Cowabunga Christmas: Mega Bloks Advent Calendar

Welcome to the 2016 edition of Cowabunga Christmas! This is The Sewer Den's 4th year celebrating the holidays in a half shell. Sip your eggnog and follow along with a lineup of festive TMNT content that will ooze throughout the month of December. From seasonal merchandise to outlandish finds on the internet, Santa is bringing lots of surprises to the sewer!


Every season, a ton of TMNT holiday merchandise hits store shelves. But, not all of it packs a truly festive punch. Luckily, Mega Blok's TMNT advent calendar does. It's not even just a punch, it's a bodyslam of Christmas cheer. This is the holiday season mutated, the way we deserve it to be. For 24 consecutive days, fans can pop open a square and receive a tiny TMNT toy. Joy to the world, joy to the sewers! But, the big question...are these daily goodies totally awesome or a bah humbug bust?


On a scale from scraps of pizza crust to a full pepperoni pie, where does the TMNT advent calendar rank? That depends on the price tag. When I originally saw this thing, it was listed for $30. I meant to order it sooner than later, but got caught up in the spirit of autumn and it totally slipped my mind. Months later, I checked back on the item. Funny enough, procrastination was my friend and the price had dropped to $11. Quite the discount! Santa likes cheap prices when he visits The Sewer Den. Obviously, I pulled the trigger. For just over 10 bucks, that averages out to about $0.45 per day. It's like having the opportunity to get a prize from a quarter machine for 24 days. The Grinch can't even complain about that one. #WorthIt

Since today is December 1st, I pried open the packaging window marked with the number 1. A mini-Leonardo figure with an ugly Christmas sweater-like shell greeted me. He's the perfect mascot for Cowabunga Christmas here at The Sewer Den. He's almost too good. I hope Mega Bloks saved yuletide treasure for the other 23 days. 


The TMNT advent calendar is festive and fun (for $11). I only opened up Day 1 so far, but the packaging is full of spoilers. For better or worse, I know everything coming my way for the next 23 days. There are great goodies ahead, like festive pizzas and golden Mousers, but there are a few duds too (I'm looking at you SpongeBob TV set). Even so, nothing like this has ever existed for TMNT fans. Sure, Mega Bloks is ripping off the success Lego has had with the advent calendar concept, but I'm totally okay with it. 24 days of receiving TMNT toys? This is my heaven.

Check back for more holiday hijinks all month during The Sewer Den's Cowabunga Christmas!

Horror Movie Mutants

Monsters. Mutants. Toys! In the 90s, TMNT exploded on the classic horror scene with some of the best figures to ever be released. Two waves of Universal Monsters-inspired figures made their way onto store shelves. From Wolfman Leonardo to Bride of Frankenstein April, toy creators behaved like mad scientists - taking the momentum of the TMNT popularity and mutating it with the likeness of classic horror movie monsters. Even today, these figures are held in extremely high regard from collectors.

Despite the Universal Monsters' iconic status, they never scared me as a kid. Their imagery was legendary, but lacked the venom of the then-current wave of horror movie icons. Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween - these films were still being released in theaters and scaring the heck out of me when I eventually saw them on cable television. As much as I loved Frankenstein, I couldn't say the same about his films. The famous monster evolved over the decades, becoming more of a symbol and less of a scare tactic.

As a TMNT-obsessed kid, I wanted my mutants horrifying! I dreamt of a mutated crossover, mashing up both TMNT and horror movie slashers in toy form. Unfortunately, we never saw that day. The 90s were a time before the internet, custom action figures, and the popularity of adult toy collectors. Luckily, I was an imaginative kid. Movies were make believe, so why couldn't my toys be too? Well, that's just what I did. With a little imagination, I pretended a batch of my TMNT action figures were actually horror movie maniacs. 

I'm giving you a peek behind the curtain, a toy box filled with horror movie mutants. This is how I played with my Turtles toys around Halloween. Some of it makes sense, a lot of doesn't. But, that's the spirit of Halloween, right?

TMNT Mouthguard

A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mouthguard from 90s. Yes, you read that right. Dentist-approved Turtle-teeth exist.

Let's backtrack. The TMNT community is filled with wonderful people. This isn't a throwaway comment. It comes from a place of spending years in this pizza-powered world. I'm still surprised by the amount of positivity that beams from TMNT fandom. There are a few trolls, but their voices are nearly silenced by the overwhelming optimism from everyone else. From the deep corners of the internet, to the fans that flock to comic cons, TMNT enthusiasts are superb people. My pal, Metalhead (he prefers to keep this awesome alias on the internet), leads the charge on this front.

I met Metalhead a few years ago at New York Comic Con. We were seated next to each other during a TMNT panel and geeked out like Donatello on all things Turtles. The rest is history.

