A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mouthguard from 90s. Yes, you read that right. Dentist-approved Turtle-teeth exist.
Let's backtrack. The TMNT community is filled with wonderful people. This isn't a throwaway comment. It comes from a place of spending years in this pizza-powered world. I'm still surprised by the amount of positivity that beams from TMNT fandom. There are a few trolls, but their voices are nearly silenced by the overwhelming optimism from everyone else. From the deep corners of the internet, to the fans that flock to comic cons, TMNT enthusiasts are superb people. My pal, Metalhead (he prefers to keep this awesome alias on the internet), leads the charge on this front.
I met Metalhead a few years ago at New York Comic Con. We were seated next to each other during a TMNT panel and geeked out like Donatello on all things Turtles. The rest is history.
After a long day at work, I came home to a surprise package waiting at my front door. The exhaustion of work immediately transformed into curiosity. This wasn't a lame Amazon shipment of laundry detergent, I could sense it was special. But even in a state of pure enthusiasm, I still took my time opening the box. The pitfalls of being a collector - you're always concerned about condition. I didn't want to ruin or tear something because of unwieldy excitement. Instead, an endless series of surgical-like incisions and maneuvers successfully opened the package to my standards. Ironically, everything inside the package slid out and crashed to the floor. So much for grace.
I lucked out. Everything that slipped from the package to the floor was secure in a layer of bubble wrap. I searched the empty box...perhaps looking for a reason to justify my doofus move. Nothing to make me feel better. But, I did notice something out of the ordinary fastened to the box's interior. I unfolded the package for a better look. What a wacky note! Metalhead, TMNT fan extraordinaire, was responsible for this mysterious mail. His Metalhead-inspired note was a precursor to the awesomeness inside.
Toys! A blind bag TMNT Mega Bloks mini-figure greeted me as I removed the bubble wrap from this bundle. The secrecy of these toys are always enjoyable. What character would I get?! Like all weirdo collectors, I awkwardly fondled the packaging in my living room, trying to guess what figure hid inside.
My detective work was sidelined by impatience. I opened the thing, tearing the foiled packaging apart like an animal. One by one, the mystery revealed itself - three mini-Mousers. These chomping toys look lethal...and yet somehow adorable, like three villainous kittens.
The other item in the package? The goofiest of gifts, the king of silly sewer swag - a TMNT mouthguard! The Heroes in a Half Shell really did corner the market on EVERYTHING, didn't they? I knew they had the basics covered - toys, cereal, and clothing. But, a mouthguard?! Who pitched that idea? I want to shake their hands because this thing is a work of wacky art. The mouthguard is ooze-green awesome. The matching case is even better, with a foiled sticker of Mikey gracing its front. I had spotted a TMNT mouthguard for a reasonable price on eBay months ago, but missed the chance to get the ridiculous item. Yes, I wanted this idiotic thing because it SO incredibly ludicrous. But being a man of greatness, Metalhead swooped in where I had failed. He purchased the item exclusively with me in mind. The TMNT mouthguard - a symbol of true friendship.
Reading the front of the packaging, it's made clear this is no ordinary mouthguard. Turtle Teeth is the hip, dentistry lingo. The words have a special dental zip that attempts to excite kids. And even though all this tooth-related copy on the packaging is fun, it's the visual of Donatello that I love most. The brainy Turtle looks like he's actually wearing a mouthguard. It's an expression exclusive to awkward teenagers during a school yearbook photo...and Donnie nails it.
In October of 1991, I got my first cavity. It was right before my 8th birthday. I felt ashamed and gross. The skeletons that were out for Halloween seemed like a crude reminder that my teeth would eventually rot like theirs if I didn't brush. The whole experience scared me straight. From there on out, I stuck to a vigorous schedule of tooth care. To this day, no more cavities! I also never needed braces or was a kid who would grind their teeth when sleeping. The dental gods have smiled upon me. As for sports, the ones I played never required a mouthguard either.
All this info is just a really longwinded way of saying the big thing that matters here - I never had the "opportunity" to use a TMNT mouthguard.
Even though it was the 90s, the TMNT mouthguard meant business. Look at this endless disclaimer on the back of the packaging. It's like signing a deal with the devil once you pop this thing in your mouth. The legal jargon really kills the TMNT branding. "Cowabunga" & "totally tubular" are nowhere to be found. It's like a kid designed the front of the packaging, fun and fueled by Turtle Power, but their parents took control for the backside, adding a bunch of boring grownup stuff. Couldn't we at least get a Pizza Point?
Mail, mousers, and a mouthguard. What an adventure! Metalhead, I cannot thank you enough for this loot of wild TMNT treasures. The randomness of The Sewer Den collection brings me much joy, and a mouthguard leads that charge. Turtle Teeth deserve a big cowabunga. Gratitude, dude!