Wednesday, March 30, 2011

#0013: Slobster

Some toys are ugly. They’re lumpy, awkward and reprehensible. If we were to see their visage in real life, we would flee in terror, praying for our lives and the lives of our unborn grandchildren.

Some toys are pretty. They’re detailed, up-market and precise. These are the pretty boy toys with rich parents who never had to work a day in their lives, who get everything they want. They’re the toys other toys hate, but secretly always wanted to be.

Some toys, like Slobster, are both.

It’s hard to express exactly how difficult it is for me to part with my very first bit of Street Sharks paraphernalia, even if it is with my least favourite character. Do I ever recall doing much with Slobster, other than having him kicked in the face and making silly crustacean noises? No, but he was mine all the same. Street Shark toys were simply made to be yours.

From the moment you took a look at them in their packaging, you said to your parents, ‘golly, I want me one of those’.

Odds are, your mother took one look at the hideous lobster monster within and then questioned your sanity. But if you were anything like me, you got your way and you got your toy. And like me, you were probably also very bossy and very bitchy, so you didn’t have many friends to share your Slobster with. Which is even better, for it is your Slobster and yours alone!

His vaunted ‘seize and slice claw’ is not really that exciting, you simply push his leg in and his oversized pincer clamps shut. I know that, in the right context, it’s menacing, but at face value, it looks more like he’s ticklish.

Incidentally, carrying around that claw for the last seventeen years has clearly been most taxing on his poor arm, because unless you wedge it right under his face, he can’t handle the weight and it merely veers down towards the floor. It’s like those women with really big breast implants. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but you know that in their elder years, it’s going to be a problem for them. Poor vain Slobster, he only wanted to look pretty.

His antennae are removable, though I’m not sure if they were supposed to be. I don’t know what purpose it would serve, but if you want your Slobster to be bald, he’s ready to accommodate.

Putting him up against a Ninja Turtle (the benchmark for how big your toys should be) reveals that Slobster is effin’ huge. Holding him in your hand makes you feel like you’re carrying an actual lobster around. All Street Sharks toys were big, and it makes me wish that I had had the balls to wage franchise wars between the Sharks and the Turtles. It would have been so epic. I suppose I could still do it, but it wouldn’t be as epic. Particularly since I’m currently unemployed.

Once he’s gone onto the next generation, the only thing we know for sure is that Slobster will still be a villain. Just look at his angry sneer, he’s destined to always be typecast. But as I doubt he’ll end up with other Street Sharks, I can only ponder who his enemies will be from here on.

…I hope it’s not just some dick.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

#0012: Bruiser

For a program I never watched, it seems as though I have an awful lot of Bucky O’Hare toys. In fact, I feature a robust portfolio of three.

I know, it’s not quite a smorgasbord. If I tried hosting a Bucky O’Hare party, my guests would probably be sorely disappointed with the sparse roster on selection. But I emphasise the fact; I never once watched the show. Never. It’d be like buying a My Pet Monster toy for your fifteen-year-old brother today, even though the blue gaffer hasn’t been seen for about twenty-four years, and he lacks the fond memories of Beastur et al.

And frankly, the selection of Bucky toys we own is bizarre. So we’ve got Bucky, who’s a necessity of course, but beyond that, there’s no Deadeye Duck or Jenny the telepathic pussy.

No. We got gypped. We got a hideous pre-teen Willy DuWitt toy, who my sister and I have been trying to pawn off onto each other’s toy collections for years. And the last of the trio is a character I don’t even recall ever existing. Christ, he’s trumped by that stupid ass robot Blinky. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Bruiser.

My knowledge of Bruiser is distinctly lacking. He’s clearly the muscle of Bucky’s team, but what secrets does he hold? He is dressed akin to an extra from Mad Max, and he has distinctly placed protruding elements from his chest plate that I can only assume are for his erect nipples. With that being said, perhaps I don’t want to know about Bruiser’s secrets. They’re naughty secrets.

