You know, the late 1980’s and early 1990’s were some of the best times to be a kid. Every cartoon had a HUGE collection of toys to go along with it as, let’s face it, all cartoons were used for back then was a vehicle to sell those toys. And when it came to pumping out plastic for the kids to buy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was king. During it’s run from 1988 through 1997 (When Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation began selling) there were over 350 action figures produced in the line, with about another 70-odd playsets and other odds and ends produced at the same time.
As an adult, I’ve been lucky enough to pick up some odds and ends of the classic lines. The 25th Anniversary saw the first ever full re-release of the original 1988 figure line with the 4 Turtles, Splinter, Bebop, Rocksteady, Shredder, April, Foot Soldier & fan favorite Slash seeing release (The line included a Casey Jones figure which never saw release for some unknown reason); this was followed by a “Classic Collection” line that saw the 4 Turtles, Splinter, Shredder, Foot Soldier & Krang getting released… I only got Krang from that set as the others I had covered from the 25th Anniversary set.
But as a kid, with those 350+ figures popping up on shelves all over the place, there are a lot that I would have killed for back than and would still kill for today. So here’s a list of the 10 figures or figure lines I would have killed for as a kid, some of which still allude me today.
#10 – Metalhead
Ok, I’m cheating on this one. I do currently own Metalhead. I was able to pick up a 50% complete version (The main figure with the green backpack. I’m missing the scanner dish and Robo-chuck attachment) from my comic book store a few months ago for a steal. However the collector in me does not agree with this purchase and wants the real deal, complete and in package.
#9 – Tattoo
A lot of people do not know about Tattoo, which is understandable because he only appeared in one issue of the Archie published TMNT Adventures series and one episode of the original TMNT cartoon in 1995 where he was a mutated hamster into human form. The version I enjoyed was the one shot character from the Archie TMNT comic, where he asked Master Splinter to get the Turtles to save his dog “Inky” from the Yakuza who were using the kidnapped dog to get Tattoo to lose a big sumo bout to one of their guys. Sure, the toy doesn’t have the actual tattoo’s the character had, nor do you get a mini Inky to go with him, but it’s good to see a one shot character I liked get a toy release.
#8 – TMNT Mutations: Mutatin’ Foot Soldier
Mutations was the beginning of a weird time for the TMNT brand. They were starting to run low on ideas for the original line and needed something to help keep the profits up. This gave way to the Mutations line, a line of toys where you could transform the figure from one form to another. A basic Turtle became a Ninja Turtle, humans became mutants, etc. What allows the Foot Soldier version to make the cut is the fact that this is the first time that you get to see the inside of one of the Foot Soldiers, and it looks badass!
#7 – Mutagen Man
Mutagen Man was just one of those gross looking figures. Seriously, who would like to wake up looking at that in their toy box? The answer: Everyone! In the 90s, gross was in and popular as hell. So TMNT took advantage of this with Mutagen Man, a guy who lost his torso after falling into a vat of mutagen. The appeal for me here was just how weird looking it was. The only thing that would have made it better is if there was some liquid mutagen inside the figure to complete the gross factor.
#6 – TMNT Ninja Power: Mutatin’ Shredder
Now you might be thinking: “Hey, haven’t I seen this before under a different label?” Well yeah you have. Ninja Power was a rebranded version of the Mutations line. It just happens that I couldn’t get a picture of that line to use for this entry. To get a Mutations Shredder would have gone well with the versions I already had as a kid (Splinter, Donatello, Bebop & Rocksteady). This was appealing because I could have recreated the fights of Yoshi & Saki for control of the Foot Clan!
#5 – General Traag
One of the first big unbeatable threats the Turtles had in the cartoon series, General Traag was a pretty cool figure to have. Not to mention he could have teamed up with my Major Disaster figure from the Toxic Crusaders line to begin some sort of weird ecological army of some kind.
