Ahh, the good ol’ days. It was 1988 when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toy line came to fruition and it would be that same year that I discovered them. My first TMNT acquisition was also my introduction to the TMNT. My brother walked to the store with my great grandmother (who did not drive), which because I was considerably younger, was not allowed to do. Often when they would go, he would have her pick out toys for my cousin and us. All three of us stayed with my two grandmothers during the summers.
This would be not only where I first discovered the TMNT, but it would be the only time for decades that I would see a Shredder figure. They stopped into a place called Wicklows, which had once been Gillam’s World. There he picked up a figure for each of us, from the brand new Ninja Turtle toy line. My brother got Leonardo, which became his favorite Turtle. I got Mikey, who became my favorite. My cousin ended up with Shredder. My cousin hated this, enough that I actually recall him crying about it. We quickly convinced him that Shredder was really cool and as it turns out, Shredder was pretty darn cool. He was also impossible for me to find.
The cartoon had not aired yet in our neck of the woods. I recall it airing shortly after we had the figures, but we learned of the TMNT through the back of the package bios. It was great. It showed you just how cool that toy line was. Sure, Shredder may not look like much now… But back then? That was one of the coolest action figures I had ever seen. Of course, I was really glad I had gotten Michelangelo, but I couldn’t help but think how cool Shredder was too.
Of course what made Shredder legendary in my mind was the simple fact that I never saw him again. I had a TON of Turtles figures as a kid. Shortly after those original purchases, I was able to get Rocksteady and Bebop. Eventually along came Baxter Stockman and a whole host of other characters. Shredder and the Foot Solider were figures that I so desperately wanted, but always eluded me. This was a repeating theme in our household as we always seemed to never have the main villain. Not having the Foot Soldier? It wasn’t a huge deal (and that’s really a story for another time) because I had tons of bad guy figures and mutants… But not having Shredder?!
The Turtles without Shredder was like a sandwich without bread. This meant that Baxter Stockman had to be promoted to leader of the bad guys in my TMNT world, since clearly Rocksteady nor Bebop were equipped for the job. Heck, I wouldn’t even get Krang for many more years as well… So it was hard times. Eventually I made a makeshift substitute as documented in a previous post (Meet Shredder Circa My Youth) and it seemed as though my cousin was intent on never bringing Shredder around when we would play. He always had some excuse. I think he did it just to torture me.
And then of course, when he did bring him around, he was missing his head! I wrote about that before, but suffice to say, I was even envious of headless Shredder. Around 1993 or so I would finally get a Shredder… Super Shredder. It was bittersweet at best, even though I really like that figure. I still wanted that original Shredder.
Eventually Ebay would come around and sure enough, Shredder would be mine. As it turns out, this is a fairly below average figure. His body is contorted in such a way that he can’t do a whole lot of posing. Hell, just STANDING is nearly impossible for this guy. And he’s missing a shirt… I don’t know why.
I guess it could be worse. When Playmates first started tinkering with their 25th Anniversary re-release of the figure, they nearly omitted his pants!?
[For the record, the 25th Re-Release did come with pants, but why they actually used a non-pants proto on the back as opposed to using the classic figure is a bit of a mystery.]
It’s a strange figure, though. The spine is all contorted and he sort of looks like Zelda from Pet Semetary from behind. The blue armor doesn’t do him any favors, either. Of course this figure was repainted into Toon Shredder and that figure actually looks a billion times better, just by having a more accurate paint job.
It seems that Playmates would pay tribute to that pronounced spine in their late 90’s release of Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation Shredder figure.
Interestingly, that Shredder figure would become my favorite for many years. Although I don’t think that design has aged particularly well either. C’set la vie, Shredder.
Whatever the case, I have fond memories of this Shredder figure. Even if I never really had him as a kid. He was a big part of my childhood, without ever actually being in my collection. I’m glad to have him now, even if he sort of sucks outside of that time capsule. Now if you excuse me, TONIGHT WE DINE ON TURTLE SOUP!