Contrary to the credits of writer Derek Smith and illustrator, Graham Bleathman, the ‘Wallace & Gromit: Cracking Contraptions Manual’ actually went through Wallace’s Edit-O-Matic or should that be EDIT-O-MATIC and had a total revision before publication. Quite where at Haynes did the cover get damaged, inkmarks and tea-stains from, I don’t know. Considering how great an inventor Wallace is, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d been invited to advise with the printing and even suggested one of his inventions to speed things up.
In the meantime, we are privy to see the workings of twenty of Wallace’s inventions and two that aren’t, although one of these, Preston, he later re-built, and the other is the sentient cooker on the Moon. In many respects, Wallace shares a kinship with William Heath-Robinson, where if there is a long way around to doing something then Wallace will mechanise it that way. A good example of this is with Wallace’s Tellyscope, where it is neither perfect and seems to be a long way around getting something done or he doesn’t like using remote control devices. In many respects, his dog, Gromit, is more practically minded and assists in putting his contraptions together.
Through this book, you will get some insight into how these two entrepreneurs work and you might well consider incorporating your own houses, although get planning permission before opening the basement and putting chutes into the walls.
There are a few things that I would have liked to have seen addressed. For all the ease that Wallace has in getting dressed straight from his bed first thing in the morning, I do wonder how his trousers are put back in place last thing at night. Surely, Wallace must have a device to do that unless he relies on Gromit to do it. Likewise with his Automatic Jam Catapult’. How does the spoon know when to dig deeper into the pot or when it’s empty? Then again, I’m amazed that Wallace’s vinyl collection doesn’t melt so close to the engine in his Austin Van.
Whether it’s the effect of Wallace’s EDIT-O-MATIC or that of the writer, it’s a shame that the text isn’t written in his tones because it would have given better insight into his head. Playing it too straight has tended to make me think this book isn’t ideal for the younger generation to read, although they’ll love the abundant photographs. If Wallace wasn’t available, certainly Gromit could have added more comments than his master put in.
Despite that, this Haynes book makes for an interesting look into Wallace’s technological devices. Maybe not one hundred per cent cracking but certainly riveting. Excuse me for a moment, I have a wall that needs some attention.
pub: Haynes. 112 page illustrated large hardback. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84425-958-8).
check out website: www.haynes.co.uk