#4 – TMNT Toons: Shredder, Irma, Vern & Burne
Now I’ll admit, the Toon series really mistreated the actual Turtles terribly. They looked like rubber-like ass. However it was the only time in the toy’s long history that you were able to buy Irma, Vern & Burne Thompson; thus completing the Channel 6 News team. An added reason this series is on the list is because it featured the first version Shredder in his proper look that we all knew from the show. This version of Shredder is much better looking than the blue/purple version we first got.
#3 – Wacky Action TMNT: Wacky Walkin’ Mouser
Oh man, what I would give for a whole case of these things. I know a later version of the toys would release a 5 pack of Mousers, but they didn’t actually walk like these ones did! It was a cheap gimmick, but it was enough to spurn our child-like imaginations of having a hundred of these things walking around our rooms looking for Turtles to chomp on.
#2 – Baxter Stockman
He’s pretty white for a fly guy! Baxter Stockman was a footnote in the cartoon series, but man just look at that figure! The extra arms and wings make him look awesome and a lot meaner than his cartoon counterpart. I know we have him again in the 2012 series, but this version looks like it came right out of The Fly. Baxter was also one of those “one per case” figures, thus limiting how many of him you could find in a store and making him very rare from the get go.
#1 – Krang’s Android Body
Yeah, this big brute of a suit was at the top of every child’s wishlist when they saw it. I can remember seeing it for the first time and begging my mother to buy it for me as a birthday present. Back then it was $60, way too much to pay for an action figure. But the thing was HUGE! Almost a foot tall, which was unheard of at the time. This piece is the bane of my existence. I’ve seen it pop up on eBay for a decent price when I’ve had no money and I’ve even tried and failed to buy the smaller normal sized version too. Buy one day, it will be mine!
So there you go. A trip through my own past looking at the toys I would have loved to get back then, and to be honest, would still love to get my hands on now (For a fair price). But I can’t just leave it at 10 from that pile of 350+ figures could I? Nope! So here’s a special bonus: 5 vehicles or playsets I would have killed to get my hands on as a kid, and would pay fair price for now.
#5 – Channel 6 News Van
For what is essentially a repaint of the original Turtle Party Wagon (aka the Turtle Van), this thing looked pretty cool. Plus the exclusive April figure is appealing too… Even if she is Green and Yellow for some unknown reason.
#4 – Cheapskate
Now the Cheapskate was pretty cool as Skateboarding was one of the more popular things during the 1990s. The light didn’t actually work, but the idea of having something cool to have my Turtles roll around on was something that appealed to me greatly.
#3 – Pizza Thrower
The Pizza Thrower was a tank that fired Pizza… What more do I need to say? This thing shot small plastic Pizzas out of it and would be like having a disc gun, it was that powerful. I’m surprised that it wasn’t banned at some point. But this was one of the coolest toys that the TMNT line ever came out with.
#2 – Turtle Blimp
This was one of those toys that was more visual than functional. The Turtle Blimp wouldn’t float ever. The weight of the detachable glider was enough to keep the thing grounded even without any figures attached to it. But hey, with a strong enough piece of string attached to a hook in the roof, you could pretend and that was enough for me.
#1 – Technodrome
Now I had the Sewer System playset as a kid and it was amazing. but you know what was more amazing? The Techonodrome. This rolling ball of death was just so cool looking and had some great traps in it that it kinda reminded me of Snake Mountain from the He-Man playsets (Something I never had, but I had Castle Greyskull). I did get a chance to play with this at a few different friends houses as a kid, but to own one would be great.
And that’s it! A lot of plastic that is worth a fairly decent amount to buy now that would have been a lot cheaper back in the day. I hope you realize now how insane the TMNT toy line was back then compared to how it is today. Sure, they might not have been that creative in the long term, but they were good… A lot better than pumping out a new line when a movie comes out *hint hint*
For more Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle articles, keep coming back to The Outerhaven as we gear up for the release and review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows on June 3!