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Toxic Crusaders
by yo go re

Headbanger was fine, but this figure really ups the "looks like a TMNT character" ante!

Radiation Type: Situpandbegonioum K9
Toxicity Level: High enough to play dead
Occupation: Part-time cat chaser

It was a dark and stormy night. There I was, watch dog of the junkyard. A hobo crawled into my dog house for shelter. I licked his face. A lightening bolt sizzled the side of a Toxic Waste drum. When the Toxic Waste washed away from my house, the hobo and I were fused together! But since I'm accustomed to living the life of a dog, I seized the opportunity to walk upright. I thought that I must surely be able to find work - not only can I fetch the morning paper, but now I can read it, too! That's how I found out about the Toxic Crusaders. I read that they fight chemical criminals in Tromaville. Since I'm a victim of pollution, I decided to join forces with the Crusaders - and use my Toxic Tongue and my Dog Bone Brainer to bring law and order back to this world of ours. And now things couldn't be better - I'm a merry mongrel. Besides, it beats chasing cars.

De-Tox Tip: Don't be a punk - recycle junk!

When a toy company has a huge success, they'll often do a "flanker brand," something designed to attract more buyers without cutting into the market share of their flagship: that's why, at the height of Masters of the Universe's popularity, Mattel also went out and got the Marvel Secret Wars license. But in that example, the Secret Wars toys had a different aesthatic than MotU, so that kids wouldn't get one instead of the other, they'd get both. Apparently Playmates didn't get that memo, because the Toxic Crusaders toys look exactly like TMNT rejects. In a good way! It's especially evident here, on the half-man, half-dog.

Junkyard's clothes say more "redneck" than "hobo." He's wearing a T-shirt under a pair of overalls, which is what you'd wear when you're chilling in your own home territory, not on the move from one place to another. He's barefoot, because his legs are dog legs and those aren't conducive to wearing shoes, and his weirdly long tail pokes out the back of his pants. There's a length of chain around his right wrist, a studded band around his left, and a thick, spiked dog collar complete with tags around his neck. His fur is given plenty of sculpted detail, and there's a small bone rolled up into his left sleeve, the way some no-good dirty hooligan would tuck a pack of cigarattes in the 1950s.

The toy has the usual kind of articulation you'd expect from an early-90s Playmates toy: balljointed hips, swivel shoulders, a swivel left wrist and swivel right elbow, plus a swivel for the tail. It's never very much, but it was what it was. The sculpted posture wants you to lean the figure farther to the front than its preposed legs can allow - it leave his big head floating over empty space, and so he'll just fall over. Having such a comically long tail (seriously: it looks more like a cat's tail than a dog's, to the point where you wonder if it and the body were created by separate artists) doesn't help any, because instead of acting like a tripod to help hold him up, it acts like a lever to tip him onto his snout.

You may have noticed there was no neck mentioned in the list of joints, and that was not an oversight: Junkyard has a play feature that prevents a neck from being. The figure has a long, long rubber tongue. Because "dog," you see. It's 3" long on a 4⅞" figure (and that's even counting the up-turned brim of his hat). According to the packaging, you can "fold up the Toxic Tongue into Junkyard's mouth, then pull back the head! Watch as the hideous hinged jaw opens and the Long Lickin' Tongue laps out!" And sure, you can do that, but the tongue prevents the mouth from closing no matter how you roll it, so it basically just pops out on its own right away.

Playmates toys have a reputation for being under-painted, and Junkyard keeps that tradition alive. They mostly do fine, by keeping the details restricted to the front of his sculpt, but there is one particularly glaring omission: the back of his shirt is meant to be split open, revealing the ridge of spikes along his back. On this toy, the fur and spines are suddenly the same color as his clothes, which doesn't work. Plus, look at his tail and you'll see a patch of missing skin meant to reveal vertebrae that are, here, the same brown as everything else.

Junkyard does have lots of accessories, though. First there's his Junkyard Belt, a "loosefitting litter lash" that's molded in an orangey-red and is designed to look like a thick chain with a spiked ball buckle and a cartoony roach(?) with a knife and fork sitting on the back. The Dog Bone Brainer ("Tell 'em to go fetch this!") is a spiked bone club, the Anti-Garbage Gun ("Perfect for wasting gooey goons!") seems to be made from things scrounged up in the dump, the Slogan Stick ("Wage a waving word war on waste.") is two bones lashed together with a sticker flag reading "take a bite out of grime" hanging from it, and a Glo-in-the-Dark Spiked Newspaper, with hard-hittin' headlines! And also a nail driven through it for smacking people with.

If you didn't know Junkyard was from the Toxic Crusaders line, you could be forgiven for thinking him part of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: same company, same aesthetic, same construction... the packaging is a ton more vibrant, but that's it. And now, 30 years after the last time anybody ever even thought about this line, you can put him in whatever kind of collection you want and nobody's going to stop you.

-- 02/24/22

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