I love each and every Geeks and Gamers that I work on, but this is easily my most favorite so far. You see, 32 years ago to this very month, during a casual evening of bad 80s television and halfhearted brainstorming, two artists created my all-time favorite comic/television/movie characters: the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Now, I was only a 1-year-old, tea sipping, fish-and-chip-loving child of the UK when the Turtles were created in their original comic book format so naturally, I didn’t catch on to them until the late 80s when THAT cartoon series and Turtle Mania crept over to England and took over the rest of the world. The name was changed to Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles in the UK and parts of Europe since our governments deemed the word ‘ninja’ to be associated with violence and, at the time, were on a real crusade against youth being corrupted by the TV.
I remember the first action figures I owned were Chinese copies from a bargain store and as a 7-year-old Turtle fanatic, I could tell something wasn’t quite right about them, although I didn’t care. I spent hours with them and my parents must have thought they got an absolute bargain for the peace they got from me being away playing. My first trip to the cinema was to see the original live action TMNT movie and, while I’m aware this sounds cliché, it was honestly magical. My friends and I would be quoting that movie for months later and asking our parents for pizza for dinner (the Turtles’ meal of choice) every night. Every birthday and Christmas for the next several years, I’d find a new figure, vehicle, item of clothing, anything TMNT related (I still have my Turtle Blimp somewhere). I even imagine myself one day owning a pizzeria and naming it Ninja Pizza (trademarked, so don’t get any ideas!).
Then there were the video games…so.many.VIDEO GAMES! Back in the old days, games were so expensive. They still kind of are today, I know, but while most things tech-wise reduce in cost over the years, games were more expensive then than they are now, and income was much less 25 years ago, so actually they were extra expensive. If you were lucky enough to get a new one, you’d better believe that’s all you were getting for another 6-12 months. The best you could hope for was to swap and borrow from friends at school. I had the first TMNT game in 1989, for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and for anyone reading that knows this game; I lost so much of my year to that underwater level, and I know you did too. I never passed it. Everyone I know that played it also couldn’t pass it, or else passed it once by total accident.
Fast forward 20 years or so,and I still search for and buy any TMNT figures, comics and general memorabilia that I can find. I don’t know why I never grew out of the Turtles but I know now, at 33 years old, I probably never will. My wife-to-be is aware of my addiction and luckily, supports it.
So, 32 years ago. What’s so special about the number 32? How about we add 3 with 2…3+2=5 and there was almost a 5th Turtle in the mid-90s, to be either a male named Kirby or female named Venus Di Milo (true story). Thankfully, that never happened. Anyway, later this month we have a new TMNT game for the Xbox 360/One, PS3/4 and PC, and in June we have the second of Michael Bay’s TMNT movies, and as much as old school Turtle fans like myself like to say how much they hate what Michael Bay did…I quite enjoyed that first movie. They will never be as good as those first, live action ones in the 90s (with or without Vanilla Ice), but what we have to remember is that they are made for a new generation…not for us oldies. In recent years, I have become quite good at remembering that. If we don’t enjoy the latest reboot of a classic franchise then we can easily go and find the classic versions that our nostalgia yearns for, especially in this on demand, everything at our fingertips Internet age. The reboots are for the kids, so let them enjoy!
I digress…wishing a very happy 32nd birthday to Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo, and here’s to many more years of enjoyment for kids and adults alike. I’m off to eBay to look for an NES and a copy of TMNT…26 years after my last try and with the help of the internet, I think I finally know how to beat that underwater level. Cowabunga!