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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tournament Fighters (TT Top 50 Edition)

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
I feel like you could probably do some kind of six degrees of separation to connect TMNT with Transformers but I also feel like that way madness lies.


I'll do you one better!

Toward the end of the original TMNT line, this toy showed up in the "Mini Mutants" range:

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This thing was not designed by Playmates but was in fact adapted from a toy that originally appeared in Diaclone over a decade previous:

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Diaclone being the toyline that was partially imported by Hasbro and adapted into Transformers.

So I guess this means a degree of separation of...zero? Negative one?

Alright alright I'll get back to work on my actual next entry for this list
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
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#28 Fugitoid​

Points: 89 | Lists: 3​

“Decent robot with person brain” – Johnny Unusual

One time when I was a teenager I read in ToyFare about how the original turtles comics were violent and edgy so I went to the local fleamarket and found a few reprinted issues of the Mirage comics and boy was ToyFare right! Me being used to the 1980s animated series and the video games I was amazed at the vastly different types of stories being told in those pages.

Anyway the reason I bring this up is because several of the comics I found concerned the storyline in which the TMNT meet Honeycutt, a weapons engineer from a far-off galaxy who accidentally transmits his brain into his robot servant. He’s caught in the middle of a big space war and both sides want him to build their doomsday weapon. Then the TMNT show up, teleported there accidentally by the Utrom’s warp device.

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The turts befriend Honeycutt and help him escape in a series of swashbuckling space adventure stories which eventually became my overall favorite Turtles stories. As exciting as this material is, it somehow was passed up by the Murakami-Wolf animated series although many of us knew about Honeycutt anyway because he did get an action figure in the Playmates toyline under the name “Fugitoid.” Fugitoid’s bio card references the comic book stories and always made me wonder if I could find these adventures in the cartoon somewhere.

Well the answer was no, but Fugitoid as a character actually predates the Ninja Turtles, showing up in Eastman and Laird's comics before they invented the green machine. Actually Fugitoid was one of the first characters to receive a three-dimensional figurine outside of the comic stories in the form of some pewter miniatures sold to coincide (I assume) with Palladium's bugnuts TMNT tabletop game.

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(Fugitoid is in the upper-right package on the left side)

Thankfully despite Honeycutt’s snubbing in the old ‘toon material he got his due in later adaptations. The 2003 show adapts his storyline very faithfully over a series of several episodes. The 2012 cartoon took it even further, giving Honeycutt a whole half-season as the turtles’ mentor helping them scavenge the galaxies for the components of a device the Triceratons used to destroy the Earth (time travel is involved). Also this version of Honeycutt is voiced by David Tennant. Highly recommend.

So yeah despite his obscurity early on, this robot fella is an important part of the mythos. Overall he’s my favorite TMNT character and if you haven’t read or watched any of the stories he’s involved with I suggest you do!
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
The 2012 cartoon took it even further, giving Honeycutt a whole half-season as the turtles’ mentor helping them scavenge the galaxies for the components of a device the Triceratons used to destroy the Earth (time travel is involved). Also this version of Honeycutt is voiced by David Tennant. Highly recommend.
Well dang, now I’m interested. If I wanted to track this down, which episodes should I be looking for, and do you know if they’re actually streaming anywhere?
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Well dang, now I’m interested. If I wanted to track this down, which episodes should I be looking for, and do you know if they’re actually streaming anywhere?

First half of season 4. I'd recommend watching the last three episodes of season 3 for context.

The show was all on Hulu until it moved over to Netflix recently and unfortunately Netflix has only put up the first two seasons so far. Looks like it might also be on Paramount+ if you've got that. I highly recommend the show in general, though!
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Oh, I do have P+ for the Star Trek action, I'll poke around at some point and see if I can find it on there.

The fact that most of these reboots don't have sub-titles makes them a bit of a PITA to search for.

Also, though, just looking at 2012 info and dang, that voice talent list is stacked.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Oh, I do have P+ for the Star Trek action, I'll poke around at some point and see if I can find it on there.

The fact that most of these reboots don't have sub-titles makes them a bit of a PITA to search for.

Also, though, just looking at 2012 info and dang, that voice talent list is stacked.

It's an Andrea Romano joint - Romano did the voice casting for all the DCAU shows. One of my favorite bits about the show is figuring out who voices guest roles - it's often a meta reference to TMNT or pop culture history. (Like having Cory Feldman voice Slash, for example.)
 

