Rat Race

Say what you will about The Rugrats Movie (my five-year-old daughter and I enjoyed it at least as much as the next family unit), but its sentimental view of sibling rivalry plays a distant second to the movie's real duh of a raison d'être: marketing. According to Fortune, the film is the cornerstone of an unprecedented intracorporate branding effort for Viacom and its media subsidiaries. Indeed, the most fascinating thing about the TV series— even more than the show-offy animation, dim-witted yuppie parents, and winking film references— was always its self-reflexive attitude toward the merchandise it spewed forth.

That's why it was no surprise to find the Stu Pickles­designed Reptar Wagon, a baby Bondmobile voiced by Busta Rhymes, the movie's literal prime mover. With its Barney-meets­T. Rex appeal, Reptar is an integral element of the Rugrats universe. Neither as pathetic as Krusty the Clown nor as dumb as the Dummi Bears, Reptar parades through the 'rats' collective consciousness as an evolving product line that must constantly one-up itself to survive. So while my daughter is passing on Burger King's cheesy Reptar watch, she'd give up college in a second for a Reptar Wagon.

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