Thursday, August 14, 2014

Yestercades


This past Tuesday, my friend Sean and I went down to Red Bank, NJ to visit Yestercades on Broad Street.  Sean had been there before and raved about just how awesome it truly was.  We planned on going last year, but plans fell through and we never got around to it.  To hold me over, I stayed local and stopped by Barcade in Jersey City.  That place is great, especially because its geared toward adults who like to drink while playing classic arcade games, but Yestercades promised so much more for people of all ages.  Between the reviews I received from my buddy and the positivity online, I knew this was going to be a much cooler experience than I first thought.  We were on our way.


There are two locations in New Jersey - Red Bank and Somerville - and each offer a different variety of games, but the purpose remains the same.  Yestercades is designed to bridge the gap between yesterday and today.  Not only can you play the vintage arcade games that we all grew up with, but you can also sit back on a leather couch and pop in the latest Xbox game to play with friends.  That's right, along with the famous cabinet arcade games, retro and modern consoles are available to you on large-screen TV's.  And the best part?  You can leave the quarters at home.  For merely $8.75 and hour or $25 for the day, unlimited access to every game is literally at your fingertips.





Everywhere you looked, there were vintage arcade cabinets.  You were surrounded by them.  If the retro sounds weren't enough to bring you back to a simpler time, that familiar arcade smell we all know and love will surely do the trick.  I don't know if it's old plastic, dusty screens, or sweaty palms, but arcades have always had that same aroma and I wouldn't have it any other way.  It's a whiff of nostalgia that can only be inhaled at places like Yestercade.  For a nostalgic nut like me, that's something I wish I could bottle up and bring home with me.  It's a reminder of my childhood and when I think of the Jersey Shore, three scents are synonymous:  the food, the ocean, and the arcades.  Hey, Yankee Candle, figure that one out!


There was no doubt about which game we were going to play first.  In my opinion, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is THE greatest arcade game of all time.  I've said it before when I visited Barcade and I'll say it again - TMNT stands high and above the rest in the world of retro arcade games.  Yes, there are many that have come close and have revolutionized the genre in their own right, but nothing quite like TMNT.  Off the top of my head, I can think of a few.  The Simpsons Arcade Game is surely a fan favorite.  Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat changed the way we viewed fighting games.  And, of course, games like Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, and Pac-Man (all of which were at Yestercades) paved the way for the games of my generation.  But, at the end of the day, there's nothing I'd choose over TMNT besides, maybe, Turtles in Time.  I know.. The last few posts have me painted as a biased Turtle fan, but I swear I'm being objective.



Another of of my all-time favorite arcade games is WWF WrestleFest.  Wow, if I had every quarter that I ever put into WrestleFest machines as a child, I'd have well over $200.  I spent countless hours playing this classic and, to this day, it never gets old.  The gameplay wasn't all that special, but the characters and the way they were designed always drew me in.  My favorite Superstars of that era were cartoony and colorfully vibrant.  In a lot of ways, that represented the time and maybe that's why I've always loved WrestleFest so much.  Unfortunately, this cabinet was 2-players only and we were unable to team up in an attempt to battle the Legion of Doom, but we did have a blast in the Royal Rumble.  In the end, the Ultimate Warrior took out Sgt. Slaughter to be victorious.  Sorry, Sean..




Like any great arcade, Yestercades had a wide variety of pinball machines.  Growing up, my Dad owned an arcade in Bayonne, NJ and we housed The Addams Family Pinball Machine for well over a year.  I usually played the beat 'em ups, but I could always count on Gomez and Uncle Fester to save me from boredom when my favorites were overrun by the older teenagers.  My Dad and I always had so much fun playing The Addams Family Pinball Machine and he was really good at it.  I don't know how much of it was skill as opposed to luck, but it created many memorable moments.  Yestercades actually had The Addams Family and I was looking forward to giving it another shot after all these years, but it was broken and being repaired while we were there.  But just seeing it from afar was cool enough for now.  When I head back, it's certainly on the list of things to do.  Until then, there were plenty of machines to choose from and all of them were a lot of fun.



Here's what separates Yestercades from every other arcade I've ever been to.  Although the vintage arcade games may be great for people like me who grew up with them, the kids of today are used to everything on-demand.  Technology has taken things in a different direction and going to the arcade to play a video game is, sadly, a thing of the past.  It takes more time and money to get there than it does to simply sit back and download an emulator or game via console stores.  It's something we dreamed of as kids, but the new era of gaming is issentially the Redbox to an arcade's Blockbuster.  So how do you avoid going out of business, becoming a crane-based establishment, and lure in kids and adults alike?  You offer every video game console ever created.  It's absolutely genius and, believe it or not, it's an idea I offered my Dad years ago to the sound of laughter and rolling eyes.  This changes the game.  Pun intended.




Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega, Nintendo 64, Sega CD, Dreamcast, Playstation, Xbox... You name it, they had it.  Now, why is that special?  Kids today probably own either an Xbox or Playstation, if not both, and can play with their friends online.  We all know that and it's awesome, but how many own the classics?  Personally, besides the OUYA, I no longer have any of them.  But to be honest with you, consoles like Sega and Nintendo 64 still stand the test of time and instead of kids coming over after school and parents having to watch over everybody, Yestercades welcomes 10-20 kids to sit back and play against each other in person.  Imagine that, in person?  In today's day and age, that's almost unheard of.  Why see each other when I can text, chat, or snap?  Imagine that..

Not only does Yestercades offer so many vintage gaming options, but the games are available to you as well.  Do you know how awesome it was seeing Wrestlemania 2000 and WCW/NWO Revenge for N64?  That brings me back to skipping track practice to play my cousin in the battle between Sting and Han Zo Mon.  Probably not the best idea for a budding athlete, but a great idea for a kid who loved video games.  Now, Yestercades welcomes kids of today to also skip out on their priorities and obligations in an attempt to save the princess, save the world, win the championship, or eat ghosts.


Yestercades also offered board games to their customers, but I don't think I saw one person playing or even interested in that idea.  I thought it was cool, but the thought of playing one never actually crossed my mind until I got home and looked further into the photo.  That Nickelodeon Double Dare game is one I always wished I'd received as a child and would probably be a lot of fun to play with a group of friends.  Operation is always a classic and almost as nerve-wrecking as Perfection.  Candyland, for as simple as it is, can be a great time and was always my favorite as a young child.  Plus, Trivial Pursuit 80s edition is probably very challenging.  Even though I wasn't born until 1987, I'm a big fan of 80s culture and nostalgia so that would have been a blast.  I don't think these games are necessarily meant for two guys in their late 20s, but kids should take advantage of these classic board games when visiting Yestercades.  They're clearly under appreciated.




As an added touch, to go along with the vintage movie posters and decorations throughout Yestercades, their display cases were filled with classic gaming consoles, handhelds, and games from over 20 years ago.  Everything is lit nicely and displayed to be visual art that acts as a tiny museum on your way in and out of the establishment.  Everything is in mint condition and, together, your mind is taken on a journey back in time through sensory overload.  Between all of it, combined with everything we've already discussed, this is a complete rush of nostalgia that only Yestercades, in my experience, has been able to offer.


If you're in or around New Jersey, I highly recommend taking a trip to Yestercades.  When Sean and I went, it was a bit crowded and we didn't get to experience half of what we wanted to but, with more time and less people, the experience could have only been better.  We had a wonderful time and I have no doubt you would too.  If you're not in the NJ area, then I suggest Googling vintage arcades in your hometown because ya never know what's out there.  If not for my friend, I would have never known about Yestercades and their vast variety of vintage gaming options.  So look into what's near you and, hopefully, you'll be just as happy as yellow-bandana-wearing Michelangelo.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) Movie Review


I remember when a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film was merely a rumor.  After Nickelodeon purchased the franchise, fans were told that a new animated series and full-length feature film were in the works and planned for the near future.  The new toon debuted to roaring reviews and brought the Ninja Turtles to a level of popularity they haven't seen since the early 90's, but the new film was still in limbo.

At first, we heard that a new film would feature live-action suits and actors with a combination of CGI.  At the time, "Where The Wild Things Are" had just premiered and that technology was said to be used in a new Turtles film.  However, all remained one big rumor before Michael Bay came into the fold and the ball really began to roll.  Suffice it to say, Turtle fans were not necessarily happy with the "childhood killer" producing a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles feature.

The first TMNT script leaked to the public and our worst fears seemed to be coming a reality.  Now, instead of mutant turtles, the fearsome four were to be aliens.  What?  Are you kidding me?  Thankfully, the uproar from fans led to a re-write, but the damage had been done.  Nobody had high hopes or expectations for this film and, from that point on, it became nothing more than a joke.  From there, we caught word that Megan Fox was cast as Channel 6 reporter, April O'Neil and Will Arnett would be playing her sidekick, Vernon Fenwick.  Fans reacted with mixed reviews, but at least there was some star power now associated with the film.  That was great, until images of the Ninja Turtles were released to the public.