I’m just going to get it out of the way now, because otherwise it’s going to bug me. In my anal retentive world of paint jobs (I should get into car detailing), the only thing that irks me more than a lazily coloured toy is one where they’ve completely miscoloured something. In Bruiser’s case, it’s his left hand. He’s clearly wearing a glove, spikes and everything, yet it’s the exact same colour as the rest of his body. I often wonder how such omissions occur, but I guess it’s not really something I should be dwelling on. It’s not like I’m going to fix it in the hopes of a Bucky relaunch.

I’ve just now noticed he appears to actually be wearing Speedo’s of some sort that have also been left uncoloured, so let me just declare that these items of clothing are in fact simply orange-coloured. Either it was a silly coincidence that Bruiser hadn’t noticed when purchasing the items on sale from Wal-Mart, or it was a tactical ploy he is using in order to disguise the fact that he’s wearing a dangerous glove of destructive power, and also to disguise the fact that his junk is not flying solo.

Bruiser features holes in his feet, typical of toys from his era so that he can be stood up in his team’s vehicle. He also has a curious hole planted directly in his back, which remains a mystery to us all.

Does this mean that he was also intended to lie down in the vehicle, in case of injury or naptime? Or was he supposed to have an unreleased accessory that allowed him to breakdance? What a glorious sight that would have been! A studded, potentially orange-Speedo wearing breakdancing gorilla! It’s like Donkey Kong gone wrong. It’s everything I ever wanted to be in life, only if I had my way, he would also be shooting fireworks from his shoes. And, considering the holes he has in his soles… Who knows? Another world, another time, Bruiser may have been synonymous with my very existence.

Beyond that, Bruiser’s strange physique is actually rather posable. We’ve seen his stereotypical ‘ook ook I’m a gorilla’ stance, but check out his range!

Stand him upright and he becomes an educated, liberal-minded member of society. He enjoys poetry and political debates.

Throw his limbs to the air and he looks like he’s making a bold proclamation for the people. Is he a rock star, or is he Malcolm X? You decide!

He can even dance to Tarzan Boy by Baltimora. I’m unclear exactly how a Tarzan Boy dance would look, so I lifted this particular boogie from the third Ninja Turtles movie.

Falcon PAWNCH! Oh ho, fooled by my camouflaged glove, were you, Pikachu?

The final question that Bruiser presents, and it is indeed a big one, is what was supposed to slot into his right hand? There’s a dandy little hole in there, and it has to be filled with something. It’s not like he’s going to use his fist as a pretend telescope, after all.

At first, I assumed I had simply lost the particular accessory, but a quick squiz at fully packaged Bruisers reveals that he never came with anything at all. So you can stick whatever you damn well want in his hand really, just don’t expect a cool club or massive gun or something, because it’s a tiny little hole. He can only place small things that he feels affectionate towards in there. You know exactly what I’m talking about…

It took twenty-one years, but I feel good to know that I can finally reunite him with his lost child, Chimchar. It’s a beautiful thing, that monkey love.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

TMNT: Invasion of the Robobugs


You’ll have to pardon me for being easily distracted in the last few entries. I’m sure at some point I’ll rekindle my passion for leering at old toys and telling you about it.

In the meantime however, I must share with you something very special. Many of you no doubt recall the old sight ‘n’ sound books from back in the day. Were you aware, however, that a certain team of green had their own page-turning, sound makin’ frenzy of literature?

It’s true! And today (or tonight depending on your hemisphere, and how you like to spend your Saturday evenings), I’m giving you the very special treat of presenting to you the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Sound Story: Invasion of the Robobugs!

I don’t know what the special occasion is to merit something so awesome, but I’ll just say it’s my belated gift to you for women’s appreciation day. I appreciate April O’Neil, and I appreciate you.

So sit down, grab your most turtley drink, and get ready to kick some shell!

That there is the inside cover. Where to start?

I guess it depends on where your own little fascinations lie. For me, I just can’t stop noticing that Leonardo’s katana blades are marvelously short. They’re more like carving knives for the women’s appreciation day roast turkey. And why are they shining? It’s not like there’s a particular light source in front of them. And don’t claim that there could be, because their shadows (represented by fantastic black holes) dictate otherwise. Ha. Thought you had me there, didn’t you?

Over on Mikey’s side, he looks a tad upset, and I would too, had my right pupil been leaping inconspicuously from my eye up to my bandana, and my teeth melded together in places to make some oversized megafangs.

