Monday, December 22, 2008

The Action Figure Conundrum




Last week, ToyNewsInternational.com released the above picture along with the following information:

Celebrate 25 years of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with figures designed after their original comic styling! These classic figures represent the origins of the Turtles and feature all their trademark style and accessories. Collect all 4 turtles, Shredder, Splinter, and the Foot, each packaged with a reprint of the original comic. Or choose from figures that recreate Playmates' original 10 figures, based on the classic television series, complete with classic accessories and detailing. Cowabunga! Blister card packaging.

On first read and at first glance, all of this can very easily sound pretty awesome. What hardcore TMNT fan wouldn't want comic-styled TMNT figures? But umm... wasn't that the point of NECA's turtle-y awesome figures, the first wave of which we saw earlier this year? That's what myself and many other fans were counting on. So how did Playmates change from Music Turtles to Comic Turtles and where is Wave 2 from NECA? Yes, this is quite the conundrum;
so let's see if we can dissect it.

To start, we need to rewind about a year and a half, to when NECA acquired its license to make the comic-based TMNT figures. Playmates has closely guarded their action figure license for the TMNT ever since the line started in 1988. NECA only got their license through a bit of accidental luck and Playmates was not happy at all.

Playmates, who for the past two years, has been releasing variant after variant of Turtles figures based on the molds for the TMNT movie series. While these were fantastic figures
(for me, at least) on their first incarnation, Playmates' refusal to move forward onto something new has become a source of contention.

This all came to a head last June when Steve Murphy revealed "Music Don" on his 5th Turtle blog. Unfortunately, all comments on the blog have since been removed, but the reaction to this figure was nothing short of outrage. So much so, that two days later Playmates responded through Murphy's blog with a rather juvenile statement that amounted to nothing more than, "Neener, neener, neener. We know toys better than you and this is what will sell, not the silly nonsense you're trying to tell us you want. Neener, neener, neener." To top it off, Peter Laird posted his own, "I know better than you," ramble of a post to his own blog one day after that.

Well, Playmates and Peter Laird must also know better than Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, for come spring, they'll be dropping all TMNT toys from their stores (if your Walmart still has TMNT toys, expect them to be on the clearance shelf come December 26th).

Now, it seems that at some point, Playmates finally recanted and decided that it might be a good idea to listen to what it is the fans are begging for (or, more bluntly, based on the complete lack of sales for all the crap currently in stores). Seemingly inspired by the HUGE success of NECA's comic-based Turtles, Playmates put into plans for their own comic Turtles (see the image above).

But are these actually inspired by any of the TMNT comic books? No particular style is evident aside from all the Turtles wearing red bandannas. Some have suggested that these Turtles resemble the Turtles from the cover of TMNT Vol. 4, #1, but those Turtles were drawn by master Turtles artist Michael Dooney. I would drool over Michael Dooney-inspired action figures any and every day of the week. But I don't look at these and see Michael Dooney's Turtles. I see Playmates' standard shiny plastic and unrealistic weapons (possibly borrowed from the existing TMNT movie Turtles). One of the great successes of NECA's Raphael figure is its ability to actually hold a sai correctly; the Playmates figure is clearly not capable of this. This begs the question: Exactly whom are these marketed for?

The reason the Turtles were given different-colored bandannas beginning with the original cartoon series and original toy series was to make it easy for the kids to all tell the Turtles apart. The most common "custom" NECA Turtle figure to appear on eBay is with the bandannas for Michaelangelo, Leonardo, and Donatello painted orange, blue, and purple respectively. How is it Playmates suddenly thinks the mass market-buying public is going to embrace four Turtles that are "all Raphael?"

In the wake of these Playmates figures, NECA seems to have completely dropped off the map as they've been nearly completely non-communicative with Mirage ever since San Diego Comic-Con back in July. It's being suggested that they are now peeved with Playmates for making these comic-based figures. While there's no way to be certain of what the situation with them is (they aren't talking), it is now December and we have yet to see the release of Series 2 of their TMNT line, which was to include April O'Neil w/ Mousers, Shredder, Foot Soldier w/ Utrom, and the Elite Foot Soldier and was to be released in "Fall '08." As it stands, we may not be able to get word on the status of these or any possible future figures until New York Comic-Con in February.

As you can see, it's a long and complicated situation. Here is how I would simplify it:

Playmates, being a mediocre toy company, found huge success with the TMNT line in the 1980s/1990s. This success was so huge that they have been hesitant to move outside of the formula that served them so well 15-20 years ago. When they finally decided to venture outside of this box, instead of bringing in fresh new minds to deliver something truly new and exciting, they instead used the same, tired old minds that insisted Music Turtles were the shiz-nit. The result is a sub-par product that doesn't at all fulfill the need of the hardcore fans they're trying to pretend to acknowledge. It doesn't help that Playmates has to win the appeal of Peter Laird with everything that they do.

