“Somehow we time-warped 100,000,000 years into the past.” – Donatello
In a new, special iteration of the latest TMNT universe, miniature versions of the heroes in green find themselves chasing down Shredder’s goons to stop a robbery. Arriving at the history museum, the turtles manage to keep a rare crystal from space out of the enemies’ hands. Getting it safely back to the lair, Donatello installs it as a power source in his new transforming turtle bot. Eager to test the contraption, the boys head back out, but when the crystal powers up, it opens a time warp that shoots the turtles, Bebop, and Rocksteady back into the past.
Exploring the new old world, the turtles find themselves both befriending and running scared from the dinosaurs that roam the world. Eventually, Raphael is carried off by a pterosaur, while the others are on the run from a tyrannosaurus. Fed up with his air travel, Raph takes matters into his own hands and crashes his ride – only to break its wing and feel sorry enough to fix the flying lizard up. The others track Raph down, but now two tyrannosaurs want a tasty turtle snack. Fortunately, the new turtle bot is ready for action, and with their giant robot, the boys scare away their attackers. But the battle also destroys their fuel cell, trapping them in the past.
Just as all hope seems lost, the turtles stumble upon a Triceraton mining facility, where the aliens happen to be harvesting time crystals using dinosaur slaves. Stealth doesn’t prove to last for long, and the turtles are forced to fight their way out. They manage to escape, but are chased down by robo-raptors. As all hope seems lost, the dinosaur friends the turtles made come to their rescue. Meanwhile, Bebop and Rocksteady were captured by the Triceratons, and have to mount their own escape, which goes about as well as could have been expected, with the mutants remaining prisoners.
As the turtles ride into battle with their dinosaur allies, Donnie finds himself lacking a companion, but thanks to Michelangelo, he soon partners with the tyrannosaurus that first attacked them. Back on track, the turtles suit up prehistoric style and head off into battle. However, the Triceratons are prepared with a robo-spinosaurus that is seemingly impenetrable to all attacks. Working together, the turtles and their dinosaurs manage to take down the robot, with Raph using the Triceratons’ own drill machine to break it to pieces. They even manage to free Bebop and Rocksteady and reprogram the robo-raptors, sending the Triceratons packing once and for all.
With all the supplies they need, Donnie manages to fix the turtle bot and the time travelers leap forward. However, they arrive in a future where Shredder has won the war and rules the entire city. So, of course the boys need to explore – just for a little while.
While not in the same continuity as the current TV show (or maybe it is, perhaps in the future, after season four), this was a very well done and fun distraction from the main story. For decades now, prehistoric TMNT action figures have existed, but like many of the iterations in figure form, nothing was ever done with them. So of course it was great to see a fun little special revolving specifically around that idea. That being said, it has to be thought of as a fun one-off special meant for a very specific demographic.
The Half-Shell Heroes toy line is suppose to be TMNT toys for kids younger than the target demographic. That’s why the turtles look younger and act a little more childish. It also means that certain elements cannot be given too much deep thought, or else they don’t really make a whole lot of sense. For instance, why did the turtles need to make new weapons? Yes, they were going for a “prehistoric” look with rocks and bones and whatnot, but metal weapons would have been much more effective than stone swords or sai. Of course, that’s really the only complaint about the special, because otherwise it was a fantastic little adventure.
Overall, the Half-Shell Heroes lived up to their TMNT big brothers, and provided some really good action. Things may not have always made the most sense, but they were still fun and engaging. (Of course, Mikey was still his hilarious self, and great with naming, as was evidenced by his stegosaurus friend Maurice.) If Nickelodeon wanted to do one of these specials yearly moving forward, then that would be a pretty great way to add something new but familiar to the current TMNT run.