Oh Steve Lavigne. You really should have tinkered a little bit more with Ryan Brown’s roughs, because you will now suffer the indignant fate of being picked on all these years later. I know he reads my blog. I just know it.

Did you realise that the term ‘Turtle-Talk’ is trademarked by Mirage Studios? I certainly didn’t. I also don’t think that the phrase is used once in this book, but let it be a warning in case you were ever considering slipping ‘Turtle-Talk’ into one of your fanfics.

And finally, a special shout out to Connie “Awesome” Kash for the long, hard nights spent formulating not only the story for this book, but its bevy of sounds, too. They’re totally tubular. And unfortunately twenty-one years later, none of them work anymore.

I could insert a new battery, but I honestly have better things to do than revive my Ninja Turtles sound book. Anyhow, let’s get a better look at those buttons, shall we?

As the second button would indicate, they are indeed awesome. But what’s with all the bugs?! Don’t worry. We’ll get to that… Also, if you can’t understand their presence in a book titled ‘Invasion of the Robobugs’, then I’m not sure how you’re able to read this blog entry to begin with. You silly fish!

On the reverse, we’re shown an example of how to use the book. You use your tiny little hand to press buttons while your mother reads to you. I like the fact that she’s engaged. Stops me from feeling like a little bastard.

Though really, my mother never read me the book while planting her hand directly upon the page. Doesn’t that make it difficult, mom? Or is she making a Vulcan sign, foregoing formal reading and instead passing on the message for us to ‘live long and prosper’?

This is one Turtle-y excellent adventure!

And so we begin with page one. And it’s oh so glorious! The rather sulky ‘shrewd’ Shredder sits at his control panel, where he observes each bug as it goes through his testing machine. The images onscreen look like they were illustrated with crayon, and I frankly don’t doubt that they were.

Shredder uses various adjectives (like ‘Perfect!’ ‘Ahh!’ and ‘Perfect!’) to describe his latest inventions, the Robobugs. Each bug has its own specific way of fucking up our day, from shorting out the lights to putting a bug in all computers. Yes, Shredder uses that dreadful pun, so I’m allowed to as well. He declares his plans to his inanimate army of Foot Soldiers, while also seeking validation for two jokes in the same page. I didn’t realise Shredder was that sad. I also didn’t realise that the Soldiers were now dubbed ‘Footbots’. Of all the copyrights this publication was unable to secure, ‘Foot Soldier’ seems a strange one.

I note with delight that the Computer Bug makes access to computers with a floppy disc. He shan’t be much worry these days.

The book observes (with some alarm, I might add) that some faulty bugs aren’t being destroyed. Which seems like a really stupid thing to happen, but there we go.

I mean, why does the Shredder have the technology to mass produce robotic bugs, but can’t create a more foolproof system than a single Footbot manning the button to the SQUASH hammer? No wonder he’s sulky.

April O’Neil creeps me out in this book. With her tiny, lifeless little eyes and her unrealistic voluptuous figure. She certainly wasn’t a role model for the little girls.

She uses entirely unprofessional and insincere subjectivity in her reporting (‘My, what a mess that’ll be!’), and there’s all sorts of opportunities for children to stab at the sound buttons as the bugs do their thing.

I’m sure kids were becoming impatient by the sporadic use of these buttons on the first page, so now’s their time to shine and press buttons as frantically and frequently as they want. They’re given ten specific cues to follow, but if they were anything like me, they threw a few extra sounds in there as well, citing fervent excitement and creative storytelling as their reasons.

Have you ever wondered where all of the Turtles’ electronic items plug into? I never did until now. I have nowhere to go with that thought, but I had to get it out there.

Anyhow, like the beginning of 90% of Turtle stories, from Turtles in Time to Turtle Power, our boys are introduced as sitting around watching some April fixin’s. Do they ever watch reports by any other journalist? I’m sure Vernon Fenwick has some very emotional and driving stories to tell, too.

This whole page is basically just telling us about crazy types of pizza and letting us press the Cowabunga button with great frivolity. The second example, preceding Don’s lecture of eating a healthy pizza, makes no sense. It’s a completely inconsistent celebration and I DON’T LIKE IT. I will defiantly not press the Cowabunga button at that time.

