Ninja Turtles van spotted around Indianapolis

(INDYSTAR) -- It feels really, really familiar when you see it, but the last time you saw it, it was probably in cartoon form in the early '90s: It's the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles van.

And this yellow, green and orange van with the word "Foot stinks" in jagged '90s lettering on the side has been spotted around town for the past year. Sometimes, you'll even see Donatello or Michelangelo driving it.

No, the Ninja Turtles don't actually live in Indianapolis. These guys — with the same turtle names and a striking likeness — are part of Turtle Time Entertainment, a group of radical dudes in homemade latex and foam costumes on-hire for events. There's no official licensing from Nickelodeon, though, so the characters all go by their nicknamed versions: Donnie, Raph, Mikey and Leo. The turtles cost anywhere from $150 to $350, depending on how long they're at an event and how many characters are hired.

Franklyn Fox, 35, and his brother Korey Fox, 33, started the company about a year ago after Franklyn made a costume for himself on Halloween, and "the reaction was crazy."

And it's still crazy. One time, a cop pulled over the 2000 Dodge cargo van on the highway — not because of speeding but because he wanted a photo.

"Seeing the turtle in human form — well, turtle form — isn't something you typically see," Franklyn said. "Especially driving down the highway, you don’t expect to see a turtle driving the van."

Another time, the turtles pulled up to a home in Broad Ripple, and a neighbor on a porch had to approach the van to be sure of what he was seeing.

"He was on the porch and was like, 'Lord Jesus, am I tripping?'" Franklyn said.

As for going to a gas station, well, they might be better off filling a can instead of going to a station, but both Franklyn and Korey love the attention they get from passers-by.

"If we're getting gas, we're there for at least 30 to 90 minutes," Korey said.

In the Castleton Square Mall parking lot Wednesday, they had been parked for less than five minutes when  kids with turtle-eye vision ran to hug their favorite turtles. Adults, too, wanted selfies of their childhood favorites.

Franklyn, a tattoo artist who formerly owned three tattoo shops in Indy, now wants to make Turtle Time his full-time career. His three kids still get excited to see dad as Donnie. This is a family business, too. His son volunteers as Master Splinter-esque Sensei Rat, and his cousin plays an active role in the business, whether in character or managing gigs.

The hugs, screaming and sometimes crying  won't ever get old, Franklyn said.

"I wanted to be a Ninja Turtle ever since I was a kid," he said.


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