Friday, June 6, 2008

Let's talk toys

Over at Murph's "5th Turtle" blog, there has been a lot of discussion about TMNT toys, mostly about those from Playmates. Throughout the discussion, there has been one fundamental misconception about how the TMNT toys get made that keeps popping up. It's usually in some form of comment like "Mirage should make Playmates do GOOD figures/toys, like Jagwar from the Archie TMNT comic."

Mirage doesn't MAKE Playmates do anything, much as Playmates doesn't MAKE Mirage do anything. Mirage and Playmates work together to try to come up with what we both agree will be good, sellable toys that KIDS will want to play with. In this endeavor, we are partners. Yes, Mirage can reject designs or proposals from Playmates that we don't like. Yes, Playmates can demur from making toys that Mirage wants to see made. (Vacuum-metalized Fugitoid, anyone?) But we try to come to a meeting of the minds, respecting each other's position and expertise, and create toys that KIDS will want.

We've worked with Playmates for twenty years. I have come to have great respect for them, and for their knowledge of the toy industry. Have I always absolutely LOVED everything they've done with the TMNT line? No. Have they always absolutely LOVED every design or concept change we've required of them? Surely not. But I think that overall, they have produced a whole lot of great toys with a lot of "play value".

Talk is cheap -- it's easy to say things like "Hey, Jagwar would make a great figure! Why don't you make one of HIM, dumbass?!" Well, maybe... but would that figure SELL? (Sell more than the hundred units or so you might sell to the people who read and post comments on these blogs, that is.) Making and selling an action figure is not a simple or inexpensive thing. It takes a lot of money to cut that steel for the molds, to devise and produce the packaging, to advertise and market the toys. It is, in the final analysis, a BUSINESS. Risks can be taken, but they have to be carefully-weighed risks.

And Playmates once took a freakin' HUGE risk -- and that was doing the TMNT toy line in the first place. Lots of people in the industry scoffed, and said it would fail. "Green doesn't sell, ninjas are dead, etc., etc.." Playmates continues to take risks, every time they put out a product. As much as we would like it otherwise, this is NOT a very predictable industry. -- PL


  1. that's cool, but where's my armagon figure? kidding!

    for real, i dig the toys, old and new. the level of toon accuracy on the 2k3 line is cool, but jagwar would stick out like a sore thumb. he'd be cool to have, but i understand the rationale for not producing a figure the archie line. he hasn't been in anything for like 15 years.

  2. Peter - I appreciate you taking the time to address the recent topics over at Murph's. Unfortunately, most all of the comments over there were said already fully knowing the information you just posted. Yes, talk is easier than reality, but I don't think all the talk should be so easily dismissed.

    Concerning Jagwar, people are extremely disappointed that the figure is not being produced because it's already been sculpted and instead we're getting two other made-up characters that have no history with the brand at all. Figures of non-existant characters seems like a tough sell in the first place, so more explanation on how this decision was made would be appreciated for the fans who were looking forward to the Jagwar figure.

    My disappointment with the Music Turtles concept lies on Mirage for approving it. That Donatello figure really is a complete disaster and an embarrassment. If Playmates MUST be stuck in the goofy costume mentality, surely there is a better way to execute it.

    I agree that a lot of the "demands" and wishes from fans are far fetched and unrealistic, but some of them actually make a lot of sense. The integrity of the brand (and, again, this is something I know you've put a lot of effort into maintaining these last eight years especially) is at serious risk (if it's not already too late) unless more effort and ingenuity is implemented. I see other toy lines full of awesome figures and new concepts that are amazing and I'm really just kinda sad that I can no longer find the same enjoyment in my favorite brand of all time.

    And with all that said, I'll always appreciate the role that Playmates has played in the overall history of the TMNT. Always.

  3. Unlike many people here, I understand that the playmates toyline is for kids. Let's get things straight people, these are primarily TOYS, not highly collectible figurines, here.

    But, Peter, I have to say... and as a parent, you're sure to know this, so I'm not sure why I'm even saying it in the first place, But kids aren't stupid, and seem to... I'm not sure if "mature" is the right term... but at least be aware of far more complex concepts at a far earlier age than 15-20 years ago.

    Back in the 80's you had to seriously tone down the content compared to the 2003 relaunch. Different times, different age different concepts? right?

    Maybe I'm just looking at this with old eyes, but The "Teenage Mutant Fancy-Dress Turtles" concepts that worked in the 80's/90's just don't look like the best idea...

    Then again, maybe I'm wrong in that point, maybe themed turtles DO work just like they did then, but even then, we are still left with the one major thing that NEEDS to be addressed: The people involved need to understand the ideas and concepts they are pushing.

