From roughly 1990 to 1992 I was obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (not a lot’s changed), this didn’t exactly stop in 1992 the obsession just had to time-share with my new Sonic the Hedgehog obsession (not a lot’s changed). This was when the TMNT were at their biggest and every type of product you could think of had a smiling green face on it, TMNT products were so ubiquitous that if you had a Turtles obsessed kid there was no reason not to use TMNT versions of whatever they needed, from slippers to toiletries to party favours to little treats to food to ski and skateboard equipment. Today most old farts writing nostalgic waffle like myself seem to focus only on the comics, cartoons, action figures and food but there was so much more and as I go about my business on the internet I collect pictures of all these insignificant things I had, wanted or didn’t know existed - I have a lot of pictures and yet I still don’t have pictures of everything I had let alone all that was (officially) churned out, such a goal may be impossible. Today’s stream of bullshit includes some of the many ‘other’ TMNT things from their ‘vintage’ era. So are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.
Rose Art Brand
The box proudly displays ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ but these were available in at least Children’s World, Romford, Essex, England. I’m a little uncertain if I should follow Rose Art’s numbers here, as they’ve coloured Raphael as Donatello on their box they might not know Casey Jones from Tom Jones. Anyway these were officially licenced paint-by-numbers so I maybe used them three times at most and spent way more time colouring in completely unofficial sets sold for a fraction of the price, I’m sure most did and it really makes me question why anyone bothered to get a licence for things like this when they were inevitably going to lose more of their trade to those big card colouring pages drawn in felt.
TMNT Knitting Pattern!
Someone actually knitted this for me and I wore it, outside, where people could see me, I didn’t always wear the mask to go with it, one does not always need to accessorise. I can’t remember exactly who decided I wasn’t being bullied enough and so they’d do a ‘nice thing’ and create this for me, I’ve narrowed it down to my nan’s friend Sandra and Josie down the road, they actually did a pretty good job of it thought they used slightly fluffier white wool than shown on the package which seemed to nearly doubt it size so I looked a little like a strange Easter novelty.
I’m almost certain one of my bullies called me ‘mello smello’ for a term or two. Anyway I didn’t have these as a child, but I remember seeing them and thinking they were fascinating because they included so much rarely seen artwork. A LOT of TMNT product used the same Mirage stock artwork (usually by Lavigne or Brown): the group shot with one coming out of the sewer, Raphael jumping with is sais out (the one Rose Art miscoloured up there) but most of these drawings hardly ever showed up, least of all the drawings of Playmates Sports Turtles and Rock’n Rollin’ Turtles – in fact I’ve never seen them anywhere else, totally justifying my weird need to save pictures of shitty old tie-in products because I can now share rare TMNT art with others. I’d LOVE hi-res images of those, especially T.D. Tossin’ Leo (I do so enjoy that ‘toss’ and ‘tossing’ doesn’t mean wanking in America, it makes for so much childish humour) and that mutating image.
TMNT Bop Bag!
I had a bunch of bop bags and can only attribute this to having a birthday in June because Rocky III was the closest I ever got to being into boxing. I dunno what it was like in America where everyone seems to have a detached house the size of my street unless they live in an inner city, then they have pull-down beds and Richard Roundtree (my knowledge of American living may be almost entirely based on 1970s and 1980s films) but here in limeyland Bop Bags were very much summer toys, always in the outdoor toy section of the summer Argos catalogues near the trampolines and those sprinkler toy things you attached to hoses. I had a Hulk Hogan bop bag, a White Ranger bop bag and I had at least two TMNT bop bags, one of which is the Leonardo one shown here (the other was Donatello) which I remember solely because he had all brown weapons like his action figure. I always liked it when they did that, it was a level of ABSOLUTE accuracy my little OCD brain could get behind.
TMNT Plaster Moulding Set!
Peter Pan Playthings
I was always getting arts and crafts presents as a kid because I liked drawing so much (and was actually good at it) and this somehow translates into candle making kits in the minds of family members, I never minded the plaster moulding kits and shaker makers though, cos they made extra action figures. I used to use these sets so much my grandparents took to buying the plaster of Paris in huge buckets, handy because these things are really hit or miss, even if you did manage to get plaster into all the nooks AND not get any air bubbles AND not put them at even the slightest angle because even the smallest gradient would give you a Turtle with half a head and only one hand each set had THAT ONE THING design-wise that made taking the rubber mould off pant-shittingly tense – with Mario it was the noses, with the WWF set it as the hat brims, with the Turtles it was the necks. Fucking necks, the Turtles have really thin necks and then really wide heads and if the plaster was just slightly to soft or you were a cackhanded little sod (as all children are) with a cackhanded mum your Ninjas were coming out sans noggins more than they weren’t and even after they’d dried those necks weren’t safe: one knock and CLONK off with their heads.
Bathplugs and Magnets!
Anything Goes are a British company, which is almost certainly why it’s really hard to find images of their TMNT stuff let along actually buy them, they made these magnets and bathplugs plus a set of foam Turtles that used the exact same sculpt as the bathplugs but were like stress-balls, I can’t find any images of those but all of them came on that same unique cardback. I’m big into the bath plugs, just the idea of plugging your bath with a full size action figure (these things are about six inches including their plugs) is just genius, what a way to make boys want something they usually wouldn’t and get in on the then-very lucrative TMNT action figure market without making actual action figures and fucking off Playmates. I have all but Donatello and have no idea what I did with him, I used to have a complete set, I had a complete set of the stress ball-like Turtles too but I seem to remember throwing them out because they degraded, they were pretty fragile, my stress Michaelangelo had his head glued back on and my stress Donatello his left arm. I can remember the maladies of old Turtle toys but not my mum’s birthday, I’m a horrible person.
