November 20, 2023
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As one of the most beloved franchises in pop culture history, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had more toy variants than you could shake a bō staff at. Here we look through the top fifteen most tubular turtle toys to come out during the 1990s.
Looking for the top 90s Ninja Turtle toys? 90s Toys has you covered.
The first line of TMNT toys came out in 1988, but most of the variant action figures, vehicles, and playsets came out during the 90s. The TMNT toy range is so iconic you could be forgiven for thinking they inspired the show and not the other way around.
Anyway, this article’s all about the coolest TMNT toys to come out in the 90s. So, grab a slice of pizza and shout cowabunga as we dive in.
What’s cooler than a giant version of your favorite toon turtles? As if they weren’t mutated enough, each giant version of the four turtles was three and a half times the size of standard action figures.
Perfect for city or sewer play, each of the 13″ Giant Turtle toys were fully poseable. Equipped with their signature weapons, they’re guaranteed to intimidate every other toy in your bedroom.
Born in a quarterpipe somewhere in Hawaii, Mondo Gecko is a thrash-metal skateboarding lizard and close ally of the Turtles. With his Turbo-charged Sewer Skateboard, “Mon” is ready to grind on some Foot Clan chumps and eat your homework for you.
Mondo Gecko also came with a label sheet letting kids decorate his skateboard (or anything else) with some gnarly stickers.
Step aside Kung-Fu Panda; the OG is here. While he never appeared in the TV show, Panda Khan (real name Li Yang) is one of the most beloved TMNT characters from crossover comics and was honored with his own action figure.
Using the ancient art of Ting Zing Pao, Panda Khan was able to time-travel from his alien world of anthropomorphic pandas to help the Turtles. With his Dragon Claw’s Sword and Fusion Blaster, it’s no surprise Shredder’s foot soldiers find him unBEARable.
How do you make the coolest turtle even cooler? Give him a guitar!
This glam rock version of Raphael is ready to deafen Shredder’s foot soldiers with radical riffs brain-melting basslines. With his new Bass Bashin’ Guitar, this rockstar turtle has no trouble keeping the beat.
Oh, he’s also replaced his shurikens with vinyl records and now carries a pair of modified drumstick sais. The other Turtles say it’s a phase, but we think they’re just jealous.
Get ready to stand at attention and salute these green army m̶e̶n̶ turtles. With Uncle Sam on their side, these Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are ready to divide and conquer Shredder’s forces like a slice of pepperoni pizza.
You’ve got Lieutenant Leo for the Army, Pro Pilot Don for the Air Force, Midshipman Mike for the Navy, and Raph, the Green Teen Beret. Each action figure came with its own military-themed accessories and a United States “Anti-Foot” flag.
Everyone knows Shredder, the main antagonist of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and all-around toxic personality. The new and improved Super Shredder strikes an imposing figure with “twice the Turtle-eating turbulence” of his regular version.
This particular figure was re-issued several times, and a rare all-black version was only available via a mail-in promotion for Chef Boyardee. There was also a version of Super Shredder with purple-colored armor only released in Europe.
Even loose, the all-black Super Shredder will cost you more than a few pizzas online (recent eBay listings have seen it sell for between $400-$600 or more).
The Foot Clain is about to get some bad news, and April O’Neil is here to deliver it with style. This action figure puts April in the heart of the action, converting her camera equipment into ninja-style weaponry.
Using her samurai-style camera and broadcastin’ bo, April’s ready to give Shredder a painful close-up he won’t soon forget. Described as the “world’s first judo, ju jitsu jammin’ journalist, ” this figure is definitely one of the coolest TMNT toys.
In the history of the TMNT craze, 1992-1993 was all about the third live-action movie. In this flick, the titular characters travel back in time to 16th century Japan to save the rebellion and rescue Princess Mitsu.
Each action figure was based on how the Turtles appeared in the film. As such, these figures are very distinct from the rest of the TMNT toy line.
Since Leonardo was always the sword guy, he’s the most period-correct of these super-sized samurai (as period-correct as a mutant turtle can be). With his giant katana and karuta-style armor, we’re glad this mean, green, fighting machine is one of the good guys.
As tough as the Turtles are, they had a lot of help along the way. One of their most trusted allies has to be the fire-fighting dalmatian Hot Spot.
Using his Foot-fightin’ Fire Axe, Hot Spot chews through bad guys and debris with ease. Like any good dog, he’s also got a large bone between his teeth (which he won’t hesitate to use as a cudgel when bad guys get too close).
Before Swiper started swiping, there was Scratch the Cat. This despicable feline is the Foot Clan’s answer to Hot Spot and comes with his swindlin’ sidekick Jail Bird along with his Bag o’ Burgled Loot, Criminal Cake Gun, and Felonious Fish Club.
While a pretty unremarkable character, Scratch has achieved legendary status amongst toy collectors. Even loose, an original Scratch figure hovers around $3000 online, while a sealed version can easily sell for $7000 or more.
Looking for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? You won’t find them here. The Undercover Turtles are the perfect noir sewer sleuths with their fedoras, “real fabric” trench coats, and an arsenal of gadgets.
The Undercover Turtles have also become some of the most valuable TMNT toys for collectors. As of writing, there’s a listing for the full set of all four sealed figures on eBay for $20,000. Wow!
While Dominos and Pizza Hut fought for control of the Friday night dinner demographic, another pizza war was secretly raging in kids’ bedrooms. The Pizza War Playset was part of the mini-mutants line of TMNT toys and featured Michaelangelo and his favorite pizza joint.
This bodacious battle set was packed with state-of-the-art defensive technology like a working pizza disc flinger and a marinara-sauce-covered delivery slide for gooey escapes. Of course, it was fully compatible with the whole range of mini-mutant action figures, and the packaging encouraged kids to collect them all.
If nothing else, the TMNT toy range is impressive in how many ways it made our favorite cartoon turtles even more exciting. In 1995, kids were introduced to the Metal Mutants, a fusion of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and mystical spirits that gave them shiny, metalized armor.
The creators of these TMNT toys clearly took some inspiration from the Power Ranges with their animal-themed mecha armor. Of course, toymakers also had to even the odds by giving Shredder his own Metal Mutant figure.
With Metal Mutants, kids got two toys in one. The armor could be taken off and be folded into its spirit animal form to fight alongside its wearer.
With awesome “cowa-boinga” spring action, the Coil Force Turtles could deliver blows with real kinetic force. Anything but tightly wound, these spring-loaded heroes came ready to send Shredder’s goons spiraling out of control.
The Coil Force Turtles are some of the highest quality in the entire range, both in their play value and design. These tightly wound turtles are also popular with collectors, costing around $150 sealed and $40 loose on eBay.
Guess what, Shredder’s got his hands on some dinosaur DNA, and the turtles have been forced to mutate themselves to keep up. The Dino Turtles sport some seriously cool mutations, with Michaelangelo gaining the thick horns of a triceratops, while Raphael sports the spiky ridges of a stegosaurus.
Each Dino Turtle figure came with some awesome prehistoric-themed accessories. Tyranno Shredder (the mutant dinosaur version of Shredder, of course) is genuinely terrifying.
All figures also had buttons on their mutated backs that made their arms swing violently (not as much as the Coil Force Turtles, but still pretty awesome).
The first line of TMNT toys was released in 1988 after creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird gave Playmates Toys the rights to produce the toy line.
Of the original run by Playmates Toys, around 400 TMNT toys were released between 1988 and 1997. In the following decades, more toys would be released to tie in with feature films and spin-offs/reboots of the original show.
Yes, many vintage TMNT toys can be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars if they’re still in their original packaging. For example, the original 1988 Turtles can sell for upwards of $1200 on eBay today.
Lee is curator of nostalgia and a long-time collector of loveable junk. An 80s baby, 90s kid, he knows he had it good when it came to Saturday morning cartoons. Spends his life trying to recapture the dopamine hit of playing Game Boy for the first time and believes Beanie Babies will make a fortuitous comeback. Obsessed with everything (and anything) retro, he is your trusted guide to a world of 90s toys, games and collectables.
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