After a long day at work, I came home to a surprise package waiting at my front door. The exhaustion of work immediately transformed into curiosity. This wasn't a lame Amazon shipment of laundry detergent, I could sense it was special. But even in a state of pure enthusiasm, I still took my time opening the box. The pitfalls of being a collector - you're always concerned about condition. I didn't want to ruin or tear something because of unwieldy excitement. Instead, an endless series of surgical-like incisions and maneuvers successfully opened the package to my standards. Ironically, everything inside the package slid out and crashed to the floor. So much for grace.

I lucked out. Everything that slipped from the package to the floor was secure in a layer of bubble wrap. I searched the empty box...perhaps looking for a reason to justify my doofus move. Nothing to make me feel better. But, I did notice something out of the ordinary fastened to the box's interior. I unfolded the package for a better look. What a wacky note! Metalhead, TMNT fan extraordinaire, was responsible for this mysterious mail. His Metalhead-inspired note was a precursor to the awesomeness inside.

Flea Market Fallout (2016)

Summer is coming to a close. For many of us, it's already over. But before the curtain closes on the season, one objective was imperative to make my summer complete - a flea market excursion.

New York City is a flea market wasteland. If you know me, I'm always whining about this like a big baby. You'd think the Big Apple would be an oasis of age old treasures, but let me tell you, it's worthless. There's nothing. The few fleas that do exist are hipster mutations where a $5 iced coffee is the best deal to be found. Note: it's not a flea market when lobster rolls are the snack of choice. That's why I make the point to escape the pretentiousness and venture to the Columbus Flea Market in the farmlands of New Jersey. This massive lot of vendors is the real deal. Real people. Real junk. No lobster rolls. The trip has become a summer tradition for me and my Mom. Jess, my fiancé, tagged along this year too. We filled a thermos of coffee for the long drive and made the 2 hour trek to the beautiful, down-to-Earth flea market in quest for beautiful junk.

Handkerchiefs (from 1992)

Bless you! Gesundheit! Cowabunga?

Handkerchiefs confused me as a kid. I was told handkerchiefs were classy, a pre-evolved tissue. But, how was sneezing into a cloth and then saving your snot classy? I remember watching movies during my childhood, and occasionally a handkerchief would make an appearance. It seemed like adults never took them seriously either. Instead, they'd simply be used as a comedic device to bridge together a few gags for a laugh. So my question always was, who used these things?!

Maybe if I had TMNT handkerchiefs my childhood would've been different. Released around 1992, four mutated pieces of fabric became available to sneezy fans of the sewers from some company called Colombo. Let's eye 'em up.

Door Hangers

Why do I love collecting junk? It's gotta be in my chemical makeup - an innate gene. I'd love scientific research analyzing why I get a boost of adrenaline when finding a 20 year old toy for a dollar in a laundry basket at a flea market. It would be an interesting study, shedding light on the brainwork of nostalgic hoarders. Is that heartwarming or just plain sad?

But, I don't need a study to reveal one big fact - I'm not in this for the money. Making a buck has never been part of my collecting game. Making friends and giving away any extra bits of my collection is much more valuable than a few extra bills in my wallet. I'm no Mother Teresa of the sewers, but I share the wealth when possible. Unfortunately, not all collectors fall in line with this mindset. This usually means eBay is flooded with overpriced listings and flea markets are riddled with greedy merchants. It sucks!

That's why I love scanning vintage TMNT items. Sharing high-resolution versions of these pieces makes the originals less desirable and ultimately takes away the power of scalpers who price gouge. No, I can't do this with action figures and playsets. But for flat, printable content, it's great. And even if it's making no difference at all, I like to think it is. Let me feel like I'm contributing!

Come and knock on my door - cause I've got high-resolution treasures from the late 80s & early 90s to share. Vintage door hangers! Pick your favorite, print & dangle a mutant from your door knob. Life is good.

Radical Reading: Disney Adventures Magazine - May 1993

Do you remember Disney Adventures: The Magazine For Kids?

The publication mixed entertainment and education in a 90s-style format, released on a (semi) monthly basis. The material was all fluff, but it was a good way for kids to feel like magazine-reading adults. The articles ranged from pop culture events, such as upcoming movies and video games, to pieces on random topics like tall buildings and magic tricks.

And of course, there were lots of ads.

Browsing through The Sewer Den library, I discovered an old Disney Adventures issue that survived the ages. Naturally, the one I owned from May of 1993 featured the Turtles on the cover. To be more specific, these Turtles were from the third live-action TMNT film released that same year. Even though their popularity was waning by this time, the green guys were still trendy enough to land a Disney Magazine cover. I'm going to make a grand claim and say that this was their last big moment before plummeting into their dark years.