|"GERMS!" by Worlds of Wonder
GERMS were an obscure line of rubber toys produced in the mid-80's by Worlds of Wonder, the same
company that brought us Teddy Ruxpin. Without any action features, cartoon tie-in or even the ability
to stand up of their own accord, the Germs were absolutely nothing more than solid, rubber lumps in
the shape of colorful parasites - precisely the reasons they're so memorable, imaginative and cool.
Unfortunately, they didn't last very long, and topping a list of the year's most dangerous toys probably
didn't help matters. I couldn't find a single mention of this on the web, but the story goes that their hard
plastic test tubes could be shattered into terrifyingly sharp pieces.
There were twelve different germs in the set, each one
symbolizing a different "ailment" that usually had nothing
to do with microbial infection. Besides their test tube,
each included a fold-out paper "lab report" describing the
germ's lifestyle and habits in painstaking detail.
You can click here to see a full set in the flesh, courtesy a
fellow creature enthusiast!
Interestingly, at least a few of these figures seem to have
been issued at some point as medical novelties, in
slightly smaller sculpts attached to white, plastic bases
imprinted with the Latin names of actual bacteria. I
personally witnessed this in a hospital waiting room a
couple years after the toy line disappeared from stores;
the figure in question was Gidgygidgyitus. I was too young
at the time to remember which disease it was supposed
to be, and I have no idea if the entire set was given this
treatment or just a few.
|CLICK FOR HIGH RESOLUTION
Without further ado, here are my long-sought personal opinions and anecdotes on every
individual Germ! Your life is complete!
Sneeze germ is the first shown on the back of the
cardboard package, and makes a pretty good poster-boy
for the whole set. It's just the sort of green-skinned space
creature that your average cartoon microbe resembles,
and sneezing is the single most iconic symptom of the
Oddly, I was turned off by his big teeth as a child and
thought he was just slightly too goofy to be "cool." Now of
course, I love every one of these guys. I really like the
pink-lined sucker feet and the overall mischievousness of
the little bastard.
|Ahahchoosiosus (a Sneeze)
Probably the most disgusting of the germs, Winky
represents the gooey discharge or rumen that builds up in
your eyes at night; actually a mixture of mucus, dead blood
cells and other refuse of the eyeball. It's practically how
your eyeballs shit. This can, in fact, be a response to
bacteria invading the eye, especially in the case of the
With the shortest appendages and stature, I seem to
remember this being the smallest of the germs. He's pretty
simple, but I love the yellow-green cilia.
|Winkyblinkyigoopiola (Eyeball Goo)
Hiccups are more technically known as synchronous
diaphragmatic flutter (SDF) or singultus. Nobody is actually
certain why this happens to us, so an invisible two-headed
monster is a perfectly reasonable alternative to all that
I've always loved how much the germs look like some really
gross Sesame Street resident, and the Hiccup germ is
probably the single most Hensonesque. This two for one
deal really looks like the fusion of a muppet with a bacterial
cell, and the purple polka dots on blue-green flesh are just
the right color scheme for the infectious freak.
|Huppahickasillia (a Hiccup)
The cutest and most benevolent of the germs, unless
we're talking some sort of Joker-gas caliber giggling here.
This was the one germ I really wanted as a kid that I never
actually owned, and have only seen in person as the
novelty item I describe above. I still find its design really
cool, with those tiny eyes topping such a pleasingly
bulbous head, weirdly finned feet and interesting
sucker-tipped antennae. The figure actually has a third
foot in the back (you can barely see it in the art) which
makes it the ONLY Germ capable of standing.
Yes, I know what you think the mouth looks like. Shut the
|Gidgygidgyitus (A Giggle)
This is one of the simplest germs, but with a lot of
personality, vivid colors and a believably germ-like shape.
There are several types of itching that really can be
caused microbial infection, including chicken pox and the
various strains of herpes.
The little suckers all over this guy do give a rather "itchy"
impression, and I like the bright pink head-fins, but what is
that thing hanging off the front? It doesn't give any
impression other than a set of gonads, and this is a germ
that represents "itching." The giggle germ's Freudian
mouth is still clearly its mouth, but I'm at a loss to explain
Oochi's giant scrotum.
|Oochiachitickleorum (an Itch)
Perhaps the coolest and most monstrous of the whole line,
this spiny cucumber-shaped critter is almost entirely a
lamprey-like mouth topped by the biggest eyeballs of them
Yawn is easily my second favorite germ, one of the first I
purchased and one that I sort of still own...but therein lies
a tale of shame. I went through a weird phase between the
ages of six and eight where I thought it was an awesome
idea to "create" toys of my own by cutting existing toys into
pieces. A simple pair of scissors transformed my poor
Yawn germ into both a disembodied, eyeless mouth and a
pair of flying eyeballs, a decision my young mind never
thought it would regret so sorely.
