Almost contemporary of these “Trash Bag Bunch” were the cartoons “Captain Planet and the Planeteers” and the action figures made by Kenner. This series also had an ecologist approach. Both the cartoons and the figures were available in Spain, although they were not very popular at the time, and didn’t sell very well.
We don’t want to forget other American cartoons with the same or similar approach, like Toxic Crusaders, that also had its own series of action figures (made by Playmates, with the inspiration of the famous film “The Toxic Avenger” from 1984), or the Ninja Turtles (also made by Playmates, -Bandai in Spain-), in which we can find many figures that represent mutant monsters living in the sewers surrounded by trash and rats.
The origin of this figures is also quite curious. On one side, Galoob had produced in 1987 a series of cheap plastic figures called the “Magic Diaper Babies”. These figures were babies (and dog’s or cat’s puppies) with diapers that turned blue or pink in contact with water, to find out if the baby/puppy was male or female. These extremely cheap figures (around 30 cents of a dollar each) were sold massively.
On the other side, the designer of this line, Mel Birnkrant saw one year later how the State of New York wanted to build a trash dump in his neighbourhood. At the same time, Mel was thinking how could he develop a similar toy line to the “Magic Diaper Babies”, but this time for boys. Thinking about toys and trash dumps, he imagined which animals and “beings” would be attracted by the dump to his neighbourhood (rats, worms, snakes, mosquitoes,…) , and made one drawing with what it would be the initial concept of the “Trash Bag Bunch”. The original name gave by Mel was “The Garbage Bag Gang”, and built a display stand with empty garbage bags.
Galoob had a series of plastic figures that were already produced and provisionally named “Robots, Aliens and Monsters”, but they hadn’t found yet an eye-catching way to market them. That’s were the two different way converge to create the “Trash Bag Bunch” toy line. The name was changed because “Garbage Bag Bunch” was pretty similar to “Garbage Bag Kids”, the parody of the “Cabbage Patch Kids”. Mel didn’t participate in that project anymore, except for contributing new ideas to extend the line.
To see the more images of these prototypes, concept art, and to know more about Mel Birnkrant , we recommend to visit his website: http://melbirnkrant.com/trash/
NOTE: The text of this article was written by Pablo G. Del Río and myself for the magazine "Figuras en Acción".
FACTS and FIGURES:
- Name: TRASHBLASTER (#1), VAC-U-ATOR (#2), KLUTCH (#3), BREEZOR (#4), STERILIZOR (#5), SANITIZOR (#6), BIO-DEGRADOR (#7), FUMIGATOR (#8), GRIMESTOPPER (#9), DR. SHEERN (#10), WHITE WASHER (#11) & PROF. GARBOFF (#12).
- Toy Line: Trash Bag Bunch (Wave 1)
- Year: 1991
- Company: Galoob (U.S.A.)
- Size of the figures: 2½’’ or 6,5 cm