Coming Out Of My Shell

I’ve done something bad. Or more accurately—I’ve bought something bad. It had to happen eventually. I’ve reached the nadir of my collecting, my personal rock-bottom. If there’s a line one crosses between a fun collecting hobby and an indiscriminate hoarding problem, I may have just crossed it.

But first let me explain what happened.

In the heart of the winter months, with the lack of yard sales and flea markets, I’ve been resigned to hitting up thrift stores to do my treasure hunting. And recently, I’ve had a couple of scores. I’ve found a couple of vintage MOTU figures, a G1 Transformer, some vintage Universal Monster bendys, and even a Harry and the Hendersons Bigfoot bendy.

Each of these guys is worth a couple bucks each. The Transformer is Override, a triggerbot, a figure that sells for $15-$30 loose on eBay. The MOTUs are worth about $2-$5 each. The Universal Monster bendys are worth at least $5-$10 a piece. And who knew? Harry and the Hendersons has a bizarre cult following, and the toys are sought after and high-sellers on eBay. This is at least $50-$80 worth of figures that I’ve found rooting around in the thrift store, paying about $5 total for all of them.

By the way, I’m completely in love with this King Hiss figure.

He’s missing all his outer body armor parts, but I like him better this way. It’s a snake with arms that are also snakes. Let me say it again. A SNAKE WITH ARMS THAT ARE ALSO SNAKES. That’s my new reason for living.

If I was smart, I’d already have those things listed on eBay and sold, but I’m not smart. I’m a collector. All my friends have retirement accounts. I just have a basement full of toys and a running mental inventory of things that sell on eBay.

Thanks to all these sweet toys I’ve been scoring lately, I’ve gotten a bit addicted to checking out the thrifts. It’s gone from the occasional weekend activity to a twice-a-week binge. It’ll be a Wednesday night and I’ll find myself fiending for a hit of Goodwill cooked up with a bit of Value Village.

But don’t let me mislead you; most of the time, there’s nothing there. Just the same old Myrtle Beach coffee mugs, George Foreman grills, and a VHS copy of Free Willy. So sometimes I get desperate. Real desperate. This has lead me to start peeking into the darker and lesser explored sections of the thrift store. Like the cassette section. Oh yes, I went there, and it’s a scary place. One word: cassingles.

All of this was the brewing of the perfect storm, an aligning of things that led to me to buy the WORST THING I have ever bought. Right there in the cassette section, next to a 1990 Cassingle promo version of Wilson Phillips’ Release Me.

I bought THIS:

A sealed 1990 cassette album of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Coming Out Of Their Shells tour. I couldn’t get over the fact that it will still sealed, and that alone was worth a dollar to me, and possibly more. But let’s not talk about that. Ever.

This cassette was available exclusively at Pizza Huts. Take a moment to admire that cover, with Michaelangelo busting out of a shell, the bits and fragments gone flying. The funny part is, turtles die when their shells are broken. This is a metaphor.

It’s a low point for me—and the Ninja Turtles. In 1990, the Turtles had their own breakfast cereal, video game, school supplies, linens, towels, cameras, and even shaving kits. And after the massive success of the first Ninja Turtle movie, that the denim-clad Turtles would go on a multiple-city rock and roll concert tour sponsored by Pizza Hut only made sense.

It was bad. These weren’t the same puppets made with loving care and artfulness of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop featured in the movie. These were the bargain basement Turtles that looked strung out on nightmare fuel. But the thing about the Ninja Turtles brand is that it’s kind of amazing. It has been diluted, milked dry, drained of every last of drop of blood, and left for dead more than once. And yet like a phoenix, it always rises from the ashes for another movie, another cartoon series, or another line of action figures. And kids still LOVE it, even to this day.

The storyline for the tour was that music was more powerful than any weapon. There was also some plot about how Shredder was trying to steal all the music in the world by building a machine called a De-Harmonic Convergence Converter, but all you really needed to know was the part where April sings was a good time for a bathroom break or concession stand run.

The tour was in fact successful and popular with kids. It spawned no less than two home videos—a recorded concert at Radio City Music Hall and even more inexplicably, a making-of documentary. The thing is, I don’t remember the thing at all. Maybe it’s because the tour didn’t come to my town. Maybe it’s because I was turning ten that year and thought I’d become too old to indulge in my Turtle love in public. I’d become a closeted Turtle fan and wanted nothing to do with a Coming Out tour.

