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Monday, October 6, 2008

Why the TMNT are Dying and Why I Don't Care



Hmm... lack of updates recently it would seem. Why? Well, the honest answer is that I've lost all enthusiasm for the TMNT in their current state and form. Unfortunately, that's no exaggeration. My lack of enthusiasm is at a solid 100%. I have totally and completely given up on Mirage Studios and all "partner" companies in their efforts to run the TMNT franchise.

And we now have solid proof that the TMNT are, indeed, in deep poodoo. Friend and fellow TMNT fan VaughnMichael, whom I hold complete trust with, has shared part of an email that states the following:

"Things are not good in turtle land, sorry to report. But Wal-Mart has decided to drop TMNT from ALL its stores beginning in the Spring!"


The implications of not being carried at Walmart go deeper than the simple lack of toys on Walmart shelves and pegs. Walmart is the nation's largest retailer and they have a HUGE influence in the market and trends across the board. Not being carried at Walmart means Playmates probably just lost half of their orders. Can Playmates sustain itself on half the quantity of what few products they're already producing? Not likely. And even if they can, it's not unreasonable to expect other retailers to follow suit with Walmart.

So that brings us into 2009, the big TMNT 25th anniversary "Shell-abration" year, with minimal product to support it. Sounds like an awesome party to me. This problem goes beyond just toys, though. Peter Laird has recently stated that there are no current plans for a TMNT cartoon beyond 2009 and at this point in time the future of TMNT comic books beyond 2009 also remains in question. That means we'll be having a Shell-abration for the past 25 years of TMNT with absolutely no certainty that there'll be another 25 years. Given the amount of money Mirage is supposedly spending to Shell-abrate, it may not be the best investment of money.

There is supposedly a movie company *this* close to inking a deal with Mirage for some sort of "hybrid" movie (I love how Mirage calls it a "hybrid" movie as if they came up with the concept of mixing live action with CGI). I wouldn't count on that happening if there isn't a connected toy deal. And if Playmates can't get TMNT product into Walmart, there isn't likely to be a toy deal. Honestly, no matter what the circumstances are with toys and other related products, that company should just take their money and run away. Run far, far away.

Mirage is a dying company, and it's time to just let it do so instead of putting off the inevitable that much longer. They are a company that is only interested in making the quick and easy buck by signing a deal with a licensor who wants to put TMNT images on their products. They are not interested in actually investing time, effort, or (god forbid) money in creating a foundation with which to support those products.

CEO Gary Richardson has a history of making shading licensing deals and making questionable business decisions. His earnings are apparently directly tied to the income generated by the Mirage Licensing division, so he goes for the quick buck and rejects anything that would involve the actual spending of money, be it printing costs for the books Mirage should be publishing next year but won't be or the cost of more employees so that people might actually be able to focus on delivering on what the fans want to see.

Oh, and speaking of the fans (that is presumably you, dear reader), I hope you have recognized that Mirage and all related companies have been doing nothing but giving you the proverbial finger more than a year now, if not several. It's time to let it die. It's ok. Really.

(There is actually one aspect of this that is not ok at all, but I'll get into that in another post.)

38 comments:

  1. -->> .. reading, tryin' to sort it out in my pea brain. It ain' easy ..

    .. i do feel tho' that some of this really has effected you on a personal level, and that has me concerned as your friend about you as my friend.

    shit as of the past few months i think has hurt a number of people on many personal notes, it's really tough for me to sort out.

    O dunno.


    >v<

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  2. There's a little bit of yes and a little bit of no in the answer to that. It gets complicated and hard to express to others in a way that might be honestly understood.

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  3. Beg to differ Rose, particularly when it comes to publishing and the efforts Dan and everyone else puts in there. I'm not sure how much it means to you anymore, having read the last few posts, but something you were actually very adamant about is going ahead and always had been going ahead.

    Ultimately, the 25th Anniversary comes down to where it all started. The comics. This isn't the 25th anniversary of the old cartoon, or the movies or the toyline. It's the comics, but unfortunately, if people are going to give up on it before the anniversary even happens then what hope does it have?

