Top Ten Toys Based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movies

Top Ten Toys Based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movies

As the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles gained popularity with their comic books and cartoon series, Gary Propper obsessively sought to turn them into a movie. This surfer saw the potential in Kevin Eastman’s and Peter Laird’s independent comic series. So, he brought in Kim Dawson to help fund his cinematic ambitions as a producer. They then bought the live-action rights before also enlisting a writer, Bobby Herbeck.

Even though most studios in Hollywood wanted nothing to do with a new comic book franchise, New Line Cinema gave the project the chance it needed. Meanwhile, the Jim Henson company provided the animatronic ingenuity to create the suits for the Turtles’ actors. Finally, Golden Harvest, who made a reputation for releasing Bruce Lee martial arts films, agreed to develop the film once they realized they could place their stunt actors in the suits.

Despite Hollywood’s reluctance to pick up the project, 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles garnered $202 million at the box office. This far surpassed its $13.5 million budget. Thus, this film became one of the most successful independent ventures of all time.

With the rousing success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the silver screen, the studio quickly pumped out a sequel, The Secret of the Ooze in 1991. Meanwhile, Playmates, who owned the rights to create the toys, began to churn out toys based on the films. Later, other companies like NECA would honor their legacy with new toys.

Presenting the top ten Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Toys based on the movies

10. NECA’s Casey Jones and Raphael in Disguise (2020)

NECA’s Casey Jones and Raphael in Disguise (2020)

As NECA’s line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys began picking up steam, they turned their attention to the classic movie. Since their toys appealed to the older fans that had grown up with the franchise, they aimed to appeal to their nostalgia. Amongst most fans, especially older ones, the first Teenage Mutant Ninja film was the best and most beloved entry. Thus, NECA created toys to honor the characters and moments of that film.

As their line continued, they created the Casey Jones and Raphael dual-pack, which they released exclusively to Walmart in 2020. In many ways, pairing these two together made perfect sense. For, Casey Jones became aware of the Turtles’ presence when he encountered the disguised Raphael on the streets.

Raphael, the wise-cracking, temperamental brother, had been returning to his lair after he disguised himself to watch a film. However, his trek home became side-tracked when he noticed the vigilante, Casey Jones, beating up a group of lowly criminals. Casey, on the other hand, took it upon himself to punish criminals by beating them up with sporting goods. Thus, Raphael began to make fun of Casey, especially after he pulled out a cricket bat. As he was too busy mocking the use of a cricket bat, Casey quickly launched Raphael into a trash can.

With the legacy of this scene, NECA dressed Raphael in his iconic trench coat within this dual pack. Both characters came with a wide range of accessories. For instance, Raphael came with his sai and fedora hat. Meanwhile, Casey came with a range of bats, including the infamous cricket bat.

9. NECA’s Super Shredder (2020)

NECA’s Super Shredder (2020)

Moring forward with their movie toys, NECA began producing toys for the sequel, The Secret of the Ooze. While this film lost the popular appeal of the original, shifting gears to tone down the violence, fans still find the movie fun and enjoyable. The rushed production of the film, which came out only a year after the original, also weakened the script for this film. Still, this film gave fans several memorable moments, especially when the Shredder decided to down TCRI’s ooze in a bid to defeat the Turtles.

Unlike the cartoon series, the movie’s ooze did not imbue animalistic properties based on recent contact with an animal. Instead, this ooze initiated a drastic range of mutations that led to animals gaining anthropomorphic traits. However, since Shredder was already a human, the ooze affected him in a different and new way.

For the most part, the mutagen amplified his muscle structure, bulking him up. It also increased his height, leading to him towering over his foes, the Turtles, even more than he had before. One of the strangest effects of the ooze was on his outfit. While his armor already had several blades on the shin, shoulder, and wrist guards, the ooze increased the size of those jagged blades. Even his helmet gained a more wicked look with larger sawblades.

The Turtles quickly dubbed the mutated version of their nemesis as “Super Shredder”. While Super Shredder gained significant bulk, his rage led him to single-mindedly tear apart the dock he stood under. Hoping to take out the Turtles by bringing down the dock, he tore down the support pillars. In the end, the Turtles survived the collapse while the Shredder perished.

