^If that's truly connected to TMNT, not just an independent hoax by some savvy animators, then it is shameful
, because it's obviously a way for Nick to include Usagi, a character with a strong history with the TMNT franchise, without actually paying for the rights. These characters are blatantly based on the Usagi Yojimbo series and characters
You see, Usagi Yojimbo is a (totally brilliant) comic book series created, written, and drawn by Stan Sakai which has been going for 30 years. Stan owns Usagi, and currently publishes his work through Dark Horse Comics. Coincidentally, Usagi originally came out at around the same time as the original TMNT comics, and when their popularity took off Usagi also got a boost, and despite contending with a flood of low quality TMNT rip-offs on the market Usagi held it's own because of it's quality - I mean, it's actually a much better comic than TMNT! The creators of the TMNT, Eastman and Laird, certainly liked it. They befriended Stan and used their popularity to draw attention to Stan's work, first by doing some short crossover comics, and then by putting Usagi in the old TMNT cartoon and toy line (this would be done again for the 2003 version of the TMNT).
Now, Stan saw how the TMNT made millions for his buddies, Eastman and Laird, and in the early '90s the machinery had started to do the same thing for Usagi: cartoon, toyline, ect. But there were problems: Usagi's more realistic, early 17th century Japanese period setting with duels to the death, assassinations, and other sordid affairs weren't exactly the stuff of Saturday morning S&P, but Stan had a solution. Here's a model sheet for that solution:
Stan's also a big sci-fi fan, and he happily came up with a new, more child friendly version: Space Usagi! Descendents of the series characters in the far future, transposing the entire cast into a futuristic setting! The samurai flavor could be retained, because this is a culture based on (but not slavishly adhering to) feudal Japan, but by fighting robots and monsters, using stun weapons and the like, the story would be far more acceptable for a kids cartoon! A Space Usagi toy appeared in the TMNT toyline, Stan made a Space Usagi comic miniseries, and short, animated promo reel for a series was produced.
But, then it fell apart. Another prospective sci-fi bunny kids' franchise, Bucky O'Hare, had bombed around the same time, and that kind of poisoned the well for Space Usagi. Stan never got a cartoon, or a movie, though there have been many tries in the past two decades. None, however, went as far as Space Usagi. Stan makes a living as a cartoonist, basically a blue collar existence. When his wife became ill a couple of years ago (she passed away last December) the comics industry gathered to organize a massive art auction to cover the insurance costs. A beautiful art book, The Sakai Project, came of this. Stan still writes and draws Usagi, the next issue comes out in May.
Now, if this was a character owned by a big corporation I wouldn't care. That big corporation already has big money and an easier path towards wringing all the money they can out of their theoretical character, but Usagi is owned by Stan Sakai, an immensely talented but otherwise normal guy who could use the money.
If this is for TMNT, or viral marketing for some other venture that's capitalist in any way then Stan should get money.
Again, this may not be the case, but the prospect of this being true makes my blood boil.