The Mirage Group
TMNT Comic Book History
TMNT History
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The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were the crazy creation of comic artists Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. With a few thousand dollars of borrowed money, the duo, doing business as Mirage Studios, created, wrote, drew and self-published 3,000 copies of a black and white Turtle comic in 1984. The comic was an immediate success and the first issue was reprinted several times to satisfy initial demand. Over the next two years, sales of the self-published black and white comic grew to a then record-setting130, 000 copies per issue and a small amount of licensing activity took place in the role-playing game, trading card and collectible figures areas. In late 1986 and early 1987, Mirage entered into agreements with Surge Licensing, Playmates Toys, and Murakami, Wolf, Swenson Films. These agreements put into place the marketing, merchandising, and entertainment engine that would introduce the Ninja Turtles to the world at large and fuel the property’s tremendous success.
The success of the TMNT has now spanned decades and has included: multiple theatrical motion pictures, hundreds of half-hours of TV programming, top-10 all time sales status for worldwide sales of toy action figures, over 1,000 worldwide merchandise licensees, record setting sales of video games, sold out live-tour stage shows around the world and record-setting fast-food promotions. Just some of the records established by the Turtles during their first twenty-five years are as follows:
• #1 Rated Saturday morning TV show, and highest rated in its time slot ever for CBS.
• #1 Rated daily syndicated animated TV strip for children.
• #1 Top grossing independent film when released in 1990.
• #1 Best selling toy line in 1991, above G.I. Joe and Barbie.
• #1 Male action figure toys in 1990 and 1991, with over a 70% market share.
• #1 Live touring arena show in the U.S.A. in '90s.
• #1 Nintendo 8-bit and Gameboy video game in the world in 1991.
• #1 Kids' breakfast cereal in the world from Ralston Purina in 1991.
• Only non-Disney characters to appear on cover of Disney magazine and at Disney parks.
Along the way to setting the above records, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles became the most successful “character introduction” in history and redefined the children’s entertainment and trademark licensing and merchandising businesses for all time.
Between 1990 and 1993, three live-action theatrical motion pictures were produced by Golden Harvest Films and distributed by, then fledgling mini-major, New Line Cinema. The total amount grossed by these films translated into some of the industry’s highest rankings. The first picture ranks in the top grossing movies of all time, and it was the 4th highest grossing movie of 1990. Furthermore, both the first and second movies have spots on the list of the most rented videos of all time. All three of the live-action Turtles films continue to be broadcast on TV on a regular basis around the world.
In 2007 Warner Bros. and The Weinstein Company released the CG animated movie TMNT produced by Imagi Studios. Like the 1990 movie, the 2007 movie won the opening weekend box office race and the film went on to rank in the top 50 U.S. and worldwide films for the year.
The immensely successful long run of the Turtles animated series began in syndication in late 1986, when Murakami, Wolf, Swenson Films produced an initial five episode mini-series. Despite the immediate popularity of the mini-series, no one could have predicted at the time that the first series would last 10 years, set all sorts of ratings records and produce an animation library of almost 200 half-hour shows. It was only a programming decision by CBS in 1996 to go with an all FCC friendly educational line-up on Saturday mornings that led to the cancellation of the original series.
In 2003 a new animated series, produced by 4Kids Entertainment and Mirage, debuted on the Fox Network in the US. Over 150 half-hours were produced and broadcast around the world in over 20 languages.
Playmates Toys, Inc. has been the worldwide master toy licensee since 1986. Since that time, Playmates has sold hundreds of millions of toys, making the Turtles one of the top action figure toy lines of all time. In 1990 and 1991, the Turtle toy line held over 70% of the action figure market. And, in 1992, it was estimated that 9 out of 10 boys age 3 to 8 in the U.S. owned at least one Turtles action figure. Playmates continues to sell Turtles toys around the world.
Ninja Turtles merchandise, including everything from sleepwear to shaped ice cream, has been sold and distributed through a network of over 1,000 licensees in virtually every country on the planet.
Over the first 25 years, Konami produced and released several hugely successful video games and arcade games, including: "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", "Back From The Sewer", "Turtles in Time", and "Tournament Fighters". In fact, in unit sales, the Turtles are one of Konami’s best-selling video games ever. In January, 2006, Mirage awarded the video game license to Ubisoft, and they released several successful games based on the 2007 CG animated movie.
The Turtles popularity has lasted much, much, longer than any of the “experts” predicted in the late '80s, when they first burst on the scene. The combination of its many records and longevity truly establishes the Ninja Turtles as one of the few evergreen properties in the entertainment world, and one of the few properties to accomplish worldwide gross revenues in the billions of dollars.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and all related titles, logos and characters are copyrights and trademarks of Viacom International Inc. All rights reserved.