It may not be obvious, but Mike, the Sewer Surfer was something of a milestone in the toy world. He, along with an Undercover Donatello, Samurai Leonardo, and Space Suit Raphael, made up the first turtles to be released in new and unusual outfits. Before this, they were just based on the normal character models without any wacky shirts or helmets. This one was pure late 1980s/early 1990s insanity, incorporating surfer culture, an environmental motif, and of course, unnecessary sunglasses. I'm not sure if I'm here to celebrate this figure as a 4-inch plastic time capsule, or to mock it.
When I bought this as a kid-- and yes, this is the sample I got when I was 10-- I knew it was dumb but I wanted the set anyway. I believe Mike was the hardest of the four to find, and looking at it for the first time in over a decade, I'm not sure why it was so hot. His trademark orange bands are now crazy day-glo orange, and if you shine a black light over them you might go blind. He wears a partial wet suit, made of pink and bright blue. An "Official Turtle Brand" sticker was applied to his chest, and I'm actually pretty amazed it's still there. I'm not entirely sure why he has swim fins on, but he does, and there are tons of little sculpted details all over the figure. Some, like seaweed, add some visual flair to the figure. Others, like his little shark buddies, make absolutely zero sense to me.
The amount of crap Playmates added to this figure is mind-boggling. Back in the day, I was perplexed why they had so many muscles and veins on their arms, and looking back at this figure, it's a wonder my head didn't explode. His outfit-- which is sort of over the top as it is-- also has two sharks, an octopus, two crabs, an eel, a seastar, and three shells on his body. What's more, most of these got painted, so some sculpted details like his watch were left as his skin coloring... which is odd. The figure actually has too much going on. This level of overkill wasn't entirely uncommon on Playmates figures of this era, which meant you never get painted accessories but, strangely, the sculptors went absolutely haywire in adding detail to figures.
Playmates was no slouch in including accessories, although they weren't always looking like they were completed. Mike is one of the lucky ones-- his surf board has a preposterous sticker on it covered in day-glow colors and checkers, but it had a few foot pegs which meant your figure basically had an awkward display stand. I say "awkward" because the board has the little fins on the bottom, which meant it couldn't lay flat on a shelf or table. The board had holes in it, so you could plug in the included star accessory which could spin, or the little crab. Both of these were unpainted, and the crab is one of many little sidekick figures included in the line. It showed some imagination on Playmates' part: why include a gun or a sword when you could include an extra character? It was a great example of how you could put more in with each figure without increasing the budget too much.
Today, the figure sells for about $4 loose or $15-$20 carded. The mold was reused a few years later to make a Leonardo figure which was packaged with the Mondo Mutant Surfer Tube. I honestly can't imagine anyone wanting to buy this figure unless they got it on the first go-round, or unless they were crazy about the idea of repainting a figure to add detail. The little seashells and octopus sculpted on his body could use some color, as could his watch, so a customizer could have some fun finishing the job Playmates started. This figure is a great example of a proud trend that would allow Playmates to create hundreds of figures, many of which were only loosely inspired by existing comics or cartoons or other material-- heck, several of them would come direct from Playmates' own imagination, with mutant moose or pandas or cats allowing this toy line to become so much more than just another licensed property. This wasn't even the most ridiculous take on one of the Turtles, which included cavemen turtles, rock-and-roll turtles, and even Star Trek turtles. Not even Trek-ish turtles, but like Leonardo as Captain Kirk. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah. Get Mike. Also: Cowabunga, dude.
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