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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Nickelodeon TMNT Fan Preview Event - Details on Story, Characters, and Designs

Nickelodeon has clarified the non-disclosure agreement signed to be able to attend their Fan Preview Event held last week, and we can talk about almost everything that we saw! Woohoo! That said, it does need to be specified that everything seen at the event was a Mutation in Progress, and what we saw may not actually be part of the final product when it comes out in a year and a half. So proceed with caution, but here are the basics of the story, characters, and designs that we were told and shown throughout the day. If you have any additional questions that I haven't covered, you can either comment or send me an e-mail and I'll do my best to answer them. I'll have another post later that details the "pilot" animatic that we were shown, and yet another dedicated to the action figures.

Let's start with Splinter. His new design is COMPLETELY different from anything that's been done before. He is quite tall and wears a much more traditional kimono than he's ever worn before. Personally, I like it. And from the little tidbits that we were given, I really think Splinter's story has potential to be one of the strongest things about the new series.

Splinter's origin is based on him being the human Hamato Yoshi in Japan. Human Hamato Yoshi has/had a daughter (not clear on what happened to her). In Japan, he and Oroku Saki/Shredder were rivals and after a battle Shredder believes his nemesis to be dead. But Yoshi fled to New York, where, of course, his life got even more interesting. When Shredder learns that Yoshi is still alive, he comes to New York and brings lots of badness with him. Oh, and he looks completely badass.

One really cool part about the new design for the Turtles' Lair is that Splinter has a room with a "miracle tree." Basically, a small pinhole of light from the surface comes through and in this spot is growing a fantastic tree. Splinter also keeps some kind of scroll that has some sort of representation of his daughter on it.

While Splinter is the Turtles' father figure, their "mother" figure is the empty jar of ooze that transformed them. The jar is labeled TCRI. And just like in the original Eastman & Laird comics, there is a big ominous TCRI building in the city, and no one really knows what goes on inside of it. We saw designs for one (giant) room in the TCRI building, where Shredder has a big long mutation device. Basically, you put a person/whatever in one end, and get a mutant out the other.

The Utroms are now known as the Kraang. I think this is a good compromise considering Krang's legendary status as part of the original cartoon. Their design is much more "scary," for lack of a better way of describing it. They are very "squiggly" with long skinny tenticles and it sounds like they will move very spider-like. That is, when they're not in their skeleton suits. The suits serve a double-purpose. One, is because they can't survive in our atmosphere, and two is that the suits can project a holographic human form. As the series progresses, it sounds like these robotic Kraangs will become part of Shredder's Foot army (and since they're robotic, the Turtles can be more violent on them within the constrains of children's television).

Baxter Stockman is established as a character in the "pilot" animatic we were shown (more on that later). He is African-American, as he is in the original comics and the 4Kids cartoon series. We meet him as a disgruntled employee looking to exact revenge on the company that fired him (for being late, once). More on him when I put together my description of the "pilot" animatic.

April has been completely redesigned as a 16-year-old teenage girl. The Turtles meet her when they rescue her and her parents from being kidnapped by the Kraang (or Shredder? not exactly sure), presumably for their mutation experiments. This is from the actual first episode, which is not the "pilot" we saw, so we really weren't told any more details about how that plays out, but it obviously ends with April becoming a regular visitor to the Turtles down in their Lair. As the series progresses, she will be studying with Splinter to become a kunoichi - female ninja. Oh, and Donatello has a HUGE crush on her. HUGE. It is one part weird, and one part adorable. It sounds like this may be a short-lived crush and not an on-going part of the series, although - like with everything else - I can't say for certain.

And speaking of the Turtles... they are essentially the same TMNT we all know and love. (Yaaaaay!) Personality-wise and build-wise, they seem to be very much modeled on the 2007 TMNT CGI-movie. Michaelangelo is the goofy little brother, Raphael is well-built and gruffy, Donatello is kinda lanky and (of course) nerdy, and Leonardo is somewhere between Raph and Don in size and is actually the official leader. In the script reading we saw, which I believe was from the actual first episode, Splinter officially declared Leonardo to be the leader of the group.

