Blaze and the Monster Machines

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Blaze and the Monster Machines
Let's blaze.jpg
"Let's blaze!"
Genre: Adventure
Science fiction
Musical
Action
Comedy
Educational
Running Time: 20–24 minutes
Country: United States
Canada
Release Date: October 13, 2014 – present
Network(s): Nickelodeon
Nick Jr.
Created by: Jeff Borkin
Ellen Martin
Distributed by: Paramount Domestic Media Network
Starring: Nolan North
Dusan Brown
Caleel Harris
Ramone Hamilton
Angelina Wahler
Kevin Michael Richardson
Nat Faxon
Alexander Polinsky
James Patrick Stuart
Sunil Malhotra
Kate Higgins
Melanie Minichino
Seasons: 6
Episodes: 120


Blaze and the Monster Machines is an American/Canadian computer-animated interactive television series with a focus on teaching the concepts of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), as well as teaching facts about Animals (in the "Wild Wheels" episodes). The series premiered on Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. channel on October 13, 2014. It was created by Jeff Borkin and Ellen Martin.

Plot

Set in an alternate universe populated almost entirely by anthropomorphic monster trucks, the series follows the adventures of Blaze, an orange-red monster truck, and his 8-year-old human driver AJ. They live in the fictional town of Axle City. In each episode, both Blaze and AJ encounter a major problem and set off on an adventure to solve it. During the adventure, there are several puzzles and obstacles they have to overcome (with "assistance" from the viewing audience), mostly relating to what the episode is about. Each episode focuses on a certain STEM concept, which becomes the episode's main theme throughout.

Why It's Blazin' Speed

  1. The voice acting is amazing. In particular, Nolan North does an entertaining voice performance as Blaze. Same can be also said for Kevin Michael Richardson as Crusher and Nat Faxon as Pickle.
  2. Very educational, as it focuses and introduced on teaching children about STEM concepts (science, technology, engineering and math) and facts about Animals (in the "Wild Wheels" miniseries episodes).
  3. Decent CGI animation in season 1, season 2, and early season 3 by WildBrain Studios (formerly DHX Media).
  4. Great character designs, even if it looks kind of uncanny, especially in season 1.
    • In addition, the lip-syncing is well-done.
  5. The background design is considerably realistic, especially in later seasons where foliage improves.
  6. Very likable, adorable, and hilarious group of the main characters, such as Blaze, AJ, Gabby, Crusher, Pickle, Stripes, Starla, Darington, Zeg, and the most recent main character to date, Watts.
    • Speaking of Crusher, he gained the major character development. In early seasons, he was the main antagonist side and cheating doing the race as well as acting like being whiny. Here, he began cheating less and less and toned down for being whiny with each later new season, instead showing his Anti-Hero side on occasion, averting the usual characterization of villains in preschool kids shows, mostly Nick Jr.
  7. Similar to Team Umizoomi, the main characters (especially Blaze and AJ) talk to the audience in a charming way that isn't pandering.
  8. Crusher isn't the only antagonist in the show, there are some plenty of other antagonists seen in the show as well for each episode, like the Light Thief, Speedrick, Lazard, Thunderwing, the Treat Thief, the Little Critter, Queen Fastine, Magic Mirror and Toothbrush Taker, which could be reason why Crusher is more like an anti-hero character than generic petty scheming villain.
  9. Interesting truck puns, especially dialogue like "Truck or treat!" and episode titles.
  10. Awesome episode plots that are not any plot holes and don't get repetitive (sometimes), even if it's a little strange.
  11. The musical songs are extremely catchy and awesome, such as the "Blaze and the Monster Machines Theme", "Freezing", and "It's Blaze" (the end credits theme song).
  12. Entertaining and funny subplots provided by Crusher and his best friend Pickle, especially the hilarious running gag where Crusher interrupts and tried to do it but fails and messed up.
  13. The scenes where the monster machines racing is unbelievably entertaining and fun.
  14. Most of the sound effects are hilarious, and really add a very "cartoon-y" feel to the show, like any characters the bumps everything.
  15. The animation has gotten a huge improvement in the "Wild Wheels" mini-series, and it still remain that way after the "Wild Wheels" mini-series is over for late season 3 onwards.
  16. Blaze's blazing speed, alongside the main characters, is very awesome.
  17. Despite being very similar, the universe of the show seems to be a huge improvement over Cars, as for example, Cars is a universe that does not have a single human character, but the universe of this show has the only exceptions like AJ and Gabby.
  18. Fortunately, it manages to avoid coming off as a rip-off to Bigfoot Presents: Meteor and the Mighty Monster Trucks, another animated TV series very similarly also based on anthropomorphic monster trucks, which was released on the Qubo Channel from between September 2006 until October 2008, or even The Adventures of Chuck and Friends.
    • However, there was a non-secular and biblical version of the aforementioned series renamed to "Monster Truck Adventures", released later in 2013.
  19. Good catchphrases, especially from the main characters, like "Gaskets!", "I'm a monster machine!" "Hey, Crusher!" and "Let's blaze!".
  20. Just like other anthropomorphic vehicle-related media other than Cars (even counting its rip-offs), there are no product placements, since the show is set in a fictional universe.
  21. Has several great episodes from the show, due to awesome writing, especially "Blaze of Glory".
  22. Some episodes have most of guest starring cast that voiced each character, much like some Nick Jr. shows, especially the singer "Weird Al" Yankovic, the late Carl Reiner, Jess Harnell and Sherri Shepherd.

