Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were basically the last line of toys I could collect as a kid. At least publicly. For me, age really doesn't mean much. I'll still suggest watching the Pokemon movie to my friends over all their shit. But in the eyes of the general public, there comes a time where you simply can't ravage the toy store shelves like you used to. The trick I've found to get by this is to just look really busy and flustered, this way the staff and customers assume you're buying some little kid a present. Just remember to hold off the cheering section when you find a really cool figure till you get back in your car, or else you'll blow your cover.
But time was still on my side during the Turtles' initial run. And I guess, sensing that my time as a pure toy playin' child was coming closer to ending, I really went after these figures like a lunatic. I've discussed this before - I used to beg staffers to let me rift through the sealed shipping boxes in the back so I could go to sleep at night as a complete person alongside my Wingnut figure.
Unfortunately, this Turtle obsession did have it's downside. I wasn't only subjected to owning the good figures, I had to have the bad ones too. Or in this case, the ludicrous ones. Sure, having Turtles figures was neat...but what if they came with electronic effects that made them do wild and zany things? What then? With that, let's take a look at...
These Turtles really took the 'Wacky Action' title to heart. Look at their faces! While the normal figures were primed for battle, these figures were primed for totally radical pizza partying. And who can blame them? Half the fun in battling is having a challenge, and since these Turtles could move without the aid of grubby little hands, who was going to stop them? Nobody.
Indeed, these weren't Turtles of your everyday nature. They considered themselves 'Super Turtles', but you really can't call a figure whose special ability is to spin on a circle while laying on it's back 'super'. In fact, none of these figures had special abilities that made them more effective in battle, or even social events. Most of the features lent themselves to the idea that these figures suffered from all kinds of unfortunate mental retardations. Let's take a look at 'em...
Raphael: On the show, Raphael was the rudest and wittiest Turtle. At least, according to his bio card and the theme song. But at the very least, he was a Turtle with an attitude. That's why he always had a problem giving Leonardo a hug in the first live action movie. To capture his spirit, Playmates decided to give him a pretty interesting feature - the ability to breakdance! The pictures above (and most for the rest of this article) are from the actual commercial promoting these, and obviously suggests that Raph's hot new dancing skills are all it takes to run off the evil Foot Clan.
The deal with these toys was that you'd wind 'em up and let 'em go. I should note that the noise the figures made after you let 'em go was about the most hideous sound I've ever heard. And considering that somewhere in this house, the single of Ace of Base's The Sign can be found, that's really saying something.
From Raphael's bio card: 'When Raphael gets wound up, he likes to unwind on his back. He slides on his detachable garbage can gyro-lid and flips into a back-breaking Ninja spin. Nothing will be left standing inside the circle of Turtle terror as the disgusting rat bola spins ferociously in Raphael's green grip. The Foot don't stand a chance against Raphael's streetwise, breakfightin' maneuvers. His anti-Foot stars slice with the ruthlessness of a vegematic.'
Jesus, and I thought my sentences were tough to figure out. You'd think Playmates got a commission everytime they used an adjective in the most inappropriate context possible. I don't seem to recall my Raph coming with these alleged 'anti-Foot' stars on his feet, but then again, I was probably marveling over how shiny they managed to make his skin. Notice that all the other Turtles are either off-green or downright brown. Not Raph. He be true to his roots, yo.
Donatello really got shafted with this one. If you thought Raphael's new abilities were pointless, take a look at this. Donatello's new feature was that he'd float in water by holding on to a big plastic thing while his wind-up legs kicked and swam him ashore. Toymakers have long lived under the false assumption that we played with our action figures in water. We didn't. Sure, occassionally one would slip through the cracks, but most boys were concerned with getting out of the tub as quickly as possible much more than setting up camp there.
