Rare Junk: Japanese VHS



Rare junk. It’s a beautiful thing. For collectors, discovering the holy grail of your collection is a climatic, unforgettable experience. The extensive search has ended! That prized possession you’ve always wanted and have been hunting for years is finally yours. Rejoice! But once in a blue moon, you stumble upon an uncommon object in your collecting quest. An object that’s completely new to you. Sometimes these items are so rare, it’s like discovering a completely new species. You’ve never seen anything like it. No, this isn’t the holy grail you’ve been searching for, but it’s almost better - powering a new sense of accomplishment.

Rare Junk is dedicated to those unintentional, yet completely outlandish discoveries - ultra-rare TMNT items that you’ve never seen listed on eBay or at your local toy show. No action figures, only bizarre merchandise that decades ago found its way to store shelves all across the world.

They’re weird.
They’re rare.
They’re completely awesome



Adjust your tracking, dudes. Consumer America was a mutant paradise in the 1990s with TMNT VHS tapes reigning supreme. Before it was declared dead media, the Turtles conquered the video cassette format in every way possible. From the standard cartoon episodes to strange PSAs for the Los Angeles subway system (yes, it's a real thing), the green machines were a VHS poster child. So it’s never surprising to discover old school tapes featuring the Turtles while scouring thrift stores and flea markets. There are so many out there, and I feel like I’ve come across all of them at some point in my travels. That is, until now...



International awesome! These imported VHS tapes feature episodes from the short-lived anime series that aired in Japan. If you’ve never seen it and don’t remember the show, there’s a reason for that - it never aired in America. You can easily find it online these days, so give it a watch. It’s a twisted and outlandish take on the Turtles, such a departure from anything the franchise had (and has) done. It’s almost hard to believe that this show existed at the same time as the original, American cartoon series. That’s what makes these Japanese VHS tapes so special. Their very existence is mystical, serving as both a time capsule and portal to an alternate, mutant reality. 



And I need to point out that the packaging is 👌



Both tapes are still sealed in a thin layer of foreign plastic. I don’t have the heart to open them, and instead, will just stare at them...maybe while eating pizza - pretending I’m at a fancy art exhibit, soaking in fine Japanese works and nibbling delicacies.



Much like the Michelangelo displayed on the back of this packaging, I’m giddy. Japanese Turtle Power will do that to ya.



I could go on and on about the awesomeness of these international VHS tapes. Clearly, I need a Turtle tape intervention. I'll just leave you with this, ピザ . The word pizza in Japanese! Well, at least according to Google Translate.

Be kind and rewind, dudes.

Rise of the TMNT: First Teaser


Nickelodeon dropped the first teaser for Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Watch the green machines go back to their 2D roots in this extended preview. Shell-shockingly good or a bossa nova bomb?


Everyone should draw their own conclusions, but here are 6 quick thoughts:

1. ACTION. 
The fight scenes don't reveal too much, but the snippets here sure look slickkk. That shot of April sliding on her knees with the Turtles following behind is especially bad ass.

2. QUESTIONS. 
Is Leo doing standup throughout the entire show? He tells a lot of jokes in this teaser.
Will Raphael being the leader be okay in the end? Didn't seem to bother me much here.
Is this a prequel of sorts? "All heroes start somewhere" is the tagline.
Are fans still up in arms about the weapons? I think people will have even MORE questions now...
Where's Shredder?!

3. BARON DRAXUM. 
People love John Cena. Me? I find him okay...much like the character he's voicing, Baron Draxum. The newest TMNT baddie isn't wowing me just yet.

4. THEME SONG. 
Did our eardrums get a preview of the theme song towards the end of the teaser? I think so. The track seems to nod to the classic, iconic show open, but with an overly-produced dance vibe. It's not jiving with me just yet...let's hope the full version woos me into adding this to my playlist.

5. THE WEIRD. There are a lot of weird elements to this thing. Just look at the villains. What are the Turtles fighting in this show?! Everything and everyone looks so bizarre. I'm so confused! This is a very different TMNT, but something outlandish intrigues me.

6. OVERALL. 
Action, jokes & a cowabunga? Consider me pumped up! Although a lot looks different, the teaser felt appropriately like TMNT. Similar to past iterations, the theme of brotherhood & teamwork are at the show's core - with plenty of comedy, pizza & a rad dad (who looks wackier this time around). It might be brighter and flashier, aged down for a younger generation TMNT, but the show looks like it could make adult fans watch too.

