Every child that grew up in the '80s played with “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” toys. Based on the now-classic Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird pseudo-Daredevil spin-off comic book, the Turtles took a dark satire of superhero comics and turned them into kid-friendly action figures. The toy line was connected with the popular cartoon series, although they often deviated in character design and story. Sometimes, a toy was designed first and then fit into the cartoon’s story; at others, a toy was made for a character who never appeared in the cartoon.
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The original TMNT toy line was famous for its bizarre characters and monsters. While most people remember the big names, there were a lot of truly bizarre mutant friends and foes, among which we have chosen a select 15. Remember, the toys didn’t always follow the show, so the stories behind these characters are based on the biographies from the back of the packages.
The Technodrome had a bug infestation, so Shredder and Krang called in an exterminator. Unfortunately, he was exposed to some ooze and was turned into a humanoid bug monster. According to his bio, he found himself unable to face his customers in his new form, so he got a job with Shredder as a turtle assassin. It seems weird that he would be mad at the Turtles and not Shredder, considering that his new boss was responsible for his grotesque appearance.
He comes with a tank of anti-turtle spray, which seems like an odd item for a New York City exterminator (or anyone, really) to have. He also has powerful antennae, which can control other bugs, making him the "Pied Piper of the creepy and the crawly." The best part about Scumbug, however, is that he's still wearing a collared shirt and tie. He might be a mutated bug man turned assassin, but he's still a professional.
14 MUTAGEN MAN
The whole concept of regular people being mutated into monsters is actually pretty terrifying. The story of Mutagen Man, for example, seems like it belongs in a horror movie, not a kid's line of toys. He started off as the unfortunately-named Seymour Gutz, a delivery man. He ended up the victim of one of Krang's experiments, and found himself mutated into just a grotesque pile of guts, thereby fulfilling his self-fulfilling prophecy. He's contained in a life support system that holds his body together, and he's reliant on more ooze to stay alive, effectively making him Shredder's slave.
That story seems kind of heavy for kids already, but it gets worse. One of the toy's special features was that it could be fed garbage. He came with a bunch of pieces of pizza, an eel, apple cores and a wrench (which isn't even food) that can be popped inside of his chest so he can "digest them." As if this guy's life wasn't bad enough, now he's got kids feeding him garbage.
Roaming the sewers of New York City, Muckman is the grossest ally the Ninja Turtles have. A former sewer worker who was exposed to mutagen and mutated into a garbage monster, Muckman's bio card is full of insults. Under height and weight, it says "smells too bad to measure," which is pretty mean. He wears a clothespin on his nose, but not because he can't stand his own stink. It's there to keep all of the garbage in.
His card lists his favorite band as "Oozie Osbourne," and his favorite movie is "Wizard of Ooze," because everything in his life is ooze. The worst part, however, is his relationship with the Turtles. He respects them, and they like him because "he looks like a pepperoni pizza." First of all, that doesn't really seem like an even level of friendship. Second, Muckman does not look like a pepperoni pizza. If the Turtles have been eating pepperoni pizza that looks like Muckman, they have more things to worry about than the Shredder.
12 PIZZA FACE
The Turtles love pizza, so a pizza-themed villain must be a heartbreaking conundrum for them to deal with. Pizza Face was a cook who dreamed of becoming the most powerful pizza chef in the world. So, he climbed into his mutagen-powered pizza oven and began to transform, but was interrupted when the Ninja Turtles burst in and pulled him out. This left him a half-baked, pizza powered madman out for revenge. Based on his mutation, however, it's not really clear why he's mad at the Turtles.
After his transformation, one of his legs ended up as a pizza box attached to a stick. So, it seems like if he had been left to go through the full mutation, he would have ended up as a limbless pizza man. That doesn't really seem to suggest that he missed out on obtaining any power due to the Turtles' interference. He can also shoot pizzas at the Turtles, which also seems like it would be counterproductive.
11 RAY FILET
Often times, phrasing can be really important. In the Ninja Turtles mythos, humans that come into contact with an animal and some ooze will mutate into that animal, or that animal will mutate into a humanoid creature. Despite knowing that, Ray Filet's bio card is incredibly creepy. According to the packaging on this children's toy, Ray was "spawned from a marine biologist and a manta ray." Obviously it doesn't mean what it sounds like, but this bio card probably could have used a rewrite.