For Mirage is equally guilty of being run by the tired old minds of Mr. Laird and Gary Richardson. With great respect to Mr. Laird, his heart clearly isn't into running the Turtles empire these days (as he indirectly reveals in his own daily schedule). There really isn't anything wrong with this (I'm sure anyone would feel the same after dealing with the same thing for 25 years and not having a lack of money to retire on), except for the lack of a fresh young mind to step in as a replacement. The same can be said of CEO Gary Richardson, who's not only lacking in delivering anything new or exciting, but whose shady business practices would be worthy of huge scandal were Mirage a publicly traded company. Mirage hasn't hired new talent in about 20 years and there's never been an effort to replace those that have left. Is that any way to run a successful company?

To answer that question, I will simply leave you with part of what Jim Collins has to say of what he describes as "Level 5 leaders," from his book, "Good to Great:"

... ambition first and foremost for the company and concern for its success rather than for one's own riches and personal renown. Level 5 leaders want to see the company even more successful in the next generation, comfortable with the idea that most people won't even know that the roots of that success trace back to their efforts. As one Level 5 leader said, "I want to look out from my porch at one of the great companies in the world someday and be able to say, 'I used to work there.'"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ixnay on the Hardcover



On Monday, Comic Book Resources reported that next year would see a hardcover release of the first 15 issues of the original TMNT comic book. Well, it seems someone there was either misinformed or spoke too soon. I have been informed by a reliable inside source that this is only half true. Mirage will collect the first 15 issues of the original TMNT comic book, but it will be as a trade paperback and not as a hardcover.

While this is disappointing news, it is not particularly surprising. And while this will be a great opportunity for fans to get these issues without paying the generally high price of one of the old collections on eBay, I must say I have my doubts about the overall quality of this book. The binding and paper quality on the old book (above, left) was absolutely perfect and it makes for the perfect reading experience of these fantastic stories. However, the printer Mirage has been using for the last seven or so years has been less than impressive with the quality of their collected books. The cover of my copy of the collected TMNT movie prequel and adaptation comics came unglued the first time I cracked it open. This Volume 1 collection will be about three times the size of that; you might want to mind your cover.

And remember, you'll have to order this from your local comic book store as Mirage continues to refuse to sell books in bookstores, even though it would result in a hella lot of sales for them.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Look Ahead: TMNT Comics in 2009



Comic Book Resources has the low-down on some of next year's TMNT comic book releases:
Next year is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" series. The original first eleven issues and individual character solo one shots, long out of print, are being collected in hardcover for May publication from Mirage.
This will be accompanied by an Official Handbook To The Mirage Universe style book, profiling Turtle and spinoff characters in all their various forms.
The “Forever War" story from the Archie "TMNT Adventures" comics will be published and completed, written by Steve Murphy who wrote the originals under the pseudonym of Dean Clarrain, with art by Chris Allan.
A Donatello mini-series to close out the yearly individual Tales series is entitled "Brain Thief."
Archie Comics will also reprint the original three-issue mini-series from Michael Dooney in their manga trade size with all new colouring.
Even factoring in Mirage's continued refusal to put their books in bookstores (very stupid), all of this is very good news! The biggest question mark is the Donatello mini-series. The series itself is a predictable part of the '09 plans, but hopefully it'll actually be about Donatello (unlike the Michelangelo series) and also hopefully it'll actually be good (unlike both the Raphael and Michelangelo series).

Thanks to both Jake Black and Will Tupper for the heads-up!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

TMNT Flashback: Fuzzy Slippers




One cold December 26th, about 10 or so years ago, I was wandering through a mall where I found a pair of fuzzy Michaelangelo slippers very out of place on a shelf in one of the department stores. I'm pretty sure they were a return and I doubt they were purchased that same year (TMNT stuff had very much disappeared from stores by this time). But no matter, they looked to be in new condition and it being the day after Christmas they were dirt cheap. With a cold winter chill finally hitting California today, it seemed a good time to break them out.

My bunny Owen approved. :)

First Details of New TMNT Video Game Emerge



The first details of next year's TMNT video game from Ubisoft, revealed to be in development last year by Steve Murphy on The 5th Turtle, have started to emerge.

There is a blurb in the new Nintendo Power and GoNintendo is reporting a few additional details from a producer at Ubisoft.

Props go to StealthNinjaScyther, Tansut, and The Ninjinister on the Technodrome for finding the links.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hasbro CEO listens to fans, becomes CEO of the year



Web site MarketWatch, part of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, has named Hasbro's Brian Goldner as their 2008 CEO of the year.

ToyFare magazine has also released an interview with Goldner, where he talks about his involvement in turning popular Hasbro properties Transformers and G.I. Joe into blockbuster movies.


