Written by Jonathan Wojcik
The Trash Pack: Junk Germs!
And how terrible convenient, then, that toy store shelves have only recently been blessed with one of the first disease-based toy lines to come stateside in over twenty-five years....
The Trash Pack is already a toy line personifying everything I stand for; slime, fungi, maggots, decomposing sea life and googly-eyed parasites are all so abundant in the series that they almost started to grow stale, until series 7 chose to go for an all-out disease theme, even packed in test tubes like the germ toys of yore!
I reviewed my overall 31 favorite Trash Pack "Trashies" last year, but just about any one of the "Junk Germs" could have made the list. Since I've completely lost all pretense of keeping Halloween posts short and sweet, I'm going to go all the way and review all 54 Junk Germs, right here, right now. Let's do it.
I never thought I'd live to see something on the shelves of Toys R' Us representing a hookworm, the little cuties who tunnel through your feet when you walk outside without shoes. It's a shame they didn't incorporate the cartoonish monster fangs they actually have, but the slime-mouth is cool enough.
It's a wonderful thing when I can rightfully say that a rotten, vomiting worm with five eyes is actually one of the least exciting and most "normal" things in a series. Actual "ring worm" is, of course, just a fungus that causes ring-shaped patterns in the skin, much like how mushrooms will sprout in a "fairy circle" on lawns! How cool is that? What kind of rad fairies do you think ringworm attracts?
Wait a minute...shouldn't this be "Ring worm?" They've got it in a ring-shape. Something tells me this was meant to be the "Ring Worm" figure and there was some sort of mix-up. An earthworm isn't even parasitic! How is Icky Earthworm a germ? Get on the ball, guys.
Get it? It's a worm, and it has hair! This is another kind of underwhelming one. An actual hair-worm of course is an insect parasite, including the kind that force crickets to drown themselves! According to the Trash Pack website, this guy's hair is, in turn, full of hairworms. Do they also have hair? Full of hairworms? How far down does this rabbit hole go?
The Trash Pack already had a couple of tapeworm characters, but this balled-up goof looks a little more like the real thing thanks to his sheer length. You know you could have a thirty footer in you for years, and not even know it? Even bubble tape is only, what, six feet? And you have to pay for that. Tapeworms: 1. Bubble Tape: 0.
They missed an opportunity to just call this "Ear Worm," the official term for when music gets stuck in your head on an infinite loop. The they could given him a little boombox or something, too. Instead he's just a slimy worm with ears. Could have been better, but at least he looks like he'd sound like Patrick Star.
By now you've already noticed these characters are a weird mix of actual parasites, dirty things, things WITH parasites, and made up nonsense. I'm not sure what category Fish Worm really falls into, but being tied in a knot and covered in slime, they kind of made a hagfish here, even if it wasn't intentional. An accidental hagfish is just as welcome as an intentional hagfish, in my book, and you are welcome to use "Accidental Hagfish" for a band name if you plug me at your first show.
HORRID HEART WORM:
Oh man. This is one of the ones that really sells the whole series, I think. It's precisely lifted from a real parasite - a damn nasty one that will straight up kill your dog and maybe even you in rare cases - and not only did they incorporate the very organ it infects, but gave the whole shebang a hilarious anthropomorphic shape. Look how happy this little bastard is, waddling around with his fancy new dog heart suit. That's every bit as precious as it is sad and morbid.
The "pet germs" are an odd team. Are they just germs that infect pets, germs you get from pets, or germs that look and act like certain animals? It seems like a bit of a grab-bag. All we know about "Bird Spew" is that it is a gooey, worm-ridden glob with wings and a screaming, agonized bird face. The very first Trash Pack series already had a "Bird Flu" gag, but this one is a lot grosser and funnier.
Like I said, the rationale behind the Pet Germs gets a little weird; you want to think this represents a feline disease of some sort, amusingly resembling a monstrous cat-face with tentacles, but the official bio on trashpack.com just says "this crazy kitty is always sneezing up a storm!" I think what we're actually seeing is what used to be a cat itself, twisted beyond recognition by a nightmare virus from between the folds of reality.
This one's bio reads "this crusty crustacean's claw is seriously squishy and gross!" ...What claw? You mean its claws, plural? Is this supposed to be a disease associated with pet crabs? That's weirdly specific. I'm guessing the names, categories and bios for the Trash Pack are all made up after the designs are approved, because we're clearly looking at what's meant to be soe sort of "eyeball crust" germ. The talons - or are they teeth? irritating its slime-caked eyeballs are a very creepy touch, one of my favorites.