Overall the Turtles' designs looked great. My biggest problem was that somewhere down the line they all grew a third toe. Not the exaggerated heel that has sometimes been referred to as a "third toe," but an actual third toe up front. None of the art we had seen before arriving at Nickelodeon had a third toe. And the walkway up to the studios had been decorated with a bunch of two-toed green footprints. So there were no early signs that something was "a-foot" (hah!) with the toes. When I started noticing it throughout the 2D animatic I thought this was just some weird mistake happening. But then I also noticed it in the 3D model we were shown. And then we were shown the action figures, which had three very distinct toes on each foot. Now it seemed clear that it wasn't a mistake. But really, it's kind of creepy. And considering how spot-on the rest of the designs are, I don't know why they would decide to go mess it up with something like a third toe. Nickelodeon seemed kind of defensive when asked about it, so I don't know what the chances are of them actually changing this. Sadness. :(

And while Casey Jones is not a part of the picture for the moment, expect him to eventually be. While it is not currently planned for him to be part of season 1, he will likely brought in for season 2. Although, Nickelodeon seems open to bringing him into season 1 if, while during the writing process, a particular need for Casey to be around comes up. And while we won't likely be seeing him, prepare to see signs from him, as it is planned to have graffiti tagged by Casey be part of the background. When we do finally see him, he is planned to be a bit older than April, 18-20, and due to the limitations of television CGI will have short hair.

That's what I've put together for now - Like I said, feel free to ask questions and I'll answer them in a future post to clarify anything that I can.


  1. Hey Rose,

    all this size changes with Splinter has me wondering what the size of the Turtles will be. I hope they're not human-sized.


  2. Thanks so much for compiling this, Rose! I'm really excited about the new show, weird third toe and all!

  3. Thanks for that, Rose! Great write-up with tons of info.

  4. Great writing as always Roseangleo! Let me know if I am missing any details over in the Official thread on the drome...



  5. -->> s Shredder like bad-ass or like

    "BAD A S S " ?!

    Is there any 'new' character standouts that were visible to you guys ??

    ~ t

  6. Thanks for the write up, Rose.
    Splinter's daughter is OBVIOUSLY Karai. Just you wait and see. ;)

  7. cheers for sharing this.

    i am not too happy about hamato being splinter and the utroms are called now Kraang? Oh, well...

  8. Rose, Thanks for posting the info and updates.

    The series is visually great and I'm confident in Nick's ability to deliver a quality product. I like the look (and the visuals you've described). The 3-toe thing doesn't bother me at all, and I like the bandages. I'm all for redesigning the LOOK of the characters. 4Kids' series was well-scripted but visually lacking, Nick is capable of so much more (e.g. Avatar). I don't doubt they will create something that looks fantastic.

    Redesigning the narrative, however, is another thing entirely. I wish they'd drop all the revisionist/retread business and just start things a couple years later and MOVE FORWARD. The classic stories (origin, Baxter, Shredder, etc) have been done again and again - sometimes perfectly. I guess continuing the narrative of the 2K series with a revamped look probably would've been my idea of a perfect approach. The last movie had a great angle too, telling a new story in an established universe (and ambiguously enough that fans of any Turtles series could take ownership of it).

    I don't mean to sound negative; I'm really glad the Turtles are making a return soon. As we all know loving the characters just makes you passionate about how the property is handled. ;)

    Rose, was there any word on the direction the IDW comics will take? A cartoon tie-in, or continuation of the original canon?

    BTW, you might remember me as impetus from the Techonodrome forums. I used to frequent there a few years ago.

  9. Yay! Thanks for this write-up, Rose. I appreciate it! XD I'm so glad you can now talk about what happened. It must have been TORTURE knowing all this neat stuff, and, despite being a main source for TMNT-news, not being able to say anything about it!!

