I still remember the day my Mum brought home the giant size Michelangelo. I assume she got it second hand or something like that, as it was in the boot of her car and had no box / wrapper or whatever it originally came in. It was pretty much in new condition, came with his nunchuks and his fabric belt – which has since been lost.
Fast forward a decade or so and I moved to Australia, leaving many treasured childhood toys and such in storage at my Dads place in Christchurch.
Fast forward another decade and I had some old items shipped over from New Zealand including Big Mike and the Twins (aka my Transformers G1 Doublecross and old TMNT Playmates figures).
Then I moved from rural Victoria to Perth / West Australia (for the second time) and Big Mike went back in storage for another few years. Unfortunately I left Mike behind at the last minute when I shifted as the bag he was packed in was too high, obscuring the back window in my car when I drove / moved interstate from Victoria to West Australia, a safety no-no in my book.
And then last week or so, Big Mike arrived along with boxes of my other old stuff. In the same week I got back my 1989 Big Mike, the NECA TMNT 1:4 Scale Movie Mike I ordered online about a month ago also arrived. What are the chances of both these fantastic toys turning up in my life in the same week? AWESOME!
I’m not good with math and odds, but damn it’s awesome to get both in the same week. And having not seen Mike for a number of years – I had him back for two whole years out of storage, before he went back to storage – and he feels like a new toy again.
Before I took a few pics for this post, I gave him a good rub down (sounds a bit too sexy) with some cleaning wipes, as he had years of dust caked in. Right in those hard to reach dirty turtle crevices and shell curves etc.
DAMN HE’S A GOOD TOY!!
I don’t know what it is, but the simple thing of just taking a basic toy, and upscaling it often leads to a really cool toy at a sensible price. Giant size Batman and Vader for example are two of my favourites -and there are other versions nearly double the size of these bozos around.
Big Batman, Big Mike, Big Vader, Fort Max, Big Bebop, Big Spider-Man – I just love larger scale toys.
Anyhow, enough of my fetish for large scale toys.
Let’s get back to Magic Mike…
For a simple toy, he has some impressive features. His face has that permanent scowl that is at odds with the animated Mikey – but fits more with the original Mirage Turtles (adding plenty of confusion to my younger self’s TV Turtles obsessed brain).
His nunchucks are the best best of ANY version of Mikey imo, yes even better than the NECA 1:4 Scale figure ones. The NECA ones are nice accessories, but don’t pose so great and look kind of bland in comparison to the big chunky orange Playmates ones that you can legitimately swing around like real nunchucks, even now 28 years after it’s manufactured date.
The back of Big Mike’s shell has a nice soft texture to it, and looks great. Something about the softer texture just elevates it above the smaller scale figures. NECA Big Mike (on the right) of course has as amazing shell, reflecting the care and detail that went into the Henson Workshop designs. Both versions of Mikey clearly don’t skip their squats.
A quick close up of Mike’s shell, and apparently he’s been branded with an M at the base of his head. He also has a product stamp with his year right on his Turtle butt, but we don’t need to see that.
The proportions of Big Mike’s head always looked bit off to to me, but then the original Mirage Turtles always had exaggerated comical proportions, that was very intentional. The infamous “first turtle” sketch by Kevin Eastman of Mikey is a joke character, you can see how goofy he is.
When Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird launched their original indy comic – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles VOL#1, the Turtles took on their iconic squished head, pointy nose and round joweled sneering mouthed look – and that look carried over to the first line of Playmates toys. In contrast the Fred Wolf cartoon would refine the look and go with their own version commonly known as Cartoon or ‘Toon / TV Turtles. Later volumes of the Mirage comics would further refine how the Turtles looked, and I have to admit the later versions are what I prefer over their stumpy forbearers.
In the later issues of the various comics, you can see some beautiful art that softened the look of the Turtles some, making them a bit more human and less silly angry 80’s ninja parodies. That softer look went on to influence just about every other version of the Turtles we’ve had since. From live action movies to video games, other cartoons, toys etc.
That softer friendlier (more human) face. Less hard edged Daredevil Miller Ninja Parody, this style helped TMNT became it’s own legitimate multimedia thing, beyond it’s origins as a trashy 80’s pop culture parody. Not to downplay the quality of Mirage TMNT VOL#1, it’s a great series full of cool art and sci-fi concepts with some big action.
The Jim Henson Workshop gave us some of the most memorable versions of the Turtles in the first live action film(1990) a New Line / Golden Harvest co-production
The Muppet Magic was alive and well in the live action film. I remember watching it in the cinema back in the day and many times since, including just last month. It’s a film that holds up pretty well – melding aspects of the original Mirage Turtles and the Fred Wolf cartoon into a cohesive whole that easily stands on its own with dark drama, competent stunts, amazing costumes and the right amount of humor. The suits and robotics for the heads /eyes combined with traditional puppetry was quite a feat to pull off. Most puppets cheat by having at least part of the puppet off screen, but the turtles had to be seen kicking, jumping, flipping out, fighting and pretending to eat pizza.
If you dig the live action movie, this article by Aaron Couch is a great read with all sorts of wonderful insights, trivia and behind the scenes details on New Line / Golden Harvest / Henson Workshop production.
Part of what makes the NECA lice action Movie Magic Mike so great is all the skin texture and details, but man that head sculpt and eyes really sell it.
Those eyes and face bring so much personality to the big NECA Movie Mikey, it’s like he walked right off the screen and into your toy collection (and shrank along the way I guess).
When I was a kid Mikey was my favourite from the ninja turtles cartoon. The fun loving jokester, the party dude. In my teens and twenties, Raph became my favourite character, because of the Mirage comics and the post 2000 animated shows.
Below is a few different Mikey figures, the goofiest face has to go the modern Platinum Dunes Mikey movie figure in the middle, while the most grim goes to the Nick figures (smallest ones) and the old Playmates Big Mike with his sneer that does definitely not make me think of parties, sewer surfing or any kind of good time.
It’s a shame I lost his belt years ago, he looks kind of funny without it.
NAKED TURTLE ALERT!
Here’s a quick comparison with Donnie from the old toy line, (because I don’t know where the hell little Mikey has gotten to) you can see how much they upscaled Mike to make a few more of them fabulous Turtle Bucks.
Well that’s about it man. Time for some sewer surfing, pizza and a good monster film. Another post soon on NECA Movie Mike (the big dude on the right in the photos).
Boxed Giant Size Mikey image from http://toyworth.com/browse/action/figure/Teenage/Mutant/Ninja/Turtles/86.html
TMNT Original Mike Illustration by Kevin Eastman, image from http://variety.com/2014/biz/news/comic-con-teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-co-creator-selling-first-drawing-of-tmnt-for-2-mil-exclusive-1201267835/
TMNT VOL 1 comic art panel from https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/422845852493027255/
Turtle Bucks Image from http://mascotjunction.com/turtle-banners/
World Map image courtesy of http://geology.com/world/world-map.shtml
Hollywood Reporter TMNT live action movie screen grab from https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/features/teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-untold-785653
Mikey holding cat comic cover image from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Michelangelo Christmas Special by Mirage Studios