Tag Archives: Playmates

RISE OF THE TMNT Words and Pictures with LAZY SPLINTER AND CRAZY ALBEARTO

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Rise up and find those action figures. This time around it’s Splinter the lazy and Albearto the crazy. This version of Master Splinter is a little chubster who looks like he either trained with or ATE the Ancient One

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The back of the package for Albearto has the old Wave 1 figures on there, with the new Foot Lieutenant and Albearto added on and squished in with the villain product shot.

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In the show, Splinter is voiced by Eric Bauza who stars in dozens of shows such as the modern Duck Tales, Robots in Disguise 2015, Disney’s The Three Caballeros, Guardians of the Galaxy and Muppet Babies.  Albearto is voiced by Tom Kenny who is also in most of those same shows along with Powerpuff Girls and Ben 10.

Out of the package and these chubby funsters are none too posable, but are full of character and attitude for sure.

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Splinter comes with his walking stick, despite the back of the box mentioning entirely different weapons and Albearto comes with a piece of off pizza and a …. mallet club thing? A rolling pin for pizza? I guess it’s a kitchen utensil of some sort. And of course his hands are freakish metallic claws.

Albearto is a parody of those Chuck E. Cheese old school musical animatronic shows for kids. Those lovable robot things are also famous for malfunctioning and doing weird crazy shit. Like this Duck one that keeps on singing like a champ……..after it’s entire lower jaw falls off. Sorry kids, don’t have too many bad dreams tonight.

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In Albearto’s RISE TMNT episode, the animatronic bear catches on fire, starts melting – then comes to life with some A.I. tech but due to the fire etc his brain is scrambled making him rather deranged.

His hands are claws as that is the robot bits underneath where his stuffing/clothing has melted off from the fire.

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From the back and Splinter has a decent tail.

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Albearto’s face is disgustingly melty. I can’t help but think the popularity of those Five Nights at Freddy’s merch having something to do with the existence of this character.

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I love those freakish claws and robot arms. He’s like a Melted Bear Terminator.

Albearto claws

With his accessories, that he can hold a bit better than most other figures in this line.

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Splinter’s walking stick has a deadly surprise – pull it out to reveal a hidden blade. Best toy accessory so far if you ask me. It’s really nicely done. How many action movies have I seen a version of this weapon in, very cool.

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Up close with the tubby little chubster. I’m pretty sure he did eat the Ancient One, then went back for seconds.

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Slice ‘n Dice action Zatoichi style.

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Splinter has a really nice sculpt and the cane sword tucks away rather tidily.

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Sweet Jesus Donny, you do not want to be eating that…. pretty sure that’s prop pizza.

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Showing off to his older wiser selves (or younger? who knows) with the previous NICK Shredder and the old early 2000’s era Splinter from the long running show and CGI movie.

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Overall, two really nice figures. Pretty happy with them and looking forward to collecting more from the Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Playmates figure line.

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35 YEARS OF AWESOME! A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

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Like other kids of my generation, I was swept up in Turtle Mania and fell in love with the green skinned shellbacked brothers with the debut of the first cartoon in 1987.

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I remember the cartoon as my first ever experience of the Turtles, and the lead up to it like other hot properties of the era such as Burton’s Batman (1989)  and The Simpsons (1989) were heavily advertised particularly in newspapers and magazines that eager youngsters would clip and save to a scrapbook or if you’re like me just stick them straight on the bedroom wall.

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No Freestlyin’ in the Technodrome you Morons!

While the Turtles debuted in comic book from in 1984, it was the Murakami-Wolf animated show in 1987 that saw the Turtles explode from little known indy comic to mainstream merchandising extravaganza. The animated series ran from 1987-1995 and was created at the request of Playmates Toys who wanted something more than a black and white ultra-violent indy comic to gamble their new toyline on.

The animated show along with it’s tie in comic book from Archie Comics were vehicles for introducing new bizarre wacky mutants characters and vehicles that could be showcased and made into further toys or bars of soap and sleeping bags.

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The Archie comic branched off into it’s own continuity separate from both the Animated show that birthed it and the mainline ongoing original Mirage TMNT books, expanding the TMNT lore to a full three different distinct continuities, and a fourth with the addition of the live action movies.

TMNT CONTINUITIES GRID PLUS
Murakami-Wolf Cartoon, Mirage Comics, Archie Comics and New Line Cinema live action

The shows production quality was high, but some stories were inevitably hit and miss – victims of the Murakami-Wolf Ninja Turtles own success that led to an epic production schedule and high demands on the creative team as it ran several years longer than anybody could have reasonably predicted in parallel with the tie in toyline.

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The voice cast made characters like lovable mutant moron’s Bebop and Rocksteady along with their masters Shredder and Krang highly memorable fan favorites. James Avery voiced Shredder and was also more commonly known as Uncle Phil on the hit TV show Fresh Prince  of Bel Air (1990)

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With the show a hit, the first few waves of the main toyline and other merchandise sold like gangbusters, with the infamous logo crammed onto every bit of high and low quality merchandise possible in the tradition of other eighties toy tie in show juggernauts like He-Man, Thundercats and The Transformers.

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Along with all the other dodgy merchandise such as pillow cases and bars of soap, were more interesting licensed tie ins such as the hit four player arcade game from Konami, and it’s popular sequel Turtles in Time.

I recall many Saturdays where I would progress as far as I could on only a single credit, and other days where I would take in five to ten dollars and attempt to finish the challenging addictive Turtles game. Other TMNT games proved popular on home consoles of the 8-bit and 16-bit era with varying quality, but none with the same impact as the Turtles Konami arcade game that had people lining up just to play it when first released.

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CUT ME OFF A SLICE OF THAT PEPPERONI DUDE

Turtle-Mania died down for a bit, but then rose again to a fever pitch. Kids were again  afflicted with Turtle Fever with the release of the Golden Harvest / Henson Workshop live action film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990). The film was distributed by New Line Cinema notable for distributing such films as A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) after the majority of other studios in town did not want to touch TMNT with a ten foot pointed pole for fear it would tank.

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The mix of live action stunt performers inside realistic Turtle costumes, with puppetry and robotics taken care of by the Henson Workshop created a film of surprising quality that neatly mixed the humor of the animated Turtles, with the more serious tone and themes of the original black and white comic book Turtles. The film spawned two sequels, tie in merchandise and is fondly remembered by fans around the world.

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Leo And Kevin taking some down time on set

TMNT IN THE REAL WORLD

Not content just to conquer animation, toys, film and bubble bath the Turtles journeyed into the real world, via a live action stage show that would lead to a variety of similar shows around the world, and inspired similar live action TMNT global shows and appearances years later.

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Details are often sketchy about these live shows, which relied heavily on local promoters and entertainers to help fill out the overall structure. Some rare home videos and VHS uploads however are online if you search for “Turtles Live show 1990”.

I remember some kid or other having a birthday back in this era (he didn’t go to my school) and lucky me I got invited as his Dad was friends with my Dad – so I got to tag along for laser tag, video games, pizza and later the live Turtles stage show in Christchurch, New Zealand – which I remember thoroughly enjoying at the time.

 

ETERNALLY GREEN AND MEAN

The first color reprints of the Mirage comic books (the first ever Turtle comic book series that preceded the cartoon) appeared in bookstores in handsome deluxe editions (YEAR), exposing kids who had only ever encountered the animated show to deeper darker stories. Meanwhile the Archie Comics adventure series continued until 1995 building yet another fan base with stories aimed at a younger audience. The original toy line wound up in [year]. Next from 1997-1998 was a live action show notable for introducing female ninja turtle, Venus de Milo, but overall the show was poorly received.

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THE END OF AN ERA, AND THE BEGINNING OF A NEW ONE

Things went quiet for a while and then the Turtles were back in an all new animated show that leaned heavily on its comic book roots and shows like Batman Animated for its basic structure, superhero comic book tropes and darker mature tone in 2003. The popular series ran for over five years and created a whole new generation of turtle fans with new tie in toys again from Playmates and was followed up by an impressive stand alone computer animated film in 2007 with April voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame.

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GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

The original Mirage Studios comic book returned in 2002 after years of absence with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume#4 written by Peter Laird and focusing on more solo stories of the four brothers who were now older adults, living openly in a world that also had various alien life forms and ambassadors from different worlds. It featured adult Star Trek like stories that were more philosophical, but still had plenty of action, fantasy and science fiction layered in.

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The mature age stories of TMNT Volume#4 touched on similar ecological themes of the Archie Comics Adventure stories, and brought TMNT back to some of it’s science fiction roots – but without the heavy handed tone of the very first series which was written as a parody of Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil. Volume #4 of Mirage, along with the Archie Adventures series become my two favorite books out of all turtles media.

While some properties get watered down by appearing in multiple forms of media, the Turtles thrived simultaneously in animation, comics, video games, toys and are one of the few long lasting properties to have consistently good adaptations across all types of media.

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THE BIG TURTLE BUCKS BUYOUT OF 2009

Coinciding with the end of Mirage TMNT Volume#4 run, and after much public discussion via letter columns and online editorials, the majority of media and toy rights from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” the Intellectual Property was sold to the Nickelodeon / NICK entertainment company for sixty million dollars.