Here are some choice quotes from the interview:

How much do you consider the opinions of hardcore fans of the franchise when making decisions for the films?
GOLDNER: The hardcore fans are an integral part of the thought process. From the very beginning as we thought about "Transformers," we thought about a lot of the characters fans would want to see and the story that we should tell. ...

Was there any particular fan feedback on the first "Transformers" that you took into account for the sequel?
GOLDNER: ... So what we did is, we focused in on some of those things that the fans told us from a very early stage that they wanted to see in the next movie—of course I won't tell you which ones they 
are.

But you guys are paying attention.
GOLDNER: Constantly. And I think what's great about our creative teams, our filmmaking teams is, they get it. They absolutely understand how to strike that balance, and they want to strike that balance and understand the core fan feedback. Because at the very heart, that's the thread that will hold the franchise together forever, if you'll honor that. And then of course, they also are great filmmakers and in their own right they also have the ability to reinvent the brand in a completely unexpected way.

Meanwhile, Gary Richardson, CEO of the Mirage Group, which oversees the whole of the TMNT franchise, continues to make business decisions based solely on increasing the size of his own wallet in lieu of listening to what it is that fans want or building the company/property into something that actually makes an effort to be profitable outside of letting people give them money to slap pictures of Ninja Turtles on boys' pajamas.

It is not believed that MarketWatch considered Mr. Richardson for its CEO of the Year title. It is actually a stretch to believe they know he exists.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

TMNT Flashback: Vending Machine Stickers



tOkKa writes in with info and a tale about the above vending machine sticker display:

This is mangled, damaged, and old.. but it's the only one i have. Mike's cards are prolly in better shape, maybe someday he'll post his. ::

So the story goes ..

..back in the day ( some day ..A day long ago ) ..Mikey's dad ran a vending machine operating company, even Mike himself was involved and working for the little operation at one point.

I also remember something about a unicorn and a bass playing dinosaur..anyways- - .

When he was a kid, his dad got in some surplus of extra kids' vending prizes. A big trash bag filled with stickers and vending card inserts of his favourite heroes.

12 million years ago, as a gift .. Mikey gave me a small bundle of stickers and this insert ( goes in the front of the machine to show the kids what they are getting for their hard earned quarter or 1/2 dollar nowadays ;/ ) ..i coulda sworn these cards actually had a technical name, but i just can't remember.

The card here shows 12 of the designs of 15 stickers.

The designs not shown on the insert are Mondo Gecko, a classic group shot from Ryan Brown's style guide of the time, and the 1988 TMNT Logo and it sez ' Heroes in a Half Shell ' respectively.

I'm not positive .. but i think there are silver and gold versions of each sticker. Unless my mind is playing tricks on me like it normally does, that would mean their are 30 stickers to this collection including the variants.

Don't hold me to this tho'.. i'll have to double check my dwindled collection cuz i used a number of them over the years since he gave 'em to me and i don't even know if i have at least a full set of 15 anymore. I think i do tho'.

Miguel's like family to me, so actually ..this was a weird but cool & special gift.

And since I happen to have easy enough access to all 15 of these stickers, I went ahead and scanned them:

I don't think it's the case that each one was made with both a gold and silver background, but I can't be certain about that. I do know that I really love these things!

For a most awesome and complete collection of TMNT images and other cool stuff, be sure to visit tOkKa's Flickr stream!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tales of the TMNT #58 Color Cover



Ryan Brown has revealed the finished, colored cover for Tales of the TMNT #58 via his Wild West COW-Boys of Moo Mesa blog.

Tales #58 concludes the story began in Tales #52. Cover and interior pencils are by Dario Brizuela and the cover colors are by Steve Lavigne.

You can check out the cover, in full, here.

Dude-abunga, cows!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!



Happy Thanksgiving to all who were celebrating today! I hope there was lots of good food and good company for all!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Foot Soldier Mask Movie Prop



Ryan writes in showing off a very exciting acquisition he's made:

Like many of you I grew up a big TMNT fan. I was 10 years old when I saw the first action figure commercials in 1988 and remember looking everywhere for them before they finally arrived in stores. I actually still have most all my toys, over 65 + some still in package. I was so into the cartoons and definitely loved the first 2 films along with the CG release of TMNT last year which was great to see the 4 heroes in green back in theaters.

I was so taken back by the first movie being 12 years old. When the opening scene came up I'll never forget seeing for the first time those real-life Foot Soldiers packing up the truck with stolen goods. Who would have thought that 18 years later I would get an opportunity to own a piece of that movie magic.

I found this through the Prop Store of London posted one morning back in June I believe. Perhaps it came from a former owner or production crew member? I honestly don't know how it happend upon the site being available. I really don't know how long it was up that morning, but without blinking I placed a layaway on it and paid for it over a few months time until my last payment and shortly arriving finally in September. I was a bit unimpressed by how they presented it on their site, but I was certain I could improve how it displayed. The initial photo shows what the mask looked like as received.

