I can't believe we finally got there. Since its inception in January 2011, INAKA has seen all kinds of weird, wonderful and occasionally woeful toys. Action figures, plushes, video games, figurines, books, board games, and even a godforsaken finger puppet.
Though it started off with a lot of steam, I lost momentum as the years went on. Some months would see the posts coming heavy and hard, while others would go by without a peep. But through a concerted effort between all of the team members (me, myself and I, the latter of whom is an asshole), we made the push, and we arrive, at long last, at #100.
It feels special. It feels bizarre. Man, it feels like a woman.
Who knows what lies ahead? It all comes down to how much free time I have, really. You have to understand, that every moment I'm spending on this blog is time that could feasibly be spent doing something more productive. It's the rigors of adulthood, and it gnaws on my conscience like a ghoulish wraith.
But enough of the preamble. The fact that that last paragraph didn't have a single joke makes me feel uneasy. When we hit the midway point, I saw fit to send the mighty Ripster puppet on his merry way. He remains one of the largest offerings I have put upon the pedestal up to this point, and I knew it would be hard to top that. So instead of trying to locate something bigger, I went the other way. I opted for smaller. More plentiful. Maybe a little too Raph.
Ladies and gentlemen, these are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mini Mutants.
Crikey, that's a mouthful.
Miniature playsets were something of an acquired taste back in the day. Though their diminutive stature made them more affordable than full-sized locales, their actual usage was fairly dubious. They were so wee and prone to going missing. Should you look away for just a moment, they would make a break for it and dive into the folds of the couch, never to be seen again. I assume it's similar to having a newborn baby; it's just upsetting every single time.
Despite this, the Mini Mutants became a must-have in my life, and I was the lucky recipient of oh so many playsets. Each of them came with their own unique themes and the appropriate figurines within them, ranging from staples like the Technodrome and the Turtles' home in the sewers, all the way to more obscure things like sporting events and a motherfucking war.
I can't really be certain of how many Mini Mutants sets I acquired, because more of them are AWOL than present. One of them was inside of Raphael's sai, another was connectable in a manner similar to the world of Sodor. And I know for sure that I had that Tokka Technodrome. It'll be super awkward when I locate it decades down the track and I have to messily shoehorn it into another blog entry.
Or maybe I'll just edit this one? I'm pretty shameless, after all.
Oh look, heads! I do like heads. These are the surviving Turtle-Tops; Michaelangelo's Adventurer Playset, Raphael's Baseball Playset and Leonardo's Mutant Military Playset. The completionist in me is seething with rage that I never acquired Donatello's Basketball Playset. Not that that would have actually finished the collection, but having three out of four Turtles just feels friggin' wrong. Not nearly as wrong as the fact that the basketball figurines had four fingers on their right hands, but wrong all the same.
Before we venture in, I'll take a moment to remind you who you're dealing with here. If you want to see these items in their full glory, I recommend you venture over to a more respectable blog like the Sewer Den, where these things are treated with dignity and reverence. I'm just a higgledy-piggledy motherfucker who misplaces crucial elements a day after receiving them.
But most of it is there, and that definitely counts for something. That's the same justification that got me through six years of university, after all.
First off is the Adventurer set. With its mysterious theme and abundance of traps, it would have been my absolute favourite had it included Raphael. Without him, it felt distinctly lacking, and it lost serious brownie points as a result. Sure, I could have just put one of the non-safari Raphaels in there, but it wouldn't have been the same. For one thing, he wouldn't have been wearing a hat, and that's just not sun smart.
There's a whole lot going on here, and many of the pieces are thankfully still intact. The ancient civilizations erected a monument to Rocksteady in the lower segment, but eager explorers who venture into the basket will be sent into the deadly viper pit below. Their only hope for escape is a nodding crocodile to fling them aside. It's a bit Trainspotting, actually.
It's not much safer up above, however, as Leonardo is soon to discover the folly of disturbing the ancient jewel. Should he remove it, the floor will collapse and he will plummet from a deadly height of two inches. Over to the side, there are a couple of chambers that house untold wonders. One of them was an unrelated Leo figurine that I had forgotten about. He suffocated decades ago, obviously, but it was a nice surprise all the same.
Alas, the Turtles have returned to find that the world has fallen into great conflict. Welcome to the Mutant Military playset, soldier. You fight for your country. You fight for your people. You fight for Baxter Stockman.
This one was a little more cramped than other sets, due to so much real estate being taken up by the flying disc apparatus below. To make up for this, it really does fly, and it is fucking satisfying. Wind it up with a click, click, click, press the switch and whoosh! Away it goes, majestically soaring into the air. I don't know what militaristic purpose it served, but in all fairness, I have never joined the army. It's probably on a need-to-know basis. Also, I probably shoehorned too many onomatopoeias into this paragraph.
Private Porknose Bebop is outnumbered as he tries to fend off the Turtle menace, but one of his guns is bent, which makes aiming very difficult, and also looks very silly, to boot. Lieutenant Leonardo lays in wait nearby, brandishing a weapon/speed camera that fell onto the floor immediately after I took this photo. As it is the same colour as the carpet, I have accepted the fact that I will never see it again. I hope he put it to good use.
