Issue 31: Sentimental In The Sewer


Roses are red, violets are blue, the sewers are sweet, so please read this through.

Pucker up, Valentine's Day is here once again - throwing pretty flowers, tasty chocolates, and mushy greeting cards all over the month of February. In the past, The Sewer Den has covered 2 sets of TMNT Valentine's Day cards - the classic cartoon series of the 80's and the 2007 movie. Although hailing from completely different TMNT eras, both sets featured our heroes shelling out their hearts while using a variety of silly expressions and wretched puns. With Valentines like these, it's understandable why these mutants are single.

In between the original cartoon and the Nickelodeon show, is the 2003 series. Twelve years ago, the Turtles launched their second TV incarnation, once again entitled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The franchise got a major facelift and brought a whole new attitude to the TMNT universe. Much of the goofiness was gone and the green machines took a few notes from their original comic book characters. Overall, the tone of the show was slightly darker than the original cartoon and dove deeper in character development. But, by no means was it "serious." The show changed, the charm did not.

And what do charming Turtles do? Release Valentines of course! The show hit the airwaves and was an immediate success. The new (well, new in 2003) TMNT cartoon was producing merchandise that was popping up all over stores. It was only fitting that a slew of fresh TMNT Valentines hit the market.

Get sweet with The Sewer Den - check out what the 2003 series had to offer. Like always, I cracked open the box in a roar of excitement. Forget value - let's have some fun!

The back of the box fills you with promise. 8 different designs, full color on both sides, AND an activity card?! Is this Valentine's Day or Christmas? The designers of this packaging deserves some credit. So little has never seemed like so much. Morphing these mundane attributes into a solid selling point is a quite a skill. What kid wouldn't get sucked in by "full color on both sides?"

The first bundle of love to slide out of the box is this batch of 48 sticker hearts (16 extra!). If you were hoping to tuck your Valentine safely inside an envelope, no such luck. You're stuck sealing your card with a sticker heart (or a kiss if you're feeling romantic).

Has anyone ever come across this logo in their TMNT travels? After all the bootleg merchandise that has hit the streets over the years, I suppose the Turtles felt it was time for an "Official Licensed Seal." Completely unaware that this ever existed, I've bought countless items from this era of TMNT - never checking for the authentic seal. But, here it is. Simply slapped on the back of the box.

But, I really dig it. The black and white color palette creates a sleek, clean design. It also allows the Turtle pictured to remain a mystery. Without showcasing any color or a weapon, this could be any one of the Turtles. So naturally, the seal represents all of them - no favorites.

Oh, and that website listed on the box, TMNT.TV, still exists! But, the original content is long gone. The remains? A mutated mashup of TMNT, current movies, and construction tips. It's creepy.

Finally, the cream of the crop. The "8 different designs" we heard so much about. You'll need a little elbow grease for this string of cards because they're all connected. But, have no fear, the perforated edges make them easy to separate.

The back of the individual cards are pretty generic. Nothing ninja-noteworthy to take in. The design ditches the sewer scenario and instead embraces a Legends of the Hidden Temple feel. The card doesn't exactly scream TMNT, but manages to get the job done. A simple "From" and "To" to fill out for your Valentine is basically all you need.


Raphael is the first to hit us with his dose of love. Honestly, I was nervous these cards from the 2003 cartoon series might lack the usual Valentine-silliness we've all become so accustom to. But, this red bandanna-wearing Ninja allows a sigh of relief with his grand declaration, "Turtle-ize'em on Valentine's Day!"

Playing on the word "terrorize," this Valentine takes a dark turn. Replacing "turtle-ize" with "terrorize" would leave your Valentine with the statement "Terrorize 'em on Valentine's Day!" Is that the message you really want to send out on such a sweet holiday?

"Turtle-iz-ing" aside, Raphael's pose is stellar. The 2003 cartoon series threw Raph in the role of a tough as nails, raised in Brooklyn type guy. Weapons? This dude doesn't need any accessories to take a villain down. That mischievous, bad boy grin is all this Turtle needs to woo any Valentine.


The Turtles aren't the only dudes looking for love. Throughout the year, Shredder spends the majority of his time plotting evil schemes and attempting to destroy the Turtles. But, there's that one day a year where the guy turns into a big softy.

Unfortunately, the iconic villain falters from the start. Shredder is a victim of bad puns, a lack of romance, and what appears to be, bad dance moves. Visually, the man is experimenting with a moonwalk-macarena hybrid. All the singles ladies will certainly stay clear of those moves.

