'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Take the Spotlight at Brand Licensing Europe Event
Co-creator Kevin Eastman and Nickelodeon's Rich Magallanes discuss the staying power of the franchise before a Turtles-themed party in London.
LONDON - Nickelodeon's successful reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the franchise's co-creator Kevin Eastman were in the spotlight during a keynote appearance here at Brand Licensing Europe 2012 on Tuesday.
Eastman recalled how he and his co-creator self-published the first Turtles comic, and it sold well. "That really was a dream come true," he said. "And it is great to see that things are going so well 30 years [or so] later."
Eastman, who is a consultant on an upcoming Turtles movie, was joined by Rich Magallanes, senior vp, animation, current series at Viacom's Nickelodeon, which acquired the Turtles franchise a few years ago and this fall relaunched it with a new animated series.
"Reinventing this property was one of the most daring things we have ever done at Nickelodeon," he said. "And we did it in a way that's fresh, yet held on to the authenticity."
Asked why the franchise continues to appeal to audiences, particularly boys, Magallanes said: "It's got a lot of action in it. They are heroes, but not superheroes with superpowers. And there is humor. Comedy always sells."
He also mentioned fantasy and role play elements, relatable characters, the fact that the Turtles are a team of brothers and that they are teenagers coming into their own. "All that is relatable to teenagers' lives," he said.
The reboot also emphasizes different physical traits of the Turtles and underlines their difference in personalities, allowing viewers to identify with one specific character and the whole team at the same time, Magallanes said.
Asked how villain Shredder was created, Eastman said he and his co-creator were doing the dishes, and he ended up drying a cheese grater. As he slipped his hand inside, he said "wouldn't Grater be a great villain?" he recalled. His partner then suggested the name Shredder instead.
Tuesday evening, the Nickelodeon team invited people to London's hip Shoreditch neighborhood for a party that served Turtles-themed colorful cocktails and pizza, which features prominently in the show as the Turtles' favorite food. Four people dressed up as the Turtles were on hand for those looking for picture opportunities.
Mark Kingston, vp of Nickelodeon's consumer products business in the U.K. and Australia told the crowd that the new series has brought "new life to this great franchise."
At next month's MTV European Music Awards, the Turtles will have a presence as part of a campaign of global Viacom support.
And the animated Turtles show will in its second season feature even more villains and new vehicles, he said in addressing licensing and toy industry attendees.
The event also showed a very early brief CG-animated preview of the 2014 planned movie release Ninja Turtles from producer Michael Bay, which drew much applause.