    I'm mean a rapper Don? Seriously? Who sold you on that idea, man? I understand Playmates concept for the figure - as a techie, yes, he probably would be interested in that type of music for its technical/production aspects. But the implementation is way, WAY out of whack, AND character. Maybe that doesn't matter so much, it's for kids after all, but I feel the need to point this out: The gear Don is dressed in, while considered the norm for mainstream rap in this decade, is derived from the "Gangsta" genre of rap music. At best, a genre that can be seen to promote greed and dominance, at worst: far worse.

    Is that an image you want your favourite turtle to be portrayed in? Even if its being sold to kids who might not be old enough to grasp that concept?

    Ahh heck, what do I know, I was too old to be in the target audience for the original 'toon Turtles, too. I was exposed to the TMNT around 87 at the age of 12, before the cartoon, which after seeing the original content, I never really "bought into", anyway (especially in its censored UK form)

  4. Mr. Laird,

    This week I bought up a copy of the second printing of Raphael #1. In that issue, you guys broke the historic news that Playmates was to release the first line of action figures and Fred Wolf would be doing the animated series to accompany the toyline.

    If I remember, the toys were to be released several months before the series hit the air. I think that must have been pretty gutsy on Playmates' part to get those figures out on the maket before most of the world knew what TMNT was.

    And I'll never forget the night I was a little boy in Wal-Mart and beheld the Ninja Turtles toy rack for the first time. I was awed at the Party Wagon and Turtle Cycle. The packing was awesome and edgy with those whited-out-ninja eyes, huge white teeth, and provocative expressions. I ended up getting Raphael without any clue as to what the Turtles were all about. That one purchase began a great past time. :-)

    I'll always have a great fondness for Playmates. I just think a lot of people in general, similar to myself as a wide-eyed little boy, are more attracted to the edgy "ninja" aspect of the TMNT than the wacky alternate themes like farm hands, musicians, etc.

  5. I may be a lurker of your blog Mr. Laird, but I do pay some attention. I understood they took a risk with you guys, we thank them majorly for that. But I'm more or less not going to buy the toys anymore if they insist on well cheap ideas like Rapper Donny. Its pathetic to try and push that off on kids. Kids aren't stupid. Thats why the people who watch the show dramaticlly dropped when Fast Forward came on air.

    I may not be their demographic at all (Female, late teens.) but I do supply them with a decent amount of money, I buy multiple copies of the same toys and honestly play with them, cherish them. Enjoy the sculpts and fine detailing they put in. That an the fact its TMNT is the one reason I buy them. (I could care less about Jagwar. I'm more interested in Splinter, the turtles, April, Casey and Karai.) But the rapper Donny is finally what made me stop and shake my head. I willingly bought the skater versions, the flying ones, the various ones in goofy armor. But this is where you have to draw the line. The turtles are NINJAS. Not rapers, or anything else.

    At least stick with stealth an you know things based on being a ninja, being a turtle. Something that has to do with the turtles themselves not what playmates will think appeals to the shallow kids who claim to love rap.

    Mostly, all the goofy dress up toys aren't being bought anymore. I see stacks of them left over on shelves, its rare when someone will take notice. But if they insist can it at least be something they actually wore in the show that wasn't just made for merchandising out of blue? Like some of their more interesting disguises? I'd like that for at least connecting to the show instead of randomly pushing clothes on them.

    Thank you for reading this if you do, and for making the turtles.

  6. Well, I certainly can't speak with the same eloquence or "history" of buying the toys as the others can, but I have to say that while I purchased my fair share of 2K3 Leos in various "dress", I agree regarding the Rapper Don one. Rap is not like it was in the 80s. And that bling-bling gangsta stuff is just...

    Here in L.A.,some enterprising shirt sellers have put out a popular (though no doubt illegal) line of shirts that take various cartoon characters and turn them into Pimp Daddies complete with bling, money, and gestures that should get them banned. I am talking Popeye in a wife-beater shirt, waving a finger (NOT middle) in the air while sporting jewelry that would cripple a horse from the sheer weight; Spongebob looking like a pimp with fistfuls of cash; and Ninja Turtles wearing bandana/masks that are simply studded with "diamonds" (these shirts glitter for real). Bart Simpson, Elmo (with a pimp chalice!), even Chucky from the killer doll movies-- it's horrible.

    And this same theme is money, jewelry, and "the good life".

    I can handle music turtles (I guess). But Don looks like a wannabe.

    Yes, they are for kids. Some kids will buy them (or rather, get their parents to buy them).

    After all, some kids got their parents to buy them those shirts.

  7. SI- thats funny you mention those shirts that turn cartoons into gansta freaks...just saw one with popeye with all thise gold blingy crap on him was INSULTING! EC Segar would have rolled over in his grave!