Ultimately, you were left with a Donatello figure whose legs kicked for no real reason. It didn't help matters any that this newfound talent almost always ceased Don's ability to stand. And you know, I'm looking a Don now...what's up with his color? The theme song clearly states that these heroes in a halfshell are green. At best, Don's a dark olive. Almost Sicilian. Which doesn't make sense, since Mikey was the one who liked pizza the most. And that's not all the ways Don's been shafted. Leo has swords...Raph has mystical sais, and Mikey's got cool nunchucks. What ninja weapon did Don get? A stickball bat. Hey, you can call it a 'bo'. But you can call it a Ford Tempo too...it's still just a stick.
And as for Don's bio description.... 'Clean up the stinky Foot with Sewer-Swimmin' Donatello. With Don's sewer-scuba jet, you can be sure the Shredder won't be surfing through your sewers. This Turtle teen skims the water to uncover deviously devised Foot plans. Don dares to boldly fo where no Turtle has gone before - your tub, for instance, where he gets more than his feet wet giving the Foot a bath. And his keen spy sense will keep him from making too many waves. See Don rival Olympic hopefuls with his shell-stroke swimming action! The Turtles can now command the high seas from the splendor of your sewer-bath!'
You know why parents councils always warn us of the dangers of letting kids play with toys instead of reading books? This is why. If you're growing up reading file cards like that, you're going to have a pretty distorted grasp on the English language. And you can't tell me this stuff doesn't influence kids, I went around with my friends screaming 'cowabunga' over even the smallest things. But even so, I'm sure saying things like 'deviously devised' would give me a better guarantee of getting punched in the stomach.
Uh oh...it's the super rare (according to collectibles shops) and highly sought (according to eBay sellers) MOUSER!!! Mouser rocked the house for a few reasons. Number one, it's a robot, and as a general rule, all robots are pretty cool. Number two, it's a creation of our hero, Baxter Stockman. Number three, it's the TMNT figure most blatantly out of scale. On the show, Mouser would come up to Donatello's knees. In the figures, Mouser could easily eat Donatello's torso whole.
Out of all these Wacky Action figures, at least Mouser made sense. Wind him up, and he'd walk while chomping. No silly dancing, no disturbing twitches...just walking and chomping. For that it deserves praise. Here's a little fanboy tidbit...Mouser was and is extremely hard to come by. There weren't many made, and very few kids wanted the ones that were made. So, like every other toy that nobody wanted, it's become a collector's item and costs big bucks. Explain that to me. The figures you went crazy to get and that all your friends had now cost less than they did at retail...but Mouser, a figure that'd result in tears if you got it for X-Mas, costs enough to warrant a halt on putting a down payment on a new car.
Michaelangelo was goofy on the show, so common sense tells us he'd have to be even goofier when put under the 'Wacky Action' logo.
So, they made his tongue stick out and gave him the crucial ability to twist his arms around like no Turtle should. Mikey really looks like a guy from the institution in this particular representation. It was really hard to have any serious storylines with your toys when one of the players perpetually had his tongue out while making a goofy face. It really killed all the drama whenever I made April announce she had cancer.
There were later editions to the Wacky Action line, but they weren't exactly winners either. Still, these originals remain some pretty esoteric fucking Turtles. I got them one Christmas long ago from my brother, which is probably the last toy gift he ever gave me. Now all these fuckers are buying me adult stuff like shaving kits and talking Pikachu dolls. Sometimes I wish I had some medical ailment that gave me the mentality of a five-year-old fully documented, so the fact that this shelf behind me has four cans of Pac-Man pasta on it doesn't seem so geeky. I'd much rather call it an affliction.
Getting back on track, these Wacky Action figures weren't the only weird Turtle toys out there. Check these out...
Yes, giant stretching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures. Relieve your angst and stress by seeing just how long Leonardo's leg can actually get!
Oh, and to hear the commercial for the Wacky Action figures, click here. Beware the jingle in the background.
Remember, they're each sold seperately. As popular as they were, somehow, we never got the extra-special Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Wacky Action Mega Christmas 4-Pack Giftset. The world's a very cruel place.