Swamp Thing (1991 TV series)
|Based on||Swamp Thing|
by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||5|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original network||Fox (Fox Kids)|
|Original release||October 31, 1990 –|
May 11, 1991
Swamp Thing is an American animated television series based on the Vertigo/DC Comics superhero character Swamp Thing. The series is short-lived, with the pilot episode airing on October 31, 1990 followed by four additional episodes airing weekly from April 20 to May 11, 1991. It aired on YTV from 1991 to 1993 in Canada. Produced by DIC Animation City, the series corresponded with Kenner's Swamp Thing action figure collection released in 1990. Despite the animated series' brief run, various merchandise was also produced in 1991 resulting in the only significant marketing platform ever created for the character.
Anton Arcane takes the role of the main villain responsible for Alec Holland's transformation into the Swamp Thing. Arcane is backed by his gang of Un-Men: Dr. Deemo, Weedkiller, and Skinman. The Swamp Thing also has two friends named Tomahawk and Bayou Jack. Tomahawk is Native American and should not be confused with the DC/Vertigo character, Thomas Hawk, who was a soldier in the American Revolution rescued by Native Americans. Bayou Jack is a Vietnam veteran.
Similar to Troma's Toxic Crusaders, the animation style of Swamp Thing follows the trend of goofy, horror anti-heroes made for children. Spoofing Chip Taylor's "Wild Thing", the opening theme plays "Swamp Thing! ...You are amazing!"
Swamp Thing was apparently turned down by CBS, leading to its mid-season debut on FOX. Despite the show's limited number of episodes, NBC featured it during Chip and Pepper's Cartoon Madness in fall 1991, and the Sci Fi Channel would syndicate it years later. The UK's Children's Channel also re-aired Swamp Thing in the 1990s.
The animated series aired concurrently with a more successful live-action adaptation of the comic book.
- Len Carlson as the Swamp Thing: Once a scientist named Alec Holland whose secret lab was destroyed by Arcane and his cronies, turning him into the Swamp Thing - He now protects the swamp from evil with his supernatural powers over nature.
- Don Francks as Anton Arcane: The evil scientist is obsessed with gaining immortality (and the cause of Swamp Thing becoming what he is) that uses the Geno-fluid of his transducer chamber to turn himself and his Un-Men into monstrous creatures - He becomes an arachnid monster.
- Harvey Atkin as Tomahawk: A Native American ally to the Swamp Thing that battles the Un-Men.
- Philip Akin as Bayou Jack: An African American Vietnam veteran and ally of the Swamp Thing and later on becomes a temporally fourth Un-Man, half-human and half mantis.
- Errol Slue as Dr. Deemo: A rhyme-speaking snake-like voodoo doctor who transforms into the fanged Serpent monster.
- Gordon Masten as Skinman: A frail, zombie-like man who transforms into the flying Fangbat monster.
- Joe Matheson as Weed Killer: A green-skinned, gas mask-wearing plant-killer that turns into the leech-like Bogsucker monster.
- Paulina Gillis as Abigail Arcane: She is the stepdaughter of the evil scientist Anton Arcane who hopes to help her friend the Swamp Thing become human again.
- Jonathan Potts as Delbert: A young boy who is a friend to J.T. and an aide to the heroes.
- Richard Yearwood as J.T.: A young boy who is a friend to Delbert and an aide to the heroes.
|1||"The Un-Men Unleashed"||Mark McCorkle, Bob Schooley||October 31, 1990|
|Dr. Arcane turns his henchmen into mutants to attack the Swamp Thing. Two kids, Delbert and J.T., along with Tomahawk, Bayou Jack and Arcane's stepdaughter Abby come to the Swamp Thing's rescue.|
|2||"To Live Forever"||Mark McCorkle, Bob Schooley||April 20, 1991|
|Dr. Arcane and his Un-Men travel to the Amazon rainforest in search of "the trees that never die", and enslaves a local Indian tribe to harvest their sap.|
|3||"Falling Red Star"||Mark McCorkle, Bob Schooley, Mike Medlock||April 27, 1991|
|The Swamp Thing, Bayou Jack and Tomahawk help NASA retrieve a nuclear-powered satellite that has crash-landed in the swamp. Meanwhile, Arcane desires the satellite for his own advantage.|
|4||"Legend of the Lost Cavern"||Mark McCorkle, Bob Schooley||May 4, 1991|
|Still obsessed on gaining immortality, Dr. Arcane desecrates the Indian burial of Tomahawk’s ancestors in search of the Lost Caverns, home of the fabled Fountain of Youth.|
|5||"Experiment in Terror"||Bruce Shelly, Reed Shelly||May 11, 1991|
|While showing Delbert and J.T. around the swamp, the Swamp Thing is captured and taken to New Orleans for government experiments. Delbert, J.T. and Bayou Jack plan to rescue him, as does Arcane for his own plans.|
Home video and DVD releases
The only Swamp Thing episode available on VHS is "The Un-Men Unleashed". It was first released by Kenner in 1992 as a direct tie-in with the action figure line; its sleeve cover even borrows card art from the Snare Arm Swamp Thing figure. The second release, featuring a new cover, was released October 9, 1992.
