The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Miniatures for the Connoiseur was a miniature figurine line cast in lead by Dark Horse and the first collectable toy line for the franchise. As this line was produced prior to the 1987 cartoon, the characters are based on Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as well as select entries from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness source books.



Original Package

New Package


Peter Laird talks about Dark Horse Miniatures

Dark Horse illos for figures ad sm

Laird's illustration for an ad for the miniatures

One of the earliest and coolest TMNT licensing deals Kevin and I did was for little figures of the Turtles and some of their supporting cast, sculpted for the scale popular in role-playing gaming, by some very talented people (whose names I am afraid I don't recall at this point) and cast in lead. These were produced by a company called Dark Horse Miniatures. They did some great stuff. I'm not sure if they are still in business.

Originally, as I recall, to test the waters they produced a set of the four Turtles, packaged in a plastic bag with a generic "Dark Horse Miniatures" header card stapled to it.

These apparently sold very well, and to our delight they went on and produced a lot more of the Turtles, as well as their friends and ememies. (Although, to my recollection, they never made an April O'Neil figure.) I think the first non-Turtle characters they made were the Shredder, Splinter, and some Mousers. I love the Splinter -- the detailing in these figures, especially considering their size (most less than an inch in height) is amazing. And the way they did the action pose of the Shredder leaping over a crate is very cool. These are from some time after the first sets were released, when they upgraded their packaging to a "blister card" format. The card is still a generic "Dark Horse Miniatures" design.

I think these - the turtles with energy weapons - were the second group of figures of the Turtles they produced -- and I'm pretty sure the pose were inspired by the "Turtles in space" story arc in the original comics. I love the fact that one of the Turtles is wielding a Federation blaster rifle, and another is carrying a Triceraton blaster. (Minor historical fact: I am responsible for the design of both those weapons, and the Triceraton gun was inspired by a design I saw years ago in a "Magnus, Robot Fighter" comic book.)

Of course, I was VERY happy that Dark Horse continued to make more Triceraton figures, including these very nifty Triceraton commandos in their flying harnesses. Although I have meant to do it for many years, I have never actually put one of these things together! (Incidentally, the flying harness was also my design, quite likely inspired by the flying "astro-force" weapons platform Jack Kirby gave Orion of New Genesis in the "New Gods" comic book.)

At some point, Dark Horse Miniatures upgraded their packaging for the Turtles line with a TMNT-specific full-color backing card, for which Kevin and I produced the art. I am fairly certain that I penciled and inked the drawing, and Kevin did the colors.

All in all, this was an extremely cool series of figures, and I'm grateful that we had the opportunity to work with Dark Horse Miniatures. I have sometimes wondered how these little guys would look scaled up to regular action figure size -- probably pretty neat! -- PL

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