(Re)Animations: Creepy Crawlers (1994)
For the majority of the 90s, whenever I would turn on television to watch cartoons I would basically be bombarded with commercials for Creepy Crawlers. At the time, as a kid, there were non-stop commercials for toys that looked amazing on sight, but didn’t seem so much fun in person. A game where you can shoot metallic ball bearings across a circular board? Sign me up! A machine that turns hot molten metal in to your own action figures and pewter pieces?! Two, please!
Then there were Creepy Crawlers where you could play mad scientist by taking tubes of liquid plastic and making your very own multi-colored creatures. There were worms, millipedes, spiders… basically anything that’s sticky, squirms or goes splat. The toy was originally called The Thingmaker back in the 60s, but later became the catchier and more appealing Creepy Crawlers, a name sure to tug at every young boys’ lust for creating monsters and slimy things.
I fondly recall these commercials playing about three times per commercial break, so much so that the jingle eventually became burned in to my brain… along with the song for the Crossfire toy and the McDonald’s jingle.
The toys gained enough momentum and popularity with kids that it eventually spawned its own animated series. What’s unusual is that the show was spearheaded by none other than Saban Studios who, at the time, was in the business of making money off of color-coded superheroes (ie. Power Rangers). So, in the midst of producing Power Rangers, VR Troopers, and The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nóg, it’s pretty odd they’d put money into an animated series about slimy superheroes no one was familiar with.
An interesting thing about the 90s, shows had an odd habit of telling stories about superheroes or villains as the byproduct of radioactive slime or sludge. Perhaps it stemmed from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze, but many 90s franchises had someone turning in to a mutant thanks to some kind of radioactive substance that’s normally bad for a human being.
In the case of Creepy Crawlers, it’s a group of evil and heroic mutants from a young boy’s “Magic Maker.” After building and perfecting its machinery, the boy (Chris Carter) accidentally creates a group of large bug warriors named the Goop-Mandos. The event involves something about “super goop” and a “Magical Millennium Moment,” a rare time in the universe where the barriers of reality and magic collide (hey, it’s the 90s!).
From the goop, three bug-like heroes (Hocus Locust, Volt Jolt and T-3) inexplicably emerge with a friendly personality and ready to team with up with their young creator. They then decide to perform missions of a crime fighting and most toyetic nature. The catch is that the heroes need Creepy Crawler goop to function. If not given enough they simply can’t respond to commands. To top it off, they have a sweet action vehicle they drive around in and, of course, each Goop-Mando has his own unique power.
Enter the evil Professor Googengrime, an old crusty magician who steals the Magic Maker and creates his own evil sidekick named Spooky Goopy, a skeletal monster with a Peter Lorre accent and a talking hat that helps his master in creating monsters from the Magic Maker to take over the world!
Okay, if we’re being honest, Creepy Crawlers is a mostly generic and average animated vehicle for the toyline. The characters aren’t really all that interesting. Chris Carter, as well as his sidekick Samantha Reynolds, are bland while the Goop-Mandoes are mainly forgettable superheroes. Googengrime’s Spooky Goopy is incidentally the only character with a ton of personality and that may be because of his horror roots and interesting character design.
Creepy Crawlers even released their own line of action figures for the show, each with their own accessories and goop functions, and while the show was given a few VHS treatments there hasn’t been any news of a DVD release. Personally, I’d suggest this mainly for nostalgia fans, or hardcore fans of Creepy Crawlers toys. Surely it’s not the worst superhero cartoon of the 90s, but it’s certainly not going to stay with you once you’ve moved on to more memorable 90s gems.