Sunday, 13 November 2011

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Weirdest of the Weird

It's my 100th post on this site so I decided to do something I had wanted to do for a long time: the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' weirdest action figures!

No question, the Nineties belonged to the Turtles. The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers gave them stiff competition but in terms of cartoon, merchandise, and cross-promotion might, there was no contest.

Amidst this wild success, Playmates Toys was tasked with bombarding toy aisles with TMNT goodness. Was it all gold? Mmmreh...?

Muckman and Joe Eyball were both a hot mess and testament to the designers' sculpting.

In the cartoon series, two garbage men were exposed to mutagen while near a pile of garbage. Ergo, Muckman transformed into a walking, stinking junk heap while his buddy became a little green dude with prehensile eyeballs.

The details on Muckman's sculpt were pretty incredible considering the mass production mentality of the time. Random bits of trash were littered all over him and when you poured slime in his back, it would gush out of his mouth. Gross but oh-so-awesome.

Mutagen Man was another poor victim of mutagen gone awry.

A mailman who fell into a vat of mutagen, he transformed into a pile of guts. Shredder and Krang built him a giant suit to house it all and the effect was akin to an aquarium of floating organs.

Better yet, he came with extra organs so when you filled his action figure with water, they would float around in there!

Also, his big blue eyes looking in different directions was deeply unnerving.

The Turtles loved pizza. It was stated ad nauseum to the point where I refused to eat pizza for a year or two there.

Naturally, cartoon writers and toy designers decided to turn the Turtles' love of pizza against them. Enter: Pizza Face!

No, he wasn't a teenaged boy who shot puss from his acne-riddled face, it was a big, fat Guido with a stumped leg... and a pizza box attached to said leg. He came with pizza discs he could throw at his enemies and also a shield made of what looked like dried tomato sauce.

For serious. There aren't enough drugs on Earth to help me make this shit up.

Truth be told, I had Scumbug and I loved him. I still love him and want him for my office to freak out that bitch cleaning lady who keeps rearranging my other toys every night.

As with most of the freaks from TMNT, Scumbug's mutation carried an ironic twist. He was an exterminator who became the very thing he hunted.

Trippy.

His stupid and obvious backstory aside, he was just rad. Between his tied-up antennae, bug spray gun, tubes that stick right into his chest, and spring-loaded jaw, he was just all around amazeballs.

A little history lesson on this one. When ToyBiz publicly let it slip that they had no intentions of producing female characters after Storm in their popular X-Men line, parents and collectors cried fowl and created a sub-market specifically for women action figures. Playmates Toys led the charge with their Star Trek: The Next Generation and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys.

Although the Turtles didn't have all that many chicks to choose from, they did churn out all sorts of questionable April O'Neil toys. Easily the worst of the bunch was April the Ravishing Reporter.

With bad rooted hair (a la Barbie), the bio card on the back of the packaging suggested she was a real dangerous beauty. The clothes suggest otherwise, however, and it's pretty clear that this was April dressed undercover as a hooker for a news story. Or maybe it wasn't a cover and she was just moonlighting to pay the bills.

Wingnut and Screwloose were in the same team-up vein as Muckman and Joe Eyeball. This time, however, it was two guys who were an alien vampire bat and Huanu mosquito.

Only, y'know, not as slim and trim.

Bloodsuckers alike, they actually counted themselves amongst the good guys, armed with metal wings, bat-themed grenades, the whole weirdly-themed shebang. With all the weapons and color scheme, he was clearly an homage (or dig) at Batman. A really fat, really ugly Batman. And for that reason alone, I love him.

Mondo Gecko arrived early in the TMNT line and was a mainstay in the cartoon as well.

This ain't the Geico Gecko either, this tubular Turtle pal had the same annoying surfer talk as the rest of the Turtles with all the over-the-top Nineties attitude that producers seemed to think everyone loved.

Dressed in skater garb that would make a Valley girl, like, totally barf, he came with a bitchin' diesel-powered skateboard that made him go so fast that his tongue somehow came right through his clenched teeth and flapped along the left side of his face.

Radical.

I don't actually remember Monty Moose, most likely because he was released during the dying days of the toyline.

But for pure patriotism's sake, I had to put him on this list. That said, despite standing alongside mutated reptiles, bugs, and hookers, he just doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the line.

Maybe as a character who was both moose and Mountie (also teamed up with a sidekick named Bob the Beaver), he was so Canadian it was sickening. Maybe Playmates was so desperate for new characters, they'd tap any wild idea brought to the table. Either way, he stuck out like, well, antlers atop a Mountie hat.

The four Turtles themselves had such a vast and sheer silly number of variations that it could be an epic article all itself.

Crazy Clown Mike, however, should, nay, deserves to be on this list! From the "Bodacious Birthday" subset, all four Turtles were decked out to battle... evil birthdays or... something...

Whatever, this is just plain retarded. He comes with what looks like Princess Leia's hair, creepy stick legs, and a red nose affixed to... I don't know, he has no nose to speak of. This makes me angry. Next!

Wyrm was also a late addition to the cast. Despite being a mutant flatworm, he had arms and legs. Well, two arms, one leg, and one worm-like appendage. At least I hope it's meant to be his leg!

Apparently he was the pal of Muckman and arch-nemesis of Scumbug although I'm not sure what the connections were. Perhaps each was in contest with the other over having the most flamboyantly horrible color scheme? Worst smell? Whatever, I'm getting bored with this trail of questioning.

In short, this is but the tip of the proverbial iceberg with the weird and wonderful world of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys. Despite being cash cows for the Turtles machine, I gotta admit they were still fun, playable, and inspired. Turtle Power!

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