Lokii

(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator

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#27 Pizza Thrower​

Points: 92 | Lists: 3
"THE WRKS"
"Wait, this might be the greatest toy I ever had! This battery powered toy would lunch hard plastic discs at terrific speed across your room or yard. I would line up my figures and then shoot them down under a hail of plastic pizza pucks!" - Falselogic​

"What a cool idea, and what a cool toy. It sounded like a jet engine, but boy could it fling those little pizzas." - Jbear

"My brother and I used each other for target practice a lot." - Bulgakov

Here it is, Talking Time! Your 1st place pick for Ultimate Best TMNT thing: the acclaimed and beloved Pizza Thr- wait hold on, Drac is furiously whispering something in my ear…. 27th place?! Well who am I to argue with the hoi polloi? Regardless of rank, the seminal Pizza Thrower easily stands toe to toe with other iconic vehicles like the Turtle Blip or Party Wagon. The only thing keeping from such lofty distinction is that it never showed up in a show or movie or video game. It exists only as a toy. But what a toy! Big, unique, motorized, and covered with all the detailed knobs and gubbins we’ve come to expect.

Let’s break it down:
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Simply a fantastic toy, but that’s not where the lore of the Pizza Thrower ends. This must have been an expensive toy to produce as it’s no secret that Playmates reused the model in several other lines. MR Tweedy’s Chicken Pie Thrower makes some degree of thematic sense, but what the heck is Earthworm Jim doing with this thing? The most disappointing rebrand has to be for the 2003 show which sees the Pizza Thrower rejiggered in the far blander and uninspired Sewer Lid Launcher.


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The Pizza Thrower would show up in even stranger places. Have any of yall ever heard of Crunchabungas? These pizza flavored honeycombs were released at the height of Turtlemania but I’ve never heard anyone talk about them. Ever. Which is wild since they’re called Crunchabungs, the perfect name for a TMNT anything. What’s more, they feature the Pizza Thrower prominently on the packaging. This is a match made in heaven but I guess God was out fishing that day because these things promptly fell into the memory hole. They didn’t even get one vote.


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This is now a Crunchabungas post:

The commercial featured Claymation. How often do you see that in the TMNT realm? What's more
it's actual Claymation, made by Will Vinton himself!

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Pictured: a high Mikey purchases his "munchies" from Leonard (also high)

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Win one of these vans!

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The modern Odysseus on his doomed journey to recreate Crunchabungas in 2012.


Okay let’s get things back on track. There’s one more Pizza Thrower factoid that bears mentioning, but I’m sorry to say it’s the most disappointing of the lot. You would think a real life pizza launcher that launched actual pizzas would be front page news. Alas, when Paramount built one as promotion for the Michael Bay movie it hardly met expectations.

Look at this thing! There’s some token gestures at replicating the original but the silhouette’s all wrong, all the fun details have been replaced with decal advertisement for the film, it launches with all the force of a wet frisbee, and worst of all, they don’t even use real pizzas! Now I’m a live and let live kinda guy. Not one to get bothered by an advertising stunt didn’t live up to expectations. But when you’re dealing with something as iconic and absurd as the Pizza Thrower there are certain implied promises that Paramount simply failed to deliver on. The only recourse? Michael Bay must be sentenced to a pelting by dishes of Italian origin consisting of a flat, round base of dough baked with a topping of tomato sauce and cheese until deceased. That, or bring back Crunchabungas.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
I had never heard of crunchabungas, but now my life is enriched.

Meanwhile, I wanted to offer an in-person report from a weekend in NYC that the turts are alive and well in the sewers of Manhattan:

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Bulgakov

Yes, that Russian author.
(He/Him)
This was the best post this year and it's criminal that I never had a Crunchabunga.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
Not only do I remember them, I'm pretty sure I remember the way they taste.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Either I'd never heard of Crunchabungas or they'd fallen down my memory hole too but gosh what a find. I'm so pleased they've arrived here, messiah-like, delivered by the droning whir of the Pizza Thrower's motor.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Still tryin' to decide if I'm gonna add that van to the collection. Combining the pizza thrower and party wagon into one is a genius concept for sure
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
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#26 Usagi Yojimbo​

Points: 93 | Lists: 4

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Miyamoto Usagi, better known by his title of Usagi Yojimbo (“Rabbit Bodyguard”) is a character created by Stan Sakai for his comic series of the same title. Usagi is depicted as a rōnin who wanders a fantastical version of Japan in its feudal era, selling his sword to make ends meet and tangling with a variety of mundane and mystical opponents.

The original comics are very cool but Usagi is of course represented on this list thanks to his crossovers with the gekikame ninja as the poor rabbit seems to frequently find himself zapped into modern-day New York City thanks to dimensional warp or similar shenanigans.

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Usagi is hardly the only indie comix character to cross into the Turtleverse but he’s probably the best-known and most frequently revisited, having appeared in nearly every comic and cartoon iteration since the 1980s, most recently confirmed as a new playable character in the upcoming Shredder’s Revenge DLC.

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My path crossed with Usagi via the original Playmates toyline. The wandering swordsbunny got not one but two action figures in the original Playmates line. The first is a basic representation of Usagi but with the addition of armor and an intense grimace like the kind you often see in the 90s Playmates range. The second features a total reinvention of the character set for space adventures which apparently is based on an actual Stan Sakai comic. Neat!

Usagi is yet another example of the weird snowball effect of the Turtles’ popularity. You wouldn’t think a little friendly crossover like this would become a vital recurring part of the TMNT mythos and yet here we are. Who is your favorite iteration of Usagi?
 

Falselogic

Lapsed Threadcromancer
(they/them)
I believe he also had appearances in later toylines as well. I know I had a version of him from a 2000sish line of toys as well.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
My brother got to name one of the kittens in a litter when he was like six. He named the cat Usagi Yojimbo.
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
I have a bunch of Usagi comic TPBs. I think i have the first 15 books, and some random issues past that. My favorite is Grasscutter, from the late 90's. A lot of the earlier comics were shorter stories patched together, but Grasscutter felt like a big move to a more sprawling adventure.

Man, I should re-read the whole series. I stopped following it in the mid-2000's, but it looks like Stan is still putting out comics.

Usagi is a good rabbit.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
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#24 TIE

Pizza Monster

Points: 95 | Lists: 4​

“I love these xenomorph pizzas” – Dr. Nerd

The Pizza Monsters were one of many homages to popular sci-fi/horror media in the 1980s TMNT cartoon and they also represented one of many hare-brained plots hatched by Krang to defeat the (blasted, accursed) turtles via their all-consuming love of pizzas.

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In the second season episode The Case of the Killer Pizzas, Baxter Stockman smuggles sneaks several of these creatures into the turtles’ lair by planting their meatball-like eggs on a pizza. They soon hatch and grow into eight-foot-tall yellow monstrosities and are tough enough that the ninja teens have to team up with Shredder to defeat them.

The monsters only showed up in one episode of the animated series and did not get toys in the original Playmates line but did gain a bit of notoriety thanks to appearances in a few of the Konami games of the era. There’s now a NECA toy of the cartoon design and the critters did show up in Shredder’s Revenge and had an homage in the Nickelodeon series. Overall, one of the more memorable of the monsters-of-the-week from the turtles’ Saturday morning era.

Triceratons

Points: 95 | Lists: 4​

“Head down, horns up!” – Zog

The Triceratons are a race of humanoid dinosaurs resembling triceratops. They live on the far side of the galaxy and have their own empire and spend most of their time fighting various other factions for intergalactic dominance. These guys, like Fugitoid, were very early creations of Mirage Studios predating the ninja turtles and were quickly folded into the Turtles story.

For a while these guys occupied a strange peripheral zone of the mythos. As Jbear puts it:

“I knew the Triceratons were a thing because I'd often see them--like on the cover of TMNT3: The Manhattan Project--but I never ran across any of the media that they were directly featured in as a kid so they just seemed like this cool, distant thing that I wanted to know more about.” – Jbear

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And the Triceratons were indeed a cool distant thing that Jbear would have liked to know more about. They appeared in the early issues of Mirage as the primary antagonists of the Fugitoid storyline that I mentioned over in his entry. This storyline is extremely dope like I’ve already said and a lot of it is because you get to see Eastman and Laird flex their sci-fi art muscles all over the place with the Triceratons’ cool-ass ships and flight suits and laser rifles.

And just like Fugitoid, the Triceratons were strangely passed over by the initial TMNT zeitgeist. The Playmates line featured a Triceraton action figure seemingly based on Zog from the Mirage “Return to New York” storyline (but just called “Triceraton” and downgraded to Yet Another Dimension X Guy). Later the Triceraton army pops up in one forgettable late-season episode of the animated series where they invade Earth and it isn’t even the episode’s A-plot. Finally there was a redeco of the toy in samurai armor (for some reason) toward the end of the Playmates line. Besides a tiny cameo in the Archie comics that was about it for these guys outside of the original comics, at least for a while.

Thankfully the original comic stories were lovingly adapted and expanded in both the 2003 and the 2012 series. Definitely check those shows out if you want to see what the Triceratons were all about. For the glory of the empire!

“Decent dino aliens” – Johnny Unusual
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
As a kiddo, I loved the Ninja Turtles, but I didn't have cable television, so my opportunities to watch the cartoon were limited, which is why I rented the single TMNT VHS at my local video store with the pizza monsters episode on it a dozen times.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Good choices both. One of the things I loved about in the original arcade versions of Turtles in Time with the cartoon deep cuts. Weirdly, that's also kind of the charm of the Simpsons beat em up to, created at a time where the franchise was SO in it's infancy that it seems they had to. That weird coughing background extra at Moe's? Make him a very large boss.

My Triceraton experience was similar to JBear's though I eventually read those comics. It's wild how quickly that series goes from grounded Frank Miller action despite ridiculous premise to out there space adventure (though I always that it was weird how many space adventures the X-Men had despite it being kind of not really part of the premise of the series).
 

Bulgakov

Yes, that Russian author.
(He/Him)
Pizza becoming a monster is cheesy (no pun intended) as hell, and therefore this slice (no pun intended) of lore is a delightful topping (no pun intended) to the weirdness that gave the Turtles their spicy marinara (no pun intended).
 
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