October 03, 2020

CREEPY CRAWLERS

 

CREEPY CRAWLERS
(Syndication, October 4, 1994-March 30, 1996)

 

Saban Entertainment, Saban International Paris, Abrams/Gentile Entertainment


MAIN CAST:
Joey Camen – Chris Carter
Patricia Ja Lee – Samantha “Sammy” Reynolds
Jan Rabson – Volt Jolt, Top Hat
Jonny K. Lamb – T-3, Rumble Bee, 2-Ugly, 2-Ugly 2
Tony Pope – Hocust Locust, Professor Guggengrime, Tom Lockjaw
Art Kimbro – Sting Ring
Cam Clarke – Commantis, Spooky Goopy, Todd Carter
Steve Bulen – Squirminator




            Creepy Crawlers began life as a Mattel product in 1964, a spin-off of their Vac-U-Form set released the year prior. The concept of the toy was to use metal molds and liquid plastic, called “Plastigoop”, to create a variety of bug-like creatures. After filling the molds with the Plastigoop, the molds were then placed in the “Thingmaker”--an open-faced electric hot plate oven that cured the Plastigoop--allowing the creations to be removed from the mold when cooled. After a few years on the market and the release of several different sets, safety concerns about the Thingmaker led to it being discontinued. A revamped version, the “Thingmaker II”, was released in 1978 with a new form of Plastigoop that was heated first and placed into plastic molds to cool. But as the goop didn’t work as well as its predecessor, the return was short-lived and the line cancelled again.



            Mattel had let their trademark lapse and ToyMax took over production of the line beginning in 1992. They returned to the original concept of metal molds and cooking the newly-christened and expanded line of “Plasti-Goop” in a slotted oven called the “Magic Maker”. The oven was lightbulb-powered and a recolored version of the one previously released for Makit & Bakit suncatcher kits in the 80s. While ToyMax brought back a lot of classic molds, they expanded the Creepy Crawlers line to include a variety of licensed properties, like Power Rangers and Toy Story, as well as introduced a variety of new Plasti-Goop such as scented and glow-in-the-dark.


Professor Guggengrime, failed magician turned super villain.


            To help promote the toy, ToyMax partnered with Saban Entertainment to produce an animated series centered around the concept. Introducing the audience to the world of Creepy Crawlers was Chris Carter (Joey Camen), a self-described “normal kid” who had an interest in magic. While working in the magic shop of disgraced former magician, Professor Guggengrime (Tony Pope), Chris created the Magic Maker which, thanks to a special cosmic alignment known as the Millennium Moment, created living mutants through a bombardment of cosmic rays on some special goop that combined magic tricks with bugs.


Chris and the Magic Maker with Goop-Mandos Commantis, Sting Ring, Hocus Locust, Volt Jolt and T3.


The first three creations were Volt Jolt (Jan Rabson), a combination of a light bulb and lightning bug that could generate electrical jolts; T-3 (Jonny K. Lamb), short for Tick Trick Tick, was the combination of a deck of cards and a tick that possessed incredible strength and could fire card-like darts, and also had a pet named T-Flea that dwelled under his shoulder pads; and Hocus Locust (Pope), the four-armed combination of a rope trick and a locust who could control the rope around his body, was the practical joker of the group, and often fell into celebrity impersonations. Dubbed the “Goop-Mandos” by Guggengrime, he attempted to enslave them for his own purposes, but they escaped the shop with Chris. However, Guggengrime kept the Magic Maker. Eventually, their ranks were bolstered by the additions of Sting Ring (Art Kimbro), the mixture of inter-connecting rings and a wasp who could grant the others wings they could use to fly, and Commantis (Cam Clarke), a sword-wielding ventriloquist created from kung-fu, karate and samurai videos mixed with a mantis. A large part of the comedy from the show came from the fact that the Goop-Mandos had to recharge their abilities by hanging upside down in Chris’ closet while Chris tries to keep their existence a secret from his family; in particular, his older brother Todd (Clarke), who was a vain and surly valley dude. Fortunately, he had the help of his neighbor, Samantha “Sammy” Reynolds (Heidi Lenhart), to try and keep his secret.


The Crime Grimes: Squirminator, Spooky Goopy with Top Hat and Rumble Bee.


With the Magic Maker in hand, Guggengrime created his own team called the “Crime Grimes” to try and conquer the world. His right-hand monster was Spooky Goopy (Cam Clarke), a green skeleton with handcuff hands that wore a talking Top Hat (Rabson) he often argued with. Other monsters included Shockroaches, which were monstrous cockroaches; Squirminator (Steve Bulen), who was worm-like with a mace tail and had an army of squirmy worms; Rumble Bee, a crazed bee the size of a small car; 2-Ugly (Lamb), who could separate its head from its body and the head could move autonomously; and Bat out of Smell, a giant bat who could spew noxious breath. A mutual threat for both sides was Colonel Ka-Boom, a member of “Pentagon Special Services” that was dedicated to wiping out all of the mutants and often bordered on insanity in his methods to do so.


Guggengrime mixing up some trouble with the Magic Maker.


Creepy Crawlers debuted in syndication on October 4, 1994, with the main titles done by Art Leonardi. The characters were developed by Abrams/Gentile Entertainment, Inc., James Cross and Judy Martin. Writers for the show included Mark Seidenberg, Rich Fogel, Francis Moss, Ted Pedersen, Tony Marino, Steve Cuden, Cheryl Saban, Doug Booth, Francis Moss and Michael Maurer, with Joel Andryc serving as story editor. Haim Saban, as Kussa Mahchi, composed the music with Shuki Levy while Hahn Shin Corporation and Shanghai Morning Sun Animation handled the animation.


