Cowabunga! Top 5 Things We Remember about Vintage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


There are few franchises that have retained the sort of cult following that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have. A lot of aging nerds have conflicting feelings about Michael Bay’s obtusely-budgeted Turtles reboot (hitting theaters on August 8th). The new film eschews the conventional puppets and tangible costumes (produced in most of the earlier film series by the Jim Henson Company) in favor of computer generated imagery. The aesthetics are different, and that’s more than enough to make some nerds anxious.

But why fixate on what’s new and discomforting to us, when we can retreat into nostalgic sentimentality? On that note, here are some memorable vintage TMNT moments:

5. Sewage Fruit Pies: In 1990, Hostess produced a line of TMNT branded pudding pies. Initially, vanilla pies were sold, then someone at Hostess had the brilliant idea to market toxic-green “ooze” filled pies. Proof, perhaps, that children will eat anything so long as a cartoon character is employed to endorse it — even mock sewage.

4. The Toys: There were countless toy series released in the eighties and nineties. Some of the most memorable ones were the ones that featured the turtles in special costumes. There was the “Universal Monsters” series, and the “Wacky Wild West” series. There were also the “Wacky Action” toys that could move, and throw things.

3. Turtles Vs. Samurais: In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, April O’Neil gives Splinter an ancient Japanese scepter as a present. It turns out that the scepter opens up a time portal, and April and the Turtles travel back in time to Feudal Japan, where they train to become samurai warriors, and lead a peasant village to defeat an oppressive political regime. It was one of those films that performed exceedingly well at the box-office upon it’s initial release, and was promptly panned by most fans and critics. You will, from time to time, find scathing Youtube reviews from VHS collectors, while some have retained an appreciation for the film’s campiness.

The film will never be taken seriously, but it is attracting new fans, thanks largely to the film being re-released on Blu-Ray, and it’s also occasionally made streamable through Netflix and DTV (check here) nowadays. Did we mention that Corey Feldman provides the voice of Donatello?

2. The Video Games: There have been several Turtle-based games released over the years. The earliest were released for the 8-bit NES (Nintendo Entertainment System). While the first Turtles game left much to be desired, it’s follow-up, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game, which was (as you’ll either remember or infer from the title) based on the hugely successful TMNT arcade game. The game was glitchy, but on the whole, it replicated the graphics and gameplay of the arcade console more closely than most other 8-bit games.

And, lest we forget…

1. The Vanilla Ice Ninja Rap: “Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go!”

Kate Voss

Kate Voss is a freelance entertainment blogger living in the Windy City. She is an MSU alum with a love for creative writing, reading and restoring antique furniture.

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