Some time ago I started to think about when I first realized that female transformation and metafeminine characters were something that I was interested in. While exploring that I wrote an entry about the box art for Companions of Xanth, one of the earliest images that began to grow my curiosity.
Not long ago I stumbled across one of the other metafeminine items from my younger life that really had my attention for some time; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutations: Mutatin’ April.
Here’s the cover of the box that I would so often walk pass along the toy aisles in our long-gone Clover store;
As a kid I had plenty of TMNT figures, but in 1993 my parents had stopped buying them for me. This hit right when I didn’t have the money to buy it myself, and asking for a TMNT figure out of the blue would have raised questions.
Questions, even then, I knew I didn’t want to try to answer.
Also, let’s pause a moment to reflect on the fact that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles used to have a toy line so ridiculously glutted with figures that they’d have to print on the box when a new toy had been introduced.
Anyway, I remember pacing back and forth past Mutatin’ April - loosely based on the TMNT episode The Cat Woman from Channel Six which I had not yet seen – just coveting the damn thing. I’d always enjoyed seeing April, with her strangely formfitting jumpsuit, and the thought of her musculature changing; fur growing from her skin; ears, eyes, and face shifting; claws growing from feet and hands; and tail bursting through the back of her suit just made my chest warm.
It is only now that I notice that she also loses some fingers and toes in the process. I’m also not sure how her hair forms perfect spots, or how her jumpsuit only tears cleanly open along the thighs. Also, if you’ve met the Ninja Turtles, do you really just go jumping into every sewer filled with glowy green slime?
But screw it, for one of my earliest exposures to a transformation sequence it is a damn good one. Different parts of her – arms, thighs and face, and feet – change in different frames. The art is well done and there are even the faintest of transition shadows surrounding the center two images.
And it is certainly good that the art is nicely done, because the figure has some things left to be desired. I know because you could open up the box’s front flap to take a look;
I know the scanner left April a little blurry in parts, but…you’re not really missing anything. April’s art is much better than the actual figure, which sort of looks like a character from one of those “evil doll” 80s movies. I’m quite creeped out by her. I’d also like to say that I hope her fictionalized transformation process is NOTHING like the process described on the box’s interior flap, because that sounds like the most excruciating experience in the history of TF.
Honestly, the figure is almost enough to destroy the box art’s magic, so I haven’t been at all tempted to take April out and give her a few mutatin’s myself. Plus, the exposed portion of the figure’s chest does not change, so she’s constantly stuck with a pink plastic triangle across her breast bone in both human and feline form.
But hey, maybe that works for some people. Maybe if you pretend she’s Mutatin’ Mannequin April…
I think it’s…cute that they tried to create themed mutating accessories, but…why does a cat woman need claw-sprouting gloves? And that has to be the least in cognito purse I have ever seen. But, in the early 90s, the idea that a video camera could fit in a purse was still within the realm of science fiction, so I’ll cut them some slack.
About the only item packaged with Mutatin’ April I’d be at all interested in having is the ooze canister.
But wait, do you think there are only three sets of accessories that came with Mutatin’ April? Oh no, the back of the box says differently…
The back of the box is, well, given the giant expanses of purple (way to go, Design Team) I can’t say it is packed with information, but it does contain all the standard bits.
Of course, if you are literally addicted to mutating action figures in a fashion similar to popping Pringles, you can see all the other figure available in the Mutatin’ toy line. None of the other Mutatin’ figures – especially the super creepy Foot Soldier figure – ever had my interest. They don’t intrigue me any more now.
Also, if you’re wondering if the giant clear window on the box’s front was hiding any secret goodies from view, we have a box dedicated to telling you what comes with Mutatin’ April. The gloves, camera/purse, and ooze canister we’ve already seen but…where’s the Mega Mutation Chart?
Oh, wait, if you thought this was some other separate accessory to be found within, you’d be wrong…and if you opened up your toy with a little too much vigor you might be out of luck! The Mega Mutation Chart is the box in the upper right that you have to cut out to keep. And it is full of fun facts, such as the one where April the Cat Woman can just waltz into Shredder’s Lair whenever she likes with no resistance. With security like that no wonder the Turtles always won. I’m a big fan of puns and alliteration, but this card may have gone too far. I do think the implication that Cat Woman April and Splinter won’t get along in the same room is interesting.
Unlike Companions of Xanth, which I would have loved to have played when I was young, I do not regret not getting Mutatin’ April when I first saw her. I would have opened, and probably lost, the box, leaving me with just a creepy action figure.
And it is the art that has always had me enthralled. This is absolutely one time I am so glad that local awesome shop Big Fun is around to collect these bygone items for rediscovery. Mutatin’ April is a toy I can appreciate much better now that I know why she held such power over me, and I can make sure she is treated properly.
Because who doesn’t like an adventurous and smart woman in a jumpsuit…who can partially turn into a cat?