Volt Jolt and Commantis showing off their new Super Goop looks.


Creepy Crawlers was renewed for a second season. SEM Animation and Jade Animation assumed the animation duties for the season, and with them came some other changes to the show. Guggengrime created a new Super Goop formula meant to be used as a weapon to destroy the Goop-Mandos, but instead it just furthered their mutations giving them new looks and abilities. New Goop-Mandos also made their debut: T-4 (Lamb), an unintentional clone of T-3 created by Guggengrime who had four heads, was stronger but dumber than his predecessor, and Fire Eyes, created from various hot foots and a firefly to defeat Guggengrime’s ice monster. And speaking of monsters, Guggengrime created several in addition to his Crime Grimes: Spider-Patrol, a humanoid spider monster; Franken Fly, a combination of a housefly and Frankenstein’s monster; Skrull, a replacement for Spooky created from metal parts animated by the Goop; Sergent Spidey, a militaristic arachnid that could spit webs; Bugzilla, a wax statue of a giant black mantis movie monster animated by the Goop; and Ice Scream, a monster that could freeze an entire city by screaming.


One of the VHS covers.


Despite the show already promoting a product, ToyMax was sure to try and capitalize even further by producing action figures based on it. The five Goop-Mandos and Chris were released along with the five Crime Grimes and Guggengrime, as well as a vehicle. Each figure came with a mold for the Magic Maker that would allow the creation of weapons and accessories. A playset was seen in the 1994 ToyMax booklet, but was never produced. Saban Home Entertainment released six episodes across three VHS collections.



ToyMax ended production of the Creepy Crawlers line in 2001. Jakks Pacific acquired ToyMax in 2002 and began re-releasing ToyMax’s products before producing all-new ones in 2006. Mattel announced a new version of the ThingMaker in 2016, which was a 3D printer for toys. However, after numerous delays the project was cancelled in 2019. In 2018, it was announced that Paramount Pictures had acquired the rights to make a film based on Creepy Crawlers, with Jakks chairman and CEO Stephen Berman serving as an executive producer.

 

EPISODE GUIDE:
Season 1:
“The Night of the Creepy Crawlers” (10/4/94) – Chris’ invention is hit by mysterious cosmic forces, allowing it to create a legion of heroic—and villainous—mutant creatures.
 
“Sugar Frosted Crawlers” (10/11/94) – Guggengrime relocates to an abandoned cereal factory and releases a cereal with one of his Crime Grimes inside.
 
“Who’s Afraid of Bees?” (10/18/94) – The Reynolds move in next door to the Carters and end up attacked by a swarm of gigantic Rumble Bees.
 
“Chris Explains It All” (10/25/94) – Chris recounts the craziness that has come to inhabit his life.
 
“Power Play” (11/1/94) – Todd’s battle of the bands competition is interrupted by the electricity-consuming Shockroach.
 
“Vanishing Act” (11/15/94) – The Goop-Mandos make a new ally while Chris and Sammy go on their “first date”.
 
“One Creepy Brother” (11/22/94) – Todd gets involved in the conflict and ends up going along with Guggengrime.
 
“I Was a Teenage Crawler” (12/6/94) – Prom is coming but Chris finds himself mutating into a human grasshopper.
 
“Mauler Amuck” (12/27/94) – T-Flea goes missing as Guggengrime loses control of 2-Ugly.
 
“The Glob” (1/24/95) – After accidentally creating Commantis with a Shogun movie, Guggengrime loads the Magic Maker with a bunch of horror films to produce an entertainment-eating glob.
 
“All the Way to China” (1/31/95) – Sammy’s little brother disappears into the hole created by Super Squirminator while looking for Magma-Goop in the Earth’s core.
 
“Double Trouble” (2/7/95) – Guggengrime gets his hands on Houdini’s magic dust and brings a T-Rex skeleton to life.
 
“Attack of the Fifty Foot Guggengrime” (2/14/95) – An accident turns Guggengrime into a giant.
 
“Return of the Crime Grimes” (2/21/95) – Guggengrime conquers the city after Colonel Ka-Boom jails Chris for Goop-Mando conspiracy.
 
Season 2:
“Dawn of the Super Goop” (9/16/95) – Guggengrime’s new weapon alters the Goop-Mandos and makes their powers uncontrollable.
 
“Deja Goop” (9/23/95) – Guggengrime uses voodoo to take control of Hocus Locust.
 
“A Real Numb Skrull” (9/30/95) – Guggengrime sicks his latest monster on his former servant, Spooky Goopy.
 
“Camp Nightmare” (11/4/95) – Chris wins a trip to a summer camp that Guggengrime decides to disrupt.
 
“Bugzilla” (11/11/95) – Guggengrime turns a wax museum monster into a real giant monster.
 
“T-4-2” (1/6/96) – Guggengrime tries to get control of T-3, but ends up creating his little brother T-4 instead.
 
“Cold Snap” (1/13/96) – The Goop-Mandos create a new heat-infused member in order to deal with Guggengrime’s cold-weather monster.
 
“Revenge of the Mutant Stink Bunks” (1/20/96) – Guggengrime unleashes mutant stink bugs on the town.
 
“The Incredible Shrinking Creepy Crawlers” (3/30/96) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.


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