Journey Down The Toy Aisles: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


by Justin Keys (@mrjroc83)

“Cowabunga dude!”

That phrase was very popular throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, mainly due to a widely-watched cartoon about four turtles that mutated into anthropomorphic reptiles. They loved pizza with a passion, could furiously kick bad guy butt, lived life in half-shells, and didn’t give a slime about it. During this time, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or TMNT) ruled the sewers like no other. They had everything going for them, from cartoon shows to big screen movies and video games, but the best thing about TMNT were the toys that were made.

TMNT toys were made by Playmates, which had the rights and made some of the coolest action figures. My personal favorite line was the Storage Shell Turtles that came out in 1991. These figures had shells that could open for you to store their weapons–cool for kids on the go. Another great release was the Wacky Action line that had our favorite turtles and their foes with wind-up action capabilities, such as Sword Slicin’ Leo and Headspinnin’ Bebop. Playmates didn’t stop there, continuing with Turtle Games, which gave us the fearsome foursome in Olympic attire, and let us not forget about the far-out turtle mash up of the Ninja Turtles and Star Trek! Captain Leonardo went from commander of the U.S.S. Pepperoni to the U.S.S. Enterprise.

We can’t look past how our reptilian dudes got around. Yeah, bro, talkin’ about their wheels. From 1988 to 1998, Playmate released a variety of vehicles for TMNT, the main ride of choice was the Turtle Party Wagon, produced in 1988. I believe it came standard with a pizza oven built in. Evil Shredder had some awesome toys to play with also, the Technodrome being the biggest and baddest creation in his motor pool.

Hours of play time came from these toys, from saving April O’Neil or Casey Jones to battling foot soldiers, but there’s no adventure too big or too small to stop the turtles from getting to their bodacious goal…pizza!

Today, we can still find TMNT toys in stores as they will be making a comeback, thanks to a third animated series debuting September 29, 2012 on Nickelodeon.


Teenage mutant ninja turtles. (n.d.). Retrieved from


Virtual ninja turtle museum. (2004, 08 30). Retrieved from

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