On August 31, 2004, UAVCO released Swamp Thing - Guardian of the Earth to DVD. This set includes all five episodes of the series and was released in time to promote UAVCO's Animation Station line-up. The DVD is currently out of print. In August 2006, Anchor Bay Entertainment released all five episodes of the animated series on DVD in the United Kingdom.
In 1990, Kenner produced a line of Swamp Thing action figures with vehicles & playsets that served as a direct counterpart to the animated series. Arcane and his Un-Men include translucent, rubbery BioMask accessories that give the effect of their transformation into monstrous creatures. Their eyes also glow-in-the-dark, a popular feature in action figures of the era. Arcane's transducer machine even includes a Mantid figure that referenced an episode where Bayou Jack is mutated. Some accessories would also be reused for Hasbro's The Original Battle Trolls in 1992.
According to an online fan source, Kenner invested approximately 6 million dollars into the Swamp Thing figure line. It also states that, according to Kenner, test results using male children between the ages of 6 and 11 showed them to be more popular than both G.I. Joe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
It had been speculated throughout the toy collecting community that the Swamp Thing would have been included in the unproduced fourth series of Kenner's Super Powers Collection and that the Bio-Glow Swamp Thing may have been based on the prototype. This is due to the figure's swinging arm feature similar to that seen in the Super Powers Collection. However, such rumors have since been refuted by the uncovering of new information regarding the proposed fourth and fifth series of the Super Powers Collection.
Series 1 (1990)
- Bio-Glow Swamp Thing
- Camouflage Swamp Thing
- Capture Swamp Thing
- Snap Up Swamp Thing
- Snare Arm Swamp Thing
- Bayou Jack
- Anton Arcane
- Dr. Deemo
- Weed Killer
Vehicles & playsets (1990)
- Bayou Blaster
- Bog Rover
- Marsh Buggy
- Swamp Trap
- Transducer (w/ Mantid figure)
Series 2 (1991)
- Capture Swamp Thing
- Climbing Swamp Thing
Video games and other merchandise
A Swamp Thing video game was developed for the NES and Game Boy. Both versions were released by THQ in December 1992 and were met with generally poor receptions. Also, there was a handheld game made by Tiger.
Tying in with the animated series, various Swamp Thing merchandise was produced in 1991. This included a paint by number kit, a "Battle for the Bayou" board game, a T-shirt, children's slippers, a bop bag, three pencil sharpeners, and figural chalk resembling the Swamp Thing. Perhaps an attempt to prevent consumers from confusing it as candy, the label of the chalk is especially curious with text hovering above the little figure with the words "I'm Chalk!" Much of the packaging of the Swamp Thing merchandise featured the work of comic book artist Alfredo Alcala.
- U.S. Copyright Office, Official Website, retrieved November 12, 2011
- Swamp Thing DVD News: Animated series gets DVD release in August Archived 2008-02-09 at the Wayback Machine TVShowsOnDVD.com (June 17, 2004). Retrieved January 12, 2008.
- Amazon.com: Swamp Thing: DVD Amazon.com (July 2004). Retrieved January 12, 2008.
- Swamp Thing TV Series FAQ pt. 2 Arcane Knowledge: A Guide to the Swamp Thing TV Series. Retrieved January 12, 2008.
- Super Powers Collection - 4th Wave Archived 2010-05-16 at the Wayback Machine Toy Otter. Retrieved on 3-29-10.
- Holy Cow! Super Powers Extravaganza! Action Figure Insider. Retrieved on 3-29-10.
-  Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin (September 20, 2004). Retrieved on 3-30-10.
-  Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin (January 13, 2007). Retrieved on 3-30-10.
- Swamp Thing Shit MYRANT (January 15, 2007). Retrieved on 3-30-10.