Issue 12: Punk'd

ISSUE 12: PUNK'D

Casey Jones: "Hey, what are you, some sort of punker?"

 Raphael: "Huh?"

Casey Jones: "I hate punkers...especially bald ones with green make-up who wear masks over ugly faces..."

(a scene from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles flick)

Within the first few minutes of the film, Casey Jones mistakenly believes Raphael to be a punk - a dedicated follower of punk rock music. Punk rock is defined as:

"A form of hard-driving rock 'n' roll originating in the 1970s, characterized by harsh lyrics attacking conventional society and popular culture, and often expressing alienation and anger."


Perhaps Casey was right in classifying Raphael as a punk. He wasn't the only one...the world always put the Ninja Turtles in this boat. When they weren't doing their infamous Ninja Rap with Vanilla Ice, the green machines embraced the spirit of the punk rock music. Perhaps this was a byproduct of their existence in the late 80's/early 90's era, but just look at the quick facts...


Living Situation: Squatters, living in the sewers of New York City. Against conventional society.
Hair Style: None...shaved head. Against popular culture.
Wardrobe: Bandannas, belts, and the occasional trench coat with matching fedora.
Diet: Pizza - the meal of a cheap man.
Speech: Radical, dude, tubular, cowabunga...must I continue?
Age: Teenagers! The prime age for rebellion and revolt!
Relationship with Authority: Although they fought Shredder, the Turtles were always running away from the police at the end of every episode.
Perception from Others: With their weapons, The Turtles got a bad rap for seeming violent. Even though they weren't vicious, carrying weapons at all times does make them at least seem angry.

Punks! The whole lot of 'em!

Giving the Ninja Turtles this personality trait also gave toy makers another opportunity to create more merchandising treasures. What punk-possibilities could you lure in front of an eight year old child?

The Sewer Den is going punk and digging out a few prized-pieces that will make you want to rock the casbah.
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MONDO GECKO


In terms of appearance, this dude nailed it. Against conventional society on all accounts. Cut off shorts, torn shirt, backwards hat, long hair, fingers cut off his gloves - he's got it ALL. However, I'm not really sure why his nails are painted red. Do geckos have red nails? I could be wrong, but I didn't think punk kids painted their nails red.



His shoes are pretty stellar as well. Black and red in a semi-high top style. And although Mondo Gecko plays it safe, he still never forgets his punk style with a 100% bad ass, skull kneepad. Sick.


Mondo Gecko was also known for being a teenager. He was one of the few buddies the Turtles had that was actually their age. This is very apparent when looking at his pearly whites. He's got a serious set of braces there. But even with his metal mouth, he still manages to keep the punk style above the neck with his long, greasy hair. Look at that thing...it's like a reverse rat tail. Pretty impressive, pretty punk.


Ah! There it is! The full-on rat tail. Although he's a gecko, Mondo Gecko managed to grow some impressive, greasy black hair. Quite a feat. He also goes against authority (and safety) by choosing a hat over a helmet. It's surprising that at the height of their popularity, the minds behind Ninja Turtles toys actually went with a helmet-less skater. Aiming this toy at kids and throwing safety out the window is gutsy. I tip my hat to them...my backwards-purple hat.


Being so punk and latching on to the DYI-mentality, Mondo Gecko has a self-tied roller skate secured to his tail. Clever idea for a reptilian skater. Although, the toy-makers went cheap once again by not painting the skate a different color than his tail.


The skateboard. It rests on the asphalt with such excellence. I can't decide which is more awesome...the wheels, the skull, or the turbo boosters?


The combo is pretty lethal. Seems like a dangerous board for a gecko without a helmet.


Zoom zoom, dude.
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ROCK N' ROLL MONDO GECKO


A few years after the original Mondo Gecko toy was released, this figure made its way into stores. Gone are his punk rock-roots, the insane skateboard, and his skull-covered wardrobe. Sadly, he's been deduced to nothing more than a hippie. Ol' Mondo sold out with and made the move to a few peace signs and some baggy clothing. His fellow punkers would be disappointed.


