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Dinky Drivers

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"Slink, take the pedals! Rex, you navigate! Hamm and Potato, operate the levers and knobs!"
Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story 2

A situation that regularly appears in works with miniature protagonists is to have them operate a car, airplane, spaceship, or other vehicle. Since the vehicle was built for larger, "regular"-sized people and is not a Surprisingly Functional Toy, this will require a team of the diminutive characters working together to operate the numerous controls. Jury-rigged assistive devices made with Bamboo Technology or Noodle Implements might be used.

More often than not, Hilarity Ensues as the Dysfunctional Family or Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits fail to coordinate their operations — they end up bickering with each other while their vehicle careens all over the place. If the characters wouldn't normally know how to operate the vehicle, Taught by Television or I Know Mortal Kombat may be invoked to explain how they suddenly acquired some driving skills.

Naturally, this typically involves Lilliputians, Living Toys or very Little People, though other character types may be used as the work demands.

See also Kids Driving Cars, which may overlap with this trope in some cases (i.e. if two or more kids are cooperating to drive a single car).


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In Uncanny X-Men Annual mutants try to drive Professor X's Rolls Royce after getting de-aged by Mojo.

    Film - Animated 

    Film - Live-Action 
  • In the Disney live-action movie The Gnome Mobile, two kids drive a car. Neither is big enough to reach pedals and see over the dashboard, so one steers while the other moves the pedals.
  • The 2006 film Little Man features Calvin, a 30" tall dwarf criminal who's pretending to be a toddler as part of a diamond heist. He gets in a car and drives it by using a toy bat to move the pedals.
  • In Ted, John's teddy bear drives John's car, using built-up pedals so he can reach them.
  • Given a rare full-size - and entirely non-comical - example in Flight. With his malfunctioning plane in a barely-controlled dive, Captain Whitaker has to wrestle the control yoke with both hands, forcing him to rely on his co-pilot and a stewardess to operate flaps, throttle and landing gear for the improvised landing.
  • The Mongolian Connection offers a full-size example. Wade and Serik, who are running from gangsters that are trying to kill them, jump into a car. First problem: Wade realizes that the car is a Japanese-made car so the steering wheel is on the right side. Second problem: Serik, who got in the right-side seat that turned out to be the driver's seat, is handcuffed, because he's a criminal under arrest. Third problem: the car is a stick shift, and they don't have time to change seats due to the aforementioned murderous gangsters who are hot on their heels. So Wade and Serik go on a death-defying high-speed car chase through Ulaanbaatar, with Serik operating the steering wheel with his handcuffed hands, while yelling out gear changes to Wade, who operates the stick.

  • Occurs in each book of Terry Pratchett's Nomes Trilogy:
    • In Truckers, the nomes steal a department store delivery truck to escape the store before it gets demolished. They learn how to drive after Angalo sneaks aboard a truck and watches the driver for nearly a week. Even so, they still make a mess of things and blow up the store in the process.
    • In Diggers, Dorcas and Grimma lead the nomes to operate a JCB backhoe in an attempt to scare away the humans intruding on their stone quarry.
    • Subverted in Wings; Angalo tries to temporarily pilot a Concorde jet for fun, but is stopped when The Thing (a navigation computer from their spaceship) takes control instead. The nomes also briefly consider "borrowing" the Space Shuttle...
  • In the first Leven Thumps book, Clover (officially 12 inches in height) decides to, er, commandeer a motor vehicle in order to catch up to protagonists Leven and Winter. He eventually sets up a system to keep the pedals pushed while he hurtles along the street at breakneck pace. He's the only one on the road who finds it fun, for some reason...
  • Occurs in the Dragonlance Legends trilogy of all things. Tasslehoff finds himself unable to operate the full size captain's chair that psychically controls the flying citadel, and has to enlist a nearby gully dwarf in order to do it. Gully dwarves being what they are...
    Tasslehoff: Northwest! It's one direc- oh, never mind. Look, Rounce, you think north and I'll think west. That might work.
  • The children's novel The Great Ringtail Garbage Caper involves a crack team of raccoons stealing the local garbage truck. They actually had a decent reason for the whole caper. The garbage truck was removing all the scraps they were living off, so they did the job themselves to get first dibs on the trash. It was adapted for an episode of CBS Storybreak.
  • In Cory Doctorow's novel Makers, a group of hardware hackers modify several robotic Elmo dolls to drive a car as an homage to this trope.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The humorous RPG Crash Pandas is about a team of raccoons trying to make a name for themselves in an underground street racing ring in Los Angeles.

