as a lumberjack.
From Baruch Weiss : Poor Donald, all that hard work gone to waste. I enjoyed this cartoon, especially when the plane melts Donald gets upset and melts the radio. I also noticed at the end presentation Mickey's theme was used instead of Donald's.
From JiruChan : Though it was made during the war time, I liked the idea that they had cherry blossoms in the short.

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