8. Playmates’ April from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1992)

Playmates’ April from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1992)

Through all incarnations of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, they gain an especially important human ally that helps hide them from humanity. In the cartoon series, April O’Neal was a reporter who first hid their exploits before championing their heroic deeds as the public became aware of them. Meanwhile, Mirage Comics’ version was a computer programmer who assisted Baxter Stockman. She eventually opened an antique shop before retreating with the Turtles to Massachusetts.

As the 1990 blended elements from both known versions of the Turtles, their April O’Neal shined a brilliant blend of the two. Like the cartoons, April was a reporter who the Turtles saved before becoming friends. However, like the comics, she owned an antique shop and felt a romantic attraction to Casey Jones. However, as the sequels continued, April’s role stagnated as their friend who covered the news.

Despite the rampant flaws in the third film, the plot permitted April to step out of her reporter role. She, unfortunately, became the first to travel to feudal Japan, accidentally swapping places with a daimyo lord’s son. Thus, the daimyo and his people quickly proclaimed her a witch, believing that she stole away the prince. Thus, April not only had to adjust to the new time era but also had to escape imprisonment.

Celebrating the third film, Playmates released several toys for the film. Amongst the lot, April stood out since this was the first time her movie incarnation appeared in toy form. As in the film, April wore the kimono of the daimyo’s son, which she tore into a short skirt. This toy also came with the scepter, which acted as the conduit between the past and the present. Those holding the scepter swapped places, moving through time.

7. Playmates’ Movie Star Michelangelo (1991)

Playmates’ Movie Star Michelangelo (1991)

Even though New Line Cinema’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles proved to be a financial hit, Playmates was slow to create toys for the film. While the film introduced new fans to the franchise, Playmate already had a full line-up thanks to the Murakami-Wolf-Swenson cartoon that they helped create. However, as the films began to produce sequels, Playmates began to produce toys that resembled them.

The earliest toys based on the films did not specifically label themselves as movie-series toys. Instead, the toy line advertised these characters as movie star representations. However, they also included text that clearly indicated that they resembled the appearances from the 1990s film. Thus, this line was the first to bring the movies to toy shelves.

The Movie Star Turtles stood out from Playmate’s general offering of TMNT toys with their coloring and texturing. One of the selling points to these toys was that the turtles had a realistic feel, akin to the rubber suits from the films. Likewise, each of the turtles gained spots, which their film incarnations also had.

The Turtles from the 1990 film reflected the Mirage Comics, especially from their origins. Unlike the cartoon, these four turtles crawled through a mutagen that fundamentally changed them. They along with the rat, Splinter, grew in size and intelligence thanks to this ooze. They then learned the arts of ninjitsu from the rat, who had once been a pet of an honorable martial artist, Hamato Yoshi.

Amongst these four brothers, Michelangelo stood out as the fun-loving pizza lover. His signature weapons were the nunchucks. One of his most memorable scenes was when he had a nunchuck-off with a fellow nunchuck user from the Foot clan.

6. NECA’s Spirit of Splinter (2020)

NECA’s Spirit of Splinter (2020)

As NECA gained traction with their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys, they began releasing exclusives to companies like Loot Crate. One of the first Loot Crate exclusive figures was for a box set dedicated to the 1990 film. While NECA had previously created a Splinter action figure for the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con set, they reused the mold for Loot Crate’s first movie-based box.

Instead of the original mold, this splinter would be semi-transparent so that he resembled the ghostly form of splinter that appeared in front of the Turtles. Fans who wanted this exclusive version of splinter not only had to know about Loot Crate but also had to participate in the crowdfunding effort.

Early in the film, the Foot tracked down the Turtles to their lair, ransacking it. While they failed to take down the Turtles, they found their sensei, Splinter, alone in the lair. Thus, they took the elderly rat captive so that they could find more about their foes. Meanwhile, the Turtles became dejected as they discovered that their master was missing.

Eventually, the Foot tracked down the Turtles in April O’Neal’s apartment. After brutally beating up Raphael, they trashed the apartment before setting it on fire. Thus, April, Casey Jones, and the Turtles retreated to her family farm in the country. As they waited for their brother to heal up, they feared for the wellbeing of their sensei.

