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Old 09-19-2019, 09:41 PM   #1
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Favorite 1991 to 1997 Figures

What were you favorite action figures released from 1991 to 1997? It could a be some basic wave figures, turtle variant figures, ally variant figures, and villain variant figures. Which ones did like from that time frame and why? You can simply post names, share memories here, and discuss the toys and history of the toy line further.

Although it wasn’t Playmates’ best, I kind of liked when the original Playmates toy line went through its’ second identity crisis phase with the 7th basic wave in late 1991. The 7th basic wave was the first ever assortment with movie characters (Super Shredder, Tokka, and Rahzar respectively), popular character variants (Make My Day Leo, Hose ‘Em Down Don, and Skateboardin’ Mike), characters exclusively featured in the Archie comic book series (Tattoo), and even a character from the TMNT magazine under a different name (Sgt. Bananas). At the same time, it was an extension to the 3rd basic wave because of the characters Zak The Neutrino and Space Usagi. Going by the second series of the mini Kidrobot TMNT vinyls, the 7th basic wave of the ‘88 TMNT line was the last basic assortment of importance to children of the 80s [children of the 90s (young Millennials) collected them past this point]. The 8th wave had a few good necessities in it for TMNT fans of all ages as well (Movie Splinter and Foot Soldier), but the new allies and villains were nowhere near as memorable as Zak, Space Usagi, and Sgt. Bananas.

Chromedome was my only favorite figure from the 6th wave of basic figures because TMNT toy collectors could have a square-off between Chromedome and Metalhead. The extension to the 3rd wave figures was what made the 5th, 6th, and 7th basic waves work for me. Chromedome was the only third quarter short basic assortment figure made after 1989 with ties to the third wave. Of course, that could be because Playmates worked on the 4th wave immediately around the time the 3rd wave came to toy store shelves in 1989.

Is anyone else surprised that we got a Chromedome, Robotic Bebop, Robotic Rocksteady, and Robotic Foot Soldier? That’s a robotic version of every villain from the first wave. A Robotic Splinter and Robotic April would have made better variants than April The Ravishing News Reporter and Ninja April. A toy line of robotic characters within a toy line made to spoof another toy line. That’s brillant!

Walkabout seemed two years overdue at the time. The Australian craze of the mid to late 80s died either shortly before or during 1990 and TMNT fans then had a Cajun gator (Leatherhead) already. Walkabout has a hilarious name and action figure, but the articulation makes it stand out too much from the figures before it. Walkabout really looks like a Cheetahmen action figure (despite being a kangaroo), if such a toy existed.

I wish Playmates did not include the turtle variant sub-waves with the basic assortment figures on the back of ‘91 and ‘92 cards. That’s one of the reasons why ‘88 to ‘90 TMNT toy collectors do not go near the 6th to 11th basic waves.

Of course, the Movie Star Turtles variant sub-wave was the best out of them all. Those versions of the turtles were the last ever turtles figures that resembled an actual turtle with an anthropomorphic body (the first being the 1988 Leonardo). I’m not sure why the Movie Foot Soldier was not in the 7th wave with Super Shredder and Movie Splinter in the Movie Stars Turtle sub-wave, but it added more depth to the original toy line by Playmates holding off on having the movie turtles in the 7th basic wave with Super Shredder, Tokka, and Rahzar. Some TMNT fans might argue that ‘88 to ‘90 was the first stage of the toy line, but others could extend it to 1991 because that was the last time the first wave turtles and Shredder were the central characters in the toy line. The Movie Star Turtles variant figures changed the direction of the line completely. After the Movie Star Turtles caught on, there was the Ninja Grapplor vehicle, Movie 3 line, Giant Movie Stars line, Giant Movie 3 figures, Shogun Turtles, Movie Star Turtles re-releases, and Stretch Turtles.

The first TMNT movie is the highest grossing independent comic book film of all time, but the characters in every 90s film of the series could not carry a toy line that an identity different from that of the average film toy line. Playmates should have spun-off the Movie Stars sub-wave completely. Super Shredder, Tokka, Rahzar, Movie Splinter, and Movie Foot Soldier really had no place in any basic assortment of the original toy line. Oddly enough, those basic wave SOTO movie figures worked because the toy line from the beginning to the end was for TMNT fans in general. Not to mention, Mattel got away with having Saurod, Gwildor, and Blade in their final basic wave for the 1982 MOTU line and that was only four years prior to the Tokka wave being launched.

Of course, toy companies don’t do that anymore. The 1993 Bandai Mighty Morphin Power Rangers line is the wedge between the analog age of the 20th century for toys and the digital age of the 20th century into the 21st century (1996 to NOW).

So, the 7th basic wave (with the exception of the turtle variants), HeadDroppin’ Leo, HD Don, and Movie Star sub-wave are the ‘91 to ‘97 figures that I enjoy looking at as an action figure fan time and time again. The turtle-like sculpts of Headdroppin’ Leo and Don are up there with the ‘88 Leo and rubber skinned Movie Star turtles. Both the 5 and 11 inch Krang’s Android Body should have had extending torso, arms, and legs like the 1986 Extendar action figure from the 1982 Mattel MOTU line. A remote control 11 inch Krang’s Android Body (like the piece the artist The Beast Is Back did a while back) would have been neat for that time also.

Having Scratch and Hot Spot in the 10th basic wave was perfect for cartoon fans in general at that point in the 90s. Like a reverse Ren and Stimpy (cartoon characters that were toy shelves at the same time). The creation of Sandstorm, I’m guessing, showed Playmates’ competitive edge against Mattel which had the license for Disney’s Aladdin at the time. Half Court could have been made to team up with Slam Dunkin’ Don in stop motion TMNT home videos. I imagine Mona Lisa looks nice next to every ally and villain that appeared in the CBS Saturday morning FW show.

The final basic wave consisting of the Robotic Foot Soldier had to be confusing to fans at the time. Everyone who has watched the 1987 mini-series knows the Foot Soldiers were already robotic before 1994. Still, it’s cool to know that the wave one turtles, Splinter, and April have robotic first wave characters (Chromedome could substitute for Robotic Shredder) to battle.

With turtle variant sub-waves like Dino Turtles, the original TMNT toy line was the ultimate 90s action figure line. Playmates touched on every toy and movie trend that we know the 90s for. There will not ever be another wacky and fun toy line like the original TMNT toy line.

I’m curious to hear what members of this board has to say about the ‘91 to ‘97 figures. Please tell me everything you think about these. Would the unreleased figures have made the line better? The flocked Rahzar figures was insanely furry, wasn’t it? Would you have made changes to any figures? Should any basic wave figures have looked like how they did on the back of the packages? What might you have added to any of the basic and sub-waves?

Last edited by mikey0; 09-19-2019 at 11:43 PM.
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