    I do have a few questions though. First about the actual event and selection process.
    A. When you were contacted, what were you told that this nickelodeon Event entailed? Did they call it a "screening" or a "focus group" or something else?
    B. Did they seem open to input and suggestions? Was this an event to gather information from the fans so they could make a better/more accurate show, or was this an event more geared towards getting an internet buzz going about the new TMNT show?
    C. How long before the event did they first contact you?
    D. Do you have any of your own pictures from the event you can share? (esp of the 3-toed footprints and of the decorated room) Were you even allowed to take any pictures?
    E. What exactly did the non-disclosure agreement cover? Or can't you tell us?

    Now about the new show and it's concepts :)
    1. Was the 16-year-old April the major change that annoyed the fans that attended the event (was it that one fan's so-called "deal-breaker" that I've heard you mention)?
    2. Is a "miracle tree" a real thing?
    3. Are they still living in the sewers? Does it explain WHY Splinter/Yoshi was living in the sewers before he got mutated?
    4. Do we know how the turtles got mutated? Is it the same way?
    5. When you say shredder makes "mutants", in this version, are mutants basically humanoid animals? Or are they more grotesque?
    6. Do you know any more info on the April/Don crush? Is it overt or more subtle like the 2K3 Don/April crush?
    7. To echo Antonio Hitos' question, do you know about the height of the the TMNT? Are they still around 4 to 5 foot tall or are they taller now?

    Sorry for the onslaught of questions but you DID ask for ANY questions! XD I know you might not be able to answer some of my queries (due to you either not knowing or not being able to say) but I still eagerly await answers.

    The new show sounds like it will be pretty rocking! :D


  10. @Antonio Hitos: I'm not sure of how they size up to humans. We would have only been able to compare to April in the animatic, but I didn't take much notice of that. They aren't all the same height, though.

    @exscind: Baxter's story is completely different from what it's ever been before. I would normally agree with the "move forward" concept, but I think they're doing everything so fresh and new that it's going to be worth starting at the beginning again.

    The planned comics will be brand new, and loosly based on the Mirage comics. I expect they'll start somewhere in familiar territory and jump off into their own thing.


    A: It was always just called a "TMNT Fan Preview."

    B: As described in my first write-up, we spent part of the day with a third-party moderator who took feedback from us to present to Nickelodeon. I do not know what they will be doing with this feedback.

    C: I was first contacted on February 14.

    D: The only picture I have is in my first write-up. The footprints were 2-toed, there is a picture of them on Coty's site: http:/

    E: We weren't allowed to take pictures or use any type of recording device. They also own all pictures of us that were taken, which may be used however they wish to. And there is some stuff that we're not allowed to talk about.

    1: April was the biggest question mark for everyone at the event. Some people disliked it enough to call it a "deal breaker," but were flexible on the idea to accept it with a few tweaks.

    2: No idea.

    3: Yes. No.

    4: No. I don't know.

    5: No idea.

    6: Don has a crush on April. It is very obvious, but it is one-sided.

    7: I don't know how tall they are specifically, but they didn't seem any taller or shorter than usual.

  11. Thanks for the report. Other than the three-toed thing, I'm liking what I'm hearing.

  12. I'm seeing a lot of complaints about this new direction various places. Other than the 3rd toe, I like what I hear so far. Sounds like it will pay homage to not only the origins of TMNT but also the fantastic 80's cartoons as well. Changing the Utroms to "Krangs" is a bit odd though. But everything else sounds good. And to those complaining, whether you prefer the original comics, classic toon, or movies, or the modern toons, there have always be changes.

    And when I first found out that Shredder for the modern toon was going to be an Utrom, I was worried also. As were a lot of other people. But that turned out pretty darn good in the end. So I have no big fears. Plus if they include more serious modern takes on Rocksteady and Bebop in the new series I'll be one happy Turtle fan.

  13. rose thanks for your information about ninja turtles what I want to know is when I found out there good premiere expected in March is that true?

  14. This event took place in March 2011. I don't know when we're going to see our next preview of the new series.