Shredder also leaves his romance at the door in terms of dialogue. There's not an ounce of sugar in his "Don't Shred it! Have an Awesome Valentine's Day!" If his henchmen fail a mission on Valentine's Day - sure, this statement is appropriate. But, to classify this is an act of love? Nope, sorry Shredhead.


No slick grins or tacky dance moves here - the rat knows how to play it cool. Without even opening his eyes, Splinter dishes out a tender sentiment for Valentine's Day. The sensibility of his message is fitting. His peaceful demeanor would make any lady blush on Valentine's Day. Even though his edict isn't necessarily romantic, it has potential to pull a few heartstrings. However, the sensei couldn't resist the power of the pun. Splinter's romantic side couldn't overcome his spiritual side.

You don't kiss on the first date? Splinter doesn't give a hoot. But, you better meditate.


Such choice words from the leader of the Ninja Turtles. Banzai is a fun word to blurt out when you're caught up in an energetic moment. As kids, we would often holler "banzai!" as we ran around playing. But, what exactly does the word mean?

The dictionary defines banzai as:

(used as a Japanese patriotic cry or joyous shout.)
(used as a Japanese battle cry.)
leading to likely or inevitable death; suicidal: a banzai attack by Japanese troops in the last days of WorldWar II.

Well, the Ninja Turtles do have a Japanese background, so the connection makes sense. But, on Valentine's Day? If you receive this card, let's hope it was intended with definition #1 in mind.

If not, run.


Poor Michelangelo. The dude gets the best lines in the show, but always get stuck being the dunce. The holiday filled with hearts is no different for the party-loving mutant. Yes, the Turtles are green. But, where does that fit in with the theme of love? His message makes no sense in the context of Valentine's Day. Actually, it doesn't make much sense at all. Being green isn't easy for our heroes. They live in the sewers to avoid humans, they are constantly being hunted by Shredder, and they barely have any friends. That's easy?

Back to the drawing board, Michelangelo.


The smartest guy on the squad and this is what he comes up with? Donatello avoids proper English, and instead, busts out the street slang. What's scary is that this card was made in the 2000's, when the phrase "You 'Da Man" was long dead. Only soccer moms and corny dads were clinging on, spouting the expression in an attempt to be cool. Switching it up to "You 'Da Mutant" isn't salvaging a thing.

Donatello's Valentine is also the first to feature a weapon. He clutches his bo staff in one hand while the other hand...wait...what exactly is he doing with that other hand? Uh oh. This just got weird. That's the move of a groper. You know what? Don't give out this card on Valentine's Day. You're painting a bad picture of yourself. Unless, you want to be viewed as an out-of-touch groper. 

Although I'm piling the jokes on this card, I love it. "You 'Da Mutant" is a cut above the rest. The goofy goodness is right up my alley. It's also why every year around Valentine's Day, I pine for more TMNT cards. This tacky magic cannot be replicated.


This Valentine doesn't ask for your heart. But, it does ask for your money. "Gimme some green" is not the ideal way to unlock that special someone's heart. Again, I get it. The Turtles are green. But, where's the Valentine's Day love? All four Turtles throw romance right out the window. For crying out loud, they say sweeter things to a pizza pie!

Despite the lack of passion, this Valentine is solid. The whole gang is here - Raphael sports the tough guy vibe once again, Donatello is still being a tad creepy, Leonardo is leading, and Michelangelo gives a thumb full of love. 


The 8th and final card in the lot is the illustrious "activity card" that the back of the box advertised so well. Treat your Valentine to a game of Connect The Dots. If they're not the sharpest tool in the shed, don't fret. The game's difficulty isn't too high. As long as they can count to 65 and hold a pencil, you're set.

After completing the puzzle, the "hidden picture" will reveal itself. Although I don't have the brains of Donatello, I still have a good idea what the image might be. Just a stab in the dark.

If you want to know what the image is, highlight here  >>> It's a Turtle! <<<

The Turtles of the 2003 cartoon series churned out a batch of successful Valentine's Day cards. The moment I popped open the box, I fell head over heals for these silly pieces of paper. It's like I was struck with one of Cupid's arrows. The cards lack romanticism, but that's the majority of their charm. The pitiful puns and goofy gimmicks have my heart beating green (oh great, now I'M doing it). 

Forget the chocolates, the red roses, and even the jewelry. Let's just make Valentine's Day all about handing out wacky TMNT cards. Happy Valentine's Day!


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

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