Bad Qualities

  1. The plot is sometimes a little strange. Usually, a little child driving a monster truck wouldn't end well.
  2. Much like Dora the Explorer, anyone above the target audience for this show would probably find Blaze's 4th wall breaking annoying.
  3. Although Crusher is likable, he isn't really smart, as he is often too dumb to live and always choosing guesses that would lead him to something unfortunate, and also believing by the fact he thinks that cheating is the only way to win, and never learning his lesson. Even Pickle, who is often a simpleton, has been shown silently snarking when Crusher decides to cheat.
    • Also infuriating is that Crusher never gets caught by race officials for cheating, meaning that, even if he doesn't win (which he never does), he always gets off scot-free (though he tends to suffer plenty of humiliation by the end of the episode).
  4. Blaze always wins almost every race he is in, usually because he uses his blazing speed to win, which makes it really unfair to the viewers for almost each episode. However, there is a reason why he does that, it is because he is the main protagonist of the series and Crusher is usually the villain who loses at the end (though Crusher is not all bad and really evil, considering how he is still good), and there are some parts where Blaze isn't the only one who wins, sometimes he and his friends, notably Pickle, win as well.
  5. They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Sadly, although Blaze's friends get a lot of great attention, their appearances gradually became fewer (less) with each later new season, almost as if they became out of focus. None of them even get a chance to sing a full song in the series (aside from a few brief moments in the first season).
    • Out of all the main characters, Starla is suffering from this worse. She's appeared the fewest out of the main characters, only appearing no more than 5-6 times after season 1. She's also had the longest absence streak with a grand total of 14 absences, between "Toucan Do It!" in Season 3 to "Robots to the Rescue" in Season 4. This is probably because her voice address Kate Higgins had a lot of other shows to work with at the time.
    • As a matter of fact, the fourth season contains the longest consecutive set of episodes that only feature Blaze, AJ, Crusher and Pickle — five in a row from "Officer Blaze" to "Blaze and the Magic Genie". It appears that said quartet of main characters have become the "official" set of main characters for the rest of the show's run, and the others have been demoted to recurring roles.
    • Watts was nice introduced in season 3 because she built up as Blaze's new Monster Machine friend main cast, but she appeared very little in the fourth season, only four out of twenty episodes. Possibly because her voice address Melanie Minichino had a lot of work as the female announcer for Disney Junior, as well as her roles as Anya and Ava.
  6. Much like from Cars too, some logics are confusing that leads them following questions that raised them. For example, how do the monster machines eat actual food if their mouths are just their grill, and sometimes their bumper...?
    • Another example is that Crusher is known to be a cheater, but since Blaze wins by passing him with his Blazing Speed for race, wouldn't that be Blaze cheating, too?
    • And probably the most disturbing logic of all: In the episode, "The Blaze Family", we are introduced to Blaze's parents and sister, which raises the following more question: How do the monster machines copulate, and then give birth to more than one monster machine?!