Where did the element of unusual pizzas come from, anyway? Didn’t it used to just be a matter of anchovies or no anchovies? Why the whipped cream and peanut butter? Sounds kinky when you put it that way.

Also, I admit that I was wrong. The term ‘Turtle Talk’ is used on this page. It’s even been capitalized. They really took advantage of that hard-earned copyright.

There are so many other things to ponder over…

Why is Raphael so pissed off?

Is Leonardo touching himself?

But we haven’t enough time for all these… we must press on…

As Donatello (kinda) tells Mikey to pull his head out of his ass, water suddenly (and without warning) comes flooding into the sewer. The top picture kind of indicates that there actually was warning, judging by Splinter’s expression of bemusement in the top panel, but we won’t split hairs.

I always loved this page as a kid. Of course, when I got this book I would have been about three, so I didn’t entirely understand what was going on. Just that I enjoyed its contents.

I actually failed to realise that there’s two separate illustrations there detailing the flooding of the sewers, and I think I presumed there was an evil Splinter doppelganger causing watery mischief. I also believed that water was literally shooting out from the lower Splinter’s hand. And looking at that picture now, I still do.

Other highlights are Michaelangelo’s look of utter disappointment and Raphael reaching for his slice of pizza.

Leonardo casually instructs that somebody else grab Splinter (because he’s wet and icky!), and the Turtles flee above ground.

Yep, just like that, they’re out of the sewers. Why did Shredder really think that water would put an end to the Turtles? For fuck’s sake Oroku, they’re TURTLES.

Donatello asks April about the curious phenomenon where their television broke instead of mentioning a tidal wave that flooded their home. Raphael points a Turtle finger at one of the culprits, but of course Donatello gets the credit. He was always stealing Raph’s thunder.

If only they’d turn around (or at least look in the direction of the nearest whirr-boing), they’d see that there’s an assload of them all around them, but it’s a moot point.

Of much more importance is the fact that Raphael firmly states that everyone flushing their toilets at the same time is ‘Turtle-y impossible!’

I don’t know why he’s so resolute that simultaneous flushing is a definite impossibility, but I suppose he knows more than we do.

Also, if I’m a parent and my kid has been pressing the noise buttons at each cue at least, I’m fucking annoyed by now and will have closed the book and sent their ass to bed. This is so not worth it, imagery of Splinter drowning notwithstanding.

This was always my least favourite picture. Probably because the Turtles were absent, and it’s just filled with silly boring humans.

The news van crew flee from the scene in terror, horrified that small mechanical bugs would be messing with their equipment, and entirely disinterested with the fact that large bipedal Turtles with ninja weapons are making an appearance.

Also, despite what Shredder claimed, those electrical bugs are hardly ‘perfect’. Look at all the lights that are still on over there! What in the hell are those yellow pricks doing? There’s one towards the front in this picture, who looks like he’s slacking off and having fun.

In all the chaos, the police are left speechless. And apparently without any weaponry or self-defence knowledge whatsoever, because they have chosen to stand by silently and do nothing.

The previously Awesome Connie Kash makes a key error in the first sentence, slipping from present tense to past tense, but we’ll forgive her this mistake. Just as long as she doesn’t do it again!

There’s also more inexplicable examples of the Cowabunga button in use, in a sentence that’s supposed to be nonchalant. How do you say ‘Cowabunga!’ nonchalantly, exactly? In the same way that you’re supposed to say it when describing your distaste for road pizza, I suppose?

In any event, SLAP ME THREE and let’s bust up some bugs.

…You see, that’s where a Cowabunga would be appropriate.

At the root of everything, the point of Shredder’s wicked plan was for things to be crazy so the Footbots could loot and plunder. But I’m left asking why?

It wasn’t like Shredder was going to sell that shit on the black market, it’s too hot, it’s too plentiful, and he never takes his damned mask off so he’s not a very good businessman. Am I to assume (and let’s face it, I’ve done a shitload of assuming so far) that he just wanted lots of cool shit?

…Yes. Yes I am.