What do you think? Is there Turtle Power potential in Rise of the TMNT?

Rise of the TMNT: Character Reveal


Shell-shocked?

TMNT & Nickelodeon held a Facebook Live event showcasing character art for the upcoming series, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In addition to the 4 Turtles, we were given peeks at April O’Neil and Splinter. I’ve spewed a few of my thoughts from the big reveal – including first impressions, individual character reactions, and a final conclusion.

*Note these are my opinions and do not reflect the opinions of Nickelodeon or TMNT


Back To The Basics
2D animation – where the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles legacy was truly born. Although the 2012 series was ultimately a crowd pleaser, the 3D CGI designed turned off some old school fans. Rise of the TMNT goes back to the franchise’s cartoon roots with 2D animation, fueling excitement for fans of the original 1987 series and the 2003 show.

Pizza. Cowabunga. Repeat.
The new TMNT series is shifting a few key components, but the heart of what makes the Turtles special isn’t changing. The team behind Rise of the TMNT promises plenty of action and a solid dose of laughs. Mutant mainstays like eating pizza and the iconic phrase “cowabunga” aren’t going anyway either. And that’s good! No pizza and I riot.
______________________________


Leonardo
Of all the reveals, Michelangelo, Leonardo, and April are my favorites. The 2 Turtles tiptoe that fine line of classic visuals with a fresh spin – not straying too far from the tried and true formula. Leonardo is equipped with an insanely large sword and it seems like he’s going to wreak havoc.



Michelangelo
The party dude is the closest to previous versions of TMNT. Nothing for purists to complain about here. Michelangelo looks like Michelangelo. The executive producers mentioned this version of Mikey is an artist, often covering his shell with stickers and art. That could be cool…or just a good gimmick to sell toys.

The only major difference is his weapon. What the heck is that thing? Is he still a fellow ‘chucker?



Raphael & Donatello
I’m bundling these two dudes together because their visuals gave me the same reaction - they remind me of the 2014 & 2016 TMNT movies. The shape of their masks, Raphael’s size, and the stacked gear on Donatello’s shell give me war flashbacks of those recent flicks – a connection I do not want to feel. Let’s hope when these dudes are animated and voiced by professional actors that initial reaction dissipates. Reminder: Michael Bay is not involved in this series! Plenty of reason to remain calm and cowabunga on.



Splinter
I’m still unsure about the rat master. Is his new design a wild, fun departure from previous versions? Or is it just too much? I’ve stared at this thing for ages and can’t decide. I kinda wanna hug him though...



April O’Neil
Okay, April is very different. I was expecting to be surprised, but I wasn’t expecting to LOVE the surprise. There’s something about that combo of the jacket, glasses, yellow boots, and the flaming ooze-colored baseball bat(!!!) that I absolutely adore. She’s not a sidekick. She’s not the 5th Turtle. She’s a new era of April O’Neil. There’s no yellow jumpsuit, but this is the first April since 1987 that has the potential to be visually iconic. It’s going to be nuts and I cannot wait.
______________________________

Cautiously Optimistic
Rise of the TMNT: Let’s remember the key word in the title of this show – Rise. It signals the beginning. No one on the show’s team confirmed it, but I’m willing to bet the series will start with a few big changes to franchise and slowly transition to the TMNT staples we’ve loved throughout the years. No – I’m not a huge fan of Raphael’s new weapons or Leonardo taking back seat on the leader role, but this is a TV series with (hopefully) lots of episodes. Even a show geared towards kids has to have some kind of character growth. I’m cool with a slow burn. Light the fire and let’s watch those embers.

One big change in Rise of the TMNT is shifting the structure of this Turtle team. Raphael is now the leader of the group, and also significantly bigger in size compared to the other guys. The brute brother has always been my favorite of the bunch. Any changes to the red bandana dude I watch with a close eye. But as my favorite Turtle, I hope these changes set the stage for strong character development. I can’t imagine the team behind Rise of the TMNT changed things just for the heck of it. As the show develops and we actually get to watch the series, I’m hoping this new direction yields storytelling. I’m don't want to be a lame old millennial grasping at nostalgic pizza crumbs.

The words “mystic powers” have also got thrown into the mix of the press release. The Rise of the TMNT creative team was sparse on details, only scratching the service. But, what does this mean for the show? I like my Ninja Turtles to be, ya know, ninjas. Maybe this could be really cool? An awesome element to lure in a new generation of TMNT fans? I’m hesitant, but I’m also a lame old millennial grasping at nostalgic pizza crumbs.