I finally got around to working on it this past week and now it looks a lot more presentable. The only minor thing I did was fix up the few broken seams along the sides and removal of all the fuzz in the hook loop velcro. Other than that, this mask is maintained as it was received and think that the usage gives it personality. I wanted to maintain the overall integrity of the piece, but those seams didn't look good. It's amazing to see in person how different it looks than how it showed on screen. I thought the BUG EYES were metal wire mesh... its actually a plastic grid and painted! And the mask itself you'd think is black... no! Silvery gray spandex and then coated with a black fabric spray paint of some sort, giving it that weathered look. I would have never guessed as well as the metal gromets on the mouth that look to have originally been painted black, but has since worn through. This mask has definitely seen a lot of action looking at how worn it is.

To finish off the bust I sewed a chest piece to cover over the shoulders/bust to make it look more complete. I still want to get a display case and darken the bottom base, but overall am very happy with the result compared to before.

Unfortunately this kinda dwarfs my entire TMNT toy collection, so I don't know what I'll be doing with the toys! It is overall a very impressive piece and I do feel extremely lucky to own a true piece of my childhood from that day I first saw those Foot Soldiers on screen. That was a big deal then, it's a huge deal to own one of those masks.

Ryan also adds:

I'd like to add one more bit of importance to this piece for me. I believe this was the last project that Jim Henson worked on before he died. Owning a piece of something he was involved in is a real treat and I have always loved the work he has done with puppetry and creatures. I remembered crying the day of hearing of his death. He was so ahead of his time.

I REALLY HOPE they are working on a BluRay edition of the live action films. They desperately need the HD treatment and I'd sure be one of the first to buy a set. Come on, New Line! Get with the program!

I think those are words all Turtle fans can agree with - Hear, hear!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"TMNT" in Argentina



Nacho sent in a bunch of pics showing some of the goodies theaters had when TMNT was released last year.

A special promotion at the cinemas in Venezuela: pop corn tub, drink cup and stickers decorated with the TMNT.

With this "combo" people received a ticket to win TMNT action figures.

     

   

   

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happy 25th Anniversary to the TMNT!





The official 25th anniversary of the TMNT won't be celebrated until May 5, 2009, 25 years after the release of the first TMNT comic book. But today marks 25 years since Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird sat watching too much bad TV and made the first doodles of what would become the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Hurrah!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

DVD Update ... Or Not




The above DVD covers caused quite a stir when they appeared on Amazon.com out of the blue yesterday. Not just with fans, but at Mirage itself where they first learned of these new DVD covers at the same time.

What does this mean? Are these DVDs with brand new content? Or just repackaging of the old content? Unfortunately, it's just repackaging of the old content.

Does this mean that there's no chance of a Special Edition and/or Blu-Ray release of one or all of the movies? NO. I can report that there is still hope in both regards, although it is also far from being a certain thing. Hopefully I can provide a more specific update within the next couple of months.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Michael Turney Autograph



This showed up in my mailbox today:

     

This is the storybook based on the first TMNT movie (an item I read a billion times during the long months between the theatrical release of the movie and the VHS release). The title page is signed to me by Michael Turney, who played Danny Pennington in the movie.

Thanks, Michael!

UK Michaelangelo Cookie Jar



Hero wrote in with some neato pics:

So I was digging through my boxes of stored stuff in the attic yesterday. These are like boxes of things I have not opened in years and forgot about during my multiple house moves.

I came across my old Michaelangelo ceramic cookie jar. This is something my mom bought for me back in 1991 at a seaside gift-shop in a place called Weston Super Mare. I think at the time this was around £5 and of course there was a colour of each turtle respectively.

I figured I’d take out this find and immortalise it further in cyberspace in victory of all the house-moving it has survived. I am certain this was a UK only item and has a Hero Turtle like feel to it.

   

   

Have a special TMNT item that you'd like to share? E-mail me your story and pics!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Peter Laird's "Blast From the Past"



I got kinda annoyed with the disjointedness and disorganization of Peter Laird's "Blast From the Past" posts on his blog (it's pretty impossible to find any of the old stuff without scrolling through every single page), so I made a chronological listing of all of them.

Everything that has been reposted to Blogger is linked to Blogger; anything not yet reposted to Blogger is linked to the original posting on the Planet Racers Web site.

