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The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or simply Ninja Turtles, and previously known in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Ireland and Scandinavia as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles) are a fictional team of four mutant turtles, who are trained by their sensei, Master Splinter, in the art of Ninjutsu. From their home in the storm sewers of Manhattan, they battle petty criminals, evil megalomaniacs, and alien invaders, all while remaining isolated from society at large. The characters initially appeared in comic books before being licensed for toys, cartoons and film adaptations. During the peak of its popularity in the late 1980s through early 1990s, the franchise gained considerable worldwide success and fame.

Contents

Origins

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles originated in an American comic book published by Mirage Studios in 1984 in Northampton, Massachusetts. The concept arose from a humorous drawing sketched out by Kevin Eastman during a casual evening of brainstorming with his friend Peter Laird. Using money from a tax refund together with a loan from Eastman's uncle, the young artists self-published a single issue comic intended to parody four of the most popular comics of the early 1980s: Marvel Comics' Daredevil and New Mutants, Dave Sim's Cerebus and Frank Miller's Ronin.[1]

Much of the Turtles' mainstream success is owed to a licensing agent, Mark Freedman, who sought out Eastman and Laird to propose wider merchandising opportunities for the offbeat property. In 1986, Dark Horse Miniatures produced a set of 15 mm lead figurines. In January 1988, they visited the offices of Playmates Toys Inc, a small California toy company who wished to expand into the action figure market. Development initiated with a creative team of companies and individuals: Jerry Sachs, famous ad man of Sachs-Finley Agency, brought together the animators at Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, headed by award-winning animator Fred Wolf. Wolf and his team combined concepts and ideas with Playmates marketing crew, headed by Karl Aaronian and then VP of Sales, Richard Sallis and VP of Playmates, Bill Carlson. Aaronian brought on several designers and concepteer and writer John Schulte and worked out the simple backstory that would live on toy packaging for the entire run of the product and show. Sachs called the high-concept pitch "Green Against Brick." The sense of humor was honed with the collaboration of MWS's writers, Walk Kubiak, Aaronian, Schulte and Sachs. Playmates and their team (Sallis, Aaronian, Carlson, Schulte & Sachs), essentially, served as associate producers and contributing writers to the mini-series that was first launch to sell-in the toy action figures. Phrases like "Heroes in a Half Shell" and many of the comical catch phrases and battle slogans ("Turtle Power!") came from the writing and conceptualization of this creative team. As the series developed, veteran writer Jack Mendelsohn came on board as both a story editor and scriptwriter. David Wise, Michael Charles Hill and Michael Reaves wrote most of the scripts, taking input via Mendelsohn and collaborating writer Schulte and marketing maven Aaronian.

The min-series was repeated twice before it found an audience. Once the product started selling, the show got syndicated and picked up and backed by Group W, which funded the next round of animation. The show then went network, on CBS. Accompanied by the popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 TV series, and the subsequent action figure line, the TMNT were soon catapulted into pop culture history. At the height of the frenzy, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Turtles' likenesses could be found on a wide range of children's merchandise, from PEZ dispensers to skateboards, breakfast cereal, toothpaste, video games, school supplies, linens, towels, cameras, and even toy shaving kits.

In the 2000s there has been a resurgence in the Turtles' popularity with the success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 TV series, a new line of Playmates action figures, Konami and Ubisoft's video games, and the 2007 CGI movie.

Red-Eared Sliders

Within the second volume of the Tales of the TMNT comic, the four Turtles are revealed as specimens of the Red-Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans).[citation needed] The popularity of the TMNT encouraged a craze for keeping them as pets in Great Britain.[2]

It was speculated that people often disposed of unwanted turtles by releasing them into the toilet, including in areas where they do not occur naturally, risking upsetting the originally balanced ecosystem of those particular areas.[3] As a result, Red-Eared Sliders have been considered one of the top 100 invasive species today[4]

