Toys & TV
THE EVOLUTION OF
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES by STUART FISCHER IN 1984, PETER LAIRD AND KEVIN Eastman introduced the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) as a large, black-and-white comic book. With limited resources, the pair hoped that good word-of-mouth would generate a solid fan base so they could publish new issues each month and gain respectable sales. Needless to say, their wish came true. More than three decades since its inception, the pizza-loving, crime-fighting turtles have gone beyond the pages of comic books and launched into TV shows, feature films, and a full-blown licensing program.
The TMNT prove how multiple industries can come together, both on the creative side of the property and on the marketing side surrounding the property, to create a new phenomenon. TMNT had a pretty good debut for a comic book published by the creators themselves for one key reason: it was different. It featured four human-like turtle hybrids who were terrific martial artists living in the sewer and taking direction from a human-like rat hybrid who was also an intellectual leader. Each Turtle was unique, with a personality all
his own, and they all loved to fight crime. This offbeat creation got the attention of Mark Freedman, president of Surge Licensing, who saw expanded potential in this comic. Freedman signed Laird, Eastman, and their company Mirage Productions, and began to represent them to the licensing community. A few small deals were made with a few manufacturers, including a new comic book publisher that published reprints of the original black-and-white comics, further expanding the Turtles’ exposure. Then, Freedman struck a deal with California-based indepen-
PLAYMATES TOYS’ LEONARDO ACTION FIGURES THROUGH THE DECADES
The original basic Leonardo figure released in 1988 was inspired by the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV show from 1988.
100 THE TOY BOOK | May/June 2016 | TOYBOOK.COM
Playmates’ Movie Star Leonardo figure was inspired by the film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.
Original Re-Launch Leo was based on the second animated TV series, which premiered in February 2003 on The Fox Box (Fox network).
Many of us are traveling to Denver for the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s (ASTRA’s) Marketplace & Academy trade show, and in...