This is the first 149 "Blast From the Past" entires from Peter's blog. You can read his on-going personal blog here: http://plairdblog.blogspot.com and his on-going TMNT blog here: http://peterlairdstmntblog.blogspot.com


001 - TMNT #1 Fifth Printing Cover (Pencils)
002 - Pencils for Cover of Tales of the TMNT Volume 1 #7
003 - "Cyberinking Experiments"
004 - "Alien Gardener"
005 - Angoulême Mini-Poster/1992
006 - Donatello with Android on Rock
007 - Richard Corben Color Sketch for Cover of TMNT Volume 1 Issue #2 Third Printing
008 - Dodecahedron Ornament
009 - Kevin Eastman TMNT Group Shot
010 - Jack Kirby Birthday Turtle
011 - "The Art of Mirage Studios"
012 - "Frustrated Turtle"
013 - Rejected Shredder Playset Idea
014 - "Return to New York" Collection Cover, Preliminary Drawing by A.C. Farley
016 - Wistariahurst Museum "The Art of Mirage Studios" Show Poster
017 - Archie TMNT Classics Digest #2 Cover
018 - "Team Mirage" Hare Scrambles Turtle
019 - "Ninja Alligator"
020 - Original Turtle Action Figure Prototypes
021 - "How to Draw Turtles" Cover Pencils
022 - Proposed Portfolio Cover Pencils
023 - TMNT Volume 1 #2 Unfinished Inks
024 - TMNT #2 Character Sketches
025 - "City at War" Battle/Pencils
026 - Leonardo at "Fandom Directree"
027 - "Election 1980" / Hampshire Life
028 - Archie TMNT Movie One Adaptation Covers
029 - "Who is the Unknown Ninja?"
030 - Laird/Dooney Barbarian Turtle
031 - TMNT with Dimensional Gateway
032 - Voices for Children TMNT Poster
033 - Donatello w/ Radio-Controlled Motorcycle
034 - "Who is This? Futitoid" Iron-On
035 - TMNT Volume 1 #2 Cover/Inks and Tones
036 - Donatello's New Costume
037 - Leonardo's New Costume
038 - Splinter's New Look
039 - Michelangelo's New Costume
040 - Raphael's New Look
041 - Elite Fights Foot/Pencils
042 - Mirage TMNT Color Series #1 Cover Pencils, Unused
043 - Donatello Firing Mac-10
044 - Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
045 - Portsmouth Minicon Poster
046 - Alien Snake Hunter
047 - "New Comic Day" Pencils
048 - Fugitoid Action Figure Concepts
049 - Exoskeleton Concept for Bad Guys
050 - TMNT as Drawn by Jack Kirby!
051 - Bulldog Mutant
052 - "Bad Guy" Vehicle Designs
053 - Unused Pages from TMNT #1, Vol. 4
054 - "Space Leonardo" Pencils
055 - Donatello in New Costume Color Study
056 - Kirbyship
057 - Interrupted Meal
058 - Will Vinton TMNT Sculpts
059 - "The Unknown"
060 - Donatello and Montana Moo
061 - TMNT and Foot Vehicle Designs
062 - Evil Mutants
063 - Jumper and Crawler
064 - TMNT Color Series #2 Cover Pencils
065 - Leonardo and Frostbyte
066 - Proposed TV Guide Cover
067 - 1992 Portsmouth "TurtleCon" Flyer
068 - Pencils for Portsmouth 1992 "TurtleCon" Flyer
069 - Unfinished Ad for TMNT #2
070 - Design for "Wacky Ooze Buggy" Toy
071 - Early Splinter
072 - TMNT #50 Cover Pencils
073 - Large TMNT Group Shot, Pencils
074 - Color Pencil TMNT Pinups
075 - Donatello Fighting Robot, Pencils
076 - Pete as TMNT with Pencil
077 - Iron-On TMNT Group Shot with Logo
078 - TMNT Drawing on Tablecloth Scrap
079 - Robot Fighting Arboreal Beast
080 - TMNT #5--Anatomy of Two Pages
081 - Raphael's Shower
082 - Pete's Inks, TMNT #7
083 - Pete in Old Studio
084 - TMNT Vol. 1 #15 "Clean" Cover
085 - TMNT Fight a Robot
086 - Pin-Up: Donatello on Rooftop
087 - Pin-Up: Leo Fights a Monster
088 - Pin-Up: Raph with TCRI Alien Gun
089 - Front Cover of PBBZ Limited Edition Reprint of TMNT Volume 1, #1
090 - Roughs for Leo and Usagi Story "The Crossing"
091 - "Gorefolio" Artwork
092 - Fugitoid Iron-On
093 - TMNT Group Shot
094 - Fugitoid Birthday Card
095 - Baxter Stockman and April O'Neil Sketches
096 - Sketches for Foot Robot from "City at War"
097 - Gizmo and a Turtle Play Cards
096 - Eastman/Dooney Barbarian Turtle
097 - TMNT Vol. 2 #5 Cover Pencils
098 - Archie TMNT Adventures #44, Pencils and Inks
099 - Archie TMNT Miniseries #1 Cover
100 - "Melting Pot" and "Commandosaurs" Pencils for Ad
101 - Raph Fighting a Foot Ninja (Unfinished)
102 - Leo w/ Shuriken Slingshot
103 - TMNT Color Series #2 Cover Pencils
104 - Motocross Turtle
105 - Turtle with Megablaster
106 - Redrawn Two-Page Spread from TMNT #1
107 - Mirage Studios Triceraton Iron-On
108 - Donatello Sparring with Robot Donatello
109 - Unfinished Donatello Sketch
110 - Unused TMNT Color Logo
111 - Donatello with Computer
112 - Leonardo Pinup
113 - Illustrations for Our Ad for the Dark Horse Miniature Lead Figures
114 - Donatello About to Throw Bo Staff
115 - Crab Mechanic Mutant
116 - TMNT Group Shot Cyberinking Experiment
117 - Splinter Character Sketches
118 - Design for Evil Mutant's Vehicle -- "Hover Trike"
119 - "Nano" Designs
120 - Dragon with Mushrooms
121 - "Rhino Mutant" Rough Sketch
122 - Leonardo with One Sword
123 - More Splinter Sketches
124 - Spider on Head
125 - Flying Dragon
126 - Emily Dickinson Portrait
127 - Robot with Birthday "Cake"
128 - Robot Fighting Swordswoman
129 - Motorcycle Designs for "Return of the Justice Force"
130 - Design for the "Battle Nexus" Arena
131 - Foot Tech Ninja Design
132 - Donatello Riding Creature
133 - Spot Illustrations for CBG
134 - Sample Comic Page
135 - Freshman Year
136 - More Unused Gag Cartoons
137 - Ninja Turtles Day in Los Angeles
138 - Garbageman's "Whale Sub" Sketches
139 - Evil Utrom Designs
140 - Turtle Design for 2K3 Show
141 - Ninja Tribunal Ship Modification
142 - Leonardo Fighting Triceraton
143 - Weird Meeting Doodle
144 - TMNT Spot Illustrations on Duo-Shade
145 - The Christmas Snail
146 - "They Came from the Fifties"
147 - Triceraton Archeologist
148 - "A World Beyond"
149 - Demon Turtle