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Playmates was allowed to keep making the toys, and Mirage had the rights to continue more comics if they wanted to. But the Mirage run came to end and NICK powered ahead into a new era with the rights to films, tv shows and all merchandise.

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TO BOLDLY GO WHERE NO TURTLE HAS GONE BEFORE

The new NICK launched show and products focused on perhaps the youngest version yet of the Turtles yet in 2012. The NICK era brought new toys and recycled many ideas from both the older toy line and previous animated shows, as well as adding all new mutants, weirdos and freaks into the ever deepening melting pot of bizarre and deliciously demented TMNT side characters.

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The toyline was stronger than ever, and ran successfully for several years with the likeness of the new shows Turtles repeating the success of the very first toy line with vehicles, playsets, small and large scale turtles amongst other merchandise.

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SHELL BROTHERS FOR LIFE, ON AND OFF THE SCREEN

After a few stops and starts in the comic book world, the Turtles were back in print with an all new series from licensed media moguls IDW Publishing. In addition to all new stories, IDW was able to negotiable deals to reprints of the original Mirage Studios Ninja Turtle comic books and the Archie Comics series in handsome trade paperback editions to satisfy both old and new fans.

IDW brought Bebop, Rocksteady and Krang for the first time into an all new comic book continuity, as well as adding a deeper mythology to Shredder, the Turtles and their master Splinter that proved popular if controversial compared to previous Turtle Lore.

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The IDW Turtles series would ape the formula and format of the Mirage books by having “micro-series” that focused on specific characters, building up the backstories that ran in parallel with the main series, which were all later collected into IDW bookshelf format hardback oversize trades, as well as the more standard trade paperbacks.

Some fans have called the IDW run the greatest Ninja Turtles fiction yet, with it’s complex story, hard hitting characters and embracing the best of everything that has come before in comics and animation into a seamless whole.

 

LIVING LARGE ON THE BIG SCREEN ONCE AGAIN

With the turtles on another streak of successful media and tie in toys, the time was ripe for them once again to return to the big screen in a much talked about, frequently criticized live action film in 2014 from Paramount Pictures and Michael Bay production house Platinum Dunes. Platinum Dunes also brought us modern horror remakes of Elm St, Texas and Friday the 13th. The new live action film would again have tie in toys and collectibles and went on to spawn a sequel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016).

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Out of the Shadows was notable for giving fans the first live action version of old favorites warlord Krang and lovable doofus mutants Bebop and Rocksteady. Rocksteady was played by WWE wrestler Sheamus and Bebop by notable voice and character actor Gary Anthony Williams.

 

EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN

In 2018 Nickelodeon debuted an all new Turtles cartoon. This show ran in a shorter format aimed at a younger audience of phone and tablet users. The shows style proved divisive for long term fans. The rapid-fire jokes with loads of one liners, slapstick and some radically different character interpretations were also turn off for some long term fans, but the humor hit the right tone and style for younger children.

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Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has a strong traditional animation style along with stunningly beautiful backgrounds and great use of shadows and lighting effects, giving it the appearance of a higher budget show than it’s contemporaries.

Still more bizarre freaks and mutants were introduced, perhaps the biggest change was that all four of the Turtles are rather wacky and silly, even more so than the humor laden Murakami-Wolf era Turtles. The usually serious Leo jokes around as much as the rest of the Turtles, and stories move at a rapid pace. It’s a little jarring for fans like me, but this show is for a new generation. However I still enjoy it.

Rise is the second Nickelodeon led show, and it’s makes sense to aim for the younger audience, as that’s where most Turtle fans start out – as kids who discover a show and later go on to find other media or enjoy the toy lines. Every generation has its cultural touchstones, and some kid today is going to enjoy this show and maybe look back on it in ten to thirty years the way people of my generation look back at the first live action film and original eighties cartoon.

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The voice cast for Rise includes WWE’s John Cena as one of the main villains, punk rock icon Johhny Rotten as Meat Sweats alongside Futurama alums John DiMaggio and Maurice LaMarche. As well as acting veteran Rob Paulsen on voice directing duties – Rob voiced Raph in the 1987 show and Donnie in the  2012 show, along with dozens of other character voices in iconic shows of the last forty years.

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The Rise TMNT toyline made a slow start in America with just a handful of well articulated cartoon accurate figures and vehicles, with more variants and villain figures to follow in the usual global drip feed of toy waves. The first wave finally reached Australia around December/ January 2019 and are impressive colorful fun toys that match their on screen counterparts perhaps better than any Playmates/ chain store sold Turtle toy ever seen before.