Main characters in the 1987 Cartoon Universe

For supporting characters see List of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters
  • Leonardo (Blue bandanna and ninjatō) — The courageous leader and devoted student of martial arts. As a strict adherent to Bushido, he has a very strong sense of honor and justice. He wears a blue mask and wields a pair of ninjatō. He is the eldest of the four. He is named after Leonardo Da Vinci.[5]
  • Raphael (Red bandanna and sai) — The team's bad boy, he has an aggressive nature and seldom hesitates to throw the first punch. He is an intense fighter. His personality can be alternately fierce and sarcastic, and oftentimes delivers deadpan humor. Still, he is intensely loyal to his brothers and sensei. He is good friends with Casey Jones, after having to meet him one night on patrol and challenging him to a fight; he later loses his sense of taste when Casey Jones dares him to eat a wasabi covered pizza. The two have since frequently patrolled together. Raphael wears a red mask and wields a pair of sai. He is the third eldest after Donatello. He is named after Raphael Sanzio.[5]
  • Michelangelo (Orange bandanna and nunchaku) — The easy-going and free-spirited Mikey provides much of the comic relief. While he loves to relax, this Turtle also has an adventurous and creative side. He wears an orange mask and wields nunchaku. He is the youngest of the four. He is named after Michelangelo Buonarroti. His name was originally misspelled "Michaelangelo" by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman – at the time they were using a typewriter and did not own a dictionary.[5]As of the 2007 CGI movie, Michelangelo sense of humor has been toned down considerably, and it's implied in dialogue between Leonardo and Michelangelo that Leonardo had previously warned his brother about his sometimes-insensitive humor.
  • Donatello (Purple bandanna and bō) — The brilliant scientist, inventor, engineer, and technological genius. He is perhaps the least violent Turtle, preferring to use his intellect to solve conflicts. He wears a purple mask and wields the bōstaff. He is the second eldest of the four. He is named after the sculptor Donatello.[5]
  • Master Splinter — The Turtles' sensei and adoptive father, Splinter is a mutant rat who learned the ways of ninjutsu from his own master, Hamato Yoshi. In the 1987 series, Splinter was Hamato Yoshi himself mutated into a rat. (This was not true of the movies based on that series, and was the only major storyline difference between the two.)
  • Shredder — A villainous ninjutsu master called Oroku Saki. In every incarnation of the TMNT franchise, he has been the archenemy of Splinter and the Turtles. Shredder prefers to use his armor instead of weapons. He is also the leader of the Foot Clan.
  • April O'Neil — A former lab assistant to the mad scientist Baxter Stockman, April is the plucky human companion of the Turtles. April first met up with the Turtles when they saved her from Baxter's Mouser robots. She embarks on many of the Turtles' adventures and aids them by doing the work that the Turtles themselves cannot do in public. In the 1987 series, and previous 3 films, April was a television news reporter.
  • Casey Jones — A vigilante who has become one of the Turtles' closest allies. Casey first met up with the Turtles after having a fight with Raphael. Casey fights crime with an assortment of sporting goods (baseball bats, golf clubs, hockey sticks, cricket bat etc.) while wearing a hockey mask to protect his identity.
  • Krang — An extremely intelligent villain from another world known as Dimension X. He took command of an army of Rock Soldiers under the leadership of General Traag, and stole the Technodrome, a powerful battle fortress, from its creator Drakus. One day, an unexplained, bizarre incident occurred that caused Krang to be stripped of his body and reduced to a brain-like form, also resulting in his exile from Dimension X to Earth, along with his army and the Technodrome. He allied himself with Shredder.
  • Bebop and Rocksteady — Once human, the pair was mutated by Shredder into monsters in order to get revenge on the Turtles. Bebop was mutated into a human warthog, and Rocksteady into a human rhinoceros. The two act as Shredder's bodyguards and henchmen, and they are mainly used as comic relief.

Comics

]] Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles premiered in May, 1984, at a comic book convention held at a local Sheraton Hotel in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It was published by Mirage Studios in an oversized magazine-style format using black & white artwork on cheap newsprint, limited to a print run of only 3,000 copies. Through a clever media kit that included an ad placed in Comic Buyer's Guide #547, the public's interest was piqued and thus began the Turtle phenomenon. The small print runs made these early comics and trade magazines instant collector items, and within months they were trading for over fifty times their cover price. The name "Mirage Studios" was chosen because of Eastman and Laird's lack of a professional art studio at the start of their career, before their creation made them both multi-millionaires.

Mirage also published a bi-monthly companion book entitled Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, featuring art by Ryan Brown and Jim Lawson, which was designed to fill in the gaps of continuity in the TMNT universe. This put Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the same mainstream time continuity, and the two are thus canon to each other. The title's first volume was from 1987–1989, released in alternating months with the regular Eastman & Laird book. All seven issues of Volume One have been collected in trade paperback form twice, and twenty-five issues of Volume Two have been collected in trades of five issues each.

As the TMNT phenomenon proliferated to other media, Eastman and Laird would find themselves administrating an international merchandising juggernaut. Unfortunately, this prevented the two creators from participating in the day-to-day work of writing and illustrating a monthly comic book. For this reason, many guest artists were invited to showcase their unique talents in the TMNT universe. The breadth of diversity found in the various short stories gave the series a disjointed, anthology-like feel. Fans stuck with the series, and what was originally intended as a one-shot became a continuing series that lasted for 104 issues spanning three separate volumes, currently on its fourth being published by Mirage Publishing.