So I have absolutely no nostalgia for this thing, which makes the fact that I bought this tape so much worse.

I love the song titles. They’re intriguing and zen-like in their simplicity: “Sing About It.” “Tubin’.” “No Treaties.” I think it’s hilarious that the producers obviously held the part where April sings in such low regard that they didn’t give the song a name other than “April Ballad.” They couldn’t even be bothered to punctuate it possessively.

I asked the wife if she thought there was something that might be missing in me, “some kind of gaping hole that I’m trying to fill by buying crap like this.”

She shrugged disinterestedly. “Nah, that’s just the kind of weird stuff you like.” Then she added, “By the way, I happened to see the neighbors put their trash out, and there was a box for a salad spinner. Just so you don’t think I’m the only one who has all these extraneous kitchen gadgets — the neighbors have one, too.”

“Wait what? You were stalking their trash?”

“No,” she said defensively, and went back to reading a magazine article about one woman’s relationship with a slow cooker.

Then I realized we all have weird gaping holes that we’re filling with stuff. And apparently, the neighbors have this particular hole, too, and our neighborhood is like a Salad Spinners Anonymous meeting. Because life is life, and sometimes it pokes holes in you, and the only thing that makes sense for it is to buy a giant contraption of a spinning bowl that dries lettuce. Or a Ninja Turtle tape. Or whatever.

28 thoughts on “Coming Out Of My Shell

    1. Dang I didn’t know – I haven’t done a junk food post in forever. To think I just drank a whole carafe of “Invisible Kool Aid” and didn’t post a word on it. FOR SHAME.

  1. Wow great, now three verses from motherfucking Walk Straight are repeating over and over in my head. I had that tape and played the shit out of it–probably when i shouldve been listening to MC Hammer like all the other kids. Forgot it ever existed until this article. You have to break that badboy open and give it a listen!

  2. Like Bobby, now all I can hear in my head is the chorus of “Tubin'”. I had this tape when I was 13 and knew all the songs on it by heart. When I saw the headline for the blog entry, I had to click it because “Coming Out of Our Shells” started playing in my head and I had to find out if it was what you were talking about. Wow, sordid youth. Thanks for the nostalgia. :)

  3. I still have this tape proudly on my shelf and still listen to it occasionally. Most of the songs are not that good, but I love them anyway. Splinter’s song is… interesting.

    I never did get to see this show, I am not sure if it never came to my town or if my parent’s just avoided it.

    1. Yeah I watched a bit of it online and was amused at Splinter’s psuedo-yoga dance moves. I just really want to know why the Ninja Turtles didn’t just whore themselves out to Icecapades like all my other favorite characters.

  4. I fell ya on going to thrift stores and finding nothing. But it’s great that you found those awesome figures at a nice price. Can’t blame you fpr buying this cassette. For a dollar, I would’ve too(and I don’t have any memories of this tour either. Maybe a commercial, but that’s it).

  5. Man, I got that cassette out of a grab bag my parents bought me at a local fair and was SO THRILLED to see that in there. I didn’t know any better. I was but a child. I think even then, I thought the songs were stupid because I don’t remember any lyrics. And that’s saying a lot considering I remember jingles to products I’ve never owned/ate.

  6. Oh man, I can remember having a King Hiss! Not so much with the Turtle cassette, because, like you, I think I had moved onto “better” things at that point (i.e. different comic books, speed metal, and bike riding).

  7. Ah, the random albums that came out around that time. I do have a simpsons sing the blues album and a Dinosaurs one (anyone here remember THAT show?)… Now I have some of those songs stuck in my head.

  8. We had a salad spinner years ago, but it broke. I want to buy another one but 1) they’re expensive and 2) I feel like I must not have treated the first one well, so maybe I don’t deserve another one.

    Are you going to listen to the tape or are you, as a collector, going to leave it preserved in a shroud of shrink wrap? I kind of want to know what April’s ballad sounds like, but it’s probably out there somewhere on the internet.

  9. Okay, confession: I LOVED the TMNT as a kid. One of my best christmases was the year I got the action figures. Also, I remember that concert. I went with my best friend and I even made a sign (I Heart Leonardo) which I still have today. I also had that tape. I listened to it for hours and hours and hours. I don’t know what happened to it, but I do know that I absolutely loved it.

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