Apparently Connie Kash now realised that she had three completely unused buttons, and frantically searched for a way to work them into her intricate story. Perhaps three instances of the bashing sound and an unheralded eleven clings would suffice.

The Turtles go in with flying hands and feet, flailing nunchaku, swift bo, flashing sai and katanas without an adjective. They make short work of the bugs, while the Footbots are just left to groan about how they should have seen this coming and wish that instead of a toilet bug, Shredder had made up some dynamite beetles to really mess the Turtles up. Oh well. Can’t win ‘em all.

Donatello makes one declaration after another, proving his schizophrenia as he appears to have a conversation with himself about the electronic bugs and the godawful mess they’ve made. By stating that this is in fact okay, Donny no doubt opened the flood gate for kids at home to start smashing all their stuff, and deflect all responsibility by glaring into their parents’ eyes and sneering that ‘teenagers like messes’.

Meanwhile, the Footbots have responded by grabbing their lasers and opening fire. Why is April standing so close? It seems like a risky decision, but evidently she’s no worse at dodging lasers than Splinter and the Turtles.

From the Footbots’ encroachment, the Turtles are able to come to the bold conclusion that Shredder was the culprit behind all of the electronic bugs.

Me personally, I think I would have figured that out from the get-go. Not that I’m bragging, or anything.


This certainly is an exciting little story, isn’t it? My favourite part of this illustration is that Raphael is countering a Footbot pointing a gun towards his face by yelling at it. Such tactics we haven’t seen since Donald Duck took to the hockey rink. Oh, what glorious memories!

You’d think that with the Footbots ‘swarming’ and ‘firing their lasers as rapidly as machine guns’ as they are, surely one of them would land the fatal blow that would down at least one of the Turtles, but it doesn’t appear to be so. I questioned their accuracy at first, but now I’m pointing the finger at a lack of motivation.

I also question the merits of a few Footbots escaping and running away. Their primary function is to eliminate the Turtles, so I fail to see how any form of self-preservation would be logical. Again, they’re clearly unmotivated.

They’re certainly busy. Not a moment’s rest from page to page, and now the Turtles take chase of the fleeing Footbots.

I’m sure that this will be the last time I make mention of unnecessary Cowabungas, but Leonardo’s dismissive statement of “Yah, Cowabunga, but hold the phone, guys” is simply appalling. This book has taken everything I believed Cowabunga to be and turned it into a generalized phrase. It’s like the word ‘Smurf’; it can be used anywhere now.

Splinter declares that he will… clean up the mess with April, and the Turtles follow the Footbots towards the Technodrome, which is just sitting around the streets of New York without much notice. Although the illustration would suggest that the Turtles are actually running away from the Technodrome, it’s no more of an oversight than calling Raphael Donatello. I mean really, that’s inexcusable.

I don’t know if he was just feeling lazy, or if Steve Lavigne had given up on this book by now. This illustration is terrible. Leonardo’s swollen left eye, Splinter’s missing legs, and the unnecessary adding of April to the scene (WHY IS SHE THERE SHE CAN’T DO ANYTHING). And yes, today I noticed for the first time that up top, the drawing simply stops, and the world disappears into a pool of grey. Even Mikey sees it.

So bugs are crawling all over the BUG TESTING MACHINE as Shredder tries to make sense of this mess at his MASTER BUG CONTROLLER. These things are capitalized because they are very important.

Because of one lazy Footbot shirking his responsibility at the SQUASH hammer, Shredder’s plan has been foiled. Well, I guess. Because in reality, there’s still shitloads of bugs, faulty bugs at that, everywhere. If they don’t remain centralized around the Technodrome, shit gets real.

Me, I don’t know if I feel comfortable about this solution. But I guess you do. DON’T YOU, TURTLE FANS!

This page was the most frustrating of all. The text could have just been crammed onto the last page, but look at that picture. Is Shredder hulking up? Are the Turtles preparing for combat? Looking at Leo, Mike and Don, you could be mistaken for thinking that they’re celebrating, but look at Raph and Splinter. Holy shit, they’re alarmed, he’s going SUPER SHREDDER!!!

