PLAYMATES Nick Era Fishface – TMNT

Of all the NICK era TMNT villain toys, Fishface is upper tier for me. He is such a fun cool design. The bright almost neon colors scream late 80’s/early 90’s gross out toy. Fishface could fit in with vintage TMNT villains or Toxic Crusaders any day.


For a budget priced figure he has some nice sculpted scale details, and a white highlight running under his jawline and down his belly. The robo-legs really look the part.

The Nick era TMNT line really manages to capture the onscreen likeness of the villains very well. The turtles themselves are nice, but very off model to the in show appearance.

I like Fishface a lot, when I found a later wave variant loose on ebay, I picked up the green deco too. I could happily troop build either color as Fishmen, but never found any more of either of them.

Fishface tmnt nick playmates figure green variant2

The green version is mostly identical in sculpt, but he now has black legs, and silver around his chest and wrist bands, with a red rather than yellow eye. It’s a great re-use in my book.

Fishface tmnt nick playmates figure green variant1

In the TMNT 2012-2017 Nick show Xever Montes starts out as a criminal working for Shredder along with Chris Bradford. Both characters as punishment for their perceived failures are mutated by New York crime boss and all around complete bastard The Shredder.

TMNT - S01 E09 - The Gauntlet Fishface Xever Montes1

Bradford gets mutated into a Hulk-like strong dog called Dogpound. Xever meanwhile gets mutated into a fish. He can’t walk on land, being a fish so is confined to a small pond beneath Shredder’s feet.

TMNT - S02 E05 - Mikey Gets Shellacne Fishface and Dogpound1


Later robotics are added and Xever truly becomes Fishface, who can walk with his robot legs, but is still the most pathetic mutant in Shredder’s rogues gallery.

TMNT - S02 E20 - The Legend of the Kuro Kabuto Fishface close up1

As a character design the Fishface toy and show CG model are cool. In contrast the reality of living as  a mutated basically helpless fishman, you can’t help but feel sorry for Xever Montes. At least as a human being he could have left Shredder and done something else after enduring so much physical and psychological abuse from his boss.

TMNT - S02 E20 - The Legend of the Kuro Kabuto Fishface nick grid1 tigerclaw rahzar baxter shredder foot

 As a fishman, Fishface is basically the Shredder’s slave and The shredder openly mocks his now further degraded Lieutenants, who become lower tier villains in subsequent seasons as new characters gain Shredders favor such as Tiger Claw and Karai. Fishface is only one step above Fly Baxter in his pathethicness and routinely is further abused by The Shredder.

The Nick show had a few tie in show based comics from IDW of varying quality. The art was mostly good and the writing was definitely aimed at a younger audience than their later ongoing IDW TMNT title. I like how the shows cast translates from three dimensions to two on the comic page, their designs hold up well.

Fishface tmnt nick idw new adventures1-vert

A lot of the NICK 2012 TMNT show characters were manufactured into different toys that we typically would not see from a Turtles toy line. Lego had the license for a few years, and then later Mega Blox so we got a version of Fishface from each of those companies.

Fishface lego t machine half shell heroes figure toy tmnt nick playmates

Also in the small scale were toys such as the diecast car T-Machines line of vehicles and playsets. Fishface also got a mini-figure in the Heroes in a Half Shell Line aimed at younger children. The character of Fishface was memorable enough to inspire some great fan art such as this lovely piece by Garvals on Deviantart.

Fishface by Garvals Deviant Art TMNT Nick 500



Fishface fan art by Garvals

T-Machines product box image




groundchuck playmates 1990 tmnt mid

Next up in the mutant parade is an all time favorite – Groundchuk. A super awesome sculpt of a bright red mutant cyborg bull, who in the concept stage was called Bullseye. They probably didn’t use that name seeing as Marvel has a trademarked character of that same name.

groundchuck playmates 1990 tmnt 1a

The mix of colors on Bullseye – red, silver, blue and orange are gaudy and odd, but it works well. There is some purple in there too on just one of his horns making him look a real patchwork of a character.

groundchuck playmates 1990 tmnt 1b rear

Groundchuck was released as part of an expanded wave with some new freaks such as Pizza Face, Dirtbag and Chromedome and appeared along with Dirtbag in the Murakami Wolf animated show in S07e21 Escape from the Planet of the Turtleoids.

groundchuck 1990 tmnt S07e21 Planet of the Turtleoids

His file card art is rather stunning. To this day I crave a large hardcover high quality book reprinting all the concept art, file cards, box and bubble card art from the TMNT vintage line, but it’s unlikely to ever happen post Nick buyout.

Groundchuck tmnt playmates 1991 file card

Groundchuck did not appear in the Archie TMNT Adventures comics or get a Sourcebook profile, but he did appear as a boss in TMNT 3 on the NES.

groundchuck tmnt 3 nes boss grid

Groundchuck appears in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project on the NES as a boss. A roller door winds up only after you walk past it, the boss surprising you in the style of Abobo in Double Dragon. His attacks mirror the Rocksteady charging pattern and his sprites appear to be a rework of Rocksteady.

