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“Drat Drat and Double Drat!” Dick Dastardly and the Disposable Plastic Razor

Posted on 8th September 2017 Plastic History Disposable plastic razor

Dick Dastardly is the antihero of the Hanna Barbera cartoons Wacky Races, Stop the Pigeon and Yogi’s Treasure Hunt. Dastardly and his sniggering sidekick Muttley are constantly hatching plans to cheat their way to victory in the various scenarios. For over twenty years from his first appearance in 1968, Dick Dastardly was voiced by the actor, comedian and ventriloquist Paul Winchell who is also the inventor of the disposable plastic razor. 


Man of Many Talents


Winchell had a varied and interesting career. He is most famous for his voice acting – as well as Dick Dastardly, he was the original Tigger in Walt Disney’s adaptations of A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories. However, he had an interesting side line as an inventor. He registered over thirty patents in his lifetime. In addition to the disposable plastic razor, Winchell invented an artificial heart designed to be surgically implanted, battery-powered gloves and a flameless lighter.


The Razors and Blades Model


It is often claimed that Gillette invented the razors and blades economic model – whereby you give the razors away cheaply so that you sell more blades. One recent newspaper investigation revealed the mark up on razor blades to be 4750%. So, the model makes good economic sense. Paul Winchell’s innovation was to make the handle disposable as well as the blade.


Inexpensive Materials


The disposable safety razor was made possible by the availability of cheap plastic in the early 1960s. Paul Winchell’s design could be mass-produced from injection moulded polycarbonate. The razor was designed to be used once and then disposed of. Cheap disposable razors were a novelty when Winchell filed his patent in 1963. Now all the major brands have their own disposable range.


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