Last summer, ThreeZeroand Kevin Eastman unveiled a collaboration to create new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures. In the months since, a number of TMNT developments have gone down, including a crossover with Batman, Mondo's figures all becoming available, a new movie trailer (and figure line), and some potential video game leakage happening, too. But there's been radio silence from ThreeZero about the state of its planned collaboration with one of the Turtles' founding fathers.

This week, a new issue of Clutter (a niche toy/collectible magazine) broke that silence. In a new interview with Eastman and ThreeZero's founder/owner Kim Fung Wong, Clutter was able to share some of Eastman's concept art and give us our first look at the painted prototypes. While we've had a lot of different Turtle toys over the years, seeing how Eastman would interpret the characters today gives us a perspective on the characters we'd otherwise never have, even if they only will exist as toys.

According to the interview, this version of the of the Turtles has been kicking around in Eastman's sketchbook for some time; it was just a matter of finding the right time to break them out. The few sketches shown off in the article are unmistakably old school in their origins, which makes sense given that Eastman drew them, but bear with me here. What I mean is that there's a lot of that classic styling, with the leather pads and straps, and the only real distinguishable feature being the colored bandanas. At least at first glance.

"What is interesting about this point is, when Peter [Laird] and I first started doing the TMNTs, I was only 21 and still learning about drawing," Eastman told the magazine. "And with the 1984 TMNTs, they had a specific look because that's as good as we could draw them at that time. By the time you got to issue 3, 4, 5, and 6, you could see a steady, ongoing change in style - more refined, more muscular, etc. - so when I attacked this series of drawings for ThreeZero, not only did they let me have complete control over the look, I took them to the next level I wanted to seem them like, and ran with it."

While these versions of Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello are unmistakably bigger and tougher than the original versions, having Eastman's guidance in the design still manages to ground them in the past. There are some rougher edges on these guys, including what amounts to years of wear and tear on the shells, and body paint/stripes to give them a bit more personality and attitude. They'll also be getting some new weapons to complement the traditional armaments we've come to know over the past three decades, like army blades, kusarigamas, caltrops, and smoke bombs.

As to the figures themselves, there's only one real shot of them in their prototype form. It's a little hard to tell just how well the final versions will come out, but it's easy to see there's ample articulation and some great paint apps bringing each character to life. Additionally, these look dramatically different from all the other TMNT figures currently (or soon to be) available. There's still no release date or pricing info available, but if the line does well enough, Eastman and ThreeZero do hope to keep expanding it to include new versions of Casey Jones and other familiar characters making the leap.




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