  8. Peter please don't take this as a personal attack, just a plee.

    I've never posted on your blog before but quite frankly it upsets me to no end that my beloved original toon characters aren't enjoying retro updates while G.I. Joe, Star Wars, and various other fans get to know the feeling of seeing their favorite characters back on the pegs in all of their ORIGINAL glory but up to todays action figure standards. Those properties are actually celebrating their place in toy history, not dancing around what actually made them pop-culture icons.

    Why do Irma, Vernon, Krang, Bebop, Rocksteady, and most importantly (to me) an April that actually had a purpose get shoved in the closet like some freak child that a parent is ashamed of and wants to keep hidden when it was those characters that have given us all so much?

    There are a LOT of adults now who grew up in the 80's with these characters and I am pretty sure that we outnumber the casual lil' Johnny who would pick up "dumpjumper" because there doesn't happen to be any new Star Wars or Spider-Man figures on the pegs at that moment. These characters deserve just a little more recognition than a crummy key cap or a t-shirt.

    Rapper Don is getting such a negative reaction and maybe that is because the figures that Playmates should be showing us right now, should be celebrating 20 years of TMNT toy history by going back to it's roots, it's original roots, not the aspects of TMNT that you personally happen to like better. You created this world for us the fans, why don't you give us what we want, not what you want us to want?


  9. What Menski said is completely correct. Back when I was a kid, I was obsessed with the original TMNT cartoon, and only wanted the Playmates toys every Birthday. It wasn't until I got older that I learned about the comic book and became a fan of that, and now I find that I am able to appreciate the new NECA turtle figures, but no longer have any love for the Playmates toys (certainly not the newer ones, though I have a nastalgic love for the Playmates toys I had, and still have).

    The toys made by Playmates are made for children. When my age group was young back in the late 80s, early 90s, they were ours to enjoy, but now the torch has been passed. I think we're lucky that in a sense, the TMNT have followed us into adulthood with a newer movie (movies?) that are true to the original cartoon and to the comics, but adult enough for us older fans to enjoy; and yes, even the toys have followed us via NECA making a more "adult" line of action figures. Honestly, I'm not sure what else we could ask for? Enjoy things for what they are, or don't, but don't lament what they could have been. The fact of the matter is, we all grow up, and not everything grows up with us.

    Despite what those catchy commercials have said, we have to grow up; we can't be Toys R Us Kids forever.

  10. I have no desire for tons of retro things myself. I'd just like something that has something to do with the show (from Playmates).

    At least Don should lose the chain/medallion.

    Oh, and he should put on some pants.


    And MORE Splinter toys. And April and Karai that can actually be POSED. And...


  11. "At least stick with stealth an you know things based on being a ninja, being a turtle. Something that has to do with the turtles themselves not what playmates will think appeals to the shallow kids who claim to love rap."

    -->> .. guess i'm shallow too..

    "Why do Irma, Vernon, Krang, Bebop, Rocksteady, and most importantly (to me) an April that actually had a purpose get shoved in the closet like some freak child that a parent is ashamed of and wants to keep hidden when it was those characters that have given us all so much?"

    -->> ..good points..

    "What Menski said is completely correct."

    -->> .. but debatable..on some pointss. You guys are speaking for yourselves, for many i suppose.. but who the heck else you think you are speaking for ??

    "Honestly, I'm not sure what else we could ask for? Enjoy things for what they are, or don't, but don't lament what they could have been. ..

    -->> .. how was that the case with the ' MUSIC DON '..someone explain please.

    The fact of the matter is, we all grow up, and not everything grows up with us.?

    -->> ..true, but perspectives , appreciations , understandings, and what continues from the past isn't painted with such a mono-tone brush all across the board. Perceptions of the present and what is to come also isn't painted like that.

    Despite what those catchy commercials have said, we have to grow up; we can't be Toys R Us Kids forever.

    -->> ..and despite what i'm reading here, i wish some of the ' TOYS R US ' Adults would realize that there are much bigger pictures here.

    I can't justify the Music Turtle figure, not saying they should make it. Can't justify or say i am not bummed out about Jagwar. Can't say i know all the ins and outs and in-betweens of the industry.

    but there's an important gray point Pete makes .. :

    "Playmates continues to take risks, every time they put out a product. As much as we would like it otherwise, this is NOT a very predictable industry. .. "

    Hmm.. let the discussion continue. I hope that the chaos shall not follow. I'll do my best to not only avoid the chaos but also.. not feed it or into it.


  12. I know for a fact you can't make Playmates do anything because I think you've been wanting a vac-metal Fugitoid for 20 years or so? I know I've heard you mention it dating back to the 80's... So I get the general process that you can't really make them do anything.