In June, 1996, Image Comics revived the title in what is considered "Volume 3" of the comics. It was a slightly more action-oriented TMNT series and although notable for inflicting major physical changes on the main characters, Peter Laird, co-creator of the TMNT, has said this volume is no longer in canon as he began publishing Volume 4 at Mirage Publishing. As an explanation, he offered in the pages of Volume 4's lettercol: "It just didn't feel right."

After taking back the series from Image Comics, Mirage Studios resumed publication of a fourth volume in December, 2001, under the simple title TMNT. After the publication of issue #28, writer Peter Laird placed the series on an eight month hiatus to devote himself to production of the recent TMNT movie. However, after that eight months had passed Mirage's official website went on to list the series as in "indefinite hiatus". In January 2008 Mirage had finally confirmed that the series would return in May 2008. Issue 29 has a limited printing of 1,000 copies. The issue can be purchased from the official Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles website or read for free online at Wowio. #30 is due out soon.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures was a comic book series published from August 1988 to October 1995 by Archie Comics. The initial storylines were close adaptations of the 1987 TV series, but with the fifth issue Eastman and Laird decided to hand the series over to Mirage Studios employees Ryan Brown and Stephen Murphy who immediately abandoned the animated series adaptations and took the title in a decidedly different direction with all-new original adventures.

In 1989, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created a special three-issue series of full-color mini comics for the Ralston-Purina Company. These comics were offered for kids to collect and were only available as premiums in boxes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cereal.

Between April and July 1991, the Turtles appeared in issues 25 to 27 of Flaming Carrot Comics as a three-part crossover written by Bob Burden and published by Dark Horse.[6] From November 1993 to February 1994, the Flaming Carrot character subsequently appeared in a four-part crossover titled "Land of Green Fire", once again written by Burden but published by Mirage as a Mirage Studios' Special.[7] A monthly comic inspired by the 2003 TV series was published by Dreamwave Productions from June to December 2003. It was written by Peter David and illustrated by LeSean Thomas. In the first four issues, which were the only ones directly adapted from the TV series, the story was told from the perspectives of April, Baxter, Casey, and a pair of NYC cops, instead of the Turtles.

Titan comics are currently producing a monthly TMNT comic for the UK which features new TMNT: Fast Forward material as well as colored reprints of the Mirage movie prequel comics.

The Turtles have appeared in many manga series: Mutant Turtles (ミュータント・タートルズ Myūtanto Tātoruzu?) was a 15-issue series by Tsutomu Oyamada, Zuki mora, and Yoshimi Hamada that simply adapted episodes of the original American animated series. Super Turtles (スーパータートルズ Sūpā Tātoruzu) was a 3-issue mini-series by Hidemasa Idemitsu, Tetsurō Kawade, and Toshio Kudō that featured the "TMNT Supermutants" Turtle toys that were on sale at the time. The first volume of Japan's anime mini-series followed this storyline. Next was Mutant Turtles Gaiden (ミュータント・タートルズ外伝 Myūtanto Tātoruzu Gaiden?) by Hiroshi Kanno, which was a re-interpretation of the Turtles story with no connection to the previous manga. Also of note was Mutant Turtles III, an adaptation of the third feature film by Yasuhiko Hachino.

A daily comic strip written and illustrated by Dan Berger featured an adventure story Monday through Friday and activity puzzles on weekends (with fan art appearing later). The comic strip was published in syndication until its cancellation in December, 1996. At its highest point in popularity, it was published in over 250 newspapers.

Television series

First animated series (1987–1996)

.]] When little known Playmates Toys Inc. was approached about producing a TMNT action figure line, they were cautious of the risk and requested that a television deal be acquired first.[8] On December 10, 1987, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' first cartoon series began, starting as a 5-part miniseries and becoming a regular Saturday morning syndicated series on October 1, 1988 with 13 more episodes. The series was produced by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson Film Productions Inc. Mirage Studios does not own the rights to this cartoon series. Here, the Ninja Turtles are portrayed as four wise-cracking, pizza-obsessed superheroes who fight the forces of evil from their sewer hideout, and make their first appearance in masks color-coded to each turtle, where previously they had all worn red. The cast included new and different characters like Bebop and Rocksteady and the Neutrinos. Original characters like Splinter, Shredder and the Foot Soldiers stayed true to the comics in appearance and alignment only. Instead of being Hamato Yoshi's mutated pet rat, Splinter was a mutated Yoshi himself. The Foot Soldiers changed from human ninja to an endless supply of robotic grunts, allowing large numbers of them to be destroyed without anyone dying (this was a very important decision in terms of the show's child audience; excessive violence would have alienated parents of children, the show's target demographic). Krang, one of the series' most memorable villains, was inspired by the design of the Utrom, a benevolent alien race from the Mirage comics. The animated Krang, however, was instead an evil warlord from Dimension X. Baxter Stockman, whose race was changed from black to white due to fears that for Shredder to boss around a black Stockman would be perceived as racist, was rewritten as a shy and meek lackey to Shredder, later mutating into an anthropomorphic housefly.

