That’s right—the TMNT Crackpipe is back. They got me hooked young, and twenty-eight years later, I’m still buying their stuff. This fall marks the return of a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon series on Nickelodeon. The Ninja Turtles are sort of like Aerosmith—somehow they just keep coming back for yet another generation. This is the third animated series for the foursome, this time featuring spiffy CGI graphics. And alongside the new series is a slew of new toys.
The toys are just now beginning to trickle out onto the store shelves and are already widely available online. The first series is comprised of the four basic four-inch Turtle figures, plus friends Splinter and April, and enemies Shredder, Foot Solider, and Krang. There are also talking versions of the figures, as well as collector-size twelve-inch figures. I picked up three of the new figures, including Michelangelo, Raphael, and Krang. I bought them as a 3-pack bundle sold through Wal-Mart’s website for $25. At about eight bucks a figure, it’s a great price.
Krang was the highest on my want-list because Krang is basically the most awesome character in the entire TMNT universe. He’s a fussy, bitchy alien brain whose voice sounds like an intergalactic octopus with acid reflux. Plus he walks around in a naked doughy android body wearing nothing but red underpants.
The new Krang figure has ditched the naked doughy body in favor of a sleeker Terminator-style android. Which is fine with me, because honestly kids today couldn’t handle doughy nakedness like us 1980s kids. Us 1980s kids were exposed to all kinds of weird and dubious crap in cartoons. Little kids today would just be scarred by that stuff.
I still love the new Krang figure. He has a hip minimalism about him. He’s super tiny—the actual Krang is about the size of my thumbnail. I’m having a hard time resisting the urge to take him out of the packaging. A part of me wants to preserve him in the package so he’s worth a million dollars one day, and another part of me just wants to hug mini thumbnail Krang and feel him squish between my fingers.
Interestingly, Krang is spelled with two a’s on the packaging, but I refuse to spell it like that. I think it’s meant to denote the plural, because the back of the packaging describes the Kraang as “brain-like conquerors.” However, to me Krang will always be a singular entity.
As for the Turtle figures, I dig them too. They have a cartoonish chunkiness that reminds of the original Turtle figures, but with a modern sleekness. I like the artwork as well. I never liked the dark, boxy 2007 TMNT design. Similarly, I’ve never cared for the 2003 Ninja Turtles artwork either. Obviously I’m biased to the 1980s stuff, but I think this new 2012 stuff has a coolness factor.
Additionally, there’s also a series of classic-styled Ninja Turtle figures, modeled after the original cartoon series characters. Initially, I was most interested in these classic toys. Finally, figures that look like the cartoon version! As a kid I loved the figures, but I did always wonder why they didn’t look more like the cartoons. So yeah, I was all about these new classic figures—until I saw the price. Depending on where you see them, they go from $17-25 a pop.
They just know the people who are going to buy these things are the thirtysomethings who have been hooked on the TMNT crackpipe since 1988. We’re the reason the Turtles were ever popular in the first place. We’re the ones who became little fiends for everything Ninja Turtle. We didn’t care what it was—we bought it voraciously. No really, we did not give a shit what it was.
Random-ass figures of characters that were sometimes not even in the cartoon? Bought ’em.
Half-baked rock concerts with lip-syncing puppets on stage? Got the tickets.
Crappy frozen pizzas? Ate them like hungry dogs.
So you know what? I’m taking a stand. I’m not buying it anymore. These “classic collection” Turtles don’t even look all that great:
As a number of other reviewers and fans have pointed out about these figures, the paint-job on the eyes is terrible. All of the Turtles look a little cross-eyed—and some are worse than others. Normally, my addiction to the TMNT crackpipe is so strong that I could overlook a little strabismus, but for twenty-five bucks, you’d think these toys would come with corrective lenses.
My other problem is I think the packaging is ugly. I hate that homogenized artwork of the four Turtles. While the original ’80s artwork may have always been a bit doofy and kid-oriented, it also retained a bit of edge. But over the years, that edge has been totally washed out, and now all of the “retro” artwork of the Turtles just looks like cheerful milk toast. Also, I have one more small complaint, which is also my biggest pet-peeve: the mystery quotations around the “1988.” Why are they there? What do they imply?
You know what though? I’m probably going to cave and end up buying one of them eventually. Because I’m hooked: