The last time I held a Playmates Wingnut figure in my hands is back when it was first released around 1990. My TMNT mad mate came over one day and had a bunch of new figures, and Wing-Nut was the one that most captured my attention.
It’s a great figure with some lovely details, a completely mad face and hideous features. Like so many of the other later line figures he is just a weird and wonderful character, so unique and cool.
I love the original Playmates TMNT line, while the figures are nigh-unposeable, they mostly have fixed static poses, the level of detail and passion that went into them is clear. The sculpts have some of the most bizarre and disgusting characters you will find in any toyline ever made.
The paint finish on them is a nice blend between animation and comic art. Many of the the figures are based on one off sketches from comic book artists who were asked to produce more ideas to be made into toys when the Fred Wolf show and Playmates toyline took off to mass unpredictable wild success.
So what the hell is Wing-nut anyway?
A wingnut or wing nut is a type of nut with two large metal “wings”, one on each side, so it can be easily tightened and loosened by hand without tools. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wingnut_(hardware)
Wingnut is a fun character, until you realize his tragic origins.
- He is batshit crazy, no joke.
- He is a symbiotic species, relying on his mosquito buddy (Screw Loose) to be able to sleep.
- He is the LAST survivor of his race, that was wiped out by the evil Warlord Krang, that pink brain who constantly makes fun of Shredder in the cartoon.
- He’s not a mutant, but an alien based on a real life Bat. (He seems to be a mix of different bats).
- His name is a joke on actual wing-nuts, he has “two metal wings” and is easily “tightened or loosed” (he’s mentally unstable)
Some folks find Bats creepy and disgusting, flying rodents even. Personally I find Bats to be adorable and cute in the real world. While Bats are often horrifying or creepy in fiction, be it the TMNT cartoon or classic horror movies, bats are often associated with alien, other, the moon, night time (they are mostly nocturnal), the unknown and the underworld.
Bats kind of get a bad rap, but really they are as beautiful to me as a Bengal Tiger or African Meerkat. Probably a good place to mention I also write a Batman blog (you’ll find links at the very bottom of the page, way below this post). I like to think of Wingnut as a Fruit-Bat – cos he’s CRAZY! Also because Wingnuts natural senses are all messed up – reminding me again of Fruit Bats – they navigate differently that other types of bats (they have large eyes and rely more on light than sound/echolocation).
There is this underlying theme of environmentalism running through the TMNT toon, brand, Archie comics and other media that some folks find a real turn off, and I get it.
They want to enjoy fantasy media and not be reminded of unsolvable problems, but to me that is part of what makes the TMNT unique and special, is this reminder of the natural world, and the amazing species that live all around us or are extinct because of us.
The last time I held a Playmates Wingnut toy in my hands was when my old TMNT Mad Mate came over to hang out, and brought a bunch of toys with him.
It was the peak of late 80/90s TMNT fever as far as I can recall. The toon, the toys, the live action movie, it was all manna from heaven to my TMNT obsessed younger self, my walls were plastered with ever scrap of TMNT posters, magazine and newspaper clippings, fan art (yes I drew a couple of pics back then, and nothing since) and whatever I could find. It was a an entire wall in my bedroom.
My mate bringing over his new figures was just an ordinary thing, but also it was kind of special in retrospect, as we grew up pretty poor, and the only few toys I had (other than the two my grandfather bought me) were some I saved weeks of pocket money to buy.
To see a figure in the hand of my mate, and then mess around with it, (and not own it for nearly another twenty years) was meaningful in an odd way.
That same mate later on randomly one day invited me over to his place as usual. We had met and hung out and talked/ played with TMNT figures on many occasions, it was the main way we bonded.
But this time as I approached his door, my mate and some other fuckwit from my primary school bombarded me with flour bombs (mini paper bags hand filled with wheat flour) and after than we never spoke again, and we never visited each others houses again. I have no idea to this day why he did that, I suspect it was the no-good-nik from school who put him up to it, but that he went along with it to this day gives me a painful memory.
Anyway, the toy is great fun and highly recommended. Flour bombs not so much. But I can imagine Wingnut bombarding his enemies with even nastier things. I really dig all the small little details they put into the early TMNT Playmates toys. Check out Wingnut’s back, all sorts of cool little details in there that you don’t notice at first.
His little buddy is Screw-Loose, an alien mosquito. He comes as an accessory with Wingnut rather than as a proper figure, but he looks pretty decent despite being in that sickly mustard color.
I don’t know who chose his colors for the cartoon, but he looks pretty silly in slacks and slippers.
Over in the Archie Comics, Wing-Nut not only looks cooler, but more like his pulp hero/vigilante inspiration. The gloves and cowl are a common motif of early pulp characters, and his little buddie has the classic superhero sidekick Domino mask ala Robin, The Phantom or The Lone Ranger.
Screw-loose also is smaller and has better coloring in my opinion in the Archie comics. Wing-Nut looks more crazy and mean / dangerous than just plain ridiculous in the comic. But I have to admit I really like both his cartoon design and comic book look. His purple gloves in the Archie version are a nice nod to the earliest appearances of Batman who also used to have purple gloves.
Thanks to some scans over at tmnt-ninjaturtles dot com, we can get a look at the names for his accessories (my cardback is long long gone)
Bat Wings, Bat Gun, Bat Bomb and if you really needed a clue about his inspiration “Utility Bat Belt” is kind of a give away. Wingnuts wings clip on to the back of the figure, which is why the are listed as accessories. It’s not clear what happened to his original organic wings, but I’m guessing it’s something painful and horrible involving Krang. Hey look, he has a “bomb” – I guess my fuckwit of an ex-friend was on to something at least.
Again, thanks to the guys at http://tmnt-ninjaturtles.com/ we can get a look at his profile from the back of his card. I used to have all my old ones clipped in a big pile somewhere, damned if I know what happened to them.
As cool as the action figure looks, he really comes to this life in this amazing fan art by Phraggle / Nick Bondra over on DeviantART. You can see the pain and loneliess in his eyes – he’s the last of his kind as far as we know. If you dig TMNT and Archie comics or the Fred Wolf era inspired art, you really should check the gallery of his amazing art, it’s spectacular stuff https://phraggle.deviantart.com/gallery/49286074/TMNT
*Wingnut and Screwloose animation screen capture from ComicVine
*Wingnut and Screwloose comic panels from Mighty Mutanimals#1
*WingNut fan art by Phraggle
*Wingnut card back scanned images from http://tmnt-ninjaturtles.com/
*Bat-Nose image from http://www.katiesalidas.com/2011/10/can-bats-be-sexy.html
*idiot image from Matt Monroe http://mattmonroeastronaut.com/idiot.html