  13. It would be nice to see other figures then mostly turtle variants. A lot of interesting sculpts where created (Shokanabo Splinter, Gunjin, Street Fanthoms, purple dragons) but they where never made into real characters. These characters where in the show and are regonizable to the ones that watch the show. I have a lot of turtle variants myself but lately I've been looking around my room and saying to myself: I have enough turtle variants, it's time too stop. A person will only buy so many turtle variants, especially ones that have to do nothing with the current show.

    Thank you for listening to my rant.

  14. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to speak to you about this, Mr. Laird.

    My main problem with the music turtles, other than the fact that I just do not think it is a good idea, is the fact that they are what we toy fans call "peg warmers" - that is, a figure, usually a variant (but not always), that sit on store shelves and collect dust until they are thrown on the clearance rack. I have seen this too many times before with a majority of the Turtle variants that have been produced over the past twenty years - and in fact, these figures were given to me as gifts by economically conscious relatives, because they could not really afford more than one of the full-priced figures, but on clearance, they could get two or three.

    Most of the figures I have witnessed are ones that are completely unrelated to the show. Not that I think a rapper version of Donatello should be shoehorned into the series (because quite frankly, that would be awful). I can think of at least twenty different variants the Turtles have gone through in the 2003+ series that would make better action figures than some of the other types. Who here would NOT buy a "Same as it Never Was" inspired figure? Or ones based on the Super Turtles of Volume 4/Tales/Mike's alternate world? Those characters have "marketing potential" written all over them! Same with the Lost Episodes; there are at least forty figures and vehicles that could have spawned from that season.

    Another bummer is the lack of secondary character variants; as if the lack of an exponential amount of interesting allies and villains wasn't enough, there are no variants to go along with the Turtle variants. There's like, two Splinter variants, a Baxter variant, two Foot Ninja variants, and maybe six or seven Shredder variants. The older figures had many more variants, some of which were very cool, and still are today.

    Playmates has had a lot of figures in preproduction that have been shown through teasers such as Jagwar, as well as in toy stores and even on figure packaging that I guarantee would sell. The entire second line-up of Fast Forward figures, for example. There were even worthwhile variants that were included there, and all that got released was Secret Agent Don - in the UK only, at that. Speaking of which, Buzzrok and Multiflex only being released in the opposite hemisphere was, pardon the pun, a buzzkill. Of the four that were pictured on the packages, they released the two that were least desired over here in the US? A co-worker of mine that isn't even a TMNT fan paid $40 on eBay for a Multiflex because he liked the sculpt.

    As I said on Mr. Murphy's blog, I have hopes a compromise of sorts can be made on Leonardo's music-based figure. Dress him up in his gear from "The Ancient One", give him a guitar, and call him a tribute to Johnny Cash. Best of both worlds.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. Your creations have shaped my life, and I hope that I haven't dishonoured them by being disgusted with a few of their merchandises.

  15. Well, what the fans want from a toy line seems to be pretty divided. But what the fans don't want seems to be clear. They don't want useless turtle variants anymore.

    I think people are starting to stick in other problems with Playmate's action figures like how they have little to no articulation, lack the fine detailing that the old figures had, and don't really compare to other toys in the same market place that cater to both adults and kids at the same time. (This is why I love the NECA deal. Thanks very much for making that happen Peter!)

    However the main problem we should be arguing right now is the character selection and the distribution. You have to learn how to walk before you can run.

    I don't think people would be upset with Rapper Don as much if they didn't know that he's taking spots for other more deserving characters (Jagwar). An example of poor selection/distribution would be the latest Alien Hunters line on retail shelves now. Only 2 of the 4 aliens made it out, and the best looking 2 were only released in very limited numbers in England. This means that the toys molds were made and produced and everything, and yet they didn't get released? These are awesome Dooney sculpts too. But we did get all 4 alien hunter turtle variants which are just the same turtles with slightly different facial expressions and some armor tacked on.

    The old toy line had balance. Sure there were wacky figures like Soccer Raph, Samurai Leo, etc... but at the same time there was monty moose, antrax, metalhead, etc... When the toy line started to only release turtle variants and no more interesting characters the line had to be reinvented as next mutation and died. Similarly TMNT is trying to be reinvented by 4kids and Playmates every year now. To me that shows they don't really have a handle on the Turtles anymore and are doing whatever they can to keep it alive.

    I'm not pretending to know everything. I don't have a degree in marketing and don't have any experience hours in the industry. But I've collected toys for a long time (started with turtles) and have followed the industry through toy magazines, internet sites, and just strolling down retail aisles. Just comparing the turtles line to other toys and they don't hold up as well.

    So hopefully Playmates can start releasing a better selection of toys. Then maybe they can start making better quality toys after that (like on par with Hasbro/Mattel or even NECA).

    PS I love the original playmates line and have supported the company for years. And I love them for what they did back in the day. I just want to see them make better toys, for kids AND collectors.

  16. Okay I'm not getting into what characters should be made of not (Jagwar etc)but my gripe is with the quality and type of figure.

