The fist-fighting fish
Released in 1990
Introducing, Ray Fillet, AKA Man Ray; Real name: Jack Finney. Also called Ray, real name…forget it. This guy has more identities than Jason Bourne. This figure is actually based on the character named Jack Finney; a former marine biologist turned mutant manta ray that appeared in the TMNT Adventures series from Archie comics, back in issue five in 1989, where he was known as Man Ray. It’s unnecessarily confusing.
Ray Fillet actually has a massive impact upon TMNT history. Not only does he become a protector of Earth’s oceans and sea life, he also is a founding member of the Mighty Mutanimals; which are kind of like the JSA to the Turtles Justice League. The Mutanimals Consists of Ray Fillet and fan-favorites Mondo Gecko, Wingnut and Screwloose and Leatherhead. Other members included Dredmon, a mutant red wolf, and Jagwar, a mutant jaguar. Unfortunately, to this day there have been no figures or representation of the latter two characters outside of the Archie comics. Jagwar did make a return in the most recent comics from IDW publishing, but the current Jagwar is a dramatically different character, being something of a war god.
Ray Fillets figure is seemingly one of the first figures in the basic line to come with a gimmick. If you pour water on his shirt, or maybe it’s a rash guard, it changes colors from red and purple to blue and yellow. When I was a kid, I remember wanting to try out his color change feature for myself, but I just never wanted to put my figures in water. Maybe I was being a little overdramatic, but I just always thought that the interior of the figure would rust. Which is kind of dumb considering the insides and outside are all plastics of some form or another.
Ray also come packaged with a little buddy character named Fish Stix, a dynamite-strapped explosives expert who looks like he’s been drinking too much coffee. Seriously, I love these guys and I wish there had been more of them made. But that’s just me being greedy.
Ray’s sculpt is colored an attractive aqua green that sets him apart from the other figures in the line. You could see that this color would play well underwater, and it clashes well with his multi-colored shirt and green flippers. In an odd choice, he’s got a mouth full of razor sharp teeth that are packed tight. On top of this, Ray sculpt comes equipped with a set of dorsal fins and tail that actually resemble something of a cape, which kind of make the figure look weird. I mean, if those fins are attached to his back, how is his shirt underneath the fins? It’s not that big of a deal, but say his fins are just a cape, why does he have back muscles sculpted to it?
Honestly, it isn’t that big of a deal, and honestly, questions like those just ruin the fun experience you have with these characters. So, don’t be the guy that asks those questions. And if you are that guy, the brand is called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You have to accept that some things are just going to be a little off.
Ray was given a big push in Turtles media beyond the Adventures comic book series. He was in the Sega Genesis version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters. From what I remember, he controlled fine. The gameplay seemed pretty slow compared to games like Killer Instinct or Mortal Kombat.On top of that, the difficulty for the Tournament Fighters games was brutal and I never made much progress in them. There’s plenty of ways to watch a playthrough online and it’s pretty cool to see Ray Fillet kick some shell with the boys in green.
At one point, there was even talk of an animated series for the Mighty Mutanimals as their popularity in the comics was starting to rival the Turtles themselves. After a three-part miniseries from Archie Comics, the Ray Fillet and the Mutanimals were given an ongoing series to see if the series had legs.
It didn’t, and after twelve issues of faltering sales, the book was canceled and any talk of an animated series fell through.
Ray Fillet has made a bit of resurgence in the recent TMNT comics from IDW Publishing, where we once again find him working with a team of mutants called the Mighty Mutanimals. It’s nice seeing that people working on Turtles meda nowadays still remember the many great side characters that helped create the world that the Turtles inhabited. Characters like Ray were always my favorite in the first toy line. The more streamlined designed characters, to me, seem like the ones that would’ve been the most difficult to create. As it seems easy to think of a bunch of junk to throw on a character, but for someone like Ray, not covering him in seaweed and barnacles had to seem like a gamble that wouldn’t pay off.
But then again, as corny as it may seem, TMNT has always been about risk taking; and Ray Fillet is no exception.
Turtle Trivia: Ray Fillet was supposed to premiere on the ’87 animated series as a villain, but Ray’s creator, artist Ryan Brown, objected to this, resulting in the villainous Ray from the season four episode “Rebel Without a Fin”.