For as awesome as the trailer looked, I was not happy with the Ninja Turtle designs.  I hated reading comments from people comparing them to Shrek on steroids, but even I couldn't disagree.  I've been a TMNT fan since I was a child and have countless memories associated with these characters.  Just take a look back at the last week of posts and you'll see how passionate I am about this franchise.  So, to first see these CGI turtles was an utter disappointment and I, like millions of fans around the world, wished for a change before release.

However, first impressions aren't always everything and, over time, these Turtle designs grew on me.  Sure, they were different, but they were also much more realistic.  Look, if the world somehow managed to mutate four giant turtles, this is probably what they'd look like.  For as much as I personally love the cartoon faces from the original toon and 1990 film, I grew to welcome the change in appearance and hoped for the best.  I had low expectations, but advanced screening reviews were in and I began anticipating the film more and more.  Finally, last night at 8:15pm, the wait came to an end.

Now, as I said, I'm a true Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan.  I grew up on the original toon, I've read the comics less religiously, my family and I have spent thousands on merchandise in 27-years, and I understand the story, the characters, and their personalities.  So today's review is not coming from somebody who has no passion for the franchise, it's coming from somebody who wants to see these Turtles succeed on the big screen.  At the same time, it puts a lot more pressure on this film to impress.

When I first walked into the theater, I saw two young girls dressed in Ninja Turtle merchandise from head to toe.  It made me happy to see how much of an impact these characters still have on the next generation of fans.  I could clearly see how excited they were, but it was hard to believe there was anybody in that theater more pumped than me.  I was ready to go and, before I knew it, the theater was jam packed with people and completely sold out on a Thursday night!

Without spoiling anything for those you have yet to see the film, I can start by telling you I absolutely loved the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!  I thought it was fantastic!  There is a big change in origin and fans of the original may not be happy with it, but I welcomed it.  During that scene, the actors do a great job of getting the story across to viewers and I feel as though they connected with each other in a way they didn't in previous films.  The sense of family is much more prominent in this film than ever before.

The characters and their personalities are spot on.  The writers and actors did a wonderful job of making sure each Turtle was represented as they should be on the silver screen.  Michelangelo is your young, fun-loving, care-free Turtle with a major crush on April.  Donatello is your typical genius with new abilities that enhance what the Turtles can do as a team.  Raphael is your bad ass New Yorker who always seems to have a chip on his shoulder and something to prove.  Leonardo is the leader who takes control of situations with common sense, logic and, when possible, peace.

Besides the Turtles, we have Splinter who is much more of a tough guy than he's ever been in the previous films.  Splinter reminds me of what he was in the original toon.  He's a father who will fight for his sons, both physically and mentally, even if it means battling to his death.  In turn, the Turtles love him as any sons would love their father.  There is a deep connection between all 5 and it's showcased perfectly.

April O'Neil is more of a focal point than she's even been before and, with Megan Fox playing the lead, that makes a lot of sense.  Fox does a decent job of portraying the Turtles' link to the outside world, but I do believe they count have done a better job casting.  While Fox is not the greatest actress in the world, she did surpass my expectations of her and I'm pleased with her performance.  At times, she seemed dull but, at other times, she was invested in the story and appeared to bring the family together.  I'm sure she was cast for her looks and, believe me, I'm not complaining about 2 hours worth of Megan Fox, but Emma Stone would have been the perfect April O'Neil.  With that said, I truly hope Megan Fox returns for a sequel.

April's sidekick cameraman, Vernon Fenwick, is played by Will Arnett for comic relief.  Now, this isn't the annoying dweeb we remember from the original toon.  He's not looking to steal the spotlight from April, he's looking to take April out on a date.  While I don't think this Vernon was all that necessary in this film, I do think his character will work greatly in a sequel.  Assuming we'll see the return of Casey Jones, his crush on April could come into play and I wouldn't be surprised if he joined forces with The Shredder or becomes mutated in one way or another.  Personally, I hope they don't go that route, but it wouldn't shock me.

Speaking of Shredder, his character brought me my only disappointment.  Personally, I didn't like his armored suit.  I didn't like the face that he could throw knives from his arms and have them magnetically return to their holster.  He didn't look like Shredder to me and it really turned me off.  Changing the Turtles in appearance still managed to stay true to their character, but Shredder's look was completely changed from what we all know and love.  He no longer has a face shield, but rather an entire head shield that acts as a helmet to guard his entire face, including his eyes.  His character is still that of a fierce villain and definitely gives the Turtles more of a fight than ever before, but this is where I really would have liked to see some change.

