Issue 16: Bodacious Birthdays


Happy Birthday to me. On October 27th of every year, I'm treated to a day of celebration. When I was a young gun in the late 80's and early 90's, a similar birthday invitation went out every year...

These parties were centered around the Ninja Turtles. Plates, napkins, balloons, the cake - Raphael even showed up one year!

But, as the years went on, the Turtles went out. Too cool for TMNT, my birthdays took a turn in a new, more mature direction. I'd be lying if I said Raphael was with me this year to blow out the candles on my birthday cake...

But after a long birthday-hiatus, the Ninja Turtles have returned. The recent creation of The Sewer Den has opened the door once again for Turtle, gift-giving opportunities. And boy, it was TMNT gifts galore!

Where these gifts came from remains a mystery to me. Mostly all of them are from the TMNT heyday, which makes them exceptionally special. So what treats was I unwrapping this year? Let's see how I celebrated this birthday...



Small, simple, yet still awesome. A pack of Ninja Turtles trading cards. Although not a typical birthday card, it is still some type of card. So, I'll take it.

I have a few of these Topps' collectibles in The Sewer Den, this particular bundle is new to me for one major reason - the $0.59 price. The packages of Ninja Turtles cards always had two distinct features to them - a piece of bubble gum and a $0.25 price point. What made these cards so special that warranted a $0.34 price increase? Especially considering there is NO gum included.

To its credit, the pack does come with 11 cards and 1 sticker. That's a few more cards than the other $0.25 packs. If collecting cards is your goal, than this pack is clearly the way to go. But, if chewing a stick of stale gum is your goal, this pack isn't for you.


Years after my long-lived Ninja Turtles phase as a kid, I went into a yo-yo phase as a teen. For some crazy reason yo-yo's became all the rage in my middle school years. Why did anyone think that yo-yo's were cool? I don't remember too many girls being impressed by the "walk the dog" move.

But even years before my teen, yo-yo-wielding days, the Ninja Turtles found themselves licensing their image once again for a few bucks. Food products, school supplies, bathroom products, and now - yo-yo's.

As much as I'd like to poke fun at the contraption, I can't. You know why? Because sadly, I still love yo-yo's. They're a silly, yet simple invention that is just so classic. They've stuck around throughout the years and it makes me happy that kids can still keep themselves entertained with such an absurd toy.

This Ninja Turtles yo-yo is no different. The funny toy gets some funny packaging that really makes you smile. The Ninja Turtles are heroes - maintaining peace and stomping out evil in the world. Yet, they apparently find time to play with a yo-yo.

Along with the fun packaging, the actual yo-yo is fun too. The simple artwork compliments the simple design of the yo-yo.

The company claims that the yo-yo also does "tricks and stunts!" A trick, okay...but how does one do a stunt with a yo-yo??? This isn't a monster truck or an exploding car - it's a piece of plastic with a string.

Not sure where this yo-yo was found for purchase, but it sure is a TMNT-treasure. A great birthday gift for sure.

I was treated to the Raphael model, but looks like there was also a Leonardo one as well. Although he is described as a "Mutant Ninja Turtle" - they made him singular and dropped the "Teenage" from his title. Still, this will definitely be going on a future birthday wish list.


An exclusive at San Diego Comic Con in 2009. Being a resident of the East Coast, I missed my opportunity to grab this one. But after a couple of years, Neca's April O'Neil joins my collection. 

Already having the four Turtles and the 2008 San Diego Comic Con exclusive Mousers, she was the missing piece to the full set. And more female presence is always welcome in The Sewer Den.

The April figure is bad-ass. Well, I guess any chick that can pull off a blue jumpsuit is pretty bad-ass. Her wardrobe choice is paying homage to the original comics where she donned this same outfit. In the 80's, blue jumpsuits must have been super hip.

It's always nice to get a toy for your birthday - especially an action figure. When opening gifts as a kid, there was nothing more satifying than ripping off that wrapping paper and discovering an action figure inside (and not a pair of socks). Not much has changed over twenty years later. The excitement still hits me. I'm glad I got to experience that once again during this birthday celebration. 



This was a gift from me to me. I found these while combing through the internet for Turtles treasures. Who wouldn't want fruit-flavored TMNT candies in small round cases? These were too funny to pass up - especially when they feature the Turtles from their third, and worst, film.

Only thing to say about these is that they're awesome. Rad artwork, cool casing, and some very funky 90's graphic design. And a tattoo inside!

Although the label says "collect all 4", I managed to only find three. Leonardo is M.I.A. for the meantime.

I find it funny that these candies were originally $1.99, but then marked down to $0.79. I guess Turtles Tarts weren't flying off the shelves, even back in the 90's.


Wow. I never even knew these existed. Ninja Turtles Training Manuals?! In a comic book style?! How did I miss these as a kid? These could have saved my parents a lot of money on karate classes...

I received two training manuals for my birthday - both released by Solson Publications. Issue #1 - Karate. Issue #4 - Sai (with Raphael's name spelled wrong). With these two manuals, I theoretically would be able master my body and a weapon for means of self-defense. Both issues contained priceless, ninja strength training information. All presented with entertaining, detailed artwork.

