Gratitude, Dude is a column that highlights a generous donation to The Sewer Den collection.

The bitter winter season has been beating down NYC with frosty weather. When a package arrived at my home during the middle of a snowy blizzard, I was quite surprised. It's a testament to my postal worker's endurance! Through the blistering cold, he delivered Turtle Power to me.

A glance at the return address told me that my friend and Sewer Den fan, Liz, sent me this merry mutant surprise. TMNT stickers were strategically placed all over the box, which enticed me to tear open the cardboard casing.

It took some digging through Liz's creative packaging to finally unearth the shipped treasure. Beneath the layers of paper, cardboard, and plastic bags was an original TMNT Mutant Maker. Box and all!

What is the Mutant Maker? This fancy, plastic contraption is a mix of creativity and cowabunga. Take your favorite TMNT characters, mix, match, and mutate them with crazy combinations. By placing the head, body, and leg plates inside the case, you can fuse different characters together to spawn a wacky deviation.

Curious what Splinter would look like with Bebop's menacing torso? Embrace the mad, mutant scientist within you and find out!

Most of the original contents were surprisingly still in the box. I explored them before crafting a mutant of my own.

We have a map to our madness! The instructions survived decades of mutant creations. Did kids actually read these? Even as an adult, I was hesitant.

The original crayon was still in the packaging too. Or as the box refers to it, "rubbing marker." It has an unfamiliar texture & weight to it. A mysterious crayon/charcoal/lead mash-up.

The only item missing seemed to be the "Pizza Paper." Luckily, that was one thing I could supply myself - it just wouldn't have the classy TMNT border.

All the pieces fit nice and snug inside the green unit. Teenage Mutant Organization.

Bring the Mutant Maker to those important business meetings! A dandy, briefcase-like handle on top makes the toy portable.

I combed through the character plates, pondering what type of kooky personality to create. I could mix and match sections of Baxter Stockman, Casey Jones, Bebop, Raphael, Shredder, and Splinter. Does anyone else think the lack of April O'Neil seems like a missed opportunity?

With so many options, my brain bounced all the combos around. I finally settled on Raphael (head), Bebop (body), and Baxter Stockman (legs). Setting the orange plates in place, I covered them with a sheet of paper and closed the case.

My hand pressed the 25 year old "rubbing marker" into the paper, moving it up and down in a circular motion (as per the instructions). With each pass, I could see my mutated creation coming alive. After only seconds of work, my freakish character was complete!

One-third turtle, one-third warthog, one-third fly - it's a work of art! Although this looked nothing like the box depicted, the process was instantly rewarding and produced such silly results. I had to take the Mutant Maker for another spin.

My second creation was more deranged than the first. The combination of Baxter Stockman (head), Shredder (body), and Splinter (legs) tiptoed on brilliance. These pieces rivaled the creativity found in the Renaissance period! Did my works from the Mutant Maker have the potential to be displayed in a gallery - for everyone to see?

Unfortunately, I'm no swindling dealer or art aficionado. My dreams of a museum exhibit quickly dwindled, but my exquisite art still found a gallery of its own - the refrigerator! Now, whenever I crave a late night snack, I can also take in my Mutant Maker art.

And if my creations don't impress you, well, there are 3 Pizza Points on the back of the box.

A big thank you to my pal, Liz, for sending me this wacky item for The Sewer Den collection. Maybe I'll use the Mutant Maker to create a "thank you" card. It only seems appropriate. 

Gratitude, dude(tte)!


  1. Cool! I never knew those existed! They look like Fashion Plates.

    1. Haha - yes! We should combine these with TMNT...put Bebop in a nice long dress.


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