Overall, without giving away any spoilers, this film was incredible and I plan on seeing it again.  I know reviews are mixed, but I can't imagine why Ninja Turtle fans wouldn't love this movie.  Between and awesome story, great characters, and a few radical nods to the original toon, you should come out of the theater with a smile on your face and that anticipation for a sequel.  Does it beat the 1990 original?  Of course not.  Does it beat "Secret of the Ooze?"  Ask me again in a year or two.  But when it comes to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III and TMNT, this blows them out of the water, no questions asked.  Seeing these four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back on the big screen is an awesome sight and one that I treasure as a fan.  I may be a bit biased in my opinion, but I think that also put more pressure on the film to impress me and that it did.  Yes, there are a few cons and things I would have changed, but everything can be corrected in the sequel and I expect the next to be even better than this!

If you were on the fence about this film, I hope this review brings out the "Cowabunga" in you and pushes you to go see this film in theaters.  I know reviews are mixed, but I'm a die-hard fan and I was far from disappointed.  Oh, and for whoever said "Shell Shocked" didn't play as credits rolled, they lied!


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Pizza Hut - TMNT Cheesy Bites Pizza


Earlier today, we talked about the perfect Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles breakfast - the recreation of a classic - TMNT Cereal : Reborn.  With the new movie being released in certain areas tonight and nationwide tomorrow, it's only right that we dedicate each one of our meals to our four beloved Ninja Turtles.  TMNT Cereal requires some time and creativity, but the Turtles' favorite meal is probably one of yours, too... Pizza!! I can't think of a more appropriate dinner to celebrate the new film and, even better, Pizza Hut has teamed up with Paramount and Nickelodeon to bring us specialized pies to represent each turtle!


When I first saw photos of the sewer's set design, with all those Pizza Hut boxes used as couches, I knew there was a partnership in the works.  For as much as the Turtles love pizza, there was no way Pizza Hut was going to receive that type of product placement without joining forced with The Green Machine.  Unlike the original film, The Ninja Turtles have now ditched Domino's and kicked them to the curb for Pizza Hut.  In my opinion, they made the right move.  Don't get me wrong, I love both companies for what they are, but Pizza Hut will always hold a special place in my heart because I associate it with Halloween.  The only reason I call Domino's is because they deliver to me and my local Pizza Hut doesn't.  If it were the other way around, I can't imagine I'd ever have Domino's again.  But, let's be honest, neither of them really serve Pizza.  They're a brand of their own, much like McDonalds and Burger King don't really serve burgers.  If you want a real slice of New York City pizza, you don't go to a fast food chain.  I'm sure the Turtles are well aware of this, but somebody's gotta pay the lair's rent.


In addition to bringing back Cheesy Bites to celebrate the 2014 film, Pizza Hut has created four different pies with four different recipes to match the personality and attitude of each character.

Michelangelo's Favorite pizza comes with the following toppings: Pepperoni, Ham, Pineapples, and Jalapenos.  Personally, I think Mikey would have picked Peanut Butter and Jelly Beans, but I'm sure Pizza Hut had to talk him out of that one.  I would have tried it, but popular demand asks for something more common.

Donatello's Favorite Pizza is topped with Chicken, Mushrooms, Green Peppers, and Tomatoes.  It's a smart choice for those who want to be more health conscious and watch their diet.  Leave it to Donnie to bring you a delicious pizza that watches the pounds and provides a few vitamins.

Leonardo, the leader of the group, tops his with Red Onions, Black Olives, Green Peppers and Mushrooms.  Leo chooses a hearty meal with the necessary nutrients packed in to give him the physical and mental strength to make wise decisions before enacting out his plan of attack.  He may very well be the wise man who said "never pay full price for late pizza."

Finally, Raphael chooses a more carnivorous diet and tops his favorite pizza with Pepperoni, Sausage, Bacon, and Beef.  Of course Raph would choose a protein packed pizza with enough grams to increase his strength and muscle.  This is a manly mean meant for the strongest of warriors.  Leave the thinking to Leonardo, this is for those who work from the neck down and strive to be physically fit.


During our trip to Pizza Hut, my girlfriend and I already knew which pizza's we wanted.  We did our research and both wanted to try something different.  We sat down and I asked the waiter to confirm that he knew what I was talking about.  He had a vague idea.  He said he's pretty sure he has the recipe's in the back and remembers seeing the names "Mikey and Ralph."  Close enough, especially because those were precisely the ones we wanted him to bring out.  I wanted to try the Raphael pie and Eileen wanted to try the Michelangelo variety.  So he offered to do half and half.  Good thinking, waiter..