    Just take a look in the shops themselves Pete. Ben 10, Pokemon, Wrestling, TMNT, Tranformers, Indiana Jones, Batman and Star Wars are the main figures that line the toy isles here in OZ at the moment.

    The main thing with these figures is that they are all to the original Cartoon/Movie. It would be like marvel releasing a "Tequila Slammer IronMan" with a Sombrero, shot glass, slice of lemon, salt and a bottle of tequila. It just kinda degrades the brand.

    Don't get me wrong Batman releases a ton of variants but the detail, articulation and inventivness plus the figure is still relevant to the world of batman which makes it work.

    Alien Hunter's and music themed turtles I can't see as being big hits. First the turtles have never been hunters. Most of the time they are sought out. The only time I can remember turtles hunting in the cartoon was when all the mutated creatures appeared in the sewers. And music themed seems like a trip back to the original cartoon where comedy was the main aim.

    I just think the Turtles need something new and fresh that can both pull the kids and adults alike. Its not impossible!! A lot of other lines do it and succeed.

    I write this not to whinge but to throw my continued support behind my beloved turtles in the hope of a bright and prosperous future for them and all involved.

  17. What I wouldn't do for an edit button!!!!

    The main thing with these figures is that they are all "TRUE" to the original Cartoon/Movie.

    Sorry ;o)

  18. While a variant once in a blue moon is kind of cool, how many have we had so far, not counting the classic line?

    When I worked at Toys R US for a while back in the late 90's, I remember browsing the figure line and there where TONS of crappy Batman variants that where just sitting on the shelves Overflowing...EVERY time I go into a Toy Store to take a look at the Turtles section, Turtle variants are littering the shelves and it becomes a treasure hunt to find a secondary character. That should tell anyone that kids and/or their parents are NOT interested in the variants. At least not enough to move all the stock.

    Take a look at the He-Man line as an example. They market to kids, and there where TONS of He-Man and Skeletor variants all over the toy shelves to the point that over time, that was all you could find and probably doomed the line. I mean, who needs a Skeletor that looks like he was dipped in a rainbow of neon?

    This is why time and time again I am baffled as to why toy companies think that variants, at least unintelligent ones like Music Turtles and Rapper Don that are nothing but a doll with different clothes, will sell. It's just another excuse to cut costs in the short term by re-using a pre-existing mold.

    Whatever happened to the old adage, 'You've gotta spend money to make money?' :)

    An idea just hit me. If the turtle costumed folk are going around visiting new Toys R Us locations, that'd be the PERFECT place to do a 3rd party survey. One from a company that has no stake in the toys or franchise. Have them ask kids what they like about the line and their parents. Maybe that'll help try and prove that it's not just older fans who think this way?

    Later and thanks for reading,

  19. Well it's great your taking the time to hear us out. I'm sure this will explode with comments so I'm glad to get mine in early.

    I feel while Playmates is trying to make toys that sell and that's great they take risks in some departments and don't in others.

    Well for one where are the rest of my Fast Forward figures? The second wave never even came out and that had a bunch of figures I wanted in it. I don't see how there would have been any risk in producing those as the series was still on TV. Yeah the movie figures were out as well but there were still 2K3 figure leftovers on the pegs at most stores and places like Toysrus had both. I remember when I asked Playmates they said it would confuse kids to have two types of turtles toys out at once. I really see that as complete BS.

    I don't recall where I read this but I see to remember hearing Playmates wanted to do a line of Archie characters but it was Mirage who turned them it down. To me this was pure insanity. I understand none of those characters are current or have been used in the new series, or at least in the same manner they were used in the comics, but a line like that would sell. Sometimes keep in mind your targeting adults as well as kids. There's a message board out there with 3,500 turtles fans who would buy them. That's not enough though, there's others out there to.

    Think about it, a collector of Batman figures let's say walks by the toy aisle and sees characters he remembers from the old toon or Archie comics re-done. The retro feel of that would give someone usually excites them and I bet would cause a purchase.

    Playmates took the risk to make the Paleo Dinosaur stuff I saw sit on shelves for almost a year and even saw it being sold in the discount section at many stores why not try this out. Archie has tons of interesting characters that I believe would attract kids. Their already making figures that aren't in the movie or series so it's only logical to me.

    Remember those awesome statues? Sure they were limited run but they all sold out and were a big hit among the adult audiences of turtles. I think this is great and a hint that both Mirage and Playmates should work on pleasing both kids and adults.

    I know us adults have the NECA line but on top of it taking us almost 25 years to get a line of figures like that I also know they won't ever touch the old toon or Archie at all which contain some of my favorite characters that I'd like to see made plastic. Even redesigned or modernized I'd still love to see a line.

