The Turtlebustin’ Exterminator!
Released in 1990
You know, with the amount of accidental mutations happening out there in the TMNT universe, you’d figure that Mutagen would be more commonly known and safeguards would be put in place. Well, if that were to happen, then a massive plot hole would open up in Turtles fiction and then it would just become a wormhole of “how did this happen again?” type scenarios, and the whole mythology would come crumbling down. And none of us want that.
When a lowly bug exterminator was hired by the Shredder(?) to take care of a roach problem on the Technodrome, he was accidently mutated into a massive cockroach. Apparently giving up on whatever life he may have had before, this former bug zapper became Scumbug, the Exterminator.
This figure’s history is weird in terms of the animated series, and it’s even crazier with the comics, as he often shows up once in the background and runs off. I won’t go into his various comic book appearances, but he appeared in the ’87 animated series once in an episode called Night of the Rogues, which is probably my favorite episode of the entire series. Funny thing though, Scumbug never appeared before that episode, but the Turtles reacted to him like he had been a recurring enemy like Leatherhead or Rat King, who also appear in the same episode.
Scumbug, as a figure, is a truly ghastly figure to behold. His bulging yellow eyes and massive pincers rest uneasily atop his chittering jaw that doubles as an eighth point of articulation. Extra limbs protrude from his abdomen; spikes and a three-fingered arm have burst through his human skin that has long since sloughed off. He is covered head to toe in critters that resemble roaches, showing that Scumbug seems to be a kind of nest for his hard-winged companions.
Quite possibly the best, or at least the most disgusting, part of this figure is his bug pack and turtle-exterminating gun accessories. The backpack plugs into his back thanks to a nifty peg system, like many figures in the line, but his pack comes with three gray cables. One of the cables attaches itself to the exterminating gun in question, but the real horror show lies within the extra two cables, which, starting at the top of the pack near Scumbug’s shoulders, plug into the figure’s chest. So this means that his own bodily fluid is transferred from him to his pack, weaponized, and used to fire as a projectile at the Turtles.
To say “that’s gross” is a bit of an understatement.
The great thing about this figure is how it has stood up over time. I know I have said this before, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record I will say it again; this figure would never have been made today. He’s a figure that is covered in spikes, bugs and flesh that has long since rotted off, and as such, would be deemed too scary for kids today. But, would he really be too scary? You really think about it, saying that something is too scary for a child is a bit presumptuous, isn’t it? While I do believe that it is the parent’s decision to decide what is too much for their child, I believe that kids should be expected to decide for themselves what is too scary, to a certain degree. Kids aren’t dumb, they’re just naive. So buy them a figure that looks like it’s going to munch on their face while they sleep at night and let them figure out if it’s too scary for them; if they don’t want it, then no big deal. But if they love it, there’s a good chance that they’ll grow up to write about action figure one day.
Turtle Trivia: Scumbug was set to be a recurring villain on a proposed Mighty Mutanimals animated series that was to act as a spinoff of the ’87 animated series. But alas, the show never moved forward.