Ray also comes with "Fish Stix," who is described as "a water breathing breaded buddy." Why this fish is breaded isn't explained, but to be honest, there's no happy reason that a living fish is pre-breaded, unless his mutation was the mix between a fish and a frying pan. Ray also appeared in the cartoon, but as a completely different character. The episode "Rebel Without a Fin" (1990) shows Ray as an evil henchman for an even more evil scientist who is trying to sink New York City.
Most people would choose to live in Australia as opposed to the sewers of New York City, but not Walkabout. He's a Kangaroo mutant from the land down under who specifically moved to New York because he heard about the Turtles' adventures fighting the Foot Clan. The bio card claims that when he got to New York City, he moved into the sewers because they were "down under" the city, and he's from "the land down under." Aside from that, let's be honest, forced coincidence with their names, there's literally nothing else the sewers and Australia have in common.
Based solely on his bio card, Walkabout had no reason to be mad at the Foot Clan. They didn't do anything to him, his family or even his homeland. He was just bored of "hunting crocodiles" and "talkin' a gutful to ratbags and deadheads." He also comes with a gun called the "eliminating elephant gun," which really makes it seem like Walkabout is a poacher.
9 PANDA KHAN
Pandas aren't exactly considered to be intimidating animals. They're just too adorable and cuddly looking to be scary. A thousand years in the future, however, a group of samurai mutant pandas is led by Panda Khan. He leaves his home looking for adventure, and ends up using martial arts to travel to the past, where he teams up with the Ninja Turtles. According to his bio card, he and the Ninja Turtles had "an unbearably good time." It also says that his favorite battle move is the "bear hug," and that his armor makes him hard for the Foot Clan to "bear."
Similar to Usagi, the ronin rabbit, Panda Khan was a character that existed before being brought into the Ninja Turtles world. While there were plans for him to appear on the cartoon, he only ever made it into the toy line, making him one of only a few misfit toys that never really fit in.
According to his bio card, Wyrm was once a garbage man who slipped and fell into Shredder's trash bin. This, as you might expect, resulted in him being mutated into a monster with bad breath. That's not just us casting aspersions, his bio specifically states that he has terrible breath. It seems like a lot of people that do manual labor for Shredder end up getting mutated, so Shredder should probably stop leaving mutagen out all over the place, and definitely stop disposing of it by simply tossing it in a trash can. That's just irresponsible.
Wyrm seems to have a pretty lonely life. His bio states that only fellow sewer mutant Muckman is "foul enough to be his friend." Looking at his accessories, however, it's not hard to see why Wyrm has a lack of friends. He comes with a belt made of worms, a knife made of worms and a wrench made out of a porcupine. Making tools out of seemingly live animals isn't the best way to inspire companionship.
7 WINGNUT AND SCREWLOOSE
At some point before meeting the Ninja Turtles, Krang blew up a planet called Huanu. Unfortunately for him, a clumsy vampire bat and a level-headed mosquito both survived and ended up on Earth. Wingnut, the bat, and Screwloose, the mosquito, vowed to take revenge on the evil brain and teamed up with the Turtles. Despite his bloodshot eyes and oversensitive ears, Wingnut is desperate to be a hero, even though he's too clumsy to fight effectively. So far, this seems like a pretty typical Ninja Turtles character.
His accessories, however, are a nightmare. Since he's a vampire bat, they're all blood themed. He has a siphoning gun, which presumably siphons blood. He has "blood burstin' grenades," which hopefully don't just spray blood everywhere or worse, cause his enemies' blood to explode. Worst of all are his plasma-propelled bat wings. Plasma, if you didn't know, is the colorless fluid part of blood. That means that every time Wingnut flies, he had to get blood from somewhere (or, more accurately, someone).
6 ACE DUCK
The toyline attempted to add another animal to the Turtles roster of allies with Ace Duck. His story is actually pretty messed up, according to his card bio. Krang and Shredder were craving duck brains (yes, that is what it says), so they transported a duck from Earth to Dimension X. There are no ducks in Dimension X, of course, probably because everyone there has eaten all their brains. Unfortunately, a plane flew through the transporter beam, and both the duck and the pilot were combined, forming Ace Duck!
He eventually encountered the Turtles, who hired Ace to pilot their blimp. Considering how often they used this blimp, however, that seems like an unnecessary hire on the Turtles' part, to be honest. Ace comes with egg bombs to throw at his enemies, which is pretty callous, really. What makes Ace truly unfortunate, however, is that despite the elaborate story the toyline created for him, it was never used in the classic cartoon. Ace appeared only once on TV, as the Turtles were flipping channels in the episode "Attack of the Big Macc" (1987). He had no bearing on the plot.
