Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Are Coming Out… of Their Shells – A Ninja Turtles Action Figure Retrospective
The other day I fell into one of those wonderful internet sinkholes and began browsing through pages featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures I played with as a child. I couldn’t get enough of them and Playmates knew there were many kids like me, so they kept churning out more and more toys. More often than not, the toys had nothing to do with the animated series, comics, or movies. They were just bizarre interpretations of the characters. At the time, I never put much thought into who was coming up with these toys. Looking at these action figures now, I noticed a not so sly recurring theme – Many of them were just really queer.
I played with He-Man, with his bondage plus Speedo wardrobe, along with his contemporaries Ram Man and Man-At-Arms. But these Turtles are in a class of their own. There’s a winking, subversiveness to them. I’ll cop to overreaching in a few instances. But much like the gay subtext in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, I can’t help thinking someone knew exactly what they were doing.
Let’s take a look at some of my favorites.
Hose ‘Em Down Don sounds like a stripper name and he’s posed to gyrate in your face. The fire hose dangling over his shoulder doesn’t help, directing eyes right down to the turtle goods.
Midshipman Mike is ready for shore leave. From the looks of this sailor, he has caught a few things during previous Fleet Weeks, but that doesn’t stop him from strutting his stuff.
We have another stripper with Make My Day Leo. This macho copper is a bit more no-nonsense than his fireman brother. Get too rowdy or try to use your hands, and Leo is going to bring out the handcuffs.
Along with this magician Ralph the Magnificent, this series included Crazy Clownin’ Michelangelo who was fully clothed. After all, a pants-less clown would be obscene. But the half-dressed Ralph sneaks by, effortlessly alternating between performing tricks and turning them.
Powerliftin’ Don during the day, Powerbottom Don at night. Just saying.
Cruisin’ Leo. Rough trade. Presented without further comment.
Your first thought is probably, “oh this is Flasher Donatello.” Yeah, mine was too. But that’s letting him off easy. What would prompt him to become the Undercover Turtle? Perhaps to venture out and make friends at the nearby adult theatre of old NYC on the down low? The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles weren’t headed to Times Square for margaritas at Chevy’s. Clearly this action figure was popular because a few years later, his brothers joined him, now with cloth coats for easy access.
Brothers who play together…
Or if you prefer your Turtles with a natural look, this “hatchin’ egg” action causes the gang to each have orgasm face. And with their poses, they’re primed to give or take. WTF?
It wasn’t just the Turtles themselves either.
One of the very first Ninja Turtle figures and one that bothered me even at a young age. In the cartoon, Shredder’s fully dressed, but his action figure is oddly bare-chested and giving a very peculiar pose. Shreds needs to put a shirt on.
Another early figure, Casey Jones oozed sex appeal. Those abs aren’t just sculpted muscle, but textured with course body hair. Turn him around, and that butt…
Part of the Wacky Action series, Headspinnin’ Bebop loves to whip his massive tongue around. Pig play?
Good ole Ace Duck. What’s with these shirtless figures? Ace has a luscious feathered chest that’s begging to be nuzzled.
A few years after Hose ‘Em Down Don, we got a firefighting companion. Perfect opportunity for a Wet and Wild April O’Neil, right? Nope, instead we get Hot Spot. With a bone in his mouth and his tail wagging, this bitch is always in heat.