"Pet Germs" does indeed seem to extend to pets with diseases, including a dog gleefully dragging its ass across the floor, sometimes a sign that its disgusting anal glands are swollen, and sometimes a sign that it has worms. In this case, also maggots and flies, but that's true of most things in the world of the Trash Pack. I actually had a dog covered in maggots when I was little. A shitzu. He got loose for a few days and came back writhing with maggots he'd picked up from rolling in some rotten carcass. That was a good dog.
Fish actually do suffer a lot of fungal diseases, as any aquarium hobbyist will tell you. This time, the official bio actually tells us "he looks like a fish but is really a fungus." That's some incredible evolutionary convergence. Fish Fungus is another one whose expressive face really makes his design. Otherwise he'd just be any other wad of goo with a fish head on it. I also like the actual fish skeletons stuck to him, like he's gone from growing on fish to just absorbing and digesting them.
This is, of course, one of my favorite things in the series. I can never get enough ectoparasitic arthropods, really, and "Flea Bite" really looks like a parasitic bug of some sort...just not actually a flea. Or a tick. Or a chigger. Could the name be a tip off? Could "Flea Bite" literally be the living embodiment of a flea's bite, rather than the flea itself? It sure as hell looks exactly like what that would look like. Doesn't it? I can't be the only one who thinks this way.
With little personal interest in physical exertion (surprising, I know!) the "Sports Germs" are probably my least favorite "team" out of these guys, but they're still reasonably charming. This thing is just a twisted, disgustingly filthy towel, caked in rancid sweat and who knows what. Like many of the Junk Germs, it raises the question of whether we're looking at an object "transformed" by germs or a germ that happens to look like an object, the same question that torments so many Pokemon fans.
Enh. I guess if I had to pick a "worst" Junk Germ, Fitness Flu is kind of little more than a nondescript blob who happens to be working out. I guess that's still really cute, though. I kind of feel guilty not liking a Trash Pack Junk Germ. He is also covered in ants! Why ants? A lot of these guys are. It seems like a strange choice. The bugs and objects on these figures sort of imply that they're pretty large "germs," too, much like the smaller bugs on previous Trash Pack characters.
LOCKER ROOM LURGY:
Apparently "lurgy" is a british term similar to America's "cooties," though "cooties" can also refer to actual lice, whereas "lurgy" can be any unspecified disease. His description on the official website calls him "phlegm" and warns us that he likes to make "gross gym junkies" slip and fall on his slick, slimy body, though I have somewhat more pressing concerns about whoever's coughing up phlegm with thorns on it.
DIRTY DUMB BELLS:
I love how miserably disgruntled this thing looks. The only thing better than its furrowed brow and saw-toothed underbite is the fact that its eyes stare off in opposite directions. That is never, ever not funny on an angry monster face. I feel like the dumbbells actually kind of clash with the body and detract a bit from the design, but it's not too far removed from how an actual virus looks, I guess.
A gooey mushroom with a freaked out, rotten face is kind of par for the course for The Trash Pack, and they clearly missed an opportunity for an obvious visual pun. I'd have definitely expected a trashie named "Foot Fungus" to have a giant foot, or a bunch of little feet, or be oozing out of an old boot or a sock, you know? Still a lovable, sweet and simple mushroom guy, in any case.
See, this is a bit more like a proper foot-fungus monster. In fact, that's literally what "Runners Rash" is because the site says it grows between people's toes. We get two foot fungus monsters in the same toy line! This one also looks a lot like Mr. Horrible Gelatinous Blob from Futurama, so I'm going to interpret him as having the same voice.
Something about this little guy is so painfully cute. A mass of congealed vomit playing in an inner tube is precious, especially with its silly three-eyed stare, and I'm pretty sure what seems to be a gaping blue mouth might actually be a huge tongue hanging out of its cheeky smile. It's a little difficult to tell from the artwork, or from the figure.
Out of the entire line, this one looks the most like actual "germs," and aren't even modeled explicitly after sports balls like you would expect from the "sports germs." They're just all-purpose spherical bacteria. Or they eat testicles.
A drain clog is a concept I'm surprised the Trash Pack didn't already turn into a character, and the tiny drain plug "hat" is a cute touch. "Glug Hole" might also be one of the grossest phrases I've ever heard.
DANK DISH CLOTH:
Isn't this kind of redundant with "Gym Germs?" And that guy at least had multiple arms. They should have really gone with a moldy sponge, instead. I think they've done one of those before, but they repeat stuff all the time anyway. Incidentally, you shouldn't really use sponges in the kitchen. We've practically never invented anything more perfect for bacteria to live in.