5 KILLER BEE
Appearing as part of the Mega Mutants line, Killer Bee is a giant mutant bee with a harness on its back for a Foot Soldier to ride around on. His box refers to him as a "psychotic stinging, pollinating punk," which isn't as intimidating as it sounds. The psychotic part is scary, but at least Killer Bee is still taking part in the ecosystem to pollinate flowers. Unless he's supposed to be pollinating in an aggressive way... but that doesn't even seem possible.
Krang created Killer Bee to be part of his high flying mega mutant army. His instability of mind probably explains why his harness is actually an electric chair, so he can electrocute whoever is flying him. Considering the fact that he works for Krang, and the box clearly shows a Foot Soldier flying him, this seems like a bit of a design flaw. He also has a drone gun mounted on his back pointed behind him, which is a terrible design when it comes to proper aim.
Sitting as judge, jury and executioner for all of Dimension X is the six-armed Antrax. According to his card, he's "the picnic punk with the four fisted punch!" He comes with an axe, a spiked baseball bat and a ball and chain. To complete the motif, he wears a purple executioner's hood; although, to be honest, it's not doing a great job of hiding his identity. According to his card bio, Krang was out looking for "turtle tearing talent" and came across Antrax. Impressed with his skills, Krang hired him to take charge of justice across Dimension X.
There's a lot of weird with this toy. First of all, the name is a play on the word "anthrax," but his story has nothing to do with poison or powders. It's just a random combination of an animal and a scary word. Second, while Antrax has the "executioner" part of his job covered, his figure doesn't come with any judge or jury accessories. It's almost as if he has no interest in seriously deliberating the guilt or innocence of his victims. Did Krang even look at his resume?
Cashing in on the seemingly ever-present basketball craze, which arguably hit its mainstream height in the early '90s, Halfcourt is a mutant giraffe that fights crime by playing basketball. Unfortunately, his card bio doesn't explain how he became a basketball playing giraffe. His origin will forever remain one of life's great mysteries. His card does explain that he's the greatest basketball fighter out there, and that when he shoots, he scores. He also came with a companion figure, Ruff the Ref. This guy is a mutant flamingo who is a complete mystery, and it's not entirely clear what situation he's the referee for, exactly.
Halfcourt, being a giraffe, could extend his neck up an inch or two. He comes with a beehive basketball, which just seems dangerous for everybody, and a pistol, which isn't basketball themed at all. Also, his jersey is numbered 34, a reference to Shaquille O'Neal, while his stuck-out tongue is probably a reference to Michael Jordan. Or it could just be a giraffe thing? When it comes to Halfcourt, the world may never know.
Sometimes it seems like the makers of the Ninja Turtles toys forgot that their audience were kids. Take Sandstorm, for example. He's a mutant camel that comes with some accessories that really drive home some uncomfortable stereotypes of the Middle East. His bio card is also full of the word "hump," because camels have humps. For example, instead of "vital statistics," his card says "vital HUMPstistics." His card also says not to mention his two humps, or "he'll give you lumps."
Aside from the unintentional and, quite frankly, bizarre innuendo, Sandstorm comes with a "Swami Slicin' Sword," (aka a big purple sword), a bulletproof magic carpet and a magic lamp pistol, which is exactly what it sounds like: a pistol-shaped like a lamp, or a lamp with a pistol built into it. It seems like a terribly clumsy weapon. It's also not clear if the magic lamp has a genie inside of it, which would be way more useful in a fight than a couple of bullets.
One of the rarest Ninja Turtle figures was Scratch, a giant cat in a prisoner's uniform. His card refers to him as "the crafty crook cat," but considering the fact that he's obviously been to jail, he doesn't seem so crafty. In fact, according to his bio, he's been sentenced to life in prison. Sure, it also mentions that he's broken out nine times, but that also means he's been caught nine times. Also, it says that his least favorite government employee is "the dog catcher," which makes no sense at all. Scratch is a cat. The dog catcher catches dogs, a species that traditionally doesn't get along with cats. Therefore, Scratch should at least appreciate the dog catcher's hard work.
Scratch comes with a criminal cake gun, which mostly just seems like a waste of cake. Most disturbingly, however, is the part of his bio that warns that if you run into Scratch, "run him over before he scratches you senseless." It's probably not a good idea to tell kids to run over live animals, even criminal cats. But that's just us.
What was your favorite weird TMNT toy from the old days or new? Let us know in the comments!
The newest "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" cartoon returns to Nickelodeon February 5th, 2017.