The reason that this page is so frustrating is because I’m left with such uncertainty here. If there is indeed a mega fight about to occur, then where is it? The next page isn’t even a page at all, just instructions about how to replace your batteries.

What a cliffhanger. They should have just had a picture of the Turtles happily eating pizza or something. I was promised 24 Fun-Filled Pages, and I don’t feel as though I got that. The first page was actually the inside title page, which wasn’t fun at all. Lies!!

That’s how it should have ended right there. In fact, I think that’s an official lost illustration by Steve Lavigne. Everyone having a Turtle-y good time with pizza. Splinter has a piece of cheese. April has a microphone as she catches the latest scoop.

And everyone’s happy.

That picture took an hour.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

#0011: The Incredible Hulk

Did I ever mention that one of the primary reasons that I’m doing this is to clear out space? Not out of the goodness of my heart, but on the pure basis that I’m surrounded by decades-old clutter. There comes a time in every man’s life where he looks upon his desk and ponders which will give him more joy: a large stereo system, or a Beetlejuice toy.

The answer is obvious.

And shit, it’s actually the Beetlejuice toy.

But we’ll ignore that anyway, and press on with the point I was trying to make; that this shit takes up room, and I appear to have chosen the slowest way possible to clear it. Just reflect, in nearly two months, I have removed ten small items.

Let’s get bigger. Let’s get the Incredible Hulk. …We’re gonna GIT ‘IM!

This one just seems obvious to me. I got him from an arcade that I worked at, not through a lot of money and effort at a claw machine, but, as best as I can recall, someone left him on the floor or in the office or something. Who really knows how or why I acquired this Hulk fella, but it truly harkens back to the kleptomaniac in me.

Frankly, he’s not that attractive. I know that that was never one of the hallmarks of the Hulk franchise, but he’s just nothing nice to look at in general. His build is particularly awkward. When I think of how I’d craft a Hulk physique, I’d get my inspiration from Machoke or Scott Steiner. It appears as though the good people at Hunter Leisure got their Hulk body ideas from a cactus crossed with the letter W.

His face is cheeky, and his teeth are green.

Shouldn’t Bruce Banner’s teeth shatter from rapid size change? I can understand his flesh expanding to the needs of the Hulk (though really he should be covered in rolls of loose skin), but in all honesty, after a busy Hulk session, Banner should really look worse for wear. He tends to just look tired and stressed, but that’s the same as in any profession.

We need to feel his pain, y’know? It’s hard to sympathise with him wanting to remove his gamma powers when those abilities make him huge and strong and green, but if he came out of it looking like he’d just taken on a velociraptor with an Uzi, it would make a little more sense.

…Apparently, a velociraptor with an Uzi was the most damaging thing I could think of. Not a wrecking ball, or an explosive device. Velociraptor with an Uzi.

…Damn Right.

I note with delight that, although his pants feature the traditional zig-zag tear at the bottom, the only other damage they appear to have sustained is a pair of holes at his knees. Yes, the Hulk has holes at the knees like a little kid.

I wonder how much crawling he did to achieve these holes, exactly? And during what kind of mischief? Do we ever see the Hulk on his knees? I mean, other than when he’s just copped a missile to the forehead? Why are these particular pants emerald green? Is he a fashionista?

Aside from that, I’m really not getting a whole lot from my Hulk. He’s hardly Incredible.

Though you know, when I look at him and his… buff physique… spiky hair… complete lack of intelligence… I can’t help but feel as though he reminds me of someone…

If Michael Sorrentino is the Situation, the Incredible Hulk is the goddamn Solution.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


“Hey Squeaker, you look kinda bummed. What’s up?”

“Haven’t you heard? Anthony’s giving away his toys! It’s the end of the world! We’re doomed to an eternity of limb-tearing, fabric-staining, drooly mouthed torture!”

“Well, not me. I’m far too valuable.”

“You? You’re the most tattered of all! How much could you possibly be worth?”

“I’m worth thousands!!”

“H-how can it be?? Where did you get all that money?!”

“Through… favours.”

“What kind of favours, exactly?”

“…I’d rather not say.”

“Oh, so this is where you’ve been, big boy! Why don’t you come with me? Wish Bear needs some more wishes to come true…”

“Dear god, not again…”