Eventually, the four meditated at a firepit, where they finally contacted the spirit of Splinter. There, Splinter reassured his students as well as expressed how proud he was of them. Following this, the Turtles rallied to return to New York City to save their master.

5. Playmates’ Max Winters (2006)

Playmates’ Max Winters (2006)

Over a decade after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made their last live-action appearance, the four turtle brothers appeared in their first animated feature film. Since the third live-action film had left a bitter taste in fans’ mouths, the production decided to distance itself from the prior films. So, while TMNT took notes from the success of the 1990 film, it forged a new version of the mutant team.

However, this new film did not reset the story altogether. Instead, it picked up the story at a point where the Turtles had defeated the Shredder for good. Thus, the Turtles required a new villain to rally against, especially since they had drifted apart after the defeat of their main foe. Thus, the movie introduced Max Winters, a wealthy collector of antiques and relics from across the world.

However, Max Winters turned out to be a repentant individual that suffered from an immortality curse. Even though he began life as a warlord, he learned over the centuries to regret the actions that led to his curse. Thus, he wished to gather the statues of his generals so that he could revive them and capture the monsters that his past deeds created. Unfortunately, his generals did not share his sorrow over immortality and attempted to continue the world conquest he started centuries ago.

Meanwhile, Playmates celebrated the release of this film with several toys in their 2006 line-up. Amongst these toys, they offered Max Winters along with a bonus PC game from Ubisoft. This toy donned the golden battle armor that Max Winters wore in the climax of TMNT.

4. Playmates’ Tokka (1991)

Playmates' 1991 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tokka

While Playmates was slow to create toys for the 1990 film, they quickly produced toys for the follow-up, The Secret of the Ooze. While this film had toyed around with the idea of bringing fan-favorites Bebop and Rocksteady to the film series, they instead decided to create unique new mutants. These new creations would permit the film’s production to profit from the sale of merchandise, for they would own these new creatures.

Thus, the sequel film introduced the Turtles’ latest foe, a vicious snapping turtle, Tokka. Since Shredder had survived his fall into the garbage truck, he returned to the Foot Clan with nothing short of vengeance on his mind. However, he also appreciated the power that the mutant turtles possessed. So, he quickly moved in to get his hands on the last canister of mutagen that T.G.R.I. accidentally created years ago.

Upon ransacking T.G.R.I.’s facility, the Foot abducted Jordan Perry, who had intimate knowledge of the mutagen, along with the final canister. They then forced the scientist to oversee the mutation of two new creatures, one of which was a snapping turtle. Unfortunately, as Tokka emerged from his containment cell, the Shredder soon learned that his new creation had an infantile mindset.

Even though Tokka barely understood anything, he saw the Shredder as his “mommy”. Also, he was more than happy to create the mayhem that the Shredder demanded since he saw it as fun. The Shredder also convinced Tokka to battle against the Turtles, making him a dangerous threat to them.

3. Playmates’ Rahzar (1991)

Playmates' 1991 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Rahzar

Along with Tokka, Playmates also released a toy for the second mutant introduced in the sequel, Rahzar. Unlike Tokka, Rahzar originated from a wolf, thus this mutant easily resembled a stereotypical wolf-man. This wolf Mutant wore basic armor, like a truck grill that served as a chest plate. The toy also came with several green accessories, like a gravestone that read R.I.P. Turtles.

When the Foot Clan abducted Jordan Perry, they also grabbed the final canister of T.G.R.I. mutagen to create their own mutants. Along with a snapping turtle, the Foot prepared another ferocious animal that would fight the Turtles, a wolf. The Shredder had hoped that these predators would become deadly foes to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Unfortunately, Rahzar emerged from his cell with the same infantile mindset as his fellow mutant, Tokka. Thus, he joined Tokka in believing that the Shredder was their momma. Likewise, he did not understand that the Shredder wished for him to destroy the city until the Foot framed the mayhem as fun.

Not understanding the conflict between the Turtles and the Foot, Rhazar protected the Shredder because it was the only thing he knew. Likewise, he fought because he saw his actions as fun. Thus, he held no active malice toward the Turtles.

Eventually, the Turtles and Jordan Perry created an anti-mutagen, which would return the pair to their animal forms. Unfortunately, this substance had to be digested to work. Thus, the Turtles treated Tokka and Rhazar to a “traditional pre-fight donut”.