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A New President? Or an Old School President?



Here's something random that I found by complete accident.

Visit Zazzle.com to pick up this creative celebration of the new President-Elect, Barack Obama, that plays off of the classic TMNT cartoon logo!

Friday, November 7, 2008

C.O.W.-Boys to Return to 'Tales' in 2009



Next week, the C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa will make their third appearance in the Tales of the TMNT title with the release of Tales #52. (Note: TMNT Adventures fans don't want to miss this issue, as it also features the legendary Cudley the Cowlick!)

This week, Ryan Brown, creator of the C.O.W.-Boys and creative force behind too many TMNT projects to list here, revealed that the C.O.W.-Boys will return for a fourth and final time next year in Tales of the TMNT #58. Like past crossover issues, Dario Brizuela will be contributing his fantastic skill and style to the pencils for the issue. He's already completed the cover, which you can check out in full--along with more awesome pieces of art--over on Ryan's C.O.W.-Boys blog.

And don't forget to sign the C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa DVD petition while you're at it!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Mirage's Fan Reply Postcards




The previous post on Mirage's unique postage meter stamp brought up a conversation in the comments about the postcards Mirage would send in response to fan mail and/or fan art. Tonight I dug out the postcard I received in response to some fan art I apparently sent (I clearly recall receiving this postcard, but I can't for the life of me recall the art I sent).

The front of the card shows the line art from the cover of TMNT Adventures #18. If you look closely on the back you'll see that same Raphael postage meter stamp (all the blots are from the residue of poster putty I used to hang the postcard on my bedroom door for years). The postmark date is September 17, 1991. Man, that was forever ago!

Did you ever receive this or a similar postcard? Still have it? Send me a scan!

Ryan Brown adds: We gave Murph's girlfriend at the time the task of answering all the TMNTA fan mail. She did a phenomenal job!! We'd print up the postcards using different TMNTA cover art at a local printer and then give them to her to mail out. Murph and I wanted to send something special to the kids who took the time to write in. I'm not sure how many different covers we used for the postcards but I believe we utilized quite a few.

And:
Murph and I loved to read the fan mail. We personally signed and sent the first few but suddenly the amount of mail increased so much that we had to pass it along to someone full time and that dude was a newly arrived Dan Berger. As Dan's workload increased Murph's girl friend stepped in.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Mirage Studios Postage Meter




Doing a bit of Fall cleaning today and I came across this old scrap of paper. This is quite the testament to some of the random stuff I'll end up clipping and saving.

The scrap is simply a piece of brown packaging paper with postage affixed. The package, having come from Mirage Studios, also features a stamp with Raphael and the original TMNT comic book logo. I think most all of the mail they sent at this point in time featured the stamp. Mail from Mirage today features no such stamp, probably due to changes in postage machines.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!