I was already a fan of Cheesy Bites pizza and hated to see them go, but it makes their limited-time-only return even that much sweeter.  These TMNT toppings are incredible and add so much flavor to the Cheesy Bites pizza.  I'm not a big fan of Jalapenos so I have to put my favorite Turtle second to Raphael because his meaty recipe is off the hook.  I loved it and when I head out to catch an early screening of the movie tonight, you can bet your shell that we'll be stopping at Pizza Hut for dinner before-hand.  It's a must!  For as much as I'd like to try all 4 Turtle flavors, I think I'm going to stick with Raph's because it's just that good.  If anything, we'll go half and half again because Eileen loved the way those Pineapples and Jalapeno's work together to bring that sweet and spicy ninja kick to your taste buds.  It's a win-win no matter which you choose, you just need to make sure you order a pie before this promotional run is over!


What I didn't know when we first went to Pizza Hut is that there's even a special way of having your pizza cut that pays tribute to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  If you choose to do so, you can have your pie "Katana Cut" into 4 slices, just like the Turtles would.  Man, what an awesome bonus to throw in for fans.  We all know, whenever the Turtles ordered pizza, Leonardo would whip out his Katana and cut the pie for he and his brothers.  1 giant slice each before moving on to the next.  Sure, it means Splinter was left out in the cold, but he claims he'd rather eat sushi, anyway.  Yep, the giant rat doesn't like CHEESE pizza.  Go figure..  Now, I didn't know about the Katana Cut when we first made our trip, but I'll certainly be looking into that tonight.  I'll be wearing a Ninja Turtles shirt, a Ninja Turtles hat, green sneakers, and ordering a Katana Cut Ninja Turtles pizza.  The waiter is either going to think I'm nuts or absolutely awesome.  Eh, half and half.

TMNT Crush: April O'Neil Pineapple


Yesterday in my post about Raphael Strawberry Crush, I mentioned that it would be the last turtle Crush we'd be talking about.  I wasn't lying!  You may not even be aware, but Crush actually released a 5th flavor during their TMNT promotion!  It's been laying low, flew under the radar, and is extremely difficult to find.  Personally, I haven't seen this flavor in stores at all and had to resort to paying $10 on one individual can, but it was worth it to have in the collection.  This was a variety and design that I was hoping they'd include in the set, but never actually thought they would.  Then, Crush posted a photo proving that an April O'Neil Pineapple flavor was the real deal!


As I've done in the past, I was going to design my own April O'Neil can to share with all of you.  I figured Crush would stop at all four turtles and call it a day.  Who would blame them?  They're the true stars of the film and stand out to kids much more than their link to the outside world, April.  Regardless of how much I cool I thought an April can would be, I never thought Crush would agree and I would have bet money against them.  Thankfully, they proved me wrong and proved to be a hell of a lot smarter than I gave them credit for.  This is an obvious move, in my opinion.  The originally animated April was known for her yellow jumpsuit and, in the incarnations to follow, the character always wore some yellow in some type of way.  Whether it was a yellow raincoat or, in 2014, a leather yellow jacket, it's come to represent April just as much as the colored eye bands represent the four turtles.  So, of course, Pineapple soda was the logical choice for April and Crush absolutely knocked this one out of the park!


Not only did they design an awesome can of green and yellow, amazingly popping off of one another, but they included an image of the new April O'Neil played by Megan Fox in the 2014 film.  This is an added bonus because now all 5 cans feature the images of the character each can represents.  I view these cans as works of art and I appreciate the time and effort each designer put into these works of art.  You can tell a great deal of thought went behind each one and they aimed to personalize the cans to the character, rather than simply changing the color and name.  I love stuff like that!  Plus, a can with Megan Fox on it appeals to TMNT fans, women who look up to her, and weird men who just want to look at her.  I swear I only fall in the first category.  Really.


Since I only purchased one can, I wasn't going to crack it open just to pour out $10 worth of soda.  The full can is going to sit on my shelf until it's expired contents explode all over my other collectibles.  But I was able to find a 2-liter of Pineapple Crush that wasn't TMNT themed and used that for my images and taste test.  To be honest, I can't remember if I've ever tried Pineapple Soda.  My gut and memory are telling yes, but I can't be sure.  Despite that, this is certainly taste-test approved and I think, besides it's color, Pineapple soda is the perfect flavor to represent April.  It's sweet, it reminds me of a warm Spring day, and welcomes me to throw in some vodka after a long day at work.  Let's face it, April may be a helping hand to the Turtles but after countless hours at Channel 6 news and coming home to a disgruntled Casey Jones, April surely must have thrown back a few cocktails to take the edge off.  I mean, really, how many times does Shredder need to kidnap you before you become an all-out alcoholic?  So unlike the Turtle flavors, this one is much fruitier, more girlie, and represents April to a tee.