TMNT Real Digital Watches!
I hate jewellery, I always have, it makes me feel sick and I won’t wear it, but people don’t listen to children and think they’re just being silly and buy them shit they hate no matter what. This is actually from a later wave of watches based on the third movie’s action figures that I actually didn’t know existed until I found this image, the set - yes set, I had all four Turtles despite never wearing a watch ever because adults will not listen to kids - my SET lived in the bottom of my chest of draws and were thoroughly ignored were the first wave based on the original four Playmates action figures. Looking beyond my hatred of jewellery these are some of the better TMNT tie-in products, they use the same card art style as the Playmates toys and had really nicely sculpted Turtles on them, look at the detail on the armour on that thing, that thing is small enough to not look out of place on a child’s wrist.
I don’t remember these coming carded – which is almost certain proof that everyone ‘round here sold knock-off versions surreptitiously moulded from Happiness Ent’s originals. My ones were bought from a display box like they were boxes of candy. I think I may have bought mine from Goodrich, a gone and sorely missed ‘hardware’ store in our local shops (which is about 10 houses away from the house I grew up in, they’re all set around a roundabout), hardware’s in finger quotes because although I’m pretty sure that’s what Goodrich was supposed to be – tools, gardening stuff – it was crammed with stuff, stuff hung from the ceiling, stuff packed all the shelves and the isles felt thin even for kid. I used to use their photocopier a lot because I did a lot of strange things as a child. We’d buy odds and ends from there like packaging tape or cable ties or that bendy green wire and it didn’t really sell toys of any kind, not even rack toys, but I’m pretty sure I got my TMNT torches from there, near the back. Again I can remember this but can’t remember the date my mother – who bought me the damn torches because she’s a lovely mother who does not question their son’s random need for a torch just because it has Raphael on it – was born.
Henry Gordy Rack Toys!
Henry Gordy International
This is one of my current things, as a kid I had every single one of these shown here, for years parts of them kicked around at the bottom of boxes of toys just being confusing – amongst the bits that were left were the Bubble Blaster, the green handcuffs from the Action Set, the squirter part of the Turtle Squirter, the Flash Gun and the big red fist from the Karate Punch Target Game. I never once thought to connect a big red hollow plastic fist with the Ninja Turtles. Anyway I can’t be doing with all the sunglasses and handcuffs and shit but I really am keen to get all the guns again, sadly they don’t turn up that often and are always pretty expensive, the Bubble Blaster is currently my TMNT ‘grail’, most people want Scratch. What makes these things seem even more collectible is that Gordy kept a unified packaging design for all their toys with some really uncommon stock art, they’d just look so nice side by side.
Every child should have a Wendy House, I don’t care if you live in a flat, I don’t care if you live in a caravan, your kid should have a Wendy House. Having their own little space, their own little private place to go is so rewarded, and so thrilling, it’s totally worth it. My TMHT Wendy House, the one shown here, was the centrepiece of my childhood TMNT collection, my mum HATED this Wendy House because, well, it’s a tiny tent with all the stereotypical difficulties associated with putting up and taking down a tent only fiddlier but it’d go up around May and come down around September and I’d spend half the school holidays hiding in it talking to stuffed toys and Fugitoid. Though I couldn’t play with my TMNT action figures in it because – and I’m not joking – nan didn’t want the Ooze to stain the grass, yes, the green ooze (I think she was more worried about the pink/purple oozes that came with Real Ghotbusters and TMNT but she include all oozes in her ban) I had to play with them on a sheet on the patio..
TMHT Official Medal Collection Action Wall Chart!
My thoughts on collector’s coins are pretty much my thoughts on jewellery, unless coins are in a small chunk in my coat pocket I can do without ‘em – though I really did miss using pound coins when in America, 1 dollar notes really get in the way in the wallet – so of course I had the Ninja Turtles medal collection. In fact I had a complete Action Wall Chart and yet I have no recollection of buying the coins at all, I remember my mum being really excited about something to do with the coins at some point and this chart lived in her bedroom which makes me think that ‘we’ did this because mum thought it would be a nice thing to do and I just went along with it because it made her happy. Honestly I just liked it because it was a quite nice poster with some rarely seen things on it – the Turtlecopter, REX-1, Turtle Blimp II and the Sewer Dragster to be precise – I did feel a sense of accomplishment when looking at it complete, that and the sense that the Mouser looked weird. If you’ve never seen one of these before, you bought the wall chart, sometimes it came complete, sometimes you had to complete it by buying the coins/medals separately, this was the latter I believe.
The Kiddie Ride!
If I ever become a millionaire and can waste money on things that have no functional purpose but cost a fortune, this is the first thing I buy. I want the TMNT Pinball Machine but I want that to play it, I wouldn’t even fit in this (though I have two friends who could) but to have this in my front room, glittering in the light of the TV as I watch the first TMNT movie, because this is one metallic bastard, every so often I’d set it off, sometime with no one in the house, just to please me. As this has become a post full of ‘dwitefry’s dull TMNT memories’ this was on the seafront as Southend-on-Sea for years, way longer than it should have been, it was still there when I was at college there in 2005. I’d walk past it and run my hand over it lovingly. I am fucking weird.
There you are! As far as I know I stole all these images of old eBay auctions and the like but if you do come across this and see your photo or a friend’s photo do comment/message me and I’ll take it down or give credit depending on your preference. Thanks for reading this shit.