To celebrate this spooktacular holiday, here's a desktop wallpaper I swiped off of 4kids.com.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Kazoo With the TMNT



In the near-25 year history of the TMNT, there have been a lot of high points and a good fair share of low points. A lot of awesome merchandise and some... not so much. "Kazoo with [the] TMNT" would fit into that last category. Or, perhaps even more accurately, into the, "We're willing to approve anything you'll give us money for," category.

Before I go any further I should put forth the disclaimer that I absolutely love the entire musical history of the TMNT. Seriously. Even the stuff that's cheesy as hell is, at worst, a guilty pleasure for me. Even though my sincerity behind any positive words for "Kazoo with [the] TMNT" would be weak, I couldn't deny that it fills me full of giddy laughter.

Here's the premise of "Kazoo with [the] TMNT":
You get a book with very basic sheet music for eight songs from the soundtrack of the first live action movie. You also get four kazoos (bonus points if you can guess the colors of the kazoos). You are meant to kazoo the sheet music. Ok, sure. Why not? Kids like kazoos and Ninja Turtles, it can't be that bad. Right?

Wrong. This perfectly innocent package becomes the stuff of legend with the inclusion of a simple cassette tape. A cassette tape that features all of the songs in the book played by an electronic orchestra and... someone playing the kazoo!! This may be the only example in history of a dedicated kazoo recording. And there's a reason for that.

It's just hard to take the kazoo seriously as a solo instrument. The novelty of it wears off in about 10 seconds, but here it supports eight songs that are 3-5 minutes long. It also, by design, produces a lot of spit, and the producers of this product really didn't make any effort to try to hide that. But then again, did the producers of this product really think they were releasing something stellar? Nah, it was all for the quick buck.

To experience "Kazoo with [the] TMNT" for yourself, you can download the contents of the cassette tape, for a limited time, here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Halloween Costumes



Mauro sent in this great picture of himself and his girlfriend from last Halloween. He reports that they'll be wearing the same costumes again this year. Anyone else have any TMNT Halloween pictures to share?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

AC Farley Lunchbox





A while ago I featured a TMNT lunchbox with Michael Dooney art that's part of my non-collection of lunchboxes. Today I've decided to feature the A.C. Farley lunchbox.

Although the lunchbox is copyrighted 1991, it seems to be obviously inspired by the third movie. Copyright dates aren't always 100% reliable, so it might have been a tie-in to the movie. I personally don't recall seeing this one in stores, only on the mighty eBay. But it's awesome and I love it. I'm not aware of this piece of art being published anywhere else, though I welcome people who would like to inform me otherwise do so.

Oh, and speaking of the mighty eBay, I have a duplicate of this box up for auction right now!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

TMNT Flashback: Comics Interview #83



A couple weeks ago, the TMNT world was rocked on its heels when Steve Murphy officially let it out of the closet that he was, in fact, the one and only Dean Clarrain, writer of virtually the entire TMNT Adventures title from Archie Comics. Even though it hadn't before been made official, I had thought more people had figured it out. But it seems those of us who had were in a minority. To celebrate this outing, I present to you Comics Interview #83, featuring an interview with the team behind the TMNT Adventures title: Dean Clarrain, Ryan Brown, and Dan Berger.


Gee, that Dean Clarrain guy doesn't look like Murphy at all...

As for the full interview itself, you can download it, for a limited time only, by clicking here. Enjoy!

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.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

TMNT Flashback: Mirage Times Vol. 1 No. 17




Earlier today, Ryan Brown posted the first issue of the "Mirage Times," a newsletter sent out to comic retailers in the early 90s. By complete chance tonight, I came across issue number 17 of this same newsletter, so I thought I'd post it to complement Ryan's blog.

Above is the front of the two-page spread, featuring the cover for TMNT Vol. 2 No. 1. On the inside is the newsletter portion, both pages of which are below.

     

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Peter Laird Comments on TMNT Movie Rumors



MTV today posted an interview with TMNT co-creator Peter Laird to set the record straight on the current status of a potential new TMNT movie. You can read the interview in its entirety here.

There really isn't any new information revealed. Everything is the same as it was before people went and freaked out over comments made by Kevin Eastman. However, I would like to make note of these comments:


MTV: Which elements of the original live-action film do you think could benefit from another treatment?
PL: I don’t think the first film needs to be remade, if that’s what you mean. But I would love to see a “Director’s Cut” or special edition of that movie, with some things that were cut out put back in. And although I think it HIGHLY unlikely, I would love to see the first film given a “digital touch-up,” if you will. By that I mean it would be very cool to go through it very carefully and digitally tweak all of the mistakes and goofs — for example, scenes where you can see an actor’s face inside a Turtle’s open mouth, wires hanging off the shell of a Turtle, and so forth.
Here’s one that always bugged me: As Leonardo is exiting April’s apartment, one of his sword hilts rubs against the wall… and it BENDS like rubber (which, in fact, it was, being a “stunt sword”). And taking it a step further, it would be fantastic to utilize digital technology to go back in and tweak and enhance the expressions on the animatronic faces of the Turtles, which in some scenes just don’t work too well.
Concerning his desire to give the 1990 film a "digital touch-up": For the love of pizza, Peter Laird will you just freaking stop trying to fix things that aren't broken. You've already ripped the heart and soul out of the original TMNT 1 comic book, leave the damn movie alone.