Last but not least, Pro Pilot Raphael has climbed aboard his aircraft and is ready to go. He has his oxygen mask on because he is safety conscious! However, it is entirely superfluous as his cockpit is completely exposed, suggesting that it would never reach altitudes high enough to risk hypoxia. Further, the propellers are positioned in such a way that he can only actually go upwards, which would prove useless in an actual dogfight. Should he be a Pro Pilot as advertised, he would surely realise this before even attempting a takeoff.
...No, you're overthinking my Ninja Turtles toys.
We move onto my most treasured set. It holds this lofty position for many reasons, and yes, one of them is because it starred Raphael. If it's possible to have nepotism for Ninja Turtles, then I have achieved this.
Beyond that, however, it also has a hilariously dangerous feature in its spring loaded baseball bat. Pull it back, and it will send the little red balls careening across the dining room and into your uncle's bowl of soup. Is that a home run? Or just unsanitary? It's up to you, but it sure makes Raphael's job as outfielder borderline impossible.
I find it kind of strange that they relegated Raph to the outfield, by the way. If he's the main man on this squad, you'd think he'd have been given a more glamorous position. Donnie's the pitcher, while Mikey plays the role of catcher, as I have carefully illustrated here in this photo. Once upon a time, a full-sized figure dubbed him the Grand Slammin' Raph, so I guess he's mostly here for his offensive prowess. I wonder where I would put him if he was DH? There isn't a dugout, as near as I can tell.
The set is loaded with plenty of places for the baseball to go, from a fully functional pipe to a series of holes lining the ground that will mercilessly gobble up foul balls. I also found that they were a perfect size for getting stuck up your nose.
...No, I'm not even fucking kidding. I have no idea what I was thinking, especially since I was six or seven and knew better than to be shoving things in my schnoz. Most likely I thought it would be funny if I walked into a room with a baseball in each nostril, but I inexplicably forced it further than necessary and freaked out when I couldn't extract it.
My mother had to pick it out of my nose as I bawled loudly. I suppose from that day, she realised that I would never become one of the world's great thinkers. Or a baseball player.
Here are the miniature Toon Turtles that now find themselves homeless. Remember how I alluded to 'connectable playsets'? I have since ascertained that they were in fact known as Bodacious Battlesets, and more startlingly, I actually owned all four of them. Long ago, Toon Turtle Leo, Mike and Don used to roam the streets of New York, while the fourth slot was reserved for Shredder and Dimension X because nobody liked Raphael, right?
Except me. And everyone. Dammit Playmates, just give us five if you're so keen on including Shredder. I should send them a strongly worded letter, demanding my Raphael Bodacious Battleset. They'll either give into my demands, or send a pair of orderlies to come and take me away. It's win/win, really, as I wouldn't mind the company.
Despite the fact that the City Wars playset where he resided is nothing more than a series of fragments and memories, Toon Turtle Leonardo can take solace in the thrilling concept that he is the only figurine who still has both of his weapons intact. With his silly blue katana safe and sound, you can see the elation in Leo's face. Mikey's only down to one nunchaku, but he's still having a hoot thanks to his upbeat attitude and the fact that he is high as balls 24/7.
But not Don, unfortunately. Not even his beloved Turtle Blimp can cheer him up, for his bo staves are much like Pauline Hanson's groceries; just gone!
This eclectic mix of fellows has no particular meaning, but this entry is already atrociously long and I figured it would be quicker if I just threw as many together as I could. Hence, we see Movie Star Mike and Movie Star Splinter being downright abusive to Shredder and his friends. They were just trying to have a nice picnic on this lovely, sunny day, when Mike came rolling in on a motorbike with a gun attached to it and began blasting blindly at everyone.
Most of the shots hit him in the back of the head due to poor ergonomics, but at least one was enough to send poor Bebop into the trash. Soon, Splinter descended atop a helicopter brandishing a bow and arrow. How he survived the propellers is anyone's guess, but he definitely means business. Shredder is agog, and Krang's Android Body is playing dead.
Did you enjoy that scenario? I fucking hope so, because it was a nightmare to set up. I have unsteady hands at the best of times, but trying to position fiddly little toys that are particularly fond of falling down and knocking the others over in the process truly tested my nerves. How in god's name do people build model ships inside of bottles? Is it easier when Bebop isn't involved?
Meanwhile, Movie Star Raphael is so good, I have two of him. You may choose whichever one you like better, but in my humble opinion, it's easily the one on the right. He's holding his trademark sai, while the other one is wielding the time scepter, which implies that he's from the third Ninja Turtles movie. Sha-wing!
And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Over 2,000 words of exposition on Mini Mutants. Honestly, you deserve no less for sticking with this blog for seven and a half years. The scary realisation is dawning on me that with each passing month, I edge closer to the point where I could feasibly have kids of my own, at which point we reach a crossroads - do I continue shedding excess toys? Or do I pour them upon my offspring in a well-intended but possibly hazardous gesture of gratuity? The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle, because in all honesty, they probably wouldn't want Ugly Laser Man any more than I do.
So thank you, adieu, and cowabunga, motherfuckers.
"Wait, he didn't talk about us! I feel shortchanged here. Do I mean so little to him?"
"Yeah yeah, Donnie, nice puns... But who in the hell is this guy?"
"Hey there! Do you fellas wanna come over to my place?"
"I have pizza!"