Tuesday, December 16, 2014

TMNT Mutations: An Old Fashioned Christmas Haul

Some Christmas ago, when I was a wee one, my parents got me nearly the WHOLE SET of Mutations figures, from the old TMNT line.  Now, there have been plenty of Christmas hauls over the years, but you can see why this one stands out.  It's not every Christmas that you get nearly everything from a current toyline!  So, with Christmas a week away, I figured I'd take a look at one of my favorite hauls from The Ghost of Christmas Past.

The first thing you'll notice is that I have a picture of boxes, up there.  That marked the first time I did the "collector" thing and kept the boxes intact.  They're window boxes so, once the innards were taken out, you've got a handy box that can hold the figure and the accessories.  I have no idea why I felt these were more special than the others, but I did, so they stayed in the boxes over the years, protected.

I guess I didn't get many window-boxed toys, back then, so perhaps this felt fancy to me?

Lets start with my old favorite, Raphael.

Each box has a classic "clip 'n collect" bio on the back, but, every bio is the same wording, except for Splinter's.  Only difference is the stats at the top, and then under the bio, there's a list of weapons.  Each turtle comes with their signature weapons, an ooze canister, turtle food, and a...*sigh*...Pizza Toppin' 'n Tossin' Ninja Star.  Gotta love those old TMNT accessory naming standards.

There's also some helpful directions, so you can properly transform your ninja into a horrifying turtle, AAAND...

My favorite part: A little "evolution" chart for their mutation.  It is wacky as shit.  You can follow along as they evolve into a turtle, mutate, and turn into a Ninja Turtle.  Along the way there are stats that tell you what they eat and what they find funny.  My favorite part is how you can watch Raph find out what Anger is, as he grows into a Ninja Turtle.  Also the pics of them getting oozed.

The stats are the best, though.  How the hell is a turtle 15% "swamp mush?"  Wouldn't that be more his living space and not his body mass?  And you gotta love the idea that someone is testing what turtles think are funny, and that, at the point of mutation, Raphael no longer thinks peat moss is funny.  The man has grown out of it, okay?  Don't even bring it up.

Also: He craves cheese and peat moss?  You can see the interest in pizza rise as he transforms.  Is....is the love of pizza PART of the mutation?  I always thought they just liked the taste!  Wait a second...

Oh....oh god!  He eats pizza CONTINUOUSLY.  That can't be good!  Can't be healthy!  What is this beast?  And look: they can't test the limits of his strength!!  This is on all the Turtle stats, by the way.  They ALL continuously eat pizza and their strength is limitless.  They're super strong naked humanoid turtle monsters that are walking around, unable to talk (what with all the pizza in their mouths) and just breaking things uncontrollably because they can't control their Hulk-like power.  I suddenly have new respect for Splinter, as a teacher.  He essentially had to raise four Sloths who couldn't stop munching baby ruths.

So, here's the pizza monster!  He comes with his standard sais, in red (though they're green on the back of the box, and transformed wrong).

You pull down on the bottoms and the sais turn into...pizza forks?  Like the Turtles have ever needed some sort of utensil to eat pizza.  Especially if they're eating it continuously - I'm sure they just have a bunch on hand, and utensils would just impede the continuous process of shoving pizza down their throats.

I suppose I should SHOW you the process for transformation.  They really dragged this "mutation" thing as far as it could go, and through a field of cacti.  The joke is long dead before you ever start reading any of their mutation "puns."  It IS the main gimmick, though, so lets take a look.

You'll notice the ooze by his foot: I LOVE that thing.  My absolute favorite accessory from these sets, and each turtle comes with one.  The back of the package shows a silver canister with a sticker, but I'm so glad they went with the translucent green canister.  Looks awesome!

Now, the transformation....I mean, toy-wise, it's pretty dang cool.  You've got a toy of a Ninja Turtle, and you've got a sort-of normal turtle; sized correctly to you.  Everything else is kinda scary, though.  It's a pretty freakish turtle!  And the Ninja Turtle mode is bulbous and bloated, since they need to fit limbs in the shell.  Well articulated, but BIG.

Then there's the turtle.  That poor thing.  Look at it's eyes!  All of them have these dead, soulless eyes.  I realize they're supposed to be turtles, but they don't even have turtle eyes!  They have human eyes.  They drill into your very being.

