Friday night, Nickelodeon brought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans a sneak peek at what's in store for the franchise with a pizza party at Basic, near the San Diego Convention Center. This off-site, San Diego Comic-Con exclusive look featured a glimpse at character designs from the forthcoming Nickelodeon series as well as a look at a few new toy designs.
The new series, which is still in development (we were told by producers that they're anticipating a fall, 2012 release, but no dates have been announced yet), is a bit of a departure from previous TMNT-related media. First, it's a CG animated show. Second, and most importantly, the characters will appear more teen-like. Rich Magallanes, Vice President of Animation at Nickelodeon said that the turtles will appear more like “high school football players,” solid, but not quite as bulky as they looked in previous series. The voice cast will feature Jason Biggs (American Pie) as Leonardo, Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings) as Raphael and Greg Cipes (Ben 10: Alien Force, Teen Titans) as Michaelangelo. Rob Paulsen, who voiced Raphael in the late 1980s series, will be taking on the role of Donatello.
Another major departure from TMNT mythology is that April will be portrayed as a 16-year-old girl instead of a grown woman.
After the event, executive producer Ciro Nieli (Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, Transformers: Animated) explained the reasons behind this change.
“Someone in their 30s with their own life going on isn't going to be able to delegate that much interest into these characters' lives and provide the attention and shelter that they need,” says Nieli. “April can automatically assimilate as one of them and vice versa. If they're going to come out in the world for the first time, in the city, they're going to want someone whose of the same mindset.”
We asked Nieli and fellow executive producers Joshua Sternin (The Simpsons, That '70s Show) and Jeff Ventimilia (That '70s Show, 3rd Rock from the Sun) if the show would appeal to adults as well as children.
“There are good morals in there and there are tight stories,” says Nieli. “As an adult, you aren't going to watch it and feel like there's something missing, like blood or something gratuitous.”
“We have kids. I've got to watch these show,” adds Ventimilia. “I want to be entertained as well.”
In addition, representatives from IDW Publishing and Playmates were on hand to discuss upcoming comic book releases and toys.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the comic, is not only ready for a comeback, but creator Kevin Eastman will be co-plotting the new series and working on layouts. IDW also announced a hardcover release of the original issues of the cult comic sensation-turned-massively popular children's TV franchise.
Playmates will continue to produce TMNT toys and showed off some images of the new line. Executives from the company note that the new line with feature “more articulation” than before. What interested us, though, is that the turtles will be individually sculpted in this series, so there will be slight differences in height and other physical attributes based on the new character designs.
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