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Okay, I have a confession to make....I'm a BIG fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Ever since my local comic book store suggested I pick up a copy of the book and check it out, I was instantly hooked. Although I collected a lot of comics in high school, I wasn't a huge fan of B&W comics back then, so I would have completely skipped it otherwise. But I gave it a shot and I loved it. Over the years I have amassed quite a collection of TMNT comics, books, and, of course, toys!

The Turtles were a constant source of inspiration in many of my art projects in college, and I have all kinds of drawings, painting, sculptures featuring the "Heroes in a Halfshell", and I was even hired to paint the cast of the TV show on the walls of a birthday party room in a local arcade that I worked at during those years!

Action Figures
So obviously, I collected the TMNT action figures (why else would I be writing this, right?), and although Playmates created hundreds of action figures over the years, my focus stayed on the main team and any of the supporting cast that I liked. I am not a completist by ANY means for this line (which still continues to this day, thanks to last year's CGI movie!), but the figures I did get have always been some of my favorite toys ever!

Following the animated series' lead, the Turtles wear color-coded (a brilliant move, BTW) so that each one had a unique colored outfit. This helped to tell them apart, because previously, they all wore red.

The only turtle that carried a single weapon into battle, Don still came with two staves, but of course I always left the extra weapons off to the side. Unfortunately, the top part of Don's holster broke.

The leader of the team, armed with two katanas. Some of the Turtles suffer from a problem that they can't stand up very sturdy, and this is due to the position of the feet. Leo is one of these (Don is another one). He will stand, but don't bump the shelf, or you will suffer the dreaded "domino effect"!

The fun-loving, pizza-chomping, sewer-surfing Turtle was a hit with kids because of his party attitude. His nunchuks can be stored on his "utility belt" (all the Turtles could store their weapons on their belts when not in combat), and like the rest of the team, he came with a cool weapons rack that could display the arsenal of gear he came with.

My favorite Turtle. When he used his sais, Raph was was visually similar to my favorite comic book character, not just in his fighting style, but also his attitude. The loner of the team, although he was also the one they relied on the most in battle.

Since I had the 4 Turtles, I needed their mentor, too! Splinter was the one who trained the Turtles in the martial arts, although he was known to throw down from time to time as well. This figure is a great example of how well soft goods can work in this scale, as the robe is a single piece that wraps around the body. Nicely done! Splinter also came with a cool sword cane, but I seem to have lost it...

Now that I had the main TMNT cast in my collection, it was a tough call to determine which additional figures to add to it. April didn't interest me, and neither did the villains. While I knew Shredder & the Foot Soldiers from the comics, I didn't like the action figures versions, so I just passed on those. As you know from previous columns, I got pretty picky with teh supporting cast members, and I only wanted to get the characters that were in the comics. This is a rule I would break of course, but hey, I was on a college student budget!

So out of the hundreds of TMNT figures that came out, here are the ones I did pick up.

Casey Jones
Although he wears a hockey mask, Casey always reminded me of the guy from the Quiet Riot album covers (RIP Kevin DuBrow!), which one my favorite heavy metal band in the 1980s. Plus, he hung out with Raphael, so he was a no-brainer to pick up. He actually came with a green gold club and a second bat....but I can't find those accessories.

Usagi Yojimbo
The Samurai hare with a knife! Usagi is a comic book icon among the smaller publishers (his title is still published today by Dark Horse Comics), and he has a pretty "rabbit" fan base! I first heard of Usagi WAY back in an issue of Groo the Wanderer, so I knew who he was before he was brought into the TMNT universe. Another no-brainer.

Panda Khan
Another visually cool-looking character that appeared in his own comic book series. He also came with another weapon that I have someplace...I just couldn't find it in time for this column (I'll keep looking though).

Why him? Because I love dinosaurs! By the time this figure came out, the line already had dozens of figure in it, mostly made up characters that didn't interest me, but this guys looked very cool, so I had to get him (The sci-fi angle helped, no doubt.)

So there you have it! The first few years of the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES line had a lot of interesting figures in it, but these were the only ones I collected. Characters like Ace Duck, Napolean Bonafrog, Krang, Slash, and Mondo Gecko were fun for kids, but I didn't get into them. There WAS another related figure that spun out of the TMNT line, which I'll feature as a surprise over the weekend.

See you next week!

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