- Toxic Crusaders
show_name =Toxic Crusaders
img_capt=The Toxic Crusaders: The Television Series, Vol. 1 DVD cover
runtime = 30 Minutes
Gregg Berger Rodger Bumpass Chuck McCann Susan Silo Patric Zimmerman Susan Blu Ed Gilbert Hal Rayle Kath Soucie
country = USA
network = FOX
first_aired = Early 1991
last_aired = N/A
num_episodes = 13
imdb_id = 0173344
"Toxic Crusaders" is an
animated seriesbased on the " Toxic Avenger" films. It features Toxie, the lead character of the films leading a trio of misfit superheroes who combat pollution. This followed a trend of environmentally considerate cartoons of the time, including " Captain Planet", "Swamp Thing", and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". As this incarnation was aimed at children, "Toxic Crusaders" is considerably tamer than the edgy films it was based on. Thirteen episodes were produced; however, only five aired on FOX in early 1991 as a trial run for summer syndication.Kahn, Eve M. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE5DF173BF930A35750C0A967958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=print "Television; Cartoons for a Small Planet"] The New York Times (March 3, 1991).]
Prior to "Toxic Crusaders", cartoons based on R-rated films had indeed been attempted with programs like "
Rambo and the Forces of Freedom". However, the content of the "Toxic Avenger" films was arguably more controversial than many such films, featuring strong sexual contentin addition to intense violence. Created by New York-based Troma, Inc., a company famous for such low-budget classic schlockfests as " Chopper Chicks in Zombietown", " Class of Nuke 'Em High", and " Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD", the animated "Toxic Crusaders" departed significantly from its live-action source.
The "Toxic Avenger" film series starred Melvin Junko, a scrawny nerd who, through exposure to
toxic waste, transformed into a “hideously deformed” mutant. In the films, “Toxie” took his revenge on industrial America by means of gory violence and bloodbaths. True to Troma’s reputation, other R-rated material abounded as well.
"Toxic Crusaders" cleaned up Toxie’s act considerably. He was still a grotesque mutant endowed with superhuman powers, but underneath it all, he was a good-hearted, law-abiding citizen. The villains were still polluters, albeit polluters from a different world. Hailing from the planet Smogula, Czar Zosta, Dr. Killemoff, and Psycho wreaked ecological havoc with the help of Tromaville’s corrupt Mayor Grody. Bonehead, a street punk who bullied Melvin joins them in the first episode.
Killemoff and Czar Zosta were actually cockroach-like beings in disguise that thrive on pollution and need it to survive, which explains Killemoff's breathing apparatus and four arms. Psycho was simply an obese biomechanical being that had an uncanny ability to guess the future, which was a key point in the TV show where his guesses would end up as the spoiler to how Killemoff's plans would fail. Bonehead was thrown into a barrel of acid rain in the first episode, resulting in his skeletal appearance. He was mostly brainless and incompetent. Killemoff, like most bad guys, also had a seemingly endless army of identical poor marksmen called Radiation Rangers - hunched-over mutants in yellow hazardous material suits with intimidating gas masks.
Other villains and heroes made their appearances on the show with equally ridiculous origins as the Crusaders, such as Mower Man who took a nap in a garden shed that happened to contain leaking toxic waste, which exploded in the heat of the day and made him into a half-man, half gardening equipment hybrid, or as he preferred: "A hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength". Few if any of these characters made more than one appearance.
Joining Toxie’s crusade were fellow mutants:
*NoZone: A former pilot who flew through a hole in the
Ozone layerand crashed into a silo of radioactive pepper, known for his powerful sneezes.
hobowho took shelter in a kennel with a guard dog in a polluted junkyard, which was covered in toxic waste when lightning struck it and merged them together.
*Headbanger: A fusion of two opposing personalities into a conjoined body - the cantankerous mad scientist, Bender and the surfer-like, singing telegram boy responsible for the accident, Fender.
*Major Disaster: a military man with the ability to control plants, gained after falling into a radioactive swamp.
Toxie’s weapon of choice was a superpowered mop (named Mop), which had a mind of its own, and he had a furry pink pet called Blobbie. Two of the few "normal" humans on the show were Yvonne, Toxie’s buxom blonde girlfriend (similar to his girlfriend in the movies, but
nearsightedrather than blind) and Toxie's mom.
Only thirteen syndicated episodes of "Toxic Crusaders" were produced, but like the feature films, the episodes became cult favorites, spawning a string of merchandising.
The Toxic Crusaders franchise can be seen as a failed attempt at recreating the success of
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which was very popular in the early 1990s for its animated series, feature film, action figures, comic books, video games, and other merchandising. Most of the same companies that held licensing deals for Toxic Crusaders products were responsible for Ninja Turtles merchandise during this same time. Marvel Comicsreleased an eight-issue comic bookseries which was not terribly successful. Part of the reason may be that it had no regular writer. Each issue was written by such notables as Steve Gerber(issues #3 and #5), Ann Nocenti(issue #7), David Leach & Jeremy Banx (lead strip script & artwork) and David Michelinie(back up strip) (issue #8), Hilary Barta(issue #2), and Simon Furman(issues #1, 4, 6), none of whom had any particular interest in taking it on. A four book mini series was written and drawn by David Leach & Jeremy Banx. The series was solicited and the first issue written and drawn before being canceled along with all of Marvel TV tie-in titles. Issue #8 is unique among comics bearing the Comic's Code as it featured a character, on the toilet, suffering from explosive diarrhea. Playmates, the same company responsible for Ninja Turtles action figures, released a line of similarly styled Toxic Crusader figures in 1991. The majority of characters featured bright neoncolors and glow-in-the-darkaccessories. TV commercialsfor the figures used the humorous tag line, "They're gross, but they still get girls!" A total of nine characters as well as some rather unorthodox vehicles saw toy shelves. Similar to the Ninja Turtles' Retromutagen Ooze, Playmates also marketed a canister of slime labeled Toxie's Toxic Waste.
Other tie-in products included coloring books, junior novels,
Halloweencostumes, Colorforms, Toppstrading cards, a board game, a card game, and puzzles. Video games were also produced by Bandaiand Sega, which were released on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, and Sega Genesis. [http://www.amazon.com/s?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=toxic+crusaders&x=0&y=0 Amazon.com: Toxic Crusaders] Amazon.com.]
Several years later, Troma released two "Toxic Crusaders" DVDs. The first was "Toxic Crusaders: The Movie" which consisted of the first three episodes of the series put together to form one story. The second release, "Toxic Crusaders: Volume 1", is a collection of the first four episodes from the series. A box set, featuring all 13 episodes and all four Toxic Avenger movies, was released on April 29, 2008.
Troma was in talks to make a live action version of "Toxic Crusaders" at New Line Cinema. In Lloyd Kaufman's first book, "Everything I Know About Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger", he claims that New Line did not live up to their end of the contract and the film was not made. Kaufman has speculated that New Line bought the rights because they were in negotiations to make the sequels to the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" movie and wanted to use the "Toxic Crusaders" movie as leverage against the owners of the rights to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Troma sued New Line and was awarded an undisclosed amount in damages.
* [http://www.retrojunk.com/details_tvshows/770-toxic-crusaders/ Retrojunk - Toxic Crusaders]
* [http://www.tv.com/the-toxic-crusaders/show/12600/summary.html "Toxic Crusaders "] at
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