Starting on September 25, 1989, the series was expanded to weekdays and had 47 more episodes for the new Season. There were 28 new syndicated episodes for Season 4 and only 13 of those episodes aired in 1990. The "European Vacation" episodes were not seen in the United States until USA Network started showing reruns in late 1993 and the "Awesome Easter" episodes weren't seen until 1991.These episodes were most likely delayed because of animation or schedule problems.[9]

On April 21, 1990 a drug prevention television special was broadcast on ABC, NBC and CBS named Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue that featured some of the most popular cartoons at the time; representing TMNT was Michelangelo.

Starting on September 8, 1990 (with a different opening sequence), the show began its run on CBS. The CBS weekend edition presented a full hour of Turtle Power, initially airing a couple of Saturday exclusive episodes back to back. There would also be a brief "Turtle Tips" segment in between the two episodes which served as PSA about the environment or other issues.

On September 17, 1994, (with a different theme song with lyrics by Mary Black), opening sequence, and end credits background) the series continued with one episode per week, but big changes were made to the series. Starting with the 1994 Season, the format of the series was changed to a more action-oriented show, removing numerous characters, as well as character development scenes, and the cartoon feel of the series. The opening sequence was completely changed to one where clips of the 1994 Season were used instead of animation specifically for the intro. The theme song was changed to a techno beat and scenes from the 1990 live action movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were intercut with new scenes from the 1994 season. The sky was changed from blue to a red one with gray clouds to give the show a darker feel, similar to the makeover given to the original Spider-Man animated series in Seasons 2 and 3. The series ran until November 3, 1996 when it aired its final episode. Its enormous popularity gave rise to its numerous imitators and inspirations, including the Battletoads, Cheetahmen, Wild West Cowboys of Moo Mesa, Stone Protectors, Street Sharks, Extreme Dinosaurs, and Biker Mice from Mars.

Currently, 169 episodes are available on DVD.

Live-action series (1997–1998)

In 1997–1998, the Turtles starred in a live-action television series called Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation that follows the events of the movies. A fifth turtle was introduced, a female named "Venus de Milo" who was skilled in the mystical arts of the shinobi. The series seemed to be a loose continuation of the movie franchise, as Shredder had been defeated and the Ninja Turtles encountered new villains. Other connections to the feature films include the fact that Splinter's ear was cut, the Foot Soldiers were humans, and the Turtles lived in the abandoned subway station seen in the second and third movies. The Next Mutation Turtles even made a guest appearance on Power Rangers: In Space, a live-action show that was popular at the time.[10]

It was canceled after one season of twenty-six episodes. Since its cancellation, Peter Laird has disavowed the character Venus de Milo, while Kevin Eastman is more open to talk about her.[citation needed]

Second animated series (2003–present)

On February 8, 2003, the Fox Network revived the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise with the help of 4Kids Entertainment as a Saturday morning cartoon in the "FoxBox" programming block, which has since been renamed "4Kids TV". The remake series is produced by Mirage Studios[2], and Mirage owns one-third of the rights to the series. Mirage's significant stake in creative control results in a cartoon that hews more closely to the original comics, creating a darker and edgier feel than the 1987 cartoon, but still remaining lighthearted enough to be considered appropriate for children.

The series still includes some of the old villains, like the Shredder and Baxter Stockman, but added new villains as well as new friends. Leatherhead helps Donatello in a vital story arc and Karai takes over after her father the Utrom Shredder is exiled far away. April and Casey are also in this series and April has an antique shop like in the first film and the Mirage comics.

Anime

In addition to the American series, a Japanese exclusive two-episode anime OVA series was made in 1996, titled Mutant Turtles: Superman Legend (ミュータント・タートルズ超人伝説偏 Myūtanto Tātoruzu: Chōjin Densetsu Hen?). The OVA was similar in tone to the humorous 1987 TV series and uses the same voices from the Japanese dub of the 1987 TV series.