His knee pads are even bland. Plain ol' red this time around. And oh the pants...such sad pants. They make me feel like he should be selling popcorn, not rocking and rolling.


Luckily, his hair stayed the same. But, is it now hippie long and greasy rather than punk rock long and greasy? That bandanna is screaming hippie. Either way, safety still isn't a concern. No helmet.


The roller skate is also missing. His tail now grasps a microphone. Let's hope he's singing The Ramones and The Sex Pistols rather than Phish and The Grateful Dead.


The once illustrious skateboard. Although this is still a clever and fun design, it definitely lost its crazy edge. No turbo boosters? Not even a skull?!


Instead we're given smaller wheels and a design that mimics a guitar. Not even an electric guitar, an acoustic guitar. No helmet needed when you're riding an acoustic guitar.


Smile all you want, Rock N Roll Mondo Gecko, but the punk community doesn't express the same happiness. You went from total punk rocker to complete tree-hugger in just a couple years? Not groovy.
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THE SKATEBOARD


There's no turbo boosters, but hey this thing is pretty rad for an 8 year old. Although I was young, I feel like this skateboard should have mustered up a lot of punk rock cred for me. The color combos, the design, the fat wheels - who could deny the awesomeness?


The Turtles look tough. In full attack mode, they mean business. Now if only they could've taught me how to do an ollie...


I hit the streets with this board quite often. As a result, it's showing it's age after all these years. A chunk of the grip tape is missing and the yellow bumper in the front is pretty banged up. But, the image in the center suffered the brunt of damage.


What was once a glorious and iconic artwork of Raphael, is now a mess of worn down images and faded colors. The 1990's are a few lifetimes ago for this poor skateboard. But to its credit, all the flaws add character and mirror the attitude of punk quite well.


Etched in my mind are memories of this board having terrible speed. Childhood races down my driveway with friends always ended with the same result - me crossing the finish line dead last. The blame always went to the skateboard. 

I was curious if the board had the potential for any speed at all after all these years. Maybe 8 year old me just couldn't cut it back then. So I dusted the ol' thing off and took it for a quick spin...

video

Although speed may appear to be present in this video, I can assure you it is NOT. Punk or not, this thing moves like molasses. The big, yellow wheels were not meant for speed. Notice I took a running start. A RUNNING start! When I attempted to push off normally, I wouldn't get any momentum. Even with a running start, I was still forced to pump my foot nonstop off the road. After a handful of attempts, I was fearful my big toe actually might get a blister. The skateboard never ceases to fail.


This was clearly a board built for kids. Best used in downhill races where last place is acceptable. If you wanted to move like a turtle, this certainly did the trick.
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BIKE HORN


Skaters, BMX bikers - they fall in the same boat in my book. They both adhere to similar punk trends, giving this bike horn a rightful spot in this issue. This thing completely rocks. What rider wouldn't want this sweet horn chillin' on their handlebars? Launch off a ramp and give this bad boy a honk in mid-air for extra style.


This bodacious bike accessory was found in a grease-soaked bag courtesy of the Burger King Kids Club. Along with my usual meal of chicken tenders and fries, I was also treated to the ultimate horn. Didn't need the King around to feel like royalty with this puppy on my handlebars.


Not only was the horn an awesome visual, but the omitting sounds were very effective. By bellowing out some of the most ear-piercing sounds on the planet, this horn could get the attention of a deaf senior citizen. Give a listen yourself...

video

Now imagine that in person. Being squeezed by a kid. Riding around your street, honking it for hours. Nonstop... 


Truth be told, once I hit middle school the Turtle horn was left in the dust. Jumping ramps and hitting tricks just weren't as impressive with this goofy mutant attached to your bike.
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BICYCLE BAG 
 
 
This little bag would dangle from the back of your bike seat courtesy of some purple strips of velcro. Along with the Turtle horn, this is surely a one-two punch.


Too small for your Clash vinyls, but perfect for those CDs and cassette tapes


Another fine prize courtesy of the Burger King Kids Club. It's funny because I remember McDonald's had the majority of the huge franchises for the toys in their Happy Meals. But, somehow this one slipped through Ronald McDonald's grasp.