    Video Games 
  • At the beginning of Luigi's Mansion 3, Luigi and friends are in a bus being driven by a red Toad who can barely see over the steering wheel. Predictably, he ends up swerving into various objects on his way to the Last Resort hotel.

  • In Sluggy Freelance, Bun-Bun occasionally steals Torg's car, with Kiki working the pedals. In this instance, Torg (human) accompanies them — and instead of driving normally, he has to work the pedals, with Kiki on the gear stick.
  • There's an arc in Ozy and Millie where Millie helps Isolde hijack a semi carrying a load of thermometers... it's a long story. Anyway, for whatever reason, Millie ends up steering, even though Isolde is tall enough to manage the task herself, and a good deal closer to legal driving age to boot.
  • In Skin Horse Renard the fox and the Adorable Murder Turtles steal a truck. Renard is horrified to be told that the turtles controlling the accelerator have drunk all the Red Bull and the turtles on the brake have been denied any because "caffeine is for winners".

    Western Animation 
  • Appears in The Penguins of Madagascar whenever the penguins commandeer a vehicle for their missions.
  • The South Park episode "Towelie" has the kids steal a truck during their quest to recover their video game system.
    Stan: "All right, that does it! Brake Angrily, Kenny!"
  • In the Pinky and the Brain short "Opportunity Knox", Brain controls the steering wheel of a van with pulleys while Pinky operates the pedals.
    • Another has an extension system for when the Brain rides a motorcycle.
  • One time on The Simpsons, Bart was steering while Lisa and Milhouse were operating the gas and brake pedals, and they were doing it kinda randomly. Lisa would push the gas and then Milhouse would push the brake, Lather, rinse, repeat, all without any input from Bart. Milhouse took the opportunity to ask Lisa out.
    • Maggie once drove the family's van.
      Chief Wiggum: Awww, isn't that cute, a baby driving a car... and hey, look, there's a dog driving a bus!
  • One episode of Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers has the Rangers (rodent-sized rodents) trying to land a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo of the space shuttle.
  • Averted by the Ant Hill Mob on both Wacky Races and The Perils of Penelope Pitstop. They have no problem operating vehicles scaled for humans of normal stature.

    Real Life 
  • Turns out, this is Truth in Television; there have been cases where children have taken cars and have somehow managed to drive them reasonably competently, although it doesn't happen that often:
    • In July 2009, a 7-year-old boy in Utah stole his family's car in an attempt to get out of going to church.
    • In 2011, another 7-year-old boy in Michigan took the family Pontiac Sunfire to try and drive to his dad, who lived 12 miles away. He ended up driving for over 20 miles at speeds close to 50 miles per hour before the police managed to urge him to stop the car.
  • Sadly, a 5 year old boy in Cleveland woke up early one morning and decided to drive his grandmother's car. A few blocks away, the car hit a parked car and the airbag deployed at 200 mph, killing him.
  • Pedal extenders and booster seats exist for drivers with smaller statures. Here three foot tall Dash, no taller than her car's door handles, demonstrates.
  • Text on a bumper sticker: "How am I driving? I'm not! This vehicle is driven by 500 rats!"


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To be fair, it's definitely not the weirdest thing this cartoon's ever shown!

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