Street Sharks: Nostalgia
In the article Monster High: Human Similarities I talked about the Monster High franchise and how female buyers of this brand of toys could relate to the characters through the viewing of the online content. I also did an article called The Appeal of Lego which talked about how Lego became the highly popular brand it was today because it was able to make products that appealed to buyers of all ages and made sets that were set in a wide variety of genres. However, some toys and action figures were created because the makers wanted to capitalize on the popularity of another product. Created in 1994 by Mattel in an attempt to emulate the popularity of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Street Sharks was a show that changed very little with its story compared to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It still starred four anthropomorphic creatures who fought crime in a city, the villain still a human who wore armor and worked in a highly technological area, and he primarily worked with two anthropomorphic minions of his own. However, there were some differences in some aspects of Street Sharks that prevented it from becoming a blatant rip-off of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The heroes were originally humans, the villain also had the ability to transform, and any newly introduced toy became their own character on the show. Street Sharks was a show that could be seen as an obvious attempt to rip-off another brand that made a far more entertaining story, but for kids who grew up watching Street Sharks first, this was an awesome show in its own right.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a comic book that told of four anthropomorphic turtles who fought crime in New York, lived in the sewers of New York, and killed enemy ninjas who were also inhabiting New York. Needless to say, the TV show decided to make a more family friendly version of this comic book. Street Sharks, in trying to copy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle's popularity, tried to use a similar formula for its main characters. To get people to buy the action figures however, Mattell decided to emphasize how awesome this new toy was by using some unorthodox creatures. Namely using different species of shark to make the protagonists. The buyer had the choice of getting Ripster the Great White Shark, Jab the Hammerhead Shark, Streex the Tiger Shark, and Big Slammu the Whale Shark. To make these characters even more unique compared to the toys made from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchise, these toys did not come with plastic replicas of weapons. These characters being based on sharks, it made sense that the teeth would be the emphasized part of the characters' bodies. The main four characters even had the ability to make their mouths move in a chomping fashion by pushing their back fins down. Other than the teeth, each character had characteristics unique to them. Ripster could do a side-punch by rotating his body to the side, Jab could extend his hammerhead for a headbutt, Streex was a shark on roller blades, and Big Slammu was the more physically imposing of the four protagonists.
The initial toy commercial said that the heroes of Street Sharks were humans that were genetically modified with shark DNA to look like, well, humanoid sharks. But the cartoon based on the toy fleshed-out the story so that the events that created the characters in Street Sharks had a bit more context to the situation. Created in 1994 by DIC Entertainment, Street Sharks was a show that tried to make itself popular by using elements that were used by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but just barely making its own changes. Instead of taking place in the actual city of New York, Street Sharks took place in Fission City, a fictional rip-off of Los Angeles, instead of four turtles who were transformed via an accident involving a vial of ooze, our heroes in Street Sharks were purposefully transformed via gene splicing involving scientific machinery, and while the trademark favorite food from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was pizza, the trademark favorite food for the heroic mutants from Street Sharks was pizza. As for the show itself, it had a simplistic plot. The Street Sharks' father, Dr. Bolton was arguing with the main antagonist, Dr. Paradigm were arguing about Dr. Paradigm's attempts at creating anthropomorphic hybrids for nefarious purposes. Unfortunately, Dr. Bolton received an injection of the formula that made anthropomorphic hybrids, and turned into a monster. He escaped, but that just left Dr. Paradigm the opportunity to do the same with his sons. So basically Street Sharks was a series where the protagonists had to prevent Dr. Paradigm from using his gene splicing technology to take over the world, find a way to reverse their genetic modifications, and try to find their father and do the same thing for him. Most of the episodes were also lighthearted despite the scenes of horrific mutations, enemies exhibiting ridiculously dangerous abilities, and questionable writing.
As Street Sharks made more episodes, more characters were introduced to coincide with the toys that were also being made. Created by Dr. Paradigm in various attempts to stop the heroes of Street Sharks from meddling in his schemes involving gene splicing people with animal DNA, most of these characters subverted Dr. Paradigm's plans for them and ultimately became allies for the Street Sharks. One such ally was the character Moby Lick. Introduced as a friend of the Street Sharks before they were transformed, Moby Lick became a Killer Whale and the first attempt by Dr. Paradigm to make more minions. He could physically contend with the Street Sharks on equal footing, he had a blowhole on his head that could shoot compressed blasts of water once he consumed enough gallons of water, and he also possessed a tongue that he could use to grab things. Basically Moby Lick was a character that was arguably stronger than the Street Sharks and him being their friend was a good thing for the heroes. Of course, there were newly introduced villains for Street Sharks to help keep both sides equal. One such villain was Clammando. Basically a humanoid oyster with arms, legs, and pouches that suggested he possessed some heavy weaponry. He also was once a human before his transformation, but an accident where he fell into some toxic waste and had his human DNA combined with oyster DNA. Unlike the other mutated antagonist in Street Sharks, Clammando did not serve Dr. Paradigm as a minion. At least, not in an episode that involved alternate timelines. In the episode Eco Shark Clammando worked with a man by the name of Malcolm Medusa III as part of security. Of course, like all of the episodes in this series, the villains in this episode ultimately failed in whatever evil deeds were being committed.
Street Sharks was a show that tried to copy the popularity of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles without making a really unique story. As a result the show was predictable, the terminology used in the show seemed ridiculous years after its cancellation, and its animation had a questionable quality after all these years. But there were some awesome aspects as well.