Anybody growing up as a kid during the 80's is very familiar of the concept of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was a late bloomer into the fandom, more interested in the Disney Afternoon Cartoons like Rescue Rangers and Ducktales rather then Ninja Turtles, but about third grade they rubbed off on me. And when I finally discovered how much I liked them, I was hooked.
I think one of the appeals of the TMNT, at least for me, was that ANYTHING goes in this series. You name it, they'll find a way to make it happen, the more ludicrous the better. And as a kid, I was a total animal nut, so the fact that the main characters were a bunch of turtles mentored by a large rat was perfect for me. I wanted to find some mutagen myself and transform into some half human half animal freak of nature.
Then maybe I could learn Ninjitsu like the Ninja Turtles.
I had a large collection of Ninja Turtle collectables and one of my fondest memories as a child was saving up my money to go bike to the local Devil's Store (back then still owned and operated by Sam Walton and therefore still an ethical place to shop) and collect Ninja Turtle Action Figures. I had an impressive collection too!
It was a daily staple for me, come home from school and watch Ninja Turtles. I never missed it, even if I had seen the episode before.
However, like most kids, I did grow out of this phase. My family moved to California and as I went through Fifth Grade, I began to realize that, well, Ninja Turtles were stupid. Kids go through that phase ya know, and though I was one of those kids that didn't want to grow up, I still did and when you are going into that Tween stage, you are at this point in your life where you want to distance yourself from things that you enjoyed as a child. It slowly happened for me with Ninja Turtles, and then one day I realized I just wasn't watching it anymore. I gave my collection of Action Figures to my cousins (i look back on this and go grr. . .) and just, well, grew up.
The first clue that I might not be totally out of the fandom came when I went and saw the third movie in the theaters, and a little bit of the fandom came back. I went with my best friend Suzanne in Seventh Grade and we talked about Ninja Turtles and had a brief moment of Nastalgia. What's more, I did enjoy the movie.
Though recently, I watched the movie again and realized how gawd awful it really is *laughs*
Well, years past, other similar kids shows started to emerge, like the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which I didn't get near of and only watched a few episodes mainly to point at it and laugh at its rediculousness.
Whatever the case, I went through my teenage years steering clear of most anything that had to do with kids shows. I just didn't watch them, though it didn't stop me from becoming an obsessive trekkie at one point. Heck, when Buffy the Vampire Slayer came out, I avoided it thinking that it would be incredibly stupid.
I got into Harry Potter about the time when the third book came out. I was 18 and just graduated high school, and that's when I discovered a new genre. Kids books. I got hooked on a couple of series, just for quick reads, but looking back, a couple of them could have been avoided and I would have been all the better for it.
As I went through my twenties, I went back into a childhood phase, as I realized how good I really had it as a kid. I readily admit to loving Harry Potter and will be one of those people that will be there at Midnight to pick up book seven and will probably stay up reading it all night long.
Fall of 2004, near my 24th birthday, (and consequently, the same time I got infamous with my Not Sorry pose) I rediscovered Ninja Turtles. The same time they were released on DVD.
The first five episodes of the original series had just come out on DVD, and for kicks and giggles, and a shot at Nastalgia, I bought it. At the same time, I found out that they had a brand new series out and just to compare the two, I bought a disk to it as well.
Reliving my childhood through Ninja Turtles has been great fun. Its become one of those things that I collect, having all the movies, DVD releases of the Old Series and New Series both and comparing them, throwing them on and working on something while they are on in the background and just giggle at the campiness of it sometimes.
If I was an adult in 1989, I would have likely looked at Ninja Turtles and thought 'what a stupid show!' But the unique perspective of knowing how much I loved the turtles then really makes me continue to love them now.
What has equally been fun in reliving my childhood through various animated programs is following prevailant voice actors from the eighties, and how freakin' often they pop up in different shows. Rob Paulsen (aka Raphael) has seemingly become one of my favorite voice actors to follow, as he's pretty much in EVERYTHING (and still everywhere). Gummi Bears, yep. In fact, check out pretty much any Disney Toon of that era and he's guest starred somewhere. Tiny Toons, in that too. Animaniacs? He's Freakin' Pinky for crying out loud. (Love Pinky and the Brain). I recently watched Ant Bully and one of the bugs in it made me think "Rob Paulsen?" Yep.
What am I driving at? You know, it's OK to like something as campy as the Turtles, because looking back with a new perspective as an adult, this show was just plain fun. And you can tell the people behind it were having a blast at it too. And moving on from Ninja Turtle Cartoons to the more 'adult' fanfare of the Comic Books (definitely not for the kiddies whom were raised on this stuff) you see how far reaching this series has become.
I've gone out and purchased quite a few of the comic books and have nearly completed my collection. Just for the sake of having them. Am I a geek? You bet! But I'm a happy and content geek, and I still love Turtles.
What's more, I'll even admit as much!