Turtle Recall: How new movies have ignited “a fresh passion in the TMNT” in the toy space

Having started life as a black and white comic book back in 1984, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have since gone on to establish themselves as toy royalty, with accompanying animated shows, live action movies and even a record deal to boot.

The crime-fighting pizza-loving heroes enjoyed life on the big screen back in the early Nineties via three movies blending the talents of New Line Cinema, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and Golden Harvest, a production company responsible for the Hong Kong martial arts movies of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.

A fully animated TMNT film made it into cinemas in 2007 under Warner Bros but Nickelodeon struck box office gold when it brought the brand to life in the 2014 big screen reboot.

The movie, produced by Hollywood action supremo Michael Bay, made $493.3 million on a $125 million budget and Nickelodeon credits the movie with igniting “a fresh passion and interest in the Turtles.”

“For consumers, this was the first time under Nickelodeon’s ownership that the Turtles had been seen in a different creative style, far removed from the animation series they were used to seeing,” Marianne James, vice president, consumer products UK and Ireland and European retail sales and marketing at Nickelodeon Viacom Consumer Products, tells ToyNews.

“It was this new creative style that gave the movie toy range a point of difference at retail; consumers were not doubling up on existing toys they had purchased. The range also attracted the adult movie super fans.

“Overall, the first movie helped to ignite a fresh passion and interest in the Turtles franchise with adults reminiscing over the original Eighties series, kids engaging with the movie alongside the animation series or discovering the Turtles for the very first time.”

Unsurprisingly, a sequel was greenlit soon after the first film sent cinema tills ringing and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is set to hit UK cinemas on June 3rd.

The new line from master toy partner Flair is looking to once again provide a point of difference for fans of the brand, with new products spanning figures, play-sets, vehicles and role-play items.

And with some fan favourite characters returning for the first time under Nickelodeon’s stewardship of the movie franchise, the firm is feeling confident once again when it comes to the Turtles’ prospects in the toy space this year.

“The producers of the upcoming sequel have carefully managed to differentiate the film from its predecessor,”
adds James.

“This translates into the toy range where you will see that the Turtles action figures have an updated look with new outfits giving them a key point of difference. The play-sets draw upon new scenes directly lifted from the movie, including the Turtles revamped Sewer Lair that fans will have seen from the trailer. Plus, in order for the Turtles to remain incognito whilst fighting crime, they have a new garbage truck vehicle that will be a key toy within the range.

“Excitement really comes from the translation of villains Bebop and Rocksteady into figures. With an unprecedented amount of detail, these figures are proving to be the stand out feature from the range. The figurines are meticulous in detail, and capture the appeal of these characters in terms of appearance and stature. With their appeal stretching from new fans all the way up to adult fans of the original Eighties series, they are set to cause mayhem at retail.

“Of course, a new product line wouldn’t be complete without a few secrets; as part of the film, a brand new location has just been revealed in the recent teaser trailer – Kraang’s metallic mobile fortress, the Technodrome. Currently this element of the toy range has been kept under wraps, so we look forward to sharing it with you very soon.”

With the return of Bebop and Rocksteady set to ensure an adult demographic feels the pull of nostalgia in the toy aisles, Nickeldoeon is using an Eighties-inspired creative guide to develop an entire line of consumer products designed to appeal directly to fans of the original franchise and specifically to adults.

“Within the past year, we launched a number of key products that demonstrate this; from professional sportswear tops to life like 3D model figures,” continues James.

“We have also continued to develop our apparel ranges, most notably the new partnership with Forbidden Planet with a whole collection of classic Eighties style accessories and clothing. We have also started to explore the nostalgic side to the brand and created a range of infant clothing using the Eighties look. This launch has been a resounding success.

“Appealing to fans of all ages is part of our overall strategy and also new for 2016 is the recently announced collaboration with Dr. Martens. Together we have designed a collection of classic Dr. Marten boots with a very special and unique Turtles twist. With more collaborations like this due to be announced, the 2016 product offering will most certainly continue to appease the franchise’s original fans.”

With a line of fan favourite characters (and vehicles) getting the toy treatment off the back of the new movie, and the very real potential for further adventures on the big screen, Nickelodeon’s generation-spanning toy antics with the Turtles looks set to reach new heights this year. Cowabunga indeed.

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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