A snotty tissue is another one I'm surprised it took this long for them to get to, and it's sufficiently disgusting, especially the string of snot clincing to its little "hands." Ugh. Snot is the one thing I can't really handle in person. I've had so many head infections you would expect me to be numb to it, but instead I'm just sort of perpetually traumatized by nasal mucus.
DUSTY DUST MITE:
They did a mite in a previous serious, but it wasn't specified as a dust mite. I wouldn't have expected one to have a gaping maw full of absurdly massive, terrifying fangs, but it makes for a pretty distinct look among trashies, and you have to love how orgasmically excited he seems to be to have a broom and a dustpan. He's gonna shovel that right down his throat.
They're not even going to pretend that this one qualifies as a "germ." This is just another sentient mass of liquid garbage run-off, which is kind of becoming passe at this point, but if that's a full sized trash can on its head, this buck-toothed heap is easily over seven feet tall. That is terrifying.
They actually already had an earwax creature armed with cotton swabs, but this one is a little more miserable looking, which is always a plus. His bio says that he's always bothering Earwax Worm, and that his life's ambition is to build a "cacky castle" of earwax. Gross.
This is a pretty good one. This is exactly how you design a cartoon germ around the concept of "plaque," which really is a bacterial by-product anyway. Its head is based on a toothbrush, but only loosely, since it's like a little circular scrubber. The bristles give the impression of "teeth" and then we've got a foaming, bubbling body of both plaque and, presumably, toothpaste foam.
There are, by my count, approximately half a dozen toilet-based Trashies now available to the discerning toilet-creature aficionado, including the classic "toilet with eyeballs," "toilet with teeth" and "thing emerging from a toilet," but Toilet Bug here might be my new favorite, with its weird frills, jagged maw, and toilet bowl that may or not be a natural part of its body. It either has a toilet-shaped shell, or it grew to completely encompass and incorporate a toilet. Both are good options.
The "vicious virus" team are the most generalized of the Junk Germs, pretty much exactly what you first expect from the line's whole premise; just gooey little critters matching up to various ailments, designed like the stock cartoon pathogens you see in pill commercials and hygiene posters. Here we have something that lives in and presumably creates mucus, nothing particularly innovative for this series, but I do like its many protruding suckers and its tiny fangs.
This is the thing responsible for stomachaches, nausea and vomiting, exemplified by the way it's pouring vomit as it squeezes itself like some delightful rubber slime-filled toy. I'm glad he has the same hilarious look in his eyes as "Dirty Dumbbells," too.
Out of these "nondescript" glob germs, Flu Bug is probably the most likeable, with its low-slung face and look of sheer hopelessness. A good, solid Junk Germ. No complaints. 3 out of 5.
Gross. Maybe the grossest of the whole line. For one thing, it's based on a strain of herpes virus. For another, it appears to be drooling pus. The nastiest part, though, is the rough, clumpy texture of the smaller sores budding off from his inflamed lips. Augh.
Okay, maybe this one is grosser in concept than the giant herpes sore, but this is just such a cute geyser of oily, yellowish liquid shit. A huggable geyser of oily, yellowish liquid shit. The single red eye is the best part. I'm pretty sure an "eye" is sometimes used a euphemism for an anus, isn't it?
This one's official art is just gorgeous. I love those colors. Obviously this one represents pink eye, actually caused when ordinary fecal bacteria end up in your eyeball. The coolest part of this veiny, half-melted ocular orb are of course the tinier eyeballs sprouting out of its sclera. It's great to finally have an eyeball trashie available to the general public; the last one was a contest winner and only two were ever made.
Cold N' Flu Color Change
We're now getting into the two "special" categories of this line, in this case a set of figures who reveal colorful speckles when run under ice water. It's a Trash Pack tradition for these to borrow from all across the "teams," so Fridge Fungus here would really be one of the "household germs." It's an okay fungoid blob I guess, though all that sets it apart from other trashies is that it happens to have a sandwich at the moment. Actually, when I put it that way, I kind of approve. Sandwich having is a decent distinction to boast.
This one fits in with the "Vicious Virus" team. It is also the scourge of my life. Painful, disgusting throat infections plagued my childhood, and nobody had my tonsils taken out, so now they plague my adulthood. If only they really looked like sad, warty piles of jelly, it would be a lot hardr to stay mad at them.
