The Sinister Snappin’ Turtle
Released in 1991
Let’s get one thing straight right out of the gate, Tokka and his buddy Rahzar, are more than just clones of Bebop and Rocksteady. Making their initial appearance in the 1991 film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze, Tokka and Rahzar were originally supposed to be the cinematic debut of Bebop and Rocksteady; but due to a licensing dispute between New Line Cinema and Playmates Toys (who wanted payment for the appearances of the iconic knuckleheads that were created for a show they helped spearhead), New Line enlisted the help of TMNT co-creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird to create a new duo of evil mutants for the green machines to take on in the film. Thus, everyone’s favorite benchwarmers were born.
No matter what you opinion is on the film, it’s hard to argue that Tokka and Rahzar didn’t steal the show, and I believe that that is partly due to their own design, which is reflected greatly with their action figure counterparts.
The Wickedly Wallin’ Wolfman
Released in 1991
Now the appearance of Tokka and Rahzar in the film was very intense when I was a child. I can remember that Rahzar in particular was nightmare fuel for me, and that translates incredibly well with the figure. I won’t waste anymore of your time by explaining again how well these figures translate the texture of fur, even if this is a figure made of plastic. Just know, that this figures conveys the fact that it’s a mutated wolf about as well as can be expected. Possibly the best part of this figure is the fact that this guy may be as bright and colorful as the rest of the figures in the series, but it’s inspirations are rooted in his appearance in the film. In the film, Rahzar wears body armor that is made from old car parts and the figure follows suit. With possibly the best bit being the armor found on his forearms that seem to be some kind of odd mixture of tire tread and nails. Just imagine being hit by those…the end result would be horrifying.
As much as I love Rahzar’s sculpt and colors, I am somewhat disappointed in his cohort Tokka, as his sculpt is basically a repaint of Slash, a figure that we all know by now was released the year before. I hate saying stuff like this, but I have to be honest here, Playmates was being lazy here. Sure, the paint apps and the head sculpt are clearly inspired by the character found in the second TMNT film, but the fact that they used the same mold from a figure that came out a year prior, down to the accessories, this is just a shame; and I wouldn’t blame you if you felt a little ripped off. While I didn’t notice it as a kid, I can’t help but notice that I have two Slash figure, only one of them has a different head. Looking at the figure as an adult, it seems like someone just made a custom Tokka figure with parts left over from other toys in their closet. But, to be fair, this was a common practice of many toy manufacturers back in the day (goggle The New Adventures of He-Man). And Playmates didn’t have to give Tokka a unique head sculpt, but they did, and while his sculpt does have more of an animated flair to it, so does Rahzar, and it works in both cases.
At the end of the day, both figure represent their respective inspiration rather well. The figures do look like the characters stepped right out of the movie screen and into our toy collections. Both Tokka and Rahzar have moved above and beyond the silver screen, appearing in multiple animated series and video games and it’s not without good reason. These figures, as well as the 1991 film, had a major impact on people that are working on Turtles-related projects and products today, while at the same time, they prove that they’re more than just copy cats of what and who came before them.
Turtle Trivia: Tokka and Rahzar appeared in a single episode of the ’88 TMNT animated series in the 1993 episode “Dirk Savage: Mutant Hunter”, where they were voiced by Michelangelo himself, Townsend Coleman.