The first episode was made to advertise the TMNT Supermutants toys. It featured the Turtles as superheroes, who gained costumes and super powers with the use of Mutastones, while Shredder, Bebop and Rocksteady gained super-villain powers with the use of a Dark Mutastone. As with the Super Sentai and Power Rangers franchises, the four Turtles can combine to form the giant Turtle Saint.

The second episode was created to advertise the Metal Mutants toys in which the characters gain Saint Seiya-esque mystical metal armor that can transform into beasts. The seven Japanese Mutanite stones encased in a magic mirror that control the Metal Beasts are based on the sun, moon, and the Five Elements

In 1994, two live action, direct-to-video releases were released. Both were twenty-five minute videos. They were called "We Wish You a Turtle Christmas" and "Turtle Tunes". They were both very popular[citation needed].

Mutanimals animated series

Back in 1992, the Mutanimals were being shopped around by Mirage as a spin-off of the turtles. Ruby-Spears showed some interest, so an animation bible was produced along with a style guide of all the characters, environs and vehicles. Plot synopses for the first season were completed, with the 13 episodes centered around the Mutanimals' efforts to combat an invasion by Maligna.

All the regular cast of the Mutanimals make the transition, although they were redesigned, or perhaps streamlined, to accommodate budgetary restrictions in the animation process.

Krang makes the jump from the TMNT universe to become the main villain and friend of Maligna. A host of villains both new and old are on board to help keep the Mutanimals on their toes.

Of note:

  • The Mutanimals get a new member, Ninjara. Ninjara was a character introduced in the archie comics series. Whether or not this would have been the same Ninjara as the one from the Archie series run is unknown.
  • The Turtles guest star in the first 4 episodes.
  • In Episode 9 the Mutanimals go to Dimension X to meet Cudley the Cowlick.
  • Playmates was to produce a wide line of figures, vehicles, and accessories based on the animation bible.

Feature films

Toys and merchandise

Among the first licensed products to feature the Ninja Turtles was a pen and paper RPG titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness, published by Palladium Books in 1985 and featuring original comics and illustrations by Eastman and Laird themselves. The game features a large list of animals, including pandas and sparrows, that are available as mutant player characters. There were several more titles in this genre, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, Truckin' Turtles, Turtles Go Hollywood, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Guide to the Universe and Transdimensional Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In 1986, Dark Horse Miniatures in Boise, Idaho produced an attendant set of lead figurines, unlike later incarnations the bandannas on the store's display set were painted all red before the multicolored versions were released to help younger readers distinguish between the four characters other than their weaponry. Palladium allowed the license to lapse in 2000, in part due to declining sales stemming from the "kiddification" of the animated and live-action incarnations to that point. However, Palladium's publisher, Kevin Siembieda, has indicated a potential willingness to revisit the license given the franchise's recent moves closer to its roots.[11]

During the run of the 1987 TV series, Playmates Toys produced hundreds of TMNT action figures, along with vehicles, play sets, and accessories, becoming one of the top collectibles for children. Staff artists at Northampton, Massachusetts-based Mirage Studios provided conceptual designs for many of the figures, vehicles, and playsets and creator credit can be found in the legal text printed on the back of the toy packaging. The line featured many different variants of the TMNT, such as "Farmer Mike" and "Classic Rocker Leo." In addition, Playmates produced a series of TMNT/Star Trek crossover figures, due to Playmates holding the Star Trek action figure license at the time. Playmates employed many design groups to develop looks and styles for the ongoing toy line, including Bloom Design, White Design, Pangea, Robinson-Clarke and McHale Design. Comic reality was maintained by visual artists at each of the firms, creating a wide range of compelling styles. The writing on the packaging came predominately from Pangea and White Design. Ancillary in-pack items, like the Turtle Maps and joke books were also wildly popular. All in all, the shows were often inspired by the collaboration of all these visual and written elements coming together. The Marketing VP of Playmates, Karl Aaronian, was largely responsible for assembling the talented team of designers and writers, which in turn, helped germinate continued interest in the toy line. Never before in toy history did an action figure line have such an impact for over two decades, generating billions of dollars in licensing revenue.

The series was highly popular in the UK where, in the run-up to Christmas, the Army & Navy Store in London's Lewisham devoted its entire basement to everything Turtle, including games, videos, costumes, and other items.

Playmates continues to produce TMNT action figures based on the 2003 animated series. The 2007 film, TMNT, also gave Playmates a new source from which to make figures. And in September 2007, NECA announced that they would produce figures based on character designs from the original Mirage comics. As of April 2008 there have been toys released of the four turtles with their weapons, a piece of an interhooking platform, a can of ooze, an unmutated turtle toy, and two alternate hands. It features a detailed color/design job as well as 20 points of articulation. August 2008, NECA announced a second wave, featuring Shredder, Casey Jones, and a Foot Soldier, but the future of the NECA line is unknown with Playmates releasing 25th anniversary TMNT toys.