    No comic company plans any further than the immediate year ahead. Not Marvel, not DC and certainly not an independent publisher like Mirage. The thing is, and I've been told this on a number of occasions (reassured to be more precise), unless Peter decides to throw the towel in, Publishing WILL continue, even if the toys, cartoons and whatever else are brought to an end.

    There is an effort to really start pushing the comic books from this point onwards, especially in preparation for the 25th, as there are things coming for that celebration that a large number of casual TMNT fans who are also strong comic supporters in general have been asking for.

    Having seen and heard the plans in motion over at publishing, the only thing I think they need to do in terms of really bringing it back to prominence as a comic book property would be have something happen at SDCC for the 25th next year.

    But in the end, people need to support the books if they want them to go places, and VOICE their support. Fans might not think they're being heard, but the fact is that a schedule is in place a solid year and a bit before you get pieces of it, so changes are never going to be immediate.

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  4. When it comes to publishing, Dan really shouldn't be involved unless he's just writing or drawing. That isn't a slight on Dan. If Mirage wants to be serious about publishing comics they need to have people dedicated to the effort full-time. So long as Dan is also maintaining the Web site, that just isn't the case.

    And I can't at all believe that Mirage is serious about publishing comic books. It has become quite clear that the comics exist for some people for the purpose of providing an income and not much more. I know that isn't the case for everyone involved, especially you Tristan, but there are a lot of issues that are quite obviously just being phoned in.

    I also need to see TMNT TPBs in real books stores to be able to believe they're serious about it. If that's what you're alluding to, awesome. That's a great first step. But there's a long ways to go before the TMNT can be taken as a serious comic book property again.

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  5. Thanks for understanding Rose, and I can see where you're coming from. As I said, voices do get heard at Publishing, but because of scheduling and the money spent there, the effects aren't always immediate.

    But regarding the bookstore thing, does Devil's Due or Udon go to the bookstores? It's a given that Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse all do, but I'm not sure if it's the case with all other publishers as well (simply because I haven't seen enough of the US to know). Does IDW? And on that note, is EVERYTHING available?

    To me, Mirage are deadly serious about the comics. There's something I'm particularly excited about, something that Murph, Dan, myself and few others were definitely pushing for for a while, that is definitely in motion (but not definite... yet!). It just takes a little more time, and the unfortunate thing is that the money has all been going into the other areas, with little going into the comics until now.

    All the stories lined up for next year (the ones I'm aware of) are certainly different to the ones we've been seeing so far, tonally and in terms of story content.

    You're right, there is a fair way to go, but all it takes is for the comic readers to take notice. If any comic publisher were serious about what they were doing, they should be getting comics out there in front of people, into the comic shops and into people's hands. And that's definitely what Mirage have been doing.

    In my mind, and based on what happened with Batman and Spiderman and the X-men, the comics need to be re-established amongst the comic community before bigger and better things can swing back around.
    Spiderman and X-men were doing megabucks around the time of their animated series' and figure lines, then those died off and the comics became the focus again, then the movies came along and reinjected the franchises, and the comics also gained because of that. Same thing happened when Batman hit it's incredible recession after Batman and Robin. Now it's THE comic book franchise to be reckoned with. And in all cases, the comics get the recognition they deserve, but it was only because the companies turned their focus to producing good books and getting them out in front of people again. Batman and Robin did shocking things for the franchise all around, and we all know where that went.
    Turtles can do the same, but the harder fans need to help back it, and need to let Mirage know directly, because they are listening.

    At the moment, Dan is managing pretty well considering. I hear you that it would probably be better if he went full time, or someone was in there full time, but he's definitely ahead of the game when it comes to the scheduling and planning for next year.

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  6. Yes, I do see IDW in bookstores. And the stuff that's not is all on Amazon.com.

    Cerebus is on Amazon.com and I occasionally see a volume or two in stores.

    Usagi is readily available.

    Bone is available in two different formats from two different publishers.

    TMNT is supposed to be the most successful independent comic book of all time, but it'd be hard to know that seeing how it's absolutely no where.

