Friday night I eagerly went to the Nickelodeon panel for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was advertised as featuring Producers Ciro Nieli and Peter Hastings along with actor Sean Astin who plays Raphael in the latest incarnation of the mutant heroes. When we finally settled in we were quickly told that we would also be joined by three other cast members Rob Paulsen (Donatello and in the original series, Raphael), Greg Cipes (Michaelangelo) and Hoon Lee (Splinter). You could tell right away how well they all work together as they were quickly joking at each other’s expense when they weren’t singing each other’s praises.
Let’s hit some bullet points to show you the highlights of the Panel!
-We were introduced to “Chong”, Donnie’s cockroach that has been trained to be a spy. We find out that Raph is absolutely terrified of Chong and will have good reason to! After awhile Chong will be doused in the same mutagen that made the turtles and will become an out of control monster!
– We were shown the 3D model for the Mousers, which look very similar to how you probably remember them but with a slightly more menacing look.
-Next up we were shown the 3D model for Leatherhead as well as a short unfinished fight scene. Leatherhead stands about 8 feet tall and definitely has a Killer Croc vibe to him. Rob, Greg and Sean all ad-libbed audio for the fight scene since it had none itself. Rob made a line about turning him into a pair of shoes that got a good laugh from the excited crowd.
-Next up we were treated to a 10 minute sneak peek of various clips from the upcoming season that revealed a lot about some of the new characters and where the show would be going.
-Phil Lamarr will be portraying Baxter Stockman who takes on the Turtles in a giant metal suit. Also joining the cast is Clancy Brown, perhaps best known as Lex Luthor in the DC Animated shows.
– The Krang droids will continue to play a huge part in the season as Donnie will create “Metalhead” to counter act them. In this version, Donnie controls Metalhead via remote which leads to a hilarious bit where Metalhead is staring at April longingly for Donnie while he confesses how beautiful she looks, only for April to claim “It’s not on mute, you know?”
After the preview, Ciro and Greg discussed how “Booyakasha” came about to replace Cowabunga. If you’ve never seen Greg Cipes, you have no idea how perfectly cast this guy is as Michaelangelo. He’s one of the younger cast members and grew up a fan of the series which influenced him to surf and skateboard. Greg goes on to say that “Booyakasha” is originally an Irish term adopted by Jamaicans to mean “love” or to “praise the highest power.”
They also spoke with Hoon Lee about how he viewed this incarnation of Splinter against the others. He said that this version, while still being a sensei to them, is much more of a Father figure as well. He compared their relationship to that of his own with his 3 year old son saying that Splinter wants to see the Turtles go out and succeed but at the same time he wants to shield and protect them from any harm.
The panel did a great job of not only entertaining the fans that came out but giving us a great glimpse at the season ahead. You really left with the impression that the series is in great hands. It’s is essentially being made by fans of the franchise FOR fans of the franchise and you can’t get much better than that! BOOYAKASHA!