Video games

The first Famicom/NES TMNT game was the single-player Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, released by Konami/Ultra in 1989. It was unique in that at any point, the player could switch from one turtle to the next to take advantage of each Turtle's strengths. In addition, the player starts off in a strategic map where the player may explore sewer holes as well as engage patrolling enemy foot soldiers before entering any in-game portals. The game was also released on the many home computers, but these conversions were hastily made and got negative reviews. Years later the game was released for the Wii on the Virtual Console.

Also released by Konami in 1989 was the first TMNT arcade game, also titled simply Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This side-scrolling "beat-em-up" was ported to the NES as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game and in March 2007 to the Xbox 360 as TMNT 1989 Arcade game though Xbox Live Arcade by Ubisoft. This led to an NES-only sequel, entitled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project, which used the look of the arcade game, as opposed the first NES game. The next Turtles console game, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, was released in 1991 as an arcade game, and was later ported to the Super Nintendo as in 1992. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist was also created for the Sega Genesis in the same year, and used many of the art assets from TMNT IV.

There was also a trilogy of TMNT video games for the original Nintendo Game Boy system made by Konami, consisting of: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back from the Sewers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue.

As the video game series progressed, programmers began to incorporate unique signature moves for each Turtle, as well as game features such as "Versus mode" and "Time Attack mode." When the Ninja Turtles' popularity began to decline in the mid-nineties, the video games changed direction. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters was released as a one-on-one fighting game similar to the Street Fighter series. It is of note that, whilst this game would see release on both the Mega Drive/Genesis and Super Nintendo consoles using similar art assets, the games are essentially different (a common occurrence for 16-bit licensed titles of the era, such as Disney's Aladdin).

Konami also acquired the license to adapt the 2003 TV series into a video game franchise, resulting in a new series of games with the same button mashing gameplay as the old TMNT "beat 'em ups." (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003 video game), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare.) In 2006, Ubisoft acquired the rights of TMNT games, beginning with a game based on the 2007 animated feature film.[12]

Recently, a new TMNT fighter called TMNT: Smash Up has been announced for the Wii and will be released in fall of 2009, to coincide with the series' 25th anniversary.[13]

Food tie-ins

During the height of their popularity (1987–1996) the Turtles had a number of food tie-ins. Among the most notable of these products was Ninja Turtles Cereal, produced by Ralston-Purina as a kind of "Chex with TMNT-themed marshmallows" which also came with a small pouch of; Pizza Crunchabungas, pizza flavored corn snacks in the shape of pizzas (the commercial starred the Ninja Turtles as Will Vinton-created claymations); Hostess Ninja Turtles Pudding Pies, featuring a green sugar crust and vanilla pudding inside; and Royal OOZE Gelatin Desserts, distributed by Nabisco under "Royal Gelatin" in three different flavors: orange, strawberry, and lime. Shreddies used to give out TMNT toys in their boxes when the cereal advertising was still geared toward children. One example of a TMNT prize was rings featuring a character on the cartoon (1992). There was also green Ninja Turtle ice cream with different toppings according to which turtle flavour you ordered. Chef Boyardee also released a canned pasta with the pasta in the shapes of the four turtles themselves.

Concert tour

To further add to the Turtles' popularity, a concert tour was held in 1990, premiering at Radio City Music Hall. The "Coming Out of Their Shells" tour featured live-action turtles (in costumes similar to the films) playing music as a band (Donatello; keyboards, Leonardo; bass guitar, Raphael; drums & sax, Michelangelo; guitar) on stage around a familiar plotline: April O'Neil is kidnapped by the Shredder, the turtle guys have to rescue her. The story had a very Bill-n'-Ted-esque feel, with its theme of the power of rock n' roll literally defeating the enemy, in the form of the Shredder (who only rapped, about how he hates music) trying to eliminate all music. A pay-per-view special highlighting the concert was shown, and a studio album was also released. The track listing is as follows:

  1. "Coming Out of Our Shells!"
  2. "Sing About It"
  3. "Tubin'"
  4. "Skipping Stones"
  5. "Pizza Power"
  6. "Walk Straight"
  7. "No Treaties"
  8. "Cowabunga"
  9. "April Ballad"
  10. "Count on Us"

Since the tour was sponsored by Pizza Hut in real life, there are many references to their pizza. Empty Pizza Hut boxes are seen onscreen during the "Behind The Shells" VHS. As part of a cross-marketing strategy, Pizza Hut restaurants gave away posters, audio cassettes of "Coming Out of Their Shells," and "Official Tour Guides" as premiums.

