If there ever was a king of the Saturday Morning landscape, it was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They showed what a marketing machine cartoons could be for kids. While G.I. Joe and Transformers certainly made toy companies a mint, none of them reached the heights of TMNT. From action figures, to plushies, all manners of food, and even a musical concert (Pizza Power!), Turtles were ubiquitous, and everyone wanted a slice. Zing. Imitation is the best form of cutting into other’s market share. Enter, the anthropomorphs.
The most direct ripoff from TMNT was Street Sharks. Four brothers were
mutated gene-slammed into sharks (keeping with the aquatic theme) by the evil Dr. Paradigm whole stole this research from the boys’ father. I’m going to derail for a second here. These scientific breakthroughs that create our heroes (be they sharks, turtles, whateva), how exactly could they be used for good? This was meant to help humans peacefully co-exist with animals. Da fuh? Sorry. Street Sharks. The brothers fought Paradigm and his Seaviates who were trying to enslave Fission City … because. The Sharks also had a vocal disdain for pizza. Who the F doesn’t like pizza? And not to be outdone, they had their own catchphrase. Jawesome. Street Sharks encapsulated the ’90s.
Taking a different approach was Biker Mice from Mars. Mars was populated by anthropomorphic mice before being pillaged for resources by the fish like Plutarkians. Throttle, Modo, and Vinnie escape, only to crash in Chicago, which is accurately portrayed with giant, garbage truck size potholes. They befriend a female mechanic named Charlene “Charley” Davidson as they battle industrialist Plutarkian in disguise Lawrence Limburger. Puns. For some ungodly reason, the show was brought back in 2006. Guess I should have mentioned it last week. And don’t even get me started on Avenger Penguins (I’ll save you the Google search: exact same thing, but with penguins).
There’s no way someone wouldn’t come up with a dinosaur cartoon with all these other totally radical animals running around. Enter, Extreme Dinosaurs. I would recap the plot, but Connect Four has a deeper story than this. A T-Rex, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and Pterodactyl fight a group of Raptors. With guns. On their arms. None of those $&%*# vegetarian dinosaurs here either. EXTREME! They were complete with their own catchphrase: “Let’s fossilize ’em!”
Saban, master of bastardizing everything Japan has to offer, quickly picked up the rights to Kyatto Ninden Teyandee, or as many of you know it, Samurai Pizza Cats. While I’m sure Japan was blissfully unaware of TMNT in the States, this comical show was easily adaptable to be counter programming to the Turtles. As the theme song pointed out, these cats had “more fur than a turtle ever had.” Indeed.
Finally, we come to the Stone Protectors. Trying to cash in on the dying Troll doll crazy, this was designed to appeal to younger boys. The terrible band, Rock Detector, came across these stones that fused to their chests, giving them a Troll like appearance and the ability to play killer tunes. Between performing gigs they battled the evil Zok from dimension whatever who wants the stones and of course hates music. The Stone Protectors look like Troll pro-wrestlers, and they’re in a rock band. How could this fail?
What’s my favorite TMNT ripoff you ask? Why the Immature Radioactive Samurai Slugs (a spoof on Tiny Toon Adventures). Who didn’t love the fearsome foursome of Picasso, Warhol, Rockwell, and Grandma Moses?
What was your favorite non-turtle team? Any I forgot worth mentioning (don’t think I forgot about Cyboars)? Comment in yonder depths.
Am I the only one who got the Grandma Moses reference?