The latest incarnation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is making its theatrical debut August 8. To mark the occasion, let’s take a look back at the franchise and its impact on pop culture. Back in the day, the original 1987 cartoon series was just about four talking turtles who fought against the tyrannical Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He went by the name of Shredder in this cartoon though. Probably to protect his family from mutant turtles.
While the show entertained little kids, it was pretty obvious that the animated TMNT series was primarily made to sell toys. What cartoon series in the 1980s wasn’t? Some these toys ranged from hilarious, weird to completely horrifying. Wait until you see the deformed pizza chef with pizza throwing action! Yet, we begged for them every birthday, holiday, or whenever we saw the commercials on TV.
Looking back at TMNT’s colorful toy commercials captures not only how ridiculous and obnoxious these commercials were, but also the kind of crap kids pined for and their parents blew untold sums of money on every year. Take a look below!
Oh, this is a good one. Remember “Sword-Slicing Leonardo?” With wind-up arm slicing action no less. Yes, Leonardo, often looked at as the leader of the Ninja Turtles, can be seen here with what looks like a giant French fry in his hand. McDonalds must have a hand in this as well.
Don’t forget about “Slice and Dice Shredder.” Not only does the leader of the dreaded Foot Clan have his signature wrist blades, but he also has propellers grafted to his arms! The guy’s a real creep.
You know what the Foot Clan so desperately needs to defeat the Turtles? “Shredder’s Wacky-Action Wind-Up Sludge Mobile.” Not only does this “vehicle” look like the mutated offspring of Humbuggy and the Mystery Mobile, but it also features and unstoppable weapon known only as the “Yellow Snow Launcher.” Don’t’ worry though. Leonardo is plunging ahead on Shredder’s behind.
So, you have an astronaut, a samurai warrior, a surfer and a man wearing a jacket….with nothing else. What do these things have in common? Well, they’re obviously alternate costumes for the Ninja Turtles. The samurai costume makes sense, but Donatello’s open coat costume with the creepy porn moustache mask should not be sold to children.
Yeah, you have some silly wind-up vehicles in this one, but the real star of this commercial is “Pizza-Face.” The mutant pizza chef is pretty horrifying to look at. His figure comes with his signature meat cleaver and his special killer pizzas. This is a cartoon for children, yet it features a deformed pizza man with a meat cleaver. Oh, 1980s. You were so loveably irresponsible.
Okay, this commercial is pretty cool. I loved kaiju and movie monsters as a kid, so I would have been begging my parents to buy me the mutant “Killer-Bee.” It’s a giant bee wielding chainsaws. What seven-year-old wouldn’t want that?
The Foot Clan always seem to use technologically advanced weapons against their enemies, but the Turtles have been busy creating their own invention to defend the innocent civilians of New York City. “The Motorized Pizza Thrower” will bring down any aerial attack from the sky. It comes with several different pizzas too.
It’s great when you start to get the play sets to go along with all the action figures. I wouldn’t exactly say slapping together a plastic box with a slightly smaller box qualifies as a “play set,” but corporations tended to be pretty frugal in the 80s. Reganomics affected toymakers too.
Yes this commercial features various water gun vehicles, but the real head scratcher is the Donatello figurine. Donatello is featured hear with his removable back. It can fit all of his extra weapons and pizza pies! I guess this was for the cruel kids who always wanted to rip the shells off of their Ninja Turtle action figures. They can finally fulfill that dream.
The Anchovy Alley Pop-Up Pizza Play-Set is fairly creative. A seemingly ordinary pizza box morphs into a pizza shop and sewer. I will refrain from being snarky to admire its clever design.
Now you can get the most powerful substance in the Turtle Universe. The white-light grey liquid substance known as “Mutagen Ooze” can now be thrown at the enemies of the Turtles. Watch as large quantities of this substance is hurled through the air, lathering dozens of innocent looking toys. You know, for kids.
What about you, reader? Any favorite TMNT toys that you loved back in that day? Let us know in the comments below!