Looking back on.. Toxic Crusaders
The Toxic Crusaders were set to be the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and even got top treatment in the toy department on behalf of Playmates. While it may seem odd to adapt an animated show from The Toxic Avenger which was not kid friendly, it had been done before. The show failed to catch on though but did it deserve to be TMNT’s rival?
The show feels like a typical 90s superhero cartoon with a lot of snark of what it actually is and that works wonders since it’s constantly reminding you the concept of the show is beyond stupid and that somehow makes it watchable. There is plenty of self awareness almost as if it were the Toxic Avenger parodying 90s cartoons and it works really well.
I didn’t expect it to like it so much, I thought it’d just be your typical 90s TMNT rip-off and that nostalgia for the 90s would be its only redeemable part. Sadly the tongue in cheek format of the show starts to wear off as the show goes on and it ends up becoming a generic early 90s superhero cartoon. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you like that, in fact that’s fully what I expected to get when I decided to watch it but that’s not for everyone.
The first few episodes were collected and edited together as a “movie” which if you’re a fan of the Toxic Avenger films might be the best way to experience the show without committing to watching the whole series. I did not watch the movie version but those first few episodes really were the strongest and had the most “troma” influence out of the show. but really if you dwelled this far for info then 13 episodes isn’t really that bad to watch it all.
The show pretty much adapted the first film for the most part and it could’ve easily referenced the other two movies by having Toxie got to Japan and it could’ve featured Apocalypse Inc. even if not the actual Devil was the leader. Dr. Killemoff is decent for the most part. But many ideas like his tromatons were used from the movies.
Oddly enough the idea of having a team of hideously deformed mutants of superhuman size and strength was eventually done in the fourth movie, sadly they created all new mutants instead of some original designs we had in this show. The movie does feature a cameo of animated Toxie in it at least. The mutants had fairly gruesome origins, Junkyard was a hobo who fused with a stray dog, Headbanger was originally two different people Blender and Fender who fused in an experiment gone wrong. No zone and Major disaster didn’t have as great origins but they all can’t be winners.
If the show had been a success I’m not sure if the second season would’ve fared better and improved or if it would just keep on doing average plots like they had done. But at the very least we got to see a twisted econ friendly version of the Toxic Avenger in his own cartoon along with his Toxic Crusaders.