Growing up in the 80s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made a huge impact on me. The cartoons, the movies, the games, the toys, the costumes, the clothing – they were everywhere, and they were awesome. If you grew up in that generation you were basically guaranteed to like something about them. Of all the memories I have though, playing 2 player TMNT II: The Arcade Game on the NES have to be some of the best. Fighting hundreds of Foot Soldiers with my best friend at my side was like a dream come true.
I decided I wanted to create a tribute to honor all those fun memories, and in a way give something back to the TMNT community. I saw this as an opportunity to create something new, and that’s what I love to do – bring something new to the scene.
When I set out to create this system, I really wanted to make something that had the look and feel of the original TMNT series. I wanted it to look as ‘stock’ as possible. When you’re working with something that’s so close to people’s hearts you have to make certain you’re careful with how you treat it – you want them to enjoy it, and hopefully feel some of that nostalgia and remember all the memories they have associated with it. There’s a heck of a lot of planning that goes into creating a good looking custom NES, and this one was no exception.
The color palette is critical. I played around with about 20 different design ideas, but eventually locked in on a system that would resemble the turtles themselves. Since they were going to be on the top of the system, I wanted everything to transition as smooth as possible. So, the system is painted two shades of green to represent the turtles themselves – the top half is a dark green and the bottom a lighter, brighter, green. The ‘vent’ and end pieces are painted brown to represent their belts, and the Power/Reset buttons are silver to represent their weapons.
I’m a details guy. I can sit and work for hours on the smallest detail that people will probably never even notice, but to me it’s important so that what I do. One such instance is the audio/video port decals. The original stock decals are a very dark gray color with a light red, almost pinkish, color text. To make a more complete and authentic look for the custom systems, I create my own custom decals. On this system, they are red with white text and have a small black border around the edge. The side decal also has Raphael ‘s head drawn in the center. I made them this way to resemble the top of the original TMNT logo.
The controllers have custom overlays that I designed. I spent many hours trying to make them look as close to the original/stock design as possible, but still making them custom at the same time. I feel like there’s an elegance in simplicity sometimes, so that’s the rule I stuck to here. I might eventually create more elaborate overlays, but I felt these matched the look pretty well.
For their paint job, the front half is light, bright, green and the back half is a darker green. The four overlays are in the theme of each of the turtles – blue, red, orange, and purple. Each controller also has different color buttons that correspond to that turtle. The end plug that attaches to the NES is also color coordinated with the turtles so you can easily tell which controller is plugged in at any time. (See the photos)
The paint job on the system and all four controllers is all professional automotive grade paints and clear coat painted by Custom NES Guy himself. He’s been painting cars and other pro work for I believe about 16 years now and it shows. I have yet to see someone paint an NES better than he can. He using the exact same techniques on these NES systems that he does when he paints show cars.
The cut out designs I do on top of the systems are all cut by hand. I use a dremel tool, files, and sandpaper – it’s ridiculously laborious, but as an artist I love crafting things by hand. I do not use any laser cutters/pro machines to cut these out. The backlit designs are a complex creation I’ve come up with over the past few years from doing lots of R&D. I’ve changed my methods over time, and continue to do so as I discover new techniques.
I hope I’ve succeeded in creating something that resembles the look and feel of the original TMNT and makes you smile. It’s taken just over two months to create, but I think it was worth every minute.
Thanks for reading,
Here are a ton of photos for your enjoyment!