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One Tank Trip: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secrets of the Sewer

One Tank Trip: Teenage Mutant Ninja...

READING, Pa. - You can fight crime, take down the villains and then enjoy a slice pizza, all with the help of your friends. Teamwork and turtles go together.

"There are games you can play that incorporate teamwork, up to four players, because you know, four turtles. Makes sense," said Colin Gallen, education and events assistant at Reading Public Museum, describing the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secrets of the Sewer exhibit.

The lights are low and the walls are painted gray to help give that sewer feel.

"If you remember the original theme song, there are the four turtles," Gallen said. "The blue one is Leonardo, the red one is Raphael, orange is Michelangelo and purple is my man, Donatello. My favorite turtle is, I know Donatello, I'm not going to get a lot of likes for that one, because Leonardo is obviously the best, according to most children, but Donatello has a place right here."

And all really have a place in the art museum. They are namesakes of Italian Renaissance artists. You'll find the inspiring works of the real Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello just downstairs.

It all began one night in 1983, when creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were bored watching TV. Eastman sketched out a turtle with nunchucks. 

"And the other decided to one up him and drew a turtle in a different position with different weapons, and that continued until the next morning, and they were like, 'Hey, wait a second. This isn't a bad idea,'" Gallen explained.

The idea turned into a comic book in 1984. It was edgier and more violent than the later-introduced TV series and literally darker, as the comic was in black and white.

"They only printed a few thousand copies of it because they didn't expect it to do very well, and it took off. It just sold itself so easily," Gallen said.

Then came action figures and toys. There's a life-sized pizza thrower at the museum. A TV deal and movies. The turtle world exploded. A crime-fighting pack with character.

"They each bring something different to the table, which is one of the aspects of teamwork and how none of them are able to accomplish anything by themselves and they need each other to be effective," Gallen said.

And pizza. Don't forget the pizza.

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