A color-changing sports germ, of course, and another one with that uproarious wall-eyed grouchiness. You know what sucks? Warts on the bottom of your feet. They start to hurt like hell when you step on them, and they never go away until somebody just digs them out with a scalpel. They really are a problem in gyms, since public showers are the perfect warm, damp vector for a papillomavirus.
A worm with a dorky face and a body made of brain tissue is amusing, sure, definitely an idea I can get behind, but I'm disappointed they didn't pull another "Horrid Heart Worm" and have a parasite coiling around an actual brain. They definitely make up for it later, though.
This is even more confusing than "flea bite" or "crusty claws." What the hell are lizard lice? Lizards don't get lice. His bio even says he "lives on mice," though they may have only said that for the sake of rhyming. This thing doesn't even look like an insect, and "lice?" Plural? Weirder and weirder. At least it has a pretty funny googly-eyed reptile face.
I like this one. Whether it's a disease that horses get or a diseases that people get from horses, I support the idea of a pustulated protozoan with an eerily equine cranium. It's simple, it's nonsensical and it isn't based on anything real, but it's creepy enough to be one of my favorites.
The other special team are the "X-ray" Junk Germs, whose gimmick is a small, colored nucleus visible in the center of the transparent figure. For some reason this is referred to as their "skeleton" on the website, even though they're germs, and the thing inside is just sort of a roundish ball. Earlier promo material called them "gross guts" trashies and they really should have stuck with that. Anyway, here's a barfing hamster.
Rather underwhelming. Even having a visible core doesn't make a football-shaped wad with a grouchy face much more interesting than any of the similar germs. This line is pretty hit or miss when you get right down to it, but overall I'm just so happy there's a disease-themed toy line on the racks at all.
I feel like they kind of used the X-Rays as a dumping ground for some redundant and lackluster ideas. Funky Fever represents kind of the same thing as Flu Bug, but just doesn't tug as hard at the heartstrings.
In theory, I should automatically appreciate tentacled brains in all their forms, but Manky Migraine's face just isn't doing it for me. It would have looked utterly adorable if they left off the mouth and teeth. Picture just the brain, eyeballs and little tentacles. How darling would that have been?
One of the better concepts in the X-Ray team, a filthy bandage monster definitely fits in alongside all these other ailments. This is another one that might have had more charm without the goofy teeth though. Its bio even says nobody knows what's underneath the bandages, and it could just be "liquid grossness." This clearly isn't true, it has feet sticking out and everything. GET ON THE BALL I SAID.
Now we're talking. As grim as Horrid Heart Worm was, this is by far one of the most nightmarish things in the whole Trash Pack series, just a cute, simple dopey-looking nematode, nonchalantly gnawing on the human eyeball it happens to have burrowed multiple holes in. Its official bio never even mentions anything about eyes. It doesn't even want to acknowledge this is happening. It just goes on about Eye Worm being slimy and enjoying "junk food." I suppose human eyes might qualify if you ate enough of them. It's probably where I got my love handles, anyway.
"Limited Edition" trashies are those literally limited to only so many thousand pieces, valuable chase figures which sometimes go for hundreds on Ebay, and I'm glad the limited edition Junk Germs are also the least interesting Junk Germs. I'd have been pretty let down if Horrid Heart Worm or Flea Bite were impossible to find. I think the idea is that these are "superbugs" like we're always warned about, but they just don't have the pitiful, wretched charm of their non-super brethren.
This guy looks like kind of a jerk, and I'm sure he is. In all my years of sickness, health, sickness and more sickness, I can tell you that a "mucus puke" is a real thing and it is as vile and traumatic as it sounds.
This is the very rarest of the limited editions, but nothing to really write home about. I actually can't even think of anything at all to say about Captain Contagious.
Another one that isn't really sickness-themed by any stretch, but at least a totally ripped cockroach permanently stuck ina garbage can is a good, solid trashie concept all around. The ants even make it look he's smiling!
The most common limited edition is actually the most interesting, just an oozing, multi-colored stack of fungal matter with tiny, angelic wings. Really odd, but distinctive looking and definitely microbial looking, at least compared to the other "superbugs."
And there you have it. All 54 Junk Germs. Kind of a roller-coaster of rather forgettable to outstandingly lovable weirdos, and I hope whatever the Trash Pack comes up with next, it'll be either just as good as a bunch of germs and parasites, or more germs and parasites. There's still definitely plenty more they could do with this particular angle, and just so we're not ending on those lackluster Limited Editions, I'll just repost my six favorites. Six because then it's like I'm picking out a pokemon team, duh.
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