Once again, by middle school this was removed from my bike. From all the items in The Sewer Den, this bag and the bike horn are two pieces I clearly remember becoming "too cool" for. As girls and my clothes became more important, honking my Turtle horn and putting my belongings in the bike bag seemed minute. But, oh how things change. Girls love this horn now-a-days. It's just "so adorable."
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ROLLER SKATES


Roller derby, roller hockey, and even birthday parties at the roller rink, these skates are sublime. With eight wheels of pure magic, I remember gliding across the floors with ninja-like dignity. Even when the whole roller blade trend hit, I still rocked these Turtle skates. Like a punk, I didn't jump on the popular trend.


Like the skateboard, I wheeled all around town. Check out the wear and tear. Scuffed up and showcasing some golden years of roller skating.

 
The purple wheels are branded with the font from the original film. As I sped around the rink, these words would just become one big blur of green. The kids with roller blades were totally jealous.


Most roller skates seem to have really long laces (at least compared to normal sneakers). I remember these purple laces causing a good amount of damage back in the day. This came in the form of physical and mental pain.  After a few laps around the rink, my confidence would build. But then, it would happen. Those long, purple laces would wrap themselves around the wheels, acting as breaks. With no warning the wheels would stop, and so would I. Like a lasso around my ankles, I would fall to hardwood floors immediately. Ninja ego-shattering.


No matter how cool Raphael looks on the skate, he never helped when I was on the ground after a hard fall.


The packaging remains intact too. This box has housed the skates for ages.


The Turtles look like they're awkwardly running out at a party to yell "surprise!" Usually our heroes manage to have some decent artwork associated with their merchandise. Not this time. Their body movement is so artificial and unnatural. The perspective of their stiff limbs running down the street doesn't even make sense.

 

The image of Donatello front the front is also used on the side of the box. He looks completely terrified about the jump he's try to execute. And the rest of the Turtles have been replaced with a giant roller skate. So now, it appears as if Donatello is slipping on it. Geez...with this all this mess, I should've known these skates had potential for danger.
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SKATIN' RAPH

 
When the 2003 cartoon series hit, so did a new line of action figures. As the series proved successful, more renditions of the Turtles were released. Skatin' Raph hit in this additional wave of figures. The look of the Ninja Turtles in 2003 changed, as well as their interpretation of punk. The skulls, torn clothes, and overall vibe against conventional society are a distant memory. Welcome to 2003. A land where the healthy, sporty, and athletic look is popular. Topped all that awfulness off with the unthreatening image of a yin-yang.


Another sign of the times - the helmet. Safety finally made itself apparent. Mondo Gecko favored his array of head-ware over a helmet. Alas, Skatin' Raph does not.


Accompanying the helmet are a set of dull elbow pads.


Matching dull knee pads too. Skatin' Raph, how do you even skate with all that equipment on?


At least Raph's accessories weren't a power bar and a bottle of vitamin water. He still is slightly menacing with his iconic sai.


BUT, these skates are a true savoir. Even though Mondo Gecko had a ridiculous collection of wheels, Skatin' Raph's take the cake. They are absurdly awesome. Equipped with turbo boosting, rocket launching-style jets - the skates are crazy unsafe (in true punk fashion). Would these even be possible to operate? All his safety gear is starting to make sense.
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Toy makers once again cashed in on the Ninja Turtles. At least they went with a style that fit the overall attitude of a few teenage mutants. So, it looks like Casey Jones was right in that original movie. Raphael is a punk - him and his 3 brothers. But unlike Casey, I don't hate punkers. And the world didn't either. Cause we certainly all bought a lot of punk-themed merchandise.

Now, join The Sewer Den in the Blitzkrieg Bop!

2 comments:

  1. I loved looking at and reading this! As a longtime punk and avid turtles fan can happily say theyve influenced me in neccessary cool from an early age. Thanks, turtles! And thanks to you too, for observing the turtle punk link :)

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  2. My Ninja Turtles skateboard was my first board as a kid, too. You need to replace the bearings and likely the wheels. I recently did this with mine and it skates great! Go to a skate shop and buy new bearings and get them to swap them out for you.

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