Nerd OP #2 – Heroes in a Half-Shell by Paul Russell


In this edition of Nerd OP, we have an article from Paul Russell all about his love for everyone’s favourite heroes in a half-shell, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!


Why do I love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? It’s a franchise that’s been around for most of my life, but why does it keep such a strong hold on me? There’s just something about the adventures of the Turtles, but ultimately what it comes down to is family and acceptance. 



Much like most of the young kids who were introduced to the TMNT, I thought it was a really cool action cartoon. Though when I got a little bit older, they were an escape from the real world. As one of those unlucky souls, I was bullied at school and the Turtles were a good way of forgetting the abuse I suffered. I guess seeing the Turtles always overcoming the odds kinda made it seem less daunting to go back to school. I thought that perhaps one day I’d be able to stand up to my bullies, not that it ever happened, but the Turtles got me through that. Cheesy as one of their many pizzas devoured over the course of the show, I know. But I guess it’s what made my general enjoyment of the Turtles turn into somewhat of an obsession. 

To get past the obvious question “who is my favourite Turtle?”, the answer is Leonardo: the most disciplined of the group (and in the IDW Comic, a bit of a bad ass when (SPOILERS) Shredder manages to manipulate him and turn him evil (END SPOILERS). The ongoing battle of the brothers between Leonardo and Raphael is classic and usually part of the storylines of the various comic and cartoon incarnations, except for the original 80’s cartoon. One of the highlights of this brotherly feud is featured in the 2007 movie TMNT. A rooftop battle between Leonardo and Raphael breaks out and is one of the best moments of the movie. 



I have quite the collection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles memorabilia, or closer to the truth… toys! What can I say? I’m a collector. My favourites at the moment are the 2012 Revoltech Ninja Turtles figures. 



I have a full set of the ‘Giant’ Ninja Turtles figures from the 2003 TV Series, as you can see they are almost the same size as a 12” album (also Ninja Turtles, the soundtrack to the first feature film). 



My prized possession is one of two signed items by Turtles Co-Creator Kevin Eastman. I had the honour of meeting the gentleman at a Comic Con in London a couple of years ago. He was a very nice guy who had all the time in the world to talk about Turtles. 



I own all the movies on Blu Ray, but I am pleased I got one of the early ‘Pizza Box’ designs for the collection of the first 4 movies. Each disc design is a different pizza type and the box is folded like a pizza box and even has grease stains to make it more authentic looking. The level of attention to detail on the box is great.

The Turtles franchise has branched into so many mediums, obviously beginning way back in 1984 in the original comic (a dark and gritty comic book that drew inspiration from Daredevil comics and other works of Frank Miller).  



From there, the Turtles really rose to fame with their very popular 1980’s cartoon, created by Fred Wolf and a theme tune written by Big Bang Theory creator Chuck Lorre. This also spawned a huge toy line with Playmates, but nothing was safe. They sold everything from Turtles party favours to Ninja Turtle toothpaste. They even had their own ‘Dessert’ Pizzas as well!

In the 1990’s we were treated to the three Ninja Turtles movies (the first of which has yet to be topped by another Turtles movie, in my opinion). Unfortunately, we were then also treated to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Coming Out Of Their Shells concert tour. Yup, somehow they thought that a Turtles music concert was also a great idea to sell merchandise, though the less said about this the better. But if you do feel inclined to torture yourself, the concert footage can be found in a few parts on Youtube, just search for ‘Coming Out Of Their Shells’ and be prepared to cringe for over an hour. 



As the Turtles popularity began to wane much later in the 90’s, they tried to revive the brand by creating a new live action show, based on the popular (at the time) Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, we were treated to the truly awful Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation. Here we were introduced to the new female turtle “Venus De Milo”.  



After the short lived Next Mutation, which ran for only one season (but did include a cross over with Power Rangers) the franchise went quiet for a few years, until they came back in 2003 with a cartoon that was much darker in tone and much closer to the original material than the 1980’s cartoon. This Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon breathed new life into the franchise, as the cartoon continued through until 2009. 



Unfortunately, because the bigwigs can’t help but get involved and try to push the cartoon to sell more toys, they did sort of lose a bit of momentum with the Flash Forward series, which took the 2003 characters way into the future. It was a bit corny, enjoyable, but not as much as the seasons that preceded it. 

In 2011, Nickelodeon purchased the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rights, but out of that came the absolutely amazing 2012 CGI series, which lasted for 5 seasons. It tried to blend almost every incarnation of the Turtles into one thing and it succeeded.



Also from the purchase, we got the IDW comic book series, which has told new Ninja Turtles stories and introduced new characters and brought back old characters in a new way. With twists and turns that no-one could foresee, it’s been an excellent read. IDW have also started releasing classic Ninja Turtle comic content as well. All can be purchased in physical form, or you can download an app for the IDW Ninja Turtles comic and purchase them all there. During the IDW comics run, there have been some strange but successful team ups (one of which is TMNT and the Ghostbusters and the other is TMNT and Batman).




Another two movies, produced by Michael Bay, were released. One of these finally had the film debut of Bebop, Rocksteady and Baxter Stockman! The first of these movies was a bit of a let down. With several good set pieces, but no real logical way of getting from one set piece to the other. The second movie was a much better effort and tried to pull on the nostalgia of the early cartoon series (with lots of fun moments with Bebop and Rocksteady, who I think stole the show).



Of course, as all these comics and TV shows were being released, we were also treated to Ninja Turtles video games. The best of which is probably still Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, which was the follow up to the original arcade game. Most recently, the Turtles have been included in the DC smash em up, Injustice 2. 



So there you have it. A little story of my love of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and a brief look at their history. 


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