The problem with this idiotic statement isn't even the likelihood that it would actually happen, because Peter Laird thankfully doesn't have any power to make it happen, but now we're going to have to deal with stupid people discussing this possibility for the rest of eternity. Please find something better to do with your time people and forget this statement ever happened.

Friday, September 5, 2008

TMNT: Back to the Sewer Preview





Here's a preview of the first episode of TMNT: Back to the Sewer, which premieres on CW4Kids Saturday, September 13. (When the video says "tomorrow" it actually means the 13th.) Be sure to check your local listings to verify the time and station.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Why the TMNT Fail at the Internets



It probably wouldn't take too much effort to find a person still convinced that Johnny Woo was, at one point in time, signed and secured to make a TMNT movie. About five years ago I tried to convince a friend of mine that there was absolutely no truth to this, but I don't think he ever fully believed me. Someone asked Kevin Munroe, director of 2007's TMNT movie, the same question at San Diego Comic-Con in 2006. Really, it's the damnedest rumor that just refuses to die. He essentially said it'd be a neat thing to do, but there was nothing more to it than that. No different from me saying that it'd be neat to race Michael Phelps on a big wheel.

But this prevailing rumor also punctuates a key problem with TMNT fandom. Try as some of us may, there is no definitive "Go To" site for a person with a casual interest in TMNT to go to and quickly catch up on the latest news. Those of us who follow it closely know that Steve Murphy's word via The 5th Turtle is good as gold, but from an outsider's perspective, it's just a simple Blogger blog using a default template (same as this site). There is no TheForce.Net or TheOneRing.Net or The-Leaky-Cauldron.Org equivalent.

But sites that report on everything related to movies need to be at the top of the rumor mill, so if there's going to be a new TMNT film, they can't miss out on reporting it. It usually happens like this: Murphy or some other source drops a tidbit of information, discussion on said information partakes at TheTechnodrome.com, some lame lurker emails a dozen movie sites with the "tip," and these sites post the information as if it's some big scoop that they have personally discovered. Oooh, impressive.

Over the past several months there have been several hints dropped about the on-going talks for the next TMNT movie from both Steve Murphy and TMNT co-creator Peter Laird. Did any of these statements reach sites like IGN.com? No. But a few days ago discussion starts on The Technodrome regarding a comment TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman made on the HeavyMetal.com message boards regarding the possibilities being discussed for the next movie (which is pretty much in line with everything he stated here, and which is also all in line with what has been hinted at by Steve Murphy and Peter Laird). Now some morons are spreading the comments, to the point where Perez Hilton (you're kidding me, right?) is reporting it as FACT that a new TMNT movie is coming and THIS IS HOW IT IS.

FOR THE RECORD:
  1. Movie discussions are still in progress and nothing has been finalized.
  2. A live action movie is being discussed as a possibility but, again, nothing has been finalized. According to Murphy, live action is apparently NOT being discussed, so there you go.
  3. When something has been finalized, the information will be released officially by Mirage Studios and their partners, not a message board, no matter who is making the comment.
Oh, and all of you non-TMNT sites: Please stop pretending you know anything about Ninja Turtles, because you don't and it just makes you suck more. If you really want to do something useful, try to convince your readers to convince Warner Brothers to release a Special Edition of the original 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie on DVD. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

TMNT: The Original 1990 Press Kit



In case it's not already obvious, a Press Kit gets constructed and released - to the press - as part of the marketing effort for a film. These days they're all done digitally, compiled onto DVDs. Back in 1990 it was a simple folder loaded with some 8x10 black and white photos and some photocopied production notes.

Instead of focusing on a deleted scene today, I thought I would give typing a break and scan the contents of the press kit for the original movie. After I did that, I ended up typing 20 pages of production notes, so I really didn't save myself from anything.

Below you'll find all of the photos included with the kit as well as an excerpt from the production notes. If you download the complete .zip file, you'll have more production notes to read. One of the reasons I went through with typing 20 pages of these things was that all of the information is really, really unique and interesting, and I'm not sure that there's anywhere else that you can read something similar to this. There are quotes from all of the major players who had a hand in making the movie, including the late and great Jim Henson.

It's really all quite fantastic and I think it will also give you extra appreciation for all of the hard work that people put into this movie to make it the classic it ended up being.

A classic that should receive proper DVD treatment! *ahem*

You can download the complete .zip file here.