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  7. -->> ..he won it.. he 'WON' it.. ..one it.. and he got it ..


    i 'm goin ta bed ..>v<

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  8. I didn't say it wouldn't be. I said steps are being taken.
    It'd be hard to know that TMNT was the most successful independent comic either way. No one remembers anything but the toys and the cartoons outside of the fanbase, which is why, as I said, steps are being taken to rectify that.
    In the end, timing is everything, and while I will admit that there have definitely been some missed opportunities, picking holes in what has been and gone does nothing unless you learn from that and move forward, which is what is happening.
    The 25th anniversary is the perfect opportunity. Why jump the gun and do something right now when it could fizzle when you could do it during a high exposure time when people are more likely to take notice? Sure, it could have been done when the film kicked off, or when the animated series kicked off, but again, that's in the past. All anyone can do now is work towards the future, which is what is happening. All anyone else needs to do is trust and support.

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  9. I tend to agree with you, Rose. TMNT isn't looked upon as a "real" property at all. In Burbank, there's a store centrally located to all the big animation studios, and Wednesdays the store is filled a virtual Who's-Who of big names in comics and animation. It's a mini comic mecca, and that store doesn't even carry TMNT. Not a single issue. And when I asked, I got chuckled at. I think it's fair to say that the reason it's not taken seriously is because it's not treated seriously. Putting books in chain bookstores is but one small piece of the puzzle, but as we know, it goes far deeper than that. Analyzing it would take far more time that I really wish to devote to it anymore. Which brings me to your main point: TMNT is dying, and I don't care.

    I agree with that. Kind of. Except...I suppose saying "I don't care" isn't totally accurate. I do care, but I refuse to let myself care more than Peter cares. If he's fine with Gary selling the property out, and if he doesn't care that it's on its last legs, then I can't cry about it. It's not my baby, it's his. To me, the property's current life (or rather, its current mainstream commercial life) ended as soon as Fast Forward began. I know I'll be looked upon as bitching and complaining, but that show was about as big a piece of garbage as I've seen on a Saturday morning block. BTTS is a close runner-up. But that's beside the point. I love the property for my own personal reasons, as we all do, and it's the original early days of the KE and PL comics that I hold on dearly to. Everything else can flourish wildly or die a slow death - either way, it won't change what I love about TMNT or why I love them. It will just change how much money is in my wallet.

    And, frankly, with the money in my wallet devaluing as we speak, and the next depression at our doorstep, TMNT is not even on my list of things to worry about right now, anyway.

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  10. Yup, yup, yup.

    I probably should have gone further with the "I don't care" bit, as I really didn't end up going that deep. I think it's fair to say I'm more or less in line with what you said, as it really has to do with the decision that it's just not worth the energy any more.

    Knowing a *little* bit of what Mirage has in store for next year, it seems like they are caving on a few things, but in general things are bleak and I don't believe they're at all capable of digging themselves out of the hole they've just now decided to realize they're in.

    "Classic" TMNT, basically anything pre-2000, remains near and dear to my heart and I expect it always will. Everything after that starts to get wishy washy. I agree that Fast Forward was the definitive end, although I still enjoyed the 2007 movie enough to lump it onto the positive end despite its missed opportunities.

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  11. OOPS - Yes, the movie was no where near perfect, but I too tend to view it in a kinder light, so to speak. And I continue to hold on hope for a Special Edition DVD, though it looks grim at this point.

    The new movie (thanks for mentioning that "hybrid" thing... I laugh every time I see Pete mention it) could bode well for fans, but again, I feel its too little too late, and I'm just too preoccupied with things of real importance right now. Thanks for your post - I enjoy reading your write-ups.

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  12. -->> .. hardest part for me to face, if i try to add cheer to a dark out-look ..


    i try to remain optimistic despite the tide..


    .. i do my best to see all sides of the argument, and even side on many of Rose's points.


    While you guys are goin' into the comic-shoppe and getting chuckled at ..



    no matter what i do,


    in a way it's like your just chuckling at me like i'm same old joke and nothing i add to the fandom is anything worth any amount of weight.