 
I wish I could tell you where to find April O'Neil Pineapple Crush, but it has alluded me on shelves for just over a month.  Much like in the cartoon and movies, the TMNT are doing a good job of protecting her from the weirdos at Wal-Mart.  I'm sure Megan Fox, as she climbed the ladder of success and became an international sex symbol, never thought she'd be on a can of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle soda, but it's official and nearly impossible to find.  I had to resort to eBay and throw down the cash.  If it weren't for me being a huge Turtle Nerd, I would have simply reviewed the 2-liter Pineapple Crush and used stock images for The Holidaze post, but that wouldn't have been the same.  I had to go all-out for this final can and, luckily, it arrived today just in the nick of time!

If you can't find Pineapple Crush in stores, I recommend shopping online.  If you can find Pineapple Crush in stores, I recommend throwing that bad girl on eBay so the people who can't end up paying you much more than it's worth.  The circle of commerce!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cereal - Reborn


When I first heard that a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie had been green-lit for production, I was just as excited for the new merchandise to come with it.  Whenever big super-hero movies come to life on the big screen, they pretty much come to life everywhere else, too.  Toys, video games, collectibles, clothing - you name it, it's produced.  But unlike when I was a child, the one thing we don't see tied into promotions any longer are cereals.  Growing up, I loved eating cereals associated with my favorite TV show, cartoon or movie.  Remember Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters?  How about The Addams Family?  The Jetsons?  They were all classics released by Ralston, known for their licensed cereals, in the early 90s.  Whether they tasted great or not doesn't matter, it's simply the fact that breakfast became an extension of your favorite characters.  That meant a lot to me as a kid because I couldn't get enough of what I loved.  Slimer for breakfast, an Ecto-Cooler for lunch, Flintstones Mac & Cheese for Dinner and a Turtle Pie for dessert.  To me, that sounds like one hell of a day in the life.  But when I really look back on all the classic cereals of my time, especially the ones produced by Ralston, there will always be one that stands head and shoulders above the rest... Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cereal!


Now, don't get your hopes up or be fooled by the image above.  No, unfortunately they did not release a new TMNT cereal.  In my opinion, somebody missed the boat and lost out on the perfect opportunity to bring back a legend.  Even if they didn't recreate the original recipe, any TMNT cereal would have sold like hot cakes.  Between the new Nickelodeon TV series and the upcoming film, I'm personally shocked that there wasn't a partnership made with General Mills.  As a fan, It's disappointing that we may never see another TMNT cereal, but who's stopping us from bringing it back ourselves?


If you look at the original ingredients, the recipe isn't all that hard to recreate.  The "Ninja Nets" were essentially Chex cereal and, upon further research, Ralstons is the former name of the original Chex, so the flavor has to be spot on.  In addition, the TMNT Cereal included marshmallows.  Although they were probably filled with a lot more sugar than what I'd find today, there are still plenty of cereals that feature marshmallows and I just so happened to have a few of them in my cabinet.  I guess buying 20 boxes of Monster Cereals last Halloween pays off in more ways than one.  Thankfully, one of those leftover Frankenberry boxes doesn't expire until the end of the month.  Now we have the Chex, we have the marshmallows, and all I needed was the box.  If you're going to bring TMNT cereal back to life, an original box is absolutely necessary and eBay offers a variety of boxes at a low price.  We're on our way.


Buying the box is one thing and it's cool to include in the background of photos, but we have to do this the right way.  So out of the modern box comes a bag of Chex and into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cereal box it goes.  To truly have the perfect TMNT breakfast on the morning of the new movie's release, there's nothing better than pouring a bowl of reborn cereal from the classic 1990 box.  Covered in TMNT art and images of the original Playmates toys on the back, it's the perfect way to relive the past and celebrate the future by embracing the present.


We'll add the marshmallows later, but this photo is symbolic of what I remember.  For some reason, it always seemed like there were never enough marshmallows in my TMNT cereal.  Granted, I was about 3 or 4-years-old and probably would have preferred an entire bowl of marshmallows rather than Ninja Nets, but I still think the memory is valid.  Regardless, things were going to change this time around.  By adding the marshmallows into the bowl later, we'll be sure to have just as many tiny bites of sugar as we want.  But by this point, since I haven't eaten Chex since the days of TMNT Cereal, the smell alone is already taking me back to the 90s.


