Tribute to the Founder of Dummies Unlimited, Inc.
Walnut, CA. - Guido J. Tanzini, founder of Dummies Unlimited, Inc. has died at the age of 85. He was known as an originator of scenario based training equipment many years before scenario based training got popular in the past two decades.
In 1959, Guido developed a product called "Numb John". Numb John became an iconic Law Enforcement training dummy which allowed LE agency's the ability to train more realistically rather than striking an Everlast® punching bag or hand held strike bag.
Numb John had all the attributes of a free standing human being that could endure thousands of baton strikes. It was originally used extensively as the standard in baton training, but more recently Numb John has evolved into a more versatile training product for Less Lethal Ballistics, Pepper Spray, and Taser, as well as for Baton Training.
Guido was born in Trenton, NJ in 1926. In 1943, he volunteered for Military service in the U.S. Army. While in the Army, he landed on Normandy Beach a few weeks after D-Day. Several months later he fought in the "Battle of the Bulge" which was also decisive victory for the allies. When the war ended, he had the opportunity to attend the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials in Germany.
Once he arrived home in New Jersey, Guido got married then moved to California where he became an upholsterer. Within a few years he had owned his own upholstery business under the name G.J. Custom and this became his livelihood for the next 32 years. Because of his creativity, high quality of work, and attention to detail, customers came from miles around and sometimes from other states to have him customize their auto, boat, or furniture upholstery, or have their classic cars restored.
In 1957, he was asked by a local Criminal Justice College Training Coordinator to repair their punching bags. After repairing them annually for a couple years, Guido asked if there would be a need for a more realistic baton target in the shape of a real suspect. The TC responded with: "Absolutely". Within a few months Guido had developed the first baton training dummy known to the industry. He called it "Numb John". The development of Numb John was not as easy as it seemed. It required a creative mind and the continual desire to overcome a variety of challenges. This is exactly what Guido was known for.
1959 - 1960
The original "Numb John' that Guido developed consisted of a sewn canvas dummy with arms, legs, head, and torso, all stuffed tightly with cotton. A rope around his arm pits suspended him from the ceiling. Initially it took a beating. But this glorified piñata flailed from side to side just like its predecessor, the hanging strike bag.
1960 - 1965
The next version was revolutionary. Guido developed a steel frame for Numb John which allowed him to be free standing. To add to the realism, Guido made Numb John's right arm and hand project forward to simulate weapon attack His feet were then attached to a wheeled platform which also made him a movable and transportable training aide which allowed him to be used indoors and out.
1965 - 1969
For several years, served its purpose well, however, after a few years, the cotton that was used as a stuffing agent, would pack down to the steel frame.
Prior to the development of poly-urethane foam, the automotive industry used cocoa matting as a resilient filler and padding in seat cushions. (Cocoa matting is the brown fibrous substance found between the triangular cocoanut seen on a tree and its round core that is seen in a supermarket.) Cocoa matting was delivered by the truck loads and was piled in numerous areas throughout a large warehouse until it was compressed into Numb John's sewn suit. The laborious process and use of Cocoa matting was used to stuff Numb John until 1969.
1969 - 1998
In the mid 60's, polyurethane foams were developed and had proven themselves as a replacement for traditional padding. Guido did extensive R & D for two years while maintaining his regular custom upholstery business. An enormous mold was made and a variety of formulas were tested. Many chemical consultants had said that it was impossible to mold such a large product. Regardless of what the experts said, Guido was able to develop trade secrets to overcome the impossible. In 1969 the first molded Numb John was created. This version was outfitted with an underlining and an exterior nylon reinforced vinyl suit which was sewn in a 1972 IACP in Anaheim, CA
way that did not reflect a single wrinkle. For the next 3 decades, this model proved to be very successful and durable with many unit's lasting as long as 33 years. This model was available until the late 90's.
1972 IACP in Anaheim, CA
1999 - 2011
In the mid 90's, expandable batons made their way into Law Enforcement. By the end of the millennium, the small steel ball at the tip of the ASP were taking their toll on Numb John's exterior surface and shortened the ability for Numb John to last for 20-30 years of routine training. Guido and his son Phil, began to work with exterior coatings to counter this problem. Initial coatings were successful, but lacked flexibility. However, in 2003 after working with other chemical consultants, Guido, Phil, and then 18 y.o. grandson Nicolas, developed a durable yet flexible coating that is soft enough to punch and durable enough to tolerate all batons as well as the evolving development of the Less Lethal ballistics market. Numb John XT (Extra Tough) was born.
According to his son, Phil Tanzini, Director of Operations for Dummies Unlimited, Inc., Numb John's are now found in over 22 countries around the globe. Mr. P. Tanzini states that most agencies use Numb John as a static training dummy for full-impact baton strikes with real batons, and then incorporate other dynamic scenarios with Fist or Red Man suits and the use of a practice baton.
This creates a well balanced training program and reduces the chance of injuries if officers attempt use a real baton on a fellow officer in a padded suit.
Another huge benefit that Numb John has offered Law Enforcement through the years is the ability for officers to develop motor memory from repetition. Mr. Tanzini states that since most agencies only train once per year with their baton, very little skill is retained by the officer. Having Numb John available in a training room, briefing room, or sally port on the divisional level, allows officers to develop motor memory without costing the agency any additional training time or money. He states that some administrators require their officer's to take one or two strikes on Numb John before they hop into a vehicle each day.
For years, Guido Tanzini attended a variety Law Enforcement Conferences across the U.S. including the IACP, Trexpo, and Shot Show to name a few. He always enjoyed talking to attendees and vendors alike.
As a pioneer in the world of Law Enforcement training equipment, Guido Tanzini will be missed by all that had the opportunity to meet him.
You can see how his initial legacy has evolved into a variety of other training equipment at: www.DummiesUnlimited.com