    To that premise i do say Fuck that ..

    ..

    noone has any faith in me with what i gotta share add to any of this or this community ..or even my failed attempt to make anyone laugh.

    OK .. so once again i'm mixed up, and feel the fool for even trying.



    If the faith is gone in general ..i suppose i cannot expect anyone to have any faith me so.

    Think the bottom line i need to do is respect the personal decisions & feelings ( as i always have always tried with everyone ) and fully eccept my role as just this ' FREEK '..


    .. so.

    ;.


    sorry i try..


    ;[


    >v<

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  13. It's really not an issue of positivity vs. negativity or optimism vs. pessimism, Tokka. For me it's simple reality. If you wish to stay in the optimism camp, that's your deal and that's just fine. I just have no energy for it anymore and am gonna stick to the reality that I see and make no attempt to stop that from happening.

    And your goofy posts aways make me smile. :) It's just unfortunately not always prudent to be able to give a reply.

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  14. Rose::It's really not an issue of positivity vs. negativity or optimism vs. pessimism, Tokka. For me it's simple reality.

    -->> i respect that ..

    If you wish to stay in the optimism camp, that's your deal and that's just fine. I just have no energy for it anymore and am gonna stick to the reality that I see and make no attempt to stop that from happening.

    -->> .. i think pieces of me are in both camps.


    And your goofy posts aways make me smile. :) It's just unfortunately not always prudent to be able to give a reply.

    -->> I respect and understand that too.

    And ..well there's times i'm not even sure why or if it's appropriate, or if i should do it at all, but i hate seeing my friends when they are down. If i can make them smile.. that's a risk i am willing to take ( even if i am down myself !! )

    I hate suffering with a passion. But so much ' Suffers ' on this planet as it is.

    More important to me within' all this is not what we agree or disagree on or if Turtles is doomed or not :: .. No ..

    it's your well being. And you are my friend and i do care about you.

    Turtles be damned if that's the case.

    i just don't want to see you hurting.

    That's the main thing.

    And that's what i've learned to both love and loath about this fandom, it's gotten to the level of something very personal cuz i care about the people that share my passion for it and the bastards that help bring it to the masses.

    It's real hard ALWAYS for me to deal with and sort out. But that's where i am.. and i well.. - - -
    ~~ **
    X/

    >v<

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  15. I wish I read this earlier Rose. I am sure taking a sabatical will help.

    I am going to try and tough it out if I can with all this TMNT bollocks. I survived through many a crap period with Transformers (stuff like Beast Machines, the movie etc) and I am sure I can survive going without a few TMNT figures for a while, but I do miss the comics since I cant get them here.

    I normally stick around fandoms for the people too, and over the last 3 years I've mad some awesome TMNT fan friends and you Rose are definietly one of my best pals from that circle.

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  16. To put in my two cents as a nearly life-long TMNT fan-

    There have been some quite good things happening with the TMNT lately- not the least of which are those awe-inspiring NECA figures that actually made me shell out (sorry) some cash for some TMNT toys for the first time since... I don't know, how long ago was the recent Fugitoid figure released? Or a movie that was pretty damn good. Or Blindsight- not only achingling close to the top of the pile for my favorite Turtle stories, but close to the top of the pile of my all-time favorite comics.

    Of course, surrounding that are a bunch of bad cartoons, bad toys, and generally mediocre comics (though I will note, in a non-kissass kind of way, that Tristan's fanboyism of the Turtles is really helping to push the Tales book in the right direction), Steve Murphy's 5th Turtle blog having a meltdown (global warming pun, sorry), and a lot of foot-dragging (SORRY) with another tmnt movie/decent release of the first film.

    Rather than complaining (an understandable option), I'll just propose (in my own business-end-ignorant fashion) some of what I feel needs changing at a nuts-and-bolts level. If the Mirage guys are listening, then great. If not, well, this is the kind of crap I do in my off time anyway.