    Hell you could start it out with turtles variants and maybe one or two side characters and see how it does. Here's an easy one, all the Future Turtles from Archie, Armaggon, and Verminator X. Playmates takes chances all the time releasing tons of repaints of motorcycles and variants of the turtles why not give this a chance? I understand it's cheaper to keep re-hashing the same stuff because the mold is already made you just need to paint it different;y but seriously with the movie line it's getting old.

    If you want to see how well it would work do a test run. Ask for 1,000 pre-orders before the line gets produced or worked on and if you get them then go forward. That way you have a guarantee that at very least 1,000 people will buy them. I've mentioned this before because it's a great method.

    Thank you for reading and I hope these words and those of my fellow turtles fans help you in your business making decisions of the future.

  20. Simply put, I just want figures and toys to be somewhat related to the story and characters of the product they are supposed to be in the likeness of.


  21. "It's crappy because it's for kids" is a tired old excuse that reflects no understanding of the modern toy market or maintaining brand integrity.

    Look at the other action figure lines on the market. Superhero toys feature highly detailed sculpts and super-articulation. They sell like hotcakes because you don't have to be an adult to realize a Batman you can pose to do dragon kicks is very cool.

    Star Wars and GI Joe remain strong sellers through variety of characters and vehicles. Power Rangers sticks to the same formula, but they never resort "themes" the way Playmates does. They put out a new versions of each Ranger with bigger guns or robotic limb attachments.

    The Ninja Turtles just look ridiculous with the constant theme waves. It sunk the line in the 1990s and it will sink it again unless Mirage insists that the integrity of the characters be respected and not reduced to being objects of ridicule.

    They're Ninjas AND Mutants. Both very cool concepts that lend themselves to toys. And yet Playmates goes for the Rapper theme. What sells records will not sell toys. There are no rapper figures on shelves because they won't sell.

  22. Peter - I truly appreciate you taking the time to address the issue on your blog. Many individuals suggested we address the issue on your blog but I recommended we only address the issue if you brough it up first. Since you've done that I'm very excited to you've given myself and other fans the opportunity to express our current concerns with Playmates.

    First, I completely understand that Playmates is a children's toy company and I'm extremely thankful that Neca has truly embraced the adult collector's market; however, just because Playmates makes children's toys doesn't mean they are doing a good job at it. Have you ever seen Toy Biz and now Hasbro's Marvel Legends line of figures that are in stores? Thney are comic book character figures that look great, unlike the current TMNT figures that look like crap. Both sets are sold in stores to kids but because Hasbro knows how to market to both adults and children the Marvel Legend line sells out all the time. Does playmates ever sell out in a reasonable amount of time anymore? Hasbro is using cross segment sales. The are smart enough to not rely on only the sale of their products to children but also expect collectors to purchase just as many. They have even altered figures at collectors request to make them even more accurate.

    Second, I really can't seem to fault Playmates for how they are handling the line. Although, I really think they should be making a better quality product but since Mirage keeps approving what they are given, I guess we disagree on that. But they are a children's toy company with zero emotional investment in the turtles. It's Mirage that needs to do a better job at protecting the integrity of the brand. Seriously, "Rapper Don" is okay? How in the world can you find cameo t-shirts unsuitable for children yet accept a figure dressed up in gangster gear? Is that really appropriate for children? Also, the fans are only asking that your favorite turtle and the other 3 are treated with some dignity. So, please stop approving concepts and sculpts that are completely out of character for the turtles. I haven't bought any Playmate figures since 2003 because of the quality of their products. What they are currently offering just doesn't appeal to me as an adult, but if the quality improved I'd always reconsider. However, as a fan I absolutely hate seeing the turtles on shelves without dignity.

    Third, I heard that Playmates approached Mirage with the idea of doing a retro Archie line. I know you guys can't force playmates to do anything, but if this was true and Mirage rejected the concept can you please explain why? That's the kind of line that I feel would make everyone happy.

    Thanks for your time and for allowing the adult fans to have a voice,

  23. -->> Ryan's right on the money . >v<

  24. Hey PL, this is my first time posting on your blog, and I'm glad you have it, so please keep it up. One thing though that you seemed to miss, yes, there is the comments about Jagwar on Murph's blog, but there's also a lot of comments on the fact that Playmates is STUCK in the mindset of the 90's, or just stuck in the 90's in general. Any comments from you on that one? I'd love to hear it. That's my main gripe with PM. They're still looking at the Turtles as they did a decade or so ago. That's why I liked the Mini Mutants. It was different, something I haven't see them do.

  25. "Duke said...
    I heard that Playmates approached Mirage with the idea of doing a retro Archie line. I know you guys can't force playmates to do anything, but if this was true and Mirage rejected the concept can you please explain why? That's the kind of line that I feel would make everyone happy."