I almost purchased an original Turtle Bowl that once came wrapped with the TMNT Cereal, but couldn't bring myself to doing so without it being mint.  I started to feel a bit like Howie Mandel and got germ'd out by the thought of somebody eating from that same bowl for the last 24 years.  I wish I still had my original set, but I don't think there's enough dish detergent in the world to change my mind.  So, we'll have to stick with a generic bowl of TMNT Cereal, but it still looks awesome.  Just pretend that those bats are ninja stars and those Frankeberry heads are Turtle Coms.  We have to use at least a little imagination, here!


Pour in the milk and.. voila! We've now recreated the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cereal!  This is something I've wanted to do for quite a while, but haven't had a reason to go out and buy everything that was needed.  But with the new movie being released in just a few hours, it was now or never.  There's no better time to embrace Turtle Power than this week and that's why we've been celebrating the franchise all week long.  For those of you who aren't fans, you're probably counting down the days to Halloween or may have already unfollowed me on Twitter, but this is a huge week for Turtle fans and fans of nostalgia alike.  The busy season will soon be upon us, but this week has been a blast and, based on other sites I've read recently, we all seem to have the same theme in mind.  I'm loving it!


When you bite down into the reborn TMNT Cereal, you're instantly brought back in time.  I mean, wow... it's pretty amazing how powerful the senses of taste and smell can be and you'll immediately have a neural reaction to the sensation.  Memories came flooding back and that's exactly why I invested the time and money into this little project.  Does it taste good?  Well, it tastes like the original cereal so... no, it doesn't taste all that great.  It's not bad, but it certainly isn't anything special and that's pretty much the story of Ralston's run with licensed cereals.  But that's not why I did this.  If I wanted a cereal that tastes great, I would have picked one that I eat all year.  No, this was done in tribute to the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie and to celebrate the nostalgia that comes with everything associated with the original breakfast cereal.

Now, to throw in even more fun, did you ever wonder if those Ninja Nets really work?  In the cartoon, I've only seen them used a few times and usually, as we've seen in TMNT 2: Secret of the Ooze, they usually work against our fearsome four.  So, as an added experiment, I let my TMNT Cereal sit for a while in an attempt to see what these Ninja Nets are capable of.  Would we catch anything other than bugs?


Yes!  Straight from Dimension-X, Krang thought he'd catch the upper hand while I was sleeping.  Little did he know I was luring him in with a Ninja Trap in order to save New York City and the world.  The Ninja Turtles have taught me well and, for now, the world can rest easy.  But.. where is Shredder?  He wasn't dumb enough to fall for my tricks and is still on the loose.  Until he shows his metal face, Krang will stay locked up in my room next to the other toys.  As a side note, please make sure nobody from work reads this entry ;)


In all seriousness, this was a great time and I'm very happy with how everything turned out.  This was worth every dollar and minute of time.  This site is all about bringing happiness to life, whether it's through the holidays, nostalgia, or current events, it's my goal to bring that inner child out of you and help you remember that it's important to not always take life so seriously.  If you're a Turtle fan, this is a must-make and it really only costs you the price of two cereal boxes.  If you happen to have a retro box of TMNT cereal, then that's even better.  Have fun with it, eat breakfast with somebody, share a few laughs and get creative.  Work and school will still be there when you're done.

Now I just need to figure out how to resurrect Turtle Pies!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

DC Comics: Monster Cereal Boxes


We interrupt TMNT Week on The Holidaze for this very big, very special, Halloween news!  As a staple of the season, the General Mills' Monster Cereal characters of Frankenberry, Boo Berry, Count Chocula, Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy are thread into the fabric of The Holidaze.  I love the cereals for what they represent, but I love the characters even more.  As I've grown older, I've come to appreciate them as amazing artwork brought to us by the great people over at General Mills.  Thankfully, I'm not the only one who views them as pop-culture icons more than simple cereal mascots.  Over the years, their popularity has increased more and more, resulting in various toys, shirts, and collectibles to go along with the iconic cereals we've all grown up on.  General Mills, being the marketers they are, capitalized on this boom in 2013 by bringing back Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy from their tombs and re-releasing the legendary retro box art for all of us to collect and enjoy.  It was definitely the highlight of last year's Halloween season and, this year, General Mills is back at it again!

http://blog.generalmills.com/2014/08/monster-cereals-news/

I first became aware of these new boxes on Instagram as the social media app is proving to be more powerful than given credit for.  Somebody was lucky enough to already receive a brand new box of Frankenberry and posted the image for fans to salivate over.  Today, General Mills confirmed that the comic illustrated boxes are in fact a reality and will be debuting this September!  But not only are they designed to look like comic heroes (or villains) but they're designed by actual DC Comics illustrators!  Now that's pretty awesome!  Once working for the Brooklyn Nets, I was there when Marvel joined forces with the team to create Nets' mascot, The Brooklyknight.  However, that was an utter disaster and complete failure.  This?  Oh no.. There's no way this will suffer the same fate.  DC Comics and their artists have done an incredible job and fans are already clamoring for these boxes on their kitchen tables!