The original show of the tour was released on video with a making of video also released. The song "Pizza Power" was later used by Konami for the second arcade game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time.

MGM Studios

On June 30, 1990 the TMNT arrived in the "New York Street" section of Disney-MGM Studios theme park in Orlando. Emerging from their Turtle Party Wagon, they would "ninja dance" across the stage while April performed the theme song to the show. After the main show was done they would pose for pictures and sign autographs.

The Turtles made appearances in Walt Disney's "Very Merry Christmas Parade" to sing their own rendition of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". They also appeared during the Easter parade dancing to their single "Pizza Power!" The Turtles' live shows and appearances ceased production in 1996.

Parodies

Although the TMNT had originated as arguably something of a parody, the comic's explosive success led to a wave of small-press, black & white comic parodies of TMNT itself, including Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters, Pre-Teen Dirty-Gene Kung Fu Kangaroos, Cold-Blooded Chameleon Commandos, and a host of others. Dark Horse Comics' Boris the Bear was launched in response to these TMNT clones; its first issue was titled "Boris the Bear Slaughters the Teenage Radioactive Black Belt Mutant Ninja Critters."

Once the Turtles broke into the mainstream, parodies also proliferated in other media, such as in satire magazines Cracked and MAD Magazine. UK satirical puppet show Spitting Image featured a recurring weekly sketch "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turds" – inspired by the fact that the turtles lived in a sewer. Another was on a TV series called 'Dinosaurs', featured a poster of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Cavemen". In the Tiny Toon Adventures short "Slugfest," Plucky and Hamton are fans of a cartoon called Immature Radioactive Samurai Slugs. The Nickelodeon series The Fairly Odd Parents TV movie Channel Chasers parodies many original TV shows including TMNT, instead called The Genetically Altered Adolescent Karate Cows.

Controversy

Grim 'n gritty comics

In keeping with the "grim 'n gritty" feel of Frank Miller's Ronin/Elektra material, the Turtles engaged in a greater amount of overt violence in the pages of the early Mirage comic book series. As the TMNT were introduced into the mainstream, they were radically redesigned for a younger audience in the children's spinoff universes beginning with the first cartoon. This development incensed the core group of fans who had faithfully collected the independently-published comic series from its inception. They accused Eastman and Laird of selling out their indie roots in favor of corporate greed. In issue #19 of Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the creators published an editorial addressing these concerns. It stated, in part: "We've allowed the wacky side to happen, and enjoy it very much. All the while, though, we've kept the originals very much ours – forty pages of what we enjoy and want to see in our books, whether it comes from our own hands or from those of the talented people we work with."

Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles

Upon TMNT's first arrival in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Poland, Austria and Germany, the name was changed to "Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles" (or TMHT, for short), since local censorship policies deemed the word ninja to have excessively violent connotations for a children's program. (In Ireland, however, the first season aired as "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" before changing to "Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles".)[14] Consequently, everything related to the Turtles had to be renamed before being released in these nations (comic books, video games, toys, etc.) The lyrics were also changed, such as changing "Splinter taught them to be ninja teens" to the "Splinter taught them to be fighting teens."

The policies also had other effects, such as removing use of Michaelangelo's nunchaku (which were at the time banned from appearing in even 18-rated movies) and generally toning down the usage of all the turtles' weapons. After many seasons of never using his nunchaku, they eventually disappeared entirely, replaced by a turtle shell shaped grappling hook called the "Turtle Line".

However, when the live-action movie came out in 1990, the "Ninja" of the title was kept even in the UK. In time, nunchaku scenes were retained in previously-censored movies such as those of Bruce Lee.

By the time of the 2003 TV series, these censorship policies had been abolished, and no changes have occurred in the content of the show. The name "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" remained unchanged for the 2003 TV series. As a result, in the UK, the 1987 TV series is still called Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and the 2003 TV series is called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, hence a disambiguation between the two TV series

On May 25th 2009, Lionsgate Home Entertainment released the 25th Anniversary Collectors Edition on Region 2 DVD in the UK. This 3-Disc set contains all the episodes of Seasons 1 and 2 and 4 episodes from the final season, as well as a 1-Disc DVD with the first few episodes of Season 1. This release features the original, unedited episodes under the Ninja Turtles title, and also marks the first time the show has been released uncensored in the UK.

