Being an 80’s and early 90’s kid meant having a ton of awesome toys to play with. I got an NES for my 5th birthday. I had tons of Transformers, GI Joes, superhero, and other random weird toys. Remember Battle Beasts? I had some of those. Remember Dino Riders? You better believe I had the scientifically inaccurate Tyrannosaurus rex in my toy box.
One toy line towered above all the others, though. One was so vital and important that I had to have the entire run of toys. No, it wasn’t the old WWF wrestling figures with the ridiculous actions like an Ultimate Warrior in a permanent gorilla press action. Hell, it wasn’t even Monsters in my Pocket (though I had nearly all of them). It was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There was no single more awesome toy line in existence. The Turtles had cool vehicles, weird bad guys, and even a hot chick that was ok to play with. April O’Neil – my first crush – would drive around and battle alongside Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo, and my person favorite, Raphael. Ah, but some of these toys… sucked. A unique handful of awesome toys stand the test of time.
MEGA MUTANTS KILLER BEE
I have no clue what the backstory behind Killer Bee could even bee. He was some kind of giant, psychotic bee that was clearly in prison at some point for some heinous crime. He had a sack of money on a leg, a bent gun, a chainsaw (!), and handcuffs. Plus, Killer Bee was massive enough that an evil dude could ride on his back. And what did that evil dude sit on? An electric chair, of course. This vespid was not one to mess with, no sir.
In 1990, the coolest things in the world were skateboards, Ninja Turtles, and shirts with skulls on them. If you were a boy, lizards were also cool. The geniuses at Playmates shoved all of those into a blender and got Mondo Gecko. Mondo was an extreme Hawaiian lizard that might not have had eyelids but he did have a skateboard with an engine on it for EXTREME RADICAL STUNTS! Cowabunga, dudes! Gnarly! Eat his dust, indeed, dudes.
WINGNUT AND SCREWLOOSE
Wingnut is bat cosplaying as Batman that also has robotic wings, a gun, and a grenade. He came with a weird mosquito buddy named Screwloose. When I got my first TMNT character that came with a second, smaller mutant buddy that was mind blowing. I had just gotten two cool figures for the price of one. And this guy was like a goof on everyone’s favorite brooding detective, Batman! He also showed up on the comics, in an appearance I vividly remember for some unknown reason, thus making him even cooler.
TURTLE PARTY WAGON
The Party Wagon, aka the Turtle Van, was a must have vehicle for the TMNT line. If you only had one vehicle in your entire collection, you had the van. It was big, durable, and full of bright orange guns. Nothing made Saturday morning more fun than plowing through some Foot Clan jerks with the yellow and green van, screaming, “Cowabunga!” Then someone would pop out of the side with the weird door action feature and start shooting at Shredder with a laser gun for some reason.
SPACE USAGI YOJIMBO
Usagi Yojimbo was basically an anthropomorphic rabbit from feudal Japan who also starred in his own really good comic book series. For various reasons he ended up on the cartoon, hanging out with the much goofier TMNT crew. And for no reason I can even fathom, he got a space suit in his second toy. Now this rabbit who spent most of his time running around with a sword had lasers, an eye patch thing, and a space helmet that let his ears stick out. That basically makes the space helmet completely useless. But, damn, this is a rad toy.
The Technodrome was the tank / base / ship / battle station of Krang. He, Shredder, and a collection of ridiculously inept villains would hang around in this giant ball plotting out evil. The toy was a massive playset that opened up to show off tons of guns and even a jail for some wayward turtle that needed rescuing. Perhaps the best feature was the creepy, big eye that hung out on top of the playset. I had to admit that I never actually owned this one, but several of my friends did. Those rich bastards.
Slash was the original evil version of the Turtles, just out to get his binky back. This, of course, being the little palm treed island in the bowl where he was living before he was mutated into a hulking, monstrous snapping turtle dude. For added cool, he came with twisted version of all the main TMNT weapons and wore a cool black mask with Wolverine-esque purple claws. Between his outfit and his snarl, he was the best random bad guy to battle those pesky heroes-on-the-half-shell.
KRANG’S ANDROID BODY
The vintage run of toys saw the release of 3 separate Krang figures. There was the original Krang, just an alien brain in a walking chair. There was Krang inside of his weird sumo-looking android body released in the regular 5” toy line. Ah, but the best Krang figure was the foot tall Krang body with the removable Krang. It was large and imposing enough to battle all four turtles at once, and maybe a Mondo Gecko or an Ace Duck. If you had the big Krang, you were automatically the coolest kid on the playground. I liked to reenact the TMNT arcade game with mine. Shell shocked!
The first Shredder toy was shirtless. This was always a bit weird. I never understood why, exactly, he had no shirt. He wore a shirt in the cartoon. He wore a shirt in the comic. His weird squat pose kind of made sense as it was a takeoff of a famous comic moment. But, either way, this weirdness was rectified later in the line when Shredder was released in the corrected (mostly) cartoon version. It was basically a repaint, but it had the muted grays and bright purples seen on screen. Hooray!
Casey Jones was everyone’s favorite supporting character. He was cool. He was sort of a parody of violent vigilantes from the time, complete with hockey mask, but ran around smacking Foot Soldiers with a neon green baseball bat. I can’t even begin to defend his weird clothing choice or single shoulder pad, but Casey Jones was badass. He even made it to the movies! Though, here he was sadly misused. Casey should’ve been starring in his own weird film to explain his tragic backstory as a… crazy guy with sports weapons. Ah, Casey Jones, you were, and shall always be, the coolest TMNT toy.