Thursday, June 28, 2012
#0058: April O'Neil
You know how you have toys that you never played with? They’re funny old things, really, and they all made their way into your possession through various different means: perhaps it was a well-intended but misguided gift one misty Christmas morn?
“Oh, neat! Thanks nana, I love Bratz…”
Or you might have been the unfortunate victim of a poorly selected ‘lucky dip’ pick, one of my favourite marketing ploys that potentially forces you to buy multiples of the same toy until you find the right one. My dear buddy ULM is a great example of this: you’d have to dissolve his packaging in order to reveal his visage, and I can’t particularly see myself as having been exactly chipper about unveiling the mighty White Washer.
“Eww, what is that? Can we put it back in the bag?”
Oftentimes, at least in my childhood, my robust collection is filled to the brim with lots of padding; that is to say, toys that I owned purely to round out the roster. It’s a guilty admission, no doubt, because whereas some kids had no toys at all, I had toys purely for the sake of fleshing out my lore. And even then, it’s not like I adhered to the framework set out before me: the Ninja Turtles’ most frequent ally was actually Simba, and he could fly upon command, and take out entire armies on a whim. Plus, he’s working on his roar.
What, then, could April O’Neil offer to my playtime experiences? A strong, independent female figure? An alternative to rescues always being orchestrated by Raphael (or James on odd days?) More yellow than Dick Tracy?
Well, in actuality, all she offered was the yellow. Because frankly, bitch looked like an uppity banana.
I never picked up on the gender inequality in my beloved Turtles as a kid, but it was most certainly there: every important character other than April was a guy, and he was cool/funny/badass/Krang. In April, we had the Turtles’ link to the outside world: the human ally, who is able to give them all the dirt on who’s committing what crimes, and how she will scope it out and inevitably end up being captured by said criminals.
She was often typecast as the damsel in distress; a token dangling in front of the Turtles (ironically much like a banana), that would force our boys into action. In my opinion, they didn’t necessarily have to use April in this role: they could have really given her a lot more depth as a character by having those useless drones Irma and Vernon getting snatched up more often.
There was always this sexual tension between the Turtles and April as well, which seemed mildly perverse. Had Vern been the one getting saved all the time, would that still be the case? …I mean would they still have had the hots for April. Not Vern. Though the world could have used more gay superheroes. Northstar got married to his partner yesterday, did you know that? TOPICAL.
From my original recollection, April’s accessories were all of her appropriate tools of the trade: a microphone and video camera that literally condemn her to a more appropriate role on the sidelines, a suitcase that has since worked its way into the possession of other figures (I liked to pretend Scrooge McDuck was going to work), and yeah sure, a ninja star, to help her appear slightly competent, though in practice it would more likely remind me of that scene in TMNT2 where she’s pretending she knows how to use Mikey’s nunchaku.
She also features a handgun. …Wait, what?
Remember how I was shocked about how Ace Duck was packaged with a pistol? Apparently, this was more commonplace than I had realised, because that innocuous-seeming briefcase apparently transformed into a gun, and I never even realised it. It’s not like it’s especially hard to deduct: there’s even a picture of April on the packaging unloading a round into another April who’s innocently attempting to conduct an interview.
I mean, wow. This throws my whole perception of April into jeopardy. In the cartoon, she’s just this stupid reporter with horrible fashion sense. But here, in toy form, she’s this stupid reporter with horrible fashion sense who will fucking kill you. This is more than a little intense, but in all fairness, she was walking the mean streets of New York in the 80s, so when you think about it, it’s actually quite reasonable.
And all the while, she just has this disinterested expression on her face, and the vaguest hint of a smile. It’s mildly akin to being shot in the face by the Mona Lisa.
…Holy shit, this also means that Scrooge McDuck brought a gun to work with him every day. My childhood is ruined.
Moving on as best as we possibly can, April sports a monster wedgie, and just like the aforementioned Ace Duck, she also has the Turtles logo on her back. I’m sure that this is to help remind kids that this toy is actually in some way related to our Turtles, but it seems a mite bit silly, considering that April was supposedly trying to keep their identity a secret when this toy was made. I mean, later on, she was all for telling the world about the Turtles, trying to talk up how good they are, how hard they work for New York, how they’re voiced by Rob Paulsen and Townsend Coleman, all the nice stuff about them.
One thing I never fathomed, was that apparently a large number of kids had a crush on April O’Neil. This much is confessed on multiple blogs and websites, and more illustrations than you could shake a bo staff at. Me personally, I had none of that fascination. Indeed, I was entirely indifferent to April, despite her exaggerated breasts and skin-tight jumpsuit. Was I different from other kids? Or was it just less fun to ogle her than to attempt to attack her in Turtles in Time when, like Julius Caesar or Wallace Wells, she urged you to ‘FIGHT’?
She was invincible, actually, which makes me assume she would have been much better suited to fight Shredder. Plus, she’s packing heat, and apparently capable of following you through your time travels with the sole intention of barking orders at you. Damn, April is much deeper than we thought. More than just a booty call, eh?