    Where on Earth did you hear that rumor? I have no memory of such a thing, and I suspect that if something like that ever happened, it would be the reverse of the way you describe it, i.e. WE would have suggested such a line to Playmates.

    Actually, I should probably ask -- what exactly do you mean by a "retro Archie line"? I took it to mean a line inspired by the unique characters that appeared in the "TMNT Adventures" and "Mutanimals" comics that Archie published... and I can't remember any such line ever being proposed by Playmates. If, on the other hand, you mean a line of "retro" Turtles a la the old MWS animated series (and original toy line), I think we have shot down that idea once or twice. -- PL

  26. If, on the other hand, you mean a line of "retro" Turtles a la the old MWS animated series (and original toy line), I think we have shot down that idea once or twice. --PL

    I think this confuses a lot of fans. Is there any chance you could explain why such a line has been rejected while other things, such as Music Don, get approval?

    I can't say I recall the Archie rumor specifically, but I think the same type of confusion exists whether you're talking about Archie or the original cartoon, or anything else.

  27. Pete:

    I'm going to use He-Man as an example here...but they re-released the classic toys from the 80's for about 7 months to celebrate the launch of the new show. They sold like hot cakes. The old show is super cheasy even to fans who grew up with it, and sometimes it's hard to watch by todays standards, but we love it anyway. When I hear we could have new toy stuff on old characters, it makes me sad it was shot down :).

    If there where some kind of highly collectible statue line of figures of the old show, they WOULD sell to older fans. I'm talking something along the lines of the He-Man staticons done by the four horseman. Statues about 7" tall...highly detailed, limited articulation but still poseable...and toon accurate.

    With the 25th coming up, would it be possible to do something like this with the old toon characters? Having NECA Toon accurate Turtles in poseable fighting stances would be super cool :).

  28. Wow.

    Some of you wrote books. And here I thought *I* was long-winded...

    I could probably do a lot of complaining here. As someone who has been collecting TMNT toys for nearly twenty years now, I too sometimes feel that I'm entitled to a Jagwar figure. There are a lot of characters that I feel I'm "entitled" to own figures of, even if I'd be the only one who bought them.

    Quite frankly I'm more upset that there was never a Ninjara figure, nor were there "Future Turtles" or a Verminator X figure. We did get a line of Cyber-Samurai figures, but for some reason I'm thinking that the comics were written in response to the production of the toys, NOT vice-versa.

    Pete, I know it's a hard industry and I have a lot of respect for you. I think it's amazing that you've had as much agency as you have. I thought Savanti Romero's figure was AWESOME, but after I had it I was upset not to own Renet. What it comes down to for ME is that most of us, if not ALL of us, are never going to be happy, no matter how many different characters we own toys of and how cool those toys are. For a long time Karai didn't have an action figure, and now she has two-- she may even have three by the time NECA gets done.

    Pete, the only thing that I can say is that maybe it would be a better idea to consult NECA (if you want to do anything at all) since they'd be more likely to cater to our expectations regarding toys that aren't going to sell in such large numbers-- like Ninjara, Verminator X, Armaggon, Renet, Jagwar and Dreadmon, etc. I'm thinking that there was another Mutanimal that there was never a toy for but I can't remember them all off the top of my head for some reason.

    I for one am not saying that I am always happy with the lack of obscure and not so obscure secondary characters... but people will always want what they can't have and will always want more of what they can.

  29. PL said...
    "Actually, I should probably ask -- what exactly do you mean by a "retro Archie line"? I took it to mean a line inspired by the unique characters that appeared in the "TMNT Adventures" and "Mutanimals" comics that Archie published... and I can't remember any such line ever being proposed by Playmates. If, on the other hand, you mean a line of "retro" Turtles a la the old MWS animated series (and original toy line), I think we have shot down that idea once or twice."

    I've actually heard them both but I can't recall who the original source was for either. But it's entirely possible that the "retro archie line" was an unfounded rumor created out of truth about the retro original cartoon line concept that was rejected. That's one of the reason I said "if that was true." However, along the same lines how come Mirage rejected a new line based on the classic characters from the show?

  30. Hello, Peter!

    I really appreciate you taking interest in what us fans have to say about the numerous TMNT toy lines of the past. Though I have nothing bad to say regarding Playmates, here are my views:

    Personally, I'd like to see a TMNT LIVE-ACTION (1990) movie line...Including all the main characters from the first film: Turtles, Splinter, April, Casey, Shredder, Tatsu, and a Foot Soldier. The first two live-action films are LONG overdue for a line of figures that accurately and realistically represents the clever and innovative costume/character designs that a lot of us grew up loving in the early 90s. Not to mention that NECA, the current license holder, would blow this idea out of the water. Their life-like movie replica action figures (the Cult Classics line, for example) are currently the best quality the market has to offer. If you were to put that idea into motion, I think you would make a *lot* of TMNT fans happy - including me.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this!