If eyeball goo is the grossest in concept, tummyache is
clearly the grossest looking, with its tapered bag-like body
and dangling purple globules. You gotta love that
pessimistic facial expression, too.
The closest thing to actual "Tummyache germs" would
probably be the nasties responsible for stomach flu and
food poisoning. These germs are also responsible for
diarrhea, which this grumpy blob would make an even
better personification of. What would we call that?
Burblegurglefecleus? Sloppyploppyseptia? I should stop
now. Bogleech is supposed to be smarter than this.
|Grumblerumbleosus (a Tummyache)
Like giggle and hiccup, this is the one of the germs that
makes little to no medical sense. The dust that may
mysteriously accumulate in your navel probably is crawling
with bacteria, but if it were actually made of bacteria you
would probably be suffering a very serious and very
With his long neck, reddish scheme and grouchy
demeanor, this was one germ that I always thought looked
like a conniving jerk and probably one with a cackling,
screeching voice. It's also another germ that I heartlessly
mutilated, snipping off his lower body to play with as a
"slime creature." To be fair, it made a REALLY cool-looking
|Innyoutyitis (Bellybutton Lint)
Coughing is up there with sneezing as a classic sign of
sickliness, so this is another of the very germliest germs in
the series. It also looks the very, very most like some sort
of actual microscopic organism, with its warty bean-shaped
body and delightfully crawly suction pads.
As a fan of all slug-like, eye-stalked weirdos, this was one
of my top favorites from the minute I laid eyes on it, but I'm
not really sure that I'd have made it the "cough" germ. It
just doesn't give me a "coughing" impression. I think you
could probably switch this design with the itch and things
would work out perfectly, but that's just me.
|Hackahackasilliae (a Cough)
Apparently the germ that makes you swallow too much air,
this one was oddly my very least favorite as a child and I'm
not entirely sure why, since he has easily one of the
strangest and most memorable designs of them all. I love
the simplicity of this small, smiling blob covered in
asymmetrical tubing, almost looking more like an entire
body organ than a microscopic creature. I don't think you
could come up with a more elegant personification of
burping. He truly resembles a belch made flesh.
...then again, when we put that way, it kinda sounds a lot
more disgusting than what we're seeing here.
|Bubblebuppilitus (a Burp)
While nothing about this germ really screams "smelly feet"
to me, I love that he just consists of a fanged monster
head with a couple of long legs. He doesn't stand out much
from the other germs, but I love those large sucker-feet
with the bright green lips. The little drips on his chin are a
cool-looking detail as well.
Foot odor actually is caused by bacteria, which brings us
to our very final germ to review...
|Muggywumpiosus (Smelly Feet)
Technically, body odor and foot odor are caused by the
exact same bacteria, which thrive in such warm, moist
environments as the inside of a sock or the crook of an
armpit, but as there are several different species of these
bacteria anyway, we can let these guys pass.
I overlooked Body Odor completely as a kid and honestly
forgot that this one even existed until I rediscovered the
line back in 2000. Almost instantly, this Germ became my
favorite, and I'm fortunate to own one of my own. With its
fleshy coloration, wormy tail and massive pink sucker, this
is perhaps the most "natural" looking Germ in the line;
none of them are based directly on real organisms, but
Sweaty could easily pass for some sort of actual parasitic
lifeform, and you know damn well how I feel about those.
|Sweatystinkiosus (Body Odor)
An interesting side effect of my toy-related pages is that every few months, I get an
e-mail from a visitor asking if I can hook them up with some. I know it's disappointing (for
the both of us) but I'm sorry to say that I'm not some sort of toy genie. I'm just a fan and
collector like you, and if you know what ebay is, you already have all the resources I
could possibly offer. I don't even own a complete set of Germs myself, though I certainly
wish I did!
Posted by Alex on the Little Rubber Guys forum, these small, unpainted plastic
figures were apparently sold in 1993 under the name "Ecologini" in Italy, which remains
the only information we've uncovered. These things are obviously related to the Germs
line, but distorted in bizarre and nonsensical ways. Burp Germ has transformed into a
pencil and a paintbrush? Is that soccer thing supposed to be Bellyache? What was
Body Odor crowned the king of, exactly? What the hell is going on?! 1993 is quite some
time after the original Germs disappeared, too. Curiouser and curiouser.
What's more, whoever designed these things decided to give half of them a
Behold two germs who never made it; these pieces of concept art from the original toy
pitch were recovered and shared by the awesome Astronit, whose Flickr photostream
is like a vast museum of little-known toys, many of them right up your alley if you like the
kind of junk I put up on bogleech!
These guys most closely resemble the Yawn and the Cough germs, but could have
easily been their own distinct characters. I really like the loop shape of the first one, and
rather wish one of the final toys had kept the novel idea.