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Old 10-24-2021, 01:25 AM   #1
Meow
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Question Why do Playmates 80s figures look different than in comic and cartoon?

Hey everyone,

was taking a tour on my figures on shelves today, looking at them, touching them, squeezing soft heads and stuff collectors sometimes do ....

I remember as a kid when the cartoon and the figures came out I was a bit confused why the figures do not look like in the cartoon but put those thoughts aside quickly and accepted how it is. I have to admit that at this time I had no idea of TMNT origins and a "real" comic existing other than the F/W cartoon.

So I was looking at - mostly - the original playmates turtles a couple of minutes ago and realized almost everything on them looked F/W cartoon except for the white eyes, the straight bandana and a snout that is more like a beak - just like in original comics. This goes on with various other figures, such as shredder too. Like their style is a mix of the cartoon and the original comic style. In any case those playmates figures also feature areas or elements on them that are neither F/W, nor original comic style. Eg splinter is so fat, he could be our mama. Or Usagi who looks like a tall mean guy with 2m long ears. The ears seem to be accurate as he always had them this long in the original (TMNT) comics and in the F/W cartoon but his appearance in all of them was more like a cute lil rabbit guy. But there are also other figures like fugitoid that don't look like anything in the comics or the cartoon. Not to forget general traag cartoon vs figure

If I remember right the idea of TMNT action figures was pitched to playmates who refused to do figures, stating they want a cartoon show for tv launched first to see wether or not it is successful so doing figures could turn out profitable. I am aware that on the action figure market you have certain sizes you have to follow. With that said I understand why shredder kind of had to be sized down, making him look like he's about to take a dump right where he stands, cape included - but what's the explanation for Usagi where at least 2/3 of his total size is ears only def exceeding the size shredder could have had when standing tall.

Other figures like dirtbag and groundchuck I assume were either first worked out as figures or cartoon characters but most probably those 2 departments were working together closely because figures and F/W cartoon characters pretty much match in appearance and style.

Does anyone know why the figures were neither fully F/W or comic style but a mix-up of both styles with style elements not fitting either of those 2 styles? The more I think about it 30 years later the less sense it makes.
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Old 10-24-2021, 11:22 AM   #2
Coola Yagami
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That's a pretty good question. I wonder if anyone had any insider knowledge with Playmates on why.

Now the first wave made sense, those had to be made in advance so they'd already be in stores in time for the cartoon show. But those toys were, I believe the first Ninja Turtle media outside of comics. To me, those Turtles were pretty much the Mirage Turtles just with colored bandanas and the belt buckles.

I have no idea what was going with Shredder's shirtless design. I mean, even in Mirage he was wearing a shirt. Splinter's design did look kinda like how Splinter looked in Mirage issue 1, though maybe a little fatter.

But yeah, the one that takes the cake was General Traag. He was already seen on the show multiple times by the time the wave he was in came out. There was no reason to **** him up that badly.

Another weird thing about the Turtles back then was this idea they were way more kick-ass than they really were. Like yeah, they were bad-ass in season 1, but we know it went downhill, especially in season 3 and onwards as more and more comedy overtook the action. But for some reason it wasn't til I was a little older than I took a step back and realized that the Turtles were much more kick-ass in the games, the live action movies, even the action figures looked more like they were gonna **** you up in comparison to the goofier slapstick cartoon.

Slash was such a bad-ass mutha****a, but I guess he was just too wild and savage for the cartoon, they had to tone him down for the kids. I'm glad we at least got to see TruSlash in TMNT III TMP and Turtles in Time. Such a waste of an awesome design. NECA needs to release a figure of bad-ass Slash, not the dumbass one from the cartoon.
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Old 10-24-2021, 02:08 PM   #3
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Was this a common phenomenon with many media franchises back then? That the action figures didn't look much like in the cartoons and comics?

I only had Playmates TMNT action figures and some Mattel Masters of the Universe action figures
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Old 10-24-2021, 02:55 PM   #4
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I'm not sure, though I know He-Man was a different case. With the exception of them going back and making a Prince Adam, King Randor and Orko figures, every character in the toyline was a toy first and it was up to the cartoon to adapt it.

In this case it was the cartoon's fault their designs didn't match the toys for characters like Mantenna and Modulok.
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Old 10-24-2021, 03:23 PM   #5
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The original Playmates toyline was created before the Fred Wolf cartoon.

Mark Taylor who worked on the original Masters of the Universe toyline was one of the toy designers for the first Playmates TMNT toyline. That explains the removable harnesses, belts, and pull apart weapons.

The earliest TMNT action figures were made to appeal to fans of the Mirage comic book, children who watched the cartoon on weekdays and Saturdays and action figure fans.

Last edited by mikey0; 10-24-2021 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 10-24-2021, 06:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Original TMNT Cartoon Fan View Post
Was this a common phenomenon with many media franchises back then? That the action figures didn't look much like in the cartoons and comics?

I only had Playmates TMNT action figures and some Mattel Masters of the Universe action figures
Pretty much yeah, for the most part because the figures for movies etc had to be created sometimes well before the movie even started filming so they had to use pre-production art as a guide to what characters would look like.
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Old 10-25-2021, 02:08 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Original TMNT Cartoon Fan View Post
Was this a common phenomenon with many media franchises back then? That the action figures didn't look much like in the cartoons and comics?
He-Man, Masters of the Universe, Power Rangers, Biker Mice from Mars, Street Sharks, Ghostbusters (I can tell of) were all very accurate and did not leave any doubt. TMNT seems to be one of the few action figure toy lines where it was a zig-zag-mix-mash.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikey0 View Post
The original Playmates toyline was created before the Fred Wolf cartoon.

Mark Taylor who worked on the original Masters of the Universe toyline was one of the toy designers for the first Playmates TMNT toyline. That explains the removable harnesses, belts, and pull apart weapons.

The earliest TMNT action figures were made to appeal to fans of the Mirage comic book, children who watched the cartoon on weekdays and Saturdays and action figure fans.
Quote:
Originally Posted by King Kahn View Post
Pretty much yeah, for the most part because the figures for movies etc had to be created sometimes well before the movie even started filming so they had to use pre-production art as a guide to what characters would look like.
Oh my god .. for real? How does that fit into the idea of what took place then? I don't remember anymore where I read this, maybe in the ultimate visual history book. I remember it the way that playmates said we like your idea of action figures but we cannot predict if this is going to work or not and because of that we would first have a cartoon show on television to see if starting to produce action figures turns out as a profitable market to go to.
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Old 10-25-2021, 04:44 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coola Yagami View Post
In this case it was the cartoon's fault their designs didn't match the toys for characters like Mantenna and Modulok.
Never had any of those. Just basic characters like He-Man, Teela, Man at Arms, Orko and Skeletor.
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Old 10-25-2021, 03:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coola Yagami View Post
I'm not sure, though I know He-Man was a different case. With the exception of them going back and making a Prince Adam, King Randor and Orko figures, every character in the toyline was a toy first and it was up to the cartoon to adapt it.

In this case it was the cartoon's fault their designs didn't match the toys for characters like Mantenna and Modulok.
Correct. Filmation’s deal let them do what they wanted. Mattel could ask them to put figures and vehicles in the cartoon but they weren’t beholden to the designs or even choices.

It’s why stinkor never was in the cartoon. Lou hated the character and refused to put “potty humor” characters into the cartoon.
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