The other day, me and Alex stuffed ourselves into his parents’ loft and dug out a stack of Turtles Adventures comics from the early 90s:
Rad, I think we can all agree.
The stories are the usual stuff about kicking Shredder in the bollocks while yelling “cowabunga”, but even better was the selection of adverts we found in there. Everyone from Smarties to UHU wanted to flog their tat in the Turtles comic, often with some very natty giveaways and special offers.
Join me on a bodacious consumer journey through the ads, featuring Batman, Edd the Duck, Super Mario, and lots more. And fucking stamp collecting. Because there’s always some killjoy trying to get kids into stamp collecting.
To cash in on Batman Returns, Rowntree’s have decided to try and convince everyone that Batman eats loads of jelly tots and polos. He does not. He eats nails.
Obviously everyone wanted to win the crappy handheld Batman game, but most would end up with a free packet of fruit gums, and a feeling of disappointment. And diabetes.
Mr Cadbury’s Parrot
A small boy is stalked and terrorised by a chocolate-shitting parrot. The parrot starts off IN HIS BED, and eventually stalks him into space. Why this happens is never really made clear. I love how the explanation at the end is just a picture of some mini eggs.
This advert takes on a different tone if you assume it’s all in the boy’s imagination, and is the result of a hideous fever dream brought on by food poisoning. Quite frankly, either prospect is terrifying.
Cheeky Cut-Out Diary
“Crazy fun for ’91!” If you say so. I don’t mind Whoopee, it’s a fine vintage, but I dispute the claim that owning a flimsy diary made of newspaper is fun. Especially since, as you are 7 years old, you have nothing interesting to write in the diary, so you’ll just write lists of your enemies in there.
Edd The Duck Milkshakes
This advert has jolted something in my flea-bitten memory. I swear I remember drinking Edd the Duck milkshakes back in the day. I don’t remember what they tasted like or anything, I just remember the flavour names on the bottom. I see they’ve missed out “Bastard Banana”.
Edd’s stoned off his tits.
Anyway, if you’d like to own an Edd the Duck puppet (and why wouldn’t you), print this form out and send it off. They might send you one out of pity, who knows. There’s even a free token to start you off.
The Turtles Fan Club
I was probably a member of this, but let me be clear that I have never been a “radical dude”. I keep trying to be one, but it always comes out as “gimpy div”. Anyway, unlike the Edd the Duck offer, this one doesn’t have an expiry date, so you might want to try your luck.
In the top corner, we can see that Donatello is encouraging readers to colour him in, and 7 year old Alex dutifully obliged. This is bullshit, and proves that Alex was always the kind of person who sorts his CDs in alphabetical order and has a special swot protractor that goes all the way round.
For context, this is what my colouring in looked like:
Whizzer & Chips Book Of Insults
“You must be a fucker if you miss it!” That’s what I assume that starred out bit says.
I never owned this, which is a shame because learning new swears is always fun. When I was little, I wrote a list of all the swear words I could think of. Unfortunately my dad found it, and I got megabollocked.
If you did own this, please confirm that all the insults were things like ‘blithering cunt’.
Peter Pan Videos
I don’t remember Peter Pan and the Pirates, so I can’t say whether or not this was any good. I think it must have been because look at the size of Peter Pan – he’s a giant. he can just kick Captain Hook in the head.
The advert encourages us to “create your own magical Never Land in your bedroom by cutting out the colourful poster and sticking it on your wall”.
I feel magical.
Pete’s Pocket Money
What the hell sort of kid gets £7.99 exactly as their pocket money?
Let’s accept this unlikely premise. What is Pete going to spend his money on? Personally, I’d go with the 32 bars of chocolate. I once tried to eat 36 Trios in a row and absolutely nothing went wrong, so Pete is a fool.
£7.99 for a video does seem like a massive bargain though.
Raleigh bikes: girls edition.
Regular readers will know that I am the last person in the world to give a fuck about gender studies, but something about this advert does seem a bit off. I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the implication that “hey, you can be pretty AND ride a bike”, or “ride this bike and get noticed by boys, which is what you’re really after, let’s face it”.
They might as well say “Do you want to ride a bike or be one?”
Nintendo Sticker Scratchbook
Free with Small Shredded Wheat, which is what I assume Bite Size used to be called.
I’ll be honest, I don’t have a clue what’s going on or what you’re supposed to do. Google isn’t really being any help. I think it’s like a scratchcard – rub off three panels and see if you’ve won some of that Nintendo tat. Implying all kids wouldn’t just immediately scratch off all the panels at once, then start crying and do a wee on the floor.
Smacks Jumps Into Action
“I’ll take ‘Mascots no one ever gave a fuck about’ for $500.”
Smacks were made of sugar and ‘misc’, if I remember correctly. What this has to do with frogs is anyone’s guess.
In this story, Smacks the frog has gone to watch his favourite basketball team. But oh no – their star player is injured! “Is there anyone in the crowd who can step in?” asks the manager. I’m 100% convinced Leeds United would win a few more games if they employed this tactic.
Freddo steps in and – surprise surprise – wins the game. And to celebrate, he’s giving away some… items.
These are what you got in real life:
I think they’re those plastic jumping frogs you get in Christmas crackers. While they are hours of fun, I don’t think you can justify having to send away for them. They should have been a free choking hazard in the cereal, as nature intended.
Smarties Gruesome Greenies Offer
This is all kinds of excellent. Not only did you have the chance to find Smarties with faces in your tube, you could also send away for whatever that thing is. Some sort of purse? And all you have to send for postage is 20p. Nowadays I’m not sure 20p would even buy you one Smartie.
Fun fact: I hurt my neck trying to read this before it occurred to me to turn the page round. Slow clap for me.
Turtles Comic probably had a rule that they had to include a “good” advert occasionally, and not just flog you things like sugar and knives. That’s the only explanation I can think of for this load of ballsack.
I’m telling you now – there is no crossover between stamp collecting enthusiasts and small children who like to run round waving sticks and yelling “cowabunga”. There just isn’t.
Kinder Surprise Teeny Terrapins
This is very cynical. As Alex quite rightly pointed out, idiot children will look at this and immediately assume it’s a Turtles thing. Kinder Surprise didn’t even need to stoop to such underhanded tactics – children would sell their parents for a Kinder Egg.
Also, how is it a surprise if we already know it’s going to be a Teeny Terrapin? Spoiler alert.
Thunderbirds Go To Pizza Hut
“Alan, we need to sell more pizzas to kids.”
“OK Malcolm, are there any cartoon characters that are known for eating pizza?”
“Hmm, none that I can think of Alan, let’s go with Thunderbirds, that’ll do.”
And then they put this advert in Turtles comic.
Also, why is that Geoffrey?
UHU T-Shirt Offer
Do you want a UHU t-shirt? Of course you do – look how rad and swish it is. UHU are so cool they didn’t even bother finishing the word ‘stick’.
I love how you don’t get to specify a size, so your t-shirt could end up being ‘actual size’, or a size 20 reject they got off Doncaster market.
The point is – is there anything more early 90s than sending off a postal order for a bright yellow UHU t-shirt? There is not.