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Over 35 years, the Ninja Turtles have provided great entertainment, superhero-fantasy adventure stories that touched the hearts and minds of millions of children and adult fans around the globe. For a little indy comic book that could – printed on their own families dime, Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are a long lasting phenomenon that nobody could have predicted, or expected.

Ideas for kids superhero fiction live and die every day, it’s a one in a million shot that the comic took off, let alone was made into a toyline and an animated series. Eastman and Laird hit the jackpot financially and creatively with the Ninja Turtles, and through the years have remained mostly humble about their creations, content to let others take over whey they left off. Whatever challenges the Turtles may face in the future, they remain a firm if unconventional family, and face their challenges with teamwork, brotherly love and determination.

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THE BAD ASS TURTLES FROM THE WRONG SIDE OF THE SEWERS! Playmates 1990’s Slash and Tokka

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I don’t know if I ever saw the episode of good old fashioned Ninja Turtles when Slash first appeared. I do remember when he was in the Archie Comics for a bit, and his toy looks way more like that version. Tokka was unmissable given he was in the live action Ninja Turtles II:Secret of the Ooooooooze. He also looked fucking amazing in that film.

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The Slash figure I’ve had since I was a kid. I used to save up my weekly pocket money back in New Zealand. Five dollars a week as I recall. For that I would dry the dishes every night, keep my room semi-tidy and mow the lawns once a week. The vintage Playmates first waves of toys back in the late eighties and into the nineties cost around NZ $15 each. So three weeks pocket money = One Toy.

I started with General Traag and Fly Baxter, and eventually picked up the Turtles. But mostly I liked the villains, they had the more interesting sculpts and cool weird nasty details on them. I  bought a few of them, then the damned stores stopped selling them, so it was only last year I picked up Tokka.

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Tokka was released in 1991 and I got him in 2018 loose but complete from another collector. I *almost* got Rahzar from another dude, but the condition was not so good so I passed. Had a busted limb or something and wanted top dollar. No thanks pal! Not when I can get the same toy not broken for the same price. At least he told me so I could back out of the deal, I would have been pissed and scorched earth for him if he had of sent it without telling me.

 

IN YOUR FACE WITH A MUTANT MACE!

Anyway… SLASH… the fucking maniac Turtle from Dimension X. Most likely psychotic. He’s actually from earth, but whatever. He ends up living in Dimension X in the Archie version. In the cartoon he was Bebop’s pet, but in the Archie Comics kind of his own character and a bit more developed, more dangerous and more intelligent. The cartoon mostly played him for laughs as an incompetent moron and he barely resembles the toy he is there to sell.

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Safe to say Slash is my all time favourite Playmates Turtle toy. And my favourite Turtle character along with Raph. The Murakami-Wolf toon version was a benign idiot. The toy and Archie Comics version was a dangerous berzerker with a damaged mind who was manipulated by the Turtles various enemies. Later in the comics Slash becomes part of the group The Mutanimals, and later still teams up with the Fab Four to save the planet from a race of evil intergalactic bugs/insects intent on devouring all life on earth (think Aliens, or Brood or whatever, parasites) and even sacrifices himself to do so becoming a true hero.

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MANIACS FRESH FROM THE SEWERS AND DIMENSION X!

Check out that toothy grin, the weird scribbled “s” belt letter, the off kilter stance, spikes out the wazoo and cool textures on his skin. That crooked cackling grin and weird uneven eyes pretty much makes him the Bizarro Ninja Turtle with skulls on his belt.

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Mostly I don’t bother taking a picture of the behind of a toy as it’s rather boring, who even looks there.  But Slash looks just as damn good from the back. Check out those wicked spikes all around his shell, his tail, those meaty calfs and purple shoulder armor and wrist spikes. Look closer and you’ll see an intricate pattern on his shell that is almost hypnotic. They don’t make toys like this no more. You can just make out on the right edge of his belt a Grenade molded in and a holster at the back for his crooked Sai.

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Tokka, of the second movie fame is a redeco and resculpt of the Slash toy. Same body, different head and colors, and some other minor details. Knee spikes and belt are mostly the same, but Tokka has the foot symbol on his belt, and different shoulder pads, strangely unpainted.

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Tokka on the backside has the same details and belt space for a weapon, and his shell has a nice brown shade that looks even better in person. Unlike a lot of the mainline Turtle toys through year, Tokka and Slash have their Turtle Tails. Rumor is these were not featured on the main four in most toy lines as from a distance the front it can be easily mistaken for a penis.