As I flipped through the manual, I began feeling like a karate master with each passing page. But, then I stumbled upon something odd. Advertisements for other Solson Publications. Every few pages, I'd hit another one. They weren't just normal ads either, they were strange - real strange.

Iron Maidens. Could the self-training audience also be interested in Iron Maidens? It seems targeted to girlfriend-less, teenage boys. Certainly a weird advertisement for a Ninja Turtles-related comic. And it only gets worse...

Buckwheat Comics - Rags To Riches puts the icing on this bizarre cake. This awkward advertisement showcases Buckwheat from Little Rascals in his very own comic. As cool as Buckwheat is, he doesn't really mesh with the TMNT universe. He may get into similar silly antics, but he is a far cry from a crime-fighting ninja.

Solson Publications made some odd choices. Ninja Turtles, Iron Maidens, and Buckwheat Comics? Although it's quite a variety, I'm not sure anyone asked for this variety. A little research says the company lived and died in the 80's. I guess they are no longer "doin otay."


Looks like when I blew out the candles this year all my wishes came true. I am thankful for all these wonderful birthday gifts. The Ninja Turtles certainly made their appearance in style this year with such a diverse and fun set of gifts. I've got some sincere thank you cards to send out this time. Who says getting older can't be fun? 

Now if we could only get that guy in the Raphael costume to come to my party next year...


  1. I remember those Tarts! It's been ages since I've even thought of them but here they are. I dont remember the Turtles III versions I think the ones I remember were with the standard Ryan Brown artwork. Either way thanks for the memories.

    1. Hey Darren - glad you enjoyed this issue! It always amazes me how some memories slip away as we age, but things like the taste of tarts stick with us forever. That candy is either super delicious or monumentally bad.

  2. I'm so lucky to have bought the TMNT Teach Karate book, before I started taking karate (Shotokan) classes on the same week the 2012 TMNT premiered on Nickelodeon.The lessons and detailed illustrations are pretty legit, And Awesome At The Same Time for beginners! :-) But I wish Solson made more than one volume, with Advanced lessons (including more kata and kumite lessons) for those between Yellow and Brown/Black belts. I wish they included Master Splinter in the book, giving us the lessons as if he's talking to us (his text/speech in the thought bubbles next to him). it's sad that Solson made only one volume of it, which the lessons in the book are pretty much White and Yellow belt levels. It's almost 2013 now and Nickelodeon should plan on doing an Animated version DVD set with the lessons from this White belt level book and much more advanced lessons to Black belt level. :-) I always love to see anything cool that blends both Karate and TMNT like this training manual together :-) And to me, this training manual is the only example out there now..

    1. Those karate training manuals are so awesome! The artwork is silly, but instructive and fun. Like you, I also studied martial arts (Tae Kwon Do). I haven't done it in ages though... Maybe if Nickelodeon released a set of new manuals, I'd dive right back into my training. I'd quickly shell out a few bucks for a new manual if it brought me closer to that black belt.

      What is Shotokan like? Do you like it? I don't know much about it...

    2. Btw, Whao! TKD? Seems a bit more extreme and intense than Japanese/Okinawan Karate :-)

      Btw, Shotokan Karate is one of the four main schools of Karate in Japan. It is best characterised by its long and deep stances and its use of more linear movements. It has little of the circular movements found in Okinawan styles of karate, nor does it have the body conditioning and supplementary training exercises typical for Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate.
      Shotokan Karate is considered by many a sports style of Karate, where tournaments and point-sparring are central to the art.
      Many exponents of Shotokan are displeased about the way Shotokan has been portrayed and would prefer that Shotokan becomes again the traditional, non-sports martial art as conceived by Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of this particular style.

      Plus the sensei of the school I practice this style at also teaches weapons (kobudo) on Tuesday nights, which are the bo, sai, and nunchaku (nunchuks)..with the exception of katanas unfortunately. But the tonfa seems bit more reasonable and safer.
      You can learn more about it here:

      And just like how the Turtles say it, It's Awesome! :D

    3. See if there's any nearby Shotokan Karate dojos in your area and try out one of their classes for free, if they do.

    4. Thanks for all that info! I live in NYC right now, so there's gotta be dojo around somewhere. I'll research after the holidays - especially if you like it so much. I don't want to miss out. Hopefully my old Tae Kwon Do translates so I don't have to start from the beginning!

    5. Oh sweet! :-) which borough? And there's bound to be Plenty in the area, though you may want to check out these online articles on how to find a good dojo that's right for you.

      As for me, and my TMNT karate team, we live and practice at an awesome dojo in Passaic, NJ :-) Here's our dojo's website:
      ..and our school has some Dominican Republic roots, because our sensei was born in D.R.

      You took TKD before you moved to New York City? I hope they didn't teach you to do the Gangnam Style dance :D

  3. Karate improve our healthy and make our strong. Karate can be practiced as an art, as a sport, as a combat sport, or as self defense training Best Karate in Connecticut.


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