Children and consumerism

For many parents in the late 1980s, the Ninja Turtles phenomenon represented the latest in a series of shrewd cartoon-toy marketing strategies, a trend that had proven very profitable with Masters of the Universe, Transformers, and a host of other "good vs. evil" action-adventure franchises. Parents often found themselves at odds with children who demanded scads of toys and accessories after being subjected to so-called "30 minute commercials" delivered via after-school television.[15]

Ownership rights

Due to various movie and television deals, the various TMNT films & television series are split between various companies, with Mirage Studios retaining copyright and trademark.

TV series

The original animated series was produced by Fred Wolf Films Dublin, and syndicated by Group W. The series itself is owned by Wolf Films, home entertainment rights reside with Lionsgate, and until recently, syndication rights belonged to CBS Television Distribution.

Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation was produced by Saban Entertainment, and is now owned by Disney-ABC Domestic Television.

As mentioned above, the current animated series is co-produced by Mirage Studios & 4Kids Entertainment.

Film series

TimeWarner owns the entire film catalogue (New Line Cinema's three live-action films, and Warner Bros.'s animated film.)

World record

On April 10, 2008, students at Rutgers University broke the Guinness World Record for the "Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Ninja Turtles." 786 members of the University community gathered at the recreation center in Piscataway, NJ to accomplish this feat.[16]

See also

References

  1. ^ "I Was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle". 2007-01-26. http://www.heavymetal.com/page.cfm?id=262. 
  2. ^ "ENGLAND | 'Hero Turtle' craze leads to duck deaths". BBC News. 2001-11-16. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/1660334.stm. Retrieved on 2009-02-28. 
  3. ^ "SCOTLAND | Turtle mania causes welfare headache". BBC News. 2000-04-07. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/705631.stm. Retrieved on 2009-02-28. 
  4. ^ List of top 100 invasive species
  5. ^ a b c d TMNT Origin Story, official site. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
  6. ^ "Bob Burden's FLAMING CARROT COMICS". 2009-02-06. http://www.flamingcarrot.com/FC/reg_covers.html. 
  7. ^ "Mirage Studios' Specials!". 2009-02-06. http://www.ninjaturtles.com/comics/mirage/specials.htm. 
  8. ^ About the Creators TMNT25.com (January 2009). Retrieved on 1-31-09.
  9. ^ [1] IMDB.com (February 2009). Retrieved on 2-21-09.
  10. ^ "Power Rangers in Space: Shell Shocked"!
  11. ^ Meadows, Chris (2007-02-19). "Kevin Siembieda Interview, Part 2" (mp3). Space Station Liberty. http://recordings.talkshoe.com/TS-9655.mp3. Retrieved on 2007-02-20. 
  12. ^ Ubisoft to create video game based on 2007 TMNT movie
  13. ^ "New TMNT fighter on Wii made by former Brawl and Team Ninja developers". VG Chartz. http://news.vgchartz.com/news.php?id=2656. Retrieved on 2009-02-28. 
  14. ^ Cohen, Susan (1991-04-07). "Teenage Mutant Ninja Television: Who's winning the battle over kids' TV?". Washington Post Magazine. 
  15. ^ Seiter, Ellen (1993). Sold Separately: Parents and Children in Consumer Culture. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-2198-X. 
  16. ^ Photos by Saed Hindash / The Star-Ledger. "Shell shock: RU breaks record - Breaking News From New Jersey". NJ.com. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2008/04/shell_shock_ru_breaks_record.html. Retrieved on 2009-02-28. 
  • Eastman, Kevin (2002). Kevin Eastman's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Artobiography. Los Angeles: Heavy Metal. ISBN 1-882931-85-8.
  • Wiater, Stanley (1991). The Official Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Treasury. New York: Villard. ISBN 0-679-73484-8.

External links

Movies



Simple English

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or TMNT) are a group of fictional characters. They are four mutant turtles, who were taught how to be ninjas by a mutant rat called Master Splinter. They fight crime and villans.

Background information

The turtles are named after famous artists from Renaissance period. Their names are Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo. They live underground in a sewer in Manhattan and try to keep themselves hidden from people when they are not fighting bad guys. There are a few humans who know about them, a woman named April O'Neil and a man named Casey Jones.

First appearence

They first appeared in a comic book which was made in 1984. In 1987, an animated television show was made, it was extremely popular and ran until 1996.

Merchandise

There were many items based on the show including food, video games and toys. Starting in 1990, three live-action movies were made. In 1997, there was a live-action television series called "Ninja Turtles: The Mutation", which was not very successful. In 2003, a new animated series based more on the original comic book than the other series and a new animated movie came out in 2007. Currently, the 2003 season has come to an end, and a new series, the "Back to the sewers" season is in the works, set the air in fall 2008.








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