The belt fronts on both toys hang down in front, so even in package reactionary helicopter parents can’t set off some five alarm chili pepper panic in their communities to protect the children from Satan’s Snapping Turtle Dick and that sort of thing.

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Tokka is not as spiky as his movie version (and fuck me I’d love some company to do a high quality expensive movie accurate version like a NECA 1/4 scale example) but he is just a repaint of Slash with a new head and other minor differences, so it’s better to have him as a bonus toy at all than complain about his differences.

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Tokka’s head is a just such a great sculpt. He has that savageness, but also that baby like inquisitiveness which was his character in the film. He is basically an animal abused by Shredder and set on the Turtles, just a baby learning his way in the world like any other wild animal trying to imprint on his parental figures and environment, while following his inborn instincts. Savage, yet cute and deadly as he doesn’t know his own phenomenal strength, he throws poor Donnie around like a rag doll in Secret of the Ooze.

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Unlike Slash who is around the same height as the Turtles – or sometimes shorter and wider with bigger muscles and total mass – Tokka is a giant next to even the movie Turtles, who are typically taller than their cartoon versions.

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Tokka tends to be hunched over most of the time with his neck jutting forward like an actual Turtle. The amazing puppet suit with a man inside is nearly twice the size of the other live action Turtles. The puppetry is outstanding with Tokka beating up the Turtles. He also appeared briefly in the cartoon, but was clearly not based on the movie version.

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Remember when I said Tokka’s toy was a redeco of Slash’s figure? Yup, so the cartoon just went ahead and made the animation model the toy redeco. I don’t know if they did not have rights to use the movie version perhaps? But he ends up being a Slash clone and it’s pretty funny as they even left on the knee spikes and skulls on the belt. Tokka doesn’t wear a belt you dummies!!!

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Over on  the card back we get a look at their weapons, which are Slash’s purple-pink weapons repainted black for Tokka’s versions. The “Twisted Turtle Belt” has now become the “Belly Bustin’ Belt” to hold up his non-existent pants. I pity the people that had to write these descriptions with probably bugger all information. I do love the descriptive words and alliteration however. Top Stuff!

I do have all the weapons for both, but some are in a storage tub so I’m using the excellent search friendly website resource TMNT-Ninjaturtles.com – As I lost my card backs years ago, and don’t have any for the recent figures I picked up. According to Slash’s bio card he was created by Shredder in Dimension X, blind in one eye, he is a ninja (with no training) and a……….. cannibal? That’s just nasty.

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Tokka’s biocard is a bit simpler, even mentioning the movie he is from, despite this being a biocard for a toy that appeared in the cartoon (as a redeco of the Slash toy). It mentions how he is basically a big dumb baby who is a “celluloid sicko”. I’m guessing when this card was written it was not a given if/when he might ever appear in the cartoon.

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CUTTING THE TURTLES DOWN TO SIZE ONE SLICE AT A TIME!

Putting the two most dangerous Turtles in town side by side, you can see the basic similarities, how good both look with their different head sculpts and paint schemes. The hands fit most any weapons from various TMNT 5″ toy lines, including modern ones.

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Tokka is some kind of snapping Turtle, explaining his beak like mouth. Slash however I have no idea. I think he is just a basic turtle but with spikes etc added on his back to make him more of a demented bad ass.

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Tokka likes a good punch up, would you mess with these flaming fists of turtle fury?

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As cool and wild as these guys are, I think both are misunderstood, so after beating each other up along with the Turtles – I see them going on some kind of cool team up mission then going their own ways. Despite being created as bad guys, both are just not misunderstood child like animals. And both were manipulated by Shredder and/or Krang etc depending on which fiction you look at.

While NECA have given us some amazing 1990-era live action movie accurate large and small scale Turtles, I would dearly love them to make a movie accurate Tokka. Slash has been on the books for about two years now, and is part of the “Arcade” line of TMNT 6″ figures along with Granitor and General Traag – with no news for over a year now – so it might have been canned at this point. Three fingers crossed. Oh, Tokka has five fingers like a human, while Slash has the usual three. Only just noticed!

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I would not like to be on the business end of that one! That’s it for now. Next time I’m going to talk about my OTHER favourite Slash figure and it’s not an official one.

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IMAGE CREDITS

*TMNT Playmates vintage all card image scans from https://tmnt-ninjaturtles.com/figures/ original card design by Playmates Toys

*TMNT comic art from the Archie TMNT Adventures series (later republished by IDW Publishing).

*Slash, Tokka and Razhzar cartoon image from the Murakami-Wolf era Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) show.

*Live action stills screen captured from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze (1991)