These heroes in a half shell are something near and dear to all our hearts. And not the weird, alien-like, CGI version Michael Bay came up with. No, no. We’re talking about the original comic book, the cartoon, the toys, and the live action movies with rubber suits made by Jim Henson. Those are the Ninja Turtles, and those will forever be the Ninja Turtles to anyone who was alive and coherent between 1984-1997.
in 1984 a couple of guys by the name of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird published a black and white comic book that became an overnight success. It’s cult following caught the eye of a licensing agent who thought they could take the turtles to greater heights.
A number of toy manufacturers turned them down anticipating it wouldn’t be popular enough to support a toy line, until one tiny little company in California called Playmates took a chance on them.
They added a few characters to spice things up a bit, including BeBop, Rock Steady and the Foot Clan. They also created the Party Van and the Turtle Blimp so that the Turtles wouldn’t have to skateboard everywhere.
While the comic enjoyed a substantial amount of success, they were hesitant to risk marketing everything based on a comic book, and thus the Saturday morning TV show you grew up watching was born.
The strategy was an enormous triumph, and the incredibly detailed toy line was flying off the shelves. They capitalized with various adaptations to the original line with countless characters and play sets including Mutant Military, Rock’n Rollin’, Wacky Wild West, Cave-Turtles and even a Star Trek crossover.
The popularity of the cartoon and the toys of course led into the live action films that gave us three very different movies, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, TMNT II: Secret Of The Ooze, and TMNT III: Turtles In Time.
Like most of us, you probably don’t remember much about that third one.
The brand capitalized on just about everything it could, including clothing, lunch boxes, anything you could put a turtle face on, and the most popular creation of the time, Nintendo.
The NES featured two Ninja Turtles games, the second being one of the highest rated Nintendo games of all time.
Boy or girl, the turtles likely made up a big part of your childhood, and even if you weren’t completely taken with them, you were most certainly aware of them.
Sadly, their popularity died down once the cartoon show came to an end, but the Turtles were revived back in 2003 and have thundered back with the youth of today.
They’re not quite the same as they once were, and the buzz will never match what it was in the 80’s and 90’s, but it’s always nice to see the logo you grew up with.
And with that, I’ll leave you with the most puzzling question from my childhood:
Why was the Shredder toy shirtless?