When Chris Met Fred

The Back Story


Photographer Chris Mueller has had a few characters show up at his door in New York City. But none quite like Fred.

Fred is a crash-test dummy—and not just any crash-test dummy. He’s a Hybrid-III adult male model, with half of his vinyl flesh removed to show off his sensor-packed steel skeleton. He was in town to be photographed for this issue’s ”Anatomy of a Crash-Test Dummy.”

Fred, whose home is at the headquarters of dummy maker Denton ATD, in Rochester Hills, Mich., has been to trade shows all over the world. He normally travels by truck, but he’s also traveled by car, sitting next to the driver, and once Denton bought him a seat on a flight to Europe.

This was Fred’s first trip to New York, and he was delivered to Mueller in a refrigerator-size crate. ”It was giant,” says Mueller, who has photographed airliners, racing cars, human brains, and NASA engineers, but never dummies. How to get the thing to his studio, 10 blocks north, where the photo shoot was to take place?

”I opened the crate, put Fred on a hand truck, and rolled down the street with him,” he says. ”I covered him with a black canvas, and people kept looking over, catching glimpses of Fred.”

At the photo session Fred proved very easy to work with. ”He just listened and did what he was told,” says Mueller, who after the shoot was off to an assignment in California. As for Fred, he was ready to go home, back to his Hybrid-III female companion, Frida.