If the ’87 animated series did nothing else, it gave us Bebop and Rocksteady; quite possibly the best henchmen duo ever created in pop culture history (fight me). Created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird in an attempt to fill out the character roster with more mutants, Bebop and Rocksteady rose above their stereotypes thanks to a bit of muscle and a whole lot of personality. I always felt bad for this awesome duo as I thought that they weren’t meant for being relegated to basically being servants for hire. I always thought of them as being nine year olds stuck in the frame of a thirty year old. Obviously they could easily overpower the turtles whenever they wanted to, but they were just outclassed when it came to the mental faculties. Take one look at these guys and you can see why they’re, arguably, the best villains in the TMNT rogue’s gallery. I mean, seriously, if you saw a giant warthog and rhinoceros charging towards you, honestly you’d just crap in the middle of the street.
Now, onto the figures themselves;
Powerhouse punk enforcer of the Foot clan
Released in 1988, series 1
Before I go into the sculpt, I have to mention the size of these guys, as both Bebop and Rocksteady stand (almost) head and shoulders above the turtles themselves. Both standing just under five inches, they truly are a physical threat to the turtles where as some villains in the line, merely have threatening accessories or are just creepy looking. The best part about the figures, as with most in the early years of the toy line, was the fact that it was really easy to spot the humanity in the mutants. You could tell that these were once people, whereas I can’t really see if a figure like Scumbug was originally a man or a roach.
Mutant GI mauler and Shredder’s #1 thug
Released in 1988, series 1
Bebop is decked out, head to toe, in 80’s punk iconography. From chains on his wrists to his purple Mohawk, this guy looks like he should be running security at a Black Flag concert. On the other hand, Rocksteady looks like an Army surplus store threw up on him. From his Kevlar helmet to his Army-issued BDU pants, Rocksteady’s figure looks even more dangerous than Bebop. Even though Bebop is a bit beefier than his horned counterpart, Rocksteady is actually taller and he actually looks like he can dish out more of a beating, while Bebop looks like more of a brawler. If I had to choose between these two, I would say that Rocksteady has the better sculpt/ paint job combo. While Bebop has more personality displayed on his sculpt, Rocksteady just has more detail. Rock’s Army inspired clothing is pitch perfect with military standards at the time, plus you can almost see the individual armor “plates” that is natural to actual rhinoceros hide peppered throughout the figure, suggesting more detail than is actually shown. Plus his muscle definition is just a bit sharper, where Bebop is just BIG, Rocksteady does a bit more cardio, or at least drinks Lite beer.
So my only real complaint is with the sculpt on Bebop. He has a couple of paint issues that is standard for figures released in the 80’s , but considering the quality of Bebop’s figure overall, this just stands out. Bebop has a couple of turtle shells for shoulder pads, and hanging from both shells are what has to be finger bones and a couple of shrunken skulls. But you’d be forgiven if you didn’t notice them seeing as how they’re the same color as Bebop’s brown hide, instead of an off-white color. Also, he’s wearing a pretty rad looking red vest that is adorned with a massive skull on the back…that is the same color red as the vest, making it a struggle to notice it. Now I know that these types of paint jobs is common a common cost-cutting solution for manufacturers, even today (more so, in fact); and I can accept this. But it is kind of a bummer considering the quality of sculpt and paint on both of these figures.
With those little inconsistencies aside, I think these are some of the best figures in this line. While the ’88 series of figures may be known for the sheer complexity of the sculpt and paint on their figures, seeing the “less is more” approach taken here set a standard for figures that came later. Even today, I think these are the best representation of Bebop and Rocksteady in action figure form.
Turtle Trivia: Bebop and Rocksteady are actually named after some pretty niche genres of music. With Bebop being more Jazz influenced, while Rocksteady is more of a sub-genre in Reggae music.