2. Playmates’ Movie Star Splinter (1993)

Playmates’ Movie Star Splinter (1993)

Amongst the selection of Movie Star toys that Playmates created in celebration of the life-action film, one toy stood out from the crowd. While many of the Turtles had splotches that stood out in their toy forms, Splinter closely resembled his movie counterpart. This toy featured a detailed plastic mold that made it appear that the rat had realistic fur. He also wore a cloth robe with an orange belt.

This toy also came with a range of accessories, including a bow and arrow that Splinter did not use until the second film. He also came with a canister of ooze, reflecting his role in holding the original canister that mutated them.

In all incarnations, Splinter was the elderly sensei that mentored the four mutant turtles in the arts of ninjitsu. In the original cartoon, though, Hamato Yoshi and Splinter were the same, for Yoshi transformed into a rat after touching the mutagen. However, in the comics, Splinter began as Yoshi’s pet rat. Likewise, the 1990 movie featured a Splinter that began life as a pet for the honorable Hamato Yoshi. As they lived in Japan, Splinter watched and mimicked the martial arts of his owner.

However, as Oroku Saki became dangerously jealous of the relationship between Hamato Yoshi and Thang Shin, Yoshi fled to New York City. Unfortunately, Saki tracked them down and eventually slew both Thang Shin and Hamato Yoshi. During the conflict, Splinter broke free from his cage and attacked Saki. Even though Splinter could not defeat the ninja master, he left a series of deep gouges on the man’s cheek, which became a distinct scar. Meanwhile, Saki lashed out at the rat and chopped off his ear.

1. Playmates’ Super Shredder (1991)

Playmates’ Super Shredder (1991)

While Playmates never created a toy for Shredder as he appeared in the 1990 film, they quickly produced the toy for Super Shredder in 1991. Like most Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys from this era, Super Shredder’s toy did not have realistic proportions. So, he did not faithfully represent the character that audiences saw on screen.

Thanks to these distorted proportions, the large, jagged spikes on Super Shredder’s armor appeared even larger. This toy also lacked the cape that Supper Shredder wore in the film. Thus, his bulky blades made him stand out on a shelf. Also, the helmet was nearly a third of this entire toy’s height. So, it stood out on the figure.

However, if collectors of the classic toys wanted the Turtles greatest foe, Super Shredder was a welcome addition. In addition to the deformed toy, the packaging included a spiked mace, two silver canisters, and a communicator device. The communicator device stood out, for while the cartoon version of Shredder had such a device, it never appeared in the films. Meanwhile, the spiked mace looked like a weapon this Shredder would wield.

While Super Shredder perished thanks to his actions in The Secret of the Ooze, his legacy continued. When Nickelodeon launched the 2012 version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, few would have imagined the lengths that Shredder would take. By the time the run ended, Shredder had become so obsessed with revenge that he mutated himself into Super Shredder.

What were your favorite toys based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies?

Even though Playmates took its time to produce the first series of toys for the films, they quickly moved to create toys for each new entry. So, film aficionados have a slew of toys to pick from, including toys for the 2014 films. Likewise, there is a wide arrange of toys for fans to love.

So, we would love to hear from you. What were your favorite toys that brought the fun of the movies home? Let us know in the comments below.

Do you have old and used Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys?

If you have a collection of old and used toys, you can turn those toys into cash. There is no reason to let those old toys collect dust. Contact us today to sell your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy collection.


Made in collaboration with:

Chris Ingledue 

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Bio: I am the founder and owner of Wheeljack’s Lab pop Culture and Toy Shop. My vision has always been to reunite customers with their favorite childhood toys and pop culture, triggering fond memories, and reigniting their imaginations. Every day, I work in the “lab” where it’s Christmas 365 days a year. I scour the internet, like when we had the Sears Catalog of yesteryear, for the next great treasure. Then, I await the arrival of the postman as if he were Santa Claus himself and helping collectors worldwide with their own versions of Christmas. Every day as a vintage toy buyer is an absolute joy!

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Top Ten Toys Based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movies
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Top Ten Toys Based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movies
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Exploring the top ten toys that represented the characters and fun from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies.
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Wheeljack's Lab
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