Issue 4: Shop Til Ya Drop, 90's Style


With every passing day, The Sewer Den comes closer and closer to completion. The room is really shaping up. Shelves are showcasing the action figures and frames are displaying some once forgotten Ninja Turtles artwork. While recently working on the room, I asked my Dad for his opinion on a few things. After giving me his two cents, he stood back and scanned the place, simply taking it all in. His moment of silence seemed monumental. He must have taken in every inch of the space. I was expecting an endearing, even sentimental statement when he was done gazing upon this world of Ninja Turtles. There was a genuine smile on his face too. When the words finally left his mouth, I was treated with the following...

"Wow. Look at all this. You really wasted a lot of my money."

He then added...

"And time too."

A true statement for the ages. He gave me a pat on the back and exited the room. I was left there pondering his words. My defensive side wanted to tell him that it was ME who bought all the merchandise from the year 2003 until now. But, he was right, the majority of The Sewer Den's collection wasn't "sponsored" by lil ol' me. This money, this time, and this effort he briefly spoke about intrigued me. Where had my father gone in his travels to purchase Ninja Turtles memorabilia?

With a hunch, I dug out the packaging I still had from the old action figures. These were a collection of cardboard backings that housed each figure. They contained a story about the particular character's origin, a list of their accessories, some cool artwork and other toys you could collect. Check it!

Although I don't have all of these from every single action figure I own, I managed to hold on to a good number of them. Aside from finding the packaging artwork really cool (and really 90's), my Dad's shopping history fell into my lap. Price tags! A few of them were still on the packaging. Prices and store names were at my fingertips. So where was my Dad buying these things from? And how much was he paying?

A look into Papa Z's dark past of buying Ninja Turtles action figures...

purchased at K-Mart, $?, 1992


Our Native American Turtle starts off us off. He's one of the few purchased from a store that's still in existence today, K-Mart. Unfortunately, Chief Leo leaves us in mystery as his price tag is only half intact.

But what we lack in knowledge of price, we make up for with an awesome quote. There's some hilarious artwork too...check out the Foot Soldier. Yep, he's wearing a cowboy hat. That folks, is priceless.


purchased at Caldor, $3.99, 1991

Apparently a year before Leo was donning the Indian headdress, he was heavy into the music scene. And ya better stand back, cause he's jammin'!

Can you jam inside of a Caldor store?

If you don't remember Caldor, it was a pretty junky store. Unorganized and no lines were ever open. They also got sued for distributing a circular in newspapers that had kids playing a game of Scrabble. Why did they get sued for this? One of the kids playing got 6 points when he spelled the word "rape." Yes, this actually happened.

It's quite clear why this place closed up shop. Many of them were transformed into the store that's currently still in business, Kohls. BUT, despite their messy appearance, poor service, and ads with kids spelling the word "rape," my Dad still managed to purchase Classic Rocker Leo from this fine establishment.

purchased at Bradlees, $4.29, 1991

It's very fitting that a character with the name "Dirtbag" was purchased at the store Bradlees.

This place was a dirty mess - a complete hole. The one closest to my house when growing up even had homeless people living behind it. Although I surely appreciate having the Dirtbag figure in my collection, I feel I owe my Dad an apology for having to step foot in a Bradlees store.


purchased at Woolworth, $4.99, 1992

The first lady in my life, April O'neil. A nice Irish gal in a yellow jumpsuit - what's not to love? One of the few action figures I own of the female persuasion, April was purchased from the now defunct store known as Woolworth's. It's really no surprise that none of these stores exist today - they were all awful. Overpriced and unorganized.

But hey, they sold Ninja Turtles stuff. So I guess I can't complain.


Lionel (Kiddie City), $4.99, 1992

The third installment of the Ninja Turtle movie franchise had our heroes going back to ancient Japan. New adventures called for a new lineup of toys. My Dad was quick on the scene. These prices tags read "Lionel" which my Dad informs me was the company that owned Kiddie City.

In the early 90's, Kiddie City was the competition for Toys R Us. I also remember the place being completely stocked with Ninja Turtles action figures. Shelves that went on for miles and miles, packed with Ninja-goodness. The store was a toy-haven, a surreal wonderland for kids (especially when compared to Caldor, Bradlees, and Woolworth's). It was a sad day when Kiddie City closed its doors...


Kay Bee Toys, 3/$10 (Originally $6.99), 1991

Congrats Dad! Looks like you found the occasional deal in your shopping adventures! Oh, Kay-Bee Toys. You were "America's Toy Store." You even re-branded yourself towards the end as "K-B toys" to seem a little more hip. But, ultimately it all failed and like the other stores, you closed up shop.

My Dad must have found the needle in the haystack when he got himself a deal because I clearly remember this store being overpriced. Usually located in shopping malls, KB toys was a place you only went in desperation. If a new video game was sold out in other stores, but you had to have it, and were willing to pay five to ten bucks more, KB toys was the place for you.

But, I'm impressed my Dad got a deal on these figures. With an original price tag of $6.99, these figures had to be different than the normal figures, special even. And these ones were. Branded as "wacky" these guys came equipped with a button that would allow them to do something crazy (like the head would spin in a wacky!)


Rite Aid, $3.99, 1991

I see this purchase as a desperate one. I mean, com'on...who ever buys toys from a drugstore?

I chalk this one up as a last minute buy. There must have been a special occasion that was overlooked - a birthday, good report card, etc. Rite Aid was probably the closest thing to our house that might possibly have a Ninja Turtle on their shelves. But, it looks like Rite Aid came through in this time of need with our pal, Michaelangelo.


Macy's Pump Club, $?

The Mini Mutants were sold when the Ninja Turtle craze was winding down. Call it a feeble attempt at raking in a few extra bucks, these toys were smaller, more annoying versions of all the toys most kids already owned. Although it sounds like I'm giving them flack, of course I still own a few.

So, what store were these purchased from? The price tag indicates no cost and only reads "Macy's Pump Club" in a really strange font. I asked both of my parents and they have no idea what the heck the "Pump Club" is. It doesn't sound exclusive or high end either. It just sounds...lame.


After digging up all this information and reminiscing about all these stores of the past, I realized there is a big hole in this tale...Toys R Us. Geoffrey Giraffe was the king of toys back in the day. Why weren't Toys R Us price tags lingering on these old packagings I still had?

I realized the company probably made price tags that actually came off the packaging. Or maybe the prices were marked on the shelves instead of the actual toys? Both ways are smart and practical, unlike the other stores that put price tag stickers on their products that still won't come off after TWENTY YEARS! No wonder why Toys R Us is basically the only store still in business from the era of TMNT...


So there you have it. A timeline through my Dad's wallet and his journey through commerce in the early 90's. He certainly did his part in the 90's to make the economy thrive...

And of course I can't forget my Mom either. I'm sure she helped foot the bill. Get it? Foot the bill - like the Foot Clan? Okay...this just got awful.


  1. why doesn't every post have like a zillion comments? I award you 300535 pizza points for this website. look forward to reading more of your stuff (and seeing your collection.)

  2. I'm 29, and I just flashed back hard during this! I was just suiting here thinking bout kiddie city and u happen to have it posted..... Yea, mad pizza points homey haha

  3. To many times I wanted something sold out everywhere else and had to buy it (and spend more) from K-B toys.

  4. Flash to now and even the mighty Toys R Us has fallen...

    1. I was thinking the same thing! So sad almost all of these places are gone.

  5. The Kay-Bee 3 for $10 bin of wonders. Say no more.


Forgiveness is divine, but never pay full price for late pizza.

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