The Verdict
You can love the original comics all you want, but you’ve gotta face the facts. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles owes its popularity and decades-long existence to kids. A goofy 80s cartoon and an endless onslaught of toys are what launched this property from indie comic to pop culture phenomenon. Kids shaped the TMNT legacy, so I’m happy a new generation has the opportunity to grow up with their own version of the Turtles – just like I had in the 80s and 90s. And if you’re in an uproar that these dudes look different, practice patience and take a breather. The Turtles have been continuously evolving since their debut in 1984. This might be one of the bigger departures, but this fresh take on our classic characters is something I welcome with open arms. They’re mutants, let them mutate.

What do you think?

Cowabunga Christmas: Holiday Card (with Button!)


Turtle Tidings! Join me on a sewer sleigh ride and celebrate the holiday season with Turtle Power. Throughout December, I'll be featuring a slew of seasonal Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles items from past to present. In The Sewer Den's 5th year running, Cowabunga Christmas will be brimming with festive creations, wacky discoveries, and plenty of pizza! Get merry.



OOZING WITH HOLIDAY SPIRIT

Your mailbox will never see anything this perfect.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Christmas card is no ordinary piece of mail.

It's majestic.
It's festive.
It includes a button!

Printed in the UK and licensed in Australia in 1990, I have no idea the true origins of this paper beauty. It's definitely not an American product, making it internationally awesome. The artwork is classic TMNT perfection, designed with the wacky style we all loved as kids. Making Ninja Turtles merchandise was the Wild West back in late 80s & early 90s. No rules, no consistency, or no real style guide. Artists made wacky choices that often went unquestioned, resulting in many outlandish creations - like this holiday card! Example - why are there two Michelangelos here?!

Cowabunga Christmas: Mutated Christmas Tree


Turtle Tidings! Join me on a sewer sleigh ride and celebrate the holiday season with Turtle Power. Throughout December, I'll be featuring a slew of seasonal Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles items from past to present. In The Sewer Den's 5th year running, Cowabunga Christmas will be brimming with festive creations, wacky discoveries, and plenty of pizza! Get merry.



OOZING WITH HOLIDAY SPIRIT

This is better than pizza.

I’ve seen a lot of Ninja Turtles merchandise. A lot. From high-quality to bottom of the barrel, the franchise has offered fans a bit of everything. But, it’s the custom stuff that really shines. Fans taking initiative to spawn their own creations is far more exciting than mass-produced cash grabs. Occasionally these things are so awesomely outlandish they grab your attention & don’t let go. Call it holiday spirit, call it inspiration - my pal Sammy Hain & his family’s self-made Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Christmas tree is festive, gnarly & puts a goofy Michelangelo-like smile on my face.

Cowabunga Christmas: Nickelodeon DVD


Turtle Tidings! Join me on a sewer sleigh ride and celebrate the holiday season with Turtle Power. Throughout December, I'll be featuring a slew of seasonal Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles items from past to present. In The Sewer Den's 5th year running, Cowabunga Christmas will be brimming with festive creations, wacky discoveries, and plenty of pizza! Get merry.



OOZING WITH HOLIDAY SPIRIT

Cowabunga Christmas is a DVD re-release of the 2003 version of TMNT’s holiday episode. Nickelodeon hasn’t released much of the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, but it’s nice to see the show getting some love with this disc. This edition followed many years after the original DVD hit store shelves. It's cool to see the artwork reimagined and repackaged. The featured holiday episode, “The Christmas Aliens,” is a festive adventure through NYC & the sewers. There’s snow, sledding, and even Splinter dressed as Santa! You can’t go wrong with a rat Saint Nick. Cowabunga Christmas is perfect for an annual screening during the holidays.

Cowabunga Christmas: Retro Ornaments


Turtle Tidings! Join me on a sewer sleigh ride and celebrate the holiday season with Turtle Power. Throughout December, I'll be featuring a slew of seasonal Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles items from past to present. In The Sewer Den's 5th year running, Cowabunga Christmas will be brimming with festive creations, wacky discoveries, and plenty of pizza! Get merry.



OOZING WITH HOLIDAY SPIRIT

Sometimes I wish there were only three Ninja Turtles. Don’t get me wrong, the fearsome four can’t be beat. But sometimes, that fourth Turtle makes life difficult. All too often that fourth Turtle keeps a set from being complete. Well, that fourth Turtle struck again. A radical set of retro ornaments dangles from my Christmas tree incomplete - all because of that fourth Turtle.