By Patrick Cooper
It was over 20 years ago that Playmates turned Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s comic tale of teenaged turtles who get mutated and raised as ninjas into the biggest toy franchise since Masters of the Universe. The problem: after the four main characters, there was a couple of villains, a rat, and a chick. Obviously, Playmates wasn’t going to let that stop them from making the giant pile of cash that kids’ parents were so ready to give them, and thus the company created its own teenage anthropomorphic animals with their own combat specialties. They might not have been as cool as the original Turtles, but once Playmates started releasing nonsense like Spike ‘n Volley Don and Farmer
Mike With Turtle Tractor, they looked pretty damn awesome in retrospect. Here are the 10 greatest non-Turtles in the TMNT animal-warrior kingdom.
The Mean Munitions Mutant!
One of the most metal of all ’90s action figures was Groundchuck, the TMNT answer to Bullseye, only more literal. Groundchuck was a bi-pedal mechanical bull (minus the drunk sorority girl humping his back, shame) who served Shredder in the goal of Turtle soup. Chuck came with some pretty sick accessories, including a tranquilizing-dart wrist gun and electro prod. The girth of the figure led to some pretty epic fights back when that was possible with action figures. Nowadays I’m afraid to walk past my display shelves with shoes on.
9) Panda Khan
The Samurai Bashin’ Bear!
No relation to the Asian-dominating Mongolian, Panda Khan came from the future for an unbearably good time (why else would anyone travel back in time?). Khan’s figure was a natural born leader with his pointing-finger and grinding teeth. According to the collectible cut-out on the back of his card, Khan’s favorite battle hold is the “Bear Hug.” Sometimes that shit must’ve just written itself.
8 ) Ace Duck
Blame it on a shortage of ducks in Dimension X. One day, Krang was craving that duck meat and ordered Shredder to beam in some succulent Earth fowl. What showed up in X was the amalgamation of famous test pilot Ace Conrad and a duck: Ace Duck, natch. What makes Ace Duck so appealing to this day is that look on his face; after a day of wettin’ the Foot Clan, Ace definitely wants to go shot for shot at the nearest bar with some Maker’s Mark. Accessories? How’s some egg grenades and a removable pilot’s cap sound? I thought so.
The Hard-Headed Horned Hoodlum!
Resident of Dimension X and devourer of rats, Triceraton sported three iron horns and no shoes, that’s how hard he was. His card-write-up portrays him as a bloodthirsty idiot who has a walnut-sized brain. Like grandpa! He came with a belt laced with dead rats to snack on. Do accessories get more sick than this?
The Militant Mutant Mole!
Maybe it’s my soft-spot for Gopher from Winnie the Pooh, but I’ve always had a special place in my heart for underground rodents. They always seem to have this air of indifference that above-ground cats can’t achieve. His card states that his arch-nemesis is Splinter, which makes Dirtbag’s story even more depressing. While he became a state road-worker, Splinter led a successful underground dojo of mutants. Reminds of my childhood rival who is now a dentist in Europe. See you in hell, mate…
5) Mutagen Man
The Non-Stop Mutating Monster!
With Mutagen Man (as well as Muckman) Playmates introduced figures that you could pour Retromutagen ooze into; a messy, smelly, and satisfying action. Mutagen Man looked like a sci-fi kid’s dream science experiment, gone awesome. His figure featured a stationary nervous system and “gooey garbage” that you could mix in with the ooze to complete the picture of movie-monster laboratory hell. Screw weapon-accessories, the Turtles could just look at the mess that was Mutagen Man and throw-up on themselves. Much like Shelley’s Frankenstein monster, MM’s card describes him as “pathetic.” Mirage reached deep for this beast.
Needlenose was part of the first Mega Mutants line that featured oversized figures that were straight bananas. The size allowed for intricate details, more pronounced colors, and facial expressions that rivaled even Mad Balls. Needlenose was a mix of jet-fighter and bastard blood-sucking insect who could carry up to three Turtle allies for the ride. His limbs were ball-joints that were so big and glorious that they could be popped in and out with no trouble, perfect for those kamikaze missions on the Technodrome or your sister’s My Little Pony Rainbow Stable.
3) Wingnut and Screwloose
Dingbat Buddies Who Bite the Baddies!
Wingnut’s story reads like The Count of Monte Cristo, with the minor difference of him a vampire bat from the planet Huanu with a dwarf-sized mosquito sidekick named Screwloose. His backstory makes him out to be an endearing doofus and this is reflected dead-on in his figure design. He’s also a blatant Batman spoof complete with fraudulent wings and utility belt. The sculpt portrays his inexperience and naivety like only the greatest Renaissance sculptor could achieve. That was a double reference to TMNT and art history.
2) Mondo Gecko
The Rip Roarin’, Skateboardin’ Reptile!
In the ’90s, skateboarding became more popular than breathing, and for us asthmatics who couldn’t walk to the bus stop without an “episode,” Mondo Gecko was the answer. Playmates got super creative with Mondo and included a sticker pack so kids could decorate him and his board as they pleased. He was pretty much useless in battle (Mondo versus Triceraton, please), but his Raphael-ish savoir-faire made up for his weaknesses in a fight. Like us asthmatics strive for. To this day.
1) Killer Bee
Hole-ay-shit, another Mega Mutant from ’90. One of the concept designers at Mirage must’ve dropped (terrific) acid the day Killer Bee, the Star Destroyer of mutants, was birthed. Imagine the meeting at Playmates in which the concept designer who has been shot-down for months brings this biotch in. Six multi-colored arms, a sawed-off-shotgun, a chainsaw, an inmate’s cap and serial number, an electric chair for a saddle, iron stinger, and Dr. Mindbender Eyes…this figure doesn’t belong in a kid’s toy box, he belongs in a museum, in Europe! After they approve the desig
n he still jumps out the window! It’s that sick! A complete Bee currently goes for about $40 on eBay.