1988 Makes a Comeback With the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Classic Collection

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Image: Actionfigurepics.com
Image: Actionfigurepics.com

Prepare to groan. When the 1988 original collection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures came out, I was less than a year old. I know, I know, it’s a bit odd, because I’m a huge fan. I have spent nearly my entire life obsessed with the dynamic quartet, and it was one of the first ways I found myself geeking out over anything.

When I was in preschool, my cousins started handing toys down to us. I ended up with nearly the entire collection of toys, including Splinter and the Turtle Party Wagon. (This was, of course, before the “Shellraiser” was a thing.) I adored those toys, but I had to share them with my brothers. Splinter’s sword cane was promptly broken, and anything removable was lost in a matter of days, possibly eaten by the youngest kids.

Image: Actionfigurepics.com
Image: Actionfigurepics.com

When Nickelodeon and Toys “R” Us announced the re-release of the classic toys, I thought I was going to faint. I was very excited, but also scared. What if they did a crappy job, or “rebooted” them too far? What if these “re-release” toys were just a gimmick that wouldn’t deliver authenticity? When I obtained my favorite pieces, however, I was stunned.

The Classic Collection has been made with the original molds! With expressions leaving you unsure if Leonardo is trying to look intimidating, or is constipated, nostalgia ran over me in waves. I opened my newly acquired Leo with great trepidation. When I pulled out the plastic sheet of weapons, I let out a squee of excitement. I had a friend, also a life-long TMNT fan, with me and he had the same reaction. They were exactly the same as we remembered, right down to the Tang-orange violent coloring.

The plastic harness/weapon sheath was still removable with the strange suspender/belt style attachments. When the harness is removed, the ridiculous belt line is still there, a happy-but-strange ring left running around the shell. I found the same to be true with Raphael and Splinter. Splinter’s iconic-ally strange fabric robe was intact, including the inability to cover his hiney if his tail is raised.

Image: Actionfigurepics.com
Image: Actionfigurepics.com

When I busted out the Turtle Party Wagon, I remembered the ultimate downfall — they don’t fit properly. If you try to squeeze all 5 characters in you will be disappointed, and likely bend/break something. And of course, only Donatello actually fit well in the driver’s seat. Since I don’t have him, I mostly use the front seat the way I did as a kid — as the only reasonable facsimile of a safe storage place for the tiny accessories.

While punching out the weapons, I made some of the same mistakes my cousins had obviously made 25 years ago. I tried to force Splinter’s sword into the cane, for one. It promptly bent. Then I remembered to use a sturdy bit of metal (a bent paperclip) to clear the misplaced plastic. After that, the cane was in tip-top shape. I also managed to crush a couple of pieces while trying to cut them out. Ah well. It just makes them look more like the ones I had when I was a kid.

While playing with my new toys for an embarrassing amount of time, I remembered some of the more fun memories I have of the turtles as a kid. My aunt and uncle made TMNT cakes for my birthday, one for me, one for my twin brother. They were decorated with our favorite turtles, Raphael and Leonardo. Another time, a parent of a classmate hired actors dressed as the turtles to come to our classroom. They came laden with pizza, with cheese intentionally stuck to the top of the box.

Every time I eat pizza, I look for the classic stringy cheese I remember from the movies and cartoons. Sadly, real pizza doesn’t often behave that way. It’s strange how something that obscure can change your expectations for the rest of your life. I had forgotten about that particular causation until I was playing with my toys, imagining them chowing down and saying all my favorite buzzwords.

Image: Actionfigurepics.com
Image: Actionfigurepics.com

As part of the re-release, Nickelodeon also released the M.E.C.H. Wreckers battle suits from 2004. I got my hands on the Raphael Wrecker, and I’ve had so much fun shooting missiles at the cats, while Raph zooms around on his motorized tank-style feet. The wrecker is compatible with all 4.5″ turtle figures, and in this iteration includes a 1988 version turtle. The reverse button is a classic touch, which allows a bit of variety for the movement. Putting a turtle in is easy, and they actually stay in pretty well, thanks to the latching covers.

As we see the constant evolution of our favorite classics, including the newest collection of TMNT toys from Nickelodeon, it’s nice to know that they are still thinking about the life-long fans. Putting this collection out again is a nice friendly “Thanks for being a fan for so long.” It’s nice to feel appreciated as an adult by a company so well known for the attention they spend on children. TMNT fans all over the world are looking forward to the next step Nickelodeon will be taking.

Note: the author received these pieces for the purpose of this review.

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