    First and foremost: Get TMNT books (I mean TPBs or hardcovers) into more than just comic stores. Not just the Mirage series, either. The Archie series has lots of classic three-to-five part stories that would collect into slim volumes that would keep the color printing from making the books too expensive for a casual fan. Do cost effective "Cerebus phonebook" style reprints of the Mirage series for comic shops (10 or so issues each).

    Second: Make getting a special edition DVD of the first movie a priority. That should be the linchpin of the 25th anniversary. Knock on WB's door, hell, offer to produce it yourselves if ya have to. That flick was a monster hit, many people who could care less about other aspects of the franchise would nab a decent special edition of that movie. The point is bringing more people in to the fold who 'grew up'. While having dvds of the old cartoon series out kind of helps, it hurts too, as looking back on the old show... the ONLY way you can honestly enjoy that is if you're hardcore. It's nostalgia at best. The first TMNT movie isn't just nostalgia- it's ACTUALLY a good movie. Adding documentaries about the TMNT's comic origins- like Marvel and DC have been doing with their movies- would bring widespread attention. Adding a damn ADVERTISEMENT for Mirage's comics (especially those oh-so-convenient tpbs) would be even better. Collect the Image series, even- that would go through Image comics, who have way better distrobution than you guys.

    Third: The TMNT site needs to be more merch friendly. Go through the trouble, and motions, of making an honest-to-God store that utilizes Paypal. Guys like Penny Arcade sell enough merchandise that their full time job is the web site. I know you guys have a merch section, but it's as antiquated as the horse and buggy. Assuming parts one and two of my devious scheme are followed, part 3 brings in lots of coin from people who'd get distracted by someone else's merch at Amazon. Sell subscriptions to Tales of the TMNT, sell the NECA toys, and sell some tshirts featuring art from the comics rather than the cartoons.

    Four. Make Greg full time editor, hire someone else for the web site. The site needs someone fulltime, Mirage needs a fulltime editor. Greg's more talented as an artist and writer than a web designer/master, so leave him to that. Redesign the web site, throw a hullabaloo to announce it's grand re-opening.

    Five (the flimsiest part of this, and really just a fanwank suggestion). Are you guys aware how cheap it is to produce an anime? I know about the plans you had with Imagi to do a direct-to-video CGI retelling of issue 1, but that's CGI. I know also that Imagi worked on a Highlander anime (which for the record, was pretty good). The biggest leap is getting the right creative team, and the amount that costs. Here's the thing though: You guys are artists and writers. I'm sure you'd need to bring in a director, but aside from that- you've got the art and story staff you need state-side, now all you need is distrobution and an animation studio in asia to work with and maybe six voice actors. I read in an interview (that I've been having a hell of a time finding to source- look for it yourself if you feel so inclined) that Justice League cost $500,000 per episode. That's one million for an hour-long cartoon, which is as far as I can possibly see the first issue of TMNT stretched out.

    Just my two cents.

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  17. -->> ..' Greg ' .. think you mean DAN ..

    but your 2 cents lightens at least my mood for the moment.

    More excellent points to grab onto and toss out there. If anything maybe i can cross post this on Mikey's with your permission.

    Thank you.

    >v<

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  18. GAH! Yeah, I always mix up Gregg Berger (voice actor- Grimlock, Cornfed, etc.) with Dan Berger (Mirage's web guy/creator of Gutwallow).

    (*rubs eyelids*)

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  19. -->> May i X -post what you typed on Mikey's TMNT ??

    >v<

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  20. For a turtle, you're awfully speedy Mr. Tokka (MR.T!?!).

    One thing I forgot to add to my rant: RELEASE A TPB OF CITY AT WAR ALREADY!

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  21. -->> ..got that part too .. :]

    >v<

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  22. You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar.

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  23. I second the City at War trade, and thank you for the kind words! I also thank you for the leveled post GalvaTRION.

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  24. GalvaTRION, you are where I was 2 1/2 years ago when I said many of the same things. The only thing that's been accomplished is that Peter Laird keeps a running file of anything negative I say of him and snipes me for having the gall to think I know better than him. Mirage doesn't want outside opinions.

