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Monsters In A Half Shell! A Look Back At The First Line Of Ninja Turtles

Ninja Turtles

Gnarly!  It’s Flashback Friday courtesy of UMU and the Ninja Turtles!

Last weekend, Universal Monsters Universe attended New York Toy Fair which featured the newest line of monster-inspired Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures.  The line has been well-received which has led us to take a look back at the original line of monster-inspired figures that had 90s kids running to toy stores everywhere.

*this article originally appeared on UMU on July 28, 2016*

The Universal Monsters were at a merchandising height during the 90’s and Playmates’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys were one of the most dominant toy lines in stores. It would only make sense that Playmates and Universal would partner on an odd, but fun toy line in the early 90’s.

Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were everywhere in the 80’s and 90’s.  They’re still on toy shelves to this day with a popular animated series and a film having just opened earlier this summer.  Back in the early 90’s, during a resurgence of the Universal Monsters, fans saw many fun tie-ins, including one that saw Playmates and Universal partner on a series of action figures that many have either forgotten or may not even know existed – Universal Monsters Ninja Turtles!

Over 1993 to 1994, Playmates Toys released eight action figures across two waves of remodeled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures that were styled to represent the classic Universal Monsters.  During the early 90’s, Playmates Toys were a very dominant toy company as they also had the license for action figures and collectibles based off of CBS’ Star Trek property.  I think all of us that were around in the early 90’s remember the terrific Star Trek: The Next Generation action figures.  They also had a tie in with the Ninja Turtles as well.  In 1993, Playmates released Leonardo as The Wolfman, Raphael as The Mummy, Michaelangelo as Frankenstein’s Monster, and Donatello as Dracula.

ninja turtles

Image via 16bit.com

The second wave hit toy shelves in 1994 and consisted of April as the Bride of Frankenstein, Leonardo as the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Michaelangelo as The Invisible Man, and Raphael as the Metaluna Mutant.

ninja turtles

Image via 16bit.com

As odd as a Universal Monsters tie-in with the Ninja Turtles may seem, the figures by Playmates were actually very well done.  Two of the particular stand outs are easily Michaelangelo as The Invisible Man and Raphael as The Mummy.  This was quite a fun time for fans of both properties and, at the end of the day, who doesn’t love good monsters action figures?


(Steven Biscotti – @reggiemantleIII)

Images via Strange Kids Club, Blumhouse.

About the author

Joe Grodensky

Joe is a man of paradox. Joe is mysterious yet an open book. Joe is outgoing yet introverted. Joe is part wolf and man. Joe's favorite monster movie? Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992).

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