Reception

While it gets around 5.5-5.6/10 on IMDb, Blaze and the Monster Machines gets this from many parents and people older than the target demographic, since it introduces many STEM topics without talking down to the viewers, with critics noted that shows teach good lesson for target audiences.

Videos

Trivia

  • The original copyright for this show was filed on October 2, 2012.
  • Despite being an Nick Jr. show, it was aired on Nicktoons, for some unknown reasons.
  • It marks the first Nick Jr. show from Nickelodeon Animation Studios not to use the Nickelodeon normal music logo, since it used end credits music instead.
  • The creator, Jeff Borkin, has worked several shows, such as The Backyardigans, Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Team Umizoomi.
  • This pilot was never aired, but was developed around 2012 and became a full series animated by the people who made Storm Hawks. Nothing is really known about this pilot, but around this time, the show was basically about an 8-year-old boy named AJ, and his incredible monster truck Blaze, and their friend, a girl named Maddie (later changed to Gabby), fighting their arch nemesis Crusher along with a fleet of other trucks. No footage of the pilot has been found except there's the two images that can potentially be the images of the pilot.
  • The infamous "Call Blaze" app on the Google Play Store that scared kids became an internet meme. Every time one would beat the game, someone only known as "Happy Slappy" would call you, threatening to stab you to death with his knife. Needless to say, this was a cause of concern for many parents with children who were left terrified by the unsettling call. The app has since been banned from Google Play.
  • Much like with Bubble Guppies, the end credits don't list which actor voices which character, with the only credited actors being the celebrity guest stars after the opening theme.
  • The Season 5 finale "The Gold Medal Games" has yet to air in the US due to having similarities with the Olympic Games, which were postponed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • AJ's voice actor in seasons 2-4, Caleel Harris, also voices Clyde McBride from The Loud House in seasons 1-2.
  • The Nick Jr. Remix of "Ninjas!" includes footage from Team Umizoomi, Paw Patrol, Abby Hatcher, Wallykazam, Butterbean's Cafe, Bubble Guppies, and Top Wing as well as Blaze and the Monster Machines. Some footage is repeated in the music video, however, with some variations, including mirrored shots. An audio clip of DJ Khaled reading the Ninja Blaze title card as Blackbelt is also reused several times.
    • With the exception of Paw Patrol, Abby Hatcher and Top Wing, Blaze and the Monster Machines, Team Umizoomi, Wallykazam, Butterbean's Cafe, and Bubble Guppies were produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studio in American.
  • Even in later seasons, promotional artworks will always feature the characters in their pre-Season 2 appearances, with no signs of art evolution.
  • Though the show is generally popular in ways, it falls into this now and then. The amount of times it runs daily has gotten fewer later into the show's run, and as of now, it only airs on Nick Jr. channel about two to six times a day, whereas it only airs once on Nick Jr. on Nick (shared with Ryan's Mystery Playdate) in favor of consecutive reruns of PAW Patrol, which became the only show aired on the block (aside from single reruns of one other show) throughout the summer of 2019. Thankfully, it is the only pre-2019 first-run show other than PAW Patrol and the un-cancelled Bubble Guppies that has not been moved to the Nick Jr. channel for new episodes.
  • WildBrain Studios (formerly DHX Media), the same company that animated other shows, including LEGO Ninjago from seasons 11 onwards, did the animation and produced on this show from seasons 2 onwards.
  • The episode "The Mystery Bandit" was the final episode to have closed captioning in all caps.
  • Just like from Pixar's Cars, it even spawned the following merchandise: a variety of DVD's based on the episodes, a large toy line (diecasts, playsets, etc.), several mobile games, and one most recent console game, titled Blaze and the Monster Machines: Axle City Racers, likely due to its popularity.

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