  31. Peter,

    For what it's worth, I have my classic Fugitoid figure standing up with my brand-spanking-new Turtles figures. And they all look AWESOME together! I really, really love that little robot!

    I'm, personally, glad that you're in the business of producing art, and not just plastic consumer goods. Kids' toys are fun, but I think you really have to be sure that they're being manufactured in a socially and ecologically safe fashion!

  32. Pete,
    I must first echo Rose's sentiments that, regardless of anything else, I'll always appreciate the role that Playmates has played in TMNT history. Had it not been for them, one of the fondest moments of my life (stumbling across the TMNT isle at Toys R Us for the first time, at the ripe old age of 9, with my younger brothers) would have never happened.

    That having been said, I wonder if you'd consider answering a question. You put a lot of emphasis in your post here on the word "kids," making sure that we collectors "get" that these toys aren't for us. Ok, we get that (and we have NECA catering to us, so it's all gravy). But going off of your comment about "maximum playability," I'm curious as to how you decide what that is? How do you and Playmates come to the conclusion that kids will play with...

    A giant manta ray,
    A giant gecko,
    A giant panda,
    A giant duck,
    A giant rabbit,
    A giant moose,
    A giant snake,
    A giant rhino,
    A giant bat,
    a giant alligator (who can't stand up straight),
    a turtle dressed as Mr. Spock (which CLEARLY is marketed toward adults, not kids),

    yet, when asked about the idea of a figure based on a Jaguar, the idea is treated as if absurd, and the notion that it won't sell is constantly given as an excuse? Please don't take this as an attack, as I have the utmost respect for you and the TMNT. I am just curious as to how these decisions are made. Thanks for taking time to read this, Pete.

  33. Henry, are you referring to Mattel recently calling back it's Batman toys to examine them for phthalates? Yes, that's a big concern. Mattel is taking a big hit since their Movie toys won't be on the shelves when the Dark Knight hits theaters. don't want that to happen with TMNT.

    Pete, I still don't get how you think music Don is a good idea to sell with kids, Pete. The NECA figures reflect most of what's out in the children's toy market already. Hyper-articulated figures are now mainstream. Stupid theme waves are a thing of the past.

    I encourage you to take a stop by your nearest toy selling retailer, and you'll see that popular lines like Star Wars, GI Joe, Power Rangers, DC Superheroes and Marvel Legends all feature high quality, articulation and character variety. they can't stay afloat on collectors alone, it's kids who are buying the toys and keeping them afloat.

    Playmates needs to step it up to compete instead of relying on an outdated business model. Kids have higher expectations. But Playmates doesn't want to take any risks to compete...they repeat the same losing formula that killed the original line, the 2K3 line, Fast Forward and now the Movie Line. I love the Turtles and it hurts to see the same mistakes being made.

  34. Peter - I checked around and to answer your question the "archie retro line" being rejected by Mirage came from a playmates rep.

  35. I can do without the Archie-inspired figures, I understand why those arent being made...

    ...But theres no logical reason why Playmates is making any more variant figures when there havent even been figures like these (which I've listed in Murph's blog, but will again here, just because I like seeing their names in print): Oroku Saki, Utrom Shredder (and other Utroms), Baxter in Lab Coat, Purple Dragon, Leatherhead in Lab Coat, The Ancient One, Leo in Johnny Cash-esque "Self Discovery Mission" garb, Ninja Tribunal figures, ect ect ect...


  36. -->> They are making an ' Utrom' Shredder.


  37. It's 'alien bug' Shredder on a funny robot spider walker, though. Not in the Shredder suit...

  38. -->> Uh, ok well ..

    what exactly do we KNOW 100 % concrete about the B T T S line ??

    Not very much so far.


  39. I could care less about figures for the old and new cartoon and folks whining about "I want one more Bebop!" "Where's Krang!"

    Fuck that. Let's see Mirage Shredder (with removeable mask), maybe Bloodsucker from "The River," Karai (the way she appears in the comics, not the cartoon and certainly not the movie), maybe those three failed Shredder worm-clones from #20 & #21 too.

    I'm not into toys, but lately I've become taken with lining up my walls with comic book characters/superheroes I enjoy.

    - Andrew Modeen

  40. "..Fuck that. Let's see Mirage Shredder (with removeable mask), maybe Bloodsucker from "The River," Karai (the way she appears in the comics, not the cartoon and certainly not the movie), maybe those three failed Shredder worm-clones from #20 & #21 too. ..

    -->> BINGO .. >v<

  41. I get my hands on whatever cool toys are made. Complaining doesn't make a difference unless it goes to the right people. Talk to the sales people at Playmates. Oh, and tell them you're representing Walmart.