http://blog.generalmills.com/2014/08/monster-cereals-news/

DC illustrator, Dave Johnson, designed the new Frankenberry box and I don't think I could love it any more than I do.  I was getting tired of the most recent modern design being released over and over again.  At first, the CGI-styled design was cool, but it got stale really quick.  Besides Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy making their modern debut last year, I was over the style and, apparently, General Mills was too.  This updated box, which is more than phenomenal, gives Frankenberry a new lease on life.  He's back and better than ever in 2014.  No, no design will ever top the originals.  The retro art will always be my favorite, but this is just too cool to pass up and I love the fact that General Mills went, once again, that extra mile to make fans happy and, of course, bring in that extra profit.

http://blog.generalmills.com/2014/08/monster-cereals-news/

Designed by Terry and Rachel Dodson, Count Chocula has been given a more realistic, human appearance.  At first, I didn't know what to think about his new image.  Part of him looks like a Halloween elf, another part looks like he came from a Harry Potter novel, and the rest of him looks like Maleficent on crack.  But, given it further thought, I do appreciate the new direction.  If Count Chocula truly existed in our world, I'd assume he'd be human.  Unlike all previous incarnations, this box features him as a man, as a vampire, who happens to love chocolate more than anything else in this world.  I think parts of him could have been altered to better fit that image, but they also couldn't stray too far away from the original design.  He still needed to look like Count Chocula and I think the DC artists found the perfect medium.  In a matter of hours, Count Chocula has really grown on me,

http://blog.generalmills.com/2014/08/monster-cereals-news/ 

Boo Berry has maintained his classic appearance more than the other two characters and I'm happy to see that.  I don't think there's much you can do to change his image without completely changing the character himself.  He's always had those big eyes with the saggy lids, his top hat and bow tie, along with that sly smirk.  You can't remove or alter any of that because by doing so with one of those characteristics, you're losing the nostalgia.  His body is different by being just a tad bit less ghostly on top, but the bottom portion remains true to what he is.  This isn't my favorite of the three, but it's far superior to what we've been getting over the last few years.

Regardless of which box you prefer or which is your favorite, none of us can deny just how awesome these new designs are.  Personally, I'm looking for Franky first, but the other two will be coming home with me as soon as I see them.  All three will be joining the collection of Monster Cereal boxes.

http://blog.generalmills.com/2014/08/monster-cereals-news/
 In even better news, General Mills will, once again, be re-releasing retro boxes exclusively to Target.  Now, General Mills could have re-released 2103's art, but they're too smart for that.  At my Target, those boxes sold out completely before the Halloween season came to an end.  That means many of us bought the 2013 retro boxes and have no need for another set.  Personally, I have 3 of each character and don't regret a thing.  But knowing that, General Mills will be releasing a set of new retro boxes celebrating 1979 and 1980.  In addition, each box will come with a cut-out mask of your favorite Monster Cereal characters.  Take a minute and think about how cool that is!!  These boxes have not been on store shelves since the early 80s and, in 2014, they'll be back for us to collect!  From a marketing perspective, think about how smart this is.  Use me, for example.. I'll be buying 3 DC Comics boxes, 3 retro boxes, and 3 more retro boxes to cut out those masks!  In one trip, General Mills just sold me 9 boxes of cereal.  Absolutely genius!

Here comes the bad news... Yummy Mummy and Frute Brute will not be included in this year's festivities!  Major bummer!!  I would have loved to see what DC artists could do with the Yummy Mummy and Frute Brute characters and the retro boxes would have been must-haves.  My wallet is thanking General Mills for keeping me from buying 15 boxes of cereal, but I'm not.  I truly believed they'd return this season, but I guess the 2013 campaign wasn't as successful as we thought.  It's a shame because real fans wind up missing out on incredible Halloween goodies, but General Mills needs to do smart business and, in the end, they're surely doing their part to make up for the lack of two legendary characters.

Thankfully, I have enough retro boxes stocked up to keep me happy.  They're expired and it sucks that we may never get that flavor again, but having the collectible boxes in my possession makes 2013 a success.  If you never picked up a box of Yummy Mummy or Frute Brute, I suggest you do so soon.  Once scalpers catch wind of their value, you'll end up paying 10x what those boxes were worth.

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