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Martial Arts Masters

Teenage Mutant

Ninja Turtles

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The Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles are man-sized
anthropomorphic (attributed uniquely human characteristics
and qualities to nonhumans). They are a team of four turtles, who use
the martial arts fighting style to fight evil. They were trained
by a man-sized anthropomorphic rat named Splinter who is a
father figure to the four turtles. They live and make their
home in the sewers of Manhattan. They spend their time
battling evil megalomaniacs, criminals and bad aliens, while
staying out of the lime-light and away from all but a few
select humans.

Kevin Eastman, while brainstorming with his friend Peter
Laird, came up with the original concept for The Teenage
Mutant Ninja Turtles story, and developed it as a humorous
parody of the most popular comics of the early 1980s: Dave
Sim's Cerebus, Marvel Comics' Daredevil and New Mutants, and
Frank Miller's Ronin. Kevin Eastman published only one
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comic book, which was first
published by Mirage Studios in 1984.

Thanks to Mark Freedman, a licensing agent who in January of
1988 went to Eastman and Laird to propose wider
merchandising for the anthropomorphic characters, they
visited the offices of Playmates Toys Inc. which was a small
California toy company that wanted to expand into the action
figure market.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series was
eventually launched and catapulted the parody into pop
culture history. At the peak of TMNT popularity you could
see turtles on everything from breakfast cereal, PEZ
dispensers, toothpaste, skateboards, cameras and school
supplies. Kids amassed massive collections of their namesake
products. Then came three full length action films.

Their popularity began to decline in the mid 1990's, but the
Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles have become popular again
today with a recent successful animated series, Konami and
Ubisoft's video games, a new line of Playmates action
figures, and a computer-animated feature film.

This original joke on early 1980's comics has not only
impacted the media world but it has influenced a generation
of people. There isn't anyone that grew up during the late
1980's or early 1990's in America who doesn't know about the
four green ninja turtles. You can not only see them in
movies but in most types of cultural expression. They have
even made it into Rock n' Roll history by having a concert
tour that was held in 1990.

The four characters are named Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael,
and Michelangelo. They are named for the four famous
Renaissance painters. Leonardo is the leader and most
practical of the four. Leonardo can be counted on to keep a
level head and try to talk sense into the other three. He is
distinguished by wearing a blue headband and carrying

Donatello is the genius inventor of the four. He keeps the
turtles well-stocked with all kinds of cool gadgets and if
someone falls into some kind of sickness or is blasted by
goo he can be counted on to analyze it and find a cure or
counter. He is distinguished by wearing a purple headband
and using the staff as a weapon.

Raphael is the sarcastic, somewhat mean-spirited turtle who
has a chip on his shoulder but would do anything for his
brothers. You can see him picking fights more than avoiding
them. He wears a red headband and carries a Sai (Oriental
trident dagger).

Michelangelo is the joker of the bunch. With a "surfer dude"
attitude and a passion for pizza, he seems to go with the
flow. He wears orange and uses Nunchuka. All four character
love pizza and you will see them doing odd and often strange
things to get it.

Splinter the rat is the father figure of the four. He is
also the original one who trained the four turtles in the
ninja way. He is often called Sensei by the four, especially
when they are in trouble. Splinter often counsels the four
towards patience and staying hidden from society at large,
knowing that they will never be accepted.

Of the few select humans who know about the humanoid turtles
is a reporter named April O'Neil. After falling into a story
and getting into trouble she was extracted safely by the
ninja turtles and they since have had an ongoing
relationship with her. You can often see her delivering
pizza or other cultural items that the turtles would have
trouble getting for themselves, because of their need to
keep hidden from the world. In a sense she has become the
turtles' human agent to the world at large, which makes her
a target of all kind of the turtles' enemies.

The other human who can be seem periodically throughout the
movies, series and comics is a vigilante named Casey. He
fights crime with a variety of sporting goods, such as golf
clubs, baseball bats, hockey sticks, and the like, and wears
a goalie mask to protect his identity. He has become one of
the turtles' closest friends and allies, even though he is
somewhat of a nut job and loose cannon. He can be counted on
to occasionally put in a sensible word although he normally
acts like a Looney.

The stories and graphics reveal the four Turtles to be
specimens of the Red-eared Terrapin, Trachemys scripta
elegans. That encouraged a big craze for keeping Red-eared
Sliders as pets. After the craze passed, it became apparent
that people often disposed of unwanted pet turtles by
releasing them into the wild, including in areas where they
do not occur naturally, risking upsetting the ecology of
that area. Abandoned Red-eared Sliders can now be found in
the wild over most of North America and many other

It was very sad to see these turtles abused and eventually
disposed of by society at large for the sake of these
fictional comic characters which the turtles had no way
matching. Always remember that if you are going to take home
a pet, take it home with a commitment to its care and its
best interests at heart, not just because it is a current

As we said earlier, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have
once again returned to popularity. We suspect that these
charming Chelonians will be around for a long, long time.

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