|How they got away with this one is anyone’s guess. Cartoons had been made from R-rated films before (the animated Rambo, for instance), but the Toxic Avenger films made John Rambo look like John-Boy Walton. Created by New Jersey-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 series (four films in all) 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, Zarzosa, Psycho and Dr. Killemoff wreaked ecological havoc with the help of Tromaville’s corrupt Mayor Grody. Bonehead also joined the bad side. He was a street punk who tormented people, but while giving grief to a cute young lady with an accordian, Toxie flung the punk (after fighting him!) into a barrel of acid rain.
Joining Toxie’s crusade were fellow mutants NoZone (known for his powerful sneezes), Junkyard, and Headbasher, whose two heads were known as Benderman and Fenderman. Also on the team was non-mutant Major Disaster, who had the ability to control plants. He was an Army trooper who fell into a radioactive swamp. Toxie’s weapon of choice was a superpowered mop, which had a mind of its own, and he had a furry pink pet called Blobbie. One of the few “normal” humans on the show was Yvonne, Toxie’s buxom blonde girlfriend.
Only thirteen syndicated episodes of Toxic Crusaders were produced, but like the feature films, the episodes became cult favorites, spawning a successful video game and action figure line.