    And the simple FACT is that Murphy has been advocating for a lot of the stuff that you mentioned and that GARY RICHARDSON has repeatedly said no. Why? Because it all requires spending money, thus cutting into his own paycheck. This guy is a greedy bastard who cares only for himself and NOT for Mirage, let alone the TMNT.

    As a result, things are now obviously past a point of no return. There might be a few concessions over the next year, as Mirage realizes the deep, deep hole they've put themselves into, but it's all going to just be floundering that's too little too late.

    And it's this poor management of Mirage, both by Gary Richardson and Peter Laird, who honestly isn't a whole lot better, that's the reason why we need to just let it die. Only then is there any hope that one day in the future it'll come back with a management team that cares and is able to do the great things with the Turtles that have, most unfortunately, not happened this time.

    BTW - Blindsight came out over two years ago and the Fugitoid action figure came out in 2004. That is a lifetime ago in this business and both on non-factors in the equation.

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  25. how are they non-factors? if people stopped bitching about a market that has never been geared to coollectors and a show that was never geared towards them in the first place and put the focus on publishing and other collector based items then this would not be such a problem now. your complaining about something kids should be complaining about. if all the people who complained about episodes or toys were picking up the comics and making more of an effort to get their stores to get them instead of wussing out when their comic guys tell them that tmnt books dont exist or that they cant/wont get them in (which is bullshit) maybe the comics would be selling at the level the deserve to be and richardson would realise that there is a market in the adult fan base. instead everyone decides to get toys geared at kids. looking purely at numbers what else would someone like that think?
    it seems to me like there is a concerned effort to start putting more comic material out there that we fans have been pining for but "news blogs" like these ones keep posting anti tmnt propaganda saying everyone should let it die.
    to an extent i agree. let the toon and let the toys die. they're going to anyway, but if you focus on the comics as tristan is suggesting then things will probably pick up and we will be getting the things we want. and being a visitor to both your blog and his, along with other blogs and forums you snipe at peter just as much if not more than he does at you. vaugn m speaks his mind all over the place but he at least treats him with a level of respect that allows him to ask the questions he wants on peters blog. you keep saying all these things here but i havent seen you ask peter anything when you could have onnhis blog in a long time.

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  26. -->> ..if Rose is just gonna be attacked again, would that be productive tho' ??

    Again i'd be concerned with her well being.
    >v<

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  27. Meh, go ahead and hate on me. Doesn't matter. I've been given enough confirmation that I'm right that I'm not going to bother stressing over it.

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  28. i just went back over the blog and there is not a lot of attacking going on either way. most of the responses i have seen are in defense of something stated not just by her (though very vocally by her). everytime a question has been asked it has recieved a normal response but hero is the only one who has asked anything since this has come up. i just went and asked then too. to be honest it works both ways. peter is totally allowed to refer to something rose has said if shes stated it publically on a forum or a blog about something he helped create and currently owns and clearly holds quite dearly.

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  29. i am not hating on you. what i am hating on is the fact your making everything sound like its done with and taking a defeatist attitude towards things that you should not be. i say wait until you have all the facts straight first. if you know something outside of the fact that walmarts are ceasing their support then say it.

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  30. I do know more facts, but I can't state them. I'm sorry, but that's the best I can tell you.

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  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  32. why cant you tell us? you can tell people to start hating the tmnt and to let it die but you cant give us the facts? i hate to say it but everything you have said before has been fairly justified in context up until now

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  33. It's not an issue of fairness. It's an issue of privacy. I'm not one to go around saying, "I know something and you don't, N'eh!" You asked, though, so I answered. Your dissatisfaction with the answer is hardly enough for me to break privacy that I was entrusted with.

    The original post was written based completely on Vaughn's post and other information that has been publicly posted elsewhere.

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  34. all right i can deal with that. privacy is fine. but saying that tmnt are dead because walmart is stopping tmnt like saying september 11 is a sign of the apocalypse. why not wait and see what the reaction is from playmates and mirage?

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  35. My post was nothing but speculation based on a few given facts mixed with my own opinions. You're free to speculate and hold your own opinions, but I stand by everything that I wrote.

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