Lots of TMNT villains appear as bosses in Konami TMNT arcade and console games, I only mention Groundchuck here as he is one of those characters that looks fantastic but was under-utilized in Turtle themed media. I’d love for him to appear in a new show or comic book.

groundchuck TMNT nintendo power art1

The Nintendo Power Magazine has some interesting art where they do their own thing. Groundchuck seems to have been mostly translated well across different TMNT media.

Groundchuck toy vs toon vs nes game tmnt nintendo playmates boss 1990

A *possible* early concept that *may* have been reworked into Groundchuk is this Evil Mutant Bull concept art that appears along with Mondo, Ray Fillet and Scumbug in an out of print Mirage era zine.

evil mutant bull concept art tmnt 555

Another sketch this time by David Arshwasky (again appearing in an out of print zine) shows Groundchuck (formerly Bullseye) with more rendered detail and is a very nice piece. The earlier name explains the yellow targets on his chest and leg that made it into his final version.

bullseye groundchuck concept art David Arshawsky

Groundchuck is a really neat character design and one of my all time favorites in the TMNT vintage toy line, I am very grateful to add him to my collection after all these years.



Groundchuck TMNT III game screen caps from World of Longplays, game footage captured and played by Ravenlord  (no, I did not have time to play up to that point to get a screen cap myself!)


Groundchuck Nintendo Power art from Turtlepedia

Bullseye David Arshwasky concept art

NES Groundchuck Magazine art from  Nintendo Power issue #33

Playmates 1990’s Scumbug Figure TMNT

Scumbug wide 800

I started collecting the original Playmates TMNT figures as a kid and I’m still working my way to completing up to the third or fourth wave now. Back then I had collected a few villains, some Turtles for xmas and birthdays, and picked up a few other odd ones several years later from a friend.

tmnt card back checklist 1990 playmates check off mid 90s

Of the original two waves I had collected all the figures above crossed out in red.

Since getting back into collecting the same toys I started out to get some decades ago, I have now picked up the ones crossed out in green below.

tmnt card back checklist 1990 playmates check off post 2000

Which brings us to Scumbug, likely the next figure I would have bought in stores – if they had not stopped selling the product. While the line would continue on for several years, most stores don’t stock any toy line past the second or third year as it usually doesn’t sell.

Which meant that as a kid when I walked or push biked 30 minutes to the store to get a figure, after saving up three weeks pocket money – I was met with lifes eternal companions – Confusion, and Disappointment – being met with an empty shelf where my beloved TMNT toys once lived.

Along with Wyrm, Muckman and Mutagen Man, Scumbug have been on my want list ever since he first appeared on a card back. He’s also one of the most disgusting toys in the line, being a giant cockroach with bulging eyes, pincers, and spiky bits.

Scumbug close up playmates tmnt 800 ninja turtles

The sculpt has all sorts of horriffic details like little roaches crawling all over him, ripped clothing, one human arm and foot, with the other limbs horribly mid-mutation. His accessories include a weapon, pipes and backpack as the character was intended as an exterminator who gets mutated into the disgusting things he kills and is in regular contact with. I don’t have all his parts, the gun is just a random Transformers gun.

Scumbug close up playmates tmnt 800 ninja turtles rear

Unlike some later wave oddities Scumbugs box art, card profile and animation model are all rather coherent. 

scumbug front card 800 cropped tmnt playmates

Scumbugs bio card is just a zoomed in close up fo the full figure art on the front left of the package. I don’t have any of his packaging, just the loose figure.

scumbug profile art combined1

I don’t know what episode he first appeared in, but a lot of lower tier TMNT villains in the Murakami-Wolf era show appeared in perhaps one or two episodes, to at least promote the toy, often with a hastily cobbled together animation model that was frequently different, or inaccurate to the characters core design. Not so with Scumbug.

Some villains turned up repeatedly while others were one and done. Here Scumbug teams up with a bunch of other freaks at the behest of Krang and Shredder in S07e19 Night of the Rogues.

Scumbug TMNT Muraki Wolf S07e19 Night of the Rogues

The most divergent look is over in Archie comics, where he has two distinct looks. One is his Archie comic book look and other is the TMNT Universe full page bio, done like the old Marvel character profiles for superheroes and Transformers –  a full page illustration and extended biography. 

Scumbug Archie Comics Sourcebook Profile page 800

The bio / reference page is more realistic and detailed and in typical comic book fashion, while the in book appearance is more simplified with an animated style to it, but is distinct from the actual show animation model which clearly uses the toy colors for its basis. I like both versions, and that cliche variety is the spice of life applies here perhaps.

scumbug vs wyrm tmnt adventures archie comics22

I am glad the toy has the fun colors as it’s much more interesting than if Scumbug had just been all brown. Scumbugs concept creator/designer Ryan Brown imagined up some of the best mutants and freaks in the TMNT toyline and Archie Comics, and I still enjoy his work all these years on, and I love to see nice fan art that really shows off those great designs such as this Scumbug picture by DeviantArt artist Real Warner



Scumbug fan art by Real Warner

Scumbug official character profile from Archie Comics TMNT Universe Sourcebook N-Z (1993)