The transformation can be stopped at any time for hilarious results, so there's actually a lot of ways to torture play with this figure!

But enough about Raph!  Give him a hand for being the test subject.  Lets see how everyone else stacks up.

Next up is Michelangelo.  On his chart, you can see exactly where the insanity starts to set in.  Right when the ooze hits.  That's the end of the brain functions, save for the fact that his final IQ is 375.  Smart, but CRAZY.  And hey, there's that pizza in his hand!  It's never gona end, buddy.

Mike's nunchucks are supposed to turn into jump ropes.

Presto change-o bonk-o!  I guess!  They're jump ropes!  Really, really short jump ropes.

They're still cool in a toy way, at least, 'cause now Mike can extend his bonk-o and slap enemies that are further away.  Yep.

There's Mike!  He works out pretty well, mostly because both of his weapon modes are of use.  How about we move on to Leo?

With Leo's chart, we can see him find out what HATRED is.  Raph gets angry, Leo gets HATE.  It's the one right before the Ninja status, that gets me.  You can see it's formulated into something that he'll never let go.  I think it started with the ooze.  You can see he's already started to contemplate "why?  Dear newly formed concept of God, WHY??"

Leo gets the WORST weapons.  They're his swords, of course, but the handles are gigantic.  Heck, Mike's handles weren't much better, but at least they were round.  I remember having problems putting the weapons in their hands, back in the day, and it turns out that hasn't changed.  It still hurts my fingers to get these stupid chunks in their "mutant hands."

And lo, be still my heart, the swords just turn into daggers.  I mean, it wouldn't be that bad, I guess, if the handles didn't have to be so HUGE to get this simple gimmick to work!  I remember always swapping out Leo's weapons for normal swords because these things were so stupid.  What's worse is that you can't push the blades in or out while they're in his hands!  His hands SQUEEZE the handle so hard that they just won't move.  One of the blades is all bent up because my child brain had to find this out the hard way (then keep trying the hard way until I bent the blade).

It's funny how accessories REALLY make your Ninja Turtles, since a majority of them are nearly the same mold.  They're all the same toy, but Leo is the worst, because his swords are so huge and annoying and boring BLEH.  Also, his classic head always had those...sad eyes.  Now his eyes are sad in both forms!

Alright, let's see how Donatello fares.

WHOA, Don is pissed too!  Maybe more so than any of them!  It's like the ooze suddenly blasted his brain with the knowledge of the universe, and he decided humans were inferior and needed to be wiped out.  Look at him right after the ooze!  That's a fist clenched in determination.  He will be a pet.  No.  LONGER.  After that you can see his face twist as it thinks of a way of destroying society, and then, as a Ninja Turtle, he's well on his way to realizing his plans.

So yeah, Don's bo turns into a pogo stick!  Sure, why not.  I mean, honestly, he fares better than Leo.  The bo is still usable in bo form, and the pogo stick idea is neat...

...except when you realize you're never gona get Don's feet on that stupid thing in any sort of "pogoing pose."  On top of that, he's so dang large that he just looks ridiculous and will always pop off the thing when you try to pogo him around.

I've gotta give Don the gold, here.  The bo still works out as a bo, and even if the pogo thing doesn't work, you can flip out the handles in different ways and imagine the thing is some sorta tech-bo with various features.  That sounds like something Don would do.  Everyone else's weapons don't really do much, or lend themselves to much elaboration with imagination applied.  Mike's just extend, Leo's too, and Raph gets some damn FORKS.  Don's at least has some other moving parts so you can imagine other things, AND it works with his character!  Winner winner, pizza dinner (until the end of his days, since he can't stop).

This leaves us with our last guy of the bunch: Master Splinter!

He gets a new bio, talking about how radical he is.  Also lets you know where his...favorite place to mutate is....ugh.  Man, I don't need to know that.  Wait, ya know what?  I DO need to know that.  I'm staying the hell away from pipe number 112859.  And wow, he can sure mutate fast while eating cheese!  Just let the bathroom air out a bit afterward.

This is what I love about the old TMNT stuff: They were unabashedly wacky beyond all reason.  All the time, every time, without fail.  Write a normal sentence, squeeze in 90's slang, alteration, and puns, and you've got the back of a TMNT package.  You won't find "the pulsating power of the miraculously magnificent mutation process" anywhere else, folks.  The writers single-handedly pumped me with a good portion of my vocabulary, back then.

...and fart jokes.  Can't forget fart jokes.  But they can forget the "E" in "somebody."

Moving on!

As with the Turtle charts, we see Splinter evolve from a caveman.  Except...this appears to really be Splinter.  Like he actually evolved from a caveman, himself.  He's even karate-choppin' a bone!  Because FUCK bones!

Also: I wana point out that we finally know exactly which rat Splinter was mixed with.

It's Rizzo, from the Muppets!  Now we know!

Anyway, we can see Splinter move along the chart much like the Turtles, only he is spared from the horrifying life of continuous pizza consump----

----wait a second, what's that?

WHOA BUDDY.  Why isn't Splinter the one building machines and shit?  He's WAY smarter than Don!  His IQ IS LIMITLESS!  I mean, so is his ninja skill, but I'm sure we were all aware of that.  Besides, I mean, he wouldn't have been...kidnapped...in so many games.  If that weren't...true.  Yeah.

Also: 300% Ninja Master, but only 5% rat.  Wouldn't he be...I dunno, 50% human and 50% rat, or something?  Is Ninja Master a new race?  Oh god, is it a disease?  I hope it's a disease!  Just think: Rats no longer transmit plagues, but NINJA SKILLS.

HO, what?  I zone out for a second and they're covered in blood.  Man, if I had a dime for every time that happened!  Am I right, folks?

I know I made a lot of fun of these monsters, but I really loved 'em, back in the day.  Heck, they're still fun toys now!  Nothing proves that more than the fact that Playmates actually used this same transformation scheme a few times, just changing the heads and fronts to match the current turtles, or remolding all the parts, but keeping the same transformation.  A time-tested idea, I guess.

I mean, really, the turtles might be a little terrifying, but they are around the right size for real turtles!  It's a clever gimmick, and if they had worked on the accessories a bit more, I think every one of them could have been winners.  I mean, look at what Splinter came with!  That's a lot of cool stuff.  I think there could have been a few other interesting hidden ninja weapons tossed in there.

You can't argue with the articulation, either.  They're all around fun toys, if a little chunky because of the feature.  I'm glad my younger self decided to randomly keep these guys in the boxes, so I could make fun of him and the toys in the far-flung future.  Take that, childhood!

Now I think I'll leave you with a joke that's a little less....bloody.

Okay, less bloody, but no less sad!  Merry Christmas folks, may all your hauls be grand!


  1. This was awesome!

    I mean, really, really funny stuff. I love the new TMNT series on Nickelodeon and I'm enjoying the toyline, but the presentation of the old line was just stellar. I don't know who came up with the weird accessories or wrote the bizarre text on the packages, but they were geniuses. Mad, insane, geniuses. For some reason, the only mutating turtle I ever had was Michelangelo. Raph was my favorite, so not sure how that happened. First one I found, perhaps?

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I didn't keep a lot of the packaging (or any of it beyond some filecards and these boxes) so I didn't realize just HOW MUCH they wrote on everything! Every name, every description - it all just drips with wacky. I didn't realize how much I loved it until I read through those charts.

  2. So awesome and hilarious. The fade to red screen was the cherry on top.

    1. Thanks! I figured that, since we're all filled with blood; it has to be healthy! So a healthy dose of blood in anything will make it good for you. Sooo...my post is good for you!

  3. Awesome.

    But now Anneke and Leo are just going Eeeeehhhhh at each other till the end of time in my brain.

    1. I don't even know what happened....I was captioning the pictures...and then...Nichijou....

  4. I know it's been said, but seriously, awesome post. You told me I would love it and I did! How did you know? Are you watching me? You're watching me aren't you? Like, right now. Well here. Check THIS out! You like that? Yeah, you like that, don't you. You freak of nature you...

    Anyway, we should do an evolution chart of our jokes just to see how many twists and turns they take.

    I wish I knew they were going to make these when I was a kid. I broke my first Raph figure ever trying to pretend he was a regular turtle. Well, technically he was my brother's first Raph ever. I had Mikey. Like I would mutate my own figure.

    I had a few of these over the years, though they're all gone now. I thought I remembered them well, but I totally forgot about Don's pogobo. That thing is so stupid and awesome at the same time.

    I think this is my favorite version of Splinter EVER. I know I had him, but it must not have been for long. He's not the most articulated Splinter figure to come out, but he looks the most like the original animated Splinter and that's how I remember him best. Seriously, forget about the Hamato Yoshi inside him. Just keep him as Splinter and there's my default.

    I may have lost all of these guys over the years, but I still have my Mutatin' Rocksteady and he's great. The bulkiness suits him and he looks awesome in either form. As Rocksteady, he serves the role well, and as a human he's got total cross-line potential. I used him all the time.

    I know we've sung the praises of TMNT packing before, but again... DAT FILECARDS. Even the cardbacks that didn't have filecards were usually LOADED with pictures of figures you wanted to buy, and that's still great! Even if there's nothing to say, there's still tons to look at and that's why the TMNT packages will always be the best ever.

    1. I am watching you, and YES. Just yes. And said evolution chart would be like the contract Bilbo signed - super long with a bunch of other pages folding out from the sides.

      Anyway: HA, of course you tried to mutate them before the Mutations existed! Funny thing about your story is that I ALSO lost my first Raph in regards to my brother, but under different circumstances. I was trying to hide it from him (it may have been his?) and lost it in the process. Or my brother found it and did something with it. Either way, it is lost to the sands of time.

      Yes, the pogobo is somehow the most interesting weapon, even if he can barely use it as a pogo stick.

      Splinter did turn out well! It works even better for you, 'cause he stays together better as Splinter than Hamato. For some reason, shoving the Splinter head and feet in there makes him not close as well. I also always liked how his arms open up and the hands flip around. I always wanted him to be a robot and have some guns flip out...

      Yeah, Rocksteady and Bebop were the only ones missing from the set! I think Shredder and a Foot Soldier came out later, 'cause they're not on the back of the boxes. Anyway, I would have liked those two as well, but it was amazing enough to get all the ones I did get at one time.

      Those filecards and weapon descriptions are just nuts. I really want to find out who the writers were and shake some hands.

    2. There's also an Mutatin' April that turns into a cat woman. And then there's the Mutatin' line where everyone turns into vehicles. I think we had a Firefighter Don that turned into a fire engine? They weren't as cool (though the Shredder that turns into a Modrill -sp?- would have been sweet).

    3. I remember the Shredder that turned into the drill car! I REALLY wanted that, back then. Mostly because of the drill car mode.

  5. Oh my god, yes, the Mutatin' line. They were a Christmas thing for me too.

    Here's my story. So in the early 90s I was obsessed with Transformers (nothing has changed). The problem: These were the few years between G1 and G2, so there were no Transformers. So literally ANYTHING with a transforming feature was enough to turn me into a raving lunatic. I saw the commercial for the Mutatin' TMNT line and that was it. They were all I could think about.

    I remember that Christmas frantically scanning all the packages to see if any of them could be the TMNT figures - and when we opened them, I was ecstatic to find that my parents had caught on to my constant begging. I didn't get the whole set, but I did get Mikey and Rocksteady. It was a good year. Later on I got the Shredder that could turn into the Mutant Module - but within a year or two, G2 was in full force and that supplanted TMNT as Primary Thing I Begged Parents For.

    And yeah I miss that insane Playmates copywriting. You'd see it creep into their other lines too, even in the Star Trek stuff sometimes. It's like they had someone who was married to hyberbole itself, and couldn't help him or herself.

    Oh one other thing. I love how un-mutated Leo apparently craves "raw molecules." Yeah, OK. I prefer mine well done.

    1. I'm not even sure if I asked for these! TMNT was a sure bet, though, so either I did (and don't remember) or it was a total surprise and there's no way I wouldn't find these awesome.

      Anyway: It's funny you mention Transformers, 'cause I was thinking about that while writing this. I had wondered if any Transformers fans bought into these, back then. Apparently so! And I wonder how many had these specifically in the same lull between G1 and G2. Very interesting! It's also funny how TMNT dabbled in just about any other toyline's gimmick, at some point or another. "Mutation" is very apt for TMNT in more ways than one.

      Man, I never checked Star Trek's bios, 'n such. I would like to get a few of those old ones and go over them a little. I think a larger collection of them would make a more interesting post, but somehow, I never had more than one or two. My friend, though, MAN he was stocked! Had the Warp Drive playset and everything!

      *Ahem* Not that this is about Star Trek toys.

      But YEAH, the things they eat were the funniest stuff in there, besides...besides everything. All the things.