Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Hit Toys 'R' Us, Return to TV Sept. 29

The heroes in a half shell get a CGI facelift in a new Nickelodeon series, and so does the line of licensed toys.

Toys “R” Us has begun selling a new line of toys and merchandise based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the pizza-loving amphibian superheroes who return Sept. 29 in a new CGI series on Nickelodeon.

This is the third series based on the characters who started in comic books and then exploded in the late 1980s and early 1990s in cartoons, books and licensed merchandise. The first animated series based on the four crime fighting characters, named after Renaissance artists, ran from 1987 to 1996.

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Playmates Toys, the exclusive licensee for the new line, has created new exclusive TMNT action figures, vehicles, role-play items, and play sets. Some hit shelves at Toys R Us this week while others will come in August (and all can be pre-ordered online).

They are displayed within a dedicated space at each Toys “R” Us store which looks like the Sewer Lair of the Ninja Turtles. The four Turtles are shown above a grey brick wall that opens into an image of a sewer pipe. It is lined with piping to evoke a realistic sewer feel.

Toys “R” Us promises bigger and better Turtles action figures this time. Among the new stock are exclusive special edition versions of each Turtle for $24.99. At 11 inches, they tower over the basic 4-inch ones and are individually sculpted for collectors’ tastes while their back shells open for weapon storage.

The line is geared at fans over four-years-old. Those with bigger budgets may go for the Secret Sewer Lair Playset at $119.99 – the priciest in the collection. It is 42-inches-high, douses intruders with ooze, has a computer lab for Donatello, and an elevator to take figures between floors, among other Ninja features. The cheapest item in the line is the basic action figure priced at $8.99.

The Turtles returned in a live action series in 1997 and 1998, but failed to regain their popularity.

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In 2009, Viacom’s Nickelodeon made a deal to license the property once again, which has led to the new CGI series of 26 episodes. Sister company Paramount Pictures is also working on a movie based on the characters, which is being produced by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes and Jonathan Liebesman. The release of the movie was pushed back in June until at least sometime in 2014.

The premiere episode of the new CGI version will show the four reptile brothers -- Leonardo (voiced by American Pie’s Jason Biggs), Raphael (Lord of the Ring’Sean Astin), Michelangelo (Teen Titans’ Greg Cipes), and Donatello (Planet Sheen’s Rob Paulsen) -- surfacing from their hidden lair in the New York sewers for the first time.

“Nickelodeon has a hit on its hands with this relaunch of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and we fully expect kids to be clamoring to play with their favorite heroes in